Received for Review:
The Ming Storytellers by Laura Rahme
It is the 15th Century. At the dawn of the Ming Dynasty, three women's path will cross. And of their journey, a tale will be born. An imperial concubine, a Persian traveler, and a mysterious storyteller. Three women: One story.
This is BEIJING. A city seething with mystery and royal intrigue.
Once a palace orphan, the wilful Min Li has only ever sought to please, even if that means pleasing Emperor Zhu Di. Now a powerful concubine, Min Li unearths a terrible secret concealed within the walls of Beijing's Imperial city. Driven to despair, she seeks help from her lover, Admiral Zheng He. But this will spark a chain of events that even sets Beijing's palace on fire. Min Li's fate is sealed but her true enemy is not who she thinks.
The Ming Storytellers is a historical tale of 15th century China that sweeps across the palaces of Nanjing and Beijing into the mountainous villages of Yunnan, where a mysterious shaman holds the key to a woman's destiny.
Across the oceans, from the bustling bazaars of Southern India to the lush shores of Zanzibar, nothing is quite what it seems.
For the eyes and ears of the Ming Emperor are ever near.
A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins
For Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate, life is an endless repetition of polishing pewter, emptying chamber pots, and dealing with other household chores until a fellow servant is ruthlessly killed, and Lucy’s brother is wrongly arrested for the crime. In a time where the accused are presumed guilty until proven innocent, lawyers aren’t permitted to defend their clients, and—if the plague doesn't kill them first—public executions draw a large crowd of spectators, Lucy knows she may never see her brother alive again. Unless, that is, she can identify the true murderer.
Determined to do just that, Lucy finds herself venturing out of her expected station and into raucous printers’ shops, secretive gypsy camps, the foul streets of London, and even the bowels of Newgate prison on a trail that might lead her straight into the arms of the killer.
In her debut novel, Susanna Calkins seamlessly blends historical detail, romance, and mystery into a moving and highly entertaining tale.
A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural.
Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret.
But when they come after Elle, they get more than they bargained for. This enterprising young woman, the daughter of a scientific genius, has reserves of bravery and determination that even she scarcely suspects. Now she is about to meet her match in more ways than one: a handsome yet infuriating Warlock named Hugh Marsh, whose agenda is as suspect as his charms are annoyingly irresistible.
Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
The Great War changes everything. In this epic tale, spanning over a decade, war turns the world of privileged, English aristocrat Christopher Tietjens upside down. It forces him to question everything he holds dear - social order, morality, marriage and loyalty. And it rocks the very foundations of English society.
This is a powerful story about love, betrayal and disillusionment in a time of horror and confusion by one of Britain's finest novelists.
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