Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (2014)

For her eleventh birthday, Sarah Grimke was given a slave of her own. She befriends her slave, Handful, and promises herself that she will not only realize her own dreams of becoming a lawyer, but will also free her slave. The narrative switches back and forth between Sarah and Handful throughout this novel about abolition, women's rights, religion and family.

I'll admit right off the bat that I did not go into this book with a very positive attitude. It's on our shortlist for the Community Read, or else I wouldn't have even picked it up. It sounded like many other books, and I wasn't sold by the protagonist with seemingly-modern sensibilities, the white author writing about slaves, or the Oprah Book Club sticker on the front. Throughout the early part of the book my feelings didn't change. I felt like Sarah was a little too modern, and most of the characters too easily sorted in categories of good guys and bad guys. It was an issue book and I felt sort of indulged by the character of Sarah, the crusading abolitionist.

But then it all turned around for me. As Sarah and Handful got older, their beliefs and personalities solidified. When Sarah returns to the family home after an absence, Handful remarks on her character, saying "She'd been boiled down to a good, strong broth." The people and issues began to all come together to form a more realistically complex tapestry. Sarah was forced to face her own prejudices, her potential love interest was revealed to be less perfect and supportive than he seemed (without being made into an oversimplified jerk), and the issues started feeling much more like real life than moral lessons.

My favorite thing about this book is the way it examines the relationship between civil rights and women's issues. The movements seem so similar, yet just as some people worked towards both ends, the movements were sometimes at odds with each other. This became apparent in this story as Sarah and her sister Angelina began speaking out against slavery and faced criticism and ostracism for their outspokenness. Sarah even had to choose between her goal of becoming a Quaker minister and hopes of getting married, and her abolitionist work.

Sarah was a better character for her imperfections. Progressive though she was, she still had blind spots. When he father tells her she will never actually be able to study law, she laments: "My aspiration to become a jurist had been laid to rest in the Graveyard of Failed Hopes, an all-female establishment." Yet down the hall are slaves who are forbidden to even learn to read. Does she not recognize their hopes also buried in that graveyard? Like many of us, Sarah also did not know when to keep her mouth shut. Late in the book she is trying to convince her mother to do something and almost gets her on board, but gives in to her emotions and begins lecturing her. Had she just pulled back a bit, she would have gotten what she wanted, but instead she went just a step too far and ruined her chances of making a deal.

Despite my initial misgivings, I ended up liking this much more than I expected to. It got a little slow in the middle, and I was always more interested in Sarah's story than Handful's for some reason, but overall it gave me a lot of food for thought. I read this for both book group and the community read committee (two birds, one stone!) and it's definitely a great discussion book. I've got a couple more books to read for the community read nominees so I don't know which one I'll vote for, but I can definitely see great programming potential with this one. If you're interested in abolition and early feminism, or just enjoy a story of complicated family relationships, I'd highly recommend picking this up.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Knitting

I recently finished a baby sweater for a coworker. There was only a small window of time between finishing and wrapping it, and the light was pretty bad during that time, so I apologize for the photo quality. The color is rather washed out, but at least you can get the idea.

I used a pattern called Korrigan, which was originally written in French, but has an English translation. It used some language that was shall we say, non-standard, but I managed to figure it out. I'd caution less-experienced knitters against using this pattern (unless you have someone to help you) because it could lead to frustration and errors.

It's a pretty adorable sweater though, isn't it? The yarn is Breathless from Shalimar Yarns, and it's a blend of merino, silk, and cashmere. The color is just beautiful, and I really do adore the cabling around the yoke of this sweater. It's hand-dyed so it pooled a bit, but I sort of like the effect. I found these plain little white buttons at home, which was lucky, though it took me at least a week to drudge up the wherewithal to sew them on.

If we're lucky, maybe I'll be able to post a modeled photo sometime after the baby arrives.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Mountain Story

The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens (2015)

The version I read
When Wolf went up the mountain on his eighteenth birthday, it was with the intention to commit suicide. But he stumbled into being a guide for three women, and the four became lost and desperate in the rugged wilderness. For five days they stuck together and fought to survive without food, water, or shelter.

The novel opens and closes with a letter Wolf is writing to his son, with whom he is finally sharing this story. When these events took place, Wolf was still trying to deal with his best friend's tragic accident. He had moved to California from Michigan with his father, Frankie, and Byrd was the first friendly person he met. His life with Frankie was rough, and even worse now that they were living in a trailer with his aunt and her numerous filthy children. But Byrd was a great friend, and got him out of the house and into the woods, teaching him everything he knew about the mountain. When he became lost, he was able to use his knowledge, and through his experience discovered reason to live.

The Mountain Story packs some emotional punches, primarily late in the book, but even before then Wolf's pain was apparent. This kid had dealt with his mother's premature death, constantly sought affection and approval from a distant, alcoholic father, and then felt responsible for losing his best friend. Lost on the mountain, he bonded with the three Devine women - Nola, who had come to scatter her husband's ashes in their special anniversary spot; her daughter Bridget, self-absorbed and training for a triathalon; and teenage Vonn, who came only reluctantly but was perhaps the strongest woman in her family.

I love the Canadian cover so much more
As I mentioned, this novel was in the form of a letter from Wolf to his son, revealing for the first time his complete story. Sometimes when I read a book like this, I get past the initial introductory part like this letter, get into the story and totally forget that it's supposed to be a story within a story because it's so unnecessary. Here we get also another bit at the end, because there were things revealed in the story that Wolf knew would affect his son. Still, I thought the story would have held on its own. Is this just a way to make it ok to write in the first person?

It doesn't matter though. I got so into this story of wilderness survival, I don't care what the outer frame is all about. I loved Wolf. He was so sensitive, but also strong. Nola was so well-drawn she seemed like someone I knew. Bridget was irritating, but in that way of someone you put up with anyhow because they're important to you. Vonn was sort of an enigma, but I really enjoyed getting to know her. Caring so much about these characters made me anxious for their survival, and the result was a very suspenseful story. I spent a few days getting halfway through and then read the remaining 150 pages in one evening on a weekday after work. That doesn't happen often!

Lori Lansens isn't an especially well-known or popular author, but I have really enjoyed the three of her four books that I've read. Her first novel, The Girls, is about a set of conjoined twins, which is what reeled me in but I was hooked by her complicated and well-crafted characters. I also really enjoyed The Wife's Tale, in which a morbidly obese woman is abandoned by her husband and it snaps her out of a life of inertia. I still haven't read Rush Home Road, though it's actually the most highly-rated of her books on Goodreads. I hope that more people discover Lori Lansens, because her books deserve more attention. If you like character-driven novels with unusual story lines, I highly recommend trying her books.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

I still don't have an actual TBR list, but that doesn't mean I don't have plans, stacks of books, and wild hopes. Here's what I want to read this fall:

1. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. I have to read this for my library's Community Read committee.

2. Kindred by Octavia Butler. Ditto.

3. The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. On my TBR Pile Challenge, as are the next two.

4. A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Which is so short - why is this so hard?

5. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Should be great Halloween-ish reading!

6. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. This is for my Not-So-Young Adult book group at work.

7. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins.  I've heard such good things about it!

8. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. I also keep hearing how great this book is, and since it's a teen book it should be quite manageable.

9. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Over 700 pages, but apparently amazing.

10. American Housewife by Helen Ellis. I've been looking forward to reading this galley of short stories since I heard about it on the Books on the Nightstand podcast.

It was hard picking a top 10. This list doesn't even include two of my TBR Pile Challenge books, or the re-read of Americanah I'm hoping for before our Community Read vote, or my galley of the forthcoming Chris Bohjalian novel. Even so, it's an ambitious list for fall (which always seems brutally short) especially considering the length of A Little Life.

What are your fall reading plans?

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Scorpion Rules

The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace #1) by Erin Bow

More than 400 years in the future, humans have shown that they can't manage to stay out of war, so artificial intelligence has taken over. Here is the system: each world leader must send a child to live at a Precepture with the other Children of Peace. They go to school, they work on a farm, and if their country goes to war, they die. The man who invented the atom bomb said that keeping
peace through deterrence was like putting two scorpions in a jar: they can't sting without getting stung, but it still doesn't stop them.

One of the Children of Peace is Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy. Like the others, she knows that at any moment she could be taken to the grey room to die. Like the others, she has been prepared for this all her life. But she's in more danger than the Children who come from more peaceful nations, and when a new boy named Elian arrives, her death suddenly seems more imminent.

This book arrived mysteriously on my doorstep in some rather elaborate packaging. It was inside a box, packed in black crinkle-paper, and then encased in a larger box. I have a lot to read right now (well, when don't I?) so I am not easily swayed by a random unsolicited galley, but as soon as I read the description I was sold. You'd think I'd be tired
Exciting and threatening at the same time!
of YA dystopias by now, or that they'd all seem the same, but nope.

Bow has managed to create a dystopian world quite different from the others, though bits of it reminded me of The Selection and The Hunger Games. These kids are royalty, but they also could die. Plus, it's a futuristic world that contains new technology like robots, but also basic old-timey agriculture. (I will never again be able to hear the worlds "apple press" without shuddering a bit.) It's a scary world filled with mean people, and also robots, some of whom used to be people. Also, it takes place in Saskatchewan, which I think is kind of cool.

The kids are great too! They are a diverse cast of friends including Greta, who is essentially Canadian, her Asian roommate Li Da-Xia, and the new kid Elian, who is from a new state called the Cumberland Alliance which is part of what is currently the U.S. Others are from Africa and Europe, but of course the political geography is all very different than now. Their friendships are both strong and tenuous - any of them could die, but at the same time all they have is each other. I think my one criticism of the story is that I couldn't tell if this group of friends were the only kids at the Precepture or just the ones we focused on. There didn't seem to be any extras in the background, but late in the book it seemed like there were actually more kids there than I thought.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Abbott, the robot who was basically headmaster of the school, or Talis, who is essentially the supreme ruler and whose "Utterances" are quoted as though they're the Bible. In addition to these human-like robots, there are all of these little spider-like robots that follow the kids around and shock them when they behave badly. They are constantly watched by something called the Panopticon also, so basically they are hardly ever alone and have developed ways of speaking in code to each other. It's so incredibly strict.

I didn't know that this was going to be first in a series (though I should have guessed it), but the ending doesn't leave you hanging. In fact, I thought it might be a stand-alone until I checked Goodreads for more information. Although the novel left me satisfied, I'm also curious about this world Bow has created. In this book we just saw one Precepture, but I bet the rest of the world is pretty different. There's definitely potential for more story, and I may keep my eye out for the next part. If you like YA dystopias, this is essential reading!

The Scorpion Rules will be available on September 22. I received my copy courtesy of the publisher. I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top Ten Series I Haven't Finished

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a freebie, so I'm doing the topic from last week, which I somehow missed. Here's a list of ten series I started but didn't finish. They are primarily young adult or romance.

1. Gemma Doyle by Libba Bray. I read A Great and Terrible Beauty and LOVED it, and then I loved Rebel Angels, and then I had to wait for the third book. When The Sweet Far Thing came out enough time had passed that I thought I might like to wait until I had time to re-read the first two because I didn't remember much about them. That was in 2007. I still keep thinking about it.

2. Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood. This is another oldie. I read Oryx and Crake so long ago I keep doubting that it actually happened. It did though, and I still haven't read the follow-ups.

3. Katarina by Robin Bridges. Although I wasn't blown away by The Gathering Storm, it had such a great setting and atmosphere - 19th century St. Petersburg, Russia - and I keep finding myself thinking of it. I actually grabbed the second volume, The Unfailing Light, in anticipation of my trip to Russia earlier this summer, but didn't take it with me because it was a hardcover.

4. His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers. I listened to the audio version of Grave Mercy a couple of years ago, and I predicted that I wouldn't continue the series. Still, every time I see one of these books on the library shelves I wish my reading time was a bit more infinite. I mean, come on: assassin nuns!

5. Stoker & Holmes by Colleen Gleason. My work book group read The Clockwork Scarab, which is a steampunk mystery starring teenage girls who are relatives of Bram Stoker and Sherlock Holmes. I didn't love it, but I did like it and I thought the premise and characters had really good potential. Indeed it appears that the second book had a much higher rating on Goodreads.

6. Experiment in Terror by Karina Halle. I feel a little weird even mentioning this because Darkhouse was a self-published Kindle book and the writing was so clunky. BUT. Halle really does know how to tell a story, and also it was pretty creepy which I appreciate. I just thought she got so many things right and had great potential and all she needed was some editorial help to clean things up a little.

7. Texas Trilogy by Lorraine Heath. So a while back I read this romance novel from the 90s about a cowboy - it was kind of a Western? Anyhow, I was pretty surprised at how much I liked Texas Destiny, which was a pretty great adventure/romance. I keep meaning to read the others, but I just don't read romance very often.

8. Smythe-Smith Quartet by Julia Quinn. Another romance series I haven't finished because I devote so little time to the genre. In fact I think Just Like Heaven was my first foray into romance, and it was just not what I expected. The funny, plucky heroines were a nice surprise and I really loved the Regency setting. I've also enjoyed A Night Like This and Sum of All Kisses and I know there's at least one more in the series.

9. The Rules of Scoundrels by Sarah MacLean. I started with the fourth one (you can do that in romance) and read it primarily because it is called Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover and it's a historical with a lady wearing pants on the cover. It was very smart for a romance and I grabbed another from the series at the library book sale, though I haven't read it yet.

10. Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French. I keep bringing this up, it seems, yet I still haven't managed to read any from this series except The Likeness. It was SO good, and partly I am just afraid the others will be disappointing in comparison. I will read them though.

Do you have any series that you've started and not finished? Tell me about them in the comments!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo (2012), narrated by Sunil Malhotra

Journalist Katherine Boo's much-lauded book about a slum in Mumbai follows several people who seek opportunities to improve their lives. We first meet Abdul, a young man in the trash-picking and resell business, and then move on to members of his family, friends, and neighbors. Through these specific people and their stories, Boo explores life in the slum of Annawadi, with its crushing poverty and rampant injustice.

I tried reading this book a while back, and stopped after about 50 pages because I felt like I got the point. Then it was nominated for my library's Community Read, so I had to read the whole thing. Take anything I say with a grain of salt, because this really just wasn't the book for me. I didn't dislike it, I just didn't find it very compelling.

There's a story here, or rather, several intertwined stories, but they moved very slowly and I was bored at times. What bothers me most is that I just don't see the point. There's no call-to-action here, nor is there a deep examination of why things in Annawadi are the way they are. The result is just a slice-of-life-in-another-place, which is something I like in theory but this one just didn't do it for me despite the praise and attention it has received.

Many of the reviews focus on the horrible living conditions in the slums, and the lack of opportunity for those who want to improve their lives. I agree this is horrible, especially when you consider the wealth so nearby, but it's not news to me. Shock value seems part of what has garnered so many positive reviews, yet for me that's not enough. I'm not shocked by anything in this world, and I certainly already knew about poverty in India (and other places.) The central story that affected Abdul and his family provided only a loose narrative and didn't hold it together very tightly.

This time I listened to the audiobook version because the narrator is the same guy who read the part of Park in Eleanor & Park. He does a great job here as well, telling these stories of desperation in a way that is empathetic without being melodramatic. I will look for books read by this narrator in the future.

Have you read this? Did you love it? Tell me what I'm missing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Black Potatoes

Black Potatoes: the story of the great Irish famine, 1845-1850 by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (2005)

My Not-So-Young Adult Book Group at work will be meeting next week to discuss this non-fiction book for teens, which I just read over Labor Day weekend. I had heard of the Irish potato famine, of course, but knew very little about it. Black Potatoes tells the story of the famine and its causes, the response from the government, and the resulting emigration to the US and other countries. The author uses stories from affected families, collected from their descendants, which she intersperses with more general historical information.

As you might expect, it is about more than potatoes. It is about the relationship between Ireland and England, the social class structure, farming practices, disease, and poverty. Families were turned out of their houses, sent to workhouses, or shipped off to Australia. Many emigrated willingly, but conditions on the ships ensured that not all arrived at their destination alive and healthy. There was an interesting bit about a scheme through the Australian government to sponsor willing immigrants. Many were girls from the workhouses who were eager to go and find husbands in a country with few other women as competition. Other countries were less welcome to these newly displaced immigrants, such as the United States. (Some things never change!)

My only criticism is that a couple of times the author made statements that she didn't elaborate on, which I can only assume is for dramatic effect, but was not helpful. For instance, when talking about criminals being sent to Australia, she says "Once transported, people rarely returned." Ok, but why? Did they like it there? Did they die? Did they just not have enough money to pay for passage back home? In another spot she states that emigration from Ireland to the US and Canada had already been happening, but during and after the famine the numbers reached almost two million. I have no idea how two million compares to previous numbers though, and I suspect the teens this is intended for wouldn't either. But unless you're using this book to write a paper (which  I suppose is entirely possible) these are fairly minor quibbles.

Mostly I found it interesting and informative, if a bit depressing. (It doesn't help that I was also reading a book about a slum in Mumbai at the same time.) It was only about 150 pages long, and the text was accompanied by pencil drawings from contemporary newspapers, which I liked a lot. Visuals are always helpful with history, and it also broke up the text a bit. This isn't something I'd necessarily pick up just for fun, but I definitely learned some things with a minimum amount of effort.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Armada by Ernest Cline (2015)

Zack Lightman is a typical kid at Beaverton High School outside of Portland, Oregon. His dad died when Zack was just a baby, so he lives alone with his mom. He has a job at Starbase Ace, a video game store, and video games are what Zack excels the most at. Especially a game called Armada, in which a race of aliens called the Sobrukai threaten planet Earth. One day at school Zack is staring out the window in boredom and sees a flying saucer that looks strangely like the Glaive fighters in the Armada video game. Initially elated that something amazing is finally happening to him, Zack gets more than he bargained for when the mystery of that flying saucer is revealed.

I loved Ernest Cline's first novel, Ready Player One, so I approached his follow-up with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. As I expected, it wasn't as amazing as his debut, but it shares some similarities and I ultimately wasn't disappointed. The novel starts out a bit slow, despite Zack spotting a flying saucer on the first page. This was followed by a lot of detailed descriptions of video game playing, which is hard to visualize and got a bit boring. But that all doesn't last for long, and the story picked right up and maintained plenty of momentum to propel me through.

I'm not going to say much about the plot actually because I think it's best left to discover for yourself. What you need to know: video games, aliens, 1980s pop culture. The story about Zack's parents and his job at Starbase Ace also played into the whole overarching plot in a way I really liked.

Ernest Cline apparently loves 80s pop culture, but the references made more sense in Ready Player One. That novel centered around a video game created by a guy obsessed with 80s pop culture, so of course his followers needed to know all that stuff to win the game. Here it's just a high school student who knows a lot about a long-ago decade, which is maybe not totally believable, or at least it's not explained. At any rate, the 80s were my decade so I'll take it.

As a bonus, there's a mixtape of his father's that Zack listens to while playing Armada and the music is referenced quite a bit. The mix is called "Raid the Arcade Mix" and is included in the back of the book as a photograph of a Maxell cassette cover, with the song information hand-written just like the old days. The playlist includes such classics as Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," Joan Jett and the Blackhearts performing "I Hate Myself for Loving You," and the anthem from Top Gun. (And yes, this playlist is available on Spotify.)

Like Cline's first book, Armada is different from the (albeit limited) other science fiction that I've read, primarily because it's written in a more personable, entertaining way and doesn't seem to take itself too seriously. If you go into it expecting another Ready Player One you might be disappointed, but if you just want a fun enjoyable book about video games and aliens it's a great choice.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I Crawl Through It

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King (2015)

At the center of A.S. King's newest novel are four teenagers. Stanzi (not her real name) is gifted at dissection and wears her lab coat everywhere; Lansdale tells lies which make her hair grow very long; China has swallowed herself; Gustav is building an invisible helicopter. The four friends are dealing with trauma in the only ways they know how, and the result is a bizarrely surreal novel that is very difficult to describe, but which I couldn't put down.

She had me at "invisible helicopter."

The four seem pretty out of touch with reality, but the hallucination is shared. Lansdale and Stanzi both talk about how China has swallowed herself, and they all believe in Gustav's invisible helicopter, even if they can't all see it on the same days of the week.

The adults are not immune to the crazy of this world A.S. King has created. In their neighborhood is a man in a bush who gives out letters (of the alphabet, not written missives) and he comes across as vaguely pervy. I had a feeling he was going to become important later in the story and he was, in a way that I did not expect. China's mother was also in a class of her own, walking around in latex all the time and putting her sex toys in the dishwasher. They had some sort of torture basement - I guess China's mother was a dominatrix? Her parents had a lot of guests. China makes references to strangers in the basement begging for mercy. Yikes.

The girls are completely unstereotypical and real, which is exactly what I've come to expect from King. Stanzi was the main character here, and the one I liked the most. Probably because of her obsession with the show M*A*S*H, which I would not expect from such a young person, but which I completely appreciate. She loves Hawkeye Pierce, who she thinks of as a mother figure. Her parents take on a lot of what they consider vacations. They visit the sites of school shootings. There are issues her family are not addressing. It's no wonder Stanzi wants to leave with Gustav in his invisible helicopter.

This story is completely surreal, but poetic, and for the longest time I was really unsure where it was headed. But then it all came together in a satisfying way and brought all of the feelings with it!

I Crawl Through It will be published on September 22. I received my copy courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss; I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Secret Chord

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (2015)

In her newest novel, Geraldine Brooks takes on the life of the Bible's King David. The story is told in the first person by Natan, who is David's adviser, prophet, and friend. It begins with a meeting between the two men, in which David asks Natan to write his life story. He sends Natan to visit three people who can recount his early life before Natan entered it, and they are not necessarily flattering portrayals. Through Natan's interviews we learn about David's life through his young adulthood, and the rest we learn from Natan. This is not so much a plot-driven story as it is a fictional biography.

Natan began having strange visions of the future when he was still quite young, and it was this that both saved his life and brought him to David. These visions were the only part of the novel that were remotely supernatural; it was otherwise a pretty down-to-earth portrayal. David was complicated and flawed and I found him kind of fascinating, especially how he acted towards his many wives and his horribly-behaved sons. Although this story is more or less Biblical, it's not religious. I would even venture to say that actual Christians might have some issues with how David is portrayed here.

As you might expect if you're familiar with Geraldine Brooks, reading this story was an immersive experience. I don't recall reading another novel set in Biblical times, so a lot was unfamiliar but she brought it to life quite vividly. I really sort of felt like I was being plunked down in the middle of a strangely different time, without many explanations, which is how all the best historical fiction should work. It sort of made me want to look stuff up, and if I was a less lazy person I would research things like the practice of rending one's garments and putting ashes in one's hair as an expression of grief.

Many of the characters had similar names and they were difficult to keep straight. I did ok until about 50 pages from the end when I suddenly felt like I didn't know who anybody was anymore. I also was a bit confused about the timeline; early in the novel when Natan interviews a few people about David's life, he also thinks back to his own introduction to David and then as the story moved forward I kept thinking it was before those interviews, when in fact it was after. I'm not sure why that was the case - the writing or my own lack of comprehension - but although I kept expecting the story to catch up to that part, it didn't diminish my enjoyment of it.

Despite the well-drawn characters and the drama in their lives, I never felt the sort of connection I did with the young female characters in Caleb's Crossing and Year of Wonders. Still, I think anyone who likes historical fiction, and who may want to try an under-represented time period, would find something to enjoy in this novel.

The Secret Chord will be available on October 6.  I received my copy from the publisher via Goodreads. I was not compensated for this review.