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A Quiet Read by William Blacklock

Three cheers for the last Wednesday of the month! Do you know why? Because it is time for the Pre-Reads! All the 19th century-esque books fit to read, are listed right here! Well, more pointedly, sixteen of the newly published or pre-published books with good reviews are listed here. So, that is close enough. Huzzah! As a reminder, I have not previously read any of these titles, nor am I paid to promote them. Although as a Librarian, I generally promote books . . . The reviews are not listed, but their summaries are gleaned from Kirkus Review, Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly and Amazon. These Pre-Reads are great as a starting to point to pester your local librarian or bookstore for purchase orders as well.

Fiction

Love’s Fortune by Laura Frantz

Since her mother died a few years ago, it has just been Wren Ballantyne and her father, spending many enjoyable nights together playing music on the fiddles they built themselves. But their simple life in Kentucky is disrupted when her father is called back to his family’s estate in New Hope, PA. Suddenly thrust into a high society world enjoyed by a privileged family, Wren isn’t sure she fits in, or even wants to. But with two different men vying for her heart, how can she be sure that her judgment is sound?

Mountains of the Misbegotten by Joseph Heywood

Set in 1914, Heywood’s stirring second Lute Bapcat mystery (after 2012’s Red Jacket) takes the “Deputy State Game, Fish and Forestry Warden” to Ontonagon County, on Michigan’s sparsely populated Upper Peninsula, to locate missing deputy Farrell Mackley. Later, Bapcat receives orders to find and arrest Heinrich Junger (aka Henry Young), a dangerous character he used to know as Hank the Shank, for murder. He must also deal with the trapping and selling of bears. Along the way, Bapcat encounters miners, trappers, entrepreneurs, and enterprising ladies.

Murder at Marble House by Alyssa Maxwell

Although Emmaline Cross is related to the wealthy Vanderbilts, she is fiercely independent and earns her keep by writing a society column for the local newspaper in Newport, RI. In Emma’s second adventure (after Murder at the Breakers), she has been called to her cousin Consuelo’s house where Alva has browbeaten her daughter into an engagement with the ninth Duke of Marlborough. Emma does her best to persuade Consuelo to accept the arrangement even though she secretly agrees it is not a promising match. When Madame Devereaux, a fortune teller invited to the tea party to celebrate the betrothal, has the bad taste to be murdered in the tea pavilion, Emma knows something is rotten in the Vanderbilt estate. When one of the maids is accused of the crime and Consuelo disappears, Emma must investigate before Consuelo’s reputation is tarnished and the duke backs out of the marriage. Aided by her friend Jesse Whyte, now a police detective, and her pal, Derrick Andrews, Emma puts herself in danger to save those close to her

Never Marry a Viscount by Anne Stuart

Return to mid-19th-century England with a tale of passionate romance between unlikely lovers. Sophie Russell may have been exiled to her Nanny’s cottage on the estate of Renwick, but she’s still determined to unearth the mystery behind her father’s death. Since the Russells lost Renwick upon her father’s demise, Sophie has been spying on the new resident, Viscount Alexander Griffith. After entering the main house at Renwick, Sophie is mistaken for the new head cook. Determined to carry forth the charade, Sophie agrees with Alexander when he asks whether Mrs. Lefton sent her. But Mrs. Lefton is the owner of a brothel, not an employment agency, and soon Sophie is playing a very different role.

Sherlock Holmes: Gods of War by James Lovegrove

1913.  The clouds of war are gathering.  The world’s great empires vie for supremacy.  Europe is in turmoil, a powder keg awaiting a spark. A body is discovered on the shore below Beachy Head, just a mile from Sherlock Holmes’s retirement cottage.  The local police are satisfied that it’s a suicide.  The victim, a young man, recently suffered a disappointment in love, and Beachy Head is notorious as a place where the desperate and depressed leap to their deaths. Holmes, however, suspects murder.  As he and Watson investigate, they uncover a conspiracy with shocking ramifications.  There are some men, it seems, who not only actively welcome the idea of a world war but are seeking divine aid to make war a reality.

The Songbird’s Seduction by Connie Brockway

Trapped by chance in a military hill station when the Sepoy Rebellion broke out in India in 1857, a small group of civilians and soldiers became the guardians of a fortune in rubies—a fortune to be divided among those still alive after 50 years if the original owner had not by then claimed the gems. Now the time has come, and, in a quirky turn of events, Lucy Eastlake, her two great-aunts, and Ptolemy Archibald Grant, the academic grandson of another of the four remaining survivors, are soon on their way to a small village in the Pyrenees, where the money will be dispersed. A vibrant, irrepressible operetta singer gives a buttoned-up, dutiful anthropology professor a new lease on life—and love—as they hare across France in a madcap jaunt that is just plain fun.

Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister–and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk–they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”–but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

Wouldn’t it Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland

Have you ever wondered what happened to Eliza Doolittle after the Embassy Ball? In this series debut featuring George Bernard Shaw’s beloved characters from Pygmalion (the basis for the musical My Fair Lady), Eliza moves out of Prof. Henry Higgins’s house at 27A Wimpole and into his mother’s palatial mansion and becomes a language instructor. Working with Maestro Emil Nepommuck, Higgins’s bitter rival, Eliza helps other ordinary folks learn the elevated vowels of high society. When the maestro’s body is found with a knife in it, Higgins becomes the prime suspect because he threatened to sue Nepommuck for fraud. But Eliza knows the late teacher’s pupils also had plenty of reasons for murder, including that Nepommuck was really Bela Kardos, an ex-convict and not Hungarian royalty. Then another corpse is reported.

Non-Fiction

The Greatest Shows on Earth: A history of the circus by Linda Simon

“Step right up!” and buy a ticket to the Greatest Show on Earth—the Big Top, containing death-defying stunts, dancing bears, roaring tigers, and trumpeting elephants. The circus has always been home to the dazzling and the exotic, the improbable and the impossible—a place of myth and romance, of reinvention, rebirth, second acts, and new identities. Asking why we long to soar on flying trapezes, ride bareback on spangled horses, and parade through the streets in costumes of glitter and gold, this captivating book illuminates the history of the circus and the claim it has on the imaginations of artists, writers, and people around the world.

The Housekeeper’s Tale: The women who really ran the English country house by Tessa Boase

Working as a housekeeper was one of the most prestigious jobs a nineteenth and early twentieth century woman could want â?? and also one of the toughest. A far cry from the Downton Abbey fiction, the real life Mrs Hughes was up against capricious mistresses, low pay, no job security and gruelling physical labour. Until now, her story has never been told. The Housekeeper’s Tale reveals the personal sacrifices, bitter disputes and driving ambition that shaped these women’s careers. Delving into secret diaries, unpublished letters and the neglected service archives of our stately homes, Tessa Boase tells the extraordinary stories of five working women who ran some of Britain’s most prominent households.

KovelS’ Antiques and Collectables Price Guide 2015: America’s most authorative antique annual! by Terry and Kim Kovel

Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide is the most thorough, colorful, and complete price guide available, from the most trusted, well-known name writing on the subject today. The book features up-to-the-minute, well-organized, and wide-ranging information, including more tips, marks, logos, and photographs than any other competitive title.

Unlike other guides, whose focus is primarily English or high-priced items, Kovels’ covers all American and international items. The book is organized by the categories most sought after by collectors, including Depression Glass, Dolls, Jewelry, Furniture, Porcelain, and Sports Memorabilia. Indexes and cross-references make this a user-friendly reference, and expert comments throughout empower readers to buy, sell, and collect with confidence. Also included is an exclusive report on the previous year’s record-setting prices.

Last of the Old-Time Outlaws: The George West Musgrave story by John D. and Karen Holliday Tanner

Soft-spoken, cheerful, handsome, and well dressed, George West Musgrave “looked more like a senator than a cattle rustler.” Yet he was a cattle rustler as well as a bandit, robber, and killer, “guilty of more crimes than Billy the Kid was ever accused of.” In Last of the Old-Time Outlaws, Karen Holliday Tanner and John D. Tanner, Jr., recount the colorful life of Musgrave (1877-1947), enduring badman of the American Southwest.

Musgrave was a charter member of the High Five/Black Jack gang, which was responsible for Arizona’s first bank hold-up, numerous post office and stagecoach robberies, and the largest Santa Fe Railroad heist in history. Following a decade-long hunt, he was captured and acquitted of killing a former Texas Ranger. After this near brush with prison or execution, he headed for South America, where he gained fame as the leading Gringo rustler. It wasn’t until the 1940s that Musgrave’s age and poor health brought an end to a criminal career that had spanned two continents and two centuries.

Patron Saint of Prostitutes: Josephine Butler and the Victorian Scandal by Helen Mathers

The ‘steel rape’ of women is a scandal that is almost forgotten today. In Victorian England, police forces were granted powers to force any woman they suspected of being a ‘common prostitute’ to undergo compulsory medical examinations. Women who refused to submit willingly, some as young as 13, could be arrested and incarcerated. The scandal was exposed by Josephine Butler, a beautiful, evangelical campaigner who did not rest until she had ended the violation and helped repeal the Act that governed it. She went on to campaign against child prostitution and the trafficking of frightened girls to government-planned brothels in India, and was instrumental in raising the age of consent from 13 to 16. She challenged taboos and conventions in order to campaign for the rights of women. Her story is compelling – and unforgettable.

Steampunk Soldiers: Uniforms and weapons from the age of steam by Philip Smith

Between 1887 and 1895, the British art student Miles Vandercroft travelled around the world, sketching and painting the soldiers of the countries through which he passed. In this age of dramatic technological advancement, Vandercroft was fascinated by how the rise of steam technology at the start of the American Civil War had transformed warfare and the role of the fighting man. This volume collects all of Vandercroft’s surviving paintings, along with his associated commentary on the specific military units he encountered.

Victoria: A life by A.N. Wilson

When Queen Victoria died in 1901, she had ruled for nearly sixty-four years. She was a mother of nine and grandmother of forty-two and the matriarch of royal Europe through her children’s marriages. To many, Queen Victoria is a ruler shrouded in myth and mystique, an aging, stiff widow paraded as the figurehead to an all-male imperial enterprise. But in truth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch was one of the most passionate, expressive, humorous and unconventional women who ever lived, and the story of her life continues to fascinate.

A. N. Wilson’s exhaustively researched and definitive biography includes a wealth of new material from previously unseen sources to show us Queen Victoria as she’s never been seen before. Wilson explores the curious set of circumstances that led to Victoria’s coronation, her strange and isolated childhood, her passionate marriage to Prince Albert and his pivotal influence even after death and her widowhood and subsequent intimate friendship with her Highland servant John Brown, all set against the backdrop of this momentous epoch in Britain’s history—and the world’s.

The Workhouse: The people, the places, the life behind doors by Simon Fowler

During the nineteenth century the workhouse cast a shadow over the lives of the poor. The destitute and the desperate sought refuge within its forbidding walls. And it was an ever-present threat if poor families failed to look after themselves properly. As a result a grim mythology has grown up about the horrors of the ‘house’ and the mistreatment meted out to the innocent pauper.

In this fully updated and revised edition of his best-selling book, Simon Fowler takes a fresh look at the workhouse and the people who sought help from it. He looks at how the system of the Poor Law – of which the workhouse was a key part – was organized and the men and women who ran the workhouses or were employed to care for the inmates.

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