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The Reader by Edouard Manet, c. 1861

And some aren’t!– We are already to the end of June. Where does the time go? No really, where does it go??? I have a tendency read Young Adult literature during the warmer months. For me, it is the equivalent of eating candy. I usually finish a book in a day or two. It makes me feel accomplished and crosses off a section of my “To-Read-List.” Most of the titles on the list are not historical fiction, as I am a rather diverse reader. Young Adult books tends to lend itself to speed reading unless it is a higher caliber of well written tomes such as the Harry Potter series or Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy.

Everyone has their own reading preference. For those who are staunch members of the Cult of 19th Century Historical Fiction or non-fiction, the search is over. I have devised a list of sixteen of the latest titles to be published in this much beloved genre. The list is evenly split between fiction and non-fiction titles. All titles on this page are highly reviewed and from a range of sub-genres. The reviews or summaries are taken directly from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Review, Amazon, Library Journal and Baker and Taylor. It is important to note, I have not read any on this list, so I cannot recommend one over another. If you have read any of these below, what is your personal opinion of the book? I would love to know! Without further ado, here to get you started:

FICTION

The Convictions of John Delahunt by Andrew Hughes

John Delahunt, who’s in a Dublin prison awaiting execution for an unnamed crime, decides to write his story, beginning two years earlier, when he was a lackluster student at Trinity College. After seeing a friend injure a policeman, he receives a visit from shadowy police official Thomas Sibthorpe, who persuades him to testify against the wrong—but to the authorities’ minds, more convenient—“offender.” The Dublin police pay informants to report on illegalities both actual and potential; the worse the offense, the higher the fee. Before long, the impoverished Delahunt is seeking scapegoats for crimes he himself commits. As he slides into moral darkness, his battle of wits with his corrupt employers ends with a series of startling but entirely convincing plot twists. This beautifully written tale of cruelty and redemption is as unforgettable as it is harrowing.

Haits Stay by Colin Winnette

Its two main characters, the brothers Brooke and Sugar, are contract killers, operating in and around the Western everyville of Wolf Creek (in an unspecified period of America’s past resembling the Wild West). After their latest kill, they flee into the wilderness, where they are joined briefly by Bird, an adolescent boy with no memory of his past. A series of violent encounters entangles the three in the dog-eat-dog environment of the West, including pursuit by henchmen and their eventual capture by vigilante bounty hunters. Before the novel ends, there’s cannibalism, an amputation, a bloody jailhouse shoot-out, a surprise birth, and the slaughter of a town’s entire population.

The Iron Assassin by Ed Greenwood

This triumphant adventure is full of both brutality and psychological nuance. In a beautifully imagined alternate Victorian London, Jack Straker, Lord Tempest, presents a new weapon for the protection of the queen. This horrifying combination of man and machine, the Iron Assassin, soon escapes Jack’s control. The Ancient Order of the Tentacles moves swiftly to claim the weapon in its ongoing shadow war against the government. Rose Gordhammond, Lady Harminster, is recruited as a Dread Agent of the Tower to work alongside Jack in protecting the royal family. With a body count that skyrockets in the first pages, tensions start high and rise through the dramatic battles in, around, above, and below the city.

Love’s Rescue by Christine Johnson

Four years have passed since Elizabeth Benjamin and Rourke O’Malley have seen each other. Elizabeth never anticipated that their reunion would be during a rescue operation when the ship on which she is traveling home hits a reef off the Florida Keys. Her father disapproves of her feelings for Rourke, seeing him not as a salvager of wrecked ships but as a pirate. Distraught and longing for her deceased mother, Elizabeth discovers a diary in her mother’s room that puts her father in a new light. Perhaps there is hope for her and Rourke after all.

The Map of Chaos by Felix J. Palma

The action of the wondrous final volume in Spanish author Palma’s speculative thriller trilogy (which began with The Map of Time) unfolds in several Victorian eras in parallel universes, beginning with esteemed biologist Herbert George Wells’s attempt to create a virus that will allow the residents of his doomed steampunk world to escape to another realm free of threat. The scene shifts to the triumphant conclusion of the investigation of a werewolf by Insp. Cornelius Clayton, rising star in Scotland Yard’s mysterious Special Branch. But it soon flits away again to follow a second H.G. Wells, who is embroiled with his loving wife, Jane, in a romantic comedy involving another couple, Montgomery Gilmore and Emma Harlow. Arthur Conan Doyle joins this quartet on a series of adventures that turn ever darker.

Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper

The third Highland Dragons paranormal Victorian romance (after The Highland Dragon’s Lady). Lady Judith MacAlasdair is of the Highland Dragon blood and charged with supervising the family castle and the local village, Loch Arach. Nobility has its perks, but she longs for her lost days as a “boy” in the Royal Navy. When William Arundell comes seeking answers to a murder in a nearby town, he seems ready to uncover all the hidden truths about Loch Arach, while keeping his own secret: he’s an agent for D Branch, charged with investigating crimes of a mystical nature. When he discovers Judith’s secret, his duty is to report her to the Crown. But when they work together, they form a formidable team ready to serve and protect the innocent Highland people. This spy thriller is replete with demons, adventure, and unexpected passion

Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

The story of a man who was born a slave before the Civil War but grew up to become the legendary Deadwood Dick. Willie Jackson is just running an errand in a nameless East Texas town when he happens to glimpse the back end of Sam Ruggert’s wife while she’s bending over a clothes basket in her yard. Sam sees Willie looking at her, and in short order, Willie gets “invited to a lynching” and chooses, as an alternative, to flee. He’s taken in by Tate Loving, who teaches him much about life, including the proficient use of firearms. When forced to flee again, Willie changes his name to Nat Love and heads west to join the Army at Fort McKavett. He and another former slave, Cullen, are the only survivors of an Apache ambush on their unit, after which the two decide to leave soldiering behind. Eventually, he and Collen make their way north to Deadwood, S.D. In Deadwood, Nat meets a beautiful young woman, saves the life of Wild Bill Hickok, and reencounters Sam Ruggert, who still has it in for him.

The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

The Brothers Grimm are world renowned for their fairy tales, but what inspired those stories? Dortchen Wild (1793–1867) was one of the sources; she was also the Grimms’ next-door neighbor and Wilhelm Grimm’s love interest. In this novel, Forsyth (Bitter Greens) portrays Dortchen’s childhood and relationship with Wilhelm, which are filled with constant roadblocks, including political strife (Napoleon conquered their German kingdom of Hesse-Cassell in 1806), family objections, poverty, and misunderstanding. Storytelling is at the heart of the narrative as Dortchen and her friends share tales (“The Frog Prince,” “Rumpelstiltskin”) that become intricately entwined with their experiences.

NON-FICTION

Abbe Sicard’s Deaf Education: Empowering the Mute 1785-1820 by Emmet Kennedy

Abbé Sicard was a French revolutionary priest and an innovator of French and American sign language. He enjoyed a meteoric rise from Toulouse and Bordeaux to Paris and, despite his non-conformist tendencies, he escaped the guillotine. In fact, the revolutionaries acknowledged his position and during the Terror of 1794, they made him the director of the first school for the deaf. Later, he became a member of the first Ecole Normale, the National Institute, and the Académie Française. He is recognized today as having developed Enlightenment theories of pantomime, “signing,’ and a form of “universal language” that later spread to Russia, Spain, and America. This is the first book-length biography of Sicard published in any language since 1873, despite Sicard’s international renown. This thoughtful, engaging work explores French and American sign language and deaf studies set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and Napoleon.

Across the Pond: An American Gentleman in Victorian London by R.D. Blumenfeld

The editor of one of the biggest newspapers of the time, the Daily Express, R. D. Blumenfeld was witness to some of the most exciting, intriguing and controversial moments of London’s Victorian scene.

From having tea with H. G. Wells to befriending Rudyard Kipling and interviewing Winston Churchill, Blumenfeld rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names of the time. His diary, which covers the time from Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee to the start of the First World War, is a treasure trove of amusing anecdotes, interesting insights and first-hand accounts of a time when everything was changing. This uniquely positioned American gentleman provides a fresh look at a well-known time in England’s history.

The Armstrong Girl: Child for Sale: The Battle Against the Victorian Sex Trade by Cathy Le Feuvre

In November, 1885, Victorian England was scandalized by a court case which lifted the veil on prostitution and the sex trade. In the Old Bailey dock was the editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, which had recently published a series of articles on the sex trade; a reformed brothel keeper; and the second-in-command of The Salvation Army, Bramwell Booth. The group was accused of abducting a 13 year old girl, Eliza Armstrong. They had, in fact, set up the scheme to expose the trade in young women. The resulting scandal triggered the raising of the Age of Consent in Britain from age 13 to 16. Many MPs and other men in positions of power were furious, and the campaigners were indicted under the 1861 Abduction Act. William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, would later be acquitted, but others went to prison, martyrs for justice. The Armstrong Girl is the story of that scandal, and of those who fought for this essential change in the law.

The Ax Murders of Saxton: The Unsolved Crime that Terrorized a Town and Shocked the Nation by Nicholas J.C. Pistor

An entire household massacred. A family feud. A sheriff found dead. Neighbor turned against neighbor. Reports of ghosts, bounty hunters, deathbed confessions, and legacy fortunes.

In 1874, the Saxtown massacre rocked a nation reeling from economic depression and shattered a small German immigrant farming community in Illinois. The murder of the Stelzriede family led investigators through the forests and farmland, chasing footprints, bloody tobacco leaves, and the marks of an ax dragged away from the scene.

Dirty Bertie: An English King Made in France by Stephen Clarke

Despite fierce opposition from his mother, Queen Victoria, Edward VII was always passionately in love with France. He had affairs with the most famous Parisian actresses, courtesans, and can-can dancers. He spoke French more elegantly than English. He was the first ever guest to climb the Eiffel Tower with Gustave Eiffel, in defiance of an official English ban on his visit. He turned his French seduction skills into the diplomatic prowess that sealed the Entente Cordiale. A quintessentially English king? Pas du tout! Stephen Clarke argues that as “Dirty Bertie,” Edward learned all the essentials in life from the French.

Second Founding: New York City, Reconstruction and the Making of an American Dynasty by David Quigley

At the close of the Civil War, Americans found themselves drawn into a new conflict, one in which the basic shape of the nation’s government had to be rethought and new rules for the democratic game had to be established. In this superb new study, David Quigley argues that New York City’s politics and politicians lay at the heart of Reconstruction’s intense, conflicted drama. In ways that we understand all too well today, New York history became national history.

The establishment of a postwar interracial democracy required the tearing down and rebuilding of many basic tenets of American government, yet, as Quigley shows in dramatic detail, the white supremacist traditions of the nation’s leading city militated against a genuine revision of America’s racial order, for New York politicians placed limits on the possibilities of true Reconstruction at every turn. Still, change did occur and a new America did take shape. Ironically, it was in New York City that new languages and practices for public life were developing which left an indelible mark on progressive national politics. Quigley’s signal accomplishment is to show that the innovative work of New York’s black activists, Tammany Democrats, bourgeois reformers, suffragettes, liberal publicists, and trade unionists resulted in a radical redefinition of reform in urban America.

Through the Keyhole: Sex, Scandal, and the Secret Life of the Country House by Susan C. Law

The potent allure of sex, money and power has always created a public appetite for juicy tales of scandal in the hidden private lives of the English aristocracy. Millions of viewers are captivated by the television series Downton Abbey and screen versions of Jane Austen novels, while visitor numbers to National Trust stately homes have never been higher. The real and fictional dramas being enacted inside country houses were just as compelling for audiences in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the cultural media of the day exploited stories of aristocratic adultery for commerical and political motives in newspapers, novels and satirical prints. But such attacks on the aristocracy’s moral fitness to rule ultimately undermind traditional hereditary power and marked the first stops towards its decline. This book draws on a rich collection of original sources, bringing vividly to life a cast of engaging characters and their stories of infidelity – passionate, scandalous, poignant and tragic.

The Unknown Travels and Dubious Pursuits of William Clark by Jo Ann Trogdon

Years before he became cocaptain of the Corps of Discovery, territorial governor and Indian agent William Clark (1770–1838) was an adventurous young soldier, surveyor, and aspiring businessman. Travel opportunities within the U.S. Army brought him on campaigns away from his Kentucky home and in 1798, as a civilian, Clark traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to sell agricultural products in New Orleans, then a Spanish-controlled city. That trip is the focus of this volume. Clark kept a written account of the journey, including maps of the Mississippi River’s course as well as notations of military fortifications along the way. Trogdon (St. Charles Borromeo: 200 Years of Faith) questions Clark’s motives; asking if he was possibly collecting information for James Wilkinson, the infamous spy who was plotting to separate Kentucky from the Union. Skillfully describing events in Spanish Louisiana, Trogdon relates the roles of governors, businessmen, and a host of nefarious characters who schemed with Wilkinson and often crossed paths with Clark or his associates.

 

 

 

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