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Pre-Reads are here! Can you feel it? Just likes these lassie’s here. The excitement is practically palpable! Okay, so maybe some of us are not quite “feeling it,” but pre-published 19th century inspired titles are now up for display.
For those new to the blog, every month, as a nod to my Librarian profession, I post a list of newly published or soon-to-be published titles set in the 1800s or there-abouts. Eight fiction, eight non-fiction books that are highly reviewed from Library Journal, Baker and Taylor Firsts, Kirkus Review, Amazon, and Publisher’s Weekly. Summaries and reviews are taken directly from these sources. The list is alphabetical. As these are new books, I have yet to read any, but I will note which ones are on my To-Read-List and which if any I ordered for the library I work at. (My demographic prefers fast-paced mysteries and romance, so it is a big deal when I purchase a 19th century title.) Which ones are you most interested in reading? Be sure to leave your answer and/or reviews in the comments. I apologize if some devices, make the layout appear wonky.
Liam McCool, the premier safecracker in 1877 New York, isn’t the type to hang around fairy circles on the Celtic day of the dead. But an invitation from his Gram leaves the King of the Cracksmen” possessed by the spirit of Finn McCool, the great hunter-warrior of ancient Ireland and a mighty magical force. Just in time, too. Edwin Stanton, once Lincoln’s Secretary of War but now a self-proclaimed dictator, has restored slavery in the United States, and conscripted every able-bodied white male to fight in the war he’s waging against Little Russia, made up of all the continental North America west of the Mississippi, sold to Russia by Andrew Jackson fifty years earlier. Stanton needs Little Russia’s calorium, a mineral used to power America’s airships, factories, and humanoid automatons. But Liam and the love of his life, world-famous reporter Becky Fox, mean to stop him. Joined by Crazy Horse, the Sioux war chief and medicine man, and Ambrose Chen, a Taoist sorcerer and alchemist, Liam and company embark on a wild series of adventures from New Petersburg, where revolutionaries are fighting to overthrow the government, to the Bear Flag Republic, a California enclave governed by P. T. Barnum.
A French engineer working on the construction of the Eiffel Tower meets a Glaswegian widow, and their romance is as risky as the tower project itself. Émile Nouguier is second-in-command to Gustave Eiffel, designing the tower that will mark the centennial of the French Revolution at the World’s Fair of 1889. In 1886, construction of La Tour is just commencing. As her only surviving son, Émile has incurred his aging mother’s disapproval for choosing engineering over active management of the family glass factory. During a tour of the construction site by balloon, Émile meets Caitriona Wallace, 31, a widow who has accompanied, as chaperone, two Scottish young adults, Alice and Jamie, the cosseted niece and nephew of a wealthy, childless Glasgow civil engineer. Cait’s husband was killed in a bridge collapse, but the match would have been doomed by an incompatibility between the couple which Colin handles so discreetly that readers can only guess at its nature until the ve ry end. Now, Cait’s only options are positions such as this one or remarriage, but so far only one rich but repulsive suitor has presented himself. The attraction between Émile and Cait is instant but it takes several chapters of hesitation as each gradually sheds his or her own nationality’s version of Victorian reticence. Émile’s mother is dying and has been urging him to marry soon and produce grandchildren before it’s too late, but he knows she will never accept Cait, a foreigner. Meanwhile, his ex-mistress Gabrielle has embroiled herself with Alice and Jamie, abetting the Scottish innocents’ forays into the Parisian demimonde. Cait, oblivious to the full extent of her charges’ indiscretions, dreads confessing what she does suspect to her employer, since it will necessitate a return to Glasgow and her own bleak future.
A rich tale that throws magic into the already-intriguing setting of the Congress of Vienna in 1814 and 1815. Years before, Austria’s secret police, led by Count Pergen, arrested a radical printer and imprisoned his daughter, Caroline. She escaped and reinvented herself, posing as a widow in England, and now she wants to rescue her father. His former apprentice, Michael, has grown into a successful con artist and has snuck back into Vienna with plans of his own. In this alternate history, alchemists intermingle with politicians, and both Michael and Caroline’s schemes have the potential to unravel even before they encounter each other and realize (after some misunderstandings) that they might work well together.
At the outset of British author Nickson’s gritty fourth whodunit set in late 19th-century Leeds (after 2015’s Skin like Silver), the trial run of an experimental torpedo in Waterloo Lake cuts the rope tying the corpse of a man to a weight, causing the body, later identified as that of small-time crook Leonard Tench, to rise to the lake’s surface. Soon afterward, a severed woman’s leg turns up in the River Aire. Is there a link between the two victims? Det. Insp. Tom Harper learns that Tench was connected with a local gang leader, and looks to the criminal underworld for a motive for Tench’s killing. Mindful of the city’s reputation, Leeds officials put pressure on Harper to solve both puzzles quickly.
The coincidence of the opening of a stage adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the first Jack the Ripper murder provides an intriguing starting point for Masello’s engaging thriller. In 1894 on the island of Samoa, where Stevenson has moved for his health, the writer learns that a native woman has been butchered in the same way as the Ripper’s victims. Stevenson fears that the nightmare he thought had ended in Whitechapel has come halfway across the world “to resume its dreadful enterprise.” The focus shifts to an environmental scientist in present-day California, then back to Stevenson’s creation of his legendary personification of human evil in the late 19th century.
The final volume in Morrell’s historical trilogy brings to a close the adventures of Thomas De Quincey, his daughter Emily, and their friends, Scotland Yard detectives Ryan and Becker. Traveling from London, Thomas and Emily have the misfortune to be in the next compartment when a man is stabbed to death, the first murder ever on a British train. Daniel Harcourt, the victim, was a successful London solicitor with some important, influential clients. Just what was in the document case stolen by the murderer? When more violent incidents occur involving the railways, the technological marvel and economic lifeblood of 1855 Britain, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert insist that Thomas and Emily, aided by Ryan and Becker, should investigate. They uncover a web of deceit and murder, culminating in a revelation personally devastating to De Quincey.
It is 1801 and President Thomas Jefferson has assembled a deep-water navy to fight the growing threat of piracy, as American civilians are regularly kidnapped by Islamist brigands and held for ransom, enslaved, or killed, all at their captors’ whim. The Berber States of North Africa, especially Tripoli, claimed their faith gave them the right to pillage anyone who did not submit to their religion. Young Bliven Putnam, great-nephew of Revolutionary War hero Israel Putnam, is bound for the Mediterranean and a desperate battle with the pirate ship Tripoli. He later returns under legendary Commodore Edward Preble on the Constitution, and marches across the Libyan desert with General Eaton to assault Derna—discovering the lessons he learns about war, and life, are not what he expected.
Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone. One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband…. **Purchased for my Library AND on my TRL**
In a period when most ladies sat at home with their embroidery, Jane Franklin achieved fame throughout the western world, and was probably the best-traveled woman of her day. Alison Alexander traces the life of this inimitable woman, from her birth in late 18th-century London, her marriage to Sir John Franklin, the famous Arctic explorer, and her many trips to far-flung locations. Arriving in Tasmania, Australia, in 1837, when Sir John became governor, she swept like a whirlwind through the colony: attempting to rid the island of snakes; establishing a scientific society; adopting an Aboriginal girl; and sending a kangaroo to Queen Victoria. When her husband disappeared in the Arctic on an expedition to discover the Northwest Passage, she single-handedly turned him from a failure into one of England’s noblest heroes. She continued traveling well into her 70s, and died at age 84, refusing to take her medicine to the last.
The Epicurean: The classic 1893 cookbook by Charles Ranhofer
This book is an indispensable guide for those looking for inspiration and projects to create clothing in true Steampunk style, from robot arms to jewelry and goggles!