The three musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Amy Three MusketeersI wish I had read this before The Count of Monte Cristo. The Three Musketeers is a wild adventure, with duels, daring escapes, abductions, affairs galore, political machinations, treason, betrayal, romance and friendship. Milady is a clever villain, brilliant evil, and the four ‘heroes’ were almost as bad – vain, callous, manipulative and adulterous. The book is fun, but having really loved The Count of Monte Cristo, I was disappointed.

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The fair fight by Anna Freeman

Cynthia The Fair FightSet in 1700s England, the story is told through the viewpoints of three people. The writer plunges you into the time period with great descriptions and the use of language – it is a world of culls, molls, swells and pugilists. It is sordid and brutal with touches of light. Most of the characters are not likeable but that does not mean they were not enjoyable to read about. It was also interesting to see the wide use of alcohol as a coping mechanism with all the characters – and it still plays its part in society today.

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Under the Spanish stars by Alli Sinclair

Cynthia Under the Spanish starsThis was a lovely romantic story set in two storylines; the present day and the Spanish Civil War. The dual storylines worked well together and contained a good mix of history, romance, travel and mystery. I think this story was so enjoyable because I had read Golden earrings by Belinda Alexander earlier in the year which covered the same topics and hence the subject matter and the Spanish terminiology were familiar, increasing my undestanding and enjoyment.

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Mr Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

Amy Mr RochesterThis could have been so bad. Loving Jane Eyre as much as I do, means that I am very sensitive to the story being messed with, so I was surprised to find myself enjoying it so much. Mr Rochester takes Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, and endeavours to tell the story of Edward Fairfax Rochester from his childhood. There were a couple of Americanisms, but on the whole the voice was convincing, and the story fit. There were some surprising revelations, even after Jane enters the story, and I wonder whether their love story would be convincing to someone who hasn’t read Jane Eyre, as it was so condensed, but on the whole, it was a good read.

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Belle

Amy BelleThis is a British period drama, not unlike a Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell. It’s based on a real life portrait of Dido Belle, a mixed-race niece of the Lord Chief Justice of England, and her blonde cousin. There is a lovely romance, but it is also about a decision the Chief Justice made in the courts, which contributed to the eventual abolition of the slave trade. It’s a great story, with lots of familiar British actors.

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The wild air by Rebecca Mascull

Cynthia The Wild AirIf you love historical novels with a strong female lead then this is the story for you. The early years of aviation and the theatres of World War I are wonderfully described – the research by the author shining through. The horror of war and its affect on people is handled well – with an uplifting sentiment at the end that was not cheesey (if only everyone’s war horror could end in hope!). Della was a great character who had the strength and support to follow her dream of becoming a pilot in an arena where men ruled the skies. Women like Della (most of whom are not part of our history lessons) are important and I thank them for paving the way for us modern day women.

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Code name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Amy Code Name VerityI do love novels set during WWII, and this may be my first young adult WWII story. It begins as a written confession from Queenie, who has been captured in France, and she tells the story of how she and her best friend Maddie, a pilot, ended up there. There’s a lot about being a pilot, some of what it was to be a woman in the air force, and about the French resistance. Though torture is involved, there is little gory detail, and the book is gently amusing at times, and is a great story of friendship and loyalty.

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The wicked city by Beatriz Williams

Cynthia wicked cityI loved the story of Geneva in prohibition in New York. Beatriz created a distinctive voice for her that transported me to the era of bootleggers, clubs and prohibition enforcers. There were a few twists and turns in the story which kept me interested. The only downfall to the story was the dual storyline of modern day Ella. This story was not as strong as Geneva’s, it was only a fraction of the story and could easily not of been included.

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