r/suggestmeabook: I want to follow the adventures of a precog learning to master her talent and her gifted friends in the shadow of the beginning of WWI.
Movie rating: PG
Publisher: Vaughn Woods Publishing
Series: The Charismatics
ARC provided by Book Sirens
From the publisher: In an England on the brink of war, Lily is plagued by psychic visions of the cataclysmic destruction of London. An ancient prophecy is coming to fruition, and it starts with the gruesome discovery of a corpse in the sewers.
Jacquelyn Benson’s writing style is lovely, and I love the characters. It’s always hard reviewing a sequel, as it’s hard to avoid comparing it to the preceding book. “The Shadow of Water” would not have stood up well on its own, as my feelings about the characters is derived more from the relationships built in the first book in the series, “The Fire in the Glass,” than in this one. In particular, the relationship between Strangford and Lily was less evoked by Strangford’s actions than by Lily’s summary comments. And for some reason I was having more difficulty keeping Ash and Cairncross straight, although that could be more my issue than that of the author.
Fear the pain of grief. Fear neglecting to embrace life with both your arms and draw all the joy of it that you can. Fear being stingy with your love or your compassion. But do not fear Death.
Jacquelyn Benson, The Shadow of Water
Also, since much of the tension in the first book was derived from the question of whether her precognition showed an unalterable future, that tension was lost and there wasn’t as much to replace it. I felt less on-the-edge-of-my-seat about how things would turn out than in the first book.
Alone. Such a small word for such an enormous burden. It had driven her to poor choices in the past.
Jacquelyn Benson, The Shadow of Water
This installment felt less layered and complex, although the mystery of Sam’s past was a great subplot, and I felt like Sam was developed much more in this book, which I enjoyed, although the characterization of his relationship with Ash was a bit repetitive and not really resolved.
Progress is like water. It will always find a way.
Jacquelyn Benson, The Shadow of Water
The other thing I missed was the inclusion of someone you love to hate. Viscount Deveral was perfectly nasty and Joseph Hartwell creepy in the last book, but there wasn’t a concrete baddie to hate in this book. At best, there were people taking actions that were murky or unpleasant, such as Ash and Strangford’s mother, but those actors weren’t personally reprehensible.
The debutante caught the gaze of another young woman tied to a dour chaperone. She flashed her a flirtatious smile.
Jacquelyn Benson, The Shadow of Water
So although I love Benson’s writing, and I’ll still read the next installment in the series, “The Shadow of Water” was a little bit of a let down.
ARC provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
From the publisher
Paris 1870. Raised for a life of parties and servants, Camille and Mariele have much in common, but it takes the horrors of war to bring them together to fight for the city and people they love.
A few weeks after the abdication of Napoleon III, the Prussian army lays siege to Paris. Camille Noisette, the daughter of a wealthy family, volunteers to nurse wounded soldiers and agrees to spy on a group of radicals plotting to overthrow the French government. Her future sister-in-law, Mariele de Crécy, is appalled by the gaps between rich and poor. She volunteers to look after destitute children whose families can barely afford to eat.
Somehow, Camille and Mariele must find the courage and strength to endure months of devastating siege, bloody civil war, and great personal risk. Through it all, an unexpected friendship grows between the two women, as they face the destruction of Paris and discover that in war women have as much to fight for as men.
War has a way of teaching lessons—if only Camille and Mariele can survive long enough to learn them.
Although laughter followed, the conversation soon returned to the perilous state of Paris.
“Our leaders have been too busy organizing a new republic and ensuring positions of power for themselves,” said Ernest Garnier, whose bald head and white beard conferred an air of authority.
Camille knew Garnier and his son Jules, who was developing a reputation as a portrait artist. She leaned forward. “And what do you think of our new government, Monsieur Garnier?” she asked. “Will these men be able to lead us through such difficult times?”
“Our government has too many republicans with radical views for my liking,” Ernest Garnier replied. “And too many neophytes. This is a time for men of experience, not men who merely know how to appeal to the masses.”
Garnier’s reply reminded her of the speeches she’d heard at the republican club. “And the women, Monsieur? How do you feel the women can best be of service?”
“Well, the actresses of the Comédie-Française have turned the theater into a convalescent hospital, and there’s a rumor that Sarah Bernhardt will do the same with the Odéon. Perhaps they will need volunteers. No doubt Bernhardt’s relationship with Kératry will enable her to get all the necessary supplies.” Garnier’s eyes twinkled.
Camille had no idea why the men laughed in response. She made a mental note to ask Bertrand on the way home.
“But to answer your question, Mademoiselle, I don’t believe actresses are suitable companions for a young lady like you,” Garnier continued, bringing the lighthearted moment to an end. “Women like you should stay at home and leave the worrying to us.”
Despite the man’s condescending attitude, Camille smiled to acknowledge his opinion. A few seconds later, she felt a tap on her shoulder. When she turned to look, André tilted his head and gestured at a window next to a potted palm. She waited until the next round of conversation got underway before joining him.
“That conversation was becoming tedious,” André said. “Too many men who think they could do a better job. I doubt any of them have military experience. I need a breath of air. Will you join me on the balcony?”
“When did you join the Guard?” Camille asked after they moved onto the balcony. “I didn’t realize you planned to do so.”
André stared at the street below, where a dog sniffed the ground beneath a lamppost. “I feel it’s my duty. I’m not a man who desires combat, but the times call for extraordinary measures. If men like me refuse to enlist, the National Guard will be dominated by extreme factions who believe in overthrowing the government.”
Camille pressed her lips together. “How will Paris withstand the kind of siege those men are expecting? There won’t be enough food for everyone. The shops and trades won’t have enough business. The poor . . . I can’t imagine what the poor will do. Life is difficult enough for them now. And the Prussians . . .” Suddenly, she felt as if she couldn’t breathe.
“Do you wish me to be frank?” André’s tone remained neutral.
“Paris can withstand a siege until the level of suffering demands surrender. It’s September. The weather is warm, and for the moment, we have an abundance of food. Come November or December, the poor will be dying in the streets from cold and starvation. People like us will find ways to manage, but others will soon run out of money. Think of the little children who’ll be affected and the women whose husbands will lose their livelihood, or even their lives. Those people won’t be able to keep a roof over their heads. And to make matters worse, the radicals might seize the opportunity to create further turmoil. We could even face another revolution.”
“You make it sound dire, Monsieur and I applaud your decision to enlist. As for me, I hope to volunteer at one of the hospitals.”
“You don’t plan to heed Monsieur Garnier’s words, then.”
“No, Monsieur. His opinions are firmly entrenched in the past. Fortunately, my father permits me a little more liberty. I chose to remain in Paris in order to be useful.”
“I’m certain you will be more than useful.” He turned to face her. “Will you go to the meetings in Montmartre?”
After attending the club at Restaurant Polignac, she’d spent hours considering André’s request, weighing the dangers against her desire to contribute to the country’s future and the bolder approach to living she’d adopted since Juliette’s death. Ultimately, she had sent him a letter confirming her participation.
“Yes. I gave you my word, Monsieur. I’ll attend the next meeting and let you know what happens.”
He did not smile. “Don’t write anything down. Tell me in person.”
“The story of two women whose families were caught up in the defense of Paris is deeply moving and suspenseful.” -Margaret George, author of Splendor Before the Dark: A Novel of the Emperor Nero
“Tod is not only a good historian, but also an accomplished writer … a gripping, well-limned picture of a time and a place that provide universal lessons.” -Kirkus Reviews
“M.K. Tod’s elegant style and uncanny eye for time and place again shine through in her riveting new tale, Paris in Ruins.” -Jeffrey K. Walker author of No Hero’s Welcome
About the Author
Paris In Ruins is M.K. Tod’s fourth novel. Mary began writing in 2005 while living as an expat in Hong Kong. What started as an interest in her grandparents’ lives turned into a full-time occupation writing historical fiction. Her other novels are Time and Regret, Lies Told in Silence, and Unravelled.
Beyond writing novels, Mary’s award-winning blog, www.awriterofhistory.com features the reading and writing of historical fiction. When she’s not writing, or thinking about writing, you can find her hiking, golfing, traveling, or hanging out with friends and family. Mary is married and has two adult children and two delightful grandchildren.
Two young immigrant women. One historic strike. And the fire that changed America.
In 1909, shy sixteen-year-old Rosie Lehrer is sent to New York City to earn money for her family’s emigration from Russia. She will, but she also longs to make her mark on the world before her parents arrive and marry her to a suitable Jewish man. Could she somehow become one of the passionate and articulate “fiery girls” of her garment workers’ union?
Maria Cirrito, spoiled and confident, lands at Ellis Island a few weeks later. She’s supposed to spend four years earning American wages then return home to Italy with her new-found wealth to make her family’s lives better. But the boy she loves has promised, with only a little coaxing, to follow her to America and marry her. So she plans to stay forever. With him.
Rosie and Maria meet and become friends during the “Uprising of the 20,000” garment workers’ strike, and they’re working together at the Triangle Waist Company on March 25, 1911 when a discarded cigarette sets the factory ablaze. 146 people die that day, and even those who survive will be changed forever.
Carefully researched and full of historic detail, Fiery Girls is a novel of hope: for a better life, for turning tragedy into progress, and for becoming who you’re meant to be.
Heather is a natural 1200 wpm speed reader and the author of twenty-one self-published novels. She came to writing after careers as a software developer and elementary school computer teacher and can’t imagine ever leaving it. In her spare time, she reads, swims, walks, lifts weights, crochets, changes her hair colour, and plays drums and clarinet. Generally not all at once.