A White Wind Blew by James Markert – Book Review

A White Wind Blew by James Markert
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, an imprint of Sourceboks

Wolfgang Pike is a man who is not entirely sure of his place in life. He has long thought that he might become a priest, but plan took a detour when he met Rose, and again when he came to work at Waverly Hills. Waverly Hills is one of the top tuberculosis sanitariums in the United States, and with the way the disease is raging, they need all the help they can get. Although he lost his dear wife, Wolfgang cannot bring himself to go back to his priestly studies as long as Waverly needs him so much. Not that there is much that anyone can do for tuberculosis at this point, in the wake of World War I. But although there is little that can be done medically, Wolfgang has faith in the power of music to heal – or at least help – those whose suffering is the greatest. It is with this in mind that Wolfgang begins to build his orchestra, despite the fact that his boss believes the exercise potentially harmful and a complete waste of time.

I really, thoroughly enjoyed A White Wind Blew. I am often not super keen about historical fiction set in America (except maybe that set in the 19th century), so I was a bit hesitant. However, Markert has written a book with real heart – and which also benefits from such an interesting setting as a tuberculosis sanitarium.

A White Wind Blew is lovely and a very diverting way to spend an afternoon. Recommended.

Check out my interview with James Markert in the SheKnows Book Lounge.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The White Devil by Justin Evans – Book Review

The White Devil by Justin Evans
Published by Harper Books, an imprint of HarperCollins

Andrew Taylor is on his last chance. After getting in trouble time and time again back at home, Andrew has been shipped overseas to Harrow School in London, with the promise that if he steps out of line again, he will be disowned. It becomes obvious very quickly that Andrew can’t escape trouble, when students begin dying and getting desperately ill. Somehow this is all linked to Andrew, and the fact that he is a spitting image of the school’s most famous student – Lord Byron. Suddenly Andrew must court the very trouble he was hoping to avoid to solve the mystery of Lord Byron’s past and figure out how to save his own life in the present.

Evans has written a spooky and engaging story. The way he melds Byron’s story with Andrew’s is smooth and effortless, bringing the past into the present in a truly horrifying way.  I love the idea that it is only by solving the mysteries of history that Andrew can save himself, it brings to life the ways in which the past influences our lives today – even if the past is not typically so visceral, in more ways than one. Byron is not a literary figure I know much about, but The White Devil inspired me to learn more about him and even try his work (although I only made it about a page into Childe Harold when I did try).

Any book that can alternately terrify me and interest me in literary history is a winner no matter how you slice it. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger – Audiobook Review

The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger, narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Published in audio by Blackstone Audio; published in print by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Synopsis:

After losing her parents in a train crash, Sally was sent rather young into service, where she began as a scullery maid. Eventually she found herself as the lady’s maid to Lady Duff Gordon, and travels with her lady to Egypt. Lady Duff Gordon has tuberculosis and decides that she cannot stay alive in the cold English climate, and heads to Luxor, Egypt for her health. While there, Sally falls in love with Omar, Lady Duff Gordon’s dragoman. As much as Lady Duff Gordon gives in to the Egyptian way of life, Sally does even more so, entering into a romantic relationship with an Egyptian man – a relationship which her lady does not approve of at all.

Thoughts on the story:

Although fascinating to experience late 19th century Egypt, and to see the late 19th century interactions between Egyptians and Europeans, the first person narrative really slowed down the first section of the book. Everything was simply Sally observing what was happening around her without much action. Eventually the pace picked up, but I spent a good amount of time at the beginning of “The Mistress of Nothing” wondering when something would happen.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Rosalyn Landor is a talented narrator who infuses her words with emotion, but even she could not keep me interested during the slow points of the narrative. For my complete thoughts, please see my review at Audiofile Magazine.

Overall:

I recommend this in print or audio for the historical fiction fan who is interested in getting a feel for the interactions between Europe and Egypt in the late 19th century, but be warned that the beginning starts slowly.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Print*

Source: Audiofile Magazine, publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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