WWW Wednesdays 1/12

Hey Everyone! Hope you had a wonderful week of reading! Personally, I got side-tracked by my allergies. But I am trying to get back on track. I am hoping that with the children returning back to school this week that I will be able to steal more time to read.

For those of you new to WWW Wednesdays: This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Review

Their Frozen Graves by Ruhi Choudhary

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blog Tour

Black Beach by Glynis Guevara

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Review

Dog Flowers by Danielle Geller

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My Review

Loving Donovan by Bernice L. McFadden

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This year I have committed myself to reading the works of three authors: James Baldwin, Bernardine Evaristo and Bernice L. McFadden. Loving Donovan is the first novel that I have read for this challenge this year. It is the third book that I have read from Ms. McFadden and one commonality that I have found in her books is that they get to the heart of human emotion. Her characters and their backstories have so much depth and are complex. You can’t help but identify with their pain and their joy. Even if you don’t see yourself in her pages you feel as if you know someone just like that. Her writing is just brilliant.


The Incredible Nellie Bly by Luciano Cimino

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My Review


What I’m Reading

Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby

This anthology includes biographies and writings from women all across the African diaspora. It is arranged chronologically starting with Traditional African poems. This is part of a yearlong project for me. So far I have 1500 BC – 1820’s. (So about 90 pages. Ha! Ha!) I enjoy learning about these incredible women in history. Oftentimes I find myself stepping away from the book to research them further.


The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

This is a short story collection by Argentine author Mariana Enriquez. All of these stories have a bit of the macabre. I am not sure whether I would classify them as magical realism or horror. But will say is that I have been absolutely captivated by this collection. Each story touches upon some human element that is typically ignored. Her writing is utterly original and I find that I cannot help myself but to read the stories over back-to- back so that I can glean more from them. I actually started journaling about each story. Who knows by the time I finish my notes may be longer than the book. LOL


The Woman Inside by Anna-Lou Weatherley

The Woman Inside is an intense emotional thriller about a woman left for dead. When questioned she cannot remember anything from the day of the attack. DI Dan Riley needs her to gain her memory back in order to catch the serial killer. I’m super excited to read this one. My Blog Tour review will be live tomorrow morning. So check back here for all the juicy details!


What’s Next?

Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall

  • Contemporary/ Young Adult
  • Hardcover, 384 pages
  • Expected publication: January 19th 2021 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
  • NetGalley

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

  • Literature/Short Stories
  • Paperback, 192 pages
  • Published September 1st 2020 by West Virginia University Press
  • 52 Weeks of Women of Color
  • 2021 Motley Reading Challenge

#5 On My TBR – 2021 Releases

Happy Happy New Year! How many of you are as excited to greet this new year as I am?

With a new year comes new resolutions, new plans and this week’s focus — new releases!

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So here are 5 of my most anticipated releases of 2021.

#1 – Chlorine Sky

I have read Mahogany’s Browne’s Black Girl Magic and the anthology The BreakBeat Poets and was moved. So when I saw that she had a novel-in-verse coming out this year I got goosebumps.

She looks me hard in my eyes
& my knees lock into tree trunks
My eyes don’t dance like my heartbeat racing
They stare straight back hot daggers.
I remember things will never be the same.
I remember things.

With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.


#2 – Concrete Rose

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.


#3 – Blood Grove

Walter Mosley is my favorite author and this is his 15th installment in the Easy Rawlins series.


#4 – 400 Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

An epoch-defining history of African America, the first to appear in a generation, Four Hundred Souls is a chronological account of four hundred years of Black America as told by ninety of America’s leading Black writers.


#5 – Harlem Shuffle

From two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.

#5 On My TBR – Animals

Hello Everyone! Hope you are all happy and healthy and enjoying the holiday season.

I am posting late as this is finals week. I’m a bit more overwhelmed than usual as my children’s schools closed down last week with little notice and there are a lot of time conflicts between their Zoom sessions and my Collaborate meetings. Keep your fingers crossed and pray that we pull through this week intact and sane.

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Animals. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

I had a lot of fun with this one. First I thought I would look for books with animals in the title. Then I thought Ooh how pretty my books with animals on the covers were. I had a hard time choosing between the two so I decided to do a combination of both.


#1 – Black Panther: Long Live the King

HEAVY IS THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN! As the Black Panther and an Avenger, T’Challa has had to save the world time and again – but those duties pale in comparison to his responsibilities as king of Wakanda. As the nation rebuilds in the wake of revolution, T’Challa finds his people besieged by a massive monster tearing through the country, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake! From acclaimed novelist NNEDI OKORAFOR (Binti, Who Fears Death) and illustrator ANDRE LIMA ARAUJO (SPIDEY, The Wicked + The Divine) comes an adventure set in the world of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ landmark BLACK PANTHER run and told in the Mighty Marvel Manner!
Collects Black Panther – Long Live The King #1-6.


#2 – Creatures

On the eve of Evangeline’s wedding, a dead whale is trapped in the harbor of Winter Island, the groom may be lost at sea, and Evie’s mostly absent mother has shown up out of the blue. From there, in this mesmerizing, provocative debut, Evie remembers and reckons with her complicated upbringing in this lush, wild land off the coast of Southern California. 


#3 – The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish

Moving through a selection of first-person accounts and written with a sinister sense of humor, The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish powerfully captures the quiet torment of two sisters craving the attention of a parent they can’t, and shouldn’t, have to themselves. In this captivating debut, Katya Apekina disquietingly crooks the lines between fact and fantasy, between escape and freedom, and between love and obsession.


#4 – The Bird and the Blade

As a slave in the Kipchak Khanate, Jinghua has lost everything: her home, her family, her freedom … until the kingdom is conquered by enemy forces and she finds herself an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his irascible father across the vast Mongol Empire. On the run, with adversaries on all sides and an endless journey ahead, Jinghua hatches a scheme to use the Kipchaks’ exile to return home, a plan that becomes increasingly fraught as her feelings for Khalaf evolve into a hopeless love.

The Bird and the Blade is a lush, powerful story of life and death, battles and riddles, lies and secrets from debut author Megan Bannen.


#5 – Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

Thirty-four-year-old prostitute Jmiaa reflects on the bustling world around her with a brutal honesty, but also a quick wit that cuts through the drudgery. Like many of the women in her working-class Casablanca neighborhood, Jmiaa struggles to earn enough money to support herself and her family—often including the deadbeat husband who walked out on her and their young daughter. While she doesn’t despair about her profession like her roommate, Halima, who reads the Quran between clients, she still has to maintain a delicate balance between her reality and the “respectable” one she paints for her own more conservative mother.

In her breakout debut novel, Meryem Alaoui creates a vibrant picture of the day-to-day challenges faced by working people in Casablanca, which they meet head-on with resourcefulness and resilience.


Animals on the Cover

#1 – Forest of the Pygmies

  • Fantasy/ Adventure/ Young Adult
  • Paperback, 272 pages
  • Expected publication: January 5th 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books 
  • First published April 2004

#2 – Untamed Shore

  • Mystery/ Thriller/ Historical Fiction
  • Kindle Edition, 339 pages
  • Published February 11th 2020 by Agora Books

#3 – The Down Days

  • Science Fiction/Speculative/Dystopian
  • Hardcover, 368 pages
  • Published May 5th 2020 by Skybound Books

#4 – Barn 8

  • Political drama/ Humor/Contemporary/Literary
  • Paperback, 256 pages
  • Published March 3rd 2020 by Graywolf Press

#5 – The Beast and Other Tales

  • Fantasy/ Short Stories
  • In Translation from Provençal
  • Paperback, 120 pages
  • Published September 15th 2020 by Northwestern University Press

Throwback Thursday 12/10

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.

All the Bad Apples is one of those titles that fell off of my radar as my TBR bloomed. I rediscovered it when prompted to read a book with apple in the title for a December reading challenge on GoodReads.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis

The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.

My Thoughts

At first I thought this book was a YA fantasy about a family of women that were under a curse. That if it was deemed by the rest of the family that they were bad apples that they would suffer this doomed fate. I didn’t quite get what the specific details of that fate would be beyond visitation by banshees, broken bone combs, bodily scratches and the ghost of a bull. Was she going to die? Be tortured mercilessly? Be trapped in purgatory? I just wasn’t sure. But as the book opens up with a teenaged girl Deena on the verge of her 17th birthday coming out to her sister we get a sense that whatever this fate is, it will befall her. Especially after her father walks in on her revelation. And certainly after both of her sisters reactions. They implore her to remain quiet about her sexuality and emphasize how important it is for her to appear to be a “good girl”, a normal nice good girl.

I was kind of surprised that with this storyline that this book is set in 2012. But as the story goes on you learn more about Deena’s family history and how the curse came about, you come to realize that bad apples include women who were deemed to be too pretty, women who spoke their mind, women who had boyfriends, women who were raped.

The afterword by Moira Fowley-Doyle gave me more insight into the crux of the book and why she why she chose to use these women to represent this time frame. In it she talks about the Magdalene houses in Ireland and how up until 1996 they operated without much oversight. Because there was no separation of church and state thousands of women were sent to these homes for anything construed as being deviant behavior. She explains how abortion was illegal until 2019 and punishable by 14 years in jail. How she was compelled by the death of Savita Halappanavar to tell this story. Halappanavar had suffered an incomplete miscarriage and was denied surgery to remove what remained in her womb. As the physician explained, her request went against Irish Catholic law. On October 28, 2012 Savita died from sepsis,one week after being admitted to the hospital.

Fowley – Doyle also talks about how two school boys discovered bodies that were buried in a mass grave near Tuam, County Galway. It was excused away at first as being from the famine. It turns out that more than likely these bones were the bones of children who were born at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home.

Research was conducted by Catherine Corless who pulled up the records of all of the children born into this home and found there were 796 children, babies whose bodies were unaccounted for. They were not buried in any of the local cemeteries. The Bon Secours Mother and Baby home was open from 1925 – 1961. Using this figure Corless estimated that one child died within those walls every two weeks. One baby every two weeks. 796 children unaccounted for.

Throwback Pic

Eartha Kitt – Gordon Parks 1952

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

52 Weeks of Women of Color Post 3

I came across the 52 Weeks of Women of Color challenge late last year. When I jumped aboard I had no idea just how wonderful my reading experience was going to be. More than half of these books were from new-to-me authors and they span a gambit of genres.

As this month is #NonfictionNovember here is My post“Nonfiction Works by Women of Color.”

Book #19 – Hitting A Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Review


Book #20 – The Talented Ribkins

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From Goodreads“Inspired by W. E. B. Du Bois’s famous essay “The Talented Tenth” and fuelled by Ladee Hubbard’s marvelously original imagination, The Talented Ribkins is a big-hearted debut novel about race, class, politics, and the unique gifts that, while they may cause some problems from time to time, bind a family together.”

I enjoyed this family and their hijinks. My favorite part was when Johnny was teaching Eloise about their family history. The moral of the story was knowing who you are and what your gift is. That everyone has a special spark or super power to brighten the world.


Book #21 – Breathe: A Letter to My Sons

Rating: 5 out of 5.

From GoodReads: “Emotionally raw and deeply reflective, Imani Perry issues an unflinching challenge to society to see Black children as deserving of humanity. She admits fear and frustration for her African American sons in a society that is increasingly racist and at times seems irredeemable. However, as a mother, feminist, writer, and intellectual, Perry offers an unfettered expression of love–finding beauty and possibility in life–and she exhorts her children and their peers to find the courage to chart their own paths and find steady footing and inspiration in Black tradition.”

So glad I had access to both the audio and the hard copy. I liked hearing the author’s words and experiences in her own voice. Yet I felt that what she was saying was so important that I had to see the words, mark them down. Absorb them.


Book #22 – Who Put This Song On?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a semi-autobiographical YA novel about a young girl that struggles with anxiety and depression. Written by poet Morgan Parker, it rings true and is very relatable. Parker captures the aughts (2000s), its music and a young black girl’s struggle with fitting in with humor and grace.


Book #23 – This Is Just My Face Try Not To Stare

Rating: 4 out of 5.

FUNNY! I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook for this one. Sidibe narrates it herself and will have you in stitches! Who would have known that Precious was so funny?


Book #24 – Split Tooth

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My GoodReads review


Book #25 – The Revisioners

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From GoodReadsThe Revisioners explores the depths of women’s relationships—powerful women and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between a mother and a child, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, and the undying promise of freedom.


Book #26 – Know My Name

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was a heartbreaking memoir. Chanel Miller recalls her attack by Brock Turner and describes the anguish she went through in the days after and during the trial. I applaud her strength in coming forward and telling her story as a victim, then a survivor and now an activist.


Book #27 – The Queen’s Assassin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From GoodReadsPerfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Red Queen, this is the first novel in a sweeping YA fantasy-romance duet about a deadly assassin, his mysterious apprentice, and the country they are sworn to protect from #1 NYT bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.

The books showcased in this post were all read in February this year.

Blog Tour: The Forgotten Sister

Synopsis

In the tradition of the spellbinding historical novels of Philippa Gregory and Kate Morton comes a stunning story based on a real-life Tudor mystery, of a curse that echoes through the centuries and shapes two women’s destinies…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.


Review

The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick is an historical fiction novel about the life and death of Amy Robsart. Lady Robsart was the wife to Queen Elizabeth I’s favorite guy, Robert Dudley. From historical accounts we know that Robsart died under mysterious circumstances and although quite a salacious tale at the time it seems as if history has erased her. When Cornick visited Cumnor Place she realized that Amy’s tomb was not to be found. This made her story the more intriguing and Cornick decided to bring her back to life.

In The Forgotten Sister Cornick utilizes a dual time frame between present day and Tudor England. Throughout time, parallel characters are cursed as history repeats itself.

When you first meet Amy and Lizzie you see how these women defined by the society’s expectations of women. Amy is bound to a loveless marriage and must suffer the public shame of being cuckolded. Lizzie is defined by how society thinks she should be responding to men. The platonic nature of her lifelong friendship with Dudley is questioned and at the same time, she is criticized for being virginal and sexless. Both of these women manage to find ways to rebel against the system and find their own path.

With romance, time travel and the paranormal Cornick weaves an unforgettable story that reminds us the value of women and that history is not to be forgotten or ignored.


Meet the Author

USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over thirty historical romances for Harlequin and HQN Books. She has been nominated twice for a RWA RITA Award and twice for the UK RNA Award. She works as a historian and guide in a seventeenth century house. In 2006 she was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Ruskin College, Oxford, where she wrote her dissertation on heroes.

Where You Can Find Her

Teaser Tuesdays 11/10

“She was dazzling, radiant, not simply to my eyes but somehow to my soul as well. I saw her and recognised her worth.”

63%

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One woman’s secret will shape another’s destiny…

With romance, time travel and the paranormal Cornick weaves an unforgettable story that reminds us the value of women and that history is not to be forgotten or ignored.

Stop by my stop on The Forgotten Sister blog tour for the rest of my review! 😀

If you are a woman, what does it mean for YOU to be SEEN? Men, what are ways in which you can see the true essence of the women in your lives?

#5 On My TBR – Friendship

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Friendship. I think this is a timely topic as we are all leaning on our friends, their understanding and compassion right right now. If you are interested in participating you can find additional info and future prompts here.

#1- Dessa Rose

Dessa Rose is an African American classic set in the antebellum South. It is about two women forging a friendship against all odds.


#2 – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel. A treasured book leads to friendship and romance against the backdrop of WWII.


#3 – In Five Years

From Goodreads: “Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.”


#4 – The Great Believers

Makkai’s book is centered on the late 1980s when HIV was raging. Here she shows how friends within the gay community banded together and became family for those who were all alone.


Three Things About Elsie

I automatically bought this book after reading Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble With Goats and Sheep which totally warmed my heart.

From Goodreads: “A novel set in England about eighty-four-year-old Florence, a resident in a nursing home, who has fallen in her apartment, leading her to think about her childhood friend and the secrets of their past that are about to come to light”

Blog Tour: The Company Daughters

Buy Links

Synopsis

Wanted: Company Daughters. Virtuous young ladies to become the brides of industrious settlers in a foreign land. The Company will pay the cost of the lady’s dowry and travel. Returns not permitted, orphans preferred.

Amsterdam, 1620. Jana Beil has learned that life rarely provides moments of joy. Having run away from a violent father, her days are spent searching for work in an effort to stay out of the city brothels, where desperate women trade their bodies for a mouthful of bread. But when Jana is hired as a servant for the wealthy and kind Master Reynst and his beautiful daughter Sontje, Jana’s future begins to look brighter.

But then Master Reynst loses his fortune on a bad investment, and everything changes. The house is sold to creditors, leaving Jana back on the street and Sontje without a future.

With no other choice, Jana and Sontje are forced to sign with the East India Company as Company Daughters: sailing to a colonial Dutch outpost to become the brides of male settlers they know nothing about. With fear in their hearts, the girls begin their journey – but what awaits them on the other side of the world is nothing like what they’ve been promised…

Based on true history, this is a beautiful and sensual historical novel, perfect for fans of The Girl with the Pearl EarringThe Miniaturist and The Indigo Girl.


Review

“I’ve spent most of my life in pursuit of respectability, and the one time I refused it, I finally felt free.”

Jana Biel has led a hard life. On her own at an early age she has been judged and defined by her circumstances. She has learned how to survive against the odds and make the most of her situation. Work hard, keep your head down, keep your past to yourself. At all costs protect your heart.

Over the course of the novel we see her growth and to some extent Sontje’s as well. The two women experience many hardships, but through it all there is light in Rajaram’s words. I was moved by the subversive text and the colorful descriptions of nature. Rajaram, although dealing with themes of oppression, kept reminding the reader of the beauty found in the everyday things in life.

To describe how ravenous Jana was – “She turns to fetch him while I wait on the doorstep next to the blue, open-mouthed crocuses. Hungry, just like me.”

On hope – “Helena once said the stars were like eyes watching us, winking like old friends, I always thought the stars protected us, reminded us that darkness is never complete.”

Comfort comes in the cadent song of the waves lapping onto the shore. Guidance is given by the unfurling branches of a tree.

Her descriptions of place make both Amsterdam and Batavia come alive. Careful attention is paid to the many layers in which people are oppressed. Through Jana’s narration we not only learn about this historical period but are provided a prism of compassion. We learn what it is like to be an orphan, a women of no means, queer in the 17th century. We are asked to consider the plight of the slave. Jana is flawed, human. But she is also empathetic and able to see outside herself. So when she falters she eventually recognizes, admits and tries to correct her mistakes. Her character and this book will stay with me for quite a while. Great debut!


Meet the Author

Samantha Rajaram spent most of her childhood in Gillette, Wyoming, where she and her family were the first Indian-Americans to live in the community. As a law student, she focused on social justice and international human rights law with a focus on female sex trafficking.

She is now an educator, and currently teaches composition at Chabot College in Hayward, California. She lives in the California Bay Area with her three children.

Where You Can Find Her

Blog Tour: The Orphan of Cemetery Hill

Buy Links

Synopsis

The dead won’t bother you if you don’t give them permission.

Boston, 1844.


Tabby has a peculiar gift: she can communicate with the recently departed. It makes her special, but it also makes her dangerous.

As an orphaned child, she fled with her sister, Alice, from their charlatan aunt Bellefonte, who wanted only to exploit Tabby’s gift so she could profit from the recent craze for seances.

Now a young woman and tragically separated from Alice, Tabby works with her adopted father, Eli, the kind caretaker of a large Boston cemetery. When a series of macabre grave robberies begins to plague the city, Tabby is ensnared in a deadly plot by the perpetrators, known only as the “Resurrection Men.”

In the end, Tabby’s gift will either save both her and the cemetery—or bring about her own destruction.


My Thoughts

The Orphan of Cemetery Hill is my first Hester Fox novel. I found her writing to be very atmospheric. I was easily transported back in time. Tabby’s character resonated with me. I was scared for the child abandoned and happy for the girl who found a home. She was resilient and despite the trauma she endured she still was a compassionate and loving person. Despite the fact that I usually gravitate towards kick a$$ females I could appreciate the fact that Hester Fox’s characterization of Tabby as a “little woman waiting to be rescued by her knight in shining armor” was true to the way women in that era were treated. I still don’t like Caleb though and was a bit skeptical about his professions of love. But I digress.

Overall, The Orphan of Cemetery Hill was an enjoyable and engaging read. I was taken in by the mystery and loved that the book was loaded with history. I also enjoyed how Hester Fox handled both Tabby’s and Alice’s supernatural gifts. It was just the right amount of the paranormal: enough to keep me intrigued and not too much where the story would be unbelievable. Definitely picking up Hester Fox to read again.

Historical Perspective

The Orphan of Cemetery Hill takes place in Boston before the abolition of slavery and the establishment of equal women’s rights. Set in 1844, many slaves had escaped to the North for freedom but did not have much protection under the law. The Seneca Falls Convention has yet to happen but the Suffragettes are organizing and increasing their numbers.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Harvard was a burgeoning medical center and its numbers of medical students were rapidly increasing. The one or two cadavers that the school would obtain each year meant that the entire class would be sharing and dissecting a specimen for the full year. With the Paris Method of teaching hands on being the definitive instruction method this meant that there were simply not enough cadavers to meet the needs of the anatomy classes.

Legally, medical schools would be given the bodies of the indigent and executed criminals. Bodies of slaves were also sold, stolen and given over to the schools for experimentation. At Harvard Medical School a secret student society called the Spunkers formed to meet the rising demand for bodies.

Their means of procuring cadavers – grave robbing. In some cases they were quite clever. Some members would go to funerals and blend in with the mourners so that they knew where the fresh graves were. They would pull up the casket by the head slipping the body out through a small opening and returning the casket to the grave. If anyone were to stumble across the grave it would appear undisturbed. They also were quite deliberate about whose grave they would rob. If they disinterred bodies from slave burial grounds they knew there would be no legal ramifications.

Body snatching was so widespread that people started to take extra precautions when burying their loved ones. Family members would vigilantly guard the grave for weeks. Special cages were erected around the grave. The most extreme measures were perhaps the grave guns and coffin torpedoes that were attached to caskets, primed and at the ready.


Meet the Author

Hester Fox is a full-time writer and mother, with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. Most weekends you can find Hester exploring one of the many historic cemeteries in the area, browsing bookshops, or enjoying a seasonal latte while writing at a café. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and their son.


Where You Can Find Hester Fox