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Neferura by Malayna Evans

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  Neferura offers an intimate look into her world of being Egyptian priestess with great Pharaoh mother, and half-brother trying to overrule them. The story begins with introduction of the most powerful priestess of Kemet – Neferura. Her mother is the most powerful Pharaoh – Hatshepsut. Their surroundings are threatened by arrival of Neferura’s half-brother – Thutmose. At the palace, he is plotting to accuse his step-mother of murder of their father. Neferura tries to stop Thutmose’s lies. The story is woven with beautiful prose and the characters are interestingly presented. I enjoyed how their backstories were revealed. The first third of the book is more character driven, building up to action. The remaining part is more plot-driven. There is no proof that Neferura married her half-brother. This story imagines it. Alliances among the trio shift. There is one who pays the price for the truce between two others. There are spies, murders, revenges, scheming and more in this intriguing

A Sign of Her Own by Sarah Marsh

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  A Sign of Her Own illuminates the life of Alexander Graham Bell, particularly his development of Visible Speech for deaf-mute community. The narrative revolves around the fictional character of Ellen Lark, who, after losing her hearing to scarlet fever, becomes Bell’s star pupil. Her journey, interwoven with Bell’s quest for his invention’s patent, is skillfully depicted through a dual timeline, highlighting her life and perceived betrayal by Bell. The tale commences with Bell, now an inventor, arriving in England. He seeks Ellen’s assistance in promoting Visible Speech. This request unsettles Ellen, as her husband is unaware of their full history. This complexity deepens when Ellen is asked to mediate a dispute over the rightful ownership of the Telephone patents, a testament to her close work with Bell’s work. Ellen’s auditory challenges began at age four. In an era when sign language was undervalued, her mother was adamant about her learning an alternative communication method. Co

Diva by Daisy Goodwin

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 Diva weaves the story of Maria Callas, the most celebrated opera singer of her time, and her relationship with Aristotle Onassis, Greek tycoon. The story begins in 1968 with Maria trying to get over what has just happened. After a nine-year romance with Onassis, she learns about his newly announced marriage to Jackie Kennedy. The world she built around her and tried to protect for so long is crumbling now. The novel interestingly weaves the backstories. Maria was born in New York, but was taken back to the country of her parents and raised there during the Nazi-occupied Greece by her mother who exploited her miraculous voice. Later, Maria marries a man who just sees her voice which makes good money, but he doesn’t see her as a woman. When she meets Onassis, she feels seen for the first time as a woman. They meet in Italy in 1957. Onassis doesn’t like opera, but he likes Maria. She is offended by his arrogance and doesn’t accept an invitation to his yacht. But Onassis doesn’t give up a

Of Love and Treason by Jamie Ogle

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  Of Love and Treason weaves a fascinating story based on Valentine’s legend. Rome, AD 270. Emperor Claudius Gothicus needs a bigger military, thus he puts on a new ban. Marriage was never allowed for soldiers, and with the new ban it also includes the civilians. This new ban doesn’t discourage one man, namely Valentine, who performs wedding ceremonies in secret. He worries about women’s fates if they’re not married and have children. That’s why he is brave enough to lead an underground church, where there is only one God. And it’s the time when people believe in many gods. It’s a time when you have to tread your water carefully or you can be betrayed easily. Iris is a blind young girl, who lost her sight at fourteen. She is the daughter of a Roman jailor - Quintus, who spent all of his money and even gained some debt to restore his daughter’s sight. Now, tribune Braccus is requesting repayment from Quintus, who took the loan from Praetorian treasury. There is some offer put forward by

The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen

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    The Moon in the Mango Tree is based on the author’s grandmother’s story. In 1919, newly wed Perkins arrive in Siam. Barbara puts her dream of singing in opera aside for her husband’s work as a missionary doctor. In Nan Valley, north of Siam, she quickly finds out that her singing is not appreciated on the mission as some see it as something inappropriate. Her journey has no clear path as she is meant to follow her husband. That is the custom during her time. She quickly recognizes monks of Buddhist temples as something spiritual and nurturing. What her husband is part of is meant to have a good purpose, but she notices that the way of the natives may not be necessarily the bad way as they’re being portrayed by missionaries. The main protagonist journey has no clear path once she decides to follow her husband and when she realizes that her singing voice in a remote place is not needed. She struggles with her faith, and finding her voice. For quite some time, she finds living in Nan

The Oath of Bjorn by Tamara Goranson

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  This saga continues on the shores of Vinland, where Anja and Bjorn settle. Their love is disturbed by a local warrior who seeks revenge. Bjorn must find the best solution to protect the woman he loves. When Karl Karlsefni arrives on one of the Viking ships that survive the journey via Greenland, Bjorn sees an opportunity. Anja, on the other hand, sees danger. She made the escape from Greenland, and it brings the past she tried to escape so badly. The first two books involve strong female characters, first Anja’s mother, then Anja. Book 3 is told through the eyes of a man who loves Anja, and is her protector. This love story is about two people who care deeply about each other and will do anything to protect each other in surroundings that are tough to endure. Their story is set against the historical background of two tribes, the Norse and the Beothuk, with their interaction, mistreatment and survival in a harsh climate. This gripping adventure has a fast pace. The lyrical prose give

Emilienne by Pamela Binnings Ewen

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  Emilienne is based on the true story of Emilienne Andre who was born to poverty and had risen to be the most sought-after woman in Paris in the 19th century. Paris, 1889: Emilienne, at almost eighteen, learns quickly the value of her beauty. Dancing comes naturally to her and that’s what she sees as her way out of poverty. Her grit takes her from one dancing club to traveling troop. With her heart shaped face and friendly personality, she steels the show wherever she goes. Then, an act at cirque opens up as rabbit dresser. It’s not a dancing position she craves, but she recognizes an opportunity for yet another spotlight. And with her new act she becomes a rising star over Paris. Emilienne with her honest voice pulls the reader into her story from the first pages. She is a quick learner, and she also understands that dancing lasts as long as her beauty does. There comes a time when she must make a choice of man’s security and his choice for her life or her free will of being free spi