I've read some really good books lately that I thought some of you might be interested in too. To be clear, this isn't a book review post. Book reviews require a certain level of detachment and a willingness to critique. I just can't do that. So, I'll simply share with you some recent reads I've enjoyed and hope that perhaps you'll find them worth a look. You can click through the title of the books in this post to order a copy of your own or hit up your local library.
Covered With Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America - Nicole Eustace. Dr. Eustace comments in this discussion that Covered With Night was "A joy to write." She "had a great time." And despite its pretty heavy topic, this book was a joy to read. Sawantaeny, a Seneca Native, is brutally murdered by traders Edmund and John Cartlidge, during a trade mission that goes awry. Pennsylvania leaders commit to applying the "full measure of English justice" in the matter, but that's not what Sawantaeny's wife, Weenepeeweytah, and the Native community want. They, rather, hope for condolences, healing spiritual ritual, and material compensation. While Pennsylvanians offer solutions of execution and incarceration of the accused, the Indigenous community believes one life lost is enough and instead seek restorative justice. Dr. Eustace weaves together a fascinating story that has people and place jumping off the page.
The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America - John Wood Sweet. Ripped from the headlines, Lanah Sawyer is harassed on the street and thankful for the intervention of a handsome gentleman. It's later, after a delightful dish of ice cream and an evening stroll, that Lanah's 'savior' becomes her attacker. Sweet writes an 18th century episode of a popular current-day crime procedural, based largely on William Wyche's "Report of the Trial of Harry Bedlow for the Rape of Lanah Sawyer," the first published report of an American rape trial. This book is a fascinating, and often frustrating, look at the application of law in rape cases, the perseverance of a courageous young girl, and the power and audacity of privileged white men. There's even a surprising scare. Check out Sweet's website for a deep look at Lanah's world.
I Am The Chosen King: One Kingdom, Two Men, One Crown - Helen Hollick. 2023 was the year I discovered Helen Hollick. She has a series of books about Anglo-Saxon England. I devoured both The Forever Queen and I Am The Chosen King, enjoying them thoroughly. Somehow, Chosen King stuck with me the most. Anglo-Saxon England is a time and place I'm decidedly unfamiliar with, so I had a blast 'meeting' new people. All of them have similar-but-different names and somehow, Hollick made it reasonably clear who was who throughout the book. And oh wow! do I hope Harold and Edyth were even a little bit like Hollick portrays them, because I loved them both. Since I'm so new to this era, I spent a decent amount of time looking things up to see what was real and what was creative. (Honestly, that is one of my favorite parts of reading historical fiction.) This book is beautifully written with wonderful character development, exciting action, and some sly humor sprinkled throughout.