Monday, April 25, 2016

Wishlist Reads: April 2016

Like many readers, my TBR grows faster than it shrinks. I find a subject that interests me and titles start piling up one right after the other. With so many bookmarked, I thought it'd be fun to sort through and feature five titles a month here at Flashlight Commentary. 

Much like my February post, my April Wishlist is themed by jacket design. Historic fiction is an incredibly gender bias genre and I'm not shy about saying that it drives me nuts. Trends force writers to feature strong heroines if they want their work published by the major publishing houses, but I feel the push is resulting in a lot of weak and stereotypic heroes. I'd love to see more male leads, not sharing the stage in a romantic epic, but celebrated in their own right which leads me to this month's theme. Each jacket features a male character flying solo and not a one is shelved as historical romance. I've not read any of them, but I give each of the authors credit for delivering narratives that can be marketed without a passionate embrace or plunging neckline.

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A golden age of publishing on the verge of collapse. For a hundred years, loose copyright laws and a hungry reading public created a unique opportunity: books could be published without an author’s permission with extraordinary ease. Authors gained fame but suffered financially—Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, to name a few—but publishers reaped enormous profits while readers got their books on the cheap. The literary pirates who stalked the harbors, coffeehouses, and printer shops for the latest manuscript to steal were known as bookaneers.

Yet on the eve of the twentieth century, a new international treaty is signed to protect authors and grind this literary underground to a sharp halt. The bookaneers, of course, would become extinct. In The Last Bookaneer, Matthew Pearl gives us a historical novel set inside the lost world of these doomed outlaws and the incredible heist that brought their era to a close.

On the island of Samoa, a dying Robert Louis Stevenson labors over a new novel. The thought of one last book from the great author fires the imaginations of the bookaneers, and soon two adversaries—the gallant Pen Davenport and the monstrous Belial—set out for the south Pacific island. Pen Davenport—a tortured criminal genius haunted by his past—is reluctantly accompanied by Fergins, the narrator of our story, who has lived a quiet life of bookselling before being whisked across the world on his friend’s final caper. Fergins soon discovers the supreme thrill of aiding Davenport in his quest: to steal Stevenson’s manuscript and make a fortune before the new treaty ends the bookaneers’ trade forever.

Yet Samoa holds many secrets of its own, and the duo’s bookish concerns clash with the island’s violent destiny. A colonial war is afoot between the British, American, and German powers; even as Stevenson himself quietly supports native revolutionaries from high in his mountain compound. Soon Pen and Fergins are embroiled in a conflict larger, perhaps, than literature itself. Illuminating the heroics of the bookaneers even while conjuring Stevenson himself to breathtaking life, Pearl’s The Last Bookaneer is a pageturning journey to the dark heart of a forgotten literary era.




It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.

Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.

Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century?

And, if so, could another single bullet save it?




The Renegade is a blazing, brilliant, new historical adventure in Jack Whyte's Guardians series. Packed with action, heroism, and vibrant historical detail, The Renegade recounts the life of Scotland's greatest medieval king, Robert the Bruce. Bruce was one of the most famous warriors of his generation, eventually leading Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against the Kingdom of England, most famously at the bloody Battle of Bannockburn. Today in Scotland, Bruce is revered as a national hero, but during his lifetime, the rebellious leader and guerrilla tactician was a thorn in Edward Plantagenet's side, earning himself the nickname the Renegade.

Set in the 14th century, The Guardians series features three extraordinary guardians of medieval Scotland, the greatest heroes the country ever produced. The exploits and escapades, high ideals, and fierce patriotism of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Sir James Douglas are the stuff of legends, and the soul and substance of these epic novels.






After years fighting for Queen and country, and for his own survival, Jack Lark finds his way back to his mother's gin palace. But life as a soldier has changed him almost beyond recognition, and London is no longer the city he remembers. 

In a desperate moment, he makes a mistake that leads him back to where he swore he'd never return - the battlefield...






A thrilling mix of espionage, treachery and murder set in the aftermath of the First World War from the master of the triple-cross. 

Spring, 1919. James 'Max' Maxted, former Great War flying ace, returns to the trail of murder, treachery and half-buried secrets he set out on in The Ways of the World. He left Paris after avenging the murder of his father, Sir Henry Maxted, a senior member of the British delegation to the post-war peace conference. But he was convinced there was more -- much more -- to be discovered about what Sir Henry had been trying to accomplish. And he suspected elusive German spymaster Fritz Lemmer knew the truth of it.

Now, enlisted under false colours in Lemmer's service but with his loyalty pledged to the British Secret Service, Max sets out on his first -- and possibly last -- mission for Lemmer. It takes him to the far north of Scotland -- to the Orkney Isles, where the German High Seas Fleet has been impounded in Scapa Flow, its fate to be decided at the conference-table in Paris. Max has been sent to recover a document held aboard one of the German ships. What that document contains forces him to break cover sooner than he would have wished and to embark on a desperate race south, towards London, with information that could destroy Lemmer -- if Max, as seems unlikely, lives to deliver it.


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INTERESTED IN MORE WISHLISTS?
CHECK OUT WHAT MY FRIENDS HAVE BOOKMARKED:

Stephanie at Layered Pages
Magdalena at It's a Mad Mad World
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired



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