HESTER by Laurie Lico Albanese

A vivid reimagining of the woman who inspired Hester Prynne, the tragic heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and a journey into the enduring legacy of New England’s witchcraft trials.

Who is the real Hester Prynne?

A lot of historical facts blended with some imagination give us a look at who Hester may have been.

It’s the early 1800s when Isobel Gamble sails from Scotland to Salem with her new husband, Edward. She is a gifted seamstress who sees in full color. He is an apothecary who has sampled too much of his own medicine forcing them to leave England and Scotland for a fresh start. On the journey, the captain’s life is saved by Hester and Edward and he is forever in her debt.

Soon after they arrive, Edward leaves, joining the captain as a medic on his ship. He also stole all of Isobel’s money she had hidden. He leaves her alone and with no money. Nothing but her sewing. Isobel isn’t one to sit and moan. She finds work sewing.

One day she meets a young Nathaniel Hathorne and they are drawn to each other. His family with a history of cruelty and witch-hunting. Her family, the witches. They come together as she sews for him, always with a message sewn into her work. A red letter A. Because A is red to Isobel.

There is so much going on in this book. The story of immigrants who weren’t treated kindly, of women who were easy to call witches if they didn’t follow the ‘rules’. With the early times of the underground railroad and how even freed slaves were rarely free.

It was a beautifully researched and written story and I loved it.

NetGalley/ October 4th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press





The SEAMSTRESS of NEW ORLEANS by DIANE C.McPHAIL

Can we take a look at this gorgeous cover? Stunning!

It’s 1900 and a new century has dawned and women are making some noise. Fighting for equality in a man’s world.

Alice Butterworth knows all of those rules. She also knows she needs to find a job as it looks like her husband is not going to be returning from his business trip. Desperate and broke, she overhears women talking about Mardi Gras in New Orleans. How a seamstress can flourish there. And Alice is a good seamstress. So to New Orleans, she goes. Carrying a parting gift from the no-good husband. A baby.

She finally arrives at an orphanage where she can stay and teach sewing to the older girls.

Constance is a young mother and wife. Her husband is shady at best. He isn’t coming home either. She knows this for certain. She works very closely with the orphanage and meeting Alice she offers her lodging with her little family while she helps her create a gown for the Leap Year Ball for Mardi Gras. It’s an all-women Krewe which at that time was forward. But she needs something to take her mind off of the fear she feels. Who is the mysterious man following her? And why?

This is a story of women helping women. Of being brave and standing together. While there was quite a bit of Mardi Gras trivia, this was ultimately about empowering women.

NetGalley/May 31st, 2022 by Kensington Publishing Corp. A John Scognamiglio Book


BLOOMSBURY GIRLS by NATALIE JENNER

Bloomsbury Girls

The internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world.

The war is over in London and the delightful Evie Stone is back. Having completed her studies at Cambridge she is hoping to get a position at the school. However, in typical fashion, the position goes to a man.

Using one of her contacts from The Jane Austen Society as a reference, she applies for a job at Bloomsbury Books. Selling new and rare books and resisting change in any form for a hundred years. Run by men and the fifty-one rules. Yes, 51.

But it’s 1950 and things are about to be shaken up like a snow globe with Evie’s arrival.

The women who work here, Vivien and Grace are tired of all of the men treating them as less than. Vivien’s fiance died in action in the war and Vivien is angry about a lot of things. Being passed over for a job she is very qualified for as well as her mortal enemy Alec, Head of Fiction. Vivien wants to write. She is constantly writing. Alec wants to write but never can.

Grace, the married one in the group is a glorified secretary who is just trying to support her family after her husband came back from the war a different man. A mean man who she wishes she could leave.

And then there is Evie. One of the first class of female students allowed to graduate and earn a degree at Cambridge. But Evie isn’t there to just work out a system for the messy rare book section, she has a purpose and is looking for something. Something she found at the great house in Chawton.

A chance meeting with Daphne Du Maurier has lit a fire under these women. Why can’t they follow their dreams? When other women join their cause, such as Peggy Guggenheim, Sonia Blair, Ellen Doubleday, and others, things are getting done. Have the women outplayed the men here? Oh, yes. And it is delicious.

I am so happy to see Evie! I so wanted to hear how she was getting on. And in this tale, she may even find love!

Very Well Done once again!

NetGalley/May 17th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press







THE CHANGE by KIRSTEN MILLER

Big Little Lies meets The Witches of Eastwick–a gloriously entertaining and knife-sharp feminist revenge fantasy about three women whose midlife crisis brings unexpected new powers–putting them on a collision course with the evil that lurks in their wealthy beach town.

Well, that certainly describes this book!

Mattauk is an oceanfront community, where three midlife women are about to make some noise!

Nessa James is alone now that her twin daughters are off to college. In her neat house close to the ocean. A nurse who also sees the dead. A gift inherited from her grandmother. The voices in her head are screaming for help and she has no idea what to do.

Harriett Osborne has had enough of men taking what she has worked hard for. Now her husband has left her for a younger woman and her career has imploded. She returns to her home in Mattauk, and finds her power.

Jo Levison has an 11-year-old daughter and a husband. She’s happy with both. But she is at war. With herself. Her body and what is happening to it. Hot flashes have taken on a whole new meaning.

When the voices Nessa hears lead her to a remote beach by an exclusive housing development for billionaires only, they are there when they find the first body. The police are not part of the solution, but the problem. And the normal rules don’t apply to the sick and fabulously wealthy men who have a lot of secrets.

So the women pool their talents and get to work. Women’s work. Cleaning up the mess of men.

What a thrill of a tale! I loved these women. A strong story of women who are tired of men getting away with murder and are about to turn the tables!

NetGalley/ May 3rd,2022 by William Morrow & Company






In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial by Mona Chollet

In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial

There are so many books and movies out now that portray witches as evil, worshippers of Satan. I expected this book to compare how women were viewed then and now.

And the introduction did some of that. The rest was more of a personal rant about feminism.

We know any woman who was troublesome for a man could be killed as a witch. While the research was well-done, the book really missed the mark for me.

NetGalley/ March 8th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

SUCH A PRETTY SMILE by KRISTI DEMEESTER

Such a Pretty Smile

I finished this book in one sitting. With the lights on and the doors locked.

This is for all the women who don’t want to sit still and look pretty. For the women and girls who have been patronized and marginalized by men.

Told by two rather unreliable narrators. Caroline and her daughter Lila. In 2004 Caroline is living in New Orleans. Girls have been disappearing and the bodies are found mutilated with horrific bites and scratches that leave the media calling the killer The Cur. All are young girls who won’t sit still and look pretty. The ones who refuse to be put in a box. They are opinionated and will not conform to what society wants them to be.

Caroline is having a hard time sleeping. She hears packs of dogs everywhere and loses time. Her fiance’ is also an artist and rather a jerk. Caroline has begun sculpting and the sculptures are disturbing but also gallery-worthy. With her father who is dying and a husband who is a narcissist, she has a lot of stress. Her doctor is patronizing and tells her to take a pill and it will be fine. It is not fine. Not fine at all.

Jump to 2019 and Caroline and her daughter Lila are living close to Atlanta where Caroline is now teaching and sculpting. But she is still haunted by whatever is in her past. And now girls are disappearing and found dead in the same manner as before.

Lila is hiding who and what she is from everyone. Her father and his wife in New Orleans, the school psychologist, and her mother. She feels like there is something inside of her, snarling and begging to be let out, but when she does, it backfires horribly.

I am not going any further with this story because you really need to experience it for yourself. Let me just say it has been a long time since I was this terrified for an entire book!

I can’t wait to see what comes next for this author. Look out, Stephen King!

NetGalley/ January 18th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press