You may not find me reading a lot of Historical books, but when a Historical thriller lands in my lap, you bet I’m excited to read it right away!
Thank you Get Red PR and Lyons Press for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
From Goodreads: HARBOR OF SPIES is an historical novel set in Havana in 1863 during the American Civil War, when the Spanish colonial city was alive with intrigue and war related espionage. The protagonist – a young American ship captain by the name of Everett Townsend – is pulled into the war, not as a Naval Academy midshipman, as he had once hoped, but as the captain of a Havana-based blockade-running schooner. Even as Townsend gets entangled in the war effort, he also finds himself being pulled into the dangerous investigation of a murdered English diplomat which threatens his own life. Townsend becomes ensnared in the investigation of the Backhouse murder by rescuing a man from the sea, who turns out to be a prison escapee from El Morro Castle. That good deed to help this stranger condemns the protagonist himself to a Spanish prison, and sets in motion a plot where Townsend struggles to maintain his own sense of identity. He falls into the clutches of a Spanish merchant, who is making money off the American war, who introduces him to a world of spies, slave traders, and Spanish seductresses. From the bars, to the docks, to the dance halls, Townsend takes us into colonial Havana and then to the slave plantations in the interior even as he prepares his ship to run the blockade. The protagonist’s trouble-ridden experience leads him to become emotionally involved with the daughter of an American innkeeper in Havana. Together they help each other grapple with the uncertain moral terrain of a city caught up in the American war and the growing controversy over slavery. Throughout the novel, Townsend can never shake loose the mystery about the man he helped save. As a foreigner and an outsider, he finds himself trapped by mysterious forces and circumstances beyond his control which ironically help him discover his own family roots in Cuba, and finally convince him to become a spy for the North. The novel is not only a richly drawn portrait of Spanish colonial Havana in the days when Cuba was flush with sugar wealth, but also provides a realistic look at the blockade runners that helped form the supply line into the South’s Gulf ports. A little-known fact about blockade running in the Gulf of Mexico in the early years of the Civil War is the important role that sailing schooners played in bringing arms and ammunition into the shallow harbors, bays and inlets that line the Gulf coast from Florida to Texas.
What a cool book! I think what was most exciting about this book is seeing that Robin Lloyd, a former foreign NBC correspondent, was the author. He really added something special to this book with his prior knowledge and experience of the area. His writing really made me feel like I was right there in Havana, a place I honestly don’t have personal knowledge of myself. Such a vibrant setting for this book! I was completely intrigued by the murder investigation more than I was about the civil war references (that’s just my personal preference). I highly recommend this book for those who love historical fiction, and it’s a wonderful book for thriller lovers to step-out of their comfort zone.
I’m super excited to announce that I am participating in St. Martin’s Press Blog Tour for Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird! Be Sure to read ALL of this post -hint hint-!
About the Author:
SARAH BIRD’s previous novel, Above the East China Sea, was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Sarah has been selected for the Meryl Streep Screenwriting Lab, the B&N Discover Great Writers program, NPR’s Moth Radio series, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and New York Libraries Books to Remember list. She first heard Cathy Williams’ story in the late seventies while researching African-American rodeos.
About the Book:
The compelling, hidden story of Cathy Williams, a former slave and the only woman to ever serve with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.
“Here’s the first thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am the daughter of a daughter of queen and my mama never let me forget it.”
Though born into bondage on a “miserable tobacco farm” in Little Dixie, Missouri, Cathy Williams was never allowed to consider herself a slave. According to her mother, she was a captive, destined by her noble warrior blood to escape the enemy. Her means of deliverance is Union general Phillip Henry “Smash ‘em Up” Sheridan, the outcast of West Point who takes the rawboned, prideful young woman into service. At war’s end, having tasted freedom, Cathy refuses to return to servitude and makes the monumental decision to disguise herself as a man and join the Army’s legendary Buffalo Soldiers.
Alone now in the ultimate man’s world, Cathy must fight not only for her survival and freedom, but she also vows to never give up on finding her mother, her little sister, and the love of the only man strong enough to win her heart. Inspired by the stunning, true story of Private Williams, this American heroine comes to vivid life in a sweeping and magnificent tale about one woman’s fight for freedom, respect and independence.
This is not a book I would typically pick up, but I really did enjoy it. The dialect for the characters were so true to the time period and it really felt like you were right there with them. I am a teacher by trade and I feel like this would be a wonderful asset to a High School History class. It has such character and emotional depth to it, you can’t help but feel for Cathy. What a brave woman. It’s a fast-pace story that flows quite nicely. I could easily follow along and never felt myself getting too side-tracked. Am I the only one who got some Mulan vibes here? There are some slow parts in the middle of the book that I felt weren’t necessary, but it did make the story well-rounded.
And, GUESS WHAT? I’m giving away a hard copy of this book! You can follow me on instagram (@livereadandprosper) for a chance to win or just enter below! This giveaway is sponsored by St Martin’s Press.
Click Here To Enter The Giveaway!
Instagram is pretty awesome. Joy came across my page and we started chatting about Charleston. Turns out, Joy has written an incredibly captivating story that takes place in Charleston and it completely blew my mind.
Thank you Joy for sending me a copy to read and enjoy!
This story has two time periods – one story on the 1822 slave revolt and the other starting in 2015 – both taking place in Charleston, South Carolina. Kate is studying at Harvard University when she leaves her work due to a breakdown. She has most recently lost her mother and decides to return to Charleston to discover key truths about her family’s past. The other side of the story takes place around the slave rebellion. His proposed job is to make weapons for the rebellion through the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It’s DEEP.
WOW. Just, wow. This normally isn’t a book I would run to right away (as you may know, I’m all about the thrills). This just left me so emotional for all the right reasons! What’s so crazy is that as Joy was writing this novel, the unfortunate church massacre in Charleston took place. The unfortunate event was woven so intricately into the story, it still gives me chills just thinking about it. I think everyone should read this book, especially during these times of heartbreak and the black lives matter movement. It’s an eye opener!