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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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  • Stunning debut

    This stunning debut creates a world of romance, intrigue, and family secrets that will keep you guessing to the end. With a dual timeline (1925 and 2015), the story unfolds gradually but with ever-increasing tension as dancer Honoree tries to make a living in the Chicago speakeasies under the dominion of Al Capone. The world is fraught with danger, yet this book is as much character-driven as it is plot-driven. The setting is rich, vibrant, and immersive—it begs to be adapted to film. Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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  • Golden Age of Jazz - Loved it!

    In 1925, Chicago was the jazz capital of the world. Honoree Dalcour is the daughter of a southern sharecropper, who came to Chicago and became a chorus girl. She is hustling her way to the top and is hired at the Dreamland Café - the classiest speakeasy in the Black Belt. It's an opportunity for her to rub elbows with celebrities like Louis Armstrong and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. But between the gangsters, the gambling and the bootleg whiskey, living her dream and being an independent black woman are both very risky propositions. The 1925 timeline alternates with Honoree in 2015. Film student Sawyer Hayes visits the bedside of Honree, now 110-year-old. He is doing his dissertation on Oscar Micheaux, and Honoree is the only remaining living link to the legendary film maker. He must convince Honoree to fill in the blanks in his research so that he can finish his thesis and move forward with his life and career. The story unfolds on this split timeline, alternating between Honoree in 1925 and Sawyer in 2015. This book, my friends. This book is going to be huge this year. I think this could be the hot book-club book for 2021. It's Denny S. Bryce's debut novel and it is stunning. Really impressive, particularly for a debut novel. This is engrossing historical fiction. This is a book that catches your attention from the first page and pulls you into the glitz and glamour, as well as the grit and grimy underbelly, of the jazz age of Chicago. The imagery is lush and gorgeous. You can see it all. This is one of my favorite periods of American history to read about, and the history here is impeccably researched and all of the details feel completely authentic. I loved reading about the dancing, the costumes, the music! And set against this glitzy backdrop, the real history is told... Of the class, sexual and racial disparities and discriminations that would have conspired to hold back a woman like Honoree. These were very tough times for a single black woman in Chicago. Honoree was a great and complex character. She's a bit prickly on the outside. As her story unfolds, we can clearly see how this prickly exterior has been her protection and how underneath she has a real heart of gold. The split timeline is very well done, alternating between the past and the present to piece together the puzzle that Honoree is. I really loved it. I would love to see this made into a movie, it would be absolutely gorgeous. I'll be looking forward to Bryce's next novel, Blackbirds, coming soon from Kensington Books. Thank you to Bookish Firsts and Kensington Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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  • The jazz age in Chicago

    I received a free electronic ARC of this excellent historical novel from Netgalley, Denny S. Bryce, and Kensington Books. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Denny S. Bryce is an author I am thrilled to have found - thank you, Netgalley! and will follow - her work is exciting and compelling, information shared with a sense of joy and a song in the heart. Her next, a story that spans 1928 LA to the summer of 1968, can't get here soon enough. A bright new addition to my historical reads. Chicago in the jazz age - we see it first from 1925 through the 1930s - is an era I would have loved, I think. Life was changing so FAST - everything riding on the edge of discovery. Transportation - horse and carriage and trains to cars to planes in just a couple of decades. Harnessing electricity and natural gas for cooking and heat - those jobs that previously kept someone endlessly cleaning a sooty mess from windows and walls and someone else busy hauling and chopping wood. Jazz and the Blues moved from the deep south to ChiTown and found a nest to call home. We are there, with Denny S. Bryce as she brings that life, that world to our attention. Thank you. And we see in this story told in the time frame of 2015 music and a way of life that grew in that warm enveloping nest by leaps and bounds in technology, cost, and availability of the tools of the trade. instruments and sheet music, venues, and recording abilities all became more accessible to the young and poor as the years went by. We are there, with Denny S. Bryce as she brings that life, that world to our attention. Thank you.

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  • Charmed

    I was charmed by Miss Honoree Dalcour in Wild Women and the Blues - an ambitious Black woman in Chicago in the 1920s, aiming to take her dance career to Broadway or Paris. That's one of the timelines in this debut historical fiction, focused on Honoree and new best friend Bessie (both chorus girls), the reappearance of Honoree's first love, and the dangers/excitement of the '20s (bootleg liquor, gambling, gangsters). While the main characters are fictional, the story was peppered with historical figures like Lil Hardin Armstrong and Oscar Micheaux. The other timeline is set in 2015; film student Sawyer is interviewing 110-year-old Honoree, trying to fill in the blanks for his dissertation on Michaeux while grieving the loss of his sister. As is sometimes the case with dual timelines, each time the story would switch to Sawyer's perspective, I'd itch to get back to Honoree's. This well-crafted novel made me feel like I'd been transported to 1920s Chicago. While it's historical fiction, I also think it might well appeal to readers of romance and mystery, as elements of both are weaved in. More than anything, I was a fan of this one because of Honoree (and Bessie). I look forward to reading more from this author.

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  • 1920’s Chicago Jazz Historical Fiction

    This recently published historical fiction novel takes place in Chicago in 1925 and in 2015. This was a new time period and subject for me, and I enjoyed learning about it. It took place during Prohibition, Al Capone’s time, and the emergence of jazz. It also addresses segregation and racism during the 1925 time period. Honoree Dalcour is an ambitious up and coming dancer who is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. As she becomes more successful, she rubs elbows with celebrities and is drawn into some dangerous events. Sawyer Hayes is a film student in 2015 and thinks Honoree (still living) might be able to help him with his thesis and a recent discovery. However, she’s only willing to share her secrets if he will share his. Both Honoree and Sawyer have painful secrets in their past. The chapters switch from last to present with most of the story taking place in 1925 (more action). The 2015 storyline is quieter but equally moving. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5. Thanks to NetGalley, BookishFirst, and Kensington Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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