Tag Archives: England

Book Reviews
March 31, 2012 posted by Kiona

The Queen’s Lady (The Lacey Chronicles #2) — Eve Edwards

England, 1584.

When beautiful Lady Jane Rievaulx begins her service to the Queen at Richmond Palace, she is thrilled to see the court’s newest arrival…Master James Lacey.

No matter that Jane was previously courted by the eldest Lacey brother—James is the one who has won her heart. For his part, James cannot deny his fascination with Jane; his plans, however, do not allow for love. He is about to set sail on a treacherous journey to the Americas, seeking absolution for what he sees as past sins. But when Jane is forced into a terrible situation by her own family, only one man can save her. Will Master James return to his lady before it’s too late?

Before Jane Rievaulx’s elderly husband passes away, he secures a place for Jane as one of the Queen’s ladies as a way to protect her from his spiteful sons and her selfish family. The last person Jane expects to see at court is James Lacey, the brother of her ex-fiance and the man she still finds herself madly attracted to. Though James feels as if Jane has betrayed his family, he can’t help the feelings she reignites in him. Still, even if he wants to, he cannot be with Jane, for he doesn’t believe himself deserving of love. But when Jane finds herself in a precarious predicament, James might be the only person capable of saving her.

The Queen’s Lady is filled to the brim with court intrigue, passionate romance, dastardly evil plots, and dashing heroes. Jane faces every imaginable obstacle a woman in sixteenth-century England can face. Though she is a strong, independent woman, even heroines sometimes require saviors. But though she feels James Lacey cares for her, she’s not sure he’s up to the task. Luckily for Jane, she has friends who will stop at nothing to help her maintain her freedom. The characters in this novel are richly developed and many of the scenes switch viewpoints, allowing us to gain a more well-rounded view of not just Jane and James, but also Milly, Diego, Christopher Turner, and other minor characters. While shifting perspectives between numerous characters can sometimes feel unnecessary or frustrating, this literary device works perfectly for The Queen’s Lady. We switch frequently enough as to receive important information and further develop important secondary characters, but not so much that we lose focus of who the main characters are. And understanding both the minds of Jane and James is immensely helpful and rewarding. Eve Edwards masterfully portrays each character distinctly, emphasizing traits that make them unique and engaging. Plus, Edwards strikes a beautiful balance between the shorter, humorous scenes that diffuse the tension of the longer, more dramatic scenes.

James’s and Jane’s impending romance is completely swoon-worthy. You’ll root for them from the very first chapter onward. Jane’s cunning wit and sharp tongue allow her to put into words the sly comebacks we generally tend to come up with days after we need them (and subsequently beat ourselves up over). Plus, the setting of 1584 England means every barb and every romantic admission is said so eloquently that you’re sure to fall in love with the language just as much as the characters. Even better: though this is a historic fiction piece, Edwards dishes up a major plate of girl-power, along with a dash of damsel-in-distress for zest. The female characters here are strong, intelligent, and capable of some serious sass — and I love every minute of it!

In addition, if one romance isn’t enough for you, Edwards also provides the endearing love story of one of Jane’s best friends, Milly, and James’s manservant, Diego. With Milly and Diego, Edwards tackles the topic of biracial relationships in historic England, a topic I haven’t seen addressed much but appreciate in The Queen’s Lady for the questions it raises. This book certainly provides a lot to think about and really opens my eyes to specific customs and traditions I hadn’t previously been privy to. For anyone who enjoys historic fiction or tales of all-consuming romance, The Queen’s Lady is a must-read.

Pages: 336
Publication Date: April 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Rating : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote: “Jane plucked a handful of ivy leaves and threw them at him. ‘Why can’t you just love me?’

Book Reviews
October 5, 2011 posted by Kiona

The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles) – Kady Cross

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the “thing” inside her. When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help – and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on – even it if seems no one believes her.

The Girl in the Steel Corset was my first steampunk novel and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, it blew me away. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to read it all in one sitting, but by the time I got to the middle of the book, I absolutely could not put it down.

I was captivated immediately by the character of Finley, Kady Cross’s new version of Jekyll and Hyde. Finley’s dual personalities are riveting and I like that everyone immediately understands that Finley is two different people in one body. The characters of Steel Corset aren’t blind and oblivious. They are incredibly smart, talented, stubborn, and unique. It’s impossible to really dislike any character due to the fact that they all have so many layers to their personalities – layers that Cross peels back and explores in full.

The ensemble cast is one of the biggest highlights of the first novel in The Steampunk Chronicles. Cross seamlessly weaves from one character’s viewpoint to another. Though the majority of the novel is told from Finley’s and Griff’s points of view, we also spend time in the minds of Sam, Emily, and even The Machinist. Telling a story from multiple points of view increases the suspense and allows us to connect to each character more fully, which is very important when dealing with such a large cast.

In addition to phenomenal character development, this book is packed with action. There are multiple plot lines and conflicts existing at once, thus there’s never a dull moment. But at no point does it seem like there’s too much going on or like Cross has bitten off more than she can chew. The entire plot seems well-thought out and leaves the reader feeling as if Steel Corset is only the beginning of what’s sure to be a thrilling ride.

If forced, I could only cite a few faults. The first would be that I really can’t decide who I like better: Griff or Jack Dandy? Sam or Jasper? Finley and Emily certainly have their hands full with those boys. I would also say that the mystery of The Machinist’s identity is a little predictable, but not in a bad way. Sometimes it feels good, as a reader, to solve mysteries on your own. Plus, all the events surrounding The Machinist, including the end of the book, are anything but predictable.

As an added bonus, the story’s set in 1897 England, which means awesome outfits as well as a fun mixture of futuristic inventions and long-forgotten customs (and, oh yeah, masquerade balls, anyone?). Basically, there’s nothing not to love about Steel Corset. Luckily, this is just the beginning.

Pages: 473
Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Challenge: N/A
Rating : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote: “He walked her into the moonlight as though escorting her into a ball. Even though she knew she could snap his neck in an instant, she felt slightly off center—somewhat as her other half had with Griffin. Dandy had power, and that gave him confidence.”

Book Reviews
June 15, 2011 posted by Christina

Entangled – Cat Clarke

“17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with a table, pens and paper – and no clue how she got here.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she’s tried to forget. There’s falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there’s something missing. As hard as she’s trying to remember, is there something she just can’t see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here? ”


It goes without saying that waking up in a completely white room with just a table, pens and paper isn’t an everyday occurrence in Grace’s life. The only person she has contact with is Ethan, who brings her her meals and is keeping her prisoner. But if she’s been kidnapped why is he so nice yet infuriatingly cryptic? And what the heck is she doing there to begin with? The answer is there but it’s not till Grace starts putting her story to paper that she sees the truth.

When I first read the blurb for Entangled I was totally intrigued. A girl in a white room and she doesn’t know how or why? Tell me more! That plus a killer cover and plenty of positive reviews, I was very eager to get my hands on a copy. By the end of the story, I wish I didn’t get sucked into the trap of pretty covers.

Now, there are plenty of people who will disagree with me since Goodreads has page after page of glowing reviews, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

Grace is not the type of girl I’d ever be friends with. She’s the type I would’ve shied away from in school since her lifestyle is something I was always taught was not the way good girls should act. I might not always like the main character or what they do but a good story can make me forget that, Entangled just didn’t quite deliver for me.

Is it petty to dislike a character because she drinks like a sailor? Every few pages Grace was doing something that involved alcohol and usually plenty of it. Whether it was meeting up with a friend (usually at a bar or pub), hanging out at home or attempting suicide, alcohol was there and it just started to seem excessive in the story. Plus at only seventeen she seems to have had more than her fair share of casual sex, it’s not till Nat comes along that she sleeps with someone she actually cares about.

Grace has some personal issues as well. Since her father’s death, her relationship with her mother has been distant and strained. Rather than deal with her feelings on both issues she turns to self harming for release. At first you feel sympathy for how she must be feeling and that she doesn’t have someone to really help her deal with her problems (most try to just make her stop rather than address why she does it to begin with), but when you see Grace more or less emotionally blackmail people not to abandon her or she’ll harm herself you see that Grace has taken things one step too far.

The alternating perspective of the story from the present to the past was well done and flowed without a hitch but the major plot point was kind of predictable. It wasn’t completely obvious and at one point I thought maybe I was wrong, but in the end, it turned out exactly as I thought which was a shame. The story ends on a hopeful note but still leaves a few things hanging which left me wondering how things would’ve played out and generally a bit unsatisfied, especially about who exactly Ethan was.

Entangled had a lot of potential and deals with some heavy issues but I don’t feel it handled them as well as it could have. I wanted to like Grace or at least be able to sympathize with her, but in the end I just couldn’t find a reason to like her. The only character I liked in the end was Devon. For many Entangled was a hit, for me it’s a miss.

Pages: 375
Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: Pan Macmillan/Quercus
Challenge: Debut Author
Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Teaser Quote: “The same questions whirl round and round in my head:
What does he want from me?
How could I have let this happen?

Book Reviews
December 23, 2010 posted by Christina

Prisoners in the Palace – Michaela MacColl

“London, 1836. Seventeen-year-old Liza’s dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in a tragic accident. Alone and penniless, she accepts the position of lady’s maid to the young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servants’ world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the opportunity to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future Queen?”

To most, Queen Victoria is better known as the Queen of Britain, the woman to start the trend of white wedding dresses, Britain’s longest reigning monarch or simply the serious looking old woman in royal portraits who famously declared, “we are not amused”.

But before any of that, she was simply Princess Victoria. A young girl, ruled over by her over protective mother, living an unhappy existence under the oppressive ‘Kensington System’, waiting in the wings to become Queen.

Michaela MacColl’s Prisoners in the Palace is based on real life events in the three years (which have been condenced into one) leading up to Victoria taking the crown, including excerpts from the young Princess’s real journal, but have been elaborated on to create the story we have today.

Some characters are real, such as the Princess (duh), her mother the Duchess, Sir John, Lehzen and other members of the royal family. Though others are fiction, their origin is from people who lived in the time.

The story is artfully told through letters, journal entries, newspaper articles, but primarily from the perspective of the fictional character Liza. After her parent’s tragic deaths in a carriage accident Liza is left with debts to settle and her dreams of her first season in society are crushed. Instead she takes a job as the Princess’s maid and the extra job of playing spy to the Baroness, who is trying to find out what Sir John and Victoria’s mother are planning.

MacColl paints an amazing picture of Georgian London that is quite true to life. Through Liza when she steps out of the palace we see both the life the rich lived and how unforgiving and cruel the London streets could be to the poor, where the options for survival were limited, particularly for a woman.

For the Princess, Liza’s arrival to the rundown Kensington Palace (which, many years later would be home to Princess Diana) is a dream come true. Sir John’s ‘Kensington System’ requires Victoria to be completely shut off from friends, her finances and the outside world “for her protection”, when in reality it’s a system that intends to make her submissive, stripping her of her free will making her completely dependent and under the influence of Sir John and her mother the Duchess. This power over the Princess would mean that they would be running the show, with Victoria as their puppet.

With the help of Inside Boy Jones (who is secretly living within the palace walls) and Will, a London journalist, Liza uncovers their plans and does everything in her power to break their hold over Victoria.

The characters in this book are rich with personality and the interaction between them was completely engaging. Victoria’s personality was surprising since she is quite childlike and initially very compliant and under the control of her guardians. As the story progresses we see her really take ownership and finds the strength needed to not only rule her life but rule her country.

The blur of fiction with reality is what makes the story completely fascinating. We all know how the story ends, Victoria goes on to become queen, but what’s interesting is how and what happened before hand to make it happen.

Though it’s a historical fiction novel and definitely has the feel and mannerism of the period down pat, the story flows smoothly and is written beautifully so that you don’t get the feeling of being weighed down by the rigidness that some historical novels have. Prisoners in the Palace was impressive, intriguing (as the cover states) and engaging, I definitely recommend it.

Publication Date: September 2010
Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “He’s been bilious since he set foot in England. What a boor!” Victoria shook her head in irritation. “I wouldn’t marry Albert if he was the last prince on earth.”

A Curse Dark As Gold – Elizabeth C. Bunce
Book Reviews
September 14, 2010 posted by Christina

A Curse Dark As Gold – Elizabeth C. Bunce

“Upon the death of her father, seventeen-year-old Charlotte struggles to keep the family’s woolen mill running in the face of an overwhelming mortgage and what the local villagers believe is a curse, but when a man capable of spinning straw into gold appears on the scene she must decide if his help is worth the price.”

A Curse Dark As Gold is the award winning debut novel from Elizabeth C. Bunce, which gives a new interpretation to the classic story of Rumpelstiltskin.

When looking at the original story, one of the main messages is – what’s in a name? Though every character, from the King to the miller, to Rumpelstiltskin himself has a name, the main character – the miller’s daughter, is nameless. Thus our protagonist, Charlotte Miller, was created.

Set in the country town of Shearing in England during the late 1700s, we meet Charlotte and her younger sister, Rosie, on the gloomy day of their father’s funeral. With no one else to take over the family’s woolen mill, Stirwaters, Charlotte must take charge to ensure the workplace the whole village depends on for income, stays afloat. This is by no means a small feat.

On top of battling the mill’s debts, deadlines for wool production and maintaining her authority as a woman during the 1700s, the mill itself is cursed. Not only does it seem to have a mind of its own – sometimes causing injuries to the workers, but a son born to the current owner of the mill has never survive into adulthood. While the mill’s debts are the biggest concern, the mysterious Jack Spinner comes on the scene. He makes himself and his unique abilities to turn everyday material into anything you desire (such as gold) available to the Millers – but at what cost?

A Curse Dark As Gold is the third historical novel in a row that I’ve read lately and I must say, I’m really loving it. As mentioned, it’s a reinterpretation of the story of Rumpelstiltskin, which was done very well considering it was retold while staying in the same time period as the original was set. Considering we know the ending to the fairytale, you’re still left in suspense wondering just how everything will come together in the end of this book.

There are so many different themes and issues that came up in this book but were blended and balanced out very well. The first is showing how the Industrial Revolution impacted the “cottage industry” or more traditional manufacturing methods of items such as wool and fabric which is the case in this story. The plot also brings together the superstitions and hidden secrets found in quite country villages. Not only that but the villagers themselves are gutsy people who work hard and approach any problem head on such as the big city business trying to make a move on their mill and stamp out their way of life.

It also shows the difference between a woman’s place in society in the city versus the country. Charlotte and her sister work hard on the mill, and though it is accepted in the country; we see that in the city, she’d be expected to do no more than be a pretty young lady, leaving servants to take care of anything else. This is highlighted by the arrival of the girl’s only living relative, their Uncle Wheeler. Though he shows up in fine clothes and powdered wig, under his refined exterior lie dark secrets and betrayals.

Love is shown in many forms throughout the story. We see the Charlotte’s love for the Stirwaters and the people in it who are her extended family, her love for her sister as well as her love for Randall. I adored Randall; I thought he was such a great character and an example of the perfect gentleman who works hard to protect the ones he loves. Charlotte’s love for Stirwaters however, almost jeopardized her relationship with Randall, as she let her pride and her want to protect others by handling the entire burden herself get in the way, as she became secretive and progressively distant from him. We definitely see the importance of communication and knowing that you shouldn’t underestimate those around you.

A Curse Dark As Gold is a thrilling read that takes on a classic fairytale and makes it something new a different while giving you insight the mysteries that lie beneath seemingly quite country towns. A terrific addition to the historical novels coming out recently.

Pages: 395
Publication Date: August 2010
Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “Oh,” he said considering the idea, “let’s say Jack Spinner.”
“That’s no kind of name”
“It’s all the name I need here.” He gave a slight smile and tipped his hat. “Tonight, then. I’ll be back at sundown.”

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1) – Cassandra Clare
Book Reviews
August 31, 2010 posted by Christina

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1) – Cassandra Clare

“When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray arrives in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gas lit streets.  Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters, a band of warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. Drawn even deeper into their world, she finds herself fascinated – and torn between- two best friends and quickly realizes that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.”

Clockwork Angel is the first novel in the Infernal Devices series and is the prequel to the highly successful Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare. Over the past few weeks I’ve been hearing reviews mostly to the tune of “ZOMG, SO GOOD”, in regards to this book. So, not that I needed much encouragement, having already been a die-hard fan of The Mortal Instruments, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

The story is set in Victorian London and centers on Tessa Gray who has just arrived from New York to join her brother Nate after the death of their Aunt. Tessa barely sets foot on English soil before she’s kidnapped by The Dark Sisters – a wicked pair of warlocks who have hidden Nate and taken him hostage. In return for her brother’s safety Tessa is tortured into uncovering a shape shifting ability she never knew she had.

The Magister knew of it though. He is the leader of the Pandemonium Club, a mysterious club where humans and Downworlders (vampires, warlocks, faeries, werewolves) mix and he wants control of Tessa’s unique ability.

While uncovering murders linked to the club, Tessa is discovered and rescued by the Shadowhunters – Nephilim who are the children of Angels and humans who have sworn to protect humans from demons. Taking refuge at the London Institute Tessa enlists the help of the Shadowhunters to find her brother while she helps them uncover the dark plan to wipe out their kind…

When Clockwork Angel arrived in the mail I did a bit of a dance, I was that excited. I was Shadowhunter starved! A year had passed since her last book release and I was missing the sarcasm that Cassandra Clare does so well, and she definitely delivered. It took a bit of time in the beginning to adjust to the new time period and things took a bit of time to get going because a whole lot of groundwork needed to be laid before the story was able to gain some speed.

There’s no shortage of action in this book and can be quite creepy at times thanks to the evil clockwork minions of the Magister, made from the bodies of the dead. That, plus London’s notoriously bleak weather give the book quite a dark quality.

For me, Cassandra Clare’s standout talent as a writer is her ability to create such loveable, dynamic characters. The new characters we meet in this story are no exception. We see a few familiar last names – Herondale, Lightwood, Wayland, all being the ancestors of the characters were knew and loved from The Mortal Instruments (including Magnus Bane!) We’re also presented with a bunch of new characters as well.

It probably wasn’t until Magnus showed up though that I realized just how much I had missed the Shdowhunter world. He was his charming self as always and even though in this book his appearance was briefer than I’d have preferred, he was still great. Plus, it’s Magnus that leaves us with a great cliffhanger right at the end.

Our main character, Tessa, definitely has spunk.  She’s a lady with all the politeness and proper manners that go hand –in-hand with the time period, but when it comes down to it she puts up a hell of a fight and has a comeback for any snarky comment Will throws her way.

Speaking of Will; this guy is badass. His only downfall is that he’s also an a-hole. With his dark hair and blue eyes he’s beautifully sexy and has the kind of wit and classic one-liners that we’ve come to love from Jace in TMI. As Jace’s ancestor it’s clear that’s one of the character traits he’s passed down. Like most characters in this book, Will has a dark and mysterious past, which is apparently the reason he’s a jerk to most people and keeps them at arm’s length. Everyone except his best friend and parabatai, Jem.

Jem though, has dark secrets of his own, secrets which are destroying him from the inside out. He’s the only one who’s been able to get close to Will and balances out Will’s snark with his calm, soothing demeanor. With his silver hair and musical skills Jem’s a charmer simply by being a gentleman. He catches your attention with his subtleties.

The blurb hypes the three of them to be caught in a fierce love triangle but it’s not really the case – at least not in this book. It seems clear which of the two boys Tessa prefers (but if she was smart she wouldn’t…) but we’ll see how that’ll unfold in the next books.

There’s no denying there’s a well thought out plot here. Though it seems the plot moves Tessa rather than her driving the plot, it still twists, turns and weaves brilliantly, especially at the end – right when you think you know where everyone stands, it gets turned on its head which was really great. It was also great to see Shadowhunters from the perspective of a Downworlder, at times it made them appear very elitist and superior.

We also get to see the role of women during the period from different angles from each of the ladies we meet in the book. From Jessamine who wants a more traditional life, to Charlotte who is bending the rules and pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable for a lady to do (and without a corset too!)

By the end there are still so many questions left hanging you double check the last page to see if there’s even a sentence or two more to answer at least one, but no such luck.

This is a stunning novel and it’s going to be an agonizing wait for the next book but I know it’ll be worth it. It’s a fresh take on a period piece so expect action, many lines of great, quotable dialogue, a bit of romance and plenty of Shadowhunter mystery. A huuuuuuge thumbs up!

Pages: 488
Publication Date: August 31st 2010
Rating: : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote:  “That was enterprising,” Will sounded nearly impressed.

Nate smiled. Tessa shot him a furious look. “Don’t look pleased with yourself. When Will says ‘enterprising’ he means ‘morally deficient.'”

“No, I mean enterprising,” said Will. “When I mean morally deficient, I say, ‘Now, that’s something I would have done.”

Christina’s Guide to Historical Novels – Part 1
Blog Things
August 28, 2010 posted by Christina

Christina’s Guide to Historical Novels – Part 1

Last week I made the observation that historical novels – namely ones set in the 1700-1800s, are making a comeback. For those of you like me who could never quite click with writers like Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters even though you really, really, wanted to, these books are the next best thing. However, since you still need a good grasp of the context to understand these books 100%, as well as help the visualization process, I did my research and have put together a helpful guide of history, vocabulary, social etiquette and fashion for you guys.


Now, most of the novels are set in England, since at the time it was not only the place to be but by the 1700s Great Britain was in a position of high power on a global scale.

This is mainly because of the defeat of the Spanish Armada sent out by King Phillip to conquer England in the late 1600s. By wiping out the largest navy in the world, England took Spain’s place as naval power.
By the 1700s, with no real naval challenged able to defeat the English they were on their way to global dominance through economic exchange and colonial enterprises.

Sometimes you might hear a character say something like “I heard they sent him to Australia”. That’s because in 1788 Australia was colonized by the English. They sent convicts (criminals who were often only guilty of petty crimes like stealing a loaf of bread) there to do all the hard labor as a way of solving the problem of overcrowded jails.

England’s main religion was the Church of England and Catholics (as well as any other religion) were often persecuted and generally regarded with suspicion. Many feared Catholicism would try to rise to power via France or Spain.

England and France had a tense relationship during the 18th century as they fought over colonies in North America including Canada.

France supported the American colonists in their fight for independence from British rule – which led to war and the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

During the 19th century France was generally regarded as the traditional and most-likely enemy of England. Only slowly towards the end of the century did feelings in England change to consider the rise of Germany as more threatening.

The French Revolution in 1789 led by Napoleon Bonaparte (who later becomes Emperor) would see the end of the French Monarchy.

The 19th century was BIG as far as inventions go. By now, the Industrial Revolution is in full swing and by the end of the century we see the invention of the battery, gas lighting, steam trains, tin cans, cameras/photography, matches, typewriters, postage stamps, sewing machines (woohoo!), washing machines, the telephone, toilet paper and Coca Cola among many, many more.

The Victorian era became notorious for the employment of young children in factories and mines and as chimney sweeps.  They were also hired as errand boys, shoe blacks and domestic servants.

Bedlam – this is a place that will come up quite often, not just in historical novels but in general pop culture, it’s still mentioned. Official known now as The Bethlem Royal Hospital of London, it is the world’s first and oldest institution to specialize in the mentally ill. Back in the 18th century though, it was known for its cruel and inhuman treatment of patients, and basically – a madhouse.

Patients were initially referred to as “curable” and “incurable”. Conditions were consistently dreadful, and the care amounted to little more than restraint with violent and dangerous patients manacled and chained to the floor. Many were wrongly sentenced to Bedlam but the noise was “so hideous, so great; that they are more able to drive a man that hath his wits rather out of them.”

In the 18th century people used to go to Bedlam to stare at the lunatics. For a penny one could peer into their cells, view the freaks of the “show of Bethlehem” and laugh at their antics. Entry was free on the first Tuesday of the month.

Opium addiction was rife during the 18th and 19th centuries, in many parts of the world including England, France, Canada, USA and China, where it originated. It was often put into everyday medicines in the form of Laudanum – which was considered a cure all. Many women were opium addicts, with Laudanum being prescribed by doctors for menstrual cramps, and other afflictions. The liquid would be poured into drinks, used in cooking or taken straight. Opium dens also surfaced during this time where many would waste their lives away in a drugged out.

Opium featured quite a lot in writing from the time – either with characters using them or with the author being under the influence at the time. In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian visits opium dens as one of many shady nights in town.The poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, was a heavy opium user and is said to have written Kubla Khan after being in an opium haze.

Well, that about covers the finer points of the historical context, but it’s really the tip of the iceberg. I definitely recommend looking into it a bit more, especially if you love history like I do.