Cover Image: Wild Women and the Blues

Wild Women and the Blues

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Member Reviews

Wild Woman and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce Is a two time line point of view novel. The first being film student Sawyer, in 2015 wanting an interview with 1920s dancer Honoree Dalcour, so he can finish his thesis. I did not find a connection with Sawyer and wanted more of Honoree's story and less of his. 
Now Honoree, that is a story for sure. Set during 1925 Chicago, the jazz capital of the world, and the Dreamland Café is the ritziest black-and-tan club in town. Honoree comes from humble beginnings but has a chance to make it big as she dances her way to the top. 
But Chicago is a dangerous place in the 20s  with hard nose gangsters, illegal booze and gambling. Honoree stands to lose more than she gains. I would have loved to have spent more time with Honoree during this time period as it was fascinating.
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This beautiful novel tells a story in two timelines. In 1925, Honoree Dalcour dreams of twirling her way up the ranks of Chicago’s speakeasy dancers all the way to Broadway in New York City. In 2015, Sawyer Hayes just wants to finish his film school thesis and get his life back on track. The key to his success lies in the memory banks of a 110-year-old woman named Honoree Dalcour.

The story weaves together history and fiction, glitz and mystery, the Jazz Age and the Modern Age. I especially enjoyed the historical figures that found their way onto the page like Lillian Hardin Armstrong and Oscar Micheaux. It was also interesting to see those skills reflected in the modern-day characters like Lula and Sawyer. Additionally, I have a morbid interest in twentieth century mobsters, so the influence of Al Capone and his fellow mobsters was fascinating. 

The cover art for this book is stunning and definitely homes in on that glamourous Jazz Age vibe.
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When I first stumbled across the cover and title of this book I knew that I needed to read it! The author did not disappoint and I was pleasantly surprised. The roaring twenties theme and the visualizations that the book created captured my  attention from the beginning. I can see everything as I was reading. I have never read anything similar to this and that is a plus. I will definitely be on the lookout for what is next to come from this author. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me this ARC of this book.
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I liked this book, and I appreciated the story it told about the Jazz clubs in the Chicago area of Bronzeville and of the people who lived there. I also liked how the story jumped back and forth in time between Sawyer in 2015 and Honoree, Bessie, Ezekiel, and all of the others in their lives in the 1920s. There were times when I was frustrated with all of the main characters, and sometimes I got a little lost with the story, and it didn't always hold my attention. But, overall it was an interesting story.
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I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Wild Women and the Blues written by Denny S Bryce, is a historical fiction novel that alternates between 1925 Chicago and the present-day life of film student Sawyer Hayes. Sawyer has discovered a small cache of photographs and some film in a box in his grandmother’s attic. If he can verify the names of the people in the photograph and confirm that the film is by filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, it will mean an important historical find and exactly what he needs to complete his thesis. Honoree Dalcour at 110 years old, is one of the people in the photograph.  Sawyer sits by her bedside listening to her stories, and as she weaves her tale of 1925, Chicago Sawyer learns not only the answers to the questions he originally sought but also discovers that his family history is not what he thought it was at all. At the same time as I was reading this book, we were reading August Wilson’s play Ma Raineys Black Bottom at work, and so I was immersed in 1920’s Chicago both day and night. It’s a fascinating period of history, and I found both of these sources to complement each other and enjoyed this book very much. The twists and turns of the story will keep you engrossed in the book, and I highly recommend reading it. Publishing Date: March 30, 2021. #WildWomenAndTheBlues #DennySBryce #HistoricalFiction #KensingtonBooks #NetGalley #1920sChicago #BluesHistory #bookstagram #bookstagrammer
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Thank you Netgalley and Kensington Books for the chance to read an advance copy of Wild women and the blues by Denny S. Bryce. This book written with a dual timeline hooked me right away. The twenties were once a big hit for me and I loved the visuals the author gave me: the costumes the girls wore to dance, the music, the seediness of the clubs. Honoree's story was one I thought could work well in a movie, and was told quite vividly by the author.  The 2nd timeline Sawyer's in 2015, working on his film project goes to visit Honoree to talk to her about her days as a dancer to ask her to confirm she was the dancer in a possible long lost film he uncovered. He is forced to listen to her wild claims, but starts to uncover a long ago mystery, something that will tie his own family to her and this long ago timeline. I loved this book. While I did find the middle a bit slow, it kept picking up. It had everything I love in a book, mystery, romance,  heartbreak, and a good ending. I will definitely keep this author on my TBR pile! I recommend to anyone who loves jazz!
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Chicago.  1920's.  Honoree Dalcour is a sharecropper's daughter who dreams of becoming the best dancer in the world.  With no support, she is about to make all of her dreams come true.  As luck would have it, Honoree finds herself in the midst of a criminal enterprise.  What will happen to Honoree?  Will she be able to finally make all of her dreams come true? 

The hallmarks of a great fictional book involve 2 elements:  1) imperfect, realistic, relatable characters and 2) good storytelling.  This book had both in spades.  

There were a couple of twists in this book which were pretty unexpected, and this book was probably the best historical fiction that I have read.  It provided enough information to get you interested and onto Wikipedia to look up additional information.  I also enjoyed that Honoree was a strong female character.

The only downside to this book was that I thought that the ending was a bit abrupt and that I didn't read it as part of a book club because I would have loved to discuss it with my friends.  This book would also be perfect for a movie adaptation!
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Phenomenal novel about the Jazz and Prohibition years in Chicago. I loved learning about the “Stroll” and a part of history of that I hadn’t heard of. Plus I love all things Chicago. At its core this is about love and survival and working towards your dreams. Honoree is a wonderful character that is full of life and knows her own mind. I appreciate that in a female protagonist.
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It’s finally here! I’ve been waiting for this book for awhile. I snagged an advance copy through NetGalley and now my own pre-ordered copy is here. I’m one happy reader.


If you love historical fiction, dual timelines, stories with a twist, strong female protagonists, and great writing, the you’ll love WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES.

Speakeasies, bootleg hooch, and mobsters. 1925 Chicago had it all. Honoree Dalcour was a dancer at the Dreamland Cafe, and rubbed elbows with Louis Armstrong, his wife Lil Hardin, and Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Sawyer Hayes is hoping to interview her in 2015. Through a series of encounters, we learn the secrets each are keeping and how Honoree’s will impact Sawyer.

Bryce writes with an authentic voice, befitting the Jazz Age. She knows what she’s doing and it shows. I loved the characters, the story, the setting, everything.

I highly recommend this one!

I received a free advance copy through NetGalley but was not influenced to review it favorably.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I don't often read historical fiction, but I've always been fascinated by the Jazz age so I couldn't resist this one. I like that the story is told in dual timelines: 1920s and 2015. I also feel like this book did a great job of invoking senses. This book was totally captivating. Highly recommend!
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Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for an e-arc of Wild Women and the Blues.

Bouncing back and forth between 1925 Chicago and 2015 Chicago, Wild Women and the Blues tells the story of Honoree Dalcour. She is spunky and fiercely independent. Her goal is to dance on stage in New York or be a film star. However, when Honoree ends up involved with a gambling ring run by Capone's men, she quickly discovers all might not be as it seems. The fling of her youth, Ezekiel, reappears suddenly back in her life after vanishing 3 years earlier. He is deeply involved with the gambling ring and the bootlegging business. 

Flash forward to present day, where Sawyer is trying to eek out the rich history Honoree has lived through by interviewing her. She is ornery, cranky, and unwilling to just tell her story - she needs Sawyer to unveil his secrets as well. 

As the story unfolds, the twists and turns continue to draw the reader into the plot. Honoree has a rich past, running with the big names of the 20s, Louis Armstrong, Lil Harden, and Oscar Micheaux. As Sawyer endeavors to draw more information from Honoree, he discovers that underneath layers of truth, sometimes lie lies.
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Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce is an outstanding historical fiction novel that captures the Chicago jazz scene of the 1920s perfectly! Per-fect-ly. 

Oh my goodness I love this whole story - Everything about it is totally captivating.

I felt like reading this dual timeline narrative (1920s and 2015) was an immersive experience. The incredible writing invokes all your senses - you hear the jazz, see the flappers dancing, feel the rhythm of the music, taste the bootleg hooch and smell the smoke wafting through the crowded bars and clubs. 

The sights and sounds draw the reader in and the mystery and drama keeps them hooked until the very end. 

Seriously, if you’re interested in a phenomenal read set in this period, pick this one up! You won’t regret it.
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Wild Women and the Blues is the story of love, loss, secrets, and friendship set against the backdrop of Chicago’s 1920’s Black Belt. It follows the dual storylines of grieving film student Sawyer Hayes as he interviews 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour (aptly described as charmingly rude) in 2015 for a documentary, and 19-year-old Honoree in 1925 as she’s trying to make it big as a dancer at a night club.

Although there are two storylines, the majority of the book takes place in 1925’s Chicago and this was where I felt the most immersed. I loved experiencing Jazz Age Chicago come alive (think nightlife, booze, music, films, policy rackets, mobsters) and encountering some of the historical figures from that time such as Louis Armstrong. There were some aspects of the story that were underdeveloped for me, but that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying myself. There was murder, mystery, and an unexpected twist that I never saw coming that changed the entire perspective of the story. Honoree Dalcour is a tough as nails black female lead and I loved seeing her navigate these wild times.

The authenticity of the 1920’s slang was the “bees knees” and I believe this book will be particularly entertaining in audiobook format.

Read if you:
-Enjoy historical fiction with a dual timeline, present-time interviewer format (similar to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo) and subtle romance
-Would enjoy traveling back in time to 1925’s Chicago (if you wonder what that was like, pick up this book!)
-Enjoy women’s fiction
-Want to read more BIPOC books/authors

TW: rape, homicide, car crash, suicidal ideation

Star rating: 3.5

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington books for providing an advance copy of this book for review purposes.

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Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3844563056?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
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I am a fan of African American Historical Fiction. Author, Denny S. Bryce has successfully fused one of my favorite historical eras, the 1920’s, with a storyline that smoothly flows between the past and present. WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES is a foray into Chicago’s Jazz Age of chorus girls, racketeering, prohibition, and gangsters. The reader is introduced to Honoree Dalcour, and Sawyer Hayes, the protagonists who take the reader on a journey that inevitably lays out a multigenerational story.
WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES is both entertaining and evocative. The historical details of this story include highlights and lowlights of the era, and I recommend it for your reading pleasure.
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Thank you Netgalley and Kensington books for access to this arc. 

 Wow – what a cover. I saw it and decided that I wanted to read this book. Then I read the blurb and thought – jackpot! This ought to be fabulous. Sadly, after I was finished, despite learning a great deal about what life was like for Blacks in 1920s Chicago, I felt that the pacing, the over explained yet unfinished plot points, and the unlikeable characters derailed what should have been a memorable book. 

Two main characters anchor the dual stories – in 2015 young film student Sawyer is desperate to finish his PhD and he thinks he’s found what – or rather who – he needs in the person of 110 year old Honoree Dalcor. In the speakeasies of 1925 Chicago, Honoree clawed her way up from nothing as she dreamed of dancing in one of the flashy Black and Tan Clubs before heading to stardom in New York or Paris. Sawyer has discovered a box of items among which could be a reel of a lost silent film by a famous Black director with none other than Honoree Dalcor in it. He needs to question her about her past to finish his dissertation. But Honoree has never done what others want and she’ll make Sawyer work for what she’s willing to tell.

As the book begins, we see Honoree going to work at the low class club where she dances. Her boss is slime and his lout of a brother is worse. The other dancers are rough around the edges and just as self absorbed as Honoree but given the lives they lead and the odds against them as colored women in the 1920s, I can understand their attitudes and actions. If they don’t fight for what they want and need, they won’t get it. Honoree’s got a plan that will see her out of this place and she’s not going to let anyone stand in her way. Only, too many times instead of showing strength, Honoree acts stubbornly about something and ends up needing to be saved by her devoted circle of friends and lover. 

She will – sometimes reluctantly – take a new and younger teen under her wing and through Honoree’s advice to Bessie, we see the hardscrabble life that women have faced at the hands of brutal men for eons. Bessie is an odd mix of naivete and ruthlessness. Around Honoree, Bessie is often annoyingly clingy yet when her unwanted pregnancy is revealed, she can turn both sulky and callously dismissive of the unborn baby. 

Sawyer is an educated son of educated parents but tragedy has haunted the family. His mother is dead and his sister died in a way that Sawyer feels is his fault. His father is a well known academician whom Sawyer sees as dismissive of him and always jumping to think that he’s a screw up. The pressure is on Sawyer to talk to Honoree but once he barges into her room and basically demands that she speak to him, I was not impressed. Neither is the aid who helps Honoree or Honoree herself. I was happy when both took Sawyer down a peg yet instead of that making him rethink his attitude problem, it only makes him petulant and more impatient. Dude – who is asking whom for a favor here?

After the story lays some groundwork, Something Happens that puts 1925 Honoree in fear for her life. The scene is electric and I thought – hot damn, here we go. Only … we don’t. In fact except for a few brief references, this pretty much gets ignored for the next 100 pages. Instead the plot bogs down in a lot of convoluted nothing and the momentum that was building goes flat. The reason for the Something is never even actually explained well. What it was and why it became so deadly is a mystery to me. I know it had something to do with organized crime and money but beyond that – nope. Another character begs Honoree to give him something but I never understood what that thing meant or why people were willing to kill for it. 

Another issue is that the 1925 historical sections would appear to be leading to something important and then would suddenly get interrupted with the modern parts. The sections with Sawyer became repetitive. He arrives, he questions Honoree or argues with her, she gets tired or refuses to answer, he leaves – rinse and repeat. His backstory is also left a bit unexplained with one important thing being totally dropped with no follow through. A major surprise is revealed late in the story. Though there are a few clues sprinkled along the way, I kept waiting for the reason behind this but we’re never told why it was done. At this point, the book concludes with a whole lot of telling instead of showing but still leaves some explanations out.        

So ultimately, while I enjoyed reading about and learning about life for Blacks in the Chicago neighborhood of Bronzeville during the Jazz Age (there are some nice scenes with Lil Hardin Armstrong), these sections didn’t seem to advance the plot much. In the back of my mind, I was always waiting for that Something that threatened Honoree to take center stage again. While the day to day historical details were interesting, they felt more like filler. As I struggled through the middle part of the book, I kept impatiently waiting for a return to the outcome of the Threatening Event. I wanted to love this book but will have to settle for loving the cover instead. C-
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Historical fiction with dual timelines - Chicago in 1925 and present day. The story of chorus girl Honoree in Chicago is the more interesting of the two. Honoree’s story is interspersed with some real life characters that provide context, but it’s her well-developed and feisty character that brings the book to life! The present day story of Sawyer and his reasons for talking to Honoree made sense, but were less compelling. I always wanted to get back to Honoree. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction and eras we don’t always get the opportunity to read about.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a pre-release copy of this book.
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Denny S. Bryce is a genius of a writer in her debut historical novel, Wild Women and The Blues. From the beautiful and stunning cover to the words that leap from the pages, she cleverly crafts an intriguing, entertaining dual time period masterpiece. Total wow factor are the words that come to mind as you are drawn into the world of Wild Women and The Blues.

It is all so real; the music, lights, fashion, the grime, and grit of the danger of the Chicago streets in the 1920s. The authenticity of it all creates a feeling that you are right there in the midst of the action with a front row seat watching the past and present unfold as one’s truth is being told. Wild Women and The Blues is a masterpiece indeed. It is a beautiful description of words that paints an exquisite work of art on the canvas of your imagination. 

It is the intertwining story of Sawyer Hayes (2015) and Honoree Dalcour (1925), both bound by their inner unrest, needing to be set free. Sawyer is broken, hurt, grief stricken, and in desperate need to finish his thesis to include a film documentary. With a box of hidden treasures, he took from his grandmother, his discovery brings unanswered questions, hidden secrets, and keys to the discovery of the truth. 

Honoree, a 110-year-old woman, is the key to his missing link and unanswered questions along with the film that is believed to be one of the lost films of the one, Oscar Micheaux. Sawyer’s quest for the truth, closure and healing has the past meeting the present, colliding together light thunder and lightning in a unexpectant storm. There is no turning back, no matter the cost. He is put to the challenge of putting the pieces together to complete his thesis and uncover the truth that is hidden and long ago buried.
 
The journey of the quest for the truth is deeply rooted in the history of the past, secrets, lies, forgiveness, and love. The entanglement of the past meets the present has a mesmerizing appeal that keeps you turning the pages for more. Wild Women and The Blues is a read you will want to read again and again, even if just for the pure enjoyment of the 1920s Jazz Age cultural experience and the memories of, “Honoree Dalcour”.
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An interesting dual narrative historical fiction novel filled with jazz age intrigue and lots of drama.

I loved reading about Honoree Dalcour’s adventures (and misadventures) in 1925 Chicago. Though we like to remember the jazz age for its glitz and glamor - as depicted by this book’s gorgeous cover - Bryce does an excellent job of highlighting the grittier parts of that era. Particularly interesting are the explorations of class and economic barriers and the inclusion of some real life legends and icons as characters.

Ultimately, the modern day narrative falls a bit flat and doesn’t feel as fully developed as the other narrative. Although it adds to some of the overall mystery of Honoree’s story, Sawyer’s chapters sometimes felt more like filler than significant plot or character development.
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This book was the closest to perfect that a book has come in a long, long time. I love a dual time period historical novel. This one drew me in from the first lines and I could NOT put it down once I started! I heard an editor talk about this book a few weeks ago and sang its praises and I just didn't expect the vibrant prose and vivid imagery- felt like I was in the room. I wish there would have been a "better" explanation for a key detail, but overall, this was a great, entertaining read.
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The story is about a film student with a tragic past trying to get information from a 110 year old former dancer to unlock secrets about a famous film director. You follow two timelines, the present day timeline of our film student, Sawyer, and the 1925 timeline of our former dancer, Honoree. The book shows us 1925 Chicago right in the middle of booze and dirty dealings. You get black history, fun historic slang and the feeling of being in the midst of more than you can handle. 

The idea is captivating, and as someone who enjoys historical novels and Gatsby erra fashion and influence, the black experience of the time is something that I long for. I was very excited to be dropped into the time period and see what the author had in store for us. 

Unfortunately I just didn't enjoy the book as much as I had hoped which lead to me DNFing it at 38% in. I didn’t enjoy the characters, I didn’t like the film students timeline, I felt like the timelines didn’t line up in a way that I enjoyed or made sense to me. Since I didn’t finish the book I can’t say if it converged in a satisfying way. I was bored, and although Honoree’s storyline was vaguely interesting there wasn’t anything really grabbing me to make me want to push through the boring parts. No strong romance, no strong mystery, no suspense or fear. And since I don’t like any of the characters I kinda don’t care what happens to them. I also didn’t feel like the internalize racism was necessary for the story even if accurate to the time and it only made me dislike the characters even more. 

I think this may be an enjoyable book for some people, and again I do really love the idea behind it. But it just wasn’t for me. I think I could get behind the unlikeable characters if the plot was more compelling and vice versa. But since the plot felt so-so, and the characters were annoying I just didn’t really want to read it. It is possible that if I had more time I would come back and have a different opinion and experience and might even finish the book but at this moment in time it is just not for me. 

(Spoiler thoughts available in my goodreads review)
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