Cover Image: Wild Women and the Blues

Wild Women and the Blues

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Member Reviews

Wild Women and the Blues
by Denny S. Bryce
A well written book about a scholar looking to finish his dissertation and needs the help of a now elder jazz star of the roaring twenties featuring prohibition gangsters blues stars. He needs her secrets and at 110 is she prepared to give them having remained silent all this time. He wins her trust and she starts yovrelkvd her past . This is not what he was expecting. A good read with a mixture of fact and fiction. The content had it all . Enjoyable dual timeline 3.5/5

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Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra

As I explore the world of historical fiction, I came upon Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce. What a find. I enjoy the blues and to get a glimpse of its history in story format was good. Mixing my love of reading and music – always a hit. This is the first book I have read by Denny S. Bryce and I am glad of the opportunity to read this enjoyable book.

Wild Women and the Blues is told over a dual time frame – Chicago in the 1920’s (covering the jazz scene) and 2015. Film student Sawyer Hayes has suffered great tragedy in his life and is trying to get back on track with his life…if he could only finish up his graduate thesis which requires some discussions with 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour to fill in some gaps about the legendary Oscar Micheaux. Sawyer must be patient while Honoree tells her tales. Unbeknownst to them, their stories are intertwined. Sawyer believes that among his grandmother’s effects, he finds an Oscar Micheaux film. To corroborate the find, he goes to Chicago to talk with the chorus girl (Honoree) he believes is in the film. Sawyer’s journey is riddled with tragedy and he is literally haunted by this tragedy. I must say that his story, while interesting, was not so compelling nor integral to the story overall. His story was, in my opinion, the catalyst to have Honoree tell her story. Or at least until the end…I won’t say more so that each reader can discover the hidden gems of this story for themselves.

As Honoree tells her story – we are taken through the ups and downs of her journey as she try’s to make it as a dancer/performer. What a tale, which kept me thoroughly engaged throughout. Honoree is trying to make it, but seems that luck and circumstances get in her way…way too often. She is truly a Chicago show girl fighting for her place in the industry. Finding love, losing love, and seeing an event, which back in the day, was way too often shaped Honoree’s path.

I must say that I thought the storytelling was so good that I felt as if I was back in the 1920’s. I love when that happens when I am reading – being totally immersed in the story.I also must say that the cover was so eye catching, I loved it!

If you are a historical fiction reader, then I suggest you pick up Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce and set aside some time to really enjoy this fine read.

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Honoree Dalcour has seen it all. She was a star in the roaring twenties, partying with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Oscar Micheaux at the Dreamland Cafe. She was also a witness to the dark side of Chicago, where bootleggers, gamblers, and gangsters ruled the streets. Now, at 110 years old, she is the last living link to Micheaux, the legendary African American filmmaker who defied racism and censorship to make his own movies.

Sawyer Hayes is a young scholar who is writing his dissertation on Micheaux, but he needs Honoree's help to unlock the secrets of his life and work. He visits her at her nursing home, hoping to persuade her to share her memories. But Honoree is not an easy woman to talk to. She is stubborn, proud, and guarded. She doesn't trust Sawyer, or anyone else for that matter. She has guarded a long-held secret and had plans to carry it to her grave. But Sawyer is persistent, and he slowly gains her trust. As they talk, Honoree's story unfolds in vivid flashbacks, revealing her dreams, her loves, her losses, and her struggles.

WILD WOMAN AND THE BLUES is a historical novel that blends fiction and reality, featuring real-life figures like Micheaux, Armstrong, and Chaplin. It is a captivating portrait of a bygone era, full of glamour and grit. It is also a moving story of a woman who lived by her own rules and paid a high price for it. I love historical fiction and this one did not disappoint. My only regret is that it seemed Sawyer’s story was unfinished, but I will excuse that as he really wasn’t the focus. I will be looking to read more novels by author Denny S Bruce.

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Loved this historical story!!! Had entertainment; love story; murder; friendship…. What more can we want in a fantastic read!!! Thank you for the ARC!!! Very much enjoyed!

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I adore a good historical fiction book. While this one was good, I did get annoyed by the "today" section. One thing that will take me out of thoroughly enjoying my reading experience in this genre is including this, with the descendants of the historical characters exploring the past. That isn't always the case - in some books it works. It just didn't in this book in my opinion. The novel would have been stronger if it had left that out.

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Thank you for letting me read and review this book. This was a great historical fiction novel that was recommended multiple times in the podcast.

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My latest read WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES submersed the reader into the jazz world of 1920’s Chicago. Denny S. Bryce recreates the dance clubs, speakeasys, and the players of the ‘Stroll’ complete with cameos from Louis Armstrong with wife ‘Lil’, Oscar Micheaux, and murmurings of the infamous Al Capone. It was a hard world to make a honest living in with mobsters in control , racism thriving still amongst the police and society, and poor living conditions regarding heat, water, and facilities. The 1920’s time period, it’s people like Michaeux, and the jazz style of dance/music continues to widely fascinate even today as evidenced by the recently released features regarding these same subjects on streaming channels like HBOmax.

Meanwhile in the novel, an unreliable narrator of 110 yrs in age is responsible for providing verification and answers to questions and archival materials, but in turn provides so much more to the young man searching for their answers. Coming to see her at a vulnerable time in his own life full of grief and loss, she could prove to be his salvation or curse, while all the while the life clock is ticking for the aged former dancer.

Bryce, able to lean on her own dance background and passion for her hometown of Chicago, reflects both in her debut novel. This personal investment showed clearly through her topic of choice and thorough depictions. Stay tuned for Denny Bryce’s next historical fiction offering already being teased by Kensington Books: IN THE FACE OF THE SUN!

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I was really looking forward to this book that was about an African American chorus girl. However, this book did not turn out as I expected. I was surprised by the contemporary aspect of the novel, and I thought that it would be much better the contemporary story was eliminated. I was also not expecting a murder. Since the murder mystery was so very little focused on and is solved so early, I thought it was better if it was also eliminated. Thus, this novel held great promise, but the author doesn’t seem to know what she wanted this novel to be. Therefore, this novel was very ambitious but it had no clear vision. Instead of a going in a single direction, it went in many directions. Therefore, this novel had a great premise, but it was not well-executed. I do recommend this for fans of Speak Easy, Speak Love, Dead Dead Girls, and Black Orchid Blues!

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Wild Women and the Blues first drew me in with that gorgeous cover! I mean.. just look at it... it's beautiful and I wish I could say this is a new favorite to get a physical copy. However, this book kept me interested all along as we go back and forth between two point of views : Sawyer's (in the present) as he interviews Honoree about her life in the 20's in Chicago for his thesis. And we get Honoree's POV as well (obviously) sending us directly in the past.

I love the ideas, the concept and I guess this kind of plot is fascinating as we figure out the secrets and events that happened and how everything is connected. Overall, I'm glad I read this book!

(Thank you for letting me read and review an ARC via Netgalley)

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I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2022 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at <a href="">

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A historical fiction following Honoree and her days as a show girl at the jazz clubs. Overall the story was ok but I didn’t love it. The dual timeline also felt unnecessary .

Gorgeous cover

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Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for kindly providing me with a digital copy of this book for review.
First of all- the cover! Yep, I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw that. Bravo to whoever designed that!
This is a dual timeline historical novel with the settings being 1920’s Chicago Jazz scene and 2015 Chicago old folks home. It really depicts the dangerous, living life on the edge feel of a black 1920’s showgirl, mixed up with organised crime mobsters. I didn’t find many of the characters very likeable, but I guess having the experiences these characters have, they might just harden you and make you less likeable. It definitely was a dog eat dog kind of setting.
I found the book overall well paced but I did have a slight issue with the epilogue. Without giving any spoilers, I will just say the epilogue seemed rushed and we still didn’t learn in full what happened to some of our main characters, or fully explain how the ending came about. I did guess the big twist at the end, but like I say, I think a little more time could have been taken to describe how that twist came about.
I did really enjoy the story though, and I found it quite an immersive experience reading the book- I could almost smell the gin and cigarettes, I will be keeping an eye out for more titles by this author.

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What a brilliant debut! I loved reading Honoree's story. I can't wait to read the next book by Denny S. Bryce!

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I was intrigued by the premise of the book and found that the beginning of the book started out pretty strong, but as I continued to read I found my interest waning. I did enjoy the main character and the dialogue the author created, but I was disappointed overall and found the ending lacking. I felt that the author rushed the book and didn't tie up everything well.

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Thank you for the opportunity to read this novel! I did not finish it so I won't be leaving a full review.

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A film student, Sawyer, sits at the bed of 110 year old Honoree in her nursing home asking questions about famous filmmaker Oscar Micheaux.
Sawyer has under earthed some pictures from 1925 and he’s pretty confident that it’s Honoree in the pictures with the biggest legends, like Louis Armstrong and Micheaux.

Honoree was a dancer in jazz clubs in the 1920’s. In 1925, she was working a Black and Tan club where both black and white people came to the shows. It was absolutely groundbreaking during its time.

This is a tale of jazz, of prohibition, of mobsters, it’s a tale of love and friendship. Honoree and her friends are fighting a hard battle, they are talented and glamorous with good jobs, but their lives aren’t always safe.
As Honoree mentions in the book, no one asks questions when the person who dies is black.

I loved the timeframe this was set in, I really liked the characters too.

I felt sometimes the book was confusing. I say this even though I wasn’t surprised by the twists in the story.
I felt like Honoree’s story was so much bigger than Sawyer’s. Sometimes I felt like Sawyer was there so the story could be narrated, so I didn’t really understand the part of the story about his sister. I felt like I either needed more of that storyline or to skip it entirely.

Definitely an interesting story with a good pace to it. I had about 50% of this left one day and finished it without even expecting to have enough time. I guess we make the time, huh?

I appreciated the epilogue and the author’s note at the end.

I got to read an early ebook edition from NetGalley. Thanks!

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Ok I’m calling it. DNF: 48%. I was ridiculously excited for this book. The cover is EVERYTHING. A woman of color chorus girl protagonist set in the roaring 20’s? Romance, murder, and all that jazz? YES. Sign me up! So then why am I so bored?? I don’t feel a connection to any of the characters, they all feel flat as if the story is entirely plot driven but the plot really isn’t all that well flushed out either. I’ve started and stopped this book 3 times because I just could not get into it. I waited for it to be published, thinking maybe the audiobook would draw me in better. In the end I went looking for a review with spoilers so I could find out what happens and be done with it, and honestly, I’m glad I didn’t waste any more time. I’m really disappointed, this book had such potential but it did nothing for me.

Thank you NetGalley, author and publisher for the arc in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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Wild Women and the Blues was featured as one of our editorial manager's most anticipated books of early 2021:

This is definitely my favorite cover of 2021 so far and the 1920s Chicago setting is both unusual and exciting. There's a dual timeline aspect to this book as well, about a formidable woman who found herself and more than she bargained for in the tumultuous jazz scene of Chicago, rife with bootleggers, gangsters, and stolen dreams. . .

Denny was also a guest on the Boozy Book Broads YT Chat show, which our editorial manager co-hosts:

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This is a super fun read. I really enjoyed this one!

Many thanks to the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for my ARC. All opinions are my own.

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This was an incredible book about jazz and race and the 1920s in Chicago. I adored every word! The author’s descriptive language is beautiful. The story moves along at a good pace, while also developing the characters at a deep level. I highly recommend, especially if you are a Great Gatsby fan!

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