Showing posts with label Historical Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Historical Fiction. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Love and Other Consolation Prizes

33572784Love and Other Consolation Prizes
By: Jamie Ford
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary: 
A powerful novel about an orphan boy who is raffled off at Seattle’s 1909 World Fair, and the friends who teach him what it really means to have a family, from the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Inspired by a true story, this is the unforgettable story of a young boy named Ernest, set during the 1909 Seattle world’s fair called the Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo. It is a time when the magical wonders of technology on display at the expo future seems limitless. But for Ernest, a half-Chinese orphan who found his way to America through a last desperate act of his beloved mother, every door is closed. A charity student at a boarding school, he has never really had a place to call home. Then one day, his wealthy sponsor announces that if a home is what he wants, then that is what he will have: Ernest will be offered as a prize in the daily raffle at the fair, advertised as “Healthy boy to a good home for the winning ticket holder.” The woman who “wins” him is the madam of a notorious brothel who was famous for educating her girls. He becomes a houseboy in her brothel and is befriended by the daughter of the madam, as well as a Japanese girl who works in the kitchen. The friendship and love between these three form the first real family Ernest has ever known.

My Thoughts:

I love Ford's books. Seeing that he has this coming out soon just makes my heart happy and makes me want to go back and read his others again (See my review for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet). I think he is the perfect writer for book clubs because his writing is well thought out, engaging and definitely prompts discussion. 

Ford is able to weave in between times perfectly. I can have difficulty with authors trying to go back and forth in time - it can seem disjointed, or the future thinking colors the past and it's just not great - also it is difficult to avoid plot twists because you think you have it figured out but Ford does it masterfully in this novel. Going back and exploring the lives of these poor children who are given up because they are either unwanted, or the parents can't take care of them any longer just breaks my heart. But seeing their resilience was beautiful.

A big point to touch on was the suffragettes and their insistance on the morality of Seattle. I am not in any way shape or form an advocate for prostitution, but I am not in favor of marching around telling anyone forced into that kind of life that they are all going straight to hell. I think Ford did a good job of making me pause and think of how there is a need to see the people behind the actions that offend us and that we need to see how we can help others rise rather than look at their failures with the mindset of "I told you this would happen."

Really there is too much going on in this story for me to discuss it all here. Go and get it for book club, your group will not be disappointed. 

**Copy given to me in exchange for an honest review**

Friday, April 14, 2017

In the Shadow of Lakecrest


In the Shadow of LakecrestIn the Shadow of Lakecrest


By: Elizabeth Blackwell
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Gothic
Rating: 3.5 stars
Summary:
The year is 1928. Kate Moore is looking for a way out of the poverty and violence of her childhood. When a chance encounter on a transatlantic ocean liner brings her face-to-face with the handsome heir to a Chicago fortune, she thinks she may have found her escape—as long as she can keep her past concealed.


After exchanging wedding vows, Kate quickly discovers that something isn’t quite right with her husband—or her new family. As Mrs. Matthew Lemont, she must contend with her husband’s disturbing past, his domineering mother, and his overly close sister. Isolated at Lakecrest, the sprawling, secluded Lemont estate, she searches desperately for clues to Matthew’s terrors, which she suspects stem from the mysterious disappearance of his aunt years before. As Kate stumbles deeper into a maze of family secrets, she begins to question everyone’s sanity—especially her own. But just how far will she go to break free of this family’s twisted past?


My Thoughts:


I will start out by saying that Gothic stories are not my favorite. I don't have much patience for the woman going mad story. I prefer to cut to the chase, figure out what is going on and actually having problems that you are capable of facing. Ghosts are not my things, thinking that you are being driven insane is also not my thing, being put in a position where you feel that all of your power is taken away from you - MOST DEFINITELY NOT. MY. THING.

 
I read it in just 2 days - so it was compelling. Irritating as anything, but compelling.


Kate makes a case for not marrying a man until you know who your mother-in-law is going to be. The first Mrs. Lemont is controlling, cold, manipulative and really I couldn't find anything redemptive about her. She is the spider and everyone in her family is caught in a web of her design and she comes across - at least to me - as flat out evil. Emphasis on the "flat" there wasn't enough of a development of her character to make her compelling. 


With all of the frustration from the MIL I will say that this was a book that made my lunch hours fly by. I was entertained by it and I needed to read it faster so that the book would actually get to the part that it had been hinting at so heavily.

If I find more of Elizabeth Blackwell's work I will definitely give it a go though this isn't a book that I would buy for my shelves. 


I was given a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. 





Thursday, March 9, 2017

Victoria


30841109Victoria

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary: In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….


My Thoughts:

"Your subjects are not dolls to be played with...To be a queen, you have to be more than a little girl with a crown."

I love Goodwin. She is one of my top 5 current authors and I always want to read whatever she has written. The American Heiress is one of my absolute favorites. So when I saw she wrote about the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign I was so excited.

She didn't disappoint.

I have read a lot about Victoria - her tempestuous relationship with her mother, her love story with Albert and of course the scandals in the beginning of her reign with the whispers of Lord Melbourne - and Goodwin wove all of the history together brilliantly. I often forget that the greats of history were teenagers at some point - I mean I'm currently 7 years older than Victoria was when she took her crown and while she was more prepared than I will ever be to run a country, Goodwin allowed for her to be an 18 year old and showed her missteps and corrections.

It was beautiful to read. Well written, well researched and simply a joy. I would recommend this for anyone who has any interest at all in Queen Victoria.

I was given a galley copy in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Magdalen Girls


The Magdalen GirlsThe Magdalen Girls


Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars
Summary: Dublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man. Among them is sixteen-year-old Teagan Tiernan, sent by her family when her beauty provokes a lustful revelation from a young priest.

Teagan soon befriends Nora Craven, a new arrival who thought nothing could be worse than living in a squalid tenement flat. Stripped of their freedom and dignity, the girls are given new names and denied contact with the outside world. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, who has secrets of her own, inflicts cruel, dehumanizing punishments—but always in the name of love. Finally, Nora and Teagan find an ally in the reclusive Lea, who helps them endure—and plot an escape. But as they will discover, the outside world has dangers too, especially for young women with soiled reputations.


My Thoughts:

Wow - well first off, I didn't know what I was getting into when I picked this up. It was definitely judging a book by it's cover - because I really love it. But the subject matter was hard for me to read. It was a part of history that I didn't know existed - at least in this fashion. I knew about women being locked in insane asylums when they didn't fall in line with the societal norms but I didn't know the religious side of it. 

Alexander did a good job at trying to not demonize the Catholic church while still showing the indignities that occurred. 

It was a book that left me angry and frustrated for the characters - for the fact that there was no way for their voice to be heard - for the lack of justice and mercy. It went against the grain of innocent until proven guilty and just left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I think Teagan was the one who gave me the most grief. She was put in simply because a priest (who really had no business joining the clergy) was having "impure thoughts" about her. And just like that her parents signed her over to the custody of the nuns with no sign of ever taking her back. So many times she tried to tell the truth, explain what happened and no one would listen to her simply because she was fallen. 

Being a Christian myself the whole scenario left me feeling terrible. In no way did the actions reflect the teachings of Christ - but as I earlier stated, Alexander wrote this in such a way that while the local leaders we dealt with drove me crazy she didn't condemn the Church as a whole.

Overall, if you want to find out more about a little known bit of history go for it.

I was given a galley copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Read - All Other Nights


All Other NightsAll Other Nights

By: Dara Horn
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
"How is tonight different from all other nights? For Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army during the Civil War, it is a question his commanders have already answered for him - on Passover, 1862, he is ordered to murder his own uncle in New Orleans, who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln. After this harrowing mission, Jacob is recruited to pursue another enemy agent, the daughter of a Virginia family friend. But this time, his assignment isn't to murder the spy, but to marry her." Based on real personalities such as Judah Benjamin, the Confederacy's Jewish secretary of state and spymaster, and on historical facts and events ranging from an African American spy network to the dramatic self-destruction of the city of Richmond, All Other Nights is a story of men and women driven to the limits of loyalty and betrayal. It is also a parable of the rift in America that lingers a century and a half later: between those who value family and tradition first, and those dedicated, at any cost, to social and racial justice for all.

My thoughts:
I listened to this one rather than reading it - but it was a great way to pass time in the car as I drove around on errands and heading to and from my classes.

This was an aspect of history that I had never even thought of - spies in the Civil War. And then to get even more detailed let's take it up a notch with Jewish spies in the Civil War. This topic was wonderfully researched and chosen in my mind. The attention to details, to how the lines moved back and forth, adding in the Jewish culture - so often over looked in the finaces and weaving in characters such as Judah Benjamin and Edwin Booth made the listening experience so enjoyable.

Jacob was hard to listen to sometimes - I just wanted him to grow a spine, to say no. To refuse to kill his uncle or to have more strength than to play with the heart of a girl, even if she was a confederate spy. I wanted him to stand up to his commanding officers and make them realize what all they were asking of him. But the beauty of the book is that Jacob wanted the same things of himself.He was horrified to see how easily he did it himself.  It was an example of  how flawed a character can be and yet we still root for him. Because in him we find ourselves.

There were some amazingly cringe-worthy moments of antisemitism in there too. But it was accurately reflecting sentiments of the time. I am amazed at how far we have come. Not because of where we are now, but because of how bad the world used to be. 

For those who are wanting a Civil War novel (it is most definitely a novel) with a thrilling plot which keeps going until the end I would highly recommend All Other Nights.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Friday Fun - The Movement of the Stars


The Movement of Stars: A NovelThe Movement of Stars: A Novel

By: Amy Brill
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
It is 1845, and Hannah Gardner Price has lived all twenty-four years of her life according to the principles of the Nantucket Quaker community in which she was raised, where simplicity and restraint are valued above all, and a woman’s path is expected to lead to marriage and motherhood. But up on the rooftop each night, Hannah pursues a very different—and elusive—goal: discovering a comet and thereby winning a gold medal awarded by the King of Denmark, something unheard of for a woman.

And then she meets Isaac Martin, a young, dark-skinned whaler from the Azores who, like herself, has ambitions beyond his expected station in life. Drawn to his intellectual curiosity and honest manner, Hannah agrees to take Isaac on as a student. but when their shared interest in the stars develops into something deeper, Hannah’s standing in the community begins to unravel, challenging her most fundamental beliefs about work and love, and ultimately changing the course of her life forever.

My Thoughts:
I loved this book. It was a slower pace than what I have been reading lately and I thoroughly enjoyed the change. I thought it would be a nice novel - historical, charting how Hannah became an astronomer and whatnot. What I didn't expect was that the book would explore the difficulties of racial issues, reconciling the faith of your fathers with your personal belief system, and gender equality.

All of these subjects - which are still relevant to our time - were covered without coming across as didactic. Hannah was a great lens through which to view the time because in her pursuit for truth she didn't seem to have the ability to see the importance of color, gender or belief. She simply went quietly in search of truth. I loved how she was able to stand up for her beliefs, declare what was in her heart - but still love those who believed differently than she did. 

Hannah is a strong, flawed and complete character and I loved to read on her story and go with her through her journey. It was a wonderful read. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

YA Wednesday - A Matter of Magic


A Matter of Magic (Mairelon, #1-2)A Matter of Magic

By: Patricia C. Wrede

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
When a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into a traveling magician’s wagon, Kim doesn’t hesitate. Having grown up a waif in the dirty streets of London, Kim isn’t above a bit of breaking-and-entering. A hard life and lean times have schooled her in one lesson: steal from them before they steal from you. But when the magician catches her in the act, Kim thinks she’s done for. Until he suggests she become his apprentice; then the real trouble begins.

Kim soon finds herself entangled with murderers, thieves, and cloak-and-dagger politics, all while trying to learn how to become both a proper lady and a magician in her own right.

My Thoughts:
Everyone has probably figured out by now that I have a thing for magical novels...they are kinda sorta basically my favorite - if they are well put together and these ones are.

First off, this is two books published together - kind of like my one of my favorite fantasy novels Crown Duel and it was great to not have to wait to read the next one but just follow the story. I loved the characters - Kim had everything I loved in a heroine - mainly she was her own character, romance really wasn't something on her agenda and she was sharp as a knife. I was kind of reminded of the book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for a slightly younger audience. And Mairelon - the magician who finds Kim - is wonderfully exasperating and needing to go off on adventures. He doesn't care about what society thinks and I loved seeing his reactions to all of the chaos which surrounded him. 

I finished the book last night - having stayed up far later than I intended - and was left wanting to search for the next installment of the series...sadly I don't know if there is one, though goodness knows it would be a marvelous thing. If you want Regency England with Magic, this is the perfect book for you. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Must Read Monday - Chateau of Secrets


Chateau of SecretsChateau of Secrets

By: Melanie Dobson

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars

Summary:
A courageous young noblewoman risks her life to hide French resistance fighters; seventy years later, her granddaughter visits the family’s abandoned chateau and uncovers shocking secrets from the past. Gisèle Duchant guards a secret that could cost her life. Tunnels snake through the hill under her family’s medieval chateau in Normandy. Now, with Hitler’s army bearing down, her brother and several friends are hiding in the tunnels, resisting the German occupation of France.

But when German soldiers take over the family’s château, Gisèle is forced to host them as well—while harboring the resistance fighters right below their feet. Taking in a Jewish friend’s baby, she convinces the Nazis that it is her child, ultimately risking everything for the future of the child. When the German officers begin to suspect her deception, an unlikely hero rescues both her and the child.

A present day story weaves through the past one as Chloe Sauver, Gisèle’s granddaughter, arrives in Normandy. After calling off her engagement with a political candidate, Chloe pays a visit to the chateau to escape publicity and work with a documentary filmmaker, Riley, who has uncovered a fascinating story about Jews serving in Hitler’s army. Riley wants to research Chloe’s family history and the lives that were saved in the tunnels under their house in Normandy. Chloe is floored—her family isn’t Jewish, for one thing, and she doesn’t know anything about tunnels or the history of the house. But as she begins to explore the dark and winding passageways beneath the chateau, nothing can prepare her for the shock of what she and Riley discover…

My Thoughts:
I love that cover, so I made it a little bigger - doesn't it just look gorgeous to you?

So I read this in one sitting as the internet had gone out and someone had to watch the house while the cable guy took a while to fix it. But it was a very pleasant way to spend a Friday. I was reminded a little of the work of Kate Morton (The Distant Hours, Forgotten Garden and others are all amazing) In that it was a book alternating the story lines from the past and present trying to help families figure out their pasts. It was great to read about France during the occupation, and I feel like because of the book All the Light We Cannot See (I'm currently reading it, review to come) it is a part of history that many people are interested in. 

It discussed the ideas of who are the good guys and the bad guys? And is it still possible to be a good person when circumstances force you into doing things you would rather not?

I found it charming and sweet, with characters who were well written and fleshed out. I loved the growth of both Gisèle and Chloe. However I wasn't entirely content with Chloe's ending. Spoiler*** I wouldn't have had her end up in another relationship so soon after a break up, please just let her move to France and start that home for orphans like her dad wanted, No need for a relationship!!!***Spoiler done.

It was a good novel and one that I think could be good for book clubs to spark up some discussion and debate. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Historical Tuesday - The Brickmaker's Bride


The Brickmaker's Bride (Refined by Love, #1)

The Brickmaker's Bride


By: Judith Miller

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary:
Yearning for a fresh start, Ewan McKay travels with his aunt and uncle from northern Scotland to West Virginia, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial assistance from his uncle Hugh. Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, but it's Ewan who gets the business up and running again. Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Besides, Ewan has resolved he'll focus on making the brickmaking operation enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business
and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Scotland.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work may come to naught. As his plans begin to crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. She and her mother may have a way to save the brickworks, and in turn Ewan may have another shot at winning Laura's heart.

My thoughts:
This was a fun little read. When you want good clean romance this is a great book for that. I loved Laura and her mother and their interactions. It was a great mother daughter relationship to read. It was also nice to have a new time period and problem faced. Ewan was a great leading man and I found myself rooting for them.

The only reason I kept it from 4 stars was that the villains seemed far too one dimensional for my liking and  it at points I was just wondering why anyone still talked to them. 

It was a sweet christian romance and if that is what you are wanting to read this is a good pick for you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Misc. Monday - I'll Be Seeing You


I'll Be Seeing YouI'll Be Seeing You 

By: Suzanne Hayes & Loretta Nyhan

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary:
It's January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor's wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home. 

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other’s unwavering support.

My Thoughts:
I am going to buy this one rather than just settle on  it being from the library because I love the language that these women use. It had the wonderful charm of  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society but here on American soil. 

I loved watching how the women came to know each other and the power which letters have in helping friendships grow. It actually made me really sad to be living in a time where letters are obsolete - and when it comes to communicating with friends e-mail seems to be as well. 

The beautiful advice which was passed between women, and the strength which the pulled from each other as each of them had their lives changed by the ravages of war made me get out my highlighters and mark the whole thing up (Don't worry my librarian friends it is still in perfect condition.) One of my favorite lines though was:

“Did you ever catch a glimpse of what you could be, if you really tried at life?”

Maybe because I am young and at a place where I don't know what the future holds but this line really rang through me. Almost all the prose is like that. Wonderful, deep but not trying to be. It is simply two WWII wives passing along recipes and advice for how to survive the war - and all of the problems that just generally happen in life.  

Book clubs will love it - READ IT!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Historical Thursday: The Legend of Sheba

The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a QueenThe Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen


By: Tosca Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:

 In the tenth century BC, the new Queen of Sheba has inherited her father’s throne and all its riches at great personal cost. Her realm stretches west across the Red Sea into land wealthy in gold, frankincense, and spices. But now new alliances to the North threaten the trade routes that are the lifeblood of her nation. Solomon, the brash new king of Israel famous for his wealth and wisdom, will not be denied the tribute of the world—or of Sheba’s queen. With tensions ready to erupt within her own borders and the future of her nation at stake, the one woman who can match wits with Solomon undertakes the journey of a lifetime in a daring bid to test and win the king. But neither ruler has anticipated the clash of agendas, gods, and passion that threatens to ignite—and ruin—them both. An explosive retelling of the legendary king and queen and the nations that shaped history.

My thoughts:

This was really well done. Thoughtfully researched and crafted. There was much description and help to make the world come alive. Technically speaking I loved it. It was an enjoyable read.

She was so fun to get to know - witty, powerful and easy to empathize with - I loved her. And her relationship that developed with Solomon rich deep and complex. This goes far beyond what the Bible ever gave us. I loved being transported to Saba and to Jerusalem. 

It would have got 5 stars had there not be as much sexual content (no worries nothing explicit, but still it's there) and coming from a purely Christian background and not knowing that there were in fact, other accounts of the Queen of Sheba, it was a little hard to swallow her relationship with Solomon. But as I read the historical background at the end of the book everything tied together and it was good. I just wish I had read that part first so that I could have enjoyed the whole thing.

All in all I would say it was good, and if you like historical fiction, it is a great read!

I received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review**

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Historical Thursday - The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker: A NovelThe Dressmaker: A Novel

By: Kate Alcott
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
Tess Collins wants more from her life than to be a maid in England, so when she is given the chance to cross over to America on the Titanic as the personal maid of the Lady Duff Gordon she jumps at the chance. Once on board thought she catches the eye of two men. One a Chicago millionaire and the other a sailor seemingly like the village boys she is trying to escape. On the fourth night of her journey however disaster strikes.
 
Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to her employers questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky. 
 
On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Tess eventually must choose who to believe and who to trust.


My Comments:
Let me first say, I have never been much of a Titanic nut. I have never seen the movie and have never really had much interest in the story beyond Thomas Hardy's poem "Convergence of the Twain." So I came into this basically a blank slate. And I loved it. I loved her telling of everything from the decadence of the boat to the opulance of turn-of-the-century New York City. 

There are two very strong female leads, Pinky, a reporter who is trying to be the next Nelly Bly (for those of you who don't know who she is please check here, because she is really cool) and Tess who may be British by birth but she is American in almost every other aspect. Both of these women are hard working and will take what chances are offered them. I thought that Alcott did a great job with both of them and was fine that the narrative was split between the two.

There were a few questions that I wished were answered, a couple of character questions that I wish had been resolved. However on the whole I loved how the plot focused on the Senate hearings rather than the sinking itself. 

This was a great read and I recommend it highly to people who want to see what that world was like and want some insights into the Titanic.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Misc. Monday - The Messenger

The Messenger The Messenger

By: Siri Mitchell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith 


...until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah's world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?


Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him--and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith. 



My Thoughts:
I love Siri Mitchell, as is evident by the fact that I have already read and reviewed two of her books A Constant Heart and She Walks In Beauty. This is the fourth book book of hers that I have read and I loved it. She has a habit of taking historical eras which are very popular to write about and finding an angle which hasn't been looked at. The idea of being a pacifist in wartime has always been a difficulty and in the Revolutionary War which had a "for us or against us" mentality it becomes much more difficult.

Having such dynamic characters as Jeremiah and Hannah really helped to make this story what it was. From the timid, obedient child, Hannah becomes a woman in her own right with her own believes both political and spiritual.

With two different points of view I expected to get confused at first with the switching between back and forth. Mitchell is quite good at this though and made for very smooth transitions.

If you love historical fiction and haven't read any of her books this would definitely be a great place to start. I love her and can't wait for new books from her.

Thank you Bethany House Publishing who gave me this book in exchange for an honest review. 



Friday, May 18, 2012

Fluffy Friday - Secrets on the Wind


Secrets on the WindSecrets on the Wind

by: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Genre: Historical, Christian Romance
Rating: 3.5

Summary:
After two people experience things which no person should have to endure one woman brings them together and helps set them on the path to healing. Laina, who was saved from certain death, struggles to overcome what has happened to her and the resulting nightmares. Sargent Nathan Boone still fights to get past the death of his wife. Granny Max helps to guide them to inner peace.

My Thoughts:
Before we seriously begin, I'd like to state that I have no idea where the title came from. It still confuses me. Now on to the real review. 

I have already read a Whitson novel, and find this one to be much less confusing than the other.  It is nice to read about a hero and a heroine who have had pasts that aren't something to be proud of. Too often the knight in shining armor is perfect...and while perfect is nice, for me personally that would be a little daunting. 
I loved Laina. Her inner conflict was fun to watch and see how she grew up and past what she was into the best version of who she could be. 
Also, this book thankfully didn't take the path of least resistance. the characters who I marked as ending up together never did, I like it when that happens. Too often I find things to be too predictable and I get bored.

I would recommend this for people who love historical christian romance.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Historical Thursday - The Book of Madness and Cures

The Book of Madness and CuresThe Book of Madness and Cures
By: Regina O'Melveny
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary:
Dr. Gabriella Mondini has lost her father, not to death but to study. Her father left her family years ago and now she is going to look for him. A strong willed Venetian female physician in the 1590's the Dotoressa must face many challenges as she travels across Europe to find her father, however she might not be happy with what she discovers.

My Thoughts:

First off, HELLO FROM ROME! That's right, I am going to be in Italy for school for the next few weeks and to honor that, I will be posting a review that takes place in Italy.

How to begin, well to start with, I was really glad when I finished it. It took me a while to figure out why I really wasn't liking the book at all, I mean, it has everything I like. There is a strong willed woman who is breaking the barriers of her age, Renaissance, Italy - everything I like is there. So...why isn't it clicking for me? I think it was the prose of the novel, and the fact that it felt like she had written herself into a corner at one point and was just grabbing at anything to prolong the story and finally to finish it.

I did really like the relationship Gabriella had with her "servants." Yes they work for her but it feels like they are more of parents than servants and when **spoiler** (highlight to see it) one of them dies, well it nearly broke my heart...or at least it should have, I felt sad because I actually liked that character but I didn't fee the grief that I normally would in this scenario.  **spoiler done**

Overall, while it had a couple of good points I would say pass on this one, though as O'Melveny matures in her writing I would keep an eye on her, she has potential for some really good work.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for giving me this book for review.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

YA Wednesday - The Académie


The AcadémieThe Académie

By: Susanne Dunlap
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary:
As Eliza Monroe goes off to school in Paris she meets Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. Quickly she realizes she is in for a summer that it not at all what she expected. Drawn into the competition between the two, Eliza finds herself interacting with people such as Madeline, a young actress in the Comedie Francaise. All she can do is hope that she doesn't get in too much trouble during a summer she will never forget.

My thoughts:
First off, I love this cover...so much! Ok, now that's out of the way on to the real review. 
This is very loosely based off of historical events but it is fun to read about the time of change that was between the French Revolution and the coming of Bonaparte to power. There were a lot of different viewpoints in this novel and well, I got confused. It took me about a third of the way through the book to figure out exactly who was who and what they wanted and such.  But once I figured that out I thought it was a lot of fun. It was a fun set of misadventures of 3 teenage girls. Not too much silly teen-romance, and just a lot of innocent adventures. 

I found Hortense to be my favorite of all the characters, Eliza was a little too teenage whiny for me, but since that's what she was supposed to be, I wasn't too annoyed by that, I just wanted to get to Hortense's part. 

Overall I really liked it and will be reading more by Susanne Dunlap in the future

Thank you Netgalley for giving me this book for review!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Misc. Monday - 60 Acres and a Bride

Sixty Acres and a Bride60 Acres and a Bride
By: Regina Jennings
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 3.5 Stars


Summary from GR:
With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay. Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future.


My Thoughts:
I had a lot of fun reading this...though I probably should have been writing papers for school at the time. (I can't wait for summer to come!) Rosa was a sweet character who showed the culture clash between America and Mexico in Texas at this time. The fact that this is a debut novel makes me happy because I believe that as she grows and matures as an author, Jennings will be one of the better historical writers. 


Her characters were warm and likable. Weston was the perfect combination of fortitude and protectiveness without seeming to be overbearing. This of course is enough to make the females reading this swoon. Rosa was a good counterpart to him with her genuine goodness and innocence. With both of them struggling to adjust to the curve balls life has thrown at them it is fun to see how they come grow into their new selves. 

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishing for providing me with a book for review!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Historical Thursday - Yellow Crocus

Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus
By: Laila Ibrahim
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary From Goodreads:
Mattie was never truly mine. That knowledge must have filled me as quickly and surely as the milk from her breasts. Although my family ‘owned’ her, although she occupied the center of my universe, her deepest affections lay elsewhere. So along with the comfort of her came the fear that I would lose her some day. This is our story... 

So begins Lisbeth Wainwright’s compelling tale of coming-of-age in antebellum Virginia. Born to white plantation owners but raised by her enslaved black wet nurse, Mattie, Lisbeth’s childhood unfolds on the line between two very different worlds. Growing up under the tender care of Mattie, Lisbeth adopts her surrogate mother’s deep-seated faith in God, her love of music and black-eyed peas, and the tradition of hunting for yellow crocuses in the early days of spring. In time, Lisbeth realizes she has freedoms and opportunities that Mattie does not have, though she’s confined by the societal expectations placed on women born to privilege. As Lisbeth grows up, she struggles to reconcile her love for her caregiver with her parents’ expectations, a task made all the more difficult as she becomes increasingly aware of the ugly realities of the American slavery system. When Lisbeth bears witness to a shockingly brutal act, the final vestiges of her naiveté crumble around her. Lisbeth realizes she must make a choice, one that will require every ounce of the courage she learned from her beloved Mattie. This compelling historical novel is a richly evocative tale of love, loss, and redemption set during one of the most sinister chapters of American history.



My Thoughts:
This book claimed to be one which those who loved The Help and so going in with that I thought I was going to get a totally different experience. Had I not been told that however, I think I would have liked the book a lot more.


Mattie was a character who I truly loved. She was the wonderful stable parent for little Lisbeth and it was obvious by Lisbeth's later change in the novel that she was a necessary one. Mattie never forgot who she was and was still able to love others unconditionally. She was the character who made this book wroth while for me.


That is the reason I am so sad she disappears for half of the book.


Lisbeth was a character who I took a long time to warm up to, almost the entire novel. But I am very pleased with the woman she turned out to be.


The plot as a whole was pretty good but nothing stellar. There were some vulgarities that I really didn't like. I definitely wouldn't recommend this to people under the age of 16.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Must Read Monday - Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Gray
by: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 stars.


Summary from Goodreads:
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.



My Thoughts:
This is a book that everyone should read. It holds a story of survival and courage which until this point in time has been forgotten. It shows the many different types of bravery which can be shown by the human spirit when faces with unfathomable challenges.
Told through the point of Lina, a fifteen year old girl, it still manages to show the courage of her mother, and the pain of her neighbors. 


This novel doesn't skirt around the horrors done at this time. She accurately writes what she discovered about her own ancestry and does so in a way that is neither overly gruesome nor too gentle. She simply states the truth.  She does so with hope and with humanity which is what makes such a hard story readable. 


I loved the writing style, the prose was simple and sweet and I hope to be reading more from Sepetys in the future. I do urge those who have any interest in WWII to read this.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Historical Thursday - Raven's Bride


The Raven's BrideThe Raven's Bride
By: Lenore Hart
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:

When eight-year-old Virginia "Sissy" Clemm meets her handsome cousin, Eddy, she sees the perfect husband she's conjured up in childhood games. Thirteen years her elder, he's soft-spoken, brooding, and handsome. Eddy fails his way through West Point and the army yet each time he returns to Baltimore, their friendship grows. As Sissy trains for a musical career, her childhood crush turns to love. When she's thirteen, Eddy proposes. But as their happy life darkens, Sissy endures Poe's abrupt disappearances, self-destructive moods, and alcoholic binges. When she falls ill, his greatest fear– that he’ll lose the woman he loves– drives him both madness, and to his greatest literary achievement.

My Thoughts:
Reading this while studying Poe was quite a fun experience. Having a knowledge of his works, while not mandatory is definitely helpful as you read what the author thought was going on during his life as he wrote them. 


This was a darker story, not at all romantic, but well, it's Edgar Allen Poe, I really didn't expect any real romance. Having read many of these kinds of novels (particularly by Nancy Moser) I must say I did enjoy this writing style and content. 


I found Sissy to be correctly portrayed as a girl who was never entirely sure how to grow up. It wasn't until much later in life...well almost in death did she really come into herself. In most circumstances this would have annoyed me but here I found it quite appropriate, considering how her mother never left her to her own devices and how she married so young.


Loved it, and I know this is nerdy, but I giggled to myself when I saw that the name of the person writing this was Lenore. 


Great Job.

Shame Nation

Shame Nation Genre: Non-Fiction Rating: 4 Stars Summary My Thoughts: This is a book everyone needs to read. The title perfectly fits ...