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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Misc. Monday Before the Scarlet Dawn

Before the Scarlet DawnBefore the Scarlet Dawn
by: Rita Gerlach
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
In 1775, Hayward Morgan, a young gentleman destined to inherit his father’s estate in Derbyshire, England, captures the heart of the local vicar’s daughter, Eliza Bloome. Her dark beauty and spirited ways are not enough to win him, due to her station in life. Circumstances throw Eliza in Hayward’s path, and they flee to America to escape the family conflicts and to build Hayward's legacy. But as war looms, it's a temporary reprieve. Hayward joins the revolutionary forces and what follows is a struggle for survival, a test of faith, and the quest to find lasting love in an unforgiving wilderness.


My Thoughts:
That plot looks exactly like my cup of tea doesn't it? Well it wasn't. This was a novel in which I lost my trust in the narrator and in the protagonist. Eliza seems to have the blind devotion to a man who really isn't the best choice for her.  (If I were to tell you why it would be a pretty big spoiler, even for me so you would just have to read it to see why.) It is this blind devotion which makes me question her as a character, if put in her same situation almost any other sane woman would definitely have reacted differently. She is also described as spirited in nature...I don't see it. She obeys her husband in all things some of which are of a questionable nature (once again read the book if you want to know what).  What redeemed it and kept me reading was the fact that it wasn't your typical marriage plot novel. It started with a wedding and then went to attempt to explore it from there. Also Fiona was a wonderful supporting character, she is everything anyone could want in a nanny.
Many thanks to Abingdon Press for giving me a free copy for review.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Historical Thursday - How Do I Love Thee?

How Do I Love Thee? (Ladies of History, book #4)How Do I Love Thee
By: Nancy Moser
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary From Goodreads:
She dreams of love for others but never for herself...
Elizabeth Barrett is a published poet--and a virtual prisoner in her own home. Blind family loyalty ties her to a tyrannical father who forbids any of his children to marry. Bedridden by chronic illness, she has resigned herself to simply existing. That is, until the letter arrives...
"I love your verses with all my heart," writes Robert Browning, an admiring fellow poet. As friendly correspondence gives way to something more, Elizabeth discovers that Robert's love is not for her poetry alone. Might God grant her more than mere existence? And will she risk defying her father in pursuit of true happiness?
My Thoughts:
To be honest, I read the first 200 pages or so but then skimmed the rest. I didn't like Ba. She was spineless and listened to others more than herself. Now I understand that this was a historical novel and we were sticking with facts here, but Moser could have at least given real reasons as to why Ba was so submissive to her father and why she was scared to go outside.  I thought this novel was going to focus more on the relationship between the two poets but it took so long to get going and was so slow, I asked myself several times why I was reading it.
Once the romantic part FINALLY started it was ok, but since most of that was letters written by the poets I am not giving all too much credit to the author.

I did like all of the sonnets included throughout and was appreciative of the historical facts in the back but overall, I was glad when I finally finished it and could put it down. It will be a very long time before I pick up a Moser novel again.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Misc. Monday - Year of Wonders

Year of WondersYear of Wonders
By: Geraldine Brooks
Genre: Historical Fiction,
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary:
In 1666 a little town outside of London finds itself dealing with the Plague. Anna Firth finds herself without a family and becoming the healer and helper to those around her. As the year, and death toll, progress she is the voice of reason which tries to keep her village from losing absolutely everything.

I would like to say, that had it not been for the last 20 or so pages this would have deserved 5 stars. It is written beautifully, all of the characters are well developed and there is a vivid recreation of humanity as a whole which is typically hard to capture.

Brooks did a marvelous job in showing how the human condition can sink when faced with extreme difficulty. The research which was put into it, not only into the plague itself but also into how different people dealt with it and the many challenges the village as a whole faced was marvelous to read. The novel was both of historical and psychological dealings which is what made it so well done.

Seeing how different families dealt with the grief of losing everyone, some turning to alcohol, others preying on the panic of their fellows, some simply shutting down completely, illustrated a great diversity in humanity which I loved reading about.

Anna too was a character who was real and honest. She didn't come across as this great super-heroine. She was merely a person who was doing her best to get through each day no matter what it had in store for her. There were some episodes which showed how she too suffered from human frailty and wasn't some paragon of virtue and fortitude.

Had it ended with a nice scene at the official end of the plague in the town I would have been not only satisfied but I would have had to buy the book for my permanent collection.

But it didn't. It was all set up to, it could easily have done that...but she just kept on writing. It went south as the writer put in the seemingly mandatory romance which detracted rather than added to the novel. Had that 6 or so pages not been there, this would have been one of the top 5 books I read this year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fluffy Friday - Belonging

Belonging (Where The Heart Lives)Belonging 
By: Robin Lee Hatcher
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
In the high desert town of Frenchman's Bluff, Idaho, Felicia Kristoffersen has set out to create a future for herself that is better than her painful past. Alone in the world with only her faith to sustain her, she must prove herself as this tiny community's new school teacher. She cannot, must not, fail. But, there are those who never wanted her there to begin with. 

Five years after the death of his wife, local merchant Colin Murphy cares about just one thing: raising his daughter, Charity. Colin wants to give her the educational advantages he never had. The new schoolmarm's inexperience doesn't sit well with him, and if this teacher up and marries like the last one did, Charity's heart will be broken once again. 



Felicia was a nice main character, she had the elements of personality which I find mandatory to have in a teacher. She cared about her students and wanted them to life up to their full potential and knew that there was more to teaching than memorization. Collin Murphy was a great leading male as well. Of the supporting characters I really like Charity, Collin's 9-year-old daughter. Children are very risky things to make main characters in an adult novel. Either they are made too mature or immature for their age. Here though I think that Hatcher did a very nice job keeping Charity at the age she was supposed to be.


The only changes or additions which I would have made to this novel would have been a follow up on the Rolf Kristofferson plot line. I thought it was mentioned enough times that it would have been more involved in the later part of the novel rather than just disappearing. **HUGE spoiler** (highlight to see) It would have been nice to know how they would have reacted to her marriage, since they had been so wanting her to marry Rolf. **spoiler done**
Overall I thought it was a very nice read and am planning on reading a lot more from this author.



Many thanks to Zondervan for giving me a copy for review!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Historical Thursday - Captive Trail

Captive Trail (The Texas Trail Series)Captive Trail 
by: Susan Paige Davis
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Taabe Waipu has run away from her Comanche village and is fleeing south in Texas on a horse she stole from a dowry left outside her family's teepee. The horse has an accident and she is left on foot, injured and exhausted. She staggers onto a road near Fort Chadbourne and collapses.

On one of the first runs through Texas, Butterfield Overland Mail Company driver Ned Bright carries two Ursuline nuns returning to their mission station. They come across a woman who is nearly dead from exposure and dehydration and take her to the mission.With some detective work, Ned discovers Taabe Waipu is Billie Morgan. He plans to unite her with her family, but the Comanche have other ideas, and the two end up defending the mission station. 

Through Taabe (Billie) and Ned we learn the true meaning of healing and restoration amid seemingly powerless situations.



This is the second book a series (I already reviewed the first) but works very well as a stand alone novel. It is nice to see characters from the last one come into play but if you haven't read it you won't be confused.

I have a thing for Indian captive books, I always have though generally it has been during the French and Indian War so this was a nice change of pace. Also this was less about the capture and more about re-acclimating into society after being gone for 12 years. 
I really liked how Davis tried to show the confusion at concepts which seem very basic to those of us who have grown up in "civilized" society. I also loved the side character of Quinta. She is a little 9 year old girl who comes to live with the sisters for a proper education. She is a spitfire and can hold her own in almost every situation that is thrown at her. 
The only thing that I wish could have got from this novel is more background on Ned. First of all, what caused his initial aversion to nuns? And religion in general? I think a little more back story on him would have been an nice addition.
Overall, I liked this book and most likely will read the next one in the series.

Many thanks to Moody publishing for giving me this book for review.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fluffy Friday - A Vision of Lucy

A Vision of Lucy (A Rocky Creek Romance)A Vision of Lucy
by: Margaret Brownley
Genre: Historical(ish) Fiction
Rating 4 Stars


Summary from Goodreads:

Lucy Fairbanks dreams of working as a photographer at the Rocky Creek newspaper. Her deepest hope is that her father will see her as an artist, the way he thought of her deceased mother, whose paintings still hang on their walls. But disaster follows Lucy on every photo assignment: a mess of petticoats and ribbons, an accidental shooting, even a fire.When Lucy meets David Wolf-a rugged, reclusive man who lives on the outskirts of town-she thinks she can catch the attention of the town with his photograph. She doesn't count on her feelings stirring whenever she's near him. Two things happen next that forever change the course of Lucy's life. But will these events draw her closer to God or push her further away? And how will David accept this new vision of Lucy?
I didn't know that this was the third book in the series, it does a very good job as a stand alone. I was left somewhat confused as to which character was who in the beginning but when you jump in half-way that is to be expected. 
I thought it was fun and fresh and I could totally relate to all of the scrapes which Lucy found herself in because, Well, I have been known to set the occasional fire and other such mishaps. And how she babbles on and on when she is nervous...that is something that I am really trying to get over. Anyway, what I am trying to say besides revealing way too much personal stuff, is that Lucy was likable and easy to relate to. 
I really liked the quotes which began each chapter and thought that this author had a wonderfully fresh perspective.  The bad guy totally comes out of the blue - a rare thing when you read as much as I do - and was still plausible.
Well done Margaret, and many thanks to Thomas Nelson for giving me this book for review.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just For Fun Friday - Wings of a Dream

Wings of a Dream
by: Anne Mateer


Genre:Historical Christian Romance
Rating: 4 Stars


Summary from Goodreads:

Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family's farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promised adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he's the man she's meant to marry. While she waits for the Great War to end and Arthur to return to her so they can pursue all their plans, her mother's sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, seeing this chance to be closer to Arthur's training camp as God's approval of her plans.
But the Spanish flue epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt's death, Arthur's indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebeka is torn between the desire to escape the type of life she's always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart.

This is by far my favorite Christian fiction that I read this school year. If I am going to like the book I am going to really have to like the leading lady and Rebekah is likable. She is hard working and willing to go out and get what she wants instead of sitting at home complaining that life isn't going her way.  She has a smart head on her shoulders and a strong and tender spirit to match it. She was well rounded and developed nicely throughout the book instead of the sudden change at the end which generally isn't entirely believable

This book didn't really focus on the romantic aspect so much as how much love Rebekah has for the children who she looks after. I believe that's what set this book apart from all of the others of this kind that I read this year.  The pace was gentle - I wasn't racing along but it didn't plod either, and it was a new era. The Spanish Flu is something that can be overshadowed by WWI and so it was nice to get an idea of how people might have lived with it.

Only 1 problem with it, and I may just be too picky but I feel like the editors should have caught this. The Great War wasn't called World War I until much later...until after WWII. So that phrase should never have been in there. That's pretty much the only thing that bothered me when I was reading.

Great read if you want to catch something on WWI and the Spanish Flu epidemic without too much gushy stuff.


Thank you very much Bethany House Publishing for providing this book for review.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Historical - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by: Jamie Ford


Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
 Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While "scholarshipping" at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship - and innocent love - that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice - words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago. 



This was one of my favorite reads of the summer. I found  Keiko and Henry some very endearing characters. This book was also eye-opening for me because I had no idea that this was going on during WWII. Yet he presented the facts and the story without any true political bias which was quite refreshing for a historical novel.
The language was beautiful, which was a nice break after all of the fluff I read this summer, and the story well developed. The only thing that is keeping me from giving it a 5 was because the internet wasn't used the way it was during the 1980 portion of the novel.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Historical Thursday - A Constant Heart

A Constant Heart
by Siri Mitchell


Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Born with the face of an angel, Marget Barnardsen is blessed. Her father is a knight, and now she is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. her destiny is guaranteed...at least, it would seem so. But when her introduction to court goes awry and Queen Elizabeth despises her, Marget fears she's lost her husband forever. Desperate to win him back, she'll do whatever it takes to discover how she failed and capture again the love of a man bound to the queen.


As an authors first foray into the world of historical fiction I would say that she did a neat job of it all. You could tell that she did her research in regards to the lifestyle of the period thoroughly and represented the era well. She took a different stance on her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth though one I am coming across more often. Rather than the benevolent and nearly perfect being that we are  taught of in our school years she depicts a demanding, vain and fearful  woman competing to remain the "fairest of them all." I find her going a little too over the top in creating the "wicked step-mother" for dramatic emphasis rather than showing Elizabeth as a real person. Though this did open the door to show the make-up practices of the time which were in no way FDA approved.


Now as to the story, it is written in alternating POV between Marget and her husband, sometimes too abruptly for my taste though since I didn't get confused I forgive Mitchell for it. I pitied Marget in the beginning of the novel but by the end of it I was tired of her lack of backbone and willingness to let everyone run her life. The same applies for the dear Earl. The love story was cute and seemed genuine enough but there there is all of this doubting going on that I kind of got bored with it all.


It concludes nicely and plausibly, wrapped in a neat bow and not hinting at a sequel (I really hate books that do that - leave plot lines open in case the book becomes popular and they want to make more money.) It is full of angst so if you are in the mood for that it's a good choice, but on the whole, I won't tell you not to read it because it's a very nice historical novel. On the other hand, I won't tell you to run to your nearest bookstore.  It was...respectable.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Historical Thursday: Hattie Big Sky


Hattie Big Sky
by Kirby Larson

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads,
In 1917, Hattie Brooks was a 16-year-old orphan who had spent most of her young life passed from one relative to another. But a letter arrives from an uncle she never knew she had, and everything changes as she leaves for eastern Montana to prove her uncle's land claim.
Hattie was no tenderfoot when she arrived in Montana, but in her first year there, she's forced to battle the hazards of weather -- bitter winters filled with blizzards, and summers of drought and the threat of wildfires. Though homesteaders arrive anticipating a difficult road, one thing Hattie hadn't expected to confront was a seething prejudice among her neighbors. At the height of the First World War, the patriotism and loyalty of German-Americans was suspect, and Hattie finds herself at the center of an unsubstantiated hatred for one of her neighbors, a man who has shown her nothing but kindness. 

Now I know what you're thinking..."Two 5 stars in a row? I thought she said she was picky!" Well first of all I didn't say "picky" and secondly this one deserves it too, I can't help that I found another amazing book. And besides what are you complaining about? This just means that there is another great book for you to read!

So my thoughts on this book. I have never read about a cow with quite as much personality as the one found here. When even the animals are fully developed characters we know we have a keeper. On a more serious note, this book deals a lot with the anti-German sentiments which were around especially throughout the first World War. All of this prejudice that Hattie and her friends have to face really is quite sad to see. Hattie is a character who I fell in love with and the writing style (done in first person) is simply charming. 

I would highly recommend this book to everyone. It may say that it is a young adult fiction but it is a book that is wonderful at all ages.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday -Christian Fiction


Widow of Larkspur Inn
By: Lawana Blackwell

Genre: Christian, Historical fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary From Goodreads:
Julia Hollis' opulent life in Victorian London crashes to pieces when her husband passes away. Worse, she is told by his bankers that he gambled away their fortune. Now, the family's hope rests on The Larkspur, an old abandoned coaching inn in the quaint village of Gresham. 
Driven by dread and her desire to provide for her children, Julia decides to turn the dilapidated inn into a lodging house. But can she--who was accustomed to servants attending to every need--do what needs to be done and cope when boarders begin arriving? And then an eligible new vicar moves into town....

Let me first say that with the school year now officially upon me I will most likely be taking more summaries from Goodreads

This was a wonderfully gentle read. It didn't particularly race along with its plot but rather moved at a sedate pace, meaning that yes in places it dragged for a bit, but on the whole was something that I read when I didn't need to think that much because I was recovering from studying for finals.  The characters are all likable, the plot doesn't really throw you for any loops and it has a nice message. There is a very strong Christian aspect (Main man is a vicar what do you expect?)

it's a perfect “recovery read” for when you simply want to relax and get a good story.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday- She Walks in Beauty


She Walks in Beauty
by: Siri Mitchell

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Rating 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage in the late 1890s, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling. Yet Clara wonders if this is the life she really wants, especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries. When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is, and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her heart at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.

I loved this little gem that I found when looking for free books for my kindle. It is a sweet book about a girl who is being dragged kicking and screaming onto the social scene.  She would must prefer to spend her time reading than learning the latest dance. 

Rather than focus on romance as most historical novels seem to do this focused a lot more on the fashion aspect.  A particular point in the novel is the use of the corset and the battle all women go through to try and achieve the perfect 16 inch waist. Now obviously we know the dangers that are associated with the corset but at the time this was written they had been suspected but weren't viewed as a serious threat.  Also we see the beginnings of American stardom and the paparazzi beginning to take to the scene.

It claims to be a Christian fiction but in reality it really wasn't much of a point in the novel at all except for the fact that it was clean, and the main characters went to church a few times (in order to be seen by society).

All in all it was very well researched, decently written (if a little formulaic) and I related to Clara. It is a very fun read that still has some substance.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Historical Thursday



The Bad Queen
by: Carolyn Meyer

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Goodreads
From the moment she was betrothed to the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of Marie-Antoinette. She tried to please everyone—courtiers, her young husband, the king, the French people—but often fell short of their expectations. Desperate for affection and subjected to constant scrutiny, this spirited young woman can’t help but want to let loose with elaborate parties, scandalous fashions, and unimaginable luxuries. But as Marie-Antoinette’s lifestyle gets ever-more recklessly extravagant, the peasants of France are suffering from increasing poverty—and becoming outraged. They want to make the queen pay.

Everyone who has learned anything about the life of Marie Antoinette knows the entire plot of this novel. It covers her difficulties in conceiving, to her lavish parties, to the night her husband was killed, everything. What set it apart for me was the fact that the reason Marie was what she was is that she was simply doing what she was told to do. She was following orders and traditions on almost all counts and if she had been instructed better who knows what would have happened.

But if Meyer was trying to make me like Antoinette she failed miserably. All I saw was a whiny child who lacked all self-discipline, and showed no interest in anything other than herself. It was quite irritating actually to have to listen to how she hates to read and can’t write and can’t keep up with the current events of the country she is supposed to be running.

This book is great if you want to know the life of Marie Antoinette and haven’t gone in-depth yet but if you already know her life story I feel like you can pass on it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

YA Wednesday: Mara Daughter of the Nile


Mara Daughter of the Nile
by: Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
A slave girl in Ancient Egypt, all Mara wants to do is to be free. Therefore when she is offered not one but two chances for freedom how could she refuse. All she has to do is turn double-spy and work for both Queen Hatshepsut and her younger brother and contender for the throne Thutmos III.  The game she plays is a very dangerous one and one she intends to win.

This girl is your wonderful hot-tempered heroine. She is feisty and will fight for what she wants, and because of this willingness to fight for herself I found myself rooting for her as well. She is intelligent, calculating, but still grows throughout the novel.

The adventure/political aspect of it is wonderful as well. Mara could very easily sell out her other master Sheftu to the Queen and gain her freedom, yet in the novel she begins to learn to see the bigger picture and wonders if that would be the best choice for Egypt. Her going back and forth on this issue and her intrigues to keep both parties happy keeps the story moving at a wonderful pace.

 I found this book in 7th grade and I am still reading it in college - it's one of the few that I brought with me. I love it and think it is simply wonderful.






Thursday, August 11, 2011

Historical Thursday


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
by: Lisa See

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary:
In 19th-century China a seven year old girl named Lily finds herself matched with a laotong or an old-same, a sister for life. She and Snow Flower go through their lives experiencing their greatest life experiences together. They are there for each other through their foot-binding, marriages, and children. They communicate in the secret woman's language of nu shu but when a misunderstanding occurs their sisterhood is threatened to be ripped apart.



This one has been on my to-read shelf for a long time and I am glad that I finally got around to it. It is told from Lily's point of view when she is old and preparing her story for her death.

It was good, the topic was well researched, the plot moved quickly, but I found that the writing was average. There were no particular passages of beauty or wordplay that stood out to me. Lily's behavior in her adult life also didn't seem to fit entirely with both her character as a whole and her childhood friendship with Snow Flower. 

What I did like were the insights into the process and mentality behind the tradition of footbinding. While it was hard to read at times (those poor little children having to go through that) it was very interesting to learn more about the thought process behind it. Also the whole idea of nu shu the secret handwriting of women fascinated me. In a culture where language can become an art form this idea of a language known and used by women is a beautiful thing.

But the point of this is that it wasn’t the novel’s plot that drew me in, it was the historical bits. The back of the book where there is all of the historical background was probably my favorite part. The plot was ok, pretty standard but the history was very appealing.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Historical Thursday

Here was a Man
by: Norah Lofts

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:
In one of her earliest works, beloved author Norah Lofts brings us her riveting and romantic account of Sir Walter Raleigh and the court of Elizabeth I. Raleigh knew from the time he was a boy that his life would be exceptional. He dreams of someday exploring the New World he's heard about in snippets of sailors' stories on the docks of the fishing villages where he was raised; and his good fortune leads him to rise in the court of Elizabeth I, becoming a most trusted friend and advisor to the power players of the day.

This one was simply ok for me. I did enjoy reading more about Walter Raleigh, a man who no one in America really knows much about except perhaps his dropping his cloak so that the queen wouldn't get her feet wet.  Lofts fleshed him out into a real character made a man who was believeable and created an Elizabeth which balanced out the reports of her being loved by her people and yet being a tyrant to her court. I enjoyed how Lofts managed to make the dear Gloriana someone to be pitied in spite of her quick temper and swiftly brutal punishments. It was also enjoyable to see the great writers of the age with Shakespeare, Marlowe and Spencer all making appearances.

Why such a low rating you ask? I just found the novel hard to read. The plot was good as was her character developments but her sentence structure was confusing. I would have to go back and reread sentences to make sense of what she was saying. I feel that if she had her sentences polished up it would be an amazing novel.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

YA Wednesday


Calico Captive
by: Elizabeth George Speare

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
In 1754 an Indian raid on her small New Hampshire town leaves Miriam Willard a prisoner of the Indians, forced to take part in a harrowing march north. Not knowing how it will end but expecting the gauntlet Miriam is not sure she can go on. Unbeknownst to her however is the fact that she is not being taken for the Indians but rather for the French. She is traded into the elite society of the French in Canada, with no way back home in sight.

I love stories with a strong female lead (can you tell?) and Miriam is very good at her job. She is neither perfect nor bratty but a wonderful spunky in between. She doesn't accept her new existence without a fight and that fight is what keeps her interesting throughout the novel. She makes the mistake of prejudice and has to grow up and come to terms with these new people who are not at all what she had imagined them to be. 

Another...very specific thing that I love to read about is sewing and dressmaking. I am pretty sure it's because I can't but I desperately want to. And as one could probably tell from the title, there is a lot of fabric in the course of the novel. Miriam happens to be quite deft with a needle and this talent is able to take her a long ways.

Also Speare has done a wonderful job in capturing the setting of the story. She describes everything wonderfully and you can tell that she has done her research.

Adding the above elements together comes a great young adult book which sadly seems to be overlooked. I would recommend this to anyone who wanted an easy read, but still full of fun, adventure and a little bit of growing up.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Just For Fun Friday Sarah's Key


Sarah's Key
by: Tatiana de Rosnay

Genre: Historical Fiction, general fiction
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary:
Paris in 1942 finds Sarah and her family arrested and rounded up with all of the other Jews in Paris but not before Sarah has a chance to hide her little brother in a closet with a promise to come back in a few hours.

When journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article for the 60 year commemoration of  the Vel' d'Hiv' round up she stumbles upon the story of a little girl whose family is connected to her own. She is drawn to this little girl and her story and begins to weave it together and in the process begins to reflect more on her own life.

This was one I listened to in the car and I found it very well done. One thing that I really loved about this book was in the parts where it was from Sarah's point of view, we don't get names. Her mother, father and brother don't really develop much of a personality and we don't really get to know them. This had the effect of making this tragedy apply to every family that went through it. it was a way to remember all of the victims. The Starzynski's didn't have a corner on the pain and suffering.

This is a book that will make you think and will make you remember. I believe that Julia's journey is one that we should take ourselves. She becomes a deeper person because she faces the past rather than rejecting it.

The book did have occasional slow points and the ending did seem rushed but the overall theme of the novel is one that is still powerful even with these flaws. I believe that it is a wonderful book which will make you think and remember even if it is hard to do so.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Historical Thursday


Code Talkers
by: Joseph Bruchac

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 4 Stars

Summary:
Follow the life Ned Begay. In his childhood people tried to erase all that was Navajo from his live, later during the Second World War, he and his companions become invaluable as code talkers. Ned goes to through the Pacific side of the war  from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima. The things he experiences will change him like nothing else will.

I remember falling in love with this when I first read it in 7th grade. Since then it has been recycled through both of my brothers and several of my cousins. I tells a wonderful story that shouldn't be forgotten. When I first read it, I simply loved learning about the war and all of the separate aspects of it. Now though it seems to me to be something which can show how we mustn't undervalue other cultures. 

It was hard for me to read the first part of this again because it shows to what great lengths the authorities went to ensure that the young Navajo children because as white in culture as possible. Cultural preservation is what led up to the unbreakable codes used in WWII. 

It is definitely written for a younger crowd, simpler language and such, but the story is one that can reach all ages and one which should be remembered.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Historical Thursday


My Name is Marry Sutter
by: Robin Oliveira

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Mary Sutter is a brilliant young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Eager to run away from recent heartbreak, Mary travels to Washington, D.C., to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of two surgeons, who both fall unwittingly in love with her, and resisting her mother's pleas to return home to help with the difficult birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career against all odds. It is a novel rich with historical detail-including cameo appearances by Abraham Lincoln and Dorothea Dix.
This was a book that I listened to while driving and I must say that it was really well done for a book on tape. I really enjoyed the premise of this novel. There are many accounts of the lives of the soldiers in the Civil War, and we do hear about Clara Barton (who makes a cameo appearance) but the rest of the medical side of the war really isn’t much known to us. This book offered a glimpse into exactly what was faced in the surgeries on the battle fields.

Oliveira did her research, there is a lot of medicine and surgery information in there and mention of the pioneering nurses of the time – the well known Clara Barton of course but Dorothea Dix takes the foreground here. There are also some interaction and parts from the point of view of President Lincoln showing exactly how nurses got to be allowed to help in the army and on the battle field and also offering a glimpse into the unpreparedness of the North.

It is an amazing idea that I really wanted to fall in love with, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t connect to the characters or really pity Mary’s heartbreak. Mary seemed a little cold to me which made me wonder why there were two men fighting for her. And about those two men I really didn’t care which one won. And if you don’t care about who the leading lady ends up with you don’t care about the leading lady. For me that is a bad sign. On another note there are bits of profanity that I didn’t feel were needed.

But I don’t want to leave on a terrible note because it wasn’t a terrible book. I liked how it emphasized the medical and historical aspects rather than dwell on the romantic. And I liked the writing style for the most part. It is one I would recommend to Civil War buffs- especially now as it is the sesquicentennial year of the start of the Civil War.

In the Shadow of Lakecrest

In the Shadow of Lakecrest By: Elizabeth Blackwell Genre: Fiction, Historical, Gothic Rating: 3.5 stars Summary: The year is 1928. Kate...