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Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Review – Audacity – Melanie Crowder

22521938Audacity
Author: Melanie Crowder
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000.
Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world.

Review:
One of my favorite things to do (if I have the time) at the library is to just browse the new releases/new purchases shelf and see if there is anything that catches my eye. While I was looking at the young adult shelf a couple of weeks ago, there was something about Audacity that made me pick it up. I can’t explain exactly what it was, but the cover caught my eye, as did the brief description on the book flap – so I said, what the heck and added it to my stack of books. I will say that I didn’t look close enough to realize it was a novel told in verse until I got home (not that that’s bad, it just took me by surprise) – but since I have read/enjoyed books told in that format before, I figured I would enjoy it and I wasn’t wrong.

Audacity tells the story of Clara Lemlich, a young Russian immigrant who became involved in the rise of labor unions in the early 1900’s. I had never heard of her until this book, but now I want to read more about her. I knew a little bit about the establishment of the unions in NYC during that time period, and a bit more about the Triangle Fire which occurred during that time period – but it’s not one that i’ve really studied (and honestly, don’t really remember it being covered in any of the US history courses I took in college). I thought this went well with my idea to read books about different women in history and how they contributed (as a follow-up to listening to The Invention of Wings, about the Grimke sisters). Clara Lemlich lived up to this quote that I love, “well-behaved women rarely make history” – even from a young age she wasn’t destined to be the meek mannered female that she was expected to be – she pushed all the boundaries that were available to her – wanting to learn more, do more and be more – not just being settled with her lot in life.

I found that the novel told in verse approach was something unique to historical fiction – i honestly don’t know how popular it is, I know its the first time i’ve come across it in this genre (my other experiences with it have been for contemporary/realistic fiction writings). I kind of want to see if I can find more like it because it was really well done. The pages and segments of the book flowed well between the different events that occurred in Clara’s life, including not only her union work, but also events in her life prior to that. I’m intrigued to not only read more by this author, but also more about the time period in history.

This is a book that I would recommend to adults and teens alike, its written in a way that teens would find it enjoyable, as well as adults and for adults, it may cover a slice of history that you aren’t familiar with. Overall, I gave Audacity 4 stars and intrigued to read more by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2015 in Book Review, Review

 

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Wishlist Wednesday – 29 July 15

Wishlist WednesdayWishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where we post about one book that has been hanging out on our wish list (either for a long time, or not so long)

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes books I get excited about are random advertisements that I find and this weeks Wishlist Wednesday book was next exception. It popped up as an banner advertisement on Goodreads while I was browsing last week and there was something about it that just caught my eye. I’m a sucker for World War 2 fiction (I always used to make the comment if I did graduate work in history rather than psychology, it would probably be WW2 based) as well as stories based on families. So when I saw this book advertised, I added it (quite happily) to my not-yet-released shelf on Goodreads to track. It wasn’t until I started to prep for this post and did some deeper digging that i got even more excited to read it. The author (Marius Gabriel) actually wrote a bunch a romances using a female pseudonym (Madeleine Ker) in the 1980’s. I always find it interesting to read books by these male authors who wanted to write something unexpected and so wrote in a genre that is very female dominated. I don’t know if I ever read any of his books that were written as Madeleine Ker, but I’m intrigued to check them out.

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Description:
As the devastating years of the Second World War march ever closer, the beautiful Redcliffe sisters must face their own struggles and navigate the perils of growing up—and growing apart.

Eldest sister Isobel—passionate, domineering, misguided—is infatuated with Fascism. But can she continue to justify her dangerous political beliefs when faced with the shocking realities of Nazi Germany?

Chiara, the bright and happy golden child, is more interested in the joyful whirl of the season than matters of faith or ideology. But even her breezy innocence cannot survive the harsh lessons of heartbreak and war.

Insecure and introverted Felicity, youngest of the three, is about to take her vows and enter the convent, against her sisters’ wishes. A chance meeting with an American soldier threatens the very foundations of her decision.

Each sister must follow her own path and, as they do so, their differences threaten to take them beyond the realms of forgiveness.

Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye will be re-released on August 4 from Lake Union publishing (was previously published as Weep No More)

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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Thursday Quotables – The Invention of Wings

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Thursday Quotables is a weekly feature hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. It is a weekly feature where readers highlight a quote or quotes from their current weeks reading. Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written.

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I just finished listening to the audiobook of An Invention of Wings (Sue Monk Kidd) on my commute this morning, so Thursday Quotables seemed like a perfect time to reflect on a few of the quotes that really caught my eye (or is it ears?).

The first one that really struck me, actually came from the authors note at the end of the book, where she was discussing the development of the book, why she took the different liberties that she did with various parts of history etc.

“History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.” – Professor Julius Lester

I think this quote caught my ear because it not only describes various parts of the book, but also fits well into the current climate in the US with the debate going on over the Confederate flag.

“To remain silent in the face of evil is itself a form of evil.”

I thought this quote would go well hand-in-hand with the one about all it takes for evil to succeed in that good men (or women) do nothing. Sarah Grimke could have been content to just let the status quo be when it came to slavery, but she knew in her heart (even from the age of 11) that it was wrong and it became her crusade to abolish it, in fact, this quote from early on in the book shows her abolitionist thoughts even then – “At the age of eleven, I owned a slave I couldn’t free.” I’d actually never heard of the Grimke sisters prior to listening to Invention of Wings but am intrigued and want to read more about them.

The last quote that really caught my interest was from Angelina Grimke, who became known as a foremost female orator in the mid-1800’s. This quote occurred when the Grimke sisters were accused of muddling the cause of abolish with the cause of women’s right’s and that they needed to cease pushing for women’s equality for the time.

“the time to assert one’s right is when it’s denied!”

I’m sure there were many more quotes in the book that I would have loved to have written down, but its really hard while listening to do that.

What about you – any quotes from your reading this week that you want to share?

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2015 in Thursday Quotables

 

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Waiting on Wednesday – 24 June

Wishlist WednesdayWaiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where we post about one book that has been hanging out on our wish list (either for a long time, or not so long)

This is the first time that I have participated in Waiting for Wednesday, but I have a huge can’t wait for this book to be released list. In fact, I have an exclusive shelf on Goodreads dedicated solely to books that I need to stalk for release dates ;) This week, the book I can’t wait to be released is actually a fairly new addition to my shelf, but I never imaged that the author would write another book about the main character, following the first one. So when I stumbled across it, I was like dancing with joy. The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate takes the reader back to the word of Calpurnia (Callie Vee) Tate, a young girl at the turn of the 20th century. The first book (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate) was a breath of fresh air when I listened to it a few years ago and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to in this new adventure. As a bonus, the author did a great job of discussing evolution in the previous book (through the use of discovery of new plants) and I’m intrigued to see what she brings into this one.

You can read my review of the first book HERE

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate is going to be released on July 7th and I know, already that I need to check and see if my library has it on pre-order (or if not, see if I can sweet talk the librarian into getting a copy).

calpurnia tate

Goodreads Description:
Callie Vee, Travis, Granddaddy, and the whole Tate clan are back in this charming follow-up to Newbery Honor–winner The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.

Callie’s younger brother Travis keeps bringing home strays. And Callie has her hands full keeping the animals—Travis included—away from her mother’s critical eye.

When a storm blows change into town in the form of a visiting veterinarian, Callie discovers a life and a vocation she desperately wants. But with societal expectations as they are, she will need all her wits and courage to realize her dreams.

Whether it’s wrangling a rogue armadillo or stray dog, a guileless younger brother or standoffish cousin, the trials and tribulations of Callie Vee will have readers cheering for this most endearing heroine.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2015 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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Audiobook Review – Mortal Heart – Robin LaFevers

mortal heartMortal Heart
Author: Robin LaFevers
Series: #3 in the His Fair Assassin series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ¼

Narrator: Jennifer Grace
Run Time: 17hrs 52min

Review Copy Provided by Audiobook Producer

Description:
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has…

Review:
The final book in the My Fair Assassin series has been a long time coming and it did not disappoint. I mean, Assassin Nuns (which I’m pretty sure I raved about in my review of book 1 in the trilogy). In the third and final entry, we get Annith’s story. Annith who has always been the steadfast supporter of the mission of the convent and who only ever wanted to carry out the mission she had trained for – but who was never given the opportunity. As with the previous books in the series, I was immediately sucked into the author’s method of storytelling. The visuals that she paints (and maybe this was due in part to being in audio) are just so vivid, you feel as though you are in France with Annith, Ismae and Sybella (who are featured in bk 1 and 2 of the series).

While the first book in the series was much more a romance, and the second filled with political intriguing, this one reminded me of a story of redemption; of finding your place in an ever changing world. There were so many different elements that combined together during Annith’s story to complete the story arc. Anne of Brittany’s story (hint, don’t google if you don’t want to know what happened to her) played a central role once again. Honestly, one of the things I loved about this series in general was how the author took characters who would normally be minor characters (handmaiden’s) and made them key to the success of the story.

Honestly, this is a really hard review to write because I loved the book and yet I’m struggling to say why I loved it. There was so much going on – all the various storylines from the previous 2 books were being tied up as well as Annith getting her romance (and boy did she ever). I loved how the story ended (although there was one little thing that I think could be fleshed out into a further book in what ultimately happened to the Abbess – but that is something for another day).

Jennifer Grace was a new to me narrator but it won’t be the last time I listen to her. One of the things I appreciated about this series was that a different narrator was used for each book (since they were all told via different POV’s), but at the same time, how well the narrators did keeping similar pronunciation through-out (so it wasn’t ear-jarring either). I liked how she was able to bring distinctive voices to all the various characters and I never really felt that I was getting people confused as I listened (which is key to stories like this with lots of political intrigue and character interaction). One of my favorite things about Jennifer’s narration was that she was able to capture Annith’s innocence in the world because she had been sheltered all her life (as compared to Ismae and Sybella who had had much harsher lives prior to the Convent).

I gave both the book and the narration 4.5 stars, but rounding down to 4. It didn’t blow me away like the first book did, but was still heads and shoulders above many books that I have read/listened to recently. I’m intrigued to see where the author goes next, now that this trilogy is complete (personally, I would love to see some more historical YA fiction in lesser written about time periods)

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Cinderella’s Dress – Shonna Slayton

cinderella's dressCinderella’s Dress
Author: Shonna Slayton
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Being a teen-ager during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dress is even tougher.

Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dress, life gets complicated.

Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart shipped off to boot camp, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.

Review:
Sooo, I actually read Cinderella’s Dress back in June prior to its release, started to write my review and then got distracted by some life stuff (here’s a hint, if you want time to read/review, don’t sign up for a triathlon that will take 15 hours to complete – just sayin’). But as I look back at all the books i’ve read this year, trying to figure out which review to post next, the cover of this one caught my eye, because honestly, its gorgeous and i’m a total cover whore. Yeah, i said it, i’ve been known to pick books up based solely on the cover – sometimes it has been successful, like with this book, other times I’ve been majorly burned. So gorgeous cover combined with a fairy tale retold and I was a happy camper.

I really enjoyed how the author managed to work the various elements from the original Cinderalla (specifically the dress and the wicked stepsisters) into a YA romance (although, while marked as YA, most adults would likely enjoy it also). But the author did a great job moving the setting to a WW2 time period – her descriptions made you feel like you were experiencing the war through Kate’s eyes. I really liked Kate as a character – she wasn’t willing to accept the status quo of what was expected for women who were working at the time (being store models and seamstresses), she wanted more and was willing to work for it and prove that she deserved the job she wanted/got.

The underlying Cinderella element was good and the mystery of the dress – and the idea of did Cinderella actually exist? (I mean, I loved the Drew Barrymore movie where it was based in historical context) and the way the author developed the story made it seem plausible/likely. There was a truth to the way the author wrote the book that I enjoyed (if that makes sense). Both the main and the secondary characters were well-developed – none of them seemed fake (for lack of a better word) – I could easily see (should a movie be made) how they could be portrayed.

Overall, I gave Cinderella’s Dress, 3.5 stars and would recommend for anyone interested in fairy tale re-tellings or YA historical fiction.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Keeping Corner – Kashmira Sheth

keeping cornerKeeping Corner
Author: Kashmira Sheth
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
“Pretty as a peacock, twelve-year-old Leela had been spoiled all her life. She doesn’t care for school and barely marks the growing unrest between the British colonists and her own countrymen. Why should she? Her future has been planned since her engagement at two and marriage at nine.
Leela’s whole life changes, though, when her husband dies. She’s now expected to behave like a proper widow: shaving her head and trading her jewel-toned saris for rough, earth-colored ones. Leela is considered unlucky now, and will have to stay confined to her house for a year—keep corner—in preparation for a life of mourning for a boy she barely knew.

When her schoolteacher hears of her fate, she offers Leela lessons at home. For the first time, despite her confinement, Leela opens her eyes to the changing world around her. India is suffering from a severe drought, and farmers are unable to pay taxes to the British. She learns about a new leader of the people, a man named Gandhi, who starts a political movement and practices satyagraha—non-violent protest against the colonists as well as the caste system. The quiet strength ofsatyagraha may liberate her country. Could she use the same path to liberate herself?

Review:
One of my favorite things to do at the library, if I have a bit of time, is to randomly pick a shelf and then browse the books on it for something that looks interesting. In this case, I was wandering through the YA section and looked at the Fiction, R-T authors (my library has YA divided up into general fiction, genre fiction and then series). Something about Keeping Corner caught my eye and I am so glad that I picked it up to read. It is probably one of the more intriguing books that I have read in the last year.

I’ll admit that my knowledge of India’s history is rather lacking – I know very little about it, because it never really intrigued me to study it. Of course, everyone knows who Ghandi was (or at least the vast majority of us do). Keeping Corner takes place as he was starting his long-journey of activism – he wasn’t too widely known in the more rural areas of India (where Leela and her family lived), but was in the cities (where Leela’s brother lived). But while Ghandi is mentioned frequently through-out, Keeping Corner is more the story of Leela.

A young girl and soon to be child-bride, Leela is living her life as expected – waiting for her marriage to occur, so she can move in with her new husband’s family. But that all changes drastically when her soon to be husband is bitten by a snake and dies. Now she is expected to mourn for a year, in a tradition known as “keeping corner” – isolated from the world she has grown up in, not allowed to express joy, limited in interactions. I don’t know if I would have had the strength to survive what Leela did for a year – it took mental acuity that I don’t know that I possess (or many people today may possess). She faced the loss with bravery, and while at times she acted like the young girl she was (only 12) – she also displayed at times, the maturity of someone far older.

The author wrote Leela’s story in a way that would be engaging to both Young-Adults and adults who were reading the book. It has made me want to explore and read more about India’s customs, when it comes to death, weddings, births etc. although I haven’t found any books yet that I can recommend. Overall, I gave Keeping Corner 4 stars and I can’t wait to find more books by the author.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Book Review

 

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