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Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Waiting on Wednesday – 13 July 2016

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I’ve been on a recent 20th century historical fiction kick (which seems kind of weird to say, considering that the 20th century ended only 16 years ago and I was alive during the end of it)…but specifically, books set from World War 1 (inclusive) through the end of world war 2, so i was excited to see the following book pop up in the Publisher’s Weekly upcoming releases list.

secrets of nanreath hallSecrets of Nanreath Hall: A Novel – Alix Rickloff
Release Date: August 2, 2016

Tagline: This incredible debut historical novel—in the tradition of Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson—tells the fascinating story of a young mother who flees her home on the rocky cliffs of Cornwall and the daughter who finds her way back, seeking answers.

Why Waiting on Wednesday?
Sometimes when taglines say for fans of certain authors, I’d immediately buy, or I’ll avoid…but in this instance, I’ve had very limited exposure of the 2 authors mentioned in the tagline (Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson), but I’ve (unintentionally) been making my way through the different decades of the 20th century (with a WW1 anthology, followed soon after by a book set in the 1920’s) – although, I’ll admit, I still need to find a book set in the 1930’s…but this will likely be my book for the 1940’s when I get there🙂 (although, it seemed to be a book that tells the story in 2 time periods, which if done right, is a story format that I really enjoy). Plus, I’ll admit there was some total cover lust for this book – its a cover that is just simple and elegant and one that I would totally buy in a store if i was just browsing the shelves.

What about you – what is your “Waiting on Wednesday” book?

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2016 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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Review – The Girl from the Savoy – Hazel Gaynor

the girl from the savoyThe Girl from the Savoy
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown …

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

Review:
sometimes i have to wonder if my desires in book settings is like published somewhere…so funny(ish) story, maybe a month or so ago, I was talking some book-ish friends on facebook and mentioned that I would love to see more books that were set in the post-WW1 era, but pre-WW2 (so the 1920’s and 30’s). And then not long after, I got an email asking me if I would be interested in reviewing Hazel Gaynor’s newest book, The Girl from the Savoy. I’d first read Gaynor when I picked up her “The Girl Who Came Home” when it was on sale one day (which told the story of a Titanic survivor, interspersed with a modern day story). And who doesn’t love this cover, like I have serious cover envy right now!

The first thing that sucked me into Gaynor’s story-telling, was how I felt like I was in London during the 1920’s. I felt like I was walking into the Savoy for the first time, seeing its opulence and having Dolly (or one of her friends) being my maid. Reading the vivid descriptions of the clothes and their trips to see Loretta May perform on stage. Dolly was just a character that you could fall in love with because she was so relateable – a girl who just wants to live her dreams, but one that also has a past that she is trying to reconcile with. It took me a few chapters to realize that while the majority of the book was set in the 1920’s, that there were a few portions that were set 1919 and more immediately post WW1 (yeah, I know, sometimes, I’m a bit slow on the uptake).

There was such a cast of characters included in The Girl from Savoy – Dolly and her fellow maids, several customers of the Savoy (there was one who really gave me the heebie-jeebies) so you could see the types of people who stayed at the Savoy, to Loretta and her brother, Percy and then there was Dolly’s long-lost love, who while he came back physically from the war, was never the same. His portion of the story was probably the most gut-wrenching off all the parts in the story (I know that it was supposed to be, but maybe its because I am in the military, that it hit home even closer)…

The Girl from the Savoy makes 2 books in a row by Gaynor that I have really enjoyed and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I’d recommend both the Girl from the Savoy (and the Girl Who Came home) to people who like historical fiction that has been extremely well-researched and just draws you in. A solid 4 stars for The Girl from Savoy and one step closer to Gaynor being added to my auto-buy list.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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Wishlist Wednesday – 27 January 2016

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)

My pick for this weeks Wishlist Wednesday is a book that is actually due out in less than a week and that I already have reserved at the library for when their copies come in (here’s hoping, I’ll be one of the first to get to read it).

salt to the sea
Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Release Date: Feb 2, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, World War 2 Fiction

Description:
In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Why am I excited to read it?
Ruta Sepetys’ debut book a few years back (2011), Between Shades of Grey, told the story of a teenager displaced and sent to Siberia when Russia annexed the Baltic states in 1941. It was a unique story to me as I read it, because not only did it touch on an era in history that isn’t routinely taught in high school (or college to my knowledge), but that it was also based in part on experiences by her family members. Ms Sepetys has the ability to write historical fiction in a way that just sucks you in and if her newest is like Between Shades of Grey, I might have to plan on a sleepless night, because I couldn’t put it down…

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2016 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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TBR Tuesday – 26 January 2016

TBR TuesdayWelcome back to the first official TBR Tuesday of 2016 (yes, I realize its nearly the end of January, work has been keeping me REALLY busy). I’m making it my goal this year to read at least 4 books a month off my archive pile (for me, this is any book that has been purchased at least 12 months prior to the date of the post). I hope you join me in tackling Mt TBR!

The Rest Falls Away
Author: Colleen Gleason
Series: #1 in the Gardella Vampire Hunters series

Purchase Date: May 28, 2010
Date Read: December 28, 2015
Time on Mt TBR: 2040 days

Review:
So there is kind of a funny story attached to my reading of this book. I bought this back in 2010 and promptly lost it in my archives (and never actually logged it as being owned on my Goodreads shelves – which is one of my major problems). Anyways, as I was browsing on Edelweiss one night, I came across the first 3 books in this series (including this one) all available on auto-approval (they were being re-released), so I grabbed them because the premise sounded intriguing. When I went to download the first book in the series to my kindle, I got several options in my archives – which made me stop for a second and scratch my head, thinking WTF…and thus, I realized my mistake. So while I am posting a short and sweet review for TBR Tuesday here – i’ll likely have a longer ARC version of a review to go live later on.

Keeping with the theme of short and sweet – I really liked how this series was developed – it was much more in the realm of urban fantasy than paranormal romance, so don’t be expecting a happy ending at the end of the first book (don’t say I didn’t warn you). It is definately a developing story arc. I loved how Victoria wasn’t a push-over and while she def. tried to act like a proper young maid in this book, you could see the inner conflict of her character, between how she had been raised, and what she was destined to become. I’ve already read the second book in the series, and look forward to continuing it.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in TBR Tuesday

 

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Review – The Edge of Lost – Kristina McMorris

the edge of lostThe Edge of Lost
Author: Kristina McMorris
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy provided by Author

Description:
On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

Review:
There are some authors when a new book comes out that you drop everything and read, Kristina McMorris is one of those authors and added to that, its been a LONG two years since her last book was released. So when the Edge of Lost popped as a author donated book in one of my Goodreads groups, there was almost virtual bloodshed over who got to read it first (unfortunately, I lost out and had to wait not so impatiently). So when it finally showed up in the mail, I gazed in adoration at it and then couldn’t convince myself to pick it up and actually read it (yeah, you read that right). I probably have it in my hot little hands for close to 2 weeks before I read it – I think it was trepidation of knowing once I finish it, then there would be a long wait for her next book and I just couldn’t do it…but anyways, earlier this week, I found myself in a situation where I had time to just sit and read (while waiting for my cell phone to charge) and damn, if I didn’t devour it (i mean, I read nearly the whole entire thing in about 2 hours).

As with her previous books, Kristina draws you into the time period for the book, this time the 1920’s and 1930’s which is a bit of a departure from her previous World War 2 focused books. In the beginning, we met Shanley Keagan, a young child in Ireland. As I was reading these chapters, I felt like I was reading (in part) a fictionalized version of Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) – the similar descriptions of life in Ireland just resonated through me. I’ll admit this isn’t an area of history that I’m familiar with, but after finishing the Edge of Lost, I want to read some more about it.

As the story progresses, we get to experience the trials of being an immigrant through the eyes of an Irish family in New York, the daily struggle to survive and to make something of themselves in the Land of Opportunity. But for me, the best part of The Edge of Lost was when Kristina transitioned to telling the story of Tommy Capello, a prisoner on the rock (also known as Alcatraz). Alcatraz is a place that even now, 80 years after the setting of this book that still brings shivers to peoples spines. Many of us probably grew up hearing stories about Alcatraz and the prisoners that were houses there and how it was believed to be inescapable (but is it really?). Its one of those places that is on my bucket list to visit (I was bummed when I was just in San Francisco and didn’t get a chance to go out there).

The Edge of Lost kept me on the edge of my car seat (as I sat there reading) and I was kind of unhappy when I had to go back to work and couldn’t finish reading it (that’s the sign of a good book right?). 4.5 stars for the Edge of Lost and now begins the waiting game for her next book.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Book Review

 

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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.

25602974

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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