Showing posts with label historical fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label historical fiction. Show all posts

Friday, September 18, 2020

Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker - Book Reviewed

Otherwise Engaged is a fabulous book!  It is a clean and wholesome romance for those of us who do not like explicit content.  It is also a historical fiction which is one of my favorite genres.  

This is the first book I have read by Joanna Barker, but it will not be the last!   She is a phenomenal writer who includes vivid descriptions of people and surroundings.  I was barely into the first chapter of Otherwise Engaged when I noted how much I loved this author’s captivating descriptions. I could easily envision the people and places in my mind’s eye. 

I also enjoy the touches of humor Barker includes throughout the book.  Several times I laughed out loud at the witty repartee between characters. 

All of these exceptional elements made this a thoroughly enjoyable book which I would highly recommend.   


Synopsis of Otherwise Engaged
England - 1822

Rebecca Rowley has just returned home from Brighton.  She has a big announcement to share with her family.  One that she knows her family will not be excited to hear.  Rebecca is engaged to Edward Bainbridge, whom she just met while in Brighton.  
 
She had heard the Bainbridge name before.  Their fathers had been business partners years before.  The reasons for the dissolution of that partnership had always been a secret that the parents never shared with their children.  Neither Rebecca nor Edward knew why they couldn't be together.  They agreed to find out the secret and, together, try to get their families to leave the past in the past, forgive and forget whatever was necessary, so they could be married with the acceptance and support of both families.  
 
 Otherwise EngagedCheck PriceRebecca had another secret.  She loved to ride her horse, Stella, but she enjoyed riding bareback.  She knew her family would disapprove of her riding in such an unladylike and dangerous way.  So, she would leave the estate with Stella saddled, then remove the saddle when they reached a secluded meadow.  Together, they would run like the wind, free and unencumbered by restraints. 
 
After one of their unconventional rides, Stella heard someone crying for help.  She and Stella immediately responded.  A child was drowning.  Rebecca ran into the water and swam to the girl, whose dress was caught on an underwater tree branch.  Once Rebecca freed her, she pulled her to safety on shore where they were joined by the child's very angry adult half-brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery.  This was definitely not the best way to meet new neighbors, especially since Rebecca was soaking wet and anyone could see that her nearby horse was not wearing a saddle.  This stranger now knew one of her best-kept secrets.  
 
Rebecca soon learned that Nicholas Avery was his sister, Olivia's, guardian.  Her mother had recently died and their father had died a few years before.  Nicholas barely knew Olivia since she was a much younger step-sister.  He had been in the navy all of her life and had only seen her a few times.  He wasn't always sure how to handle Olivia.  As a navy lieutenant, he knew how to make men obey his orders, but was clueless about how to deal with his little sister.  Rebecca stepped in to try to help.
 
Over the next few weeks, Rebecca and Nicholas became friends.  She confided in him and he kept her secrets, plus he enabled her to pursue activities that were otherwise not considered acceptable for a lady in society.   Rebecca's mother thought Nicholas would make the perfect suitor for her, but Nicholas knew Rebecca was otherwise engaged.
 

Conclusion


I immediately adored the free-spirited Miss Rebecca Rowley.  I applauded her desire to take on difficult tasks and live life on her own terms, not by wealthy society rules that stifled women.  I was tickled by Lieutenant Nicholas Avery’s independent little sister, Olivia, who clearly had a mind of her own.  I loved the witty quips of Rebecca’s family, as well as her conversations with Nicholas, and the jocular repartee they shared with each other.   
 
There are some authors who leave me wondering how they do it. How they write so well that they capture my attention.  How they describe their characters with such detail that I feel as if I know them, that they are close friends who have shared every confidence. How they weave a story that captivates me to the point of tears, laughter and even anger. 
 
Joanna Barker has done just that, and more, in “Otherwise Engaged”.  I have no doubt that I will miss Rebecca, Nicholas, and even Olivia in the upcoming weeks.





I received an advance copy of "Otherwise Engaged" to review from NetGalley. I would like to express my appreciation to Netgalley, the author, Joanna Barker, and the publisher, Covenant Communications, for this opportunity.



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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Catherine Cookson Riley Book Review

Catherine Cookson Riley (1998) Book Review

Many years ago, I parted with most of my Catherine Cookson books, retaining only the few that I had not read, like the one shown here called Riley. It had been decades since I had picked up any of Cookson's books but I remember fondly having loved the stories, which are set in the 19th century in and around what was then at least a heavily industrialized area of northeast England called Tyneside. 

With the arrival in 2020 of the virus that would lock down most of the world, I set to reading through some of my old piles of books and hence returned to the works of Catherine Cookson via this novel, Riley. 


IS RILEY RECOMMENDED?

Riley was indeed very good and it did not in any way fail my memories of Cookson’s books. It is the story of a young lad with no direction who was surely bound for trouble but was indirectly 'rescued’ by a few heated comments from a caring teacher. The result of those comments was a tumultuous but successful life on the stage and marriage to a woman 20 years his elder. 

Riley is Highly Recommended by me for anyone who loves historical fiction.


THE AUTHOR

Author Catherine Cookson, despite being from an extremely poor, working class home in Tyneside, England, went on to become one of the richest women in Britain. More importantly in my mind at least, she also went on to become Britain’s most read author in the mid-1990s and remains on the list of the twenty most read British novelists. She wrote a remarkable two books a year in many years and, when she died in 1998, she left behind 103 novels and a fortune for charity. 


ROMANCE OR HISTORICAL FICTION?

Catherine Cookson's novels were often categorized as romance despite the fact that, as Cookson said herself, there was nothing romantic about the times or the situations in her books. Her stories offered up more than historical romance and are extremely well done in terms of depicting a time period in history, which would surely make them qualify as historical fiction today. 

I do not want to stop with recommending Riley, however. I want to make my post a call for people to pick up Catherine Cookson’s books whether they knew her before they arrived here on this page or not. It doesn’t matter which book you start with whether it be Riley or another, they are all sure to please. Just be careful if you start with a series like Mary Ann Shaughnessy, Tilly Trotter or the Bailey Chronicles that you pick the first one.  You will find Riley on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links

Buy Riley on Amazon.
Catherine Cookson’s Life 
Discover the new, used and vintage books in my eBay store by clicking here but be warned that unfortunately there are no Catherine Cookson novels!
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn reviewed. 
Fast Girls by Elise Hooper reviewed. 








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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Reviewing The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

This riveting historical fiction novel is one that is hard to put down once you start reading and takes you on a journey through both the first World War as well as post World War II.

review of the alice network by kate quinn
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, photo by Lou16


A little while ago I read a review on this very site for a book called The Huntress by Kate Quinn which peeked my interest so when I was in a bookstore and saw The Alice Network by Kate Quinn author of The Huntress I just had to buy it.   The Alice Network was actually penned first and after reading it I am even more keen to read The Huntress!

The Alice Network was actually real as was the leader and Kate Quinn has done a marvelous job of interweaving actual historic events into a story that is hard to put down.

A WWI female spy - Louise de Bettignies - featured in the historical novel The Alice Network
The Queen of Spies herself, courtesy of Wikipedia
The novel features two strong heroines - Eve Gardiner and Charlie St Clair.   Eve's story takes us through the world of women espionage during the first World War and introduces us to the real life Queen of Spies, Louise de Bettignies.   What I found great after finishing this story was the author notes at the end which mention which of the characters were actually based on historical figures and which weren't.   Something I thought very interesting was where Kate Quinn got the idea for Eve's story, along with her spy name.

Eve's chapters take us through the perils of life as a female spy during World War I in France.   The other heroine is Charlie St Clair who finds herself (an American college girl) pregnant and unwed at 19 during the aftermath of World War II.

When her mother takes Charlie to Europe to dispose of her 'little problem' they make a stop in England where Charlie leaves the hotel to search for Eve Gardiner who was a name on the bottom of a missing persons report for her French cousin who went missing during the war.

Together they head to Europe, along with Eve's Scottish helper and driver and start on their individual quests - Charlie to find her cousin Rose and Eve to hunt down her enemy who handed her over to the Germans during WWI.

As the book interweaves through the two story lines we learn more about both heroines along the way and find where they both have to make major decisions which could totally change the outcomes of their lives.   The book also exposes the double standards women faced during WWI and showed how little these double standards had changed by the 1940s. 

Obviously as with any historical fiction some liberties were taken, but I'd love to think that Louise de Bettignies did buy ridiculous hats when travelling and was able to inject some fun into her life of intrigue.   I like the idea of her having the personality that was displayed in the book as the life of a spy in France at that time was very bleak - as it was for most every day people in Europe at that time.

I would love to see this book turned into a movie as I'm sure my husband would enjoy it.  What can you expect from this book?   If you pick up this book expect suspense, intrigue, a little romance and so many twists and turns.




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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Fast Girls - Book Review

Order Fast Girls Today
Three fast girls.  Three very different pathways to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Three: the number of seconds between "get set" and blasting off the starting line into your future.  Three young women running, for all they are worth, for their lives.

Fast Girls is historical fiction that introduces us to real women who broke world records, achieved Olympic gold, rose above rampant racism, sexism, and the societal norms meant to keep them off the track... out of the running for their dreams... out of their place in history.

Betty Robinson.  Louise Stokes.  Helen Stephens.  Remember their names.  These fast girls will teach us much that goes far beyond 100 meters.  From them, we will gain the perspective and insight that becomes a kind of second wind, which is what you need when you hit the wall during a race, or in the midst of dealing with life's hard challenges.

Each fast girl had to rise above tremendous obstacles to become who she was destined to be.  Take Betty Robinson, for starters.  As the first American woman to achieve Olympic gold, at the very first Olympics that included female athletes (Amsterdam, 1928), it seemed the "Golden Girl" had it made.  Not long afterwards, Robinson was involved in a near-fatal plane crash that left her body wrecked beyond hope of any kind of recovery, or any return to her former glory.  Everyone counted her out.  Everyone, that is, except Betty herself.  What she does with her brokenness is what will define her greatness.

Next up, Louise Stokes.  As a member of the first integrated Olympic team, Stokes, a black athlete, will face the kind of abuses no one deserves, or should ever experience.  Her treatment, how she copes with it, and where it leads, even to today's Black Lives Matter movement, is not just a lesson for the history books.  It is living history.  It matters as much right now as it did back in 1932.

Which brings us to Helen Stephens.  Stephens, a misfit, unwanted by her father, mocked and bullied by her childhood peers, so different, so confused about her identity, so incredibly talented.  What will become of Helen?  Who will see her immense promise and provide a means for her to leave the bleak, hardscrabble existence of her youth?

Fast Girls is about so much more than blazing speed.  Even though these women, at their peak, were the fastest women in the world, what mattered, and still matters, is what they did with their enormous capacity for turning tragedies into personal triumph.  Their disappointments and losses, perhaps even more than their triumphs, are what make for compelling reading.

This is a book for the history buff, the athlete, the coach, the teacher, the enthusiastic spectator, the one who cares about the worthiness, and enormous value, of every single person who asks only to be allowed the opportunity to fly down that straightaway toward the achievement of a dream... toward the fulfillment of personal destiny.

*I received an ARC of Fast Girls from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  I wish to thank the author, Elise Hooper, and her publisher, HarperCollins, for this opportunity.

**You may also wish to check out my five-star review of Elise Hooper's fabulous book Learning to See.









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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Spies, Wars, Winners and Losers, It's All So Intriguing To Me!

Reading is a wonderful Summer pastime, one that will take you to places that you've only dreamed of and so much more.




Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay

There are so many titles available,  but sometimes you just need someone to point out a book or two that you know will  be enjoyed from the moment they open that first page.  This is a Book Review of The Huntress, by Kate Quinn, published Feb. 2019.

My preferences lie with books that will keep me turning pages until the darkness of night and sometimes even till the morning light seems to be upon me.  I have been known to read until my eyes are literally streaming with tears to keep them lubricated enough to continue turning pages..

Recently, I got caught up with some spy thrillers, and historical novels about World War II and all the turmoil after the war was over.  Lives that had been shattered, families that lost loved ones and the most intriguing to me, the ones who just disappeared!

I have read all of these books and each one held me and my imagination from the opening pages to the very end.  I found myself even going back into the books to re-read chapters that had really captivated my yearnings to know more about this time in history.

Now I must remind you that these are all novels, but you know from in depth investigations after the war, that some of these scenarios are quite possible and not just figments of an authors musings.


The Huntress had me hanging by my fingernails, wanting to know what was going to happen next.  The cast of characters is so believable that I'm sure they could be neighbors of mine.

 From a group of young Russian women pilots (known by the Nazis as the Night Witches), to Nazi wives and/or lovers, to a couple of guys who are determined to bring down a high ranking German "killer".  This story has you spellbound within the first two pages.   


Image by Ella_87 from Pixabay


I should have known that I would be totally engrossed with The Huntress, because I have read Kate Quinn's, "The Alice Network", with just the same amount of interest.  She just writes so well that you are taken right into the heart of the story before you have finished the first chapter. You just need to know what is going to happen next.

The other book that I really enjoyed from this same time frame in history is Pam Jenoff's The Lost Girls of Paris.  What could possibly be in a suitcase left on a train stations platform?

If you want to enjoy a trio of books that will make your summer reading enjoyable, I would highly recommend that you start with any one of these three books.  Each one is amazing in it's own right.  I'm sure you will spend some quality time at the beach, pool, or just sitting in the yard enjoying both the good weather and a great book too. 

The best part of all this reading material is that there are options for you if you want to read them for free.  Life doesn't get any better than that.  You will have to check out these options for yourself !  

Happy Summer and Happy Reading!





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Monday, June 15, 2020

Book Review - One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker

I was transported to 1876 Wyoming each time I began reading One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow here I left off. The story is so descriptively written that I felt as though I too were on the prairie. I will remember these two families and this natural setting for quite some time.




Each chapter was written from the viewpoint of Nettie, Cora, Beulah or Clyde. Each of them had a different reaction to the crimes that take place as the story opens. The tension between Nettie and the others is nearly as harsh as the Wyoming winter. Cora is as uncomfortable in the rural setting as Nettie is in Beulah's presence. And Clyde suddenly becomes the man of the house, of two households, but is still a boy who needs to decide whether or not to follow in his father's footsteps. 

The two families are oil and water but they must pull together to survive the winter.

Cora was from St. Louis. She met and married Ernest, who moved them to Wyoming. On her first night, she quietly ventured from the wagon as far as she dared and watched the turning stars in the night sky. She felt she could love the place. But it turns out that she didn't. Cora missed the excitement and socializing of Saint Louis too much. After Ernest left, she was suddenly solely responsible for her four children and the homestead.

Ernest found his wife at the river with Nettie's husband. He immediately leaves the homestead and heads for the sheriff's office in Painted Rock to turn himself in for murder.

Nettie is not the forgiving sort. She can't find it in herself to forgive Cora for her many sins but mostly for the sin of causing her husband's death. And Nettie is sure that the strange daughter of hers, Beulah, must be as corrupt as her mother. She directs her son Clyde to stay away from this girl. Nettie is stoic and strong. She has all of the right answers and solutions. Or does she?

Clyde is talented with the horses and knowledgeable with the sheep. He is hard-working and responsible but his father's anger bubbles just under the surface. This story is about Clyde's coming of age as much as it is about pioneers doing the best they can on the prairie. 

Beulah. Nettie is correct. Cora's daughter, is a strange girl. Beulah appears slow or lazy. But she's not lazy at all. She cares for the three younger children, gardens, helps Clyde with repairing fences, and she knows things. She knows things she shouldn't. Whether it is intuition or visions she knows things before they happen. And Nettie finds this very disconcerting.  




Life on the frontier is not peaches and cream. It is difficult. This story is about grudges, loss, forgiveness, a spirit, and the natural world - both good and bad. And two very broken families that may or may not find their way. There are portions of this story that are difficult to read offset by the beauty of love and healing. And family.

Related Link:

Renaissance Woman reviewed The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker. That story is set in Nazi Germany 1942. "To immerse ourselves into Anton and Elisabeth's war-torn lives is to see glimmers of unimaginable beauty beneath the desolation of loss, shame, failure, and fear". Continue reading the review here.  


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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Book Review on Golden Poppies


Golden Poppies by Laila Ibrahim was my pick for the Amazon Prime free books for May.  I always enjoy historical fiction and I was not disappointed with this compelling story.


The Book on Amazon




Main themes of the Book


There are several themes that run throughout the book.  
  • Love and friendship that endures throughout the years
  • Racial discord and fear
  • Inequality 
  • Women's Voting Rights
  • Strong and resilient women


Highlights of the Book


This book looks at two generations of people who are linked by friendship and racial solidarity.

The book begins in 1894 with the story of Mattie, a former slave who escaped the plantation on which she lived and worked.  When the story begins Mattie is now living in Chicago and is very ill.  Her daughter, Jordan and grandaughter, Naomi are by her side; but Mattie desires to see her old friend Lisbeth one more time before she dies.  Mattie had been Lisbeth's nanny on the plantation before she escaped and they have kept in touch with each other through the years.   Jordan finally agrees to getting in touch with Lisbeth, even though she doesn't know if she wants to share her mother's last days with a "white" woman.  Upon getting the message, Lisbeth immediately makes plans to leave her home in Oakland California to visit Mattie.  Lisbeth's daughter Sadie travels with her by train to Chicago.

I don't want to give away the whole story but after Mattie's death all four woman end up going to Oakland.  During the weeks that follow they  become involved in the Women's Suffrage Movement.

There are many interesting side stories that make the book a real page turner.  These include the birth of a child, a husband's abuse, an interracial marriage and the continued loyalty and friendship of the two families.

My Thoughts on the Book


I found the book to be very compelling.   It was one of those books I just couldn't put down.  The author made the characters come to life and I found myself routing for their success and fearing for their safety.  

My favorite character was Sadie, Lisbeth's daughter, who had several struggles of her own during the story but always was there for her Mom and her friends.  She was married to a man who was very domineering and her struggles seemed very true, both for those times and today.

I think the one thing that struck me was that in all the struggles, even though they took place over a 100 years ago, you can see that many things are still the same today.  Sadly, sometimes the more things change the more they remain the same.  



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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Before We Were Yours Book Review

A Book That Will Touch Your Heart

After having just finished the book Before We Were Yours, I would like to review it for you today. It isn't a book that I would have chosen for myself, to be honest. My youngest daughter gave it to me for Mother's Day this year. It turns out she made a very good choice for her mamma to read. The novel by Lisa Wingate falls into the historical fiction genre which is a genre that I read often but it also falls under Sisters Fiction (I didn't even know that was a thing!) and Mothers and Children fiction (another new genre to me). Anyway, it turned out to be one of those books that I found difficult to put down. Let me tell you about it.

before we were yours
This made me think of Rill and Fern in Before We Were Yours
image courtesy of pixabay.com
It took me a little while to get used to going back and forth in time as I read the first few chapters but after a short period of time, I rather liked the way the author was making the story unfold.

Before We Were Yours Synopsis


Although, the story line in this novel is fictional, it is based on historical records of a time in the not so distant past where children from very poor families were literally stolen from their parents to be adopted out to families with money and power. Spoiler alert: what these kids go through is gonna tug at your heart. 

Lisa Wingate weaves us through decades of time while telling the story of a family of River Gypsies or Shanty-boat people on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee. As you turn the pages, you learn about two families that are two generations apart. You see the power of the strings that hold a family together or rip them apart.  Will there be consequences from secrets kept and secrets shared?

Personally, I loved the honest way that the author wrote about the struggles that most multi-generational families have when faced with having to place a loved one in a facility to be cared for. She portrayed the heartache of a family member no longer being able to live in their own home. Those awful moments when someone you love no longer recognizes who you are. This wasn't the main plot of the novel but was interspersed very well as the story progresses through a span of about 80 years. 

This is a story that probably will break your heart, but by the end, I think it will mend your heart, too.  

Every Family Can Relate

I think one of the remarkable things I took away from this novel was that just about everyone will relate to this story about family. I kept thinking about my paternal grandmother while I read. Granny was a strong soul who went through a similar childhood as the Foss children did. She came from a poor family with several children. Her mother died in childbirth when she was about 8. It was decided that her father wasn't fit to raise the children. The younger ones were adopted out quickly but Granny and her sister Cora were deemed too old. They were sent to an orphanage. Those two sisters spent years trying to get back to their family. They actually escaped from 4 orphanages together. She and Cora stayed close and they were able to re-unite with their siblings when they were adults and even took care of their elderly father in his last years. 

Another connection to my own family was that Granny suffered from Alzheimer's. Having to put someone you love in a care facility for their own safety isn't an easy one for any family. It broke my heart that she didn't recognize me at all but it hurt even more to see my Dad's face when she didn't know him. The author writes about this in a sympathetic and poignant way. 

I highly recommend this book! I think it will resonate with many. Whether we are a mother, father, daughter, son, sister, or brother; I think parts of the story will seem like a bit of our own.





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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Learning to See - Book Review

Read an Excerpt
You have seen the photos.  The Migrant Mother.  Desperate families on the move.  Children experiencing abject poverty.  Desolate internment camps.

Migrant Mother (1936)
Credit: Dorothea Lange/Public Domain

You have heard the photographer's name.  Dorothea Lange.  But how many of us know the backstory of how Dorothea Margaretta Nutzhorn Lange (1895-1965) became one of the most famous documentary photographers of all time?

Dorothea Lange (1936)
Credit: The Library of Congress/No Restrictions

Learning to See is historical fiction that reads like an organic biography.  Elise Hooper used volumes of historical records and interviews to create this compelling memoir-like novel.  Like many based-on-true-life stories, the fiction morphs with the nonfiction into a very realistic portrait of the complex life and times of Dorothea Lange.

We are first introduced to the intrepid twenty-two-year-old Nutzhorn as she arrives in the bohemian San Francisco of 1918.  Having been the victim of a thief who makes off with her life savings, Dorothea must use her wits to secure housing and a job as a photographic assistant.  Before long, the renamed Lange decides to forge her own path as an independent studio photographer.

As things unfold, we discover Dorothea's many evolving iterations: friend, businesswoman, wife, mother, and fearless social activist.  There are elements of Lange's life that some will find upsetting (like choosing to foster out her children during the hard economic times of the Great Depression).  The sacrifices endured for the sake of Lange's calling will have lifelong ramifications.

This is a book for those who appreciate historical fiction, biographies, defining moments in time, photography, or reflections on the human landscape of America.  I couldn't help but see the parallels between the subjects of Lange's Depression Era portraits and those that are beginning to define this current time of economic collapse, migrant oppression, and social injustice.

As a photographer with a connection to our country's unseen and often marginalized individuals, the themes of this book deeply resonate.  For me, Lange's unvarnished look at the real America took me to a place deep within myself that wishes to compassionately acknowledge and respond to the pain of those who are struggling mightily.  We know there are multitudes experiencing the hardest times of their lives at this very moment in our nation's history.

Woman of the High Plains (1938)
Credit: Dorothea Lange/Public Domain
This is not the time to look away.  To peer into the haunting images of Dorothea Lange's America, is to have the opportunity of a lifetime to learn to see and to define who we will become in relationship to, and with, those who are trying to survive, while hoping for a better tomorrow.

I highly recommend this novel and encourage members of book clubs to consider Learning to See as a group selection.  It is sure to generate the kinds of conversations that matter.










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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Review of In a Field of Blue



In a Field of Blue is a compelling novel about life during and after World War 1.  I downloaded this book on my Kindle when it was one of Amazon Prime's first reads.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more books by the author.

Setting


The book takes place in three different countries.

  • England
  • France
  • Canada

 


Summary of Plot


The story follows an English family whose oldest son has gone missing in action in World War 1.  After four years they are looking for answers when a young woman, Mariette, arrives at their manor claiming to be their missing son's wife and the mother of his child.

The youngest son, Rudy, sets off on a quest to find the answers of the missing brother.  The quest takes him to the ruins of the war fields in France and then to the far northern territories of North America.

The book shows the ravages of war, the miracles of love and hope, and the secrets of another time.

Characters


  • Edgar- the oldest son who goes off to war and is listed as missing.
  • Laurence-the middle son who seeks to claim his inheritance when his older  brother is presumed dead.
  • Rudy- the youngest son who idolized his oldest brother.  He wants to believe that he is still alive and goes around the world to try to discover the truth.
  • Mariette- a young French woman who claims to be Edgar's wife and the mother of his son.  She shows up with very little proof.
  • Samuel- the young boy who shows up at the manor with Mariette.  He wins the hearts of Rudy and the staff at the manor.

More book by author Gemma Liviero


After reading In a Field of Blue, I am anxious to read more books by the author.





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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Reviewing The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook

Today I'm reviewing The Forgotten Village, a novel by Lorna Cook, if you're thinking that you haven't heard from this author before then I'm not surprised as this is her first novel, but she has a new novel that will be released in March 2020.

Book Review of The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook
The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook

I picked up this book as it is set in Dorset, England where I grew up and I was intrigued by the snippet on the back as it is set in the village of Tyneham where I was never able to visit, but my mother finally got to see it last year. 

This novel has two stories interweaved throughout: that of Lady Veronica in 1943 and that of Melissa set in 2018.   Tyneham is actually the 'forgotten village' mentioned in the title - although it is apparently titled The Forgotten Wife in Canada and the US which isn't as compelling a title in my opinion.

Tyneham - Real World History


Post Office Row, Tyneham, Dorset - the forgotten village requisitioned by the MoD during the second World War
Photo © David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)
In 1943 the villagers of Tyneham were given a month to pack up and leave their village.   The 225 residents at the time were led to believe that they would be able to return after the war had ended.   Being a village on the coast the Ministry of Defence wanted to use the village in it's war efforts and the villagers left as patriots.

When the war ended, however, the requisitioned village was not returned to the original owners and is in fact still owned by the Ministry of Defence.   It has now been made accessible on some weekends when the Ministry of Defence isn't using it for training purposes.

Surprisingly there are several villages in the UK that suffered similar fates (I had always believed Tyneham was the only one).

Fictional Tyneham


In the book Melissa is on holiday in Dorset when she sees that the forgotten village of Tyneham is having it's grand re-opening (this never actually happened).   She visits and comes across a photograph of Lady Veronica and Sir Albert Standish (this family and the people are all fictional) which intrigues her.   She also meets a television historian (yes there is a romantic angle to the book) and they both try and find out what happened to the Standish couple as they appear to have disappeared.

The Two Stories in the Novel The Forgotten Village


This book weaves through Lady Veronica's life in 1943 as they prepare to leave the village as well as Melissa's life as she tries to find out what happened to Lady Veronica (and falls in love at the same time).

If you enjoy a little romance, glimpses of Dorset and historical novels then you will enjoy this book.   I found that although I put it down to go to bed I was lying awake wondering what had happened so much I ended up getting up again and finishing the book before going back to bed at some ungodly hour!

The only bit that I didn't really enjoy was when Melissa refers to her parent's relationship which I feel was an unnecessary aspect to the book, although I can see why the author thought it needed to be there.   Personally I got aggravated by her contemplating her parent's relationship especially as they weren't actual characters in the book.

I would definitely recommend reading this and I can't wait to see what the new book is about.

The author says this about her book -

"The Forgotten Village doesn’t attempt to delve too deeply into the intricacies of the requisition of Tyneham. I’m not sure I wanted to give readers a history lesson. Instead I hope I’ve written a well-paced story of love both lost and found, great sacrifice and how all is not forgotten even though it often appears to be. "

Meanwhile before heading to your local library or bookstore be sure to check out all of our book reviews (we do love to read on Review This Reviews!).


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Friday, November 29, 2019

The Captured Bride Book Reviewed

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 3 in the Series


The Captured Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower Series - Book 3 Reviewed
Every book in the Daughters of the Mayflower series is fabulous!

I started reading through this series several weeks ago. I wasn't sure how cohesive the series would be since the books were individually written by different authors.  The first book, The Mayflower Bride, was written by Kimberley Woodhouse, a new author to me.  The second book, The Pirate Bride, was written by Kathleen Y'Barbo.  I have read several books by Y'Barbo, therefore I knew it would be a great book.  The subject of today's review, The Captured Bride, was written by Michelle Griep, another new author to me.

Thus far, I have loved every book in this series and I have been thrilled to find new authors (to me) that I can trust to offer excellence in writing without explicit, gory, or less desirable content.  Simply, pure literary entertainment that is well worth reading.



Background on the Daughters of the Mayflower Series


As you may already know, or have guessed, these books are filled with American history references and characters.  The historical accuracy is part of what makes them so fascinating.

Starting at the beginning of American history with the Mayflower, the authors have created a family lineage that carries down through each book.  In the Mayflower Bride, Mary Elizabeth Chapman marries William Lytton, thus the beginning of the subsequent stories.

Each book places a Lytton descendant in a pivotal, or important, place in the history of America.  The characters and plots are all compelling. Even though the series was written by different authors, the books have a cohesive thread.  I can detect a bit of author individual style in the books, but it is not so obvious that it is detracting from the stories. 


Daughters of the Mayflower Series - Books



The Captured Bride Book Synopsis
1760 - French & Indian War


One could hardly write a series about American history and omit the American Indian heritage.  

 The Captured Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower -
Book 3
Check Price
Mercy Lytton is the daughter of a Mohawk Indian and a captive white mother.  Because of her mixed race, Mercy has loyalties to both the English and her Native American tribe, which are aligned against the French.  Her keen eyesight and ability to move throughout the woods without detection make her the perfect scout for the English.  For years, Mercy has worked closely with Captain Matthew Prinn.  She scouts and he has her back, always protecting her.  

Mercy and Matthew are assigned to transport gold from one fort to another.  Since it must be moved by wagon, they are to pose as a father, daughter and husband.  However, who is the husband?  Much to Mercy's disdain, her designated "husband" is a prisoner of French heritage.  They are instructed to never give Elias Dubois a gun.  He is simply being transported along with the gold.  

On their journey, it becomes necessary to form a fragile alliance with one another in order to survive, but Matthew & Mercy are hesitant to fully trust Elias.  They hold to their orders and refuse to give him a gun.  However, Elias proves to be a formidable foe without a rifle.  Unbeknownst to them, Elias has his own agenda that, for now, is served well by being aligned with the traveling scouts. 

At least, that is his plan until the unthinkable happens!



My Personal Opinion of "The Captured Bride"


I always love a book that surprises me and holds me captive.  Thus was the case with "The Captured Bride". 

While the name of the book gives some expectation of what must take place, the how, who and why, was still rather unforeseen.  This book takes the reader on a journey of their own, full of adventure, intrigue and completely unexpected events.  

Yes, I was fighting sleep because I simply had to keep reading.  It was a sad moment, yet satisfying, when I realized I had read the last word. 

As I said earlier, this author was previously unknown to me.  However, after reading "The Captured Bride", I will be seeking out more of her books.  As for "The Captured Bride", I highly recommend this book!



The Daughters of the Mayflower Series





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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Crown Reviewed

Series for the Anglophile

My husband and I have just watched Season 3 of The Crown on Netflix. Have you been watching this series? If not, I think you should. Not only is it entertaining but there is a whole lot of history packed into this original series made for Netflix.

the crown
A Crown
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I'll admit that I'm a bit of an Anglophile (person who admires the United Kingdom). My fascination with the country goes pretty far back. Being a bit of a history nerd, their history is one aspect of my curiosity and the Royal family is another. I think it might be why this series has grabbed my attention. This series documents in a artistic way a history that I have lived for the most part. Queen Elizabeth was named queen the year that I was born, her coronation was a year later. So, obviously I don't have a memory of that but there has been a lot of historical ground covered that I do remember.


Viewing history from the palace 

One of the take-a-ways for me while watching this series is a better understanding of how the Queen and Parliament work. I realize a lot of this is written for entertainment and there are probably some liberties being taken for a story but seeing the interaction of the Queen and the different Prime Ministers she has worked with has been quite interesting. Realizing that she and the royal family as a whole might have an opinion on different aspects of governing but are not often at liberty to voice what they really think or feel has given me a different perspective on a lot of history and even the leaders of today. 

The Crown, even though it is historical fiction, has made me appreciate different members of the royal family in ways that I hadn't even considered before. It is easier to see them as people instead of figure-heads. I hadn't really considered that they sometimes have insecurities, feel unappreciated, get their feelings hurt, and all of those emotions that us 'regular' people do. They don't live what we consider a normal life but they are human and experience many of the same things we do in our lives. 

If you haven't watched this series, I recommend that you do. It can be purchased on DVDs, if you don't happen to have a subscription to Netflix. I don't think that you will be disappointed, not even kind of. I'm looking forward to a season four already.




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Friday, November 15, 2019

The Pirate Bride Book Review

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 2 in the Series


The Pirate Bride Book Revies
I recently discovered this fabulous historical romance series.  To say it has kept me up into the wee hours of the morning on several nights, would be an understatement.  

I like to read at bedtime.  I've found that it normally helps me ease into a restful sleep by taking my mind off real life concerns.  However, in the case of the Daughters of the Mayflower series, these books have been so spellbinding that I can't put them down.  I get wrapped up in the story and must read just one more chapter.  Before I know it, it is 2 am and I am fighting sleep.  I need to know what happens next!

I previously reviewed the first book in this series, The Mayflower Bride.  An excellent story filled with fascinating history.  After I read The Mayflower Bride, I immediately started this book, The Pirate Bride.  Sadly, I finished it in two nights and started the third book in the series the following night.  I'll tell you in advance, I am suffering from sleep deprivation as I write.  At 4 am this morning, I was still reading that 3rd book.  This series really is that captivating.


The Pirate Bride Book Synopsis

April 1724

 The Pirate Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 2Check PriceMaribel Cordoba is only 12 years old when her estranged father appears and informs her that her mother and grandfather are dead.  Therefore, she will be joining him on a ship bound for Havana, immediately.  Antonia Cordoba is a cruel and heartless man.  He doesn't even allow Maribel to stay long enough to attend her mother and grandfather's funerals.  

As you might expect for someone so evil, Antonia has enemies who are equipped and strong enough to pursue him.  While at sea, their ship is overtaken by a privateer's ship that is commanded by Captain Jean Beaumont.  

A privateer is different than a pirate.  While they both seize cargo and assets, the privateer has a government commission to legally rob a country's enemy ships and divide the proceeds with their government. Therefore, the French Ghost Ship is breaking no law when they attack and board the Spanish Venganza.

On that fateful day, Captain Beaumont is more interested in a passenger then he is in the ship's valuables.  Many years before, Cordoba had killed Beaumont's mother and brother.  It was time for revenge!  After a short struggle onboard between Beaumont and Cordoba, they both fell overboard.  Beaumont had the advantage, but was convicted by the voice of God.  He took hands off of Cordoba and allowed the sea to take her prey naturally.  

Back on his own ship, Captain Beaumont discovers that he is now the reluctant guardian of a very opinionated and independent, Maribel Cordoba who is fascinated by pirates. Her intelligence, mental strength and adventurous spirit endears her to the crew of the Ghost Ship.  After a few months together and a life threatening incident, a few of the remaining crew decide it would be best for Maribel if she was raised by nuns in an established orphanage.  While she is still unconscious, they deliver her to Mother Superior on Isle de Santa Maria. 


Conclusion & Recommendation

There is so much more to this story!  The characters easily come to life in the pages of this book.  There are quite a few twists & turns that keep you reading.  What would normally be a difficult concept to "sell", the author seamlessly leads the reader to the point where we embrace the idea of this Pirate Bride. 

I have read several books by Kathleen Y'Barbo.  She never disappoints.  This is yet another book by this author that I would highly recommend.







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Friday, November 1, 2019

The Mayflower Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower Series - Book 1 Reviewed

True American History woven into the fabric of fiction!

The Mayflower Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower Book Review
I was fascinated by the real history in this book and riveted to the story.  I had no idea that only 5 women survived the Mayflower journey.  I could almost hear the echo of lamentation that surely accompanied these brave souls who set out for a new world and religious freedom.

In my American History class decades ago, I somehow missed the fact that a second ship, the "Speedwell", started the journey with the Mayflower.  Due to confessed sabotage by the crew that was paid to help settle the colony, the Speedwell had continuous leaks that wouldn't allow it to safely cross the ocean.  The Separatists on the Speedwell, were transferred to the Mayflower, while the fraudulent crew was allowed to do as they wished, stay in England.

In the book, there is a man who takes great delight in tormenting the Separatists.  He bullied the sick church members and enjoyed taunting them with the promise that he would throw their dead bodies into the sea.  The author, Kimberley Woodhouse, brought this real character to life for me.  I was disgusted by his words and I wondered how anyone could be so cruel and evil.  Interestingly, he was a real person, written about in the Pilgrim's journals.  It seems somehow fitting that he was the first Mayflower voyager to die and be buried at sea.

I admit that I picked this book up because I was seeking a historical romance.  However, the history that is intertwined throughout the pages of this book, was very eyeopening to me!  It makes me more grateful to the Separatists who sacrificed and struggled for religious freedom in the New World.


Synopsis of The Mayflower Bride


 The Mayflower Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 1Check PriceJust as the name implies, there is a romantic fiction story too. Mary Elizabeth, a Separatist, falls in love with William, a carpenter, who started the journey as a non-believer.  Part of what makes the love story better, is William's conversion, which he does not do just because of Mary Elizabeth. He truly desires to know God and to worship with the Separatists.

Mary Elizabeth joined her father and young brother on the Speedwell, bound for the New World.  She wasn't happy about leaving behind her mother's grave, her familiar home and life.  It was a frighting change for her, full of unknowns.  However, her best friend, Dorothy, was also making the journey with her parents.  Dorothy's exuberance about the venture helps Mary Elizabeth to try to view it as exciting and a blessing for them to be included in the first group to go. 

Williams mentor and master in carpentry, paid for William's part and passage on the Mayflower.  Because William is an orphan who lived on the streets until he was taken in by Paul, they believe the New World offers William a new life.  A future that is unburdened by his past and the condescension of people who know about him.

There are many trials and difficulties the passengers on the Mayflower faced.  Their own survival on the ship, was just the beginning.


Daughters of the Mayflower Series


The books in this series were not all written by the same author.  While I am familiar with a few of the inspiring authors, The Mayflower Bride, Book 1, was the first book I have read by the author, Kimberley Woodhouse.  It is an excellent book to start the series!  I can hardly wait to dive into the second book in the series, The Pirate Bride, written by Kathleen Y'Barbo (an awesome author).  I have no doubt, it will also be fabulous!  

It is exciting to discover this new series, especially at this time of the year when we focus on our blessings and our own American Thanksgiving.  After all, the voyagers on the Mayflower were the foundation of our country.






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