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

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Seven Sisters Book Review

Historical Fiction of the Roman Empire

roman legion
Could this Roman legion be marching to the Seven Sisters?
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I would like to share a review of the book Seven Sisters by David Bowman with you today. Most of the time when I pick a book to share with you, it is one that is typically written with the female reader in mind. Oh, a few would be appealing to both genders but generally my reading tastes lean toward my own gender. Today's review will be about a book that I think will appeal to most men.

Mr. Bowman has written a fine piece of historical fiction that takes place in the Roman Empire during the Ninth Century. The story falls into what is often termed as alternative history where actual history takes on a speculative nature allowing for people, places, and events to be in the plot that either didn't exist or didn't happen.



Short Synopsis of Seven Sisters

Crastus is the Commander of the Fifth Legion for the Emperor of Rome. He is a veteran of the Roman military and has earned a great deal of respect from the men he leads and fellow commanders of other legions in the vast military of the empire. He is affectionately referred to as "The Silver Fox" and is known for his superb strategies in battle and for his element of surprise when fighting the enemy. As the story begins, Crastus has been commanded by the Emperor to oversee a campaign involving his own legion along with the Seventh and the Seventeenth. Their mission? To take back the fortified city called Seven Sisters from The Pretender who has kept the empire in a civil war for the last 5 years. This city is the best fortified area in the entire empire, even better than Rome. It has seven fortresses and an ingenuous water defense system. It will be up to Crastus to direct all three legions as they besiege the fortified city and defeat what is left of the rebel army. The task before him will not be easy and if he fails, the Emperor will surely have his head. Will he be able to use the new weapons and his cunning to win the city back? At what cost?

My recommendation:


As I mentioned above this is a book that will appeal to many male readers. I'm not saying woman can't enjoy it; I actually did find it fascinating. There is no romance involved in the plot. It is strictly preparing for battles, strategy planning  and the battles themselves. Political schemes and corruption in the government are also revealed. The battle scenes aren't too horribly graphic but it doesn't take much to see in your mind's eye what is going on during the attacks. I thought the use of their "new weapons" was a fun piece to the story. A kind of using the latest technology of war only it is taking place in the Ninth Century. 

I can see where this wouldn't necessarily be a book that female readers would enjoy but I do think that it would be a very nice gift for your spouse or son to have to read. They are going to enjoy the regimen of the soldiers, the preparing for attacks and the way the men interact with each other. Actually, I enjoyed it quite a lot. It was refreshing to read something that I normally wouldn't choose to read. 

So, why did I pick this book in the first place you might ask? Well, you know me; I am always looking for authors who haven't received much recognition from the reading public. David Bowman actually came to my attention in an unexpected way. I was looking for a designer to do book covers for me and found his website, Brightling Spur. David worked with me to come up with new covers for my Roni Rainer Mysteries and he has also helped me with the covers for my newest (soon to be released) series Cabin 9 Mysteries. When I discovered that he was not only a clever designer of book covers but also an author, I wanted to read his work. I wasn't disappointed in his covers or his writing.

In fact, Seven Sisters is the first book in a trilogy. He has also written Two Brothers which continues the story of Crastus and Rome and the final book is Imperator that concludes the story. I have read the first two completely and am about to finish the third book. If you are looking for a good gift to a male reader on your list, these books will not disappoint.




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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

My Real Name Is Hanna Book Review

Historical Fiction Aimed At A Young Adult Audience


pysanky eggs
Pysanky Eggs play a roll in My Real Name Is Hanna
(image courtesy of pixabay.com)
Let me share a book review with you today for My Real Name Is Hanna. I have always loved to read historical fiction. There is something intriguing about an author taking a specific time in history and envisioning a story of what it might have been like for characters in that era. 

When I sat down to begin reading this book, I thought that I would read a chapter or two and then set it aside to continue later or even the next day. That is typically how I read books. So, I read the first couple of chapters and thought, "Well, maybe a few more and then I'll quit for the day." I did take a short break to get some household chores completed but the book was nagging at me to come back. Long story short, I ended up reading the entire book by day's end. 

Captivating Story Not easy to put down

The story is about a young girl named Hanna. Her family is Jewish and had fled from Russia after the pogroms and what was referred to as the Hunger War. Her mother and father have settled in an area of Ukraine that was sometimes under Polish rule and sometimes under Russian rule. At the beginning of Hanna's story we learn about a time when the Russians have taken over. Stalin has required that all Polish allegiances be stopped. Flags are changed from the red and white of Poland to the red flag with the crescent moon and star of Russia. School subjects are now taught in the Russian language. News is controlled by Stalin along with the ability to worship or practice local customs. Life is changing and not for the better.

Rumors begin to circulate around the small town where Hanna lives. People begin to disappear. Quiet conversations are heard about a man named Hitler sending his armies to fight with the Russians for control of Poland. Some think this German might be better than Stalin, others aren't so sure. Neighbors begin to turn against neighbors, especially when the German soldiers come. 

A Story of Survival: My Real Name is Hanna

The author, Tara Lynn Masih, gives us a story of one family's survival during this horrible time in world history. Her fictional account is based on a real family who found the courage and strength to keep clear of the worst of the Holocaust. Hanna and her family were able to escape being taken to the ghettos and the work camps. They were able to keep from falling into a trench after being shot. What they endured to stay alive is a remarkable story! You need to read the book to find out how and for how long their lives were hanging in an unstable imbalance.

One of the things that I loved about this book is that it is written with the teen and young adult reader in mind. Although, some atrocities are mentioned the very worst are only hinted at. A young person can get the feeling of the awful inhumanity that can be inflicted in a way that is less repulsive than what really occurred in Europe. It might help them to understand history a little better and make them curious to delve into it more. 

I want to stress how this is not a depressing book. Certainly, you can't help but feel disgusted and appalled at what happened in WWII. It is a story of hope. A story of love and family; it is a story of people helping people even when it means their own lives are at risk. Read the book to find out what role the Pysanky eggs play in Hanna's life. I thought it was a fascinating addition to the overall story and I learned more about those lovely decorated eggs.

If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book to you. I sincerely believe you will be glad you read it.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Friday, March 1, 2019

Somewhere in France Book Review

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson, A Book Review

Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War by Jennifer Robson


I believe that I read more books set in the years surrounding the Second World War then I do set in the First World War so the time frame of Somewhere in France felt a little different to me when I first picked up the book and the claim that it would be “especially satisfying for fans of Downton Abbey” was somehow a little off-putting to me. Can anything compare to our beloved Downton Abbey?

However, somewhere in France delivered a solid story. As a matter of fact I just finished it moments ago after putting aside all of the other things that I should have been doing this morning and leaving my husband to cope with the mess in the kitchen on his own. Don’t worry, he was up to the task.

Somewhere in France is the story of Lady Ashford (Lilly), her brother the Viscount Ashford (Edward) and his best friend Robert Fraser (Robbie).

Lilly breaks with her wealthy family in order to do the work she wants to do in support of the Great War. She is not content to stay home, find a husband and raise a family so she learns how to drive and joins the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and becomes an ambulance driver.

Edward, who previously was not much more than a spoiled aristocrat, joins the war effort in the trenches where he finds success leading a group of men.

Robbie, who originally hailed from slums in Scotland but who managed via a scholarship to become a talented surgeon, is assigned to a field hospital where he serves as Captain Fraser.

They all keep up a stream of good, old-fashioned correspondence, which helps them maintain close ties. They continue to do so even after Miss Ashford, as Lilly calls herself after her break with her family, is assigned as an ambulance driver to the same field hospital that Robbie works at.

Somewhere in France is most definitely a love story though it takes a while for that love to be discovered and then years for it to be exposed.

WHAT TO BE AWARE OF IN THIS BOOK


Somewhere in France Book Review
If you decide to read this book, you might like to know that there is a lengthy sex scene and that, of course, there is violence.

Since all three are working near the front lines in the Great War, it is inevitable that this story includes scenes from the injuries received by those fighting the war and those injuries and the resulting treatments were not nice for the patient or the professional who had to treat him.

You might not expect the fairly lengthy sex scene. However, I think that it was handled beautifully. It demonstrates how some women, particularly those in the upper class, were so protected from realities of life that they knew literally nothing about sexuality and reproduction.

There is some discussion on the website GoodReads about this very issue Some writers call the scene short, which I would not. Others comment about how it important the scene was for the relationship of two adult individuals who would have been married years before if not for the war and because of the historical facts it demonstrated about the lack of knowledge about procreation on the part of the main character and presumably other women of the era.  Lilly's partner was actually forced into the position of educating her on the topic. As one writer said, the scene is not anything like Fifty Shades of Grey. It is beautifully handled though perhaps longer than it needed to be. If this subject matter is of concern to you, you might like to read the discussion for yourself by visiting GoodReads.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Don’t let these things turn you off this book. Somewhere in France is definitely a page turner, a love story with drama and suspense and a look into the life of people who lived and worked directly on the battlefields during the Great War, the war to end all wars. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. I have to say now that I agree with the comment on the cover that if you love Downton Abbey, you will enjoy this book. You can find your copy in whatever format you prefer on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

More Downton Abbey Reading:

Buy your copy of Somewhere in France on Amazon.
Watch the Downton Abbey Christmas video parodies.
Find the beautiful Downton Abbey teacups.
Discover the period drama Lark Rise to Candleford.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Monday, February 18, 2019

The Girl They Left Behind Book Review

The Girl They Left Behind Book Review

The Girl They Left Behind: A Novel by Roxanne Veletzos


I have read a number of books since I last wrote a post here on Review This and I had to do a bit of a  debate with myself as to which one I would write about today since they have all been such good stories.  Please stay tuned for more reviews of books that you should add to your reading list!

The Girl They Left Behind, by Roxanne Veletzos, is a moving story. The title tells exactly what the book is about. Quite literally, a three-year old girl is left behind in Bucharest, Romania in 1941. Her parents abandon her on the steps of an apartment building in the face of Nazi persecution with the hope that she might somehow survive.

What a brutal decision. At first I struggled with this book because it seemed not just heartbreaking but also outlandish that anyone would abandon such a young child and expect her to survive in a place where people would not be quick to take in an unknown child. I know these things and worse happened, but I still struggled at first with this theme.

The little girl is rescued and then left with an orphanage until eventually a wealthy family adopts her and renames her Natalia. Because of her age, she quickly puts all early memories of her birth parents behind her though of course, the abandonment would haunt both her birth mother and father forever.

The story is slightly unusual because it deals with the persecution of the Jewish people in Romania and of communist life behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union. I have read numerous similar stories set in other countries like France, Germany and Poland but I am not sure if I have read another one set in Romania and I expect I have read few set behind the Iron Curtain.

Anyway, the story is a tangled story of survival that spans decades and eventually sees Natalia give up her adoptive family and her love in order to start a new life in the United States.

The story is one of those impossible-but-true stories. It turns out that the author, Roxanne Veletzos,  was born in Bucharest and eventually moved to California and that this this book was inspired by her mother's life though I do not know if in fact she was abandoned by her parents.


Highly Recommended


The Girl They Left Behind is in my opinion very well told. It is engrossing; you will not be able to put it down. It is about family and love and history. It features drama and suspense and even has an ending that will satisfy you. Yes, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me.

If you enjoy historically based fiction like Sarah's Key, The Nightingale, The Ragged Edge of NightAll The Light We Cannot See, The Piano Maker and The Orphan Train you will enjoy this book. You can buy your copy in the format of your choice on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Girl They Left Behind on Amazon.
Find more HISTORICAL FICTION on Review This!






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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Understanding Elizabeth by Robin Helm: A Review

It Began with Pride and Prejudice


The love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy as written by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice has been one of the most popular in all of English literature. Now over 200 years old it's been made into numerous movies, plays, and variations. Understanding Elizabeth is one of these variations.

Since most of the characters in Understanding Elizabeth came straight from Pride and Prejudice, I'm going to refresh your memory with this diagram to show how they are related.

Understanding Elizabeth by Robin Helm: A Review
Pride and Prejudice Character Map by Jellomania at the English language Wikipedia

It has been sixty years since I read Pride and Prejudice, and that's why I needed to read it again before writing this review of Understanding Elizabeth. If you haven't read Jane Austen's original recently enough to remember the plot and characters, you can watch this video summary or download the free book from Amazon, as I did. This is the best of the summary videos I found.




If you prefer to read a plot summary with descriptions of the original characters in Pride and Prejudice, Wikipedia provides it. I reread the 410 pages in two days to refresh my memory, since the plot is complex and my memory isn't what it used to be. I found I appreciated Pride and Prejudice more at 75 than I did at 15.

Understanding Elizabeth

Understanding ElizabethUnderstanding Elizabeth

Understanding Elizabeth by Robin Helm focuses on Mr. Darcy's inner thoughts. Although the narrator tells the story, Robin Helm lets the reader inside Mr. Darcy's head. Whereas Jane Austen reveals what her characters are thinking through their words to each other and comments from the narrator, in the Helm book Darcy's italicized thoughts are interspersed between his spoken thoughts and the narration.

We discover what motivates his words, including those infamous insulting words spoken to his friend Mr. Bingley at an Assembly. Bingley wanted Darcy to dance with Elizabeth and offered to arrange an introduction, but Darcy coldly replied, 'She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me...' Elizabeth overheard him, and although wounded, she joked about it with her friends. The offending words came from Pride and Prejudice, but they play a major part in both books.


In Understanding Elizabeth, Elizabeth writes in her journal: 
Fortunately I need not care for Mr. Darcy's good opinion, as I have known from the first moments of our acquaintance that I am not handsome enough to tempt him. After all, in his own words, I am barely tolerable....As I told Charlotte, I could easily forgive his pride had he not mortified mine. 

Darcy Reads Elizabeth's Journal


It was in trying to understand Elizabeth that Darcy alienated her. After hearing that her sister Jane who was staying with the Bingleys at Netherfield had become ill, Elizabeth immediately left for Netherfield to care for her .

Darcy was also staying there, and one evening while a group was in the parlour, Darcy observed Elizabeth reading a book. That impressed him because he liked intelligent women who read. He wondered what she was reading. As he observed she was also writing, he became curious about that, as well.

When she left to go back to Jane's room, she accidently left her book behind. Darcy took advantage of this and grabbed it, hoping to read the pages she had written and concealed in the book's pages. He battled his conscience before doing this, knowing he shouldn't, but he couldn't stop himself. He hid the book in his newspaper and took it to his room.

The first papers reveal her thoughts on the poem she was reading, but then after arguing back and forth with himself about invading Elizabeth's privacy, he yields to the temptation to understand her thoughts. As he reads her notes on Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," he sees her opinion that 'to be generous and sincere is better than to live for worldly fame and fortune.' He wonders if she thinks he "wallow[s] in luxury and pride." He questions his own character.

As he reads her opinions,  he 'picture[s] himself under a magnifying glass held in her small hands.' Then he realizes the rest of the papers in the book are her personal journal. As he reads he realizes she overheard his remark about her not being handsome enough to tempt him, and he admits to himself he hadn't meant it but was merely trying to get the matchmakers, including Bingley, off his back. By this time he knew he was becoming attracted to Elizabeth against his will.

He closes the book and sneaks it downstairs to return it to where Elizabeth had left it, now dark. Everyone else had retired by then, and, newspaper in hand, he is headed back to his room when he runs smack into Elizabeth who had come to retrieve her book. After a brief conversation about why they are there, they return to their rooms. And he realizes he is in danger of falling in love with Elizabeth.


The Dreams


Understanding Elizabeth by Robin Helm: A Review of a Pride and Prejudice Spin Off
Image Courtesy of Pixabay

By this time Darcy deeply regrets the insulting words he had spoken to Bingley about Elizabeth. He had never intended for her to know about them. Now they were thwarting his desire to have her think well of him and she made it clear that she loathed him. As he wishes he could take back his words, the theme turns Faustian as the devil appears in a dream to ask what he'd give to take back his words. But the angel who also appears in the dream reminds him that anyone dealing with the devil has a price to pay.

These dreams are repeated all through the book as Darcy tries to repair the relationship damage his words have caused. Elizabeth still doesn't realize he knows that she overheard them. That comes out later just as the relationship seems to be healing.

By this time Jane's illness has become more serious and Elizabeth spends a great deal of time in Jane's room. To give her some diversion, Darcy suggests they play chess. Each has a chessboard. Each writes their next move on a paper. They arrange that Molly, a servant, and Watkins, Darcy's valet, carry the notes back and forth so Elizabeth and Darcy can play their chess games without being in the same room. (Molly and Watkins don't appear in Pride and Prejudice.)

The relationship continues to develop until Darcy makes a verbal slip that makes Elizabeth realize he had read her journal. When she confronts him, he at first denies it. She then ends the chess games and the relationship because he not only invaded her privacy but also denied it. She returns his book and tells him to burn any of her notes in his possession. She also forbids him to call her Elizabeth any more and insists it be Miss Elizabeth.

That night the angel and the demon return again in a dream. Only quoting the Scriptures keeps Darcy from dealing with the Devil. The demon says he will return only once more. The quote in the image below was a warning from the angel.

Understanding Elizabeth by Robin Helm: A Review


Comparing Understanding Elizabeth and Pride and Prejudice


Unlike many Pride and Prejudice variations, this book is not a sequel. Instead it parallels the plot of Pride and Prejudice, adding many more details about the period Jane and Elizabeth spent at Netherfield during Jane's illness. It also elaborates on what Darcy did to help after Lydia ran off with Wickham.

In Understanding Elizabeth, Darcy doesn't try to break up Bingham and Jane, nor does Elizabeth become as friendly with Wickham as she does in Pride and Prejudice. Darcy's marriage proposals are handled differently, and so are the weddings.

The most significant difference in the books is the Christian element. Whereas Austen devotes several pages to making Parson Collins look pompous and ridiculous, he is not so major a character in Helm's book. We get only a hint of his attitudes and see fewer of his interactions.

Helms also explores Darcy's spiritual life. She reveals the torment he goes through in his dream visions and temptations before he finally achieves a difficult victory in which the Scriptures play an important role.

In his search to understand Elizabeth, Darcy learns to better understand himself. As he sees more of his own sin, he loses ungodly pride and develops more humility. He is finally able to love more unselfishly.

My Recommendation 


Fans of Jane Austen will enjoy the additional details in Helm's plot. Helm doesn't change any of the main plot elements, but she gives readers deeper insight into what motivates Darcy and Elizabeth. She alters some of the plot details and adds some characters such as Molly and Watkins, but she doesn't change the personalities of the main characters Austen created.

Austen lets Jane recover from her illness and leave Netherfield in chapters 7-12.  Helm devoted at least her first sixteen chapters - more than half the book - to Jane's convalescence, thus giving Elizabeth and Darcy much more time to develop a relationship before Elizabeth breaks it. I appreciated this.

Understanding Elizabeth is much easier to read than Pride and Prejudice. Though it retains the style and customs of Austen's book, it's easier to keep the cast of characters straight in Helm's book. The language is not as obsolete. Many of Austen's words have different meanings today than they did 200 years ago.

That being said, Austen's book still surpasses Helm's in overall literary quality and character portrayal. Still, I'd give Understanding Elizabeth five stars. It's entertaining, the main characters are well-developed while remaining true to Austen, and the spiritual elements add depth. I loved the ending.

Many others have written variations of Pride and Prejudice I've not yet had a chance to read. I'm amazed at how many there are -- from historical to modern. Some make the romantic details much more explicit than others set in that historical period.  The three I'd like to read next are in the group below. Why not download one today?




You may also enjoy my reviews of these Christian historical novels:

  • Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling - the story of two Norwegian brothers who settled the Dakota country in the 1800's with their wives
  • Paper Roses by Amanda Cabot: A Christian Mail Order Bride Romance



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Monday, June 11, 2018

Reviewing Caroline: Little House, Revisited

Book Review: Caroline: Little House, Revisited.
I just finished reading Caroline: Little House, Revisited.  It is beautiful historical fiction by Sarah Miller and written from the perspective of Ma Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie fame. Caroline was written with permission from the Little House Heritage Trust and with a focus on historical accuracy. Little House on the Prairie fans will recognize the Ingalls family and this fan was thrilled to find a book written from the perspective of an adult in the family.

If you have ever tried to imagine what it might have been like to be a parent in the late 1800's, hauling your children and every belonging you own across the states in a covered wagon, you'll want to read this story. I found myself trying to carve more time out of each busy day to read. 

Caroline begins as Charles sells their house and land in Wisconsin. In February 1870, the Ingalls family loads the covered wagon (complete with the cover sewn by Ma) and heads toward Kansas - leaving all of their extended family behind.

As the story unfolds, the love Ma has for Charles, Mary, Laura and the child she carries within her is clear. Her thoughts and fears of moving to a new land, transcend the decades and resonated with me. She is pregnant and leaving the family who helped her birth her children. Who, if anyone, will help her when the time comes?



Finally arriving in Kansas, the Ingalls family begins to set up a home. Life totters precariously on the brink at times as they build their home, dig a well, and settle in Indian Territory. The cultures are clearly very different and there are no translation apps at their fingertips to help provide any sort of communication assistance. 

Times were different then. Daily chores (cooking, sewing, darning, taking care of the garden and the animals) moved at a slower pace. Sundays were the sabbath and the family strictly observed the sabbath. Parenting was different. Ma worked at protecting her young children from anything that may cause them fear - including any stressful feelings she and Pa had. Adults and children had clear roles - very different than modern parenting.

I found this to be a beautiful book. I could relate to Caroline's inner dialogues and her observations of the world around her. Without the distractions and noise pollution of modern life, it would have been easier to note the sunlight shining through the canopy of the wagon and the prairie grass waving in the wind. Of course our private thoughts will become more clear if the constant assault on our ears by televisions, radios, cell phones and each other is absent. 

Some reviewers found Caroline's observations to be distracting. I found them to be beautiful and an integral part of the story. Perhaps that is because I have similar thoughts and observations while alone and off-grid at The Shack. Without the clutter of modern life, the mind drifts to the natural things around us.

There was one piece of the story that I found a bit confusing as a Little House on the Prairie fan (confusing but not distracting from the story at that point). Ms. Miller speaks to that in her Author's Notes in the end:
"Caroline is a marriage of fact and Laura Ingalls Wilder's fiction. I have knowingly departed from Wilder's version of the events only where the historical record stands in contradiction to her stories"
Caroline: Little House, Revisited was a beautiful story and one of those books that I will read again later - just as I read Little House on the Prairie over and over.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Wilderness Series Reviewed

Stories of Fantasy, Time Travel and American Indians

Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull image (public domain)
I have discovered another series to share with you. The group of books are called The Wilderness Series and are written by Pamela Ackerson. Let me just say that I am in awe of her imagination and her combining several genres to make an intriguing (at least for me) set of stories to read. 

You will find that there are several areas of interest that will appeal to a variety of readers. The books are listed in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre and fit the Fantasy section of interest. Added to that is the element of time travel and Ms. Ackerson has created a unique way for that travel to occur! She has added an element of history in the traveling in time, most specifically back to the late 1800s. She has also created an amazing love story as a part of the books. 

I mentioned the time travel and that is what piqued my interest to read the first book in the series. Dr. Karen Anderson dreams of being in the land occupied by the Lakota Sioux. She is certain that she is dreaming and is fascinated by the detail in her dream. She encounters a Lakota warrior named Standing Deer and feels a very strong attraction. After waking up from what she assumed was a dream, she talks to a friend about her dream and how vivid it was. The two women figure out after a couple of these vivid dreams that they are not dreams at all and that she is actually traveling back in time. 

Her travels begin at a time when Sitting Bull was a young man and Crazy Horse isn't much more than a boy. If you know your history, you might figure out that she is traveling back to the time in history that is the beginning of the end for the great Sioux Nation. Some of you reading this, who know me well, will understand why this specific time in history would grab my attention.  For those of you who don't know me, I have a strong connection to the Sioux and specifically the Lakota. For many years I have supported efforts to help the Lakota at the Pine Ridge Reservation. Anyway, that is why I decided to read the first book and have continued to read them. 

I applaud Pamela Ackerson for her research in the events during this time in history. She has done an excellent job of portraying the Sioux as they really are and were. There is no sugar coating the facts and she does a good job of explaining what happened. 

I mentioned a love story a little earlier. This caused a bit of a struggle for me. Although, I love the concept of two souls meant to be together and the intensity of that love; I could do with a little less description of the physical part of that love. It is just racier than I like to read. It isn't too horrible but I did blush a couple of times. So, I am warning you that the love scenes are not subtle. The thing is these stories would survive quite well without the explicit wording. In other words, I personally don't think those scenes need to be in the books. A more understated scene would have worked just as well. That is really my only complaint with the books.

Even with the love scenes that I could do without, I still love this series. The history involved pulls me in far enough that I can overlook the love scenes. The books are well written and the stories are fascinating. If you like a good fantasy book and enjoy the idea of time travel, I think you will like this Wilderness Series, too. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review

A friend told me that Kristin Hannah’s novel The Nightingale was an excellent book and it was. Though I know this book is a work of fiction, it does deal with real situations that happened during the time period that France was occupied by Germany in World War II.

I know things that happen in this book happened to real people in France. I have always read books set in this time period. However, what happened in that war is still hard to believe. Truly unbelievable. Despite knowing that people were treated in this manner, I still managed to come away in disbelief saying to my husband things like, "How could anyone treat people the way they did?" and "How did the French people manage to survive in those conditions?" We are not talking about one or two crazy people here, right? We are talking about an 'army' of people mistreating people.

Anyway, in my opinion, Kristin Hannah has crafted a wrenching story with a family and with characters that you will come to love. Yes, you are likely going to shed some tears. Yes, you will be upset by the violence and the cruelty and the sexual situations in this book though I must say that it is far from the worst book that I have read in those matters though perhaps more disturbing because it feels so real.

The Nightingale deals with the contributions made to World War II by women. Unfortunately, those important contributions like the women depicted in this book who joined the French Resistance or who managed despite incredible odds to feed their families, have not been as widely acknowledged or recognised as those of men.

In particular, this book deals with two quite different sisters: One who wants to keep her family safe; the other who is not willing to accept the things that are happening to them. It is a story of courage and survival parts of which were inspired by real women like 19-year old Belgian, Andrée De Jongh, who took considerable risks helping people escape from France.

Here is the book trailer. I do not know if it is official or not but it does give a good idea of the things that happen in this story:



This book is well done and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me and by many others. If you love a book that shares a great story about women’s lives and that is historically based you will enjoy The Nightingale. It is riveting. You will not even notice that it the hardcover book is 440 pages or that the paperback is 600, particularly if you read it as an ebook.

By way of further recommendation, you might take the fact that, according to The New York Times in 2016, this book had sold more than two million copies. This book has drawn both men and women as well as young and old readers. As one who has always been captivated by World War II novels it comes as no surprise to me when the Times stated that people are drawn to them. However, I was interested to learn that this book has drawn a younger generation of readers who perhaps relate to this novel because of how young people were drawn to the French Resistance.

If you are interested in reading The Nightingale, you can find it in all formats including eBook, audiobook and traditional paper book, on Amazon by clicking right here.  I’ve just noticed on the cover that this movie is to become a major motion picture. There is not much information available as I write this other than a rumoured movie release date of 2017, which means that once you have read the book you have a movie to look forward to.

If you like historical fiction, you might also enjoy these reviews on Review This:

Secret Healer by Ellin Carsta, which is set in 14th Century Germany.

The movie The Bridge of Spies, which is set in the cold war.

The One Man by Andrew Gross, which is set in Poland in 1944.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Order your copy of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale from Amazon.






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Friday, July 21, 2017

The Inheritance Movie Review

The Inheritance Movie Review

The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott


While searching for a Sunday afternoon movie to watch, I was immediately drawn to The Inheritance for several reasons.  First, it is based on the novel written by Louisa May Alcott.  Second, like the book Little Women, the setting is during the Victorian Era which was actually Alcott's contemporary time.  And, last but not least, because Meredith Baxter stars in the movie and she is one of my favorite leading ladies. 

The hairstyles, the clothes, the home decor, all appeal to me.   From the very beginning, I expected to like The Inheritance and I was not disappointed.  For 90 minutes I was transported to New England in the 1800's and the world of haut monde


Plot of the Movie, The Inheritance


As a companion to a beautiful, wealthy young woman, Edith is caught between the world of a servant and the the lifestyle of the wealthy. 

 The InheritanceIn infancy, Edith was a survivor of an epidemic that swept Italy and the home of Mr. Hamilton's estranged brother who died from the illness.  Since Edith's mother, a maid in the brother's home, was also a victim of the epidemic, Edith was brought to Evenswood and raised alongside Hamilton's own daughter, Amy.  The girls are great friends, perhaps even as close a sisters.  Edith's days are spent reading, practicing archery, playing lawn tennis and chumming around with Amy.  Her clothes and hairstyle are more in line with society, but her status is that of a servant, except one with special privileges like playing the piano, riding the horses and partaking in family teas.  In fact, there are times when she is treated more like family than staff.

Early into the movie, a distant cousin to Mrs. Hamilton, is invited to visit.  Mrs. Hamilton has agreed to help Ida find a suitable husband.  As a matter of fact, Ida's visit coincides with a visit from a very eligible, wealthy gentleman, James Percy, who Mrs. Hamilton hopes will be enchanted by her cousin, Ida.  In her mind, it is all a neat and easy arrangement.  However, James is more enchanted by Edith, and Ida is a nasty, spiteful woman who takes an instant dislike to Edith.

As the title of the book and movie would imply, there is definitely an unexpected turn of events in the plot.  The resolution of the story is quite satisfying in spite of the temporary tension felt during portions of the movie.

Now I want to read the book!  I am certain it would be even more intriguing than the movie since Louisa May Alcott never disappoints readers.  Plus, I know it will be more detailed and in depth.  

One note of interest, the movie takes place in New England, yet in the book, the setting is England.  In the movie, Lord and Lady Hamilton of the book, are Mr. & Mrs. Hamilton.  Either way, the movie was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I can highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys an old fashioned romantic historical movie.







The Inheritance Movie Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Artisan's Wife - Refined by Love Series

When Ainslee is abandoned by her sister, she is forced to move to a new city & embrace someone else's dream.  A wonderful Christian fiction book that reminds us to wait and watch for the unexpected blessings from God while we are busy making other plans.
Previously, I reviewed the first and second books in the Refined by Love series by Judith Miller.  While it is not necessary to read the first two books in the series to enjoy The Artisan's Wife, the first book does give an introduction to all of main characters in the books and explains their immigration history.  I also highly recommend the second book in the series, The Potter's Lady which is wonderful historical fiction that can stand on it own merit.

While I enjoyed all three books in the series, I do believe my favorite was this last book.  Partly because of the resolutions, but also because the author delved into the world of asylums in the late 1800's.  She introduced me to several facts that shocked me.  But before I get into that, let me give you a brief plot synopsis of The Artisan's Wife.  


Refined by Love book series by Judith Miller - Books Reviewed on Review This

 

The Artisan's Wife Book Review

Ainslee Mckay only agreed to leave the rest of her family and move to Weston because her artistic twin sister wanted to run a tile works shop.  Since she and Adaira would embark on this new adventure together, Ainsless wasn't too concerned, even though she hated to leave her teaching position at the Pottery Works.  However, when Adaira elopes with her new beau, Ainslee feels betrayed by her sister and is quite angry.  Because her family has already purchased the tile works for the twins, she is forced to move to a new city and embrace her sister's dream alone.  Only when her brother, Ewan, agrees to sell the tile works as soon as possible, does Ainslee feel any relief or hope for her own future. 

 The Artisan's Wife (Refined by Love)Ewan helps Ainslee move to Weston and gets her set up in a boardinghouse for women.  He stays in Weston with her for several weeks as she adjusts to all of the changes.  Since she has never before run any business, she is faced with quite a monumental task.  Originally, the plan was for Ainslee to run the office, while Adaira dealt with the workers, the designs, and the bid proposals.  Now, it all fell to Ainslee to handle alone.  She braced herself to make a success of the tile works so it would be easier for Ewan to sell.

Levi Judson was also new to Weston.  He had left he job, left his dreams behind, and moved there to be close to his brother who had been committed to the asylum.  Both Levi and his brother were artists, but Levi believed his brother was truly more gifted.  Unfortunately, Noah had mental difficulties and lapses caused by a high fever when he was a child.  Levi moved into a boardinghouse for men and went in search of a new job.  He started at the local tile works where he presented his letter of introduction to the pretty girl at the front desk and ask to speak to the owner or manager about job openings. This, of course, made for a entertaining moment in the book.

Because Ainslee had just landed a new contract and because Levi was recommended, plus experienced in multiple areas of tile works, she hired him immediately. 

Like everyone else in town, Ainslee was frightened by what and who was within the walls of the asylum.  She was surprised one day when she ran into her employee, Levi Judson, leaving the grounds of the asylum.  She was even more surprised when she discovered he taught art there to a small group of men.  Being uncomfortable with deception, Levi shared that his brother lived in the asylum.  When he found out how much Ainslee enjoyed teaching, he recommended that she consider teaching a group of women in the asylum.  But it wasn't until Ainslee was hurt on the job and needed immediate medical attention, that she was taken inside the doors of the asylum to the only available doctor in town.  

When Ainslee decided to start a library in the asylum for the women, she met several of them and discovered they had been committed by their husbands.  Some were there for depression or grief, but others were there simply because their husbands had tired of them and wanted rid of them.  One lady was committed because her brother wanted access to her bank account.

Ainslee had now found a place where she was needed in Weston, but she still wanted to make the tile works successful.  To do that, she needed Levi and his brother, Noah.  The artists who could revolutionize the tile industry.


Conclusion

The Artisan's Wife is a wonderful Christian fiction book that reminds us to wait and watch for the unexpected blessings from God while we are busy making other plans.



Reviews of the Books in the Refined by Love Series

The Brickmaker's Bride (#1 in the series) Book Review

The Potter's Lady (#2 in the series) Book Review



Read More Book Reviews at
ReviewThisBooks.com




The Artisan's Wife Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Friday, June 9, 2017

The Potter's Lady - Book 2 of Refined by Love Series Reviewed

The Potter's Lady Book Review on Review This!
Last week, I reviewed The Brickmaker's Bride from the Refined by Love series by Judith Miller.  If you haven't had a chance to read that review, I invite you to visit that review since that book is the foundation for the entire series.

The Potter's Lady picks up the story two years later from where The Brickmaker's Bride ended.  If you haven't read the first book in the series, this article will be a spoiler.  However, The Potter's Lady would be a delightful read regardless of whether you have read the first book.  It can easily stand on it's own merit.

This Christian historical fiction takes us back to the late 1800's where women were not encouraged to explore the working world.  Outside of being seamstresses or house help, there were very few acceptable jobs for women and none of them were considered proper for women in high society.

Reviews of the Refined by Love series by Judith Miller



Review of The Potter's Lady


Rose has just graduated from Philadelphia School of Design for Women and she is quite anxious to get back home to her family, her place of security and love.  Because she is an Irish immigrant, she was not well received by the other girls in the school.  They took every opportunity to make fun of her and to remind her that, regardless of her connections with the Woodfield family, she is still an outcast in high society. 

 The Potter's Lady (Refined by Love)As soon as she sees her brother, Ewan, she knows something is wrong.  She insists that he tell her what has upset him.  When he finally relents and shares the latest news from home, Rose is distressed to hear that Ewan has been forced out of the family brickyard business.  Since he was never made a partner as promised, when Uncle Hugh died, his wife, Margaret became the sole owner and she had her own plans for the business.  On the train ride home Ewan needs to stop to visit two other businesses that are for sale.  He hopes to start over and would like his sister's help in deciding which company would be the best investment.

They visit both a small brickyard and a pottery works company.  Even though all of Ewan's experience has been in a brickyard, the family decides to purchase the pottery company instead.  Since Rose is an artist and Ewan has management and contract negotiating experience, the family believes they would make a great team in a new business.  That decision is also based on not wanting to compete with Margaret's brickyard and potentially causing a greater divide in their extended family.

At her graduation party, Rose reconnects with Joshua Harkness.  His family also owns a pottery works in another city and she believes he might have some insight to help her succeed.  Joshua has other ideas of his own and starts courting Rose, but he also takes a mistress who happens to be Ewan's daughter's nanny.  

Rylan Campbell is a longtime employee of the pottery works that Ewan and Rose purchase.  He is key to helping them grasp the intricacies of the pottery works business.  Rose immediately sees several changes that need to be made to the daily business.  She desires a cleaner environment, as well as a school for the children working at the pottery works.  She gets a tremendous amount of resistance from the workers and even though Rylan doesn't like change, he strives to help Rose implement her ideas.   Rose and Ewan's twin sisters come to the factory to set up the school that will teach around the children's work schedules.

In spite of their hard work and factory changes, the pottery works can't seem to land any new contracts.  That is, of course, detrimental to the success and longevity of the company.  When Rose hears of a contest with a reward of a huge pottery contract, Rose and Rylan go to work on a new design that they hope will win.  However, just as before, Joshua Harkness has other ideas and plans.


My Recommendation 

As I said in the introduction, this book can easily stand on it's own merit.  Honestly, I enjoyed reading this book more than The Brickmaker's Bride, but I was glad I knew the family background, especially where Margaret was concerned.   It was also nice to already be familiar with the history of how Ewan and his family came to America and met the Woodfields.



Reviews of the Books in the Refined by Love Series

The Brickmaker's Bride Book Review

The Artisan's Wife Book Review 



Read More Book Reviews at
ReviewThisBooks.com




The Potter's Lady Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Friday, June 2, 2017

The Brickmaker's Bride - Refined by Love Book Series Reviewed

The Brickmaker's Bride by Judith Miller Reviewed
I just finished reading the Refined by Love book series written by Judith Miller and I ran over here as fast as I could to write my review.  I really enjoyed reading this series and was quite sorry when I realized I had read the last page in the final book.  The characters were so well developed over these 3 books that I really do feel like I know the family.  The author, Judith Miller, did an excellent job of resolving a lot of issues that a reader follows though the entire series.  

I had initially planned to review all 3 books in this one article.  However, once I started writing, I realized that would make this post too long.  Therefore, I will be reviewing The Potter's Wife (book 2) and The Artisan's Wife (book 3) in separate posts over the next 2 weeks.  

For this post, we shall focus only on The Brickmaker's Bride which is the first book in the series.

The Brickmakers Bride Book Review



The Brickmaker's Bride - #1 of the Series, Refined by Love


The title pretty much gives away the romantic side of the plot, but there is so much more to these books than just the romance.  Since they are historical fictions, the words paint a picture of what life for immigrants in in the late 1800's might have been like.  

The Brickmaker's Bride is unique because the immigrants were taken advantage of by Irish family members who brought them to America to work in Uncle Hugh's brickyard.  You would think that a family member would look out for their family, but Uncle Hugh prefers to profit off their labor and takes advantage of the needs of his own family.


The Plot

 The Brickmaker's Bride (Refined by Love)When Hugh Crothers cheats his way to a small fortune in Ireland, he quickly loads his wife, her sister and his nephew, Ewan, on a boat bound for America.  The Irish immigrants have great plans and high hopes for their new home.  Because of their background working in brickyards, Hugh decides purchasing a brickyard would be their best investment.  Ewan agrees to help him establish the brickyard with the understanding that they will bring his sisters to America as soon as they have the funds and that Uncle Hugh will make him a partner once the brickyard is profitable.  

Hugh purchases Woodfield Brickworks from Mrs. Woodfield and her daughter Laura, who worked in the brickyard office for her father.  When Mr. Woodfield did not return from war, it was necessary for the women to sell the brickworks and few people had the capital to purchase the business.  Winston Hawkins, an attorney with political aspirations that happens to be courting Laura Woodfield, serves as the intermediary between the Woodfields, the bank, and Crothers.

From the very beginning, Uncle Hugh tries to take advantage of the women and Ewan finds himself caught in the middle.  Almost immediately there is a misunderstanding about the property included in the sale.  Uncle Hugh believes the widow's mansion is included, but the house that is included is a smaller home close to the brickyard.  It was properly spelled out in the contract, but Hugh still maintains he was cheated and should have been given the mansion for the price he paid.  Ewan maintains he should have read the contract, asked questions and even visited the house before signing any papers.  But Hugh had been in a hurry to get on with it.

It is Ewan's knowledge, honestly and integrity that would make the brickworks successful again with the help of the Woodfield women who are willing to introduce him to all the right people.  Neither Hawkins nor Crothers are happy about the alliance being formed between Ewan and the Woodfields. 

Once the brickyard is operational, more reliable workers are needed.  Because it is in his best interest, Uncle Hugh secures a loan from the bank and sends the money back to Ireland for 10 male family members and their families, plus Ewan's sisters to come to America.  Once they arrive, they are all put to work, yet they have a huge debt to payoff.  Uncle Hugh expects each one of them to pay him back for their passage, plus interest, as well as pay him for their housing.  His wife, Margaret, puts a few of the women to work as servants and maids in her new big house.

There is much stress and strife as Uncle Hugh and Margaret continue to scheme and take advantage of everyone.  There are several additional minor plots developing throughout this book since it is the foundation for the entire series.  While it may seem to drag a bit, it is necessary to properly prepare us for the following books.

Even though it is necessary to read this book to have the full background of the other two books, I have no desire to spoil this book for you.  Therefore, I will conclude this review now and let you read it for yourself.  While you won't be surprised by who gets married, you will be shocked by some of the other actions and decisions made throughout this book. 

Be sure and join me next week for the review of The Potter's Lady and the following week for The Artisan's Wife.

 
Read More Book Reviews at
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The Brickmaker's Bride Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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