Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Historical Fiction. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Historical Fiction. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Reviewing The Ides Of March

Beware The Ides Of March

Julius Caesar
The famous line spoken to Julius Caesar by the seer, warning him to beware of the 15th day in March as harm was to come to him. It is said that as that infamous day was approaching its end, Julius saw the seer in the market and remarked that the day was almost over and nothing had happened. "Ahh, but the day is not gone," retorted the seer. Julius Caesar went on to the Senate of Rome and met with his death on that day, the Ides of March. 

During that time in our history, March in the Roman calendar was actually the first month of the year. The ides occurred in every month around the middle, usually the 13th except for the months of March, May, July and October. The Romans used the ides, whether in March or any month, as a reference point of determining days of the month. They did not count the days consecutively like we do now, but instead counted back from three points of interest. The Nones occurred around the 5th or 7th day depending on the length of the month in question, the Ides (13th or 15th) and the Kalends which was the first of the following month. Golly, it sure would have been difficult to quickly know what day it was! 

If you are a history buff, you know that on the 15th of March in the year of 44 B.C Julius Caesar was assassinated by of group of some 60 people led by Brutus and Cassius. This event led to a civil war, the end of the Roman Republic and the rise to power of Octavian who would later be known as Augustus Caesar. You can read the facts in a history book, you can see the play by William Shakespeare or read a book by a multitude of authors to find out more. 

One of my favorites about the man, Julius Caesar and the events that led up to that fateful day in March is The Ides of March: A Novel by Thornton Wilder. The book was first published in 1948 but is still fascinating to read today. It is a novel so much of the story is based on Wilder's interpretation of letters and historical facts about the ruler of the Roman Republic. What I like about it is that it gives us a possible insight of the man and the ruler. The book allows us to see this historical figure as a human being with strengths and weaknesses that we all have in our souls.

If you like to read historical fiction and are interested in the era of time that the Romans ruled much of the world, I think you will like this book. I believe it is a good read for the month of March.



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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Circling the Sun Paula McLain Book Review

Circling the Sun Paula McLain Book Review
Another trip! This time my armchair travels took me to colonial Kenya, Africa via Paula McLain's historical biography Circling the Sun. Set in the 1920s, it is totally engaging, a fictional account of the real Beryl Markham's life. Beryl lived in what is now known as settler-era Africa. She was definitely a woman before her time and her story is very interesting. 

It starts in England but is mostly set in Kenya where Beryl's mother abandons her with her father. Beryl embraces the local African culture and in the long run becomes a record-setting aviator. That is, after a a life spent conquering the male-dominated equestrian world and loving a man she could never have.

Do I Recommend Circling the Sun?


I do. I highly recommend Circling the Sun if you enjoy historical fiction and are intrigued with the idea of visiting Africa. This book sheds light on the life of a woman and a country that we have not heard much about.
I thought it was an enjoyable read but New York Times' writer Alexandra Fuller found it a bit fluffy. However, in her review she agrees that "the settlers who used Kenya as their hapless playground did so at catastrophic expense to those who called Kenya home long before the whites arrived." It is an interesting peek into the history of Africa.

As Julie McDowall said when she reviewed the book for the Independent, it it is filled with "vigorous, swift, and spangled with spectacular imagery." I came away wanting to visit Africa though of course I wanted to visit that country before I read this book. I also agree with McDowall when she said the story quickens near the end and that not enough time is spent on the one thing Beryl is famed for, her flying. If you want to read this book for the aviation, prepare to be disappointed.

The Boston Globe said, "McLain will keep you from eating, sleeping, or checking your e-mail — though you might put these pages down just long enough to order airplane tickets to Nairobi."  Exactly.

Circling the Sun follows Paula McLain's hugely successful novel The Paris Wife, which I can also highly recommend. That book is set in jazz age Paris and follows the life of Ernest Hemingway and his second wife.

Are you intrigued by the idea of visiting Africa? Will you visit via McLain's book? You can find Circling the Sun on Amazon by following this link.

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Brenda

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Review of Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer

The Journey to the End of Stealing the Preacher Is as Rewarding as Seeing the Ending


I read Stealing the Preacher because it was a free promotional download from Amazon for my Kindle. I didn't know what to expect, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I saw characters who were human and believable, even if the plot was unrealistic. The book is a light historical Christian romance, but I didn’t find it as predictable as most of them are. Yes, you know almost from the beginning how it will end, but the fun in the book is getting to the end, not knowing what the end will be.

The Kidnapping


Pioneer Church
The main character, Crockett Archer, is hoping to land his first job as a real preacher  in Brenham, Texas. We meet him on the train as he travels for his interview with the church elders. He and one other preacher are competing for the job he wants, but he’s sure he’ll get it. He has been an apprentice preacher in his own small town in Texas for three years.

The train suddenly lurches, and he discovers that it is being attacked by bandits. The big surprise for him, though, is that all the bandits want to steal is him. They don’t hurt anyone or take anything else. He is kidnapped and taken to a ranch about ten miles from Deanville, where he discovers he is to be a birthday gift for the rancher’s daughter, Joanna Robbins. She had told her widowed daddy, Silas, that she wanted a preacher for her birthday. He took her quite literally.

Crockett and Joanna


It turns out that Silas is not the least bit interested in church or preaching, but is simply humoring his daughter, who did not approve of his method of obtaining her present. Crockett explains his situation and Joanna frees him to try to keep his appointment. It turns out she had wanted a preacher because the small church for the ranch no longer had a pastor and the church had fallen into disrepair. The pastor had moved to a larger church in Deanville and it was too far for the ranch community to travel every Sunday.

Joanna wanted a preacher in the church because she  was still praying for her daddy’s salvation. She had promised her mother before her death, that she would continue the daily prayers for her father after her mother passed away. Johanna thought having a preacher in the church again would give her the support she needed. Daddy and his ranch hands had formerly been a gang of bandits, but when he married, his wife had made him give it up and they had all been honest men for over sixteen years. They had never hurt or killed anyone.

Crockett Becomes Ranch Hand and Pastor


As it turns out, quite predictably, Crockett doesn’t get the job he was after because he didn’t make his appointment on the right day at the right time.  As you might expect, he takes the job of pastoring the small church for Johanna. She talks her father into hiring him as a hand so he can support himself. He was well-qualified since he was raised on and helped run his fathers ranch with his brothers after his father died young.

That’s all I’m going to tell you. There’s plenty of action between the time Archer arrives at the ranch and the end of the book.  The action reveals much about character of the people who are interacting.  One situation which I expected led to another one which I did not anticipate, and it left me on the edge of my chair holding my breath.  If you like Christian historical fiction, I recommend this book for an entertaining and relaxing read. I will definitely read more by this author if I get the chance. Amazon carries it in every possible format. Just click the picture to purchase and see other reviews. Unfortunately, it is no longer free, since I got my book during a special promotional offer, and it has ended.






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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review

Could You Survive An Untamed Land?

Those who emigrated beyond the American Frontier in the 1800's were a special breed. They knew they would have to conquer an untamed land in order to survive in their new homes. Laura Snelling puts us into their shoes as we read An Untamed Land (Red River of the North #1). This historical Christian novel follows two Norwegian brothers who emigrated from Norway to America with their wives and children in 1880. They wanted to homestead in the Dakota territory. One of the children was born on the ship during the journey to the United States.

Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay, modified on PicMonkey

The book opens with the entire family gathered together to discuss whether the brothers should emigrate. There was a great deal of emotion, since everyone knew that if the brothers left, it was unlikely they would ever see their families again. Gustav's younger brother was already in America. Roald and Carl had read his letters. 

You will pick up the sadness of Gustaf as he thinks of his family separated by an ocean.  Yet Gustaf and Bridget knew their younger sons had no real way to work on their own land  if they stayed at home. 


Why Did the Brothers Want to Emigrate?


The brother were part of a large family in Norway.  It was traditional for the eldest son to inherit his father's lands.  The other brothers would have to work the land belonging to others. A Norwegian journalist, Paul Hansen, who had immigrated to the Red River district of  North Dakota and Minnesota,  wrote glowing descriptions of free flat land for those willing to homestead it. Carl and Roald Bjorklund, sons of Gustaf and Bridget Bjorklund, wanted to go and build their future on their own land in the Dakota country. 

Once the family had given their reluctant blessing, everyone worked to raise money for the sea voyage to America. Roald and Carl took jobs on a fishing boat. Roald's wife Anna moved in with the Bjorklund family to help Bridget and save money on rent. When they moved out, they sold everything from the house they would not need in America.  Roald and Carl's sister Augusta then got a job outside the home to help raise money.

It was with great reluctance their parents let them go. Roald had married Ingeborg after his first wife, Anna, had died in childbirth. Thoriff is their first son, now five. Although Roald and Ingeborg respected each other, Roald was still grieving over Anna, and Ingeborg liked, but did not yet love Roald. Carl was in love with Kaaren Hejelmson, and married her before they left.  

So why did these young couples emigrate? Why did they leave all they had known to face hardship and danger settling in a foreign land where they didn’t even know the language? Because they wanted a better life for their children where they could have their own land and live free.


New York


The author skips telling us about the ocean voyage, except for sharing the vivid memories the family members had as they were preparing to go ashore. You can only imagine how hard it was for Karen to give birth on the ship. She had been seasick for most of the voyage, and had been sick since the baby was born. She was so sick when they reached New York that Carl had to carry her off the ship. Ingeborg helped to look after her and the new baby and encouraged Kaaren not to give up hope. Ingeborg has discovered she is also pregnant. 

As they prepared to leave the ship, Roald told Ingeborg to wait below to avoid the crowds, even though she was dying to see the ship land.  Below it was so crowded with belongings one could barely move. There was no fresh air and it stank, for many had been seasick. 

Once off the ship the families were amazed to see the tall buildings and the busy, crowded dock. The families' first stop was to be Castle Garden, where they were to go through immigration. Kaaren was afraid she'd be turned away because of her illness. 



Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review
Castle Garden, By Unattributed [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Roald started walking with a load of luggage, asking Ingeborg to follow with Thoriff. Roald was walking so fast, without looking back, that she lost him. She also lost Thoriff in a crowd and not knowing English made it hard to get help. Finally someone who understood Norwegian came to her aid, and they found Thoriff, but he was already in trouble. Ingeborg meets a new friend -- a wealthy man who becomes important in the rest of the book. 

The Journey West


Travel was hard. There were no fast food places along the way to stop for meals. Tired women had to get out of the wagons after a hard day of travel and prepare a meal over an open fire using whatever they had left of provisions and whatever meat or fish could be procured by the men. When the families finally reached their land, no home was waiting. They had to continue to live in the covered wagon until they got a home built. They had to share a cabin until they could spare time to build another one.

Since I’ve read more than handful of memoirs by pioneer woman, little in this book was new to me. But it struck me again how hard these women worked physically compared to most of us today. Their very lives depended on how well they could plan ahead what they needed when the general store might be an overnight trip or longer.

Survival on the Land

Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review
By Solomon D. Butcher [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



The couples got along well, and they shared the first home they built -- a sod house such as was common on the prairie. They shared the work of turning the sod, planting a garden, and later, caring for livestock. Remember, Kaaren had been sick to start with and Ingeborg was also feeling the effects of carrying a child. They were dependent mostly on each other for medical care. 

There are some treatments I could not have stood to watch were they on film. We take so much for granted today -- anesthetics, antibiotics, and other modern treatments. We wouldn't want to have to sew up someone we love without them, let alone be the patient.  The only help they had was a woman who was half Indian and half white who thought the land they were claiming was really hers, since she was squatting there and thought her dead husband had title to it. She knew how to use native plants to treat illness, and without her knowledge and care Ingeborg would have died after falling and hitting her head while fishing. She lost consciousness and it was hours before anyone discovered her. 

When the families finally had neighbors they were able to help each other build barns and homes and do seasonal jobs in the fields. One family could buy a cow and the other a bull for and they could share them for breeding. Best of all, they could experience friendship again in their new land. 

For the first years settler families had to put all their efforts into survival -- building, planting, harvesting, food storage, and gathering wood and water. Getting a well was a big event. Schools and churches would have to come later, after basic needs were met. Everyone worked, even the children when old enough, to help care for animals, do chores, and produce food. All the while, there was the feeling of loss because family and old friends were far away in the land they had left.

Later they replaced sod homes with wood homes with real floors, like this pioneer house, built 1873 in Cass County, North Dakota for Johannes Hellestvedt from Hardanger, Norway. It is a log cabin.


Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review



Was Coming to America Worth the Cost?



That's a judgment you, the reader, will have to make.  The Bjorklund families did get free land as they had hoped, but it exacted a very high non-monetary price from them. Their faith was seriously tested, especially that of Ingeborg. This is not your typical historical prairie romance. It is a realistic look at marriage, family life, and pioneer life on the American frontier. I would classify it as Christian historical fiction. After you read it, you will very much appreciate your life today, no matter how rough it may be. 

An Untamed Land is the first in a series. I first read this book a couple of years ago, and I reread it before writing this review. I am anxious to read the other books in the series when I can find time. If you finish the first book, you will want to continue reading to see what happens next. 


If you found this review useful, please share it with friends who might appreciate this book. The image below is just right for sharing on Pinterest.


Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review
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What would have been the hardest adjustment for you as a homesteader in this Dakota Country?












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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.

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at the book store!
Brenda

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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

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Friday, January 13, 2017

A Shelter of Hope by Tracie Peterson - Book Reviewed

The Christian fiction book, Shelter of Hope is quite detailed as it walks us through Simone's troubled life as she survives an abusive father and finds a shelter of hope in the Harvey House.
There are times in everyone's life when we need a shelter and our home is most often our shelter.  However, in the book A Shelter of Hope, Simone needs a shelter from her home.  She endures regular beatings at her father's hands.  Since she had never known any other environment other than her horrendous home, she doesn't know where or how to find a shelter from the evil. When her mother tried to escape to get help, she was tracked down and murdered.  This knowledge completely trapped Simone.  She knew if she tried to run, she would also be murdered.

The book, A Shelter of Hope, was written by one of my favorite authors.  I doubt I would have stuck with the book beyond the first chapter if I didn't trust the author, Tracie Peterson, to deliver her child character.  A Shelter of Hope is a historical fiction set in the late 1800's in the backwoods, mountain country of Wyoming.  Because of the time period and seclusion of the family, it is easy to believe the horrific details of the book could actually take place.


Synopsis of "A Shelter of Hope"


 A Shelter of Hope (Westward Chronicles, Book 1)Simone Dumas had no hope of ever being rescued from her father's abuse.  Her mother was murdered when Simone was only ten and Simone felt abandoned by her mother, by love itself.  There were few women around and those women were just as powerless as Simone.  The men in the town only leered with lust at the now seventeen year old Simone.  She knew there was no one who was willing to help her escape the monster.  However, even Simone didn't know how very low that man, her father, was capable of going until he sold her, along with their home and property, to a stranger in town.  

Louis Dumas had decided it was time for him to unburden himself.  There were no longer many animals to trap in the area.  Supporting himself, his daughter, Simone, and their home was simply too hard for him now.  He wanted to go where he could take a new wife and earn an easier living.  He certainly wasn't beyond stealing that living either.  When Garvey Davis showed up in town with a lot of money, Louis saw his opportunity to rid himself of everything all at once.  He sold Davis his home, his property and his daughter.  Dumas assured Davis that Simone was a hard worker and would make a wonderful wife for him.  Louis took Davis out to his home, introduced Simone to Garvey and announced that he was leaving.  He told Simone that she had been sold to Garvey along with the rest of his property and would not be going with him.  Simone knew she had once again been abandoned by a parent.

When Davis tried to force his husband rights, Simone grabbed a nearby water pitcher and hit him in the head.  While Davis was unconscious, perhaps dead, Simone quickly gathered her few things, stole his horse and started riding away from the only home she had ever known.

She rode for weeks until she arrived in Laramie where she saw a train for the first time in her life.  When she discovered it could take her a lot further away, a lot faster, she sold Davis' horse and bought a ticket to Chicago.  Once in Chicago, she realized she needed a paying job.  After all, she needed a place to live, food to eat and clothes to wear.  She came across an employment ad to become a Harvey girl in the Harvey chain of restaurants along the railroad line.  She took a bath, bought a new outfit and went for an interview where she realized a name change would be necessary.  Jeffrey O'Donnell hired Simone "Irving" immediately without doing the normal background investigation.  She looked nice and he needed servers for the Harvey House immediately.  She left with him the next morning on a train bound for Topeka, Kansas and training to become a Harvey girl.

Back in Wyoming, Louis Dumas realized he had sold Simone way too cheap.  After all, he could have sold her many times over if he had only kept her.  He decided she could be his goldmine.  All he needed to do was take Simone back from Davis.

When Davis' body is found in the old Dumas home, Deputy Sheriff, Zack Matthews, embarks on a mission to hunt down Simone Dumas who he believed either murdered, or played a part in murdering, Garvey Davis.

Simone knows she is running for her life, but she doesn't realize that she is being chased by her own father and the law.


Conclusion

Please do not think I have given away the entire story in this review.  Because there are so many developed characters, and so much happens in the first part, it was necessary to give more of the plot background in this review then I would normally write.  I assure you, there is a lot more to this book, including a love story.  A Shelter of Hope is quite detailed as it walks us through Simone's troubled life as she, herself, finds a shelter of hope in the Harvey House.

The book also gives us a inside look at the struggle of the young woman to ever trust anyone, including God.  






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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Review: The Virgin of the Wind Rose: A Christopher Columbus Mystery-Thriller

If you like mystery thrillers and are looking for a good read, then I would recommend The Virgin of the Wind Rose: A Christopher Columbus Mystery Thriller by Glen Craney!

Not too long a book, but it definitely keeps you interested from the beginning right to the end.  If you liked Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, or Dan Brown's, DaVinci Code, you will find this story interesting too.  Thank goodness this story isn't as detailed in its gory moments, but they are there too.



While a work of fiction, you can see that a lot of  study went into the backgrounds and historical parts of the work.  Some facts may be exaggerated or skewed, for the sake of the story, but there is always something to learn that you didn't know before.  Recently there has been  much talk about Christopher Columbus and his character or lack thereof, and he (Columbus) plays into this story as well.  Will we ever know the whole truth?  I doubt it, but having some fictional additions certainly makes you stop and wonder a little more.

We have all heard about the different conspiracy theories and who is controlling whom.  The Virgin of the Wind Rose adds another whole dimension to those theories.  These theories span decades of history at a time when the world as we know it today, did not exist.  The world consisted of Portugal, Spain and most of the European areas and the Middle East. While parts of  Africa were known, much of it still needed to be discovered. Seafarers were still looking for the way around Africa to India.  Beyond all that,  was still a dream for most seafarers.  Many who boarded ships were certain that they would never be heard from again.  The two camps were still arguing about whether the earth was in fact flat and that they were  tempting fate to go further.  North America hadn't even really been given any thought.  Seafarers were thinking that the earth was much smaller and that India would be on the other side, not another whole continent.

I like the way that Mr. Craney was able to bring both the  1400's and present day together. The stars in the heavens, are the same stars that were there centuries ago.  They have not changed, but our world certainly has.   I was as interested in what was going on in history, as I was in keeping on top of the present times too. Portugal and Spain's changing powers in the world of exploration, explorers who had their own power struggles and who were vying for who would be the first and best seafarer all play into the historical figures.  While today, characters in Government departments who had vested interests in what was going on in the middle east, helped to keep the conspiracy theories alive and vibrant.

History, archeology, genealogy, geography,  and fiction are all dished up in large heaping portions, sprinkled with truth for extra seasoning.  At times you have to remind yourself that this is fiction. There are moments when you can see and apply what is happening in the story to our current times. The fight between Christians, Jews, Muslims and everyone else is still going strong, even more so today.  Who knows where it will all end?

History, prophecy, secrets societies, anagrams, cryptograms, symbols and the stars all come together to send you searching for the truth.  Will the truth ever be known or is it still buried, along with the dead from centuries ago?  What is our truth today?  Will we ever know that?  This book is wonderful in that when you are finished, you are still asking yourself all kinds of questions.....it isn't over, until it's over.

Thank you Glen Craney for this book, it is a great story and one I enjoyed thoroughly.






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Monday, March 9, 2015

Galway Bay - A Must-Read Irish Historic Fiction

As St. Patrick's Day approaches I am pulling out my copy of Galway Bay for a second reading.  Yes, it was so good that I will read it again. And that is the reason I am writing this review. Galway Bay is a beautifully-written historical fiction that describes the horrors of the potato famine and ultimately the life and survival of a family and two countries.


Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly

Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly

I happened across the novel Galway Bay one day when I was wandering around the local book store. I don't know of a way to describe this story of survival in a way that will do it justice but I will try my best.

I was immediately hooked with the prologue:

"We wouldn't die, and that annoyed them. They'd spent centuries trying to kill us off, one way or another, and here we were, raising seven, eight, nine of a famiy on nothing but potatoes and buttermilk. But then the blight destroyed the potato. Three times in four years our only food rotted in the ground." -- Honora Keeley Kelly as told to her great-granddaughter Agnella Kelly.


As we follow Honora Keeley Kelly through her life, meeting her as a young lady preparing to enter the convent, we learn of the lives of the fishermen and tenant farmers in Ireland during "the Before Times".  She is a young lady whose family supports themselves fishing Galway Bay  "so calm and quiet. But I know your moods.Turn my back and you could be raging and rolling."  Honora is determined to not be the wife of a fisherman and has decided to marry the church instead.   She is determined and her family is proud; hoping that she is chosen.  She is sure of her plan until she meets Michael Kelly.
Claddagh Ring

Honora and Micheal begin their lives together, a young couple deeply in love. Then the blight comes, year after year, and destroys their major food source. Many starve during the harsh conditions.  Honora Keeley survives, but I’m not sure how since the odds are clearly against her. Penal laws continue to cause difficulties and the status quo level of poverty for tenant farmers jumps to a level of famine, starvation, and desperation.


A Personal Connection


As I age, my interest in things Irish has increased. I guess it’s hard to think about where you came from when you are young and very busy trying to figure out where you are going. But now that I’m more mature I have time to ponder things such as where my grandparents, and their parents, and their grandparents came from.

I know that my very distant relatives on my dad’s side perhaps immigrated to the United States due to fleeing religious persecution. I don’t know as much about my mom’s side. However, I do understand that at some point, they emigrated from Ireland. As a child, I remember the delighted twinkle in my grandmother's eyes as she told my mom of their trip back to Ireland. Unfortunately, I was too young to pay attention to her stories then and I couldn't understand why she was so happy to have kissed a rock with some guy named Blarney. As I age, my interest in Ireland and in my heritage grows.

I am thankful to Mary Pat Kelly for sharing her family history and story in such an entertaining and educational way.  Whether you are interested in the history of Ireland and early America or whether you love a good love story and the tale of a mother's love and desperate journey to raise her children, I think you will love this story. 





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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



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





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Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Home for Unwanted Girls Book Review

Joanna Goodman's The Home for Unwanted Girls is a fictionalized account of a true story. Set in 1950s French Canada, it tells the tale of a young woman who is forced by her family to give up her daughter for adoption and in lesser part, the tale of the daughter in the Canadian system. It also shares the history of the times in Quebec including the divide between the French and the English.

Most of us are aware of the situation a girl of the age of 15 would have been in in 1950s society if she found herself pregnant. I believe, however, that most of us are unaware of what happened to the large number of the children who were given up for adoption in Quebec at that time but who were never actually adopted.

Those 'unwanted' children were placed in orphanages where they were misused as servants and abused by nuns and staff. Later, when those orphanages became psychiatric hospitals, the children were simply reclassified as mentally ill and assimilated into that population where they continued to be used as servants and abused but were also treated as mentally ill.

As someone who did not know of this story before she picked up the book, I found it simply unbelievable that this was allowed. They were children and while naive to the ways of normal living because of living in orphanages, they were not mentally ill.

How could a switch from orphanage to mental asylum even be allowed? Well, it turns out that it happened because patients in mental asylums received more funding than children in orphanages. The province of Quebec received $1.25 per orphan or $2.75 per psychiatric patient so orphanages became hospitals. Of course, it was only later that the physical, psychological and sexual abuse was discovered. The author, in her interview with the Toronto Star, says that restitution has been offered by the government to the victims but no formal apology has been made by the church.

The author also shares that this book was drawn from her own mother's life in the 1950s. That is, of a French-Canadian woman married to an English seed merchant. However, the author struggled with how to present the story until she read a French memoir written by a survivor that shared one woman's thoughts as she actually lived through the situation.

This book reveals a very sad time in Quebec history. It delves into the issues of language, class and religion. It is also a story of family and of romantic love. Yes, there is a lot of heartache but the book is well written and comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy historical fiction and want an eye opening look at a little known piece of Canadian history. Be warned that the subject matter it is disturbing and it did happen. However, I raced through The Home for Unwanted Girls needing to know what happened next. What the outcome would be was never far from my mind.

You can buy your copy from Amazon by clicking right here. If you do read this book, be sure to come back and let us know what you think.

See you at
the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of The Home for Unwanted Girls on Amazon.
Secret Child Book Review: 1950s Ireland.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Series Review: 1950s New York City.
The Remains of the Day Book Review: 1950s England.





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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Wired by Julie Garwood – Book Review



Wired by Julie Garwood
Author Julie Garwood is well known for her romantic suspense novels, particularly those featuring her continuing and recurring characters in the Buchanan family. Her latest in the series is Wired where a beautiful computer hacker (Allison Trent) has to collaborate reluctantly with a sexy hotshot FBI agent (Liam Scott).


Synosis 


Allison has a brilliant mind for computers.  She loves to write code and has secretly been known to 'hack' into computers.  Before you condemn her for this behavior, you have to realize that she has only done it occasionally to help others who have been cheated by unscrupulous scammers and to 'right the wrong'. 


Source: Pixabay
FBI agent Liam Scott has discovered a serious problem ~ a deep leak within his own department leaking information about ongoing investigations. He needs a top-notch hacker unknown in his field to secretly break into the FBI computers and find the traitor. 

Allison is friends with Jordan (Buchanan) Clayborne, a genius in the technology field, whose husband and brother are both FBI agents and friends with Liam. With Jordan's help, Liam arranges to meet Allison and asks her to take on the job.  There is only one problem – Allison wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down.

Liam doesn't know that Allison is hiding her hacking secrets that she doesn't want the FBI to uncover.  She knows what she has done would be considered illegal by the FBI, even though she never benefited from her hacking and only helped others. 

How Allison's refusal to help is resolved, how she discovers the traitor and how romance blooms between her and Liam make for a very delightful story. 


Author Julie Garwood



Author Julie Garwood
Julie Garwood was born in Kansas City and today lives in Leawood, Kansas. She married young and had three children. Julie was always interested in writing, but waited until her youngest child was in school before she began writing full time.  She has written many best-selling novels.  

One of her most popular novels, FOR THE ROSES, was adapted for a HALLMARK HALL OF FAME production. 

Ms. Garwood has written 27 novels of romance since 1985, either in the historical fiction field or that of suspense.  Her suspense novels usually involve one or more FBI agents.  In each of  her books you will find a recurring theme based on family, loyalty and honor. Her romantic scenes are done in good taste. Her humor and poignancy keep readers coming back for more. 

Julie states her goals as:


“I want my readers to laugh and cry and fall in love. Basically, I want them to escape into another world for a little while and afterwards to feel as though they’ve been on a great adventure.” 


More Romantic Suspense by Garwood



Pixabay

Wired is Julie Garwood's most recent book (published 2017) involving one or more of the Buchanan family.  The family consists of the mom & dad (who is a judge), six brothers and two sisters, all of whom are involved in either the technology field or law enforcement, most particularly the FBI. I've always enjoyed reading series with continuing characters and Garwood's books are among my favorites. 

So, if you read and enjoy Wired, be sure and seek out some of the other Julie Garwood stories involving the Buchanan family


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(c) Wednesday Elf, November 24, 2018








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Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day from the Contributors at Review This!

Today, in the United States, many are celebrating Labor Day.  This federal holiday originated from the increasing need to address the terrible working conditions during America's industrial revolution in the 19th century. A march in New York city took place on September 5th, 1882  - thus becoming known as the first Labor Day parade. Not until 1894 did it become a federal holiday. Today, Labor Day continues as a holiday to celebrate and recognize the hard-working people in the workforce and to enjoy a three day weekend as summer ends.


The Brief History of Labor Day


On the History website, there is a nice little synopsis of how Labor Day came to be. It is where I obtained the dates in the opening paragraph. I could recall why Labor Day came to be, but I could not recall exactly when.

In reading historical fiction, I've always been struck with how children were laborers in early American history and how working conditions were so very unsafe for both adults and those children. I am in awe of the rich history of how newcomers to the United States worked so extremely hard to create a life for themselves and their families.


Thoughts about Labor Day


Labor Day has a special place in my life for several reasons. I love the changing seasons that I've experienced living in both the midwest and on the east coast of our great country.  Labor Day weekend often signifies the cooling air and water temperatures - summer is winding down. I begin to think of autumn.

Across the Labor Day weekend, I often marvel at things such as train tracks (and the people who built them), the full roadside fruit stands (and the farmers who grew that food), and all of the truck drivers I see on the roads (the people who transport our goods). It is impressive to me how things have been created and invented through the hard work of others.

Most importantly to me, I notice the schools that are opening, the school buses that are practicing their routes, and the notices to drive safely to protect our children who are returning to school. I believe hard work is an important part of raising our children into responsible adults. But only a part. And I'm glad that our children are being sent to school rather than working long hours, at extremely young ages, to earn only pennies as they did in the past. Working with my father in his business and working on the farm at an early age was an extremely important part of my development. Experiences that I am thankful for. But those experiences were nothing like the children depicted in the photographs of Lewis Hine.


A look at child labor - by Russell Freedman and photography of Lewis Hine 



Happy Labor Day to You


Labor Day has morphed from a march to address unsafe working conditions in the 1800's to a long weekend with parades, picnics, travel, and back-to-school sales. Whether you celebrate Labor Day or not, the contributors at Review This! wish you a happy Monday on this day. And we thank you for your work and contributions to our lives.


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