chat loading...

All Book Reviews by Genre: Historical

The Outcasts of Time
Mortimer, Ian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book follows the story of two brothers John and William in 1340’s Medieval England who are suffering from the Black Death. But as their end draws near, they are given a choice that changes the course of their lives forever. They are told that they have six days left to live, which they can either spend with their loved ones, or search for salvation and redemption for their lives across the centuries; spending each one of their remaining days 99 years after the last. So, each day takes places one century after the last. The brothers choose the latter and are launched into an adventure that spans centuries in the time frame of a few days.

Observers of the world across centuries, John and William hardly recognize the world around them each day they wake up, and as their journey for salvation progresses, questions the world around them in a way that has readers questioning humanities true motives. Rather than focusing on the good things and advancements the world has made through the centuries, the characters, especially John, ponder how these advancements have brought humanity farther and farther away from God. As the years and days progress, the novel asks the question what is true salvation really and examines the idea of what is good verses bad?

When I received an ARC of this book in the mail from the publisher at first, I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it, but as I read the back, I became excited, because this book deals with a sci-fi like subject of time travel in a way I haven’t seen before. This book took me a while to get through and it also is a book that really makes you think. Warning! If you are looking for only a traditional time travel sci-fi book, this book is probably not for you however, if you like historical fiction this book is probably more for you. This book deals with time travel in a highly conceptual way. It is a time travel book written by a very noted historian and reads very much like a historical novel with all the historical details you would find in a history book. But it is also very philosophical as the main character questions the world and the ideas in it. As this quote from John shows when he is discussing, with the family he is staying with, the bad things done by others around them.

“I myself wish for nothing more than to spend the rest of my days engaged in good deeds,’ I say. But how can I tell what a good deed is in this day and age? What is “good” and “bad” if God’s law is constantly changing? How can we do good if the meaning of “good” and “bad” are dependent on who wins the war? How can a man go through this world in sure knowledge that he is doing the right and proper thing?”

This is just one of many philosophical musings that the author poses through the book that seek to answer difficult questions and these details really make the reader think and ponder the difficult answers to questions like, what is good verses bad. These details I think also give the book a conceptual quality that puts it above the norm and makes it more than just another sci-fi book about time travel.

Ian Mortimer is an excellent historian and the historical detail in this book are incredible! He weaves together history and time travel in a highly original and interesting way that makes readers both question the world and presents readers with a clear picture of England’s evolution from a small underdeveloped town to a large industrial country that leads the world in more ways than one. I highly recommend this book for readers of historical fiction or anyone who likes highly conceptual, philosophical books that question the world and everything in it. I give this book a solid 5 out of 5 stars!

Thank you to the publisher Pegasus Books for an ARC of this book for review.

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie M.
Book Review: Sounder
Armstrong, William H.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I've been on a children's book about dogs kick lately. I started with Shiloh, went to Where the Red Fern Grows, and ended with Sounder (I may read Old Yeller too). Sounder is the winner of the Newbery Medal, but it was the least powerful book out of the three. I almost feel like I may have read an abridged version of the book. The characters weren't well developed and there wasn't really a sense of desperation and overt class stratification that the book's summary promised. Overall, it was underwhelming. I'm being nice and giving it 3 stars instead of 2.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
The Book of Lost Things
Voigt, Cynthia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Max's parents have dashed off on an unexpected adventure and left their 12 year old son Max behind, alone...well, his grandmother is around to watch over him, but she is busy being a librarian. Max has to fend for himself and picks up a part time job as a solutioneer (sounds like engineer, but much more mysterious). His first task is to find a lost pet and this snowballs into many intricately involved adventures that will keep readers turning pages with anticipation to find out what this determined young man will do next. The Book of Lost Things, by Cynthia Voigt, is sure to please children 9 - 13 who enjoy a good mystery.

Reviewer's Name: Barb
White Chrysanthemum
Bracht, Mary Lynn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This was a very difficult book to read, but it was so beautifully written. Dual timelines tell the story of sisters separated by war. You will learn Hana's story from 1943 in Korea when she is taken by Japanese soldiers to become a "comfort woman" in Manchuria (the details of which are haunting).

Hana's sacrifice allows her younger sister, Emi, to stay on their island home off the coast of South Korea, but she is also tormented by the effects of World War II and the Korean War. We meet Emi as an older woman in 2011, still trying to find out what happened to her sister. Both stories are compelling and heartbreaking, but showcase the strength of these women to survive. Highly recommended.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Awards:
Genres:
The Remains of the Day
Ishiguro, Kazuo
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Alright, this book was even worse than Kazuo Ishiguro’s other book(Never Let Me Go). I didn’t know that that was possible, but it is. In this book, an old, traditional English butler takes a road trip along the English countryside. That is it. Oh, I forgot one thing: he does remember some of his dreadfully dull and pointless memories about his career. The main character (the butler) Mr. Stevens doesn’t even show character development by the end of the book. There is one thing that I liked about this book: that it finally got round to finishing.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Torrent
Bergren, Lisa T.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Please, please, please read this book! You won’t regret it! It is the third and final book in the River of Time. Please read the books in order to avoid serious confusion. It is a mixed of different genars to time-travel to romance to adventure. You will not get bored with this book. It is one of the best books I have read ever!

Reviewer Grade 8.

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth C.
Cascade
Bergren, Lisa T.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you haven’t already PLEASE READ THIS BOOK! It is a great book to read!
It is the second book in the River of Time trilogy. Please read the books in order or you will have no clue what’s going on. It is a time-travel, historical fiction, adventure, and romance book. This book will keep you on your toes. It is one of the best books I have read this year!

Reviewer Grade 8.

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth C.
Waterfall
Bergren, Lisa T.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is an amazing book! It is a time-travel and historical fiction novel with adventure and mixed in. Also there is some romance (so boys might not like this book). It is the first book in the River of Time trilogy (please read the books in order). There’s not one slow part in this book however, there is a cliffhanger at the end. It is one of the best books I have read all year! Reviewer Grade 8.

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth C.
Awards:
Heart of Darkness
Conrad, Joseph
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

What is the Heart of Darkness? Is it a metaphorical thing such as thoughts and mindsets, or is it a literal tangible place? Joseph Conrad’s novel follows the story of Marlow, an introspective sailor, who recounts his journey up the Congo River to five men who are on the same ship as Marlow:
the Director of Companies, who is also the captain and host, the Lawyer, the Accountant, Marlow, and the unnamed Narrator. What’s interesting is that the story is told from the point of view of the unnamed narrator who is conveying to the readers what marlow is telling him. Marlow explains in detail of his journey into the African Continent and his venture up the Congo River. He tells of acts of imperialism, acts of racism, and acts of evil commited within the region. The Heart of Darkness has gained much praise and criticism since its release, nevertheless it explores Conrad’s view of evil and darkness, but also leaves it up to the reader to make their own conclusion. I recommend this novel to readers who are seniors in high school or above because this novel is extremely difficult to read as Conrad’s style is very complex. To fully experience the novel, one must read it multiple times.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
The Cottingley Secret
Gaynor, Hazel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

“ I said my story had many beginnings, and the day the camera arrived was one of them. After all, without the camera, there wouldn’t have been any photographs. Without the camera, I wouldn’t have a story to tell...”

The Cottingley Secret is a story about fairies, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and an old bookshop in a Irish harbor town, what is not to love about this book.
This story is a modern retelling of the real historical legend of the Cottingley Fairies. After coming to live with her cousin Elsie Wright in Cottingley England, during the height of the first world war, Frances Griffiths and her cousin both claim to see real live fairies at the bottom of the garden. The cousins soon prove their claims by photographing the fairies in the garden. These real live photos soon catches the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wholeheartedly believes the girls and proceeds to publish several of these photos in a magazine. Soon after, the girls and the fairies became a national sensation and through the country into the grip of fairy fever. This marks the beginning of a time that would define their lives and have them keeping secrets until the day of their deaths.

Meanwhile in modern day Ireland, Olivia Cavanaugh inherits her grandfather’s bookshop and soon discovers a manuscript that recounts the story of Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths. As she reads through the manuscript, written by Frances, she soon discovers she has more in common with her than she ever imagined.

Hazel Gaynor connects past and present in a way that is both modern and extremely touching. I really connected with Olivia in this book. As she, and the reader, reads through Frances and Elsie’s story, she finds strength to face her painful past and let go of a life that has always been planned out for her to pursue a life that connects her to the desires of her heart.

Filled with amazing literary prose, a beautiful atmospheric environment and strong characters, this story is historical literary fantasy at it’s best.

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
Book Review: How Few Remain
Turtledove, Harry
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

How Few Remain is a alternate history novel by Harry Turtledove. In his book, it depicts an alternate universe where the south wins the American Civil War, and the Confederate States of America is now its own independent country. What I enjoyed about this novel is the many different characters and how they view the other country. In every page you can just see the tension that will eventually snap between the two powers. People from the North and the South always spewing insults at each other. Each character that comes into play are very interesting and all seem like they have their own backstory. My favorite character in the story would be Abraham Lincoln. Just because you get to see what his life is like and how the country views the man who lost the civil war. The book is also just the first part of a series which goes through the period of World War I and World War II and how the North and South react to that. I believe there are two things that make this book standout, its characters, and its lore. For those two reasons alone I will have to recommend this book. Or the entire series, what ever is your cup of tea.

Reviewer's Name: Christopher K.
The Help
Stockett, Kathryn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In Kathryn Stockett’s, The Help, she writes about African-American maids in Southern Mississippi during the 1960’s. Skeeter, one of the protagonists in the story, brings light to their circumstances by publishing a book about their experiences. Through her interviews, I began to love every single character for different reasons, even Hilly Holbrook. I thought it was a heart-warming story that I could not put down! It’s good for all ages to read as it lets you in to some history, comedy, and respectful romance. I was interested into reading this book because I’d seen the movie a dozen times and still am not tired of it. I heard that the book was better than the movie and I thought that was just not possible and needed to find out for myself. Inspite of my efforts to prove them wrong, they were right! The book is better than the movie as it goes more in to depth about Mini, Abbigail, Hilly, and Keeter and her relationship with her Mother. Out of all the books that I’ve read, this is definately in my top three and I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking for a exciting and witty story where justice is served for whats right. I also don’t think that watching the movie before the book ruins the story. As I read the book and Stockett was describing the characters, I pictured Emma Stone and the rest of the cast as if they were actually made for the book.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Micah L.
Genres:
The Jungle
Sinclair, Upton
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book I picked to read for a summer book report on a fiction American novel. The book was recommend to me by my mom who had read the book a few years earlier in a college catering class. The book describes the story of Jurgis who moved to America from Lithuania in search of a better life. The story goes on to discuss the flaws of the food and meatpacking industry and the poor working conditions. The struggles of the everyday American man are revealed along with the unsanitary process of meat packing. The book was unpredictable as Jurgis is faced with one problem after another not only within the food industry but with the constant life of struggling to keep himself and family alive with little to no money. The book was very depressing and may not be the first choice of those looking for a heroic or uplifting story. The story was never boring and there was never a time that something new wasn't being introduced into the book that added more to the story every second. The historical aspects found in the book are very accurate considering that one of Upton Sinclair's closet friends was Mother Jones who was a huge part in the labor movement during the 1900s. The book was also interesting in the fact of how much America has changed throughout the years and it what ways it is still the same and not much has been done. The book did help me throughout the rest of the year in both English and US history classes to understand the lives in which the everyday American lived. I found this book very interesting and fun, especially for a summer reading, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to take a trip into the 1900s.
Reviewer Grade:11

Reviewer's Name: Madison G.
Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See
Doerr, Anthony
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is the story of two teenagers living during World War Two. Marie-Laure LeBlanc is blind, and lives with her father in France. Werner Pfennig lives in a coal mining town in Germany. As war draws near, Marie-Laure and her father move to the French coast to try to avoid the war while Werner is pressed into service in the German army. Both of the main characters learn to accept and cope with war in their own unique ways. They come of age through the war, and learn to navigate their war-torn world. This novel was recommended to me by my grandmother. I took her recommendation eagerly, as I love studying history. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author used different points of view to show many sides of one story. Each of the characters must learn to interpret their own experience whether that is Marie-Laure memorizing her way around her city or Werner in his military service. I found both of the main characters very relate-able, despite their story taking place decades ago. Marie-Laure has a never-ending curiosity and Werner is constantly questioning the morals he is presented by his society. These characteristics are things that I think many teenagers, of any era, can relate to. This has been one of my favorite reads this year, and I would highly recommend reading this novel.

Reviewer's Name: Hannah H.
Genres:
The Girl in the Tower
Arden, Katherine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Katherine Arden's The Girl In The Tower is just as good, if not better, than the first book, The Bear and The Nightingale. Filled with more Russian Fairy tales, atmospheric literary prose, rich and strong characters, and the same enchanting setting of Medieval Russia, this book picks up right where the first one left off. It follows the story of Vasya, now a grown up woman she, instead of conforming to the role woman in her day usually play, of marriage or life in a convent, chooses instead a life of adventure. Leaving her home and traveling the vast Russian Wilderness while dressed as a boy, she soon is called upon to defend the city of Moscow and finds the threat greater and more deadly than she imagined. While fighting this threat, only she can stop, she is also forced to protect her secret as she comes upon her brother and attracts the attention of the Grand Prince of Moscow.

Part of what drew me to this book is the fairy tales, yes, but also the historical setting of Medieval Russia. Katherine Arden does a masterful job of weaving fantasy elements with real life historical details only a great historian would discover. Blurring the line between history, fantasy, and reality this book and, more importantly this series, is contemporary historical fantasy at its best. It is a sketch not only of real life in Medieval Russia, but also displays the power of story and demonstrates the importance of fairy tales and the lessons they can teach us.

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie M.
Awards:
The Pox Party
Anderson, M.T.
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

I didn’t enjoy this book at all. It is not a classic but it is written like one. It is historical fiction and there is some pretty disgusting parts in this book. Warning: do not read before eating. However, do not let my opinion discourage you. You may love this book and you may not. I, on the other hand won’t read this book again.

Reviewer grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth C.
Genres:
Though Heaven Fall
Westerson, Jeri
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you like castles, medieval stories and a bit of supernatural I recommend this you!
Set in the 13th century, this novel whisks you back in time. The misadventures of this "cripple" build up from a puddle to a daring rescuing of a wanted madman. While it may seem to drag out sometimes, its worth the wait.

Reviewer's Name: Johana P.
Genres:
The Stolen Marriage
Chamberlain, Diane
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

About halfway through this book, I wanted to throttle the main character and give up on the book as I saw it heading in an utterly predictable direction. Tess makes so many bad decisions that it is hard to feel sorry for her being in such a miserable situation. It was also difficult to read the characters' attitudes about racially mixed couples in a time and place when it was not only socially unacceptable, but illegal. However, I'm glad I stuck with it, as about 2/3 of the way through it turned around and ended on a very unexpected note, which I enjoyed!

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Awards:
Genres:
Fall of Giants
Follett, Ken
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fall of Giants is a long but worthwhile book to read. I "read" this via audio-book and enjoyed the narration very much. Ken Follett never fails to write in a historically accurate method and this is no exception. The introduction to the characters takes a bit of time to get through, but it's worth it due to the intricate nature of their lives and how they will intersect later in the book and the following related novels. This book combines elements of politics, revolution, war, love, social injustices and reforms, and insight into daily lives of people living in WWI era Russia, England, Germany, Wales and America.

Reviewer's Name: Merry
Genres:
The Bear and the Nightingale
Arden, Katherine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A perfect winter read! A beautiful atmospheric retelling of the fairytale Jack Frost set in a wintry town on the edge of the Russian wilderness in Medieval Russia. Plus a strong independent female protagonist who risks everything to save her family from the evil forces all around her! What's not to love! Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale is a must read! This novel has it all mystery, magic, adventure, and love! With well developed characters and beautiful, atmospheric, lyrical writing that makes you almost feel the cold wind on your skin and see the snow flakes falling this book cannot be passed up! I cannot wait for the next book in the series to come out, The Girl in The Tower!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie

Pages