Historical

Book Review: The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage
Author: 
Crane, Stephen
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

The Red Badge of Courage is really not a great book. It is centered around the Civil War and tells the story of Henry, a Union soldier who leaves his farm to go fight. During the war he cannot make up his mind to run away from the field or stick with his friends in battle. While some might find the book interesting, personally it just dragged on and on. Sometimes it would go really in depth into a battle or a part of the story that was not very important and in others it would just gloss over a major part that you needed to understand. I would not recommend this book to anyone as it is hard to understand and is not very well written.

Reviewer's Name: 
Emily S.

Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities
Author: 
Dickens, Charles
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A Tale of Two Cities is a captivating book. Set during the period leading up to and during the French Revolution, the book details how the French aristocracy and the French Revolution affected the rich and the poor through the stories of Charles Darnay and Alexandre Monette. It also shows the angry and vengeful side of the Revolution through the Defarge's and their wine shop. A scene where a wine cask is dropped demonstrates the desperation and poverty experienced by the citizens of Paris that led to the anger behind the revolution. Dickens also brings the book to life through life-like characters that emotionally invest readers in the story. Alexandre Monette exhibits fatherly care for his daughter, yet he also struggles to deal with his time in prison, leading him to rely on his daughter for support. Sydney Carton contains likeable aspects mixed with relatable flaws that make him instantly lovable. Dickens expertly connects each scene to develop the story and foreshadows multiple aspects of the climactic ending throughout the book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mark T.

Book Review: What You Said to Me (Tree of Life Series #4)

What You Said to Me (Tree of Life Series #4)
Author: 
Newport, Olivia
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This fourth in the Tree of Life Series by Olivia Newport is another unique story, weaving present day characters with prior generations. Meet Tisha, a 15 year old trying to find positive family relationships amidst her troubled life which leads her on a challenging and rewarding search. Set in Canyon Mines, this small mountain town unearths unexpected historical documents of her ancestors that just might change Tisha's future. It is an excellent read for both history and genealogical fans.

Reviewer's Name: 
Tammy H.

Book Review: Little Women

Book Cover
Author: 
Alcott, Louisa May
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Louisa May Alcott's well-known classic Little Women tells the story of four sisters in the time of the Civil War: Meg, who longs for a life without poverty; Jo, a tomboy and writer; Beth, quiet and kind; and Amy, who has elegant taste in art and life. These four girls, with the help of their mother, learn lessons that help them carry their burdens with thankful hearts and lean on each other throughout the trials they face. The novel spans ten years, and follows the lives of the March family and their friends. It highlights the small joys of childhood, adventures at home and abroad, growing up, loss, and falling in love.

Alcott's writing is insightful, touching, and humorous; she draws the reader in emotionally and offers her wisdom generously. Little Women is an important narrative of ordinary life which both amuses and grieves, and should be read by all teens. Not only does it put life into perspective; it also relates to teenagers today despite being written nearly two-hundred years ago. Any audience will be able to connect with at least one of the March sisters--especially young women. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy become as dear to readers as family throughout their journey to adulthood. If you enjoy heartwarming stories and historical fiction, this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H.

Book Review: Faye, Faraway

Faye, Faraway
Author: 
Fisher, Helen
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This is going to be one of my favorites of the year, it just hit me right in the gut. That feeling of nostalgia and wishing you could go back in time to tell yourself "it's going to be okay. " The eternal tug between looking backward, and trying to stay focused in the present. And knowing that when you lose someone, there are always things left unsaid. I just loved it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista

Book Review: The Lost Apothecary

The Lost Apothecary
Author: 
Penner, Sarah
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Gorgeous read! The story is told from 3 viewpoints: Nella (the apothecary) and Eliza (a young girl who befriends her) both take place in the late 1700s. Then there is Caroline who is a present-day woman who is discovering their story. I've mentioned in another review how much I enjoy dual timeline stories where a physical object connects them, and this one is a superb example. Both timelines are compelling, and the author skillfully balances the stories, so that it is not quite as "jarring" when you jump from one timeline to another. Wonderful writing, wonderful story, I highly recommend to all historical fiction lovers out there. Oh, and mudlarking is now on my bucket list!!!

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista

Book Review: Vera

Vera
Author: 
Edgarian, Carol
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Great story set during the chaos of the 1906 earthquake and fires of San Francisco. Vera is not a warm and fuzzy character, but you will admire her grit at keeping herself and "family" safe and fed despite the fact that she was often dismissed by them. The author does an amazing job placing you in the middle of a nightmare, the city is as strong a character of the novel as Vera herself. 4 1/2 stars, strongly recommended to historical fiction fans.

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista

Book Review: Chains

Chains
Author: 
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Isabel is a thirteen-year old slave who is trying to gain her and her
sister's freedom. After their master died, Isabel and Ruth were supposed to
be freed, but were sold to a Loyalist couple who brings them to New York.
After an incident where Isabel is branded, Ruth if sold to a family in a
different state. Determined to find her, Isabel takes the advice of her
friend and servant boy, Curzon. Isabel becomes a spy on her master and other
Loyalists and reports back to the Patriots. Later, when Curzon is arrested,
she breaks him out of jail and the two run away to look for her sister.

Even though the novel is fictional, the events are based on the American
Revolutionary War, and it's pretty accurate. As someone who likes history and
adventure, this book was a good balance of both. Despite her circumstances,
Isabel remains a positive character and does everything to protect her sister
and those she loves. Obviously, there's some sensitive topics since they're
slaves, but I do think this book gives good information about the
Revolutionary War and how African Americans were ironically very helpful to
the Patriot cause.

Reviewer's Name: 
Nneoma

Book Review: Forge

Forge
Author: 
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The sequel to Chains, this story follows Curzon's life as a soldier for the
Patriots during the American Revolutionary War. After Isabel abandoned him to
look for her sister, Curzon finds himself on the outskirts of Valley Forge.
After saving a soldier from a British troop, Curzon enlists in the Colonial
Army for the next year. The book describes Curzon's life at Valley Forge: the
strenuous labor, harsh winter climate, lack of food and resources, and the
racism Curzon experiences from other soldiers. Not long in his stay, his
former master visits the camp and forces Curzon back into servitude. For the
rest of the novel, Curzon plots his escape and reunites with Isabel.

I wasn't expecting the second book to be told through a different point of
view, but Curzon's story is just as touching as Isabel's. I also think that
the book is a good perspective of the life of a soldier at Valley Forge. The
events were relatively accurate, and throughout, I felt tense and anxious to
know about what would happen next. I thoroughly enjoyed Curzon and Isabel's
reunion, and I'm thrilled that there's a third book to the series.

Reviewer's Name: 
Nneoma

Book Review: Ashes

Ashes
Author: 
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The final book in the Seeds of America trilogy, Isabel is finally reunited
with Ruth. However, when she meets Ruth, who has epilepsy and a degree of
intellectual disability, she rejects Isabel to stay with her adopted family.
Eventually, after convincing Ruth to accompany Isabel, Curzon, and a third
slave, Aberdeen, the four teens go out to search for freedom. They travel
north until making it to Williamsburg where the girls work in a laundry, and
we find out that Curzon joined the Patriot army and Aberdeen became a spy for
the British. Separated briefly, Isabel and Ruth reunite with Curzon at a
Continental Army camp.

After all of Isabel, Ruth, and Curzon's suffering, the ending was a big
breath of relief. Everything seemed to fall in place finally. This book,
besides providing good information about the Revolutionary War and colonial
society, showed how just like White Americans, African Americans wanted to
forge their own identities and fight for what they believed it; whether that
was freedom, family, or love. Even though the main characters are fictional,
I felt like I was reading someone's real experiences and story from the past.
I also liked the list of all the historical events that took place over the
course of the trilogy that the author provided at the end.

Reviewer's Name: 
Nneoma

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