Historical

Book Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter
Author: 
Morton, Kate
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

This story centers around an impassioned artist and his dreams, a mysterious murder, an enchanting English manor and all that went on their throughout its many years, a ghost that stands outside of time witness to it all, a vanished girl, an archivist and her discovery of a priceless artifacts, and how what went on there all those years ago effects who she is today.

In the past, the 1860’s to be exact, this story begins with a talented artist Edward Radcliffe and a group of artists that spend a summer at the house of his dreams Birchwood Manor. But shortly after arriving a mysterious murder is committed, a priceless artifact disappears and one of the women vanishes. A hundred years later in the present an archivist, named Elodie, finds a satchel which contains an unrelated photograph and a sketchbook that contains a drawing of Birchwood Manor. As she digs deeper into the mystery she is pulled into a story that has her questioning her past and who she truly is. This beautiful atmospheric mystery spans the length of time, and is told by the many voices and people all living within and around the Manor’s walls.

Before I go any further, first, let me say this. Kate Morton is the master of atmospheric beautiful Gothic mysteries and I am a big fan of hers and have loved every one of her past books. Her intricate and deeply rooted stories her beautiful prose, and her enchanting settings are the reasons why she is simply one of the best in her genre. That being said, this work, was a bit of a disappointment. While all the elements of what I love about Kate Morton’s books were there; an intricate story steeped in history, an old vast English manor with a secret or two to hide within its walls, old families with long pedigrees, a family mystery, an enchanting setting, this book fell short for me mainly because of its intricacy and complexity. I also believe the ending was a bit weak. I really wanted to love it, I just couldn’t.

Morton, I believe, really attempted to tell a challenging story, but simply had to many voices trying to tell it. While I like a good dual timeline novel, this one, with at least four voices and timelines was simply too much. There were times that, because of how she bounced around among the numerous timelines, when I got completely lost in which timeline I was following. This combined with how many characters and voices there were throughout the novel, made the story overall a whole lot less enjoyable. I’ll admit, this story took me a good while to get through and I do recommend, if reading this, keeping a list of who everyone is and which timeline goes where. It’s definitely a book you have to think through. That being said the story itself was beautiful and it makes me wonder, if it wouldn’t be better as an audio book where each of the voices are sounded out. Overall a 2.5-3 star read for me. However, if you are a Kate Morton fan and if you love atmospheric Gothic mysteries, I couldn’t count this one out, I would still give this one a go, just maybe as an audio book. Place your copy on hold today!

Thank you to Netgalley, Atria books, and Simon and Schuster for a DRC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewer's Name: 
Tawnie

Book Review: The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible
Author: 
Kingsolver, Barbara
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Nathan Price moves his wife and four daughters out into the Congo in 1959. He's a prolific and die-hard evangelical Baptist pastor, with his mind set on converting the majority of the Congo population to Christianity. His wife, Orleanna, is submissive and silent, obeying him and allowing him to hit their children. Rachel, the eldest Price daughter, arrogant, self-centered, and sorely missing her comfortable 16 year-old life back in the States. Next come the twins, Adah and Leah. Adah is shriveled up and crippled, but her mind runs like a confusing, rampaging fire. Leah has cut her hair short and vows to shoot her bow and arrow as well as any village boys. And Ruth May, the baby of the family at 5 years old, with her warped and imaginative outlooks on their jungle surroundings. The Price family is trying to hold it together as the Congo fights for independence from Belgium, as they watch children starve to death on their doorstep, and the colorful like of the jungle swirl around their broken household. -Jordan T, 8th grade

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: 
Twain, Mark
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

The classic tale "Huckleberry Finn" is about a young boy and his adventures with a slave named Jim amidst war and racism. I hated this book for two reasons. Firstly, the plot doesn't seem to go anywhere. It seemed that Finn and Jim just wandered aimlessly around, befriending unlikable people and getting into trouble. Secondly, Finn was a very unlikeable protagonist. He doesn't show any sort of compassion or kindness towards anyone -- and doesn't seem to care if his friend Jim lives or dies. It is difficult to root for and follow a hero that you hate. While I personally did not enjoy this book, don't let that stop you. I know many people who really enjoyed "Huckleberry Finn" -- I was just not one of them. But, if you are someone who likes a strong plot and a fairly likable hero, this one is not for you.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gillian P.

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby
Author: 
Fitzgerald, Scott F.
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

The classic tale of "The Great Gatsby" follows Nick Carraway, a newcomer to the city, who discovers the lavish and intoxicating life of Jay Gatsby, his next door neighbor. Nick soon becomes entangled in a net of secrets and deception that involves his friends Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom. After hearing so many incredible things about "The Great Gatsby", I came into the story with high expectations. Unfortunately, they were not really met. While the story is undeniably powerful, it lacks in some areas. I found all the characters extremely unlikable. There was no one to really root for. In addition, there were parts of the story that seemed to drag on for far too long. I found myself asking, "When is something going to happen?" at several points. All in all, I didn't hate this story, but it definitely wasn't my favorite classic to read. Grade 12.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gillian P.

Book Review: The Romanov Empress : a novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna

The Romanov Empress : a novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna
Author: 
Gortner, C.W.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Fabulous. If you are at all interested in the Romanovs as a whole (beyond Nicholas and Alexandra), this is a wonderful introduction. This book expands the story of the Romanovs from the point of view of Empress Maria Feodorovna who married the Russian Tsarevich and was the mother of the ill-fated Russian monarch Nicholas II (she was also the sister of Queen Alexandra of the U.K., King Frederick VIII of Denmark, and King George I of Greece - luckily there is a handy family tree in the front of the book for you to refer to!) Beautifully written and engrossing.

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista

Book Review: Briar Rose

Briar Rose
Author: 
Yolen, Jane
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Based in modern day America, this novel tells the story of a girl trying to discover her grandmother's past after hearing the story of Briar Rose for many years. After her grandmother dies with her last words being, "Promise me you will find the castle. Promise me you will find the prince. Promise me you will find the maker of the spells," Becca will not give up looking for her grandmother's lost origins. She goes through the contents in the box left to her relentlessly, until she finds the name "Kulmhof" on a piece of paper. Becca proceeds to make some calls, and finally takes a trip to Poland where she meets a certain Josef Potocki. Josef then reveals to Becca the story of her grandmother's past. It was a brutal and ruthless history of origin occurring during the Holocaust.

Even though the book was quite interesting and definitely kept me reading, there was some content I personally found disturbing. Most of this content consists of Josef Potocki being openly and quite obviously gay and a gay and lesbian agenda being enforced throughout the entire book. There was also a brief description of a sexual encounter between Josef and one of his former gay lovers that was completely disgusting.

Overall, I could not stop reading this book and found it very intriguing! The three stars is because of the unnecessary LGBTQ references and sexual encounter. If not for those few things, this book would have been downright amazing.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ella S.

Book Review: Dear Mrs. Bird

Dear Mrs. Bird
Author: 
Pearce, AJ
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book took me on an emotional roller-coaster! The beginning bits were so funny, I figured it was going to be more of a slapstick comedy (which I was okay with), and then the reality that this was set in London during the Blitz set in, and I found myself gasping. Plucky Emmaline is such a lovable character, I would love if the author would consider revisiting her life in the future! Strongly recommend for those who enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. While it is not written in letters, Dear Mrs. Bird packs a similar emotional punch.

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista M.

Book Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies

Curtsies & Conspiracies
Author: 
Carriger, Gail
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

As Sophronia Temminnick goes into her second year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality she is learning more and more ways to kill with weapons, poisons, and over tea. To infiltrate a hive of vampires. And to subdue you by simply looking at you. For this is no normal finishing academy, it is a school that is training her to be a spy. With 10 boys from Bunson's (school for evil geniuses in training) on board. Being friends with two boys Lord Mercy and Soap the sootie will be much harder than you will expect, considering that they are both fighting for her. As an unexpected trip to London appears out of nowhere what will Sophrnoia have to do to uncover the truth and save her friends?

Reviewer's Name: 
Anneka S.

Book Review: America is Not the Heart

America is Not the Heart
Author: 
Castillo, Elaine
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Sometimes, this book had amazing descriptions about experiences and personalities. But the majority of the book was dreadfully dull and dragged on and on. The main character described, in detail, her hook-up stories and one-night stands, leading up to her more fruitful and lengthy relationship with a witty, quick woman named Rosalyn. I felt that although physical intimacy is a large factor in mature relationships, I really didn't need to hear about EVERYTHING they did to each other. I was drawn into the story because the plot seemed fascinating. In theory, it would be, but the author was so fixated on producing a lengthy novel that the story was drawn out. So the story line is this: Hero De Vera arrives in the US as an illegal Filipino immigrant. Her uncle welcomes them into his home, without questioning her very questionable past. The past where she dropped out of medical school, took up one night stands with near strangers, and joined the New People's Army, a discreet organization in the Philippines, where lots of murderous secrets lurk. Hero moves into her uncles house, and is welcomed into the work-alcoholic behavior of her uncle and aunt, who are trying to provide for their family and others. Their young, American-born Filipino daughter, Ronnie, is feisty and spunky. Hero meets Rosalyn and, almost instantaneously, begins to nurture a crush for her. That is, until their physical relationship begins. And THAT is when things got nasty. In conclusion, an intriguing plot, terrible writing, and unnecessary details on Hero's sexual pleasures. And it took a decent chunk out of my time, too.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

Book Review: The Tuscan Child

The Tuscan Child
Author: 
Bowen, Rhys
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Loved this dual-timeline novel. Both stories were strong enough that they could have stood on their own, but together they were wonderful. The descriptions of a small town in Tuscany were so vivid that I felt like I was there, and the food in particular made me hungry! I've only ever read the Royal Spyness mysteries by Rhys Bowen, but they are among my favorite lighthearted mystery series. Now, I'm definitely going to have to pick up In Farleigh Field and her other mysteries!!!

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista M.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Historical