Tag Archives: historical fiction

Salt to the Sea, Book Trailer

9 Mar

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The Hired Girl, Book Trailer

6 Nov

Sunrise Over Fallujah, Review

2 Nov

Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

Plot: This is an excellent title to represent contemporary historical fiction. Robin “Birdy” Perry enlists in the Army after 9-11, and is thrust into a situation that is confusing, scary, and not exactly as he thought it would be. The writing shifts back and forth from Birdy’s first-person accounts and his correspondence home (to his parents and his uncle – I was unaware of the connection of the uncle to Myers’s novel Fallen Angels until after I finished the novel, and now I want to read that as well). The correspondence home is optimistic and Birdy omits much of what is really happening in Iraq (due to Army regulations, but also by his own choice to not worry his family). The story seems disjointed at times, which I believe is intentional from Myers as a reflection of how little information Birdy received about the war (yet he is directly involved in the war). Birdy is so young and inexperienced throughout the entire book; however, he changes quite a bit as he is introduced to the reality of war. After the bus explosion that kills Pendleton, Birdy says “I didn’t want to be alert anymore. I didn’t want to be a good soldier. I just wanted to shut down this whole damn war” (Myers, 2008). The reader watches Birdy transition from a young man too nervous that he forgets to remove the safety from his gun before firing to a solider who quickly opens fire on supposedly friendly Iraqis who intend to harm his Captain. Quite honestly, it’s not an easy transition to watch, yet it’s completely understandable that it has to happen. Readers cannot finish reading this book without thinking about our veterans, and what they experienced during their tours.

This story seemed very real to me, perhaps because it takes place in recent history. Perhaps it is because we still see the same unrest in the Middle East. Our text discusses the importance of historical fiction being accurate in all the small details, and I feel that Myers does a good job with this. Throughout the novel, there were references to popular songs and recording artists, as well as the technology which was current in 2003. All of this helps to create a very authentic experience for the reader.

Would you recommend this book? Yes.

4 stars

–Lisa

Copper Sun, Review

17 Aug

Copper Sun by Sharon M Draper

Plot: This is the story of Amari, a young African girl captured and sold by slave traders, is kept as a “gift” to the plantation owner’s son, and eventually escapes to her freedom. The story opens in Amari’s tribal village, and I had a very difficult time knowing in what time period the story was set, as the village seemed timeless. I had a difficult time trying to understand what it must have been like for Amari to watch her family be slaughtered, and then to be captured and sent away to a new world on a ship. One scene from the book that made an impression on me was when Amari was forced out of the holding cell at Cape Castle and ends up in the bright daylight on the shore. In the middle of a horrible ordeal, Amari still is overcome by the vast beauty of the ocean, saying “…nothing could have prepared her for water so blue, so beautiful, so never ending” (Draper, 2006). Once I read this, I knew Amari would be a survivor, because she was able to find beauty in the world, despite her circumstances. This was reinforced at the end of the novel when Amari has hope for her (and her baby’s) future, despite the circumstances that brought them there. One other factor that had an impact on me was the importance of a name. Amari must reluctantly respond to the name given to her by her owner; however, as soon as she is free, she reverts back to her given name. In addition, I did learn something new when reading this book: I was not aware of the sanctuary provided by Fort Mose for people of all colors and backgrounds. It took me longer than expected to get into this book; however, when I did, I was really taken in by the story. It’s obvious that Draper wants readers to be aware of the cruel treatment of the slaves and the hardships that had to be endured. However, Draper also touches on the role of women during the time period as well, and provides a broad look at their roles through the characters of Polly (the indentured servant) and Mrs. Derby (the plantation owner’s wife). This book provides an interesting look at pre-Revolutionary War slavery from a slightly different perspective, which is refreshing, honest, and effective.

Would you recommend this book? Yes

4 stars

–Lisa

The Kingdom of Little Wounds, Review

6 Jul

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal

Plot: The author of this book describes it as “a fairy tale about syphilis” so let’s get it out in the open that this book has some very mature themes. Despite the fact that this book was a Printz Honor Book in 2014, many readers have protested that this book is too dark, violent, and sexual to be considered a Young Adult book. Of course, I had to read it for myself! The story takes place in a 16th-Century fictional Scandinavian town, and chronicles the life of the royal family through the eyes of two of their servants. Ava Bingen shows promise as a royal seamstress, but when she accidentally pricks the queen with a needle, she is sent to Lord Nicolas for punishment. Lord Nicolas uses power and sexual force to convince Ava to become a nursery maid – and spy on the royal family for Nicolas. While acting as a maid, Ava meets Midi Sorte, a mute nursemaid, who is also consorting with Lord Nicolas behind closed doors. Through the narration of the two servant girls, life in the royal palace is observed. A mystery illness affects all of the royal children. The queen’s sanity and motives are questioned. The king’s affections lie with someone other than the queen. And those who are closest to the royal family may not have noble intentions. As more of the plot is revealed, Ava and Midi find their lives becoming more entwined together, much to their displeasure. But the two servants soon learn that they may only have each other to trust. This book is intense, violent, sexual, and dark. It is for mature readers due to the highly graphic content. However, it is a very interesting read about 16th-Century palace life, and is probably a case of this being a more truthful account than many non-fiction works. It’s a fascinating look at the interworking of a royal palace, and the secrets and lies it hides. It’s also a smack-you-in-the-face honest look at abuse of power, which is certain to open the readers’ eyes to other examples of this throughout history.

Would you recommend this book? Yes and no. While offering an interesting look at history, it seems a bit mature for a young adult book.

3 stars

–Lisa

The Water Castle, Review

5 May

The Water Castle by M.F. Blakemore

Plot: The Water Castle has two different settings. First, the main storyline is set in an old house (nicknamed the Water Castle) in Crystal Springs, Maine in present day. The secondary storyline takes place in the same physical setting, but during the years 1908-1909. It is important for the reader to know which of the two time periods is being discussed, so the publisher presents the historical storyline in pages which are edged with gray. Although the time period is important (specifically the concept of “then” and “now” in terms of events being recounted), the physical setting is integral to the plot. Both the town of Crystal Springs and the Water Castle itself are said to have magical properties, and without this element of magic, the rest of the story would be impossible. I really enjoyed this book when I first started reading it. The characters were cute and likeable, and I enjoyed how the story bounced between two time periods. But I felt it fell a little flat towards the end, and it quickly lost my interest. In general, I dislike endings that simply sum things up with “magic” – I want more of an explanation. But it was a charming read, and I would be open to reading another title by Blakemore. I would especially like to read her teen title to see how she crafts a story for an older audience.

Would you recommend this book? Yes

3 stars

–Lisa

Operation Trinity, Review

17 Nov

Operation Trinity by Clifford Riley (39 Clues)

Plot: This book is about the secret files of the Cahills. It tells more history of other Cahills, and tells of more danger. This is a very thrilling, epic book, and it left me wanting to read book 2 so I could see what happens next.

Would you recommend this book? Yes.

5 stars

–Allen