A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

 

91gesYReZ1L It is 1887. London is a city preparing for the celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, and Veronica is burying her spinster aunt. Orphaned Victoria is now free to resume her adventures and world travels. When she successfully defeats her own attempted abduction thanks to the help of a German baron, she is forced to seek sanctuary at the care of a man named Stoker. Shortly before the baron reveals what he knew about her attempted abduction; the baron is found murdered. Now, Veronica and Stoker are on the run searching for the truth about her assailant.

I’m going to start by saying that I’m probably in the minority here. I had read and heard raving reviews about this book and series, and I even bumped other books in my list to read this one first. So, what happened? Well, I’d like to start by saying that I love a strong female character. I have no problem reading historical fiction books that depict smart, independent women. The book, overall, is well written and I enjoyed the sparkling dialogue between Veronica and Stoker. However, the problem I found with Veronica Speedwell was that she just wasn’t that nice of a person. Witty, smart, and independent–yes. However, she was also extraordinarily narcissistic and insensitive. At the start of the book, she is attending the funeral of her aunt that adopted her, and she is lamenting the fact that she can’t even shed a tear over her aunt’s death? Another problem I found was with the mystery itself, which I found rather blah.

The book started slowly for me, and I struggled to get into it until chapter eight. After that, I was interested in the book for a while, and certainly enough to finish the book, but not enough to be looking forward to reading the next books in this series.


Format: Hardcover, 337 pages
Published: September 1st, 2015 by NAL/Penguin
ISBN: 0451476018
Source: Library loan
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Mystery

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

38359036

I feel like I need a little disclaimer. I want to start this review by saying that I am aware that there were a lot of controversies with this book concerning its accuracy and historical faithfulness. I decided to approach this book with the intention of reading it as historical fiction. The following review is strictly based on the story, prose, and flow of the book.

This book is the story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who is taken to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Lale is multilingual and therefore given the job of Tätowierer (tattooist in German) tattooing numbers on the new prisoners. This book is also the story of Gita, a scared young woman who Lale tattoos and falls in love.

I love reading books about the Holocaust, watching movies about the Holocaust, and the Holocaust museum in Los Angeles. Love in the sense that I feel this is a part of history that should never be forgotten. I have loved people in my life who were either, themselves, survivors of the Holocaust, or descents of survivors. Suffice to say; I loved when I came across a copy of this book displayed at my local library.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is much more than just a love story set against the background of one of the worst crimes in human history. It is a story of survival, endurance and ultimately love–not just the romantic type but love for humanity.

So, you might be wondering by now why I gave it such a relatively low score. The writing to me was too choppy. I never enjoyed reading screenplays, and this book reads like a screenplay. When I first saw the cover, I thought to myself, “oh, boy! This one will be a tearjerker.” Unfortunately, for as much as I wanted to love this book, I just couldn’t. The prose didn’t flow for me, probably because of the excessive amount of dialogue, or the lack of cohesiveness between the paragraphs.

Is it a book worth reading? Absolutely! It is a great story, regardless of the way it was delivered. The style of writing did not work for me, but it can certainly work for you.


2F75E86AAE798551FE5434B18DF179AF

 

Review: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

images

Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. So begins The Hangman’s Daughter–the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.

I should start by saying that this is not the sort of novel I’d gravitate towards, but the cover of this book had a lot to do with my decision to give this book a try and I don’t regret it a bit.

“because a rumor is like smoke. It will spread, it will seep through closed doors and latched shutters, and in the end the whole town will smell of it.”

This is the story of Jakob Kuisl, a hangman in the small town of Schongau, Bavaria. When some children are found dead, a local midwife is accused of witchcraft and arrested for the murders. Jakob and a local doctor believing in the midwife’s innocence set out to figure out the mystery. I’m not sure why the title of the book is the Hangman’s Daughter. She plays a part in the book but certainly not enough for a title. In any case, this is a very interesting historical mystery. Pötzsch really did a good job researching his family history and that period. I really enjoyed the illustrations in the book and the descriptions of the town and the people were excellent. It really transported me to that time. 

As for the mystery itself, I feel like many will be able to figure it out half-way through the book. It is still an interesting reading even though some of the torture scenes were rather graphic. Good pick for fans of historical fiction/thriller.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

 

Review: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

18490777

This is the story of Sarah Brown daughter of abolitionist John Brown. She is one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers. After learning the shocking news that she cannot bear children, she starts to create maps and hide them in her paintings helping save the lives of slaves fleeing north.

The narrative is split between 1850-60s West Virginia and the present day. The flow of the narrative worked well for this novel, with Sarah Brown’s narrative of the past being better developed than the present day story. Overall, this style of narrative brought the characters to life and made it to a very interesting story.

I certainly recommend this book even if you are not a huge fan of historical fiction. I really enjoyed Sarah McCoy’s The Mapmaker’s Children. This book pulled me right in from the very first pages. The characters are vivid and believable. A perfect blend of real historical people and fictional characters.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

5 star

Book Details:

Title: The Mapmaker’s Children/Author:Sarah McCoy/Genre:Historical Fiction/ ISBN:9780385348904/Publisher:Crown/Rating: 5-Stars/Read:July, 2015.

Teaser Tuesday

TeaserTuesdays-ADailyRhythm3

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by A Daily Rhythm where anyone can play along.

18490777

Today’s Teaser Tuesday sentences were extracted from Sarah McCoy’s historical fiction, The Mapmaker’s Children. I’m very happy with what I’ve read so far, so here is a little teaser:

“Mr. George be a man of forgiveness, mercy, and tolerance. I know he preaches them things to the white folk in New Charlestown, but do other towns hear them parts of the Gospel? Sho’ don’t seem like it.”

“My pa, long time ‘go, told me God gave animals a different kind of vision from us peoples. They ain’t got as many colors in their heads, so they ain’t confused as easily…”

Add-to-Goodreads-badge

Review: The Mine by John A. Heldt

The Mine

In May 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. 

Who does not love the concept of time travel? The chance to go back in time and maybe meet famous historical figures, or see our parents when they were little. I’ve been a huge fan of time travel stories since I first read The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, and I still have very fond memories of my childhood, and watching Back to The Future.

The Mine is a time-travel novel, but unlike many novels of the same genre this story is also a beautiful love story. Joel Smith is a cocky twenty-something guy who walks into a mine and comes out in 1941. Joel is flawed, but a well-written character. The historical descriptions of America in the age of swing dancing really transports you to that period in time. My favorite character in this book is Ginny–witty and funny she is such a delight, and as you start reading the story you’ll know why she is so special. I have to say that half-way through the book I thought I had the story figured out, and I was very happy with how surprised I was at the end of the book. This story does not disappoint. I had a great time reading it. This is book one of the Northwest Passage series. Looking forward to the next ones.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for my honest review.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Book Details:

Title: The Mine/Author: John A. Heldt/Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance / ASIN:B0078S9B6G/Publisher: Self-Published/Rating: 4-Stars/Read: May, 2015.

Last Train To Istanbul by Ayse Kulin–Audiobook Review

Last Train To Instanbul

Unabridged: (12 hours and 9 minutes)

Author: Ayse Kulin

Narration: Sanjiv Jhaveri

Release Date: 10-08-13

Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Rating: 3-Stars

Listened: May 2015

As the daughter of one of Turkey’s last Ottoman pashas, Selva could win the heart of any man in Ankara. Yet the spirited young beauty only has eyes for Rafael Alfandari, the handsome Jewish son of an esteemed court physician. In defiance of their families, they marry, fleeing to Paris to build a new life.

But when the Nazis invade France, the exiled lovers will learn that nothing—not war, not politics, not even religion—can break the bonds of family. For after they learn that Selva is but one of their fellow citizens trapped in France, a handful of brave Turkish diplomats hatch a plan to spirit the Alfandaris and hundreds of innocents, many of whom are Jewish, to safety.

Last Train To Istanbul is a beautiful work of historical fiction about two privileged Muslim Turkish sisters–Selva and Sabiha. Sabiha marries a prominent Turkish diplomat, and Selva falls in love and marries a Turkish Jew–Rafael Alfandari. Selva and Rafael are shunned by her family, and move to Paris shortly before the Nazi German invasion in World War II.

What I really appreciated about this novel was Ayse Kulin’s extensive research about that period of history, and I loved to learn about WWII from a Turkish perspective. It’s a beautiful story of hope and courage. Many times WWII books are difficult to read due to the horrible accounts of the Holocaust, but this book kept me very interested and the narration by Sanjiv Jhaveri was just perfect. His accent and all the accents portrayed were essential to the atmosphere of this book.

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in historical fiction and WWII novels.

Signature

3 star

Review: Landfall by Ellen Urbani

Landfall-CoverTitle: Landfall

Author: Ellen Urbani

Pages: 304

Genre: Contemporary Historical Fiction

ISBN: 9780988265776

Publisher: Forest Avenue Press

Rating: 4-stars

Read: May 2015

In a car laden with supplies intended for hurricane victims, Rose and her mother catapult off the road onto the shoals of the Black Warrior River in Alabama, killing an unidentified storm survivor. To escape the scene, Rose, orphaned by the crash, laces the dead girl’s sneakers onto her own feet and cannot bring herself to take them off. When she learns she shares not only shoes but a name and a birth year with the Jane Doe, Rose embarks upon a guilt-assuaging odyssey to retrace the girl’s last steps…

Ellen Urbani’s second novel Landfall is a beautifully written tale of two girls, their mothers, and the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The book is written from the  alternating perspective of these two teenagers, Rose and Rosebud (Rosy), who share the same name and birth year. The book describes how their destinies merge, and develops into a surprising twist and unexpected ending.

At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, but Urbani’s writing is gorgeous, her voice is convincing, and the characters are well developed. I really liked the way the author researched the events that took place after hurricane Katrina, and how she was able to weave those details in the story. After finding out the author came from a healthcare background, I understood why she took her time describing with great details the passages at the Superdome and the events at the Crescent City Connection Bridge.

The story is not necessarily a happy one, but I definitely recommend this book for its fascinating historical accuracy, beautiful vernacular, and rich and well-developed characters.

I’d like to thank Edelweiss for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published in August 2015.

Signature

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars