Posts Categorized: historical

These Shallow Graves: Review

These Shallow Graves: Review

If you enjoy historical fiction with a spunky female lead, some romance, and a murder mystery thrown in for good measure, you might want to pick up Jennifer Donnelly’s latest book, These Shallow Graves. I admit, I was lured in by the promise of a spunky female lead in this case – a girl who secretly dreams of being a writer and defying societal expectations! – ’cause that’s my jam all the time. In turn-of-the-century America, no less! (An aside: my love for American history has been totally revitalized by the release of the soundtrack for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical, by the way. And this is … a century later! Where’s my Revolutionary War YA when I need it?) Anyway. Ahem. Back to business! Despite the spunky female lead, while I liked many aspects of These Shallow Graves, I didn’t connect with it emotionally in the way that I wanted… Read more »

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Middle Grade Round Up: Mini Reviews

Middle Grade Round Up: Mini Reviews

I don’t get around to reading as much middle grade as I’d wish to, but I’ve really lucked out so far this year. Every middle grade I’ve read has been so charming and heartwarming. A real highlight has been Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger, but today I’m bringing you two other 2015 MG’s I’ve really enjoyed.     Title: Echo Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan Rating: 3.5 A lovely story and beautifully told, this book tells the tales of 3 different children in different times and place in the world all connected by one magical harmonica. Friedrich in pre-WWII Germany is first hand witness to the slow motion horror of Hitler’s rise to power and gradual degradations to his family.  Mike in a Depression era orphanage fights to keep his little brother from being adopted without him. Ivy in WWII era California comes up against the harsh racism of segregated education and the horror of… Read more »

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Out of Darkness: Review

Out of Darkness: Review

Out of Darkness brings to light often marginalized voices in young adult fiction. Centered on the New London School explosion of 1937, Out of Darkness features protagonists who are racially and culturally diverse and a heartbreaking story that confronts you with the realities of racialized and gendered violence in 1930s Texas (and … also contemporary American culture). If you are in the mood for some truly excellent historical fiction that will emotionally devastate you, well then, do I have the book for you. I read this book in less than a day and I couldn’t put it down the entire time. I haven’t seen much press around this book yet, which is a bummer, because Out of Darkness is so, so good and also as thoughtful and thought-provoking as hell. It’s one of my favorites of the year so far. (And hey! My list of favorites for 2015 is not going to be… Read more »

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Lies We Tell Ourselves: Review

Lies We Tell Ourselves: Review

Hey hey, guess what I just read? Lies We Tell Ourselves! A really great book that came out last year that I should have read immediately upon its release! Why? Because it’s an interracial lesbian romance set in the South during the desegregation of Virginia’s public school system. (You had me at lesbian romance.) Anyway, while it is not without its problems, Robin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves is a really strong debut novel. I read it in one sitting, and it is a testament to the book’s excellence that I really enjoyed it despite having to endure a massive airport delay. (I wasn’t even bothered! I just wanted to sit down again so I could keep. reading. the book.) I wanted to review it because (1) if you haven’t read it, you should read it and (2) man, I have all the feelings about this one, and I want to… Read more »

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Classic Readalong: To Kill a Mockingbird

Classic Readalong: To Kill a Mockingbird

When the news of a long-hidden sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird was announced, we decided to reread it together as a refresher before Go Set a Watchman is released. Please join the discussion below!Our backgrounds with the book Wendy: I loved this book when I read it in high school, though I have to admit that in the years since, I associate it strongly with the film. It’s one of those cases where the movie captured the ideals and feel of the source material so well that I think of them almost interchangeably. And with this re-read, I listened to the audiobook performed by  Sissy Spacek, which was wonderful! So now I’ll forever remember all three things as perfectly complementary. Layla: I … don’t think I’d read this book before! Which is weird, because I felt like I had at some point, but then, as I was reading this, recognized… Read more »

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The Carnival at Bray: Review

The Carnival at Bray: Review

The Carnival at Bray is the coming of age story of Maggie, a 16 year old American who, in 1994, finds herself suddenly moved to a remote Irish town. Is 1994 historical? I would say more yes than no. The time is sufficiently removed from ours with the biggest difference being that Maggie doesn’t have the luxury of Skype, Facebook, and all the modern conveniences of connection. Her isolation from her old life is near complete. An ocean removed from her family, it’s a void that she spends the book looking to fill. Being a teenager is often tough at the best of times. When you’ve been completely removed from everything you know this only becomes that much harder. Bray is the sort of misty, coastal Irish town that could drown you in its dreary isolation and Maggie feels it keenly. She makes a few attempts at friendships with classmates,… Read more »

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The Game of Love and Death: Review

The Game of Love and Death: Review

The Game of Love and Death is perilous indeed. This is one where I shouldn’t reveal too much of how the book unfolds as it is best left to the reader to discover all of the mysteries and intricacies on their own. At its core this novel is a reflection on love, and loving, and life. On what it means to love, and what it means to love in the face of overwhelming obstacles. “Someday, everyone you love will die. Everything you love will crumble to ruin. This is the price of life. This is the price of love. It is the only ending for every true story.” This is the story of Flora Saudade and Henry Bishop. Two people who are kept apart by the standards of their time, but also by the very forces of Love and Death themselves. It is a heart achingly beautiful story and one… Read more »

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