Historical Fiction

Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood

Keeping LucyKeeping Lucy by T. Greenwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I fell in love with T. Greenwood last year when I read Rust & Stardust. So I was very excited to read her newest book Keeping Lucy. While I don’t think it was quite as good, I still did enjoy it.

Let’s rewind several decades. Now imagine you give birth to a child with Down Syndrome and your husband sends the baby to an institution for the mentally impaired against your wishes. Now imagine you have an opportunity to reunite with your child but you see that the conditions at the institution are more atrocious than you could imagine. What would you do?

I enjoyed this story and felt like I could relate to the mother. This is a pretty heartbreaking story. But that being said, there were pieces that were perhaps a tad over the top or unbelievable which is why I ended up giving it 4 stars instead of 5. Overall, really enjoyable read.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, T. Greenwood, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

The Stars Are FireThe Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was the July pick for my book club. Genre: historical fiction.

It’s a tad hard to summarize The Stars are Fire because it’s kind of just an ongoing series of events. I didn’t really feel like it had a hook that drew me in and kept me wanting more. It was kind of just a story about a woman’s life from Point A to Point B.

Grace has a husband and two kids. Her husband is kind of a jerk. One day a fire takes over her home and her husband goes missing. Alone with two children she finds herself trying to start over. But as an isolated and sheltered housewife she will need to learn a whole set of life skills she hasn’t previously had to use.

The story was good and interesting so please don’t interpret my previous statements as overtly negative. I enjoyed the characters and appreciated their lives as told by the author. But, I did find myself losing interest along the way due to the lack of overall direction.

In addition, other than being set in the 1940’s it didn’t feel all that “historical.” Removing some of the references to the past, this story could have taken place in present day.

All in all, this one was just okay for me. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it.

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid SunsA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is utterly life changing and I’m:

1. Sad that it took me so long to read it, and;
2. Pleasantly surprised that it was written by a man.

In one of the book-oriented groups I participate in on Facebook, somebody asked if her teenage daughter should read The Nightingale or A Thousand Splendid Suns for one of their high school classes. As The Nightingale is my favorite book of all time and I had never read A Thousand Splendid Suns, I was quick to recommend the former. But after reading the recommendations of others, several people remarked that young adults are provided with a plethora of information about WWII, but rarely are they given an in depth look at the struggles in the Middle East. I thought that was an excellent point, and decided to read the book for myself to learn more.

Wow, was I pleasantly surprised. This book really details the struggles of the Afghani people over the 3 decades leaving up to the tragedy on September 11th, 2001. How the Soviet Union played a role in shaping the country. How the Taliban slowly took power and wreaked havoc on the people of Afghanistan. And mostly, how the women of the country were affected. This is probably my favorite part of the book… the deep dive into how women endured and survived through horrific oppression and abuse. And I could not believe that it was written by a man. Incredibly impressive writing from Khaled Hosseini.

The story tells of a young woman who was born out of wedlock and is therefore not claimed by her father. At the age of 15, a marriage is arranged with a much older man named Rasheed who is horrendously abusive and she is shipped off to the city of Kabul. Meanwhile, a baby girl is born down the street. 14 years later, as the fighting escalates in Kabul, the baby-girl-turned-young-woman also finds herself the victim of Rasheed’s tyranny. The story revolves around the two women, their relationship, and how they withstood their awful circumstances in Afghanistan.

This book really gave me a glimpse into how lucky I am to have been born in America. It gives me an incredible respect for people who live in countries that must endure oppressive governments, horrific violence and abuse, and years of injustice. I think those who commented on the Facebook post that prompted me to read this book were absolutely right; this is an important book for young adults to read and understand. Although I must warn that there are significant potential triggers in the book including: rape, domestic violence, abuse, etc.

I know I’m late to the party on this one, but if you haven’t already read it, I would highly recommend it. It’s absolutely eye opening.

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

BethlehemBethlehem by Karen Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out July 9th! Pre-order from Amazon here!

Bravo to my fellow Vanderbilt graduate, Karen Kelly, on a beautifully written novel!

This one is a sweeping family drama that takes place over several generations. In this way, it reminded me of Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter or Sarah Blake’s The Guest Book, both of which I adored. So I’m happy to be able to add Bethlehem to these incredible titles.

A woman and her family move into her husband’s family home to watch over his mother and grandmother after his father passes away. And family secrets will be revealed as the past is uncovered. I’m hesitant to give any more of a synopsis because you need to read this one for yourself to appreciate Karen Kelly’s storytelling.

The one thing that was a tad difficult for me was getting all of the names and relationships straight for the first 20% or so of the book. But, there is a really nice family tree drawn in the front of the book that helped me get everything straight. Once I had a handle on the family relationships and dynamics, it was smooth sailing the rest of the book.

I would highly recommend if you tend to like sweeping family dramas!

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Karen Kelly, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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Historical Fiction

The Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad

The Long Flight HomeThe Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out June 25th! Pre-order from Amazon here!

One of my favorite things about historical fiction is that virtually every time I read something in the genre, I learn something new. Alan Hlad’s The Long Flight Home is no exception. I was fascinated to learn that during WWII, the British dropped 200,000 homing pigeons into Nazi-occupied France in an attempt to get intelligence back to Britain from behind enemy lines. Although this story is fiction, I loved Hlad’s use of historical elements to enhance the fictional story line.

Ollie is an American who lives a (for lack of a better word) pitiful life. His parents passed away. He was robbed. He has no assets to his name. But as a pilot dusting crops on his father’s farm, he feels he can contribute to the fight in Britain. America hasn’t entered the war yet (we’re in the late 1930’s) so he travels overseas to lend a hand. But rather than flying, he ends up working with the National Pigeon Service, a less than glamorous assignment. That is until he meets the beautiful pigeon trainer, Susan.

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I just adored the characters in this book. I cannot imagine the horrific things the British people enduring during The Blitz. Relentless bombing. Countless civilian casualties. Unbelievable destruction. The resilience displayed in this book was heartwarming.

Hlad was also able to built quite a bit of suspense throughout the novel. Several of the characters found themselves in challenging situations that kept me flipping page after page. I couldn’t wait to discover the outcome for our protagonists.

Overall, I adored this book. It was wonderful to learn yet another little morsel about WWII that I hadn’t yet. And to be told in such a beautiful way. Bravo to Alan Hlad. You’ve got a new fan in me.

I won an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own. Thank you to Alan Hlad and Kensington Publishing for hosting the giveaway.

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