Historical Fiction

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

The Beantown GirlsThe Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I feel like I say that a lot… and I guess I have considering I’ve won 21 Goodreads giveaways in the last year. P.S. I feel pretty good about that outcome.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again… if you win a book giveaway, you should give it your best effort to read and review it. That’s kind of the point of publishers/authors/influencers hosting the giveaways in the first place. So here I am reviewing the 12th book of my 21 giveaway copies, The Beantown Girls.

One of my favorite things about reading historical fiction is learning pieces of history I otherwise wouldn’t have known existed. I always find it fascinating. And I particularly love historical fiction centered around WWII. The Beantown Girls, while not a true story, is based on the real lives of the girls who volunteered to work for the Red Cross Clubmobile during WWII. These women signed up to go overseas to an active war zone to support the troops on the front lines by entertaining them, serving them coffee and doughnuts, and attempting to lift their spirits in times of despair. In essence, they were a little taste of home for the homesick men fighting for our country.

I had absolutely no idea that the Red Cross Clubmobile existed. It was so wonderful learning about this program and what it meant to the troops at the time. My Gramma and Grandpa Tocco served in the military, performing for the troops in the Army Showmobile. This book totally reminded me of the stories my Gramma told me growing up of her previous life as an entertainer.

Jane Healey’s writing transported me to London, occupied France, and Germany. I felt like I was right in the middle of the war zone and I could picture all of the scenes in the book with crystal clear vision. The writing was incredibly well done. I also loved the characters she created. The three main women central to the story are Fiona, Dottie, and Viv who all had their own unique and distinct personalities. They were lovely characters to get to know. Not to mention all the other characters I met along the way who were equally well written.

I always love a book about strong women and this was no exception. I would highly recommend to lovers of historical fiction. The story was sweet, sad, endearing, heartfelt, and a joy to read. Five big stars!

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Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Reese Witherspoon's Book Club

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night TigerThe Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Expected publication Tuesday! Pre-order from Amazon here!

Book #2 “in the books” for the Booksparks Winter Reading Challenge! #WRC2019

The Night Tiger was…. interesting. I can’t sit here and say that it worked for me because in all honesty, it didn’t. This book had all the makings of a wonderful story. Rooted in magical realism, there was a mystical quality to the writing. There was a murder mystery. There was a love story. All the things that I would expect from a fantastic novel. But unfortunately, they didn’t all mesh that well together for me. There was a lot of fuss over a severed finger that I just didn’t understand or connect with. And the love story was a tad “icky.”

That being said, there were some qualities that I could appreciate that are worth mentioning. I did like the overall writing style of Yangsze Choo, and although I didn’t connect personally with the mystical elements, I could appreciate that the story was deeply rooted in folklore. In addition, I really enjoyed getting to know Ji Lin, the main character, and really connected to her as a character.

While this one didn’t blow me away, I’ve seen plenty of reviews from others who absolutely LOVED this book, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you like folk stories with a touch of fantasy.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Yangsze Choo, and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to review.-

On to Book #3 of the Winter Reading Challenge, Me For You by Lolly Winston!

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of AuschwitzThe Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I mean how do you not give a book about The Holocaust 5 stars? Really. They’re always so devastating and emotional and make me want to curl up in a ball and cry thinking about the destruction done to innocent people’s lives.

Let me just stop and put something into perspective for a second. A study was published in 2018 that found that 66% of U.S. millennials and 41% of U.S. adults could not explain the significance of Auschwitz. That’s absolutely disgraceful. And if you’re part of that statistic, it’s really important that you pick up this book immediately and start reading. If you’re not part of that statistic, you should still pick it up because it’s a fantastic read.

But that sentiment aside, this book would have received 5 stars from me regardless of how I feel about the content. Because it was a beautiful story with extraordinary writing. While this is a work of historical fiction, it is based on the true story of Lale Sokolov, a Jew who was interned at Auschwitz from 1942 to 1945. It tells of Lale’s experience as the the Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with marking his fellow prisoners. It tells of his survival but it also tells the story of how he fell in love with Gita, prisoner number 34902, and did everything he could to keep their spirits alive while withstanding unimaginable conditions.

I can’t rave enough about this book. If I can give you one piece of advice, it would be to listen to the audibook. The narrator is fantastic and makes you feel as if you’re transported back to the 1940’s living through Lale’s life with him. Plus, there are several words that I know I would have mispronounced had I read instead of listened. At only a little over 7 hours, it’s a short audiobook and a quick listen.

Please give this book a try if you’re at all interested in historical fiction. It’s superb. While The Nightingale is still my favorite WWII story of all time, this is probably a close second.

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Romance

Giant by Edna Ferber

GiantGiant by Edna Ferber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, how did I happen to read a book published in 1952? Let me tell you. While reading Where the Crawdads Sing, I could not stop thinking about how it reminded me of my Grandma Tocco. I felt compelled to send her a copy to read. In our conversation about Where the Crawdads Sing, my grandma said to me, “Have you read anything by Edna Ferber? She’s one of my favorite authors!” As I hadn’t, she recommended that I read Giant so I added it to the list.

I’m not going to lie, I almost did not get past the first 4 or 5 chapters. The writing is so different from anything I would typically read which is likely a product of the decade in which it was published. Let’s just say that the writing is very “vintage.” It was not a quick read. If I were to read it aloud, the language just would not roll off the tongue.

However, I stuck with it and started to develop relationships with the characters. I began to understand the relationships of the characters and their motivations. And eventually, I was invested in their stories.

Giant is about the life of Leslie and Jordan “Bick” Benedict on enormous Reata Ranch in the heart of Texas from the 1930s to the 1950s. And if I can say anything about this book, it oozed Texas. The ranches, the cattle, the size, the culture, and the economic transition from one rooted on agriculture to one thriving from oil. It was Texas through and through.

What did I not like about it? It was slowwwwwww and longggggggg. There were times when I felt like the book could have benefited from editing out about 100 pages and moving the story faster. It would eventually pick up, but then would fall back into a lull. And I guess I was a tad confused about the ending. The story just kind of stopped. I was hoping for more resolution.

Overall, it was not my favorite book ever but it was definitely not my least favorite book ever. It will live in that in between area of “just okay.” Sorry Gram!

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Reese Witherspoon's Book Club

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & the SixDaisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Expected Publication: March 5th!

ALL THE STARS!!! SERIOUSLY, FIVE IS NOT ENOUGH!

I adored this book so much. It is only the 6th day of 2019 and I would venture to say that this will probably be in the top 5 books I read this year, if not the best book I read this year. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a powerhouse. After reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I considered myself a fan of her storytelling. But Daisy Jones & the Six blows it out of the water.

Daisy Jones & the Six is a story about the fictional rock band… you guessed it… Daisy Jones & the Six. It tells the story of their rise to stardom and their later collapse. But the characters are the magic. The individual subplots are superb, and I was able to make a connection with each and every character in the book. I loved the way Taylor Jenkins Reid tied everything together with the ending expertly crafted and told. Although the entire story was fabulous, the last 10% of the book gave me all the feels and really brought it home for me.

The formatting was so unique and different. Written in the form of a transcript, with different characters telling their version of the story was super interesting. It also added a real element as everybody’s version of events was at times different, as they would be if actual people were telling their own accounts of the same story. And the humor. Perfectly placed. I found myself chuckling and laughing many times throughout. It was not overtly humorous by any means. But the way the author crafted conflicting accounts of certain events made me smile.

As this was a story about a rock band, there was mention of the various songs they wrote and performed. And not only did TJR allude to the band’s songs. She wrote them. At the back of the book are the lyrics of all ten songs for the reader to enjoy. Now if only we could have an accompanying soundtrack, my life would be complete. A girl can dream, right?

I will be recommending this book to everybody I know. And I have to thank BookSparks for helping a sista out with the request for this ARC. Hearts!

You will definitely want to preorder this one so click here to take yourself straight to Amazon and do it! This is one of the most highly anticipated books of the year, and I have a feeling it will be one of the most talked about after it is published.

-I was gifted an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to review.-

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