Lovely War: A Review

January 24, 2020

 Lovely War: by Julie Berry

Lovely War cover

Genre/Categories: YA Historical Fiction, WW1, Romance/Love Story, Mythology

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Love and war….

During the years of WW1, Hazel, a shy and talented pianist meets James, a handsome soldier, at a dance. He’s shipping out to the front in a week. Is this enough time to fall in love? Two more characters round out the cast: Colette, a gifted singer from Belgium, and Aubrey, a member of the all African-American regiment and a gifted musician. The Greek gods narrate this story of love, music, and war.

My Thoughts:

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Lady Clementine: A Review

January 10, 2020

 Lady Clementine: by Marie Benedict

Lady Clementine review

Genre/Categories: Biographical Historical Fiction, WW1 and WW11, England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thanks #netgalley #sourcebooks #sbkslandmark for a free e ARC of #ladyclementine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary:

Clementine Churchill is the devoted wife, partner, and best friend of Winston Churchill. Lady Clementine is brilliant, ambitious, innovative, and fascinating, and she devotes all her energy and loyalty to her husband and country.

My Thoughts:

An underappreciated woman in history….

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Bookish Themed Hanukkah: Eighth Candle: Complete Miracle #eightcandlebooktag

December 27, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: Eighth Candle–Complete Miracle

#eightcandlebooktag

8 candles of hanukkah

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today with Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends. This is the final post for #eightcandlebooktag  I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them!

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(find my first candle here, find my second candle here, third candle here, fourth here, fifth here, sixth candle here, seventh candle here)

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!

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Eighth Candle: Complete Miracle

A book that made you say “WOW” when you’d finished reading it.

Well, today’s prompt is easy! The last book that made me say “WOW” and gave me a book hangover is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. See my full review below.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

For today’s post, I’m choosing to highlight the memorable and unputdownable The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

My Summary:

In the 1930s, nineteen-year-old Cussy Carter and her father live in the isolated woods of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. They are the last of the “blue people” of Kentucky and endure racism and prejudice because of the blue hue of their skin. They are considered “colored.” Dad risks his life and health working long hours in the coal mines and Cussy takes a government job with the historical Pack Horse Library Project. As a “librarian,” she travels across treacherous mountains and dangerous creeks on her mule, Junia, to deliver books and other reading materials to the mountain folk who have few resources. She does what she can to meet their most dire needs. Incidentally, she doesn’t cuss! (She’s named after a town in France.)

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Bookish Themed Hanukkah: Seventh Candle: All Colors of the Rainbow #eightcandlebooktag

December 27, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: Seventh Candle–All Colors of the Rainbow

#eightcandlebooktag

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today with Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends.  #eightcandlebooktag  Join us! (find my first candle here, find my second candle here, third candle here, fourth here, fifth here, sixth candle here)

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!

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Seventh Candle: All the Colors of the Rainbow

A book that just thinking about it makes you feel hopeful and happy, like seeing a rainbow after the rain.

Davida’s prompt today is difficult because I just realized that I read a great deal of sad and difficult books! (the hazards of historical fiction!) One reason I like to mix up my histic read with an occasional Middle-Grade read is that MG always has hopeful endings! The Vanderbeekers is probably the happiest Middle-Grade book I’ve read!

In adult fiction, though, it’s difficult for me to identify an overall happy book because my preferences lean toward histfic, complicated family drama, and memoirs. As I perused my Goodreads shelves, one book kept begging for my attention: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Simply seeing the title makes me feel like I’m greating an old friend and elicits a smile!

Guernsey

For today’s post, I’m choosing to highlight the delightful The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Amazon Summary:

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Author Annie Barrows in her own words.

My Thoughts:

I haven’t written a full review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so I’ll list some bullet points to share the reasons why I love this book:

  • Epistolary format: I love books written in this format because it helps me appreciate the beautiful and gentle art of old fashioned letter writing! Other books I love in epistolary format include The Last Christmas in Paris, 84 Charing Cross Road, Meet Me at the Museum, and The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.
  • Book Club and Books About Books: A heartwarming aspect of the story is the inadvertent formation of a book club and the resulting book talk! When caught out after curfew by the Germans, Elizabeth claims to have been at a book club meeting. So a book club was hastily organized to authenticate her cover story! The members are not typical book club members, and it’s quite charming how it all comes together.
  • Potato Peel Pie: Of course, an important consideration of a book club meeting is the snacks! Thus Potato Peel Pie was invented from their meager resources.
  • Characters: In this story, you will find unique, quirky, and lovable characters! Part of the charm is the close and loyal community they create.
  • Found Family: This story includes one of my favorite themes which is found family.
  • Multiple Perspectives: I love stories with multiple perspectives and this includes several! You might need to take notes at first to keep everyone straight. I did love hearing first hand from the cast of unique characters..
  • Dual Timelines: I enjoy a dual timeline if they are well written and they intersect smoothly.
  • Gentle and Charming: If you don’t read histfic, this might be an excellent book to nudge you into that genre!
  • Themes of Love: This does include a traditional love story thread (friends to lovers), but it’s also a story of a child loved by the community, and a story of how community members form a close bond.
  • Hopeful: One reason this story has stayed with me through the years is the good feelings that it provoked during and after reading. I love that in dire circumstances, people can still come together to form something lovely, meaningful, and life-sustaining. The members of the book club respect each other’s differences and support each other in every way.

Favorite Quote:

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”

Recommended!

With enthusiasm, I highly recommend Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for fans of epistolary novels, for readers who are looking for a light histic read, and for all those who appreciate charming and heartwarming stories. It’s on my lifetime favorites list, and it would make a terrific selection for a book club discussion. Plus, you can watch the excellent Netflix film adaptation together! Watch the trailer here.

My Rating: 5 stars

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Guernsey

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Information

Meet the Authors, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Mary Ann Shaffer (seated in foreground) passed away before she finished this novel, and her niece, Annie Barrows stepped in to finish the work and take it to publication.

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Mary Ann Shaffer (seated in foreground) who passed away in February 2008, worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel.

Annie Barrows is the co-author, with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, published by the Dial Press in 2008. An international best-seller, translated into 38 languages, the novel was adapted into a feature film in 2018. Her best-selling second novel, The Truth According to Us, was published in 2015. Annie lives in Berkeley, California, with her family.

Author Annie Barrows in her own words.



QOTD!

Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society or is it on your TBR?



ICYMI

I have finished my Fall TBR!
(just in time to begin my Winter TBR!)

Winter 2019 TBR

My Nonfiction November Posts:
2019 Nonfiction Reads
Nonfiction and Racial Injustice
Nonfiction/Fiction Pairings
Favorite Nonfiction Books
2020 Nonfiction TBR
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Ten Favorite Historical Fiction Reads of the Decade

December 27, 2019

Can you name your top ten favorite books in your favorite genre?

favorite histfic reads of the decade

Ten Favorite Historical Fiction Reads of the Decade

How many of these titles have you read and loved? Are you a histfic fan?

I have a lengthy list of hisfic favorites….these are especially memorable and ALL received a solid 5 Stars from me!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

(in no particular order)

my dear hamilton

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

I love the (less public) story of the determined, smart, influential, and driven woman who was Alexander Hamilton’s wife, partner, and best friend. America’s First Daughter by the same authors is also excellent.
My review here.


From Sand and Ash

we were the lucky ones

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
and We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

(I read these almost back to back and because of the themes I always think of them together….so this is my sneaky trick to include one more!)
Themes make these stories memorable: I love the theme of faith in Sand and Ash; in We Were the Lucky Ones, I love the themes of family and faith….especially the beautiful ending). Sand and Ash review here. We Were the Lucky Ones review here.


invention of wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I love this imagined story of two brave women who were early pioneers in the abolitionist movement. Review here.


News of the World

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

I love the theme of found family and the moral dilemma at the story’s end of doing the right thing versus doing things right. I also love the beautiful prose. Brief review in this post.


Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I love the compelling themes of determination and survival. Brief review in this post.


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Bookish Themed Hanukkah: Fifth Candle: Five-Day Work Week #eightcandlebooktag

December 26, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: Fifth Candle–Five-Day Work Week

#eightcandlebooktag

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today and for the next few days with Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends.  #eightcandlebooktag  Join us! (find my first candle here, find my second candle here, third candle here, fourth here)

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!

8th-candle

 

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Fifth Candle: Five-Day Work Week

A book that you felt reading it was hard work, but you were glad you kept at it and finished reading it.

I read a great deal of historical fiction, and some books feel hard to read for me because of their length and/or the amount of dense historical details. Some examples are Prairie Fires, Ribbons of Scarlet, Resistance Women, and Island of Sea Women. (titles are links to my reviews)

For today’s post, I’m choosing to highlight A Gentleman in Moscow.

  A Gentleman in Moscow felt like work to read, but when I finished, I was glad I read it. I know some readers who bailed on it. For me the quality of the masterful writing, the thoughtful themes, and the character of the Count encouraged me to hang in for the duration. I’m especially glad I stuck with it because the end was quite satisfying! Whenever I read books like this, I break the reading up into chunks and set it aside for a while to read other more engaging titles.

A Gentleman in Moscow

I haven’t written a full review of Gentleman in Moscow, but I’ll include a few bullet points here:

What I loved:

  • beautifully written literary fiction
  • well-researched, Russian history
  • thoughtful themes, including how to live a good life despite our circumstances
  • a heartwarming story of found family
  • well-developed characters
  • a charming, likable, sophisticated, kind, gracious, and honorable main character
  • a unique premise

What You Need to Know

  • character-driven narrative (for some readers this is most desirable)
  • lack of plot (with the exception of the ending which involves some excitement!)
  • not for speed readers (this is one to savor line by line)

A Gentleman in Moscow is definitely worth the read and a book I would recommend to the right reader:

  • someone who is a fan of beautifully written character-driven literary fiction
  • someone who enjoys Russian history
  • someone who appreciates thoughtful themes, reflective writing, and a wonderful main character

My Rating: 4 stars

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A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow Information

Meet the Author, Amor Towles

Amor TowlesBorn and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University. Having worked as an investment professional in Manhattan for over twenty years, he now devotes himself full time to writing. His first novel, Rules of Civility, published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback and was ranked by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011. The book was optioned by Lionsgate to be made into a feature film and its French translation received the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald. His second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, published in 2016, was also a New York Times bestseller and was ranked as one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the St. Louis Dispatch, and NPR. Both novels have been translated into over fifteen languages.

Mr. Towles, who lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children, is an ardent fan of early 20th century painting, 1950’s jazz, 1970’s cop shows, rock & roll on vinyl, obsolete accessories, manifestoes, breakfast pastries, pasta, liquor, snow-days, Tuscany, Provence, Disneyland, Hollywood, the cast of Casablanca, 007, Captain Kirk, Bob Dylan (early, mid, and late phases), the wee hours, card games, cafés, and the cookies made by both of his grandmothers.



QOTD!

Have you read A Gentleman in Moscow or is it on your TBR?

Have you read his first book, Rules of Civility?



ICYMI

I have finished my Fall TBR!
(just in time to begin my Winter TBR!)

Winter 2019 TBR

My Nonfiction November Posts:
2019 Nonfiction Reads
Nonfiction and Racial Injustice
Nonfiction/Fiction Pairings
Favorite Nonfiction Books
2020 Nonfiction TBR
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Bookish Themed Hanukkah: First Candle: All Alone #eightcandlebooktag

December 22, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: First Candle–All Alone

#eightcandlebooktag

 

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today and for the next seven days with The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends.  #eightcandlebooktag  Join us!

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!

8th-candle

 

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First Candle: All Alone

A book you love, but one that no one else seems to know anything about.

One book that comes to mind for today’s topic is The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe. Have you heard of it? I loved it when I read it, but I don’t know anyone else who has read it. Let me know in the comments!

The Gilded Years

Summary:

The Gilded Years shares the important and compelling experiences of Anita Hemmings and her dream of attending an exclusive school for women, Vassar College, in the late 1890s. To accomplish this extraordinary feat and pursue her chance for a better life, Anita must pass for white. It is interesting to me how her family and community support her in the implementation of her decision and work to protect her as she lives it out. At first, Anita maintains a distance from her college peers. However, as the years pass and Anita becomes friends with her socialite roommate from a prominent family in New York, the risk of discovery grows greater. Can she maintain her assumed identify? Will she graduate?

The choice:

For me, the most interesting part of The Gilded Years is the tension that develops between Anita and one of her dear friends who decides to live fully as an African-American, embrace her ethnic identity and heritage, and openly fight for equal rights. Which one of the young women chose the best path? Both decisions are difficult in their own ways and filled with sacrifices and joys. Through their two stories, the reader is presented with two viewpoints and experiences. What would you or I have done given that choice? Which choice helped further equal treatment for African-Americans? Was Anita’s choice a set back for African Americans? Or did she have every right to think of her own life first? Did her success as a student help the African-American cause by proving that an African-American can compete equally at Vassar?

Bottom Line:

Although The Gilded Years is compelling and emotional, the writing could be stronger. For me, a captivating story that addresses strong themes of hope, sacrifice, betrayal, loyalty, family, taking risks, life choices, and friendship makes for a memorable, important, and inspiring read. It would generate an excellent book club discussion and make a great movie!

Recommended?

I highly recommend The Gilded Years for readers looking for an inspirational and interesting read in anticipation of February’s African-American History Month, for readers who enjoy compelling stories about strong, brave, independent women, for book clubs, and for readers who enjoy diverse reads and stories written from a different perspective.

Amazon Rating (December): 4.2 Stars

My Rating: 4 stars

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The Gilded Years

The Gilded Years Information

Meet the Author, Karin Tanabe

Karen TanabeKarin Tanabe is a fiction writer and former Politico reporter whose writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post among many other publications. Before turning to fiction, Karin worked as a journalist covering politics and celebrities. She has made frequent appearances on Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition and CNN. A graduate of Vassar College, she lives in Washington D.C.



QOTD!

Have you heard of this book?

Have you read The Gilded Years



ICYMI

I have finished my Fall TBR!
(just in time to begin my Winter TBR!)

Winter 2019 TBR

My Nonfiction November Posts:
2019 Nonfiction Reads
Nonfiction and Racial Injustice
Nonfiction/Fiction Pairings
Favorite Nonfiction Books
2020 Nonfiction TBR
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo: A Review

December 5, 2019

 The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

The Beekeeper of Aleppo Review.jpg

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Family, Refugees, Syria

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

A compelling story of love, loss, hope, and compassion…

Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife Afra, an artist, live happily with their son in beautiful Aleppo. They enjoy a quiet and peaceful life and value the friendship of close friends and extended family. Suddenly, their lives are turned upside down by war and, out of desperation, they make a decision to flee Syria. What Afra has experienced and seen causes her to go blind, complicating their journey through Turkey and Greece to get to Britain. On this risky and uncertain journey, they must learn to survive in unpredictable situations, to deal with their loss, to trust each other, to depend on the kindness and compassion of strangers, and to keep their hope alive.

Syria Conflict: What’s Happening in Aleppo

Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:

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The Stationery Shop: A Review

November 22, 2019

 The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

The Stationery Shop Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Romantic Fiction, Romance, Family Life, Iran

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Complicated families…..soul mates…..resilience…..

Summary:

In 1953, two teenagers meet in Mr. Fakhri’s Stationary Shop in Tehran. Roya loves the fountain pens, shiny ink bottles, and the thick, lovely writing paper while Bahman loves Rumi’s poetry and is an activist. They share a love of poetry and continue to meet in the Stationery Shop while their romance grows. Their happy life together is complicated by family tension and political unrest.

My Thoughts:

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Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women: A Review

November 14, 2019

 Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, and E. Knight

Ribbons of Scarlet Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, French Revolution, France

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!

Six masterful storytellers collaborate to share the experiences of seven unforgettable women of The French Revolution. During the Revolution, these courageous and determined women felt compelled to speak up and exert their influence wherever they could. Even though these are six separate stories, some passionate convictions and ideas connect them.

My Thoughts:

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