Hamnet [Book Review]

September 25, 2020

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell (cover) Image: portrait of a young boy in a felt hat....a quill lies horizontally over his eyes

Genre/Categories: Historical and Biographical Literary Fiction, Family Life, Magical Realism

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

TW: Review mentions the death of a child.

Summary:

Hamnet is set in 1580s Warwickshire, England and is the highly imagined story of William Shakespeare’s family, especially his son, Hamnet, and his wife, Agnes (Anne). It’s the story of a marriage and family. Shakespeare and Agnes had three children. It’s also a story of grief as we know from history that Hamnet dies. O’Farrell imagines that he might have died as a result of the 1550s plague. William Shakespeare is “off-stage” for the majority of the story and is never mentioned by name (referred to as husband, father, etc.). This centers Agnes (and the children) as the main character of the story and grief as the main theme. Agnes is a beautiful woman who has some supernatural gifts of healing with herbs, is entirely devoted to family, and frequently experiences glimpses into the future.

My Thoughts:

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My Dear Hamilton [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 10, 2020

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
#throwbackthursday

My Dear Hamilton Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, U.S. History, Revolutionary War, Founders, Biographical

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, a story of Eliza Hamilton’s extraordinary contributions…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…strong, independent, faithful, compassionate…

My Summary:

“A general’s daughter, Elizabeth Schuyler meets and marries Alexander Hamilton amid the union’s fight for independence and the uncertainties of war. Eliza and Alexander find themselves establishing their life together at the same time as they are at the center of our nation’s founding. Authors Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to imagine Eliza’s story as a patriot, loving wife, political partner, loyal friend, supportive sister, and devoted mother of eight.”

Continue here for my review of My Dear Hamilton

QOTD: Have you read My Dear Hamilton or is it on your TBR?

The Lions of Fifth Avenue [Book Review]

September 4, 2020

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis (cover) Image: a woman in a yellow dress stands with an open book inside a large museum type room

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, New York City

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Told in two timelines, The Lions of Fifth Avenue tells the stories of Laura Lyons (1913) and Sadie Donovan (1993) and their experiences at the New York City Public Library. In 1913, Laura’s husband is the superintendent of the library and their family actually lives in an apartment inside the library. Laura wants more from life and is bored at home with her two children, so she enrolls in journalism school and becomes involved with a radical group of  women feminists meeting in Greenwich Village. Meanwhile, valuable books are stolen from the library and her family is under suspicion. In 1993, Sadie is the Curator at the New York City Public Library and also shares a secret connection with the famous essayist, Laura Lyons. The library experiences the theft of a few valuable pieces and Sadie’s job is in jeopardy. Truths come to light regarding Sadie’s family history as the case is investigated.

My Thoughts:

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We Were the Lucky Ones [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

August 20, 2020

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for
#throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter, an engaging and heartfelt story about family and faith

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (cover) Image: a black and white photo of a man and woman sitting in metal garden chairs with backs to the camera

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…family and faith…

My Summary:

“In the spring of 1939, the extended Kurc family is living a modest and happy life in Radom, Poland. In the midst of joyful family celebrations, however, there is increased talk of the mistreatment of Jews. Soon the entire close-knit Kurc family faces separation, makes attempts to flee, and desperately focuses on safety and survival. Family members share a will to survive and seeing one another again is their greatest goal. Through cleverness, determination, faith, hope, and hardship they endure.”

Continue here for my review of We Were the Lucky Ones

QOTD: Have you read We Were the Lucky Ones or is it on your TBR?

Paris Never Leaves You [Book Review] #blogtour

August 4, 2020

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman (cover) Image: a young woman in a dressy white dress sits looking pensively to the side, the Eiffel Tower is seen through an open window

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, France

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour celebrating the release of #parisneverleavesyou by Ellen Feldman. Thanks, Maria Vitale, #stmartinspress, and #netgalley for a complimentary e ARC. All opinions in this review are my own.

Paris Never Leaves You Blog Tour Banner

Summary:

Survivor’s guilt ….

Charlotte, a young French widow, lives through WW11 while working in a Paris bookstore with her friend, Simone. Charlotte has an eighteen-month-old daughter which she brings to the shop with her. Conditions are difficult: food is rationed, the food lines are long, the possibility of stocking banned books is worrisome, and the German soldiers are intimidating. Charlotte makes decisions that allow her to survive but these decisions haunt her long after she has escaped Paris and left the war years behind. Told in dual timelines, the story alternates between the war years and Charlotte’s current life in New York City (the 1950s). She keeps many secrets because she still fears being charged as a collaborator as a result of the decisions she made to survive. In addition to her fears, she also experiences survivor’s guilt as she remembers her past. Paris never leaves you.

My Thoughts:

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The Book of Lost Names [Book Review]

July 21, 2020

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (cover) Image: a young woman with her back to the camera stands on a bridge overlooking the Eiffel Tower holding an old book behind her back

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, France

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Inspired by true stories from WW11, a young Jewish woman who flees Paris with her mother after the arrest of her father finds herself committing to a forgery ring whose primary goal is to create documents that will help hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis. The story is told in dual timelines from the present-day perspective of Eva who is a semi-retired librarian living in Florida and the young Eva as she flees Paris and joins an underground forgery operation in a small mountain town near the Switzerland border. The Book of Lost Names becomes an important link between the two timelines.

My Thoughts:

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The Mountains Sing [Book Review]

July 10, 2020

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Family Life, Vietnamese

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Mountains Sing is a multi-generational story of the Tran family told in dual timelines and points of view. We learn about the 20th Century history of Viet Nam as events are integrated into the personal family story. Present-day events are told by the granddaughter and the family’s backstory is told by the grandmother. The story is filled with rich historical details, vivid descriptions, and lyrical writing. We experience the history of Viet Nam from the viewpoint of the Vietnamese people and specifically from the viewpoint of the Tran family. A compelling story of ordinary, beautiful people and a country torn apart by war.

My Thoughts:

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Last Christmas in Paris [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 2, 2020

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb….an endearing love story with a WW1 backdrop. I must note before starting that these Throw Back Thursday posts are like visiting old, dear friends and today’s story is on my lifetime favorites list…so, it’s a special joy to introduce you to this lovely story!

War changes everything…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb cover (image: a packet of old letters tied with a red ribbon in the foreground and a partical view of the Eifel Tower in the background)

Genre/Categories: historical fiction (WW 1), epistolary, war, romantic

My Summary:

At the beginning of WW 1 as Evie watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas, leave for the front, she (and nearly everyone) naively believes the war will be over by Christmas. To keep their spirits up, the three make plans for celebrating Christmas in Paris. The Great War, as we know from history, turned out much differently. While Thomas and Will struggle with the horrific realities of war, Evie does her part by writing to each of them. Through letters, Evie and Thomas grow fond of each other and find it easy to share their deepest hopes and fears through letters. Evie is a high-spirited, determined, and independent young woman who wants to more fully participate in the war effort. Through her interests in writing, she writes columns for a newspaper on the topic of war from a woman’s point of view. These columns become more controversial as she finds it difficult to write anything but the truth. Eventually, she travels to France to be closer to the front as she wants to contribute to the war effort in a more significant way. Will Evie and Thomas and their love survive the war? Will they ever make it to Paris to celebrate Christmas?”

Continue here for my full review of Last Christmas in Paris

QOTD: Have you read Last Christmas in Paris or is it on your TBR?

Simon the Fiddler [Book Review]

June 26, 2020

Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles

Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles (cover) Image: a gold toned western landscape including a river

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Post-Civil War Southwest, Western

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

A diverse, scrappy, hard-working, risk-taking, and loyal group of four forms a band…and Simon pursues love.

Simon is the fiddler and leader, and other members include Doroteo (guitar player), Damon (whistle player), and Patrick (bodhran and bone player). On the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon notices a lovely Irish girl, Doris, who is an indentured servant and governess for a colonel’s daughter. Simon can’t forget Doris as his ragtag group travels Texas striving to put their lives back together at the end of the Civil War and build their reputation. He vows to find her again, rescue her from her dire situation, and propose.

an old fiddle

My Thoughts:

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The Other Alcott [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

June 18, 2020

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper….the imagined story of May Alcott (Amy).

Are you a fan of Little Women?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper (cover) Image: a young woman dressed in an old fashioned blue dress stands with back to the camera looking out over a city and holding a valise

Genre/Categories: historical fiction, women’s fiction, biographical, sisters

My Summary:

“If you’ve read Little Women, you are familiar with the author, Louisa May Alcott. It’s also well known that Miss Alcott’s family provided inspiration for the book and its colorful cast of characters. While many readers love spirited Jo March (the character based on the author Louisa May Alcott), Jo’s younger sister Amy March is not quite as popular with readers. In Elise Hooper’s new release and debut novel, The Other Alcott, the author reimagines the world of the Alcotts from the perspective of Louisa’s real-life younger sister, May (Amy in Little Women). Hooper’s story explores the relationship between Louisa and May which might have been fraught with jealousy, competition, and sibling rivalry.  Through Hooper’s storytelling, we follow May as she studies and travels abroad to carve out her own career as an artist in a man’s world at a time when women who wanted a career often had to forgo dreams of a family. Although the publication of Little Women substantially helps the struggling Alcott family financially, May experiences conflicting feelings about the way she was portrayed in the book through the character of Amy. Eventually, this causes May to want to distinguish her own life from the selfish, spirited, and spoiled character of Amy. So in real life, the optimistic, stylish, outgoing, and creative May pursues art in Boston and in Europe. At first, she is convicted about not working too hard (as she’s seen her sister do) because she also values happiness and enjoyment of life. This is a story of art, ambition, and of a brave, determined young woman finding her voice and establishing her identity.”

Continue here for my full review of The Other Alcott …

QOTD: Have you read The Other Alcott or is it on your TBR?