Posts Tagged ‘Historical’

Two Ticks Tuesday; Witch Born

Nicholas Bowling
It’s 1577. Queen Elizabeth I has imprisoned scheming Mary Queen of Scots, and Alyce’s mother is burned at the stake for witchcraft. Alyce kills the witchfinder and flees to London – but the chase isn’t over yet. As she discovers her own dark magic, powerful political forces are on her trail. She can’t help but wonder: why is she so important? Soon she finds herself deep in a secret battle between rival queens, the fate of England resting on her shoulders…

This was a perfect autumnal read, sitting warm and cosy under a blanket while our protagonist, Alyce found herself in ever more uncomfortable (usually cold and wet) and dangerous situations.

I really enjoyed how Bowling played with history, taking a very real and very tense political situation and very recognizable historical figures and deftly overlaying the fantasy elements of his story.

While I did studying the period way back when I was in school, it is a time I have spent very little time exploring in literature. I came away with a better sense of the period, of its struggles and general unpleasantness. Though I enjoyed my time visiting Bowling’s Elizabethan England I am very glad I don’t live there!

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: September 2017
Format: ARC
Pages: 368
Genre: Historical, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut author

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The Red Thread

Dawn Farnham

Set against the backdrop of 1830s Singapore where piracy, crime, triads, and tigers are commonplace, this historical romance follows the struggle of two lovers Zhen, a Chinese coolie and triad member, and Charlotte, an 18-year-old Scots woman and sister of Singapores Head of Police. Two cultures bound together by the invisible threads of fate yet separated by cultural diversity.

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
I have to admit that I love reading books that are full of culture. Books that describe places that I have never visited and may never visit. So when I heard about The Red Thread, I was instantly curious. Normally I am not a big historical fan but the draw of the vibrant Singaporian landscape drew me into giving this book a try and I am so glad it did. This is a very fascinating and beautiful novel. Dawn Farnham has done a brilliant job at creating an atmosphere in this book with unique writing that truly describes everything for the reader. It is informative and entertaining all at the same time. While the book is slow due to the vivid descriptions, this just makes the book more beautiful and lyrical. I was truly mesmerized by this book and cannot wait to read the next books in this series.

Who was your favourite character and why?
There is a vast array of characters in this book which can seem a bit confusing at times. In one chapter near the beginning, Dawn describes just a small portion of the characters and it takes up a fair few pages. But the main characters are all very interesting and alluring to read about. My favourite character was probably Charlotte. She is new to Singapore, moving to be with her brother and I found her to be a spectacular character. She was curious and interesting to follow throughout the book. I won’t say too much more as I do not wish to spoil it!

Would you recommend this book?
I would and I wouldn’t. It honestly depends who I was talking to. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a slow burner, someone who is willing to put time into a book and allow the beautiful narration to sink over them. However if you’re looking for a book with a fast, exciting plot then I definitely would not recommend this book. The Red Thread is perfect for readers who like to be truly transported.

One Sentence Summary (Verdict)
A beautiful, exotic and wonderfully written novel that will capture your heart.

The Red Thread is currently free on Amazon. You can get a copy by clicking here.

Publisher: Monsoon Books
Publication Date: April 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 328
Genre: Historical
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by Publisher
Challenge: None
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Miriam’s Secret

Debby Waldman
In 1930 nine-year-old Miriam travels by train from Brooklyn to her grandparents’ farm in upstate New York. Her grandparents are kind, generous people, but they aren’t exactly ideal playmates for a lonely girl. When Miriam is not doing homework in the kitchen with Bubby or helping prepare meals for the migrant workers that Zayde hires to help out on the farm, she plays with the barn kittens born just before she arrived. Those kittens are her only friends, until the day Miriam discovers a young girl hiding in the barn. Cissy and her brother, Joe, who’s one of Zayde’s farm hands, are on the run from an abusive uncle back in Mississippi. Miriam and Cissy hit it off immediately. But their friendship is tested when Miriam is forced to choose between keeping a promise and doing the right thing.What were your initial thoughts on the book?
My initial thoughts about the book were that this book was a totally different style and by a totally different author to what I usually read, which means that I may not like it, but I was wrong.

I really did enjoy the book more than I thought, it is one of my very favourites, and despite it having 25 long chapters I finished it in only 2 days. I wish I had cheeked how many chapters there were so I could have savoured each sentence carefully instead of reading for hours and hours like I always do!

Who was your favourite character and why?
I have two favourite characters, Mariam and Cissy, because they are both very easy to like. They are brave, kind and funny but their lives are very different. Mariam has a great life in a warm house with food to eat whenever she is hungry however not all of us have a home, food or water and one of these people in this book is Cissy.

Mariam and Cissy might have opposite lives but that makes them perfect for each other.

Would you recommend this book?
I would recommend this book to older readers around the age 10 or readers that enjoy books set in the past.

Summarize the book in one sentence.
A nice book about unexpected friendships that you will enjoy.

Reviewed by Jimena (11)

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: October 2017
Format: eBook
Pages: 192
Genre: Hystorical
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: None
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Bookish Brits Book Club: Witch Finder

In January the Bookish Brits Selected Ruth Warburton‘s Witch Finder as their Book Club read.
witch finder coverLondon. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.
Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.

Publisher: Hodder Children’s
Publication Date: January 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 374
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Age: YA
Reviewer: Bookish Brits
Source: Via Netgalley
Challenge: British book
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Treason (Secrets & Spies #1)

Jo Macauley
treasonFourteen-year-old Beth Johnson is a talented and beautiful young actress. She is also a spy. The year is 1664, and Charles II is on the throne, but all is not well in the bustling city of London, and there are those who would gladly kill the king and destroy the Monarchy. One morning, a mysterious ghost ship drifts up the Thames. Sent to investigate by the King’s Master of Secrets, Alan Strange, Beth quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous adventure. Will Beth be able to unravel the plot to kill the King before it’s too late?

Amazing! This book is very good for historical fiction novel devourers like me! So it’s 1664 and Beth is an actress at a theatre in London and a spy. She has been waiting for a while to get a good spying assignment and hopes that solving puzzles will help. The only problem is her arch enemy Benjamin Lovett is used to having the women parts in the plays but since the law changed, every theatre now needs a woman actor.

Being a spy is good, but that big assignment just hasn’t come yet and Beth is wondering if her Spymaster (Alan Strange) really doesn’t want her after all. So when she gets a call from him she rushes there to see what he wants. Her heart sinks as she gets assigned a ghost ship.

Meanwhile, John and his close friend William also go to investigate this Ghostship as he is a small junior Clerk and seeks adventure. Will disappears on the ship mysteriously, John is left alone. One day a pretty girl (aka Beth) turns up and asks him about the ship. Better together, they team up with a back street pickpocket and uncover the 2nd great gunpowder plot!

Will they save the king, rescue Will and warn everyone before it’s too late?

This book is very good and if you like historical novels this is definitely for you. This book is in the same genre as the ‘My Story’ series, although in my opinion not quite as good, but that is a lot to live up too! Definitely still worth a read though. I read this book in 4 hours and it was very good. Check out the others in the series: plague, inferno and New World.

Verdict: A very good book but may only appeal to a small age bracket (12-13 years)

Reviewed by Daisy (12)

Publisher: Curious Fox
Publication Date: June 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Genre: Historical, Adventure
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy (12)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut author
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In The Shadow Of Blackbirds

Cat Winters

shadow of backbirdsDoes proof of the spirit world exist?
It’s 1918. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, the government ships young men overseas to the front lines, and neighbor accuses neighbor of spying for the enemy. In this stew of fear and confusion, sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and “spirit photographers” for comfort. She has never believed in ghosts, but during her bleakest moment she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love – a boy who died in battle – returns to her as a spirit. Why has he returned? And what does he want from Mary Shelley?
Illustrated with haunting early-twentieth century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a time eerily like our own.

The story begins with a long train journey from Portland to San Diego. Mary Shelley is moving to live with her aunt because her father was arrested and her mother had passed away some time ago. The train stinks of onions (widely believed at the time to prevent flu), and everyone is hiding behind their masks, mortally afraid of every cough and sneeze. Mary Shelley passes the time reading letters from her sweetheart Stephen, who has gone to war in Europe. As an opening chapter, it’s a well thought out way to set the scene and atmosphere of paranoia without heavy exposition.

As the book continues, we meet her Aunt Eva, who lives with her pet magpie, Oberon, works in the local shipyard and seems to spend the rest of her time making onion soup to ward off the flu. Eva likes Stephen’s older brother Julius, a spirit photographer who Mary Shelley already clearly dislikes and believes is a fraud. Mary Shelley meets Mr Darning, another local photographer who specialises in debunking spirit photography, though has so far failed to find any trickery in Julius’ studio.

After getting to meet the characters, we learn that Stephen has been killed in battle, and this is where the book really gets started. As the back cover says, Stephen starts to appear as a ghost to Mary Shelley, seemingly terrified of birds. The rest of the book depicts Mary Shelley becoming increasingly more determined and desperate to help Stephen to rest in peace, with some decent twists and turns along the way. A lot of the characters turn out to be not who they seem at first, and the final revelations are not ones I could have guessed.

When I first read the back cover, I half expected this book to be a silly romance between a young girl and the ghost of her boyfriend, but I’m happy to report that it’s far more interesting and worth reading than that. It draws interesting parallels with modern life – the irrational beliefs people have in placebo remedies for fatal illnesses; how shellshock, or post-traumatic stress disorder as it is now called, is seen as something to be ashamed of, rather than a mental illness that needs proper treatment and support.

One thing that isn’t so convincing in the book is the ages of Mary Shelley and Aunt Eva. Mary Shelley seems far too mature for her age of sixteen, whereas Eva reminds me of my Nan, not a woman in her mid-twenties as the text states. Perhaps people become more mature in desperate times of war and illness, but I’m not completely convinced by the book’s portrayal. That’s not to say they’re bad characters though.

The novel is apparently aimed at ages 12 and up, though I’d say it’s a little too gruesome for that age. It feels more like an adult novel to me than what would normally be in the YA category.

Reviewed by Keith

Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: April 2013
Format: ARC
Pages: 416
Genre:Historical fiction, Mystery
Age: YA
Reviewer: Keith
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author
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