Book Reviews · Recommendations

Mini 5 Star Historical Fiction Reviews: March 2019

I was fortunate enough to read two books that I rated 5 stars during the month of march. Both of these books were historical fiction. Here are my quick thoughts.

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The Gilded Years
By Karin Tanabe

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Synopsis:

Passing meets The House of Mirth in this “utterly captivating” (Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House) historical novel based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar, who successfully passed as white—until she let herself grow too attached to the wrong person.

My Thoughts: The setting of Karin Tanabe’s The Gilded Years was of great interest to me as I am really drawn to books set in New York (state or city) during this time period. Life for young women in college, during a time when very few had the opportunity was fascinating. However it was the importance of Anita Hemmings story that really captivated me. Not only did she make strides during a time of women’s suffrage, but in the civil rights of her own people as well. The Gilded Age would make for a great book club selection as it will open many opportunities for discussion.

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To the Farthest Shores
By: Elizabeth Camden

Read by: Angela Brazil
Synopsis:
It has been six years since army nurse Jenny Bennett’s heart was broken by a dashing naval officer. Now Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher has abruptly reappeared in her life at the Presidio army base but refuses to discuss the inexplicable behavior that destroyed their happiness. Ryan is in an impossible situation. One of the few men in the world qualified to carry out a daring assignment, he accepted a government mission overseas that caused his reputation to be destroyed and broke the heart of the only woman he ever loved. Honor bound never to reveal where he had been during those six years, he can’t tell Jenny the truth or it will endanger an ongoing mission and put thousands of lives at risk. Although Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution, he can’t pull it off on his own. Loyalty to her country compels Jenny to help, but she never could have imagined the intrigue she and Ryan will have to face or the lengths to which they will have to go to succeed.

My Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed Elizabeth Camden’s To The Farthest Shores. There are many different aspects to this story that some may find overwhelming, but I enjoyed each part. The characters were very diverse with very detailed histories including a strong female lead. I was especially intrigued by the comparisons between the American and Japanese cultures. Angela Brazil was a wonderful and optimistic narrator for this audiobook and I hope to listen to more from her in the future. I would highly recommend To the Farthest Shores to fans of Christian historical fiction.

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Books Hauls

March 2019 Book Haul

Here are the books I added to my collection during the month of March.

Library Books

To The Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden

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Great Deals from Walmart

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

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Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

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Won from Goodreads

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

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Memes

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek


Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme featuring our most anticipated releases to come. It is hosted by Tessa at Wishful Endings.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
By: Kim Michele Richardson

Expected Publication Date: May 7, 2019

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“Richardson’s latest work is a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and – just as importantly – a compassionate human connection. Richardson’s rendering of stark poverty against the ferocity of the human spirit is irresistible. Add to this the history of the unique and oppressed blue-skinned people of Kentucky, and you’ve got an un-put-downable work that holds real cultural significance.” – Sara Gruen, #1 NYT bestselling author

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government’s new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people–a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman’s chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek,i> showcases a historical first for the introduction of Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a tale of fierce strength and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

-Goodreads
Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: March 2019

Total Books Read in March: 4

Total Book Read in 2019: 12

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First and Then
By: Emma Mills
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 3/5

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The Sky Above Us (Sunrise at Normandy, #2)
By: Sarah Sundin

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance
Rating: 4/5
NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Sky Above Us (Sunrise at Normandy, #2) by Sarah Sundin, from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for a honest review.

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The Gilded Years
By: Karin Tanabe
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
NOTE: The Gilded Years was my TBR Jar Pick for February.

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To the Farthest Shores
By: Elizabeth Camden
Read By: Angela Brazil
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Audio Book, Library Book, Libby App
Rating: 5/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 4
Total Number of Fiction: 4
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 1
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 1
Total Library Books Read: 2

Challenge Update

2019 New Release Challenge: 1
2019 TBR Jar Challenge: 1

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks: 1
Audio Books: 1

April TBR

From My TBR Jar

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Sent for Review

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Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Sky Above Us (Sunrise at Normandy, #2) by Sarah Sundin

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The Sky Above Us
(Sunrise at Normandy, #2)
By: Sarah Sundin

Published: February 2019
Published By: Fleming H. Revell Company
Format Read: ARC, NetGalley, eBook, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance, Series

Rating: 4/5

I was sent a copy of The Sky Above Us (Sunrise at Normandy, #2) by Sarah Sundin, from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for a honest review.

Synopsis


Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights in the skies over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion.

Violet Lindstrom wanted to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment for the men of the 357th in the Aeroclub on base and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement.

Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Bestselling author Sarah Sundin returns readers to the shores of Normandy, this time in the air, as the second Paxton brother prepares to face the past–and the most fearsome battle of his life.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

The Sky Above Us is the second installment in Sarah Sundin’s series that follows the Paxton family. Tragedy sends them all their separate ways, however the impending Normandy invasion finds the three brothers fighting for their country in different branches of the American armed forces. This installment follows middle brother Adler and an American Red Cross worker named Violet.

Once again I was impressed by the authors knowledge of the invasion as well as the armed forces and Red Cross. I found the American relations with their British hosts to be especially interesting to me.

Adler was a more complex character than Violet. He had a tragic past that he was trying to avoid. I found his attitude in the early pages of this book to be terrible. Violet was more dull in comparison and I often found myself annoyed by her contradicting emotions. I didn’t enjoy their romance as much as I did with the couple in the first book. However they both showed good character growth.

Although I enjoyed The Sea Before Us, more than The Sky Above Us, I still loved the setting as well as learning about the Normandy Invasion from an Air Force perspective. I look forward to reading the third installment in the Sunrise at Normandy series, which is due to be released next year.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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Attachments
By: Rainbow Rowell

Published: 2011
Published By: Dutton
Format Read: Trade Paperback, Library Book
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis


“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you…”

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now—reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers—not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained—and captivated—by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Rainbow Rowell is an author I have been curious about after hearing a lot of rave reviews about her books. Although some of her more popular titles don’t interest me as much, the concept of Attachments caught my attention.


This is the first more current release that I’ve come across that is set on the cusp of the new millennium. It brought back memories of all the paranoia about what would happen when the clock struck midnight. I could also relate to the early days of the internet and embracing the new ways of communicating and gathering information.


For the most part I found this novel to be quite slow, although I did enjoy the tone and humor of Rainbow Rowell’s writing. It wasn’t until nearer to the end that I really started to realize how much I liked the main character Lincoln. In fact he might just be my new fictional crush.


I would recommend Attachments by Rainbow Rowell to fans of contemporary romance. 

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Murder in the City of Liberty (A Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery, #2)

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Murder in the City of Liberty
(A Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery, #2)
By: Rachel McMillan

To be Published: May 28, 2019
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Format Read: ARC, NetGalley, eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Series

Rating: 3.5/5

 I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Synopsis

Hamish DeLuca and Regina “Reggie” Van Buren have a new case–and this one brings the war in Europe dangerously close to home.

Determined to make a life for herself, Regina “Reggie” Van Buren bid goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expected her to marry and escaped to Boston. What she never expected to discover was that an unknown talent for sleuthing would develop into a business partnership with the handsome, yet shy, Hamish DeLuca.

Their latest case arrives when Errol Parker, the leading base stealer in the Boston farm leagues, hires Hamish and Reggie to investigate what the Boston police shove off as a series of harmless pranks. Errol believes these are hate crimes linked to the outbreak of war in Europe, and he’s afraid for his life. Hamish and Reggie quickly find themselves in the midst of an escalating series of crimes that seem to link Boston to Hamish’s hometown of Toronto.

When an act of violence hits too close to home, Hamish is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Murder in the City of Liberty is set two years after the first book Murder at the Flamingo. Europe and Hamish’s homeland Canada are at war, but the US has yet to join. Although they were not yet in the trenches; racism and anti-Semitism was growing fast.

This second book in the Van Buren and DeLuca series was more exciting than Murder at the Flamingo. It did rely on the past events and characters, so I would definitely recommend reading the series in order.

Even though I wasn’t exactly captured by the mystery itself, there were several aspects that I did enjoy. Those include:

  • The baseball storyline, which added to the patriotic theme, that painted a vivid picture of 1940’s America.
  • The way McMillan was able to write a murder mystery centered around such atrocities without using a single racial slur, profanity or graphic descriptions of violence.
  • And of course; my favourite character Hamish DeLuca, who is the epitome of a gentleman.

Rachel McMillan is a talented writer who I would highly recommend.

Additional Notes

There were so many quotes in Murder in the City of Liberty that I paused to re-read. Here are some of my favourites:

.’..life is too short to spend it with the wrong dance partner’


‘It’s amazing what you can come up with when you know someone is watching you as if you could spread wings and f ly.


“Sometimes,” his father always said, “you need to recognize that life will throw a line drive at you. And you have two choices. You can duck in fear and cower. Or you can hit it straight on . You have the choice to react or to anticipate. Use your power to blast that ball out of the field. Trust me. Anticipate.

”Love meant accepting the lowest of a person . The parts that made you tingle and shrug. Love saw through every fight and stilled every fear and weathered every doubt. Love meant pushing past perceptions and surmounting expectations and accepting that someone would never always live up to the ideals you imparted on them.”

Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery Series

Book 1: Murder at the Flamingo

Memes

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary


Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme featuring our most anticipated releases to come. It is hosted by Tessa at Wishful Endings.

The Flatshare
By: Beth O’Leary

Expected Publication Date: April 18, 2019

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Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix.

Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London.

Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment.

Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course…

As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat.

Can true love blossom even in the unlikeliest of situations?
Can true love blossom even if you never see one another?
Or does true love blossom when you are least expecting it?

-Goodreads
Memes

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Resistance Women


Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme featuring our most anticipated releases to come. It is hosted by Tessa at Wishful Endings.

Resistance Women: A Novel
By: Jennifer Chiaverini

Expected Publication Date: May 28, 2019

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, an enthralling historical saga that recreates the danger, romance, and sacrifice of an era and brings to life one courageous, passionate American—Mildred Fish Harnack—and her circle of women friends who waged a clandestine battle against Hitler in Nazi Berlin.

After Wisconsin graduate student Mildred Fish marries brilliant German economist Arvid Harnack, she accompanies him to his German homeland, where a promising future awaits. In the thriving intellectual culture of 1930s Berlin, the newlyweds create a rich new life filled with love, friendships, and rewarding work—but the rise of a malevolent new political faction inexorably changes their fate.

As Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party wield violence and lies to seize power, Mildred, Arvid, and their friends resolve to resist. Mildred gathers intelligence for her American contacts, including Martha Dodd, the vivacious and very modern daughter of the US ambassador. Her German friends, aspiring author Greta Kuckoff and literature student Sara Weiss, risk their lives to collect information from journalists, military officers, and officials within the highest levels of the Nazi regime.

For years, Mildred’s network stealthily fights to bring down the Third Reich from within. But when Nazi radio operatives detect an errant Russian signal, the Harnack resistance cell is exposed, with fatal consequences.

Inspired by actual events, Resistance Women is an enthralling, unforgettable story of ordinary people determined to resist the rise of evil, sacrificing their own lives and liberty to fight injustice and defend the oppressed.

-Goodreads