Archive for the 'Historical Fiction' Category



Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Genre:  Romance/Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  549

RAC:  Yes

     Ismae was born with terrible scars on her back because her father is Death and her mother tried to have her killed before she was born.   Later, Ismae’s stepfather sells her into a terrible arranged marriage.  Once her new husband sees her scars he believes Ismae to be cursed and starts to beat her.  She is rescued and sent to a convent where everyone works for Death.  Ismae comes to find she has talents for working as an assassin whenever Death shows her the mark that someone should die.  She is sent on a mission to help a man named Gavriel to protect a young girl who has recently taken power over a big nation.  Ismae knows there is a traitor amongst the duchess’s advisors, but is not as prepared for the task as she thought she would be.  Can Ismae find the traitor who threatens to put an entire kingdom in jeopardy before it is overtaken by enemies?  Can she trust Gavriel as her convent believes or is he in fact hiding any secrets of his own?

     This book is getting a lot of attention because it is engaging right from the beginning.  Any reader naturally wants to know more about Ismae’s skills as well as who is betraying the young duchess.  The characters are all memorable, which is important in a book with so many characters any of which could be the traitor.   The ending is satisfying and readers will want to see more of this character to find out what she is capable of.  Fans of Graceling and Star Crossed will enjoy this title as well.

Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen

Genre:  Historical Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  358

RAC Book:  Yes

This sequel to the Bright Young Things novel picks up with Letty, Astrid, and Cordelia.  Cordelia is settling into her new life with her newly discovered brother, but still feels very responsible for their father’s death and is dying for a way to make herself useful.  When her brother, Charlie, decides to open a speakeasy he chooses her to run it.  Letty is still trying to get her singing career off the ground and is hopeful there might be a place for her in Cordelia’s club, but things do not turn out exactly as she planned.  Astrid is still partying and hoping Charlie will get serious about his proposal to her, but she finds her mother’s lack of support for her engagement confusing.

The setting is fun and flirty and of course several men wander through that will inevitably become important to these young women.  The women do grow and change, but the beginning is a bit slow and some readers might not make it to the end to see how the characters evolve.  The eventual paths these three take will make readers want to know more about them and what will eventually become of them, especially as the 20s come to an end.  A fun story set in a fun time that will intrigue romance and historical fiction readers.

Gordon Ryder’s Blues by Jeff Dee

Genre:  Historical fiction

# of Pages:  165

RAC Book:  No

Gordon Ryder is navigating his junior year in high school during the year 1969.  His father has recently moved out and his mother has responded by being extremely overprotective.  When he meets a confident, attractive hippie he decides to get to know her better.  Myra invites him to a walkout and then a rally and he thinks it’s a good idea to show his disapproval of the war, especially since his best friend lost a brother to it.  The book reads as an adventure story that primarily happens in one day, so many things are not resolved at the end of the night.  Will his parents reconcile?  How will his best friend cope with the loss of his brother?  Will he ever get together with Myra?

The setting of this story is unique and many students will identify with the ideas and beliefs of the time depicted.  The characters are interesting, but it’s difficult to get to know them when the entire story takes place in one day.  The relationships between Gordon’s parents, Gordon and his mother, and Gordon and his friends are all relatable to teens of any age.  The setting of the story will be enough to entice many readers to pick this one up.

Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn

Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  330

RAC:  Yes

The five Taylor sisters live with their mother in Spirit Vale where she works as a medium who speaks to dead people.  The older sisters, Mimi and Jane, have long doubted their mother’s clairvoyance abilities, but their younger sisters all seem to believe.  The twins even seem to have a special gift of their own.  When their fates all collide together on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, Jane becomes worried when her twin sisters show fear that something bad will befall the ship.  Can all of the sisters survive one of the world’s most famous disasters?

This story weaves true and false facts about the Titanic’s famous fall.  The introduction of the Taylor sisters adds a bit of intrigue as they explore the very popular trend of clairvoyance for the time.  Famous faces make appearances throughout the story and are fun for reader’s to identify.  The motivations of the five sisters are all clear and justified as they each try to find their own way in this world, but the ending is unexpected and not everyone makes it to New York.  Recommended to fans of historical fiction and the Titanic.

The Returning by Jean Sorrell

Genre:  Realistic/Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  245

RAC Book:  Yes

This heartwarming story follows a young girl named Sara, who never gives up hope that her father will return from WWII despite the six years since his disappearance.  She meets a young girl named Nathalie, who is a Jewish refugee, and the two of them become close friends.  Nathalie’s father is still missing as well.  When a new preacher comes to town named Emmett, the two of them begin to wonder if he is either Sara’s missing father or if his spirit was transferred into his body.  The man looks remarkably like him, but does suffer from some facial scars, which make it hard to prove.  Also, he has no memory of anything before Iwo Jima.  Sara and Nathalie find a book about soul transference and start to wonder if this is in fact her father.  Unfortunately, no one else wants to see the similarities between Emmett and Sara’s father and they begin to pressure her to let the situation drop and accept that her father is dead.  Can Sara give up on her father?  Will Emmett ever get his memory back?

This story is both historical and modern at the same time, which many readers will find refreshing.  A lot of people like to read about WWII era stories, but Sorrell has managed to put a new and unexpected twist on this time period with her introduction of soul transference.  She also does a nice job of developing all of the characters so that the reader can understand how each person feels in this difficult situation.  The friendship between the two girls is pure and complex, which makes their actions believable and understandable.  The story will draw in readers from the beginning and hold them until the end.

 

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

Genre:  Historical Fiction

RAC:  Yes

This WWII story follows Sarah in 1942 and Julia in 2002.  Sarah’s family is rounded up by the French police and sent to a detention center, but her little brother refused to go and hid in a small closet in their room.  Sarah locked him in and kept the key promising to come back later in the day for him.  She did not think they would actually be detained since it was the French police and not the Germans rounding them up. When she realized she would not be going back to her home her and her father tried to leave to get her brother, but the police would not allow them out.  She held onto the key for weeks praying to find a way back to him.  In 2002 Julia is a reporter who is assigned an article on the roundup of Jewish families by French police.  She is shocked to find that many people living in Paris had no idea such a thing took place.  As she comes across Sarah’s story she becomes determined to find out what happened to the little girl.

This is a different angle on a topic that has been covered in numerous ways.  As the story moves between Sarah and Julia you cannot help but get immersed in finding out what happened to Sarah and her family.  Sarah’s journey is truly amazing and realistic as she is forced to face adult issues as a child.  The characters are written incredibly well in a complex, multi-faceted way.  Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys reading about this era.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

**Student Review** by Chloe Hlas

Genre:  Historical Fiction

I think one of the main themes of this book was to poke fun at people who during the Renaissance, still believed in Middle Ages chivalry. The author basically murders the concept of knights displaying chivalry through Don Quixote’s hilariously ridiculous adventures. This book really helped me understand the Middle Ages mindset, and how the Renaissance evolved from it. Don Quixote’s incessant belief in all of the chivalrous concepts he’s read about in his old books brilliantly illustrates how people thought at the time, and how they themselves ridiculed anyone who had believed what they had once believed during the late Middle Ages, and on through the Renaissance.  This book was definitely worth reading to me, and significantly helped me in my studies of the late Middle Ages-Renaissance era. This book is designed to be humorous, yet informative at the same time to anyone learning about the mindset shift from late Middle Ages to Renaissance. It showed how people during the Renaissance time period reacted to fellow community members who believed in knights displaying a certain degree of chivalry.

This book was very useful to me, especially when studying the differences between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (particularly the state of mind). It was amusing to read about all of Don Quixote’s adventures as he set out to save others and conquer evil, all in the name of his beloved lady, Dulcinea del Toboso. He devotes all of his actions to her, fighting windmills and saving princesses kidnapped by monks all in her name. I hadn’t expected Sancho to lie to Don Quixote and say that an evil enchanter has transformed his love, Dulcinea, into a peasant girl, which practically drives Don Quixote crazy as he strives to change her back. Sancho had been Don Quixote’s right hand man the whole book, and always tried to keep him out of ridiculous situations, and it shocked me that he would do something like that, which he knew would affect Don Quixote so deeply. However, it was hilarious to read about what the Duke and Duchess tell him would undo the hoax of Dulcinea’s enchantment. This was definitely a good book, and I certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys books that mock historic time periods. I would’ve read this book on my own time, outside of class.

 



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