Historical Fiction

#AFallofMarigolds – @SusanMeissner – What an outstanding piece! Two time periods, two ladies, #unbelieveablytouching! @penguinusa

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I was luckily enough to get a copy of this book from Penguin, to read and review as a part of a blog tour, but in my scatterbrained mind, I MISSED THE TOUR! Of course, that always tends to happen when I LOVED the book I’m reading, so I couldn’t let it pass without praising this wonderful, touching story, and letting people know what a good choice this book is!

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Synopsis:

A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away….

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her? 

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

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Review:

A+ (Five Stars)

I didn’t plan to love this book, I was drawn to it because of the historical element, having had great grandparents who came over through Ellis, I found that interesting, and having been a young child when 9/11 happened, I’m always interested in the stories, real and fiction, which help me understand the event in new ways. 

I started reading, and I was just drawn in, I love historical books, include little to a lot of historical detail is something that really interests me because I have a very big interest in history, but as I was reading these two stories, intertwined by a scarf and two horrible events, I was at a loss, i just kept reading, I kept telling myself, I’d figure out how the scarf was related before the book told me, I tend to do that with some books, but I’m pleased to say I didn’t figure it out correctly, everything I guessed was wrong, and I enjoyed that. I enjoyed the not knowing, because it gave me a crazied urgency to finish the book and really find everything out. I also have to mention how beautiful the cover is, just a bit, because though as reviewers we’re supposed to look beyond the cover, I was drawn in by this. When I picked it up, I had a few other book choices sitting before me, but this one is the one I picked, and it’s partly because of this gorgeous cover.

Clara’s story was beautiful and heartbreaking. I thought she was so lovely in being such a typical female from the time, striking out on her own, but with a bit of naivety left in her. She’s beautiful written, and the character development we see from Clara is something I really appreciated. She’s been hiding out for so long on Ellis making work her life, to avoid living that it’s so inspirational when Clara really starts to live. She’s got so many dreams, and so much to look forward too, as you’re reading you want to shake her, and tell her to get out there and life. I loved the way her story wrapped up and how we saw it finally intertwine with Taryn’s story. It was amazing. She’s a strong woman, with a deep ability to love, and she’s proud of that. I really loved her story, and was so glad for her.

Taryn’s story was hard to read. It might be because 9/11 was so much more recent, or her personal struggles, but I was just so terribly sad when we got to the story of her relationship to 9/11. I thought of both stories, the author did the most beautiful job with this one, weaving it to include those parts we’d rather forget, but delicately in order to preserve the memory, and keep it fresh for the character. She really allowed the reader to feel for the character, and feel what the character was going through. She included you in those moments, and I don’t know about the other readers, but I felt breathless as she did. Her ending was perfect. I don’t think the author could’ve done a better job giving Taryn exactly what she needed. I cried, it was lovely.

Overall this is the book you need to pick up on your next shopping trip to the bookstore. You won’t regret it. Along with the beautiful imagery, the touching emotional situations, and the beautiful woven plot point of coincidence and how things are meant to be. I am still thinking about it after finishing this lovely book, and I urge you to go get yourself a copy, because you really need to experience Clara and Taryn’s stories for yourself, I promise you, they’ll stay with you!

About The Author:

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Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses.
Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoy teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling.

Review: Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel – Comedic, Sassy, YA book with a twist! :) Coming November 2013! @HMHbooks @sarah_zettel

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Author – Sarah Zettel

Title – Palace of Spies

Publisher – HMH Books for Young Readers

Genre – Historical Fiction, Mystery
Received from Harcourt Children’s Books on Netgalley

Releases November 5, 2013


Synopsis:

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don’t.
Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she’s impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love . . .

History and mystery spark in this effervescent series debut.

Review:

Grade: A

This ARC was such a pleasure to read! It was the perfect mix of historical fiction and mystery and a perfect YA book! Peggy is such a fun character to get to know and explore this world with. She’s cunning, smart and quite funny, and she needs all her wits to solve the mystery. She has been turned out of her uncle’s home upon refusing her betrothal, and a mysterious stranger sets her up in King George’s Court..She’s got to become a spy!

I loved this book, and the idea. She’s a great heroine, she doesn’t mope, and complain, and wallow, she gets up and gets going. She’s smart, and her dialogue is as well. Snappy and witty, and it works so well. The character definitely has a knack for fitting is, and she finds herself in the middle of things, and she just uses her wits to get her out. Such a great example for the YA genre, no moping ladies here who need saved!  She even gets a little bit of romance in the story, which is nice, considering how the beginning went.

Overall, this book is well written, organized well, and flows so easily, you don’t realize how much you’ve read! I was flipping pages so fast I couldn’t believe it. The murder mystery, along with the palace life, and the romantic entanglement, it was all just so compelling, I had to know more. The author does a great job keeping history consistant, and present throughout the books as well, lending a bit of education material to a wonderful spy story! I’d highly recommend this one! This author has such a wonderful writing style, I’m definitely going to check out the other books she’s written! I’d love to read more but this one was such a fun read! 🙂

**I received an ARC from the publisher, via NetGalley for my review.

 

About the Author

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Sarah Zettel is the critically acclaimed author of more than twenty novels, spanning the full range of genre fiction. Her debut novel, Reclamation, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her second release, Fool’s War, was a 1997 New York Times Notable Book, and the American Library Association named Playing God one of the Best Books for Young Adults of 1999. Her novel Bitter Angels won the Philip K. Dick Award for best science fiction paperback in 2009. Her latest novel, Dust Girl, was named as one of the best young adult books of the year by both Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association. Zettel lives in Michigan with her husband, her rapidly growing son, and her cat, Buffy the Vermin Slayer.

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Review: The Trees by Stan Weisleder

** This review is done in conjunction with SayWhatSavannahMae. Check out her website for promotional packages, tours and other amazing publicity **

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The Trees

Stan Weisleder

General Fiction

Blurb:

The Trees is an epic novel told in Godfather fashion about a handful of childhood friends who make it out of the slums of Brooklyn and reunite as young adults during the years of mob-controlled Las Vegas. Lawrence “Mongoose” Cohen starts running numbers for local bosses while in high school, and eventually manages the gambling activities at the Desert Winds Hotel and Casino in Vegas. There he reunites with EuniceÑa teenage heartthrobÑwho’s now a showgirl known as “Venus.” She initially ignores him but softens after he’s almost killed in a car bombing. Haunted by Venus’s former involvement with underboss Tommy Di Meglio, Mongoose deals with Tommy, “makes his bones” against his would-be assassin, and becomes a “made man” as Las Vegas transforms into a legitimate entertainment mecca ready to do business with Macao in the new millennium.

Review:

Grade: A

The Trees is one of those books you just need to read to experience. Try as I might, I just can’t do it justice is a review. But I highly recommend it.

Each character is detailed and realistic, and it makes you wonder how much of this novel is based in fact (luckily you don’t have to wonder too hard, he gives us some info in the back). The characters are so likeable, that despite what happens in the scenes you really come to love these characters. The late 40s when the characters were growing up was such an interesting time. The mafia, the dialogue, the character of people was so different and so alive. The book is described to be told in “Godfather” style and they are so right. You can feel that same tone here, but even more so. The book allows us so much more than a movie or a TV show ever could.

The language in the book was shocking, but not in a bad way, but in a way reminding us how different the world was, how many things were tolerated and commonplace. This book chronicles a changing society through the eyes of a changing group of Friends. Mo, Mongoose, Scumbag, Potcheese, Ringo and Eunice are such vibrant character, all searching, growing, and taking a stand. The brash impatience of youth to their later life, their careers, and all the while we watch these friendships grow and progress and strain to remain together despite the choices they make as individuals. This book is perfectly crafted, giving us the perfect sense of New York in the late 40s, and the development of the society as well as this group of friends.

The choices they make are so strong, and reflect so strongly in the the way the writer crafted each character. His build up to the dramatic points makes each one hurt a little bit more. We care for these friends, we care about the choices they make, and when they are all caught up in the mafia in one way or another we worry for them. The author takes us on an emotion, dramatic journey in this book, not without the humor and wit, and we love it. It’s an amazing read and the only thing better then the read?  The “To Be Continued” at the end of the book! We are going to be able to see more of this story. Thank goodness!

** I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own **

Review: A Killer of Lions by Stan Weisleder

** Review done in conjunction with SayWhatSavannahMae, check out her site for more info**

** I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own**

A Killer of Lions Review

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Grade: A+

I really loved this book, I have to start off with that because honestly, I didn’t expect to. I’m not a lover of war novels, or fighting books, but this one was real, touching, and just detailed enough to be interesting but not overwhelming. It has enough of real history, events and dates in order to keep it grounded and fleshed out the characters to really create an engaging story.

Buddy was a strong character, and he grew on me throughout the book! He’s struggle, and his drive to be a pilot was inspiring, and it’s nice also see flaws in main characters, and Buddy’s pride is definitely a flaw for him throughout the book. His pride gets him into more and more trouble.

The foreshadowing in this book, especially the second half, was really good. I could tell we were heading for something, and the author was trying to tip us off a bit, but I was never sure exactly what we were in for. The twist and turns in the book pulled at the heartstrings and created such joy.

The adorable relationship between Buddy and Tina, was sweet, touching and definitely a wonderful portrait of a wartime relationship, complete with the touching tributes and letters. I’m so glad that they were able to have a happy ending.

Buddy’s journey from civilian, to soldier, to pilot was touching, tough, and kept me on the edge of my seat. I was pulling for him, each time he got passed over, I was hurt, and each time he succeeded, I was so happy. You can tell this author based the story off of real people and real events. Everything felt real, nothing felt faked or forced. His interactions, letters, and general manner was real, and really created a great main character.

The author’s writing is wonderfully detailed, he paints pictures of every scene, and allows use to really feel how the characters feel and really be in the scenes. The stories range from funny to frightening, but they have such heart to them, and build up to a wonderful ending. An ending Buddy and his fellow pilots so deserved.

I’m glad to see this story getting told, so often we overlook things in history, because at the time they happened the records were overlooked. The deeds of the Tuskegee airmen helped turn the tides in WW2, and this book is a wonderful tribute to them, and what they did for our country. Stan does an amazing job keeping the factual details straight and showing an honest portrait of the Tuskegee Airmen.

For more details on where Stan got some of the information for this book, check out his website.