Tag: Historical Fiction

The Dream Daughter

Author: Diane Chamberlain
Published: October 2, 2018
Audio Download

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 3-11, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.

Jessica’s Review:

I can now say this: The Dream Daughter is my favorite book EVER!  Whenever I am asked about my favorite book, I can’t give an answer other than mentioning the book that got me reading again so long ago.  The Dream Daughter has taken its place and is perfection for me! This was the first book by Chamberlain I have read and it will not be my last.

The advice I can offer up to you is this: Read the book description, but other than that go into this book knowing nothing.  After finishing it, even reviews give away the angle this novel goes, which I will NOT do. Due to the angle the novel moves, this one is different from other Diane Chamberlain books.  All I will say is that there is a sci-fi angle. I listened to the audiobook version and I was skeptical about the novel when it got to the point where you realize the direction the novel was going, but then you are taken for a roller coaster of a ride!  In fact I am still thinking about the novel a few days after finishing it!  My mind was truly blown in a very good way!

Though a few parts were predictable for me, I still loved every bit of The Dream Daughter. I did not know how it was ultimately going to end and then we have that last line: SO powerful!  I am not a mother, but this is a novel for mothers: it shows the unconditional love that a mother has and that Caroline (Carly) will do whatever it takes to save her child.

The narrator, Susan Bennett, captured Carly’s voice perfectly. She conveyed all the emotions needed.

Again, I can say that this is my favorite book ever, so needless to say it will be my number one read of 2019.  Thank you so much to St Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio for sending me a copy to review.

The Dream Daughter is very highly recommended!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

The Dollmaker of Krakow

Author: R.M. Romero
Published: September 12, 2017
336 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope.

Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Krakow, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.

The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina’s courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter–that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.

But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.

Kim’s Review:

This book is so beautiful! The cover and illustrations throughout are so gorgeous and really enhanced my reading. This book is perfect for middle school kids learning about the Holocaust. The metaphor of the Land of the Dolls was imaginative and easy to understand. There’s a simplicity to the story that still conveys the evil of the Nazis and the terror of the time without giving too much detail that would be inappropriate for kids. Karolina’s simple view of the world brings good clarity that works for younger readers.

The Dollmaker is such a sweet and gentle soul. Jozef and Rena are the perfect representation of Jews living in Poland during the Nazi invasion and occupation. Even the Nazi soldier that the Dollmaker “befriends” is written so well. I’ll admit that I didn’t engage as perfectly as I wanted to, but it’s really because I’m not a part of the age group that Romero was writing for; I’m not an elementary or middle school student, nor am I just starting out learning about the Holocaust. But I did love the story, the characters, and the setting. This is a book that I would put on the shelf of every elementary and middle school history teacher. It should be required reading in those history classes. I absolutely recommend this book to everyone, especially kids!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Author: Elizabeth Kostova
Published: June 1, 2005
704 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating:  5 stars

Book Description:

To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history….

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of, a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself–to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answers to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler’s dark reign and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.

Kim’s Review:

Kim reviews The Historian twice, she loves it that much. She also reads it every year….

Favorite. Book. Ever.

I read this for the first time back in college. I found it in Bargain Books at Barnes and Noble and once I opened it, I was hooked. What was most intriguing was the “Note to the Reader” section . . . I sat there literally arguing with myself about whether or not this was fiction or an actual history book. Does the author not understand that she’s writing fiction? Wait, does she think this story is real?? I needed to find out, so I kept reading. 600 pages later, I am absolutely convinced that this story is real. This book became the gift that I gave to everyone for whatever event called for a gift. I gave a copy to my mother in law, and she loved it! We’re talking about the lady who had never read a single book that even mentioned a vampire in her life! It became a sign of rebellion for her that she reveled in. Whenever her uptight friends came over, she made sure to display The Historian to prove how cool she was! And I haven’t even started talking about the story yet!

I try to read this book once every year. And in between readings, I crave the story like no other. Adventure, intrigue, horror, culture, history, everything is in this book. I learn something new every time I read it. This year, I read it while we were on our cruise, I finished it in 3 days. I recommend this to everyone. I don’t care what kind of book you enjoy reading, everyone will love this book.

~~~

I wrote a review for The Historian a while ago, and when I went back to read it over again, I realized just how incomplete it was. Nothing has changed since I wrote the review, it’s still my favorite book, I still start longing to read it again before my year is over, it still holds me enthralled while I read it yet again! In fact, this year’s reading meant a little more because I was reading it while on a train traveling through Italy, and I saw some of the places mentioned in the book! I sat in Saint Marco’s Square at Florian’s drinking a rich, thick hot chocolate!

It still amazes me that a work of fiction can sound so much like history, and that I want to believe it all really happened. Kostova has such a wonderful way of telling stories and then intertwining history and fact, making everything feel so realistic and authentic, like you’re living all the action. I’ve added traveling through the Balkans, by train in the autumn and Budapest and Romania to my list of places that I want to see. The characters are so real that you feel like you’ve made new friends when you finish; when I say to Ivan that I want to visit Istanbul, part of the reason is because I expect to meet Turgut and have him invite us to his house for lunch. You root for them on their search for the Count and the anticipation of “what’s gonna happen next??” glides you through page after page.

My historian soul has so much fun year after year, discovering more details and reveling in the search and research. And this book even satisfies my scare addiction! There are times that it’s just creepy enough to give a shudder but not enough to make you put the book down in fright. (Are y’all impressed with how professional I sound in this review? Ha!) And a huge shout out to Elizabeth Kostova for being such a kind and gracious person! I went to her book signing in the spring and she acted genuinely happy to see me. I geeked out all over her, and her response was to buy me a copy of her newest book, The Shadow Land. I’ve met authors who act like they couldn’t care less about their fans; she is not one of them! This book sparked my imagination in such a way that has me coming back to it over and over again, year after year.

The Historian is one of the few books that I would allow myself to read more than just once a year . . . if I could bring myself to displace all the millions of other books I need to read before December 31! 😉 I cannot recommend this book highly enough to pretty much everyone. Even older teens would enjoy it and hopefully help them to see just how cool the study of history can be!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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