Tag: Historical Fiction

Velvet Undercover

Author: Teri Brown
Published: October 20, 2015
336 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the home front as a messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, mathematics, and complex puzzles, hoping to make him proud. When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche, she’s torn—while this could be an unbelievable adventure, how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes she can’t refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity. Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known only as Velvet. Deep undercover in the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Sam must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she must fight a forbidden attraction to the enemy—a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Sam find Velvet before it’s too late . . . for them both?

Kim’s Review:

I saw this in a Book Nerd Problems video from EpicReads waaaaay back near the beginning. The cover is gorgeous and the description sounded intriguing so I decided to read it. I did enjoy it.  Unfortunately, there were some things in the book that kept me from loving it. The main thing is that it is technically historical fiction, but there was just too much suspension of disbelief. If I’m going to read historical fiction, then I want some realism. During the whole story I kept thinking “why would they send a child into a warzone to spy with almost no training??”

Samantha was a likeable enough character, though like a typical teen who probably shouldn’t be sent out on a secret espionage mission in the middle of a world war, she let her emotions get the better of her at nearly every turn. The first chapters of the book highlight how smart and intelligent and special she is, but then the whole rest of the book seems to contradict that. She’s great at codes and languages . . . because that’s all it takes to be a spy!!!!

I’ll admit that the twist at the end caught me by surprise. I had my suspicions about who Velvet was, and I was pretty excited to find out I was right! The story itself was pretty interesting and I enjoyed reading it and watching it unfold. Overall, it wasn’t a bad book, but I doubt I’ll read it again. I would recommend this book to some teens, but not to many adults.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

First Line Friday #58

Today’s First Line Friday is one I have had for a while, just not read yet (Yes, I know…. That never ending TBR mountain).  I love the cover, it’s so shiny! This week I am going to share the first few lines since it all flows well.

I have lived more than a thousand years. I have died countless times.  I forget precisely how many times.  My memory is an extraordinary thing, but it is not perfect. I am human.

Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. For all the times that he and Sophia have been connected throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart.

But just when Sophia (now “Lucy” in the present) finally awakens to the secret of their shared past, the mysterious force that has always separated them reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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A Secret Kept

Author: Tatiana De Rosnay
Published: September 14, 2010
318 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description from Amazon:

It all began with a simple seaside vacation, a brother and sister recapturing their childhood. Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island, where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they’d returned to the island—over thirty years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer. When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.

Recovering from the accident in a nearby hospital, Mélanie tries to recall what caused her to crash. Antoine encounters an unexpected ally: sexy, streetwise Angèle, a mortician who will teach him new meanings for the words life, love and death. Suddenly, however, the past comes swinging back at both siblings, burdened with a dark truth about their mother, Clarisse.

Trapped in the wake of a shocking family secret shrouded by taboo, Antoine must confront his past and also his troubled relationships with his own children. How well does he really know his mother, his children, even himself? Suddenly fragile on all fronts as a son, a husband, a brother and a father, Antoine Rey will learn the truth about his family and himself the hard way.

By turns thrilling, seductive and destructive, with a lingering effect that is bittersweet and redeeming, A Secret Kept is the story of a modern family, the invisible ties that hold it together, and the impact it has throughout life.

Kim’s Review:

This was truly a page turner. I read this book in a 6-hour period and in just about one sitting. The synopsis really fascinated me; I love juicy family secrets! And the funny thing is, this family secret ended up being pushed to the back burner and doesn’t come out until nearly the end! I mean, De Rosnay dangled it in front of my face for the first several chapters and then nothing! Melanie got in her car accident and forgot it! At first, I thought I was going to die of curiosity, but then the more I read, the less I noticed.

I got so involved with Tonio and his life and his family. His emotional roller coaster is the only reason I gave this book 4 stars. I’m not going to be unrealistic and say that men can’t have emotional issues, but dang, whether it’s a man or woman, sometimes it gets to the point that it just gets annoying! Grow up, get over it, get back to living your life. Strangely enough, Tonio’s teenage kids didn’t actually annoy me at all. SHOCKER! I know!! Yeah, they acted like annoying teenagers, but Tonio and Astrid finally stepped up and decided to be parents and it worked.

I liked Melanie a lot. She’s a pretty cool lady. I’ve been in a bad car accident and struggled with my memory afterward so I totally get what she went through. And of course, the thing that I really want to write about is the secret that you’re not supposed to know until you read the book . . . so I won’t give it away. All I’m going to say is that this book could have strayed into the political realm and gotten preachy, but it didn’t. De Rosnay handled the issue very well and almost stayed neutral. She simply gave an account with no judgement on either side. I would recommend this to anyone wanting historical fiction, or anyone wanting an easy, yet involved read.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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