Tag: Historical Fiction

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Author: Kim Michele Richardson

Published: May 7, 2019
309 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

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.

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 showcases a bold and unique tale of the Packhorse Librarians in literary novels—a story of fierce strength and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere—even back home.

Kim’s Review:

This book has been on my list for a while. The description sounded interesting and I don’t really know much about the blue people of Kentucky. Plus, Cussy is a librarian … she’s one of us! Unfortunately, I felt really disconnected from her story. The plot is basically Cussy’s route up and down the mountains. It’s supposed to be an emotional tale and sadly, I was feeling a little
too shallow while reading it. Though, Ivan came in awfully handy with his medical knowledge once the doctor tried to figure out how to heal Cussy of her color. Thankfully we didn’t have get quite as detailed as we did with Five Feet Apart, but his input was very helpful. I liked most of the characters, even the ones I was supposed to hate. And I did hate them, I just liked to hate
them. I also appreciated how this was not a “white people bad, colored people good” story.

Richardson kept it realistic, showing how all people, regardless of color, can be mean and ignorant. But I was rather unhappy with the ending. It felt like another incomplete dud of an ending. I was left feeling unfulfilled. But overall, this was a good book and I’m glad I read it. I do recommend it to the historical fiction lovers. It gives good historical info and opens the door to further research.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

The Woman in the Mirror

The Woman in the Mirror
Author: Rebecca James

Published: March 17, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

For more than two centuries, Winterbourne Hall has stood atop a bluff overseeing the English countryside of Cornwall and the sea beyond.

In 1947, Londoner Alice Miller accepts a post as governess at Winterbourne, looking after Captain Jonathan de Grey’s twin children. Falling under the de Greys’ spell, Alice believes the family will heal her own past sorrows. But then the twins’ adoration becomes deceitful and taunting. Their father, ever distant, turns spiteful and cruel. The manor itself seems to lash out. Alice finds her surroundings subtly altered, her air slightly chilled. Something malicious resents her presence, something clouding her senses and threatening her very sanity.

In present day New York, art gallery curator Rachel Wright has learned she is a descendant of the de Greys and heir to Winterbourne. Adopted as an infant, she never knew her birth parents or her lineage. At long last, Rachel will find answers to questions about her identity that have haunted her entire life. But what she finds in Cornwall is a devastating tragic legacy that has afflicted generations of de Greys. A legacy borne from greed and deceit, twisted by madness, and suffused with unrequited love and unequivocal rage.

Kim’s Review:

This was my pick for my neighborhood book club. I was pretty pleased with it. But this is one of those books that I enjoyed, but then dislike it the more I think about it. I got very engaged in the story and it had some creepy elements and I got through it quickly and easily. It kept me guessing and I’ll admit that I didn’t see the end coming. But the characters weakened as the story progressed.

Watching Alice throw herself at the Captain is cringey and caused me to like her less. Rachel is just an idiot. Typical girl who can’t decide what she wants and she strings two men along even though the choice is pretty obvious to the rest of us but you’re too dumb to see it and then complain when the guys act like you tell them to. The twins are just nasty children. I also wish more info was given on the original woman and her story had been more thoroughly wrapped up.

Thankfully, the horror factor saved this book for me. That mirror … I want that mirror in my house! There were a couple places where the goosebumps were raised and I had to pause my reading to chill out some. I feel bad because I liked it while I was reading, but while considering it later, it just misses the mark. I am glad I read it and I am liking that it’s sticking in my head like it is … it just has some flaws.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Published: June 2, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 11-24, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars     

Book Description:

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Jessica’s Review:

**Unpopular opinion alert**

Everyone seems to be raving about The Vanishing Half, but this is one novel that did not really work for me and I am still not sure why almost a month later. It has an interesting premise: The novel starts out in the 1950s and we have twin girls (Desiree and Stella), both black, but one can pass as white, and she does.  But keeping this secret from everyone, including her husband seems to damage Stella.  The novel ends in the 1990s with their daughters and lives intersecting.

To see twins live totally different lives despite being the same race during a time of racial changes and the effects of their decisions change everything including their daughters’ lives. 

The storyline I was most interested is not even mentioned in the book description, so it came off as a surprise: It dealt with Jude (Desiree’s daughter) and her relationship with Reese, a transgender man. This relationship almost did not make sense with some of the activities they participated in, as the LGBTQ community has not always coincided well/ been inclusive together in the past especially during this time in the past that the novel is based.

Overall, this is one that had promise, but maybe I just listened to the audiobook at the wrong time. Maybe it was the fact that I listened to the audiobook. Some books don’t translate well to audio.  I know it has been optioned for TV/Film, so I would give that a try and see what I think.   

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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