Tag: Historical Fiction

Book Review: What the River Knows Series by Isabel Ibañez

What the River Knows
Series: Secrets of the Nile #1
Author: Isabel Ibañez

Published: October 31, 2023
404 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read:  February 4- March 19, 2024
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Bolivian-Argentinian Inez Olivera belongs to the glittering upper society of nineteenth century Buenos Aires, and like the rest of the world, the town is steeped in old world magic that’s been largely left behind or forgotten. Inez has everything a girl might want, except for the one thing she yearns the most: her globetrotting parents—who frequently leave her behind.

When she receives word of their tragic deaths, Inez inherits their massive fortune and a mysterious guardian, an archeologist in partnership with his Egyptian brother-in-law. Yearning for answers, Inez sails to Cairo, bringing her sketch pads and an ancient golden ring her father sent to her for safekeeping before he died. But upon her arrival, the old world magic tethered to the ring pulls her down a path where she soon discovers there’s more to her parent’s disappearance than what her guardian led her to believe.

With her guardian’s infuriatingly handsome assistant thwarting her at every turn, Inez must rely on ancient magic to uncover the truth about her parent’s disappearance—or risk becoming a pawn in a larger game that will kill her.

The Mummy meets Death on the Nile in this lush, immersive historical fantasy set in Egypt filled with adventure, a rivals-to-lovers romance, and a dangerous race.

Jessica’s Review: 

This was a good read!  Ancient Egypt is always a welcome location for a book to take place and there was adventure even a slow burn romance. There is something for everyone in this book!

We have a strong YA character in Inez, I really liked her! A lot happens in this book! And Whit, it was like just get together! The version I read had some pictures in it and I pictured a young Henry Cavill playing him.

Having been to Egypt in 2006, it brought back memories of that trip! Egypt was one of my bucket list places to go to and I did it!  How many people do you know that have been to Egypt? I have a friend (Beccie) going there this year and this book came from her. I am so excited that she is finally going to one of her bucket list places!

The only ‘bad’ thing about this book is a cliffhanger and I have to wait until NOVEMBER for the sequel and final book.  If you like action, adventure, romance, Egypt, pick this one up and read it now! Or wait until closer to the end of the year so you can read the sequel without a long wait!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Audiobook Review: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Narrator: Ethan Hawke
Published: March 31, 1969
Audiobook: 6 hours 2 minutes

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: August 3-7, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars

Book Description:

Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.”

Jessica’s Review:

“And so it is”… Slaughterhouse Five was not for me. For me it seems that Vonnegut is an acquired taste. Slaughterhouse is a short book but also a very hard read. I only finished it because it is a book club read, I most likely would have never picked it up otherwise.  Maybe my opinion of it will change after we have our meeting on this one and I hear what the other ladies have to say.

Maybe it was that I did not know the history of Dresden or I am not a fan of symbolism, but it just did not work for me.  The novel was also non-linear which can make it harder to read if you are not enjoying it. And then there are aliens and time travel….  Slaughterhouse is a classic that most people seem to enjoy but I just really struggled. It is semi- auto biographical for Vonnegut as he served during WWII. 

I listened to an older audiobook version which was narrated by Ethan Hawke. His narration was fine, and it actually helped me get through listening.  There was also an interview with Vonnegut. The main thing I got from that interview is that Vonnegut is NOT Billy Pilgrim. Billy Pilgrim was based off of a real person: Edward R Crone Jr, who actually died at Dresden.  That was interesting to find out. 

Though not for me, maybe this classic will be for you. “And so it is”…

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Middle Grades Book Review: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring by Enigma Alberti

Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring
Series
: Spy on History #2
Author:
Enigma Alberti
Illustrator:
Tony Cliff

Published: April 2, 2019
96 Pages

Reviewed By: Cristina

Book Description:

Your Mission: Find Mary’s secret diary using spycraft stools to uncover hidden codes!

It’s a true story of bravery: Mary Bowser was an African American spy for the Union who worked as a maid in the mansion of Confederate Jefferson Davis. From hair-raising close calls when she almost gets caught to how she uses her photographic memory to “steal” top secret documents. Mary’s story reads like a gripping novel.

It’s a mystery to solve: There are clues embedded in the story’s text and illustrations, and Spycraft materials—including a replica Civil War cipher wheel—come in an envelope at the beginning of the book. Use both to discover what happened to Mary Bowser’s secret diary.

Cristina’s Review:

What would you do if you had the opportunity to be a spy where it would really matter? Your skills: a photographic memory, ability to read, and blending into the background. If you succeed, your people have a chance at freedom. If you fail, you’ll be hung. Are you in?

This book is a historical fiction with a fun interactive spy riddle to solve as well. A reader can just enjoy the story, or they can try to solve the case that’s embedded in the real story. Mary Bowser was a real person. She was a free African-American, but went undercover as a maid in Jefferson Davis’s mansion to spy for the Union. Because no person of color was expected to be able to read at that time in the South, Mary was able to read many valuable documents in Davis’s office while she dusted or polished lamps. She had to pretend to be illiterate and a little slow to avoid suspicion. It was a job filled with danger, but Mary proved to be invaluable to the Union. She was able to get critical information to the Union army and it helped save lives and win battles.

This book is written in a very engaging style. Lots of action, a few narrow misses that have you holding your breath, and insights into what the Civil War was like for the non-soldiers who still wanted to help fight for freedom and the Union. The interactive riddle–a search for Mary’s secret diary–is engaging as well. There is help at the back of the book if the reader gets too frustrated, but it’s fun to try and find the diary without any assistance. Spy on History is a series, so if historical fiction sounds appealing, come to the library to choose your spy adventure!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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