Tag: Historical Fiction

Book Review: Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

Letters to the Lost
Author: Iona Grey

Published: May 26, 2015

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: August 29- September 10, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars     

Book Description:

I promised to love you forever, in a time when I didn’t know if I’d live to see the start of another week. Now it looks like forever is finally running out. I never stopped loving you. I tried, for the sake of my own sanity, but I never even got close, and I never stopped hoping either.

Late on a frozen February evening, a young woman is running through the streets of London. Having fled from her abusive boyfriend and with nowhere to go, Jess stumbles onto a forgotten lane where a small, clearly unlived in old house offers her best chance of shelter for the night. The next morning, a mysterious letter arrives and when she can’t help but open it, she finds herself drawn inexorably into the story of two lovers from another time.

In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable attraction that draws them together. Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival are one in five. In the midst of such uncertainty, the one thing they hold onto is the letters they write to each other. Fate is unkind and they are separated by decades and continents. In the present, Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to them. Her hope—inspired by a love so powerful it spans a lifetime—will lead her to find a startling redemption in her own life in this powerfully moving novel.

Jessica’s Review:

This is another one I read for a book club and it is one I had not heard of until it was the selected book. We have two time periods for the novel: London in 1942 and 2011.  In 2011 we have Jess’s story with Will coming into the picture and in 1942 Stella’s story with Dan coming into the picture.  We have a love story with Dan and Stella who are separated and this time period comes together with Jess in 2011 discovering the letters Dan wrote to Stella. Over time along with Jess we see Dan and Stella’s love story and Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to both of them.

This one was just an ok read for me.  I was not really intrigued with most of the 2011 story other than Jess trying to find out what happened to Dan and Stella. And I wanted a different ending than what we got. ( I wanted an ending similar the movie Forever Young with Mel Gibson;-which also partly takes place in WWII. I just realized that as I was writing this! Oh wow!)  I just didn’t connect with Jess, so as I listened I seemed to tune her parts with Will out.

This just wasn’t the novel for me, but fans of WWII historical fiction should really enjoy it.  You really see the tough life Stella had in that time of 1942, the tough life that women in general had.  No choices to what they could do. It’s hard for us in our 21st century minds to think about that!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty

Stoker’s Manuscript
Royce Prouty

Published: June 13, 2013
352 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 2.5 stars

Book Description:

When rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley is hired to authenticate and purchase the original draft and notes for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, little does he know that the reclusive buyer is a member of the oldest family in Transylvania.

After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he’s become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley’s only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley’s salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward’s flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.

Building on actual international events surrounding the publication of Bram Stoker’s original novel, Royce Prouty has written a spellbinding debut novel that ranges from 1890s Chicago, London, and Transylvania to the perilous present.

Kim’s Review:

The poor man’s Historian is the best I can say. The first half had some major potential band I was really excited … but then the second half was such a let down! There was no real mystery, there wasn’t a quest, it just all felt so silly and inconsequential! And you’d think that having more vampires, some weird rituals, and a global conspiracy would make the story better! They didn’t. By the time I got 2/3s of the way through, I just didn’t care anymore and turned the pages in order to finish quickly.

Maybe if I hadn’t read The Historian, I would have liked it better. But I kept comparing them, and Stoker’s Manuscript didn’t even come close! Honestly, I can’t even say I’m glad I read it or recommend it to anyone. Just go read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and you’ll have everything and much more than what this book could give you.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum

Atomic Anna
Author: Rachel Barenbaum

Published: April 5, 2022
448 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Three generations of women work together and travel through time to prevent the Chernobyl disaster and right the wrongs of their past.

Three brilliant women.
Two life-changing mistakes.
One chance to reset the future.

In 1986, renowned nuclear scientist, Anna Berkova, is sleeping in her bed in the Soviet Union when Chernobyl’s reactor melts down. It’s the exact moment she tears through time—and it’s an accident. When she opens her eyes, she’s landed in 1992 only to discover Molly, her estranged daughter, shot in the chest. Molly, with her dying breath, begs Anna to go back in time and stop the disaster, to save Molly’s daughter Raisa, and put their family’s future on a better path.

In ‘60s Philadelphia, Molly is coming of age as an adopted refusenik. Her family is full of secrets and a past they won’t share. She finds solace in comic books, drawing her own series, Atomic Anna, and she’s determined to make it as an artist. When she meets the volatile, charismatic Viktor, their romance sets her life on a very different course.

In the ‘80s, Raisa, is a lonely teen and math prodigy, until a quiet, handsome boy moves in across the street and an odd old woman shows up claiming to be her biological grandmother. As Raisa finds new issues of Atomic Anna in unexpected places, she notices each comic challenges her to solve equations leading to one impossible conclusion: time travel. And she finally understands what she has to do.

As these remarkable women work together to prevent the greatest nuclear disaster of the 20th century, they grapple with the power their discoveries hold. Just because you can change the past, does it mean you should?

Kim’s Review:

This book gave me anxiety! I’m a historian and a traditional one at that! And when someone, anyone starts messing with time, I get all clenchy inside! And in this book, everyone treats time with no respect!! Just going back in time, willy-nilly, not caring about the effects! Sooner, later, trying fix stuff from the last trip … it was just exhausting. The story itself was ok, and the characters were likable. The people that I felt were so underappreciated were Yulia and Lazar. They adopted their friend’s child without complaint and she turned into a brat! Molly and Anna kinda ruined the book for me. They’re the type of women who do what they want without a single thought about how their actions affect anyone else. I greatly dislike people like that. And the lesson, I just didn’t get it. The resolution was murky and unsatisfying. I’m glad I read this book … but I doubt I’ll ever read it again.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK