Tag: Historical Fiction

Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doehr

Cloud Cuckoo Land
Author: Anthony Doehr

Published: September 28, 2021
626 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

When everything is lost, it’s our stories that survive.

How do we weather the end of things? Cloud Cuckoo Land brings together an unforgettable cast of dreamers and outsiders from past, present and future to offer a vision of survival against all odds.

Constantinople, 1453:
An orphaned seamstress and a cursed boy with a love for animals risk everything on opposite sides of a city wall to protect the people they love.

Idaho, 2020:
An impoverished, idealistic kid seeks revenge on a world that’s crumbling around him. Can he go through with it when a gentle old man stands between him and his plans?

Unknown, Sometime in the Future:
With her tiny community in peril, Konstance is the last hope for the human race. To find a way forward, she must look to the oldest stories of all for guidance.

Bound together by a single ancient text, these tales interweave to form a tapestry of solace and resilience and a celebration of storytelling itself.

Kim’s Review:

This is definitely an interesting book. You really don’t know what’s going on until the story resolves itself at the end. I was drawn in by the prospect of a lost manuscript but I stayed for the complicated multiple timelines. Unfortunately, not all of them were resolved sufficiently for me, but the big picture was revealed and I was happy overall. The lost story of Cloud Cuckoo Land was an interesting common thread throughout time. My favorite was the spaceship Argos and Konstance’s constant curiosity and search for the truth. This is one of those books that I can’t talk much about because:

A. I don’t want to give anything away.
B. It really is complicated.

This is a great mixture of history, sci-fi, and fantasy! I would recommend this book!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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