Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

Title: The Fiery Cross

Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Fiction, SciFi, Historical, Fantasy

Other books I've read by this author: OutlanderDragonfly in AmberVoyager, Drums of Autumn

Synopsis: 
"The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy—a time-traveler’s certain knowledge.

Born in the year of Our Lord 1918, Claire Randall served England as a nurse on the battlefields of World War II, and in the aftermath of peace found fresh conflicts when she walked through a cleftstone on the Scottish Highlands and found herself an outlander, an English lady in a place where no lady should be, in a time—1743—when the only English in Scotland were the officers and men of King George’s army.

Now wife, mother, and surgeon, Claire is still an outlander, out of place, and out of time, but now, by choice, linked by love to her only anchor—Jamie Fraser. Her unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead—or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes....

Grand, sweeping, utterly unforgettable, The Fiery Cross is riveting entertainment, a vibrant tapestry of history and human drama." - Back Cover 
My Thoughts

Approximately 1,400 pages later, The Fiery Cross got me through most of December and into the new year! This is the first review of 2021, and the fifth in the Outlander series that I began in 2020. 
This novel really starts to step away from the television series, while some of the main events still occur, most of the novel and specifically the small details of how the main events come about really starts to change.
Brianna and Roger really start to settle in to living in the 1770s and raising their son Jeremiah with the help of Claire and Jamie. Claire's role as a healer has been firmly established in the area, and Jamie has firmly cemented himself as the leader of the community on Fraser's Ridge. 
Many of the storylines started in Drums of Autumn are continued and resolved in this novel and start to set up new ones for the next installment in this series.
Can't wait to continue reading this series! 

Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!




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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

 Title: Island Beneath the Sea

Author: Isabel Allende

Genre: Historical Fiction


Synopsis: 
Zarite, or Tete, is born into slavery on the island of Saint Domingue in the 1700s. She is sold to Toulouse Valmorain as a young girl and works in the house on his sugarcane plantation. Through the years she becomes a nursemaid for his wife and child and a mother to her own. When the Haitian Revolution begins Valmorain flees with his family to New Orleans, and Tete begins a new life with the family just as the United States obtains new land in the Lousiana Purchase.



My Thoughts

I have never read anything about the Haitian revolution before and this is such an interesting read. Some chapters are told from Tete's perspective, but most is written in third person. 
Getting to understand what life was like on the island during French Colonialism and how the revolution started is very intriguing. Especially the hardships of the slaves who had the completely exhausting work of cutting sugar cane and creating molasses on the plantation. 
It was also fascinating to have a look into life in New Orleans before it became a part of the United States. French and Spanish colonial rule gave it the more European feel it still has today. In both locations, Tete has to deal with strong political and social boundaries based on skin color. Not just between those considered Black and White, but the variations in between of those who are mixed race, including her own daughter.
This novel is very well done and I would recommend that everyone take the chance to read it.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Varina by Charles Frazier

Title: Varina

Author: Charles Frazier

Genre: Historical Fiction


Synopsis: 
Varina Davis reminisces with an old acquaintance about her life; how she met and married Jefferson Davis, living in Washington as a young woman, their flight after the loss of the American Civil War, and her time in Europe after the war.



My Thoughts

I had never even heard of Varina Davis before reading this novel. I loved reading about her life, told through a fictional lens, jumping back and forth between the past and her life living in a hotel as she told the story to James, a freed slave who had lived as a young boy raised with her children. Not many stories get told from the perspective of the losing side, but especially not from the women of the losing side. The story is not about the morals of the war, but rather encompasses Varina's whole life, with the Confederacy being just one mistake in a difficult life.
I really recommend this one when looking for a read about a complex and interesting woman.

Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!




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Friday, October 23, 2020

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

                                          

Title: Fools and Mortals

Author: Bernard Cornwell

Genre: Historical Fiction


Synopsis: Richard Shakespeare, a player, is feeling overshadowed at the Theater by his older brother, Will. Having played girls and women early in his career, Richard feels that he is now of an age and talent to be given men's parts. Trying to convince his brother to cast him in a man's role and take him seriously is not an easy task. But when scripts to Will's new plays go missing, Richard sees an opportunity to prove his worth.



My Thoughts

This was such a fun book to read. I enjoyed switching it up and reading about a young man protagonist looking to come up in the world. It is interesting to read about William Shakespeare from the perspective of his younger brother. The particulars of the time period were well represented through the story, the life of the common man, religious persecution, life in the Elizabethan era.
I enjoyed the use of quotations from Shakespeare's plays and the imagining of his writing process and the way plays were rehearsed at a time when playhouses were a new concept. 

Check this out if you love theater, the Elizabethan era, and a coming of age story. 

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Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger

Title: The Dressmaker's Dowry

Author: Meredith Jaeger

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery


Synopsis: 


San Francisco: 1876

Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O'Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings while mending delicate clothing for the city's most affluent ladies. When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna's future is altered forever. With Margaret's encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him. Then Margaret disappears, and Hanna turns to Lucas. Braving the gritty streets of the Barbary Coast and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stumbles upon Margaret’s fate, forcing her to make a devastating decision...one that will echo through the generations.

San Francisco: Present Day

In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for. Afraid to tell her husband of her writer’s block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered. Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist. Will her beautiful heirloom engagement ring uncover a connection to Hanna Schaeffer? 

My Thoughts

I picked this book up on a whim off of a clearance table at Barnes and Noble. I love a multigenerational book that compares the lives of characters from the past with those in the present. I especially love it when the characters are related in an unexpected way, as is the case in this novel. 
Not only does this story have the historical fiction aspect, which we all know I adore, but it has an air of mystery which is really perfect for this time of year. It gets pretty suspenseful near the end. I read this one so fast because I just had to know what happens to these two dressmakers who disappeared. 
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. The only part that was a little off to me was the end. The last chapter had all of this suspense built up and then it sort of fell flat. The epilogue makes up for the last chapter a bit, but I still expected more of a reaction to Sarah's treatment by her blackmailer. 

If you are looking for a fun mystery for October, I totally recommend that you check this one out! 

Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!




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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

                                                           

 Title: Drums of Autumn

Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Fiction, SciFi, Historical, Fantasy

Other books I've read by this author: OutlanderDragonfly in Amber, Voyager

Synopsis: It began in Scotland, at an ancient stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice. Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in frontier America. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century. Their daughter, Brianna....

Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the stone circle and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history...and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past...or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong... back cover

My Thoughts

I'm finishing up Drums of Autumn as we arrive into the first days of fall here and it is the most autumnal weather we have had in years. 
Book 4 of the Outlander series, Drums of Autumn is where there start to be some more distinguishing differences between the tv series and the book. The first half of the book is very different in terms of the small details. 
SPOILER ALERT: Overall, the large things still happen, the Frasers end up in the American Colonies, meet Jocasta, gain Fraser's Ridge, and get robbed by Stephen Bonnett after saving him. Sadly, there is absolutely no mention or reunion with Murtagh in the colonies. Fergus leaves Marsali behind to have the baby in Jamaica and there is much less mention of their family in this book. There is a brief mention of the Regulators but nothing so involved as we see in the show. The second half, after Brianna and Roger travel through the stones, is much more in line with what happens in season 4, with a few small changes in the minor details. END SPOILERS.
The middle is a little be slow, but the rest is just as engaging as the others in the series. I cannot wait to continue with this series! 
Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!




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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

                                                           

 Title: Dear Mrs. Bird

Author: AJ Pearce

Genre: Historical Fiction


Synopsis: "Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are doing their bit for the war effort and trying to stay cheerful, despite the German planes making their nightly raids. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent, and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance; but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, renowned advice columnist of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who many have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she begins to secretly write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles." - Back Cover

My Thoughts

I laughed, I cried... I cried some more. I had expected a narrative about women breaking into journalism, but this novel has much more than that. I loved Emmy's amusing inner dialogue and her tendency to speak extra loud when she is nervous. It is a wonderful story of friendship, hardship, and doing your part during WWII. Emmy's determination to answer the 'less than pleasant' questions of women who had no one else to turn to is endearing and risky, which makes her all the more lovable. 
Of course, as a story set in war times, be prepared for some seriously tear-jerking moments. Emmy faces some serious personal losses, but not what you might expect, adding depth and to her bubbly personality.

Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!




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To see more from the author, visit the website linked above