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Category Archives: Historical Fiction

The Vanishing Half Review

Title: The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Type: Literary, Historical, Contemporary  
Pages: 343
Rating: 5/5

Whoa! Words can not describe how amazing this book is! This is my first book by Brit Bennett and it won’t be my last! First of all, look at this gorgeous cover!

Desiree and Stella Vines are idential twin sisters, born from a black mother and white father live in Mallard, Louisanna, a town where you are judged based on how dark your skin is. At 16, they decide they want a better life and head to New Orleans. Soon after, Stella disappears, deciding to live her life as a white woman. After 10 years, Desiree returns to Mallard to live with her mother. The book goes between past and present as well as points of view from the twins’ daughters. During this beautifully woven story we learn about the lives each sister and their families. Stella pretending to be something she’s not, afraid the past will catch up with her. Desiree accepting true self wondering what happened to her lost sister.

The author touches on some really tough topics like, racism, gender identity, privilege, colorism, family relationships and coming to terms with who you are. The chapters were long but I found myself being unable to put the book down.

Add this to your to-be-read list now. You will not regret it!

Category Archives: Historical Fiction

The Dutch Wife Review

Title: The Dutch Wife 
Author: Ellen Keith
Type: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Rating: 4/5

What is this book about?
The story follows Marijike, imprisoned in a concentration camp for being part of the resistance. She is forced to be a prostitute in a brothel. Her husband is taken to another camp. Karl is an SS officer and comes to the camp to try to make his father proud. After having to watch punishments and deaths of prisoners Karl is looking for a way escape and he meets Marijke. The meeting will change both of their lives forever. The story also flashes to Luciano, a prisoner in Argentina during the Dirty War in 1977. Luciano searches for ways to be part of the resistance from his cell. The stories of Marijke, Karl and Luciano are woven together. A story about love, survivial and heartache.

What did I think?
I really enjoyed this book. A large part of the story took place in a concentration camp which I imagine is a difficult topic to write a story about. I really enjoyed Marijike’s character and I imagine women in her place during that time very much felt some of the same things she did. I also thought it was nice to get some perspective from the SS Officer’s point of view too. It is not often that we see that in these types of novels. The other piece of the story takes place in Argentina during something called the dirty war, which I had never heard of. I felt encouraged to read and learn more about it. Overall I thought this was well written. I will continue to think about this book for a long time.

Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Valentine Review

Title: Valentine
Author: Elizabeth Wetmore
Type: Literary, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper
Published: 2020
Pages: 320
Rating: 2/5

What is this book about?
I found this book hard to describe. In my opinion, its a collection of stories about being a women living in Texas in the 1970’s. Some parts were centered around a teenager girl who was beaten and sexually assaulted at the beginning of the book. Some pieces dealt with race and racisim. You can read a full description on Goodreads here.

What did I think?
I did not enjoy this book. There were some good parts but it seemed more like a collection of short stories about women living in Texas in the 70’s. The story is told in several different points of view that it is difficult to keep track and remember them all. It’s also told in several different timelines sometimes as much as going between several on the same page. My last complaint is that there were no quotations which didn’t work for me in this book. I can usually get used to that but in this novel I struggled. I did appreciate the history of women and race during the 1970’s and the descriptive writing of West Texas.

Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Stay with Me Book Review

Title: Stay with Me
Author: Ayobami Adebayo
Type: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Pages: 260
Rating: 5/5

What is this book about?
Yejide has been married to Akin since they met in school and fell in love. The custom is to take several wives but Yejide and Akin have agreed that polygamy is not for them. But after years of infertility, Yejide’s family show up at her home with a new wife for Akin. Yejide is desperate to get pregnant in order to save her marriage. She does get pregnant but the cost is great, more than she could have ever thought possible.

What did I think?
This story was both beautiful and heartbreaking. Several times I wanted to crawl into the book and give Yejide a big hug. I felt like I really got to know these characters and I was sad when the story ended. I can’t go into much detail without giving away the story but there was so much emotion poured into this book and I felt I really got a sense of the Nigerian culture. I loved this story so much. Add it to your list now!

Category Archives: Historical Fiction

The Book of Lost Friends

Title: The Book of Lost Friends
Author: Lisa Wingate
Type: Historical Fiction 
Publisher: Random House/Ballantine Books
Published: 2020
Pages: 352
Stars: 5/5

This book comes out April 7, 2020

Thank you NetGalley and Random House/Ballantine Books for an advance copy of this book an exchange for an honest review.

“We die once when the last breath leaves our bodies. We die a second time when the last person speaks our name. The first death is beyond our control, but the second one we strive to prevent” 

What is this book about?
Post Civil war in Louisiana 1875… Three woman head to Texas for different reasons. Lavinina, a former slave owner, Juneau June, her free-born half sister and Hannie, Lavinina’s former slave. For the sisters, they are trying to find their father to see what his final wishes are regarding his land and who is suppose to inherit it. For Hannie, she is desperate to find her 8 siblings and mother who she was separated from before the war ended. Is her family alive and will she find them? Post civil war is dangerous in the south. Will these women find their way safely?

Louisiana 1987 Benny Silva is a first year teacher taking a job in a rural town in Louisiana. As she finishes her first few weeks she’s not sure she’s cut out for what the job entails. The students don’t trust her, they aren’t respectful, they don’t care about learning and many live in poverty. Benny is determined though and the students begin to learn about the towns rich history and the students become engaged and they become excited to go to her class.

What did I think?
Wow! Wow! Wow! It’s hard for me to articulate how much I loved this book and how much it made me think. The story goes between two different time lines. One is post civil war and the other is late 1980’s. Being born in the mid 1980’s it really put into perspective how slavery really wasn’t that long ago. It seem like we are so far removed from it but in reality its only been about 150 years. The story articulates well what the time period was like in the south post civil war and how dangerous it was for freed slaves. I also had no idea that many freed slaves wrote letters to a newspaper looking for their loved ones. It pulled at my heart strings. I can not image my boys being ripped out of my arms and sold. Wingate included these letters within her book and it was both beautiful and heartbreaking. Lastly, Benny’s storyline, a teacher in the 1980’s and how she ends up connecting her students to the towns history is just amazing. I felt so connected to these characters that I cried several times. Great read!!

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