Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ove is difficult, Ove is frustrating, Ove is cranky and at times downright awful and Ove is the kind of person that will restore your hope in humanity. I absolutely loved this book. Frederick Backman has a gift of making the most cantankerous characters into lovable and memorable ones with just a few incredibly well placed words. I have become a huge fan of this author. This little gem of a book is a perfect escape to a place where rules matter and people like Ove do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. All of the characters in the book are quirky and lovable, but you will have a special place in your heart for Ove. Sometimes I am skeptical if a book has a ton of excellent ratings, I worry that I will be disappointed, but A Man Called Ove lived up to the hype. I highly recommend this book.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Orphan's Tale: A Novel by Pam Jenoff

The Orphan's Tale: A NovelThe Orphan's Tale: A Novel by Pam Jenoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Orphan's Tale follows two different women, Astrid and Noa, as the ravages of war and the consequences of their decisions finds them both in need of protection in an unlikely place, at a circus. Astrid is a jew hiding from Nazi's and Noa has been thrown out by her family after becoming pregnant from a german soldier. Both women are full of secrets, and unable to hide from their past. To make matters worse, Noa has rescued a jewish baby, who she calls Theo. Astrid begrudgingly agrees to train Noa as an aerialist, and Noa finds a way to move past her fear, sailing through the air on the trapeze. The Orphans Tale is an interesting new look at occupied Europe through the lens of a circus and all who find shelter under the big top. I enjoyed The Orphans Tale, and I would recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction.

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

In the Fullness of time: One Woman's Story of Growth and EmpowermentIn the Fullness of time: One Woman's Story of Growth and Empowerment by Katherine P. Stillerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the Fullness of Time is a rich and well researched story that weaves the struggle for women's suffrage with the personal story of Hattie Barton, a young wife and mother in South Carolina. Hattie feels strongly about suffrage, and finds herself at the crossroads of history. With her extraordinary sister-in-law Alice, Hattie witnesses firsthand the passion and commitment of suffragists and decides to get involved. The story is full of interesting historical details, references to obvious events like the Spanish Flu epidemic and the U.S. entry into World War 1, the book also pulls from more obscure references like the work of renown physician Joseph Lister and the infamous 'redeemers' of the reconstruction era south. The details add a richness to the story, from the purple and gold of the suffragists to the red rose of anti suffragists, the author paints a picture of history that is detailed and interesting. As Hattie struggles with her feelings for her ex-fiance, her husband Charles is forced to deal with his unresolved feeling for his first love, Julia. Although the relationship between Hattie and Charles is central tot he story, the author does seem to rush through their relationship details, and tends to focus more on the fight for suffrage. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade

Orphan Number EightOrphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Orphan # 8 was Rachel Rabinowitz, but she didn't start out as an orphan. This story follows Rachel's life, through all of the ugly twists and turns at the beginning, to the kindness of strangers who helped her along the way and eventually to Rachel herself as she must come to terms with her own past in order to face her uncertain future. Rachel's story exposes some of the ugly truths about our society, including medical experiments on groups of orphans, to the exclusion and negative societal attitudes about homosexuals, but her story also inspires hope through the kindest of strangers or even the hopeful advice from a holocaust survivor. Ultimately Rachel must decide for herself how to deal with the woman who inflicted cruel and unnecessary experiments on her as a child, when that same doctor is admitted to her ward in the hospital. In her treatment of this doctor, Rachel must confront the ghosts of her past and find the courage to deal with her own health issues that she has been neglecting. The writing was well done, but felt somewhat repetitive at times. The story switched easily from past to present with great historical details. Rachel's story is all the more tragic when considering that while the novel is fiction, according to the author's website, medical research on children in orphanages was a common practice, and that there really are children who grew up like Rachel. I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it to any fans of historical fiction.


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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith

The Girl from VeniceThe Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fast paced story of adventure, intrigue and love during the final days of World War 2, 'The Girl from Venice' was an interesting and entertaining read. Another reader descriptor the authors writing style as "sparse" and I would have to agree. There were a few action scenes that were difficult to follow, but overall the book had interesting characters and a few twists and turns to keep in interesting. The story follows Cenzo, a fisherman from a small village outside of Venice. When Cenzo finds a girl floating in the lagoon his adventure begins. Fans of crime fiction will like the plot and historical fiction fans will love the settings and minor characters. 'The Girl from Venice' is an interesting read.

I won this book through Goodreads' giveaway program in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray

America's First DaughterAmerica's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Behind every successful man is a good woman. Most often we take that quote to mean a wife, but in this lengthy tribute to one of the great icons of American history we learn about the two women who each helped Thomas Jefferson to achieve great success, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. The book is told from Patsy's point of view. From their narrow escape of the British during the American Revolution to their first hand accounts of the rebellions and ultimate revolution in France, Patsy and her famous father are witness to some of the most iconic moments in history. The author is masterful at conveying the ambiguity of feelings surrounding slavery and its ties to the land of Virginia farmers. At 624 pages, it is a lengthy read, but the authentic language and vivid descriptions immerse the reader into the lives of Jefferson and his family. Patsy's relationship with her father was a lifelong struggle between her admiration and devotion to him and her own desires for independence. Patsy also struggles to accept her father's relationship with Sally Hemmings. Patsy serves in several roles for her father, both at home and his political life. In addition to Jefferson the story includes other notable figures like James Madison and his irrepressible wife Dolly, and the legendary french hero, Lafayette, and the author brings these historical figures to life with honesty and at times humor, to help the reader develop a new understanding of the country's earliest leaders. I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A.J Fikry is an interesting character, he is flawed and not entirely likeable, but there is something unique about him. The author does a tremendous job of introducing us to A.J. with all his quirks, and he ultimately becomes a very endearing character. This story looks at the themes of grief and loss as well as redemption and forgiveness, but it doesn’t labor over these themes in an obvious way. Each of the supporting characters add to the story, as they share a love of books and together they show us the importance of the people in our lives. As a self-confessed bibliophile I really enjoyed this book.

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