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historical

reviews

Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard

Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard

I am an engineer and a measured man of the world. I prefer to weigh everything in the balance, to calculate and to plan. Yet my own heart is going faster than I can now count.

In 1649, Jan Brunt arrives in Great Britain from the Netherlands to work on draining and developing an expanse of marshy wetlands known as the Great Level. It is here in this wild country that he meets Eliza, a local woman whose love overturns his ordered vision. Determined to help her strive beyond her situation, Jan is heedless of her devotion to her home and way of life. When Eliza uses the education Jan has given her to sabotage his work, Eliza is brutally punished, and Jan flees to the New World.

In the American colonies, profiteers on Manatus Eyland are hungry for viable land to develop, and Jan’s skills as an engineer are highly prized. His prosperous new life is rattled, however, on a spring morning when a boy delivers a note that prompts him to remember the Great Level, and confront all that was lost there. Eliza has made it to the New World and is once again using the education Jan gave her to bend the landscape—this time to find her own place of freedom. (publisher)

Most of the book is told from Jan’s point of view, like writing a diary, about the love of his life Eliza. Towards the end of the book, we get Eliza’s point of view until it goes back to Jan for the last chapter. I thought it odd that it wasn’t back and forth the whole book. I would have liked to learn Eliza’s point of view from the start.

The book was well written but too slow-paced for me. It just dragged way too much. I didn’t connect with the characters and I wasn’t sure if Eliza really cared for anyone but herself.

I liked to learn more about Jan’s trade, which I knew nothing about. And I don’t usually read about Dutch people or this period.

3/5

Published: Atria (September 17, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: publisher

reviews

Repentance by Andrew Lam

Repentance by Andrew Lam

France, October 1944. A Japanese American war hero has a secret.

A secret so awful he’d rather die than tell anyone–one so entwined with the brave act that made him a hero that he’s determined never to speak of the war. Ever.

Decades later his son, Daniel Tokunaga, a world-famous cardiac surgeon, is perplexed when the U.S. government comes calling, wanting to know about his father’s service with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during WWII. Something terrible happened while his father was fighting the Germans in France, and the Department of Defense won’t stop its investigation until it’s determined exactly who did what.

Wanting answers of his own, Daniel upends his life to find out what his father did on a small, obscure hilltop half a world away. As his quest for the truth unravels his family’s catastrophic past, the only thing for certain is that nothing–his life, career, and family–can ever be the same again.

Daniel Tokunaga is a successful cardiac surgeon of Japanese-American descent. He’s never given his father’s war service a second thought until Department of Defense makes contact wanting to know about his war efforts. Daniel has a difficult relationship with his estranged father who’s always been remote and strict.

The book follows Daniel in the present day and his father Ray in the past. Through tragedy, Daniel learns who his father really is and what he sacrificed for his family’s sake.

I knew there were Japanese internment camps in the USA but didn’t know anything more. I would have liked to know more about the camps and more about how the Japanese came to volunteer to fight despite their treatment.

The book is well written, but I would have liked to learn more about the camps and situation in the US at that time. I also found Daniel to be very judgmental and easy to find the worst about his father.

3/5

Published: Tiny Fox Press (May 1, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

Andrew Lam, M.D., is the award-winning author of Repentance, Two Sons of China, and Saving Sight. His writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Born in Philadelphia and raised in central Illinois, he graduated summa cum laude in history from Yale University, where he studied military history and U.S.-East Asian relations. He then attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by specialty training to become a retinal surgeon. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and resides in western Massachusetts with his wife and four children.

His newest book is Repentance, a historical novel and riveting family drama entwined with the history of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a group of Japanese American soldiers who fought valiantly in Europe during WWII while many of their families were incarcerated in camps like Manzanar at home. The 442nd became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history.

Learn more at Andrew Lam’s website. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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reviews

Shakespeare’s Witch by Samantha Grosser

Shakespeare’s Witch by Samantha Grosser

Love, Witchcraft, Sorcery, Madness.

A fortune told …
When Sarah Stone foresees Will Shakespeare’s latest play has opened doors to evil, she begs the playwright to abandon it. But Will refuses, aware the play is one of his best. And so rehearsals for Macbeth begin.

Forbidden desires …
After her vision, Sarah fears for her life – she has never known the shewstone to lie, and she turns to her brother Tom for comfort. A strange darkness seems to haunt the playhouse, and when Tom sets out to seduce John Upton, the boy actor who plays Lady Macbeth, the boy sees the hand of witchcraft in his own forbidden desires for men. Then Sarah weaves a spell to win the love of the new lead actor, and John, terrified for the safety of his soul, begins to make his accusations.

The Spirits have spoken …
As rehearsals continue, Sarah and Tom must struggle to convince John he is mistaken and that his sins are his own – their lives and the fortune of the play are at stake. But the Spirits have spoken – will the fate that Sarah foresaw come to pass or is their destiny their own to decide?

Set against the first production of Macbeth in 1606, Shakespeare’s Witch is a seductive tale of the origins of the curse of the Scottish Play.

Sarah Stone and her half-brother work with Shakespeare in his company. They both dabble in the occult and their mother taught them witchcraft. That becomes a problem after one player in the company accuses Sarah of being a witch. On the eve of the premiere of Macbeth, Shakespeare asks Sarah to consult the spirits about the play. Sarah is afraid about what she sees and asks Shakespeare not to go through with Macbeth, but he refuses.

This turned out to be different from what I was expecting not that it was a bad thing. It has to be mentioned that there is incest which might be a problem for some.

I don’t really know what to say without giving too much away…

I liked the characters and the writing. There are mystery, witchcraft, and suspense.

I enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to reading more from the author.

3,5 stars

Published: Sam Grosser Books (March 20, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

Historical fiction author Samantha Grosser originally hails from England, but now lives on the sunny Northern Beaches of Sydney with her husband, son and a very small dog called Livvy.

Combining a lifelong love of history with a compulsion to write that dates from childhood, Samantha is now bringing her passion for telling compelling stories to the world.

Samantha has an Honours Degree in English Literature and taught English for many years in Asia and Australia. She is the author of wartime dramas Another Time and Place and The Officer’s Affair, and The King James Men, set during the turbulent early years of 17th Century.

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reviews

Cherokee America by Margaret Verble

Cherokee America by Margaret Verble

From the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Maudís Line, an epic novel that follows a web of complex family alliances and culture clashes in the Cherokee Nation during the aftermath of the Civil War, and the unforgettable woman at its center.

Itís the early spring of 1875 in the Cherokee Nation West. A baby, a black hired hand, a bay horse, a gun, a gold stash, and a preacher have all gone missing. Cherokee America Singer, known as ìCheck,î a wealthy farmer, mother of five boys, and soon-to-be widow, is not amused.

In this epic of the American frontier, several plots intertwine around the heroic and resolute Check: her son is caught in a compromising position that results in murder; a neighbor disappears; another man is killed. The tension mounts and the violence escalates as Checkís mixed race family, friends, and neighbors come together to protect their communityóand painfully expel one of their own.

Cherokee America vividly, and often with humor, explores the bondsóof blood and place, of buried histories and half-told tales, of past grief and present injuryóthat connect a colorful, eclectic cast of characters, anchored by the clever, determined, and unforgettable Check.

What drew me to read this was that it’s set in Cherokee Nation. I don’t know much about US history and I did learn much. But I have to say that there’s huge number f characters and I’m still bit confused at who is who and how they’re related. There was also lot of different plots and sub-plots that never really went anywhere.

I liked Check and admired her courage and determination. But there was too little of Check and Cherokee culture.

But I learned a lot about the time period, it just could have been more.

3/5

Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (February 19, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

Margaret Verble is an enrolled and voting citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a member of a large Cherokee family that has, through generations, made many contributions to the tribeís history and survival. Although many of her family have remained in Oklahoma to this day, and some still own and farm the land on which the book is set, Margaret was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Many of the characters of Maudís Line are based on people Margaret knew as a child and the setting is land she roamed for many years of her life. In part, Margaret wrote this book to keep those people and that land alive in her heart.

Margaret’s new novel, Cherokee America, will be released by Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt on Feb. 19, 2019. A prequel to Maud’s Line, it is set in 1875 in the Arkansas River bottoms of the old Cherokee Nation West.

Margaret is a member of the Authors Guild and Western Writers of America.

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The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley

The Moon Sister (The Seven Sisters 5) by Lucinda Riley

Tiggy D’Aplièse spends her days experiencing the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands doing a job she loves at a deer sanctuary. But when the sanctuary is forced to close, she is offered a job as a wildlife consultant on the vast and isolated estate of the elusive and troubled laird, Charlie Kinnaird. She has no idea that the move will not only irrevocably alter her future, but also bring her face-to-face with her past.

At the estate, she meets Chilly, a gypsy who fled from Spain seventy years before. He tells her that not only does she possess a sixth sense passed down from her ancestors, but it was foretold long ago that he would be the one to send her back home…

In 1912, in the poor gypsy community outside the city walls of Granada, Lucía Amaya-Albaycin is born. Destined to be the greatest flamenco dancer of her generation—and named La Candela, due to the inner flame that burns through her when she dances— Lucía is whisked away by her ambitious and talented guitarist father at the tender age of ten to dance in the flamenco bars of Barcelona. Her mother is devastated by the loss of her daughter and as civil war threatens in Spain, tragedy strikes the rest of her family. Now in Madrid, Lucía and her troupe of dancers are forced to flee for their lives, their journey taking them far across the water to South America and eventually, to North America and New York—Lucía’s long-held dream. But to pursue it, she must choose between her passion for her career and the man she adores. (publisher)

6 sisters were adopted by one man who named them after the Seven Sisters constellation. When he died, he left each sister a letter telling how he found them and clues about their past.

The book has two timelines: the present day with Tiggy and the past with her grandmother Lucia.
Tiggy lives in Scotland working on a wildlife centre looking after Scottish wildcats. There she meets a man who knows where she comes from and knew her grandmother.

In Spain we follow Lucia and how she became the star flamenco dancer. I didn’t like Lucia who was very selfish and just not likeable, like her father for that matter. She was so oblivious of the world and not knowing anything about the situation in her country.

I liked the Scottish parts but took some time getting into the Spanish setting. I enjoyed the book and it was fairly quick book to read despite the size. This was my second Riley book and I really need to read the first books in the series soon. I’m looking forward to the next book.

3,5 stars

Published: Atria (February 19, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Publisher