Review Rendezvous: 3/2/19


My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, historical fiction
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 208
Publish date: September 15th, 2018
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

MRNiSHanna Slivka is on the cusp of fourteen when Hitler’s army crosses the border into Soviet-occupied Ukraine. Soon, the Gestapo closes in, determined to make the shtetele she lives in “free of Jews.” Until the German occupation, Hanna spent her time exploring Kwasova with her younger siblings, admiring the drawings of the handsome Leon Stadnick, and helping her neighbor dye decorative pysanky eggs. But now she, Leon, and their families are forced to flee and hide in the forest outside their shtetele—and then in the dark caves beneath the rolling meadows, rumored to harbor evil spirits. Underground, they battle sickness and starvation, while the hunt continues above. When Hanna’s father disappears, suddenly it’s up to Hanna to find him—and to find a way to keep the rest of her family, and friends, alive.

This one is tough, mostly because of the topic. I’m not one to read difficult books usually, but showing the minutiae of such horrific events through prose is an important part of keeping history alive, so I applaud Masih in this instance.

Masih brings the story of Hanna to life in such a vibrant and lifelike way. Hanna’s family must flee their home when Hitler’s forces overrun their Ukranian town. I don’t know much about Eastern Europe, so seeing the habits and customs represented in this book was also beautiful.

The depictions of family love and relationships with those outside of the runaway Jews is also beautiful. There is realism and connection evident in each interaction, and it’s one of the reasons that I quite enjoyed reading this.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 2/23/19


The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg
Book stats:
Genre(s): Historical fiction
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 348
Publish date: January 30th, 2018
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

TSLoMLSan Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

This is another one where I really like the cover! I love reading books that also make my graphic designer heart happy 🙂

I do like the historical basis of this one, early 20th century is one of my favorite time periods to read about. There’s something about the time just before the first world war that seems like everything is holding its breath. I did notice that the setting as lovely and very detailed, I enjoyed the small nods to what must have been quite a bit of research for this book.

Jack London was by far not my favorite character in the entire world. I think I’ve read maybe one of his books, but you could definitely tell he wouldn’t be much without Charmian supporting him. It was interesting to see the dichotomy between Charmian wanting to be a “liberated woman” of the time but also falling back onto the supportive wife role.

There was quite a bit of sleeping around in this book, which I can’t say I agreed with. But as this seems to have some historical basis, it makes sense that it made it into the prose. Overall, quite the good read. Not my favorite book of all time, but it was certainly entertaining nonetheless.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 10/27/18


The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo
Book stats:
Genre(s): Historical fiction, fantasy, retelling
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 416
Publish date: October 2nd, 2018
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

TSoKVTWhen Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo’s The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won’t erase.

I loved the spookiness of this book right off the bat. I also have not read a historical fiction in forever, so I enjoyed getting back into this genre. Honestly, this is the perfect book for Halloween time.

There’s a great blend of retelling and fresh, new content with the romance side. I did notice the attraction popped up pretty quickly, but it didn’t bug me too much overall. There is definitely a bit of the “I’m my own person, I’ll do what I want” attitude that may be a bit cliche for historical romance heroines. On the flip side though, it’s also nice that she’s not just a doormat that lets people walk all over her.

The beginning may have been a bit slow, but overall I think this is a really good read. It’s perfect to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and hot drink in the fall/Halloween season 🙂

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 3/17/18


Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalo
Book stats:
Genre(s): Historical, young adult, mystery, horror
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 326
Publish date: September 20th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon Book Depository

StalkingSeventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

I’ve wanted to read this book for quite some time. I don’t remember how I came across it, but I know Sasha from Abookutopia on Youtube recommended it as her book of the year 2016, so I was more than excited to check it out. It’s always been interesting, the mystery of Jack the Ripper, so I was excited to see another take on the famed legend.

First impression when I opened the book though? I didn’t know if I could handle the forensic terminology. Ironic, considering some of my TV shows of choice are Law & Order: SVU, Bones, and other procedurals. But, for some reason it’s different reading the description of an autopsy on paper with my horrid imagination set to work. But, luckily the descriptions aren’t quite as vivid for the rest of the book. Just don’t be shocked going into it.

Honestly, I am all for heroines who challenge the social norm, especially back in historical times when they were basically there to sit and look pretty. Audrey is a “never take no for an answer” type of person, and she is unafraid to practice forensic science in a time when it was looked down on for men to engage in, let alone women.

I also did like the inclusion of a romance subplot. Most would be annoyed at the distraction from the main storyline, but in this instance I believe Maniscalo wove the threads of the plot in very well with the mystery that everyone is trying to solve. Then there’s the fact that her love interest, Thomas, is basically Sherlock. So many deductions, so little time!

The ending also has a lovely twist. There is so much suspicion surrounding the identity of the killer. Is it her father? Uncle? Thomas? The inspector? Someone entirely unrelated to the case at all? You’ll have to read to find out. But, the ending was quite satisfying and I can’t wait to read the next in the series, Hunting Prince Dracula.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart


If you liked this book, check these ones out:

Glittering

A slight fantasy twist on a historical tale featuring a runaway countess

Spymistress

A rebellious southern woman covertly assists the north during the Civil War

Velvet

A young woman is drawn into the world of spies during the First World War

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Review Rendezvous: 3/3/18


The Yearbook by Carol Masciola
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, historical, time travel
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 224
Publish date: October 2nd, 2015
Purchase: Amazon Book Depository

YearbookMisfit teen Lola Lundy has every right to her anger and her misery. She’s failing in school, living in a group home, and social workers keep watching her like hawks, waiting for her to show signs of the horrible mental illness that cost Lola’s mother her life. Then, one night, she falls asleep in a storage room in her high school library, where she’s seen an old yearbook—from the days when the place was an upscale academy for young scholars instead of a dump. When Lola wakes, it’s to a scene that is nothing short of impossible.

Lola quickly determines that she’s gone back to the past—eighty years in the past, to be exact. The Fall Frolic dance is going full blast in the gym, and there she makes an instant connection with the brainy and provocative Peter Hemmings, class of ’24. His face is familiar, because she’s seen his senior portrait in the yearbook. By night’s end, Lola thinks she sees hope for her disastrous present: She’ll make a new future for herself in the past. But is it real? Or has the major mental illness in Lola’s family background finally claimed her? Has she slipped through a crack in time, or into a romantic hallucination she created in her own mind, wishing on the ragged pages of a yearbook from a more graceful time long ago?

There is so much going on in this one, but I ended up loving it the second I got started in on it. Our narrator, Lola, at first seems like she’s just a bit of an outcast student. But, there’s something big that haunts her past: her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her social workers are always wondering if it’ll be passed down to her.

Besides the standard teenage delinquency, Lola seems fairly normal. That is, until she’s tasked with cleaning an old, burned out room in the school library. It’s there that she travels back to 1923, meets a handsome young man at a school dance, and determines that she was actually meant to live in the 20th century. That, or the schizophrenia has finally taken over and she’s gone crazy. You really can’t tell, and that’s the fun part of having an unreliable narrator.

Honestly, this had me completely hooked in and believing that everything Lola was seeing was the real deal, all the way until the adults around her begin questioning her and poking holes in her story. Even Lola can’t decide what’s real and what’s not at one point. Either way, Masciola manages to capture the longing for a place that every outsider feels, alongside the complications of a mental illness that has everyone questioning your motives. Lola’s story in 1923 is also very sweet, although the only thing that I did find somewhat unbelievable was that fact that people accepted her immediately. You’re from New York and bought your shoes in Paris? Great! You grew up at a mining camp in Colorado! Perfect, makes total sense. I mean, maybe (probably) people were quicker to trust back in those days, so it could be chalked up to a shift in culture.

Definite read-again. I was kindly provided this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart


If you liked this book, check this one out:

Time

This follows a time traveller that falls in love with a woman who lives 10 years earlier


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