Its summer at the Jersey Shore and cousins Gia and Bella want to make it a summer to remember. The girls rent a beach house on the Shore and their sum...moreIts summer at the Jersey Shore and cousins Gia and Bella want to make it a summer to remember. The girls rent a beach house on the Shore and their summer goal consists of 3 D’s: dancing, drinking and duh! The girls are on the prowl for some hot, juice-head guido gorillas and are looking for a good time and a wild summer.
So confession time: “Jersey Shore” is one of my guilty pleasures and one chapter into the book I felt like I had moved into the shore house with Snooki and JWoww. Gia is a spitting image of Snooki from her pouf to the fuzzy slippers, the love of pickles and her trademark “waa” whereas Bella is just like JWoww, a tall beauty with fake boobs and a killer right hook. The story unfolded like a season of “Jersey Shore” minus the house drama. Although it was not a challenging read and the language was simple it was a quick, easy, humorous summer read. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the show and of Ms. Snooki herself. (less)
The novel tells the story of Jeanne du Bois and her life at Versailles in the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV. Jeanne’s father does not particularly...moreThe novel tells the story of Jeanne du Bois and her life at Versailles in the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV. Jeanne’s father does not particularly like his daughter as she is too independent and unladylike as she has fencing lessons from her Uncle Jules. After one of these secret lessons, Jeanne and Jules come across two of the King’s Musketeers and join in the battle. Jeanne then takes on her alter ego Jean Luc which allows her to live life as a Musketeer. Jeanne falls in love with one of her fellow Musketeers but her father plans on marrying her off to a detestable Baron. Throughout the novel there is a plot to kill the Queen and it is up to Jeanne/Jean Luc to save her.
This was a good novel, a fairly quick read. The characters were a little flawed, especially Jeanne. I found her to be way over the top—she was way too independent for the time period. I also found it difficult to believe that Jeanne would be able to transform between Jeanne and Jean Luc so quickly (it seems as if this is done in a matter of minutes) which in reality would have taken a great deal of time and would probably take at least one extra set of hands. Overall I enjoyed the story although I would classify it more of a young adult novel as the writing is a little juvenile. I would recommend this for a light, easy read. (less)
Looking for an 18th century historical drama? Pick up The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent. The novel is set both in France and England and tells the story of one woman’s survival and her struggle for independence, love and life. The heroine, Claudette Laurent, loses everything when a tragic fire sweeps through Paris killing her family and destroying her house and the family business. Penniless and alone Claudette decides to take her chances in England. On the ship from France to England, she befriends Béatrice and her young daughter Marguerite. The three of them become inseparable and they form their own little family and begin their journey together. They stick together through good times and bad, including tedious servant work, Claudette rekindles her talent and dreams of continuing her father’s business of doll making. At the beginning, this is just for survival . . . the girls need to make enough money to escape their lives as domestic servants but eventually these little dolls become coveted items and the demand begins to increase drastically. Claudette and Béatrice manage to break free from their misery and they begin a very successful and thriving business. (less)
One of the things that I love the most about reading historical fiction is visiting places and times that I may never have to opportunity to otherwise...moreOne of the things that I love the most about reading historical fiction is visiting places and times that I may never have to opportunity to otherwise experience. The Seamstress is one of those novels that have the ability to transport you to another time and place. The story takes place in north-eastern Brazil in the late 1920s and the early 1930s—a time that was corrupt and harsh. There was no authoritative centralized government—the power resided with the wealthy landowners, the Colonels, who ruled their territory as they saw fit. The story takes place during a period of political revolution where the government began to take the power away from the Colonels; this did not just change the political climate but it also threw the country into total chaos.
The two sisters could not be more different. Emília has high aspirations for her life; she dreams of romance, the latest fashions and leaving her simple country life to become a Dona in the city of Recife. Luzia is the complete opposite of her sister; she knows that the fantasy life that her sister dreams of is not for her. Due to a childhood accident, Luzia’s left arm is permanently disabled. She rebels against society and sees no future for herself until the Hawk and his band of cangaciersos take her from her home.
The Seamstress is Frances de Pontes Peebles debut novel and the winner of Elle Magazine’s Fiction Grand Prix 2008. I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed and want to read more from her! This is the first historical novel that I have read featured in South America, and it didn’t hurt that it took place in my favourite South American country (and one which I am dying to visit!). The amount of research is phenomenal—clearly the author spent a lot of time digging in Brazil’s history. Frances de Pontes Peebles created a page turning story with memorable and life-like characters. The amount of detail is extraordinary, from the scrublands to the houses, to the culture and lifestyle, to the characters themselves.
The novel itself flip-flops between the lives of the two sisters. The book has extremely long chapters, each one focusing on one of the sisters’ lives. Thankfully each chapter was broken down into sub-chapters providing the reader with a place to pause in the story (and if you’re like me, you have to stop at the end of a chapter) without having to read a full 100 pages to get to the end of the chapter. One of the few problems that I had with this novel was the prologue—I found that it gave away too much of the story before you really got into it, I felt like I knew the basic plot before the story began. The book is quite long however, my edition was 641 pages long, so by the time you get to the end of the story you have forgotten the prologue. Another small issue that I had with the novel was the language. While I like the fact that the author chose to incorporate the Portuguese language in names, it wasn’t totally consistent, for example the Hawk and Little Ear . . . I don’t think these are Portuguese names. Finally, I found some of the political talk in the novel tedious to get through and to be honest I skimmed some paragraphs when it came to the political parts.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel and I am excited to see what Frances de Pontes Peebles comes up with next. Hopefully she stays in South America as I find that this is an area that is looked over when it comes to historical fiction and I am certain that there are many great stories hidden within its borders. (less)
“The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette” tells the story of Marie Antoinette, from her beginnings as an Austrian archduchess to her last days as prisone...more“The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette” tells the story of Marie Antoinette, from her beginnings as an Austrian archduchess to her last days as prisoner 280. Marie Antoinette started keeping her journal as a young girl and in it she records her life – her disappointing marriage, her heartbreak of lost children, secret affairs and her fears of the people of France.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book – it was a quick, easy and effortless read. It was fairly well written however I found that the diary format in which it was written was very juvenile. I found that even though it was written as a personal diary, it lacked any real emotion in the writing. I as found it strange that the calibre of Marie Antoinette’s “writing” doesn’t change much from when she was a young girl (of about 13 or 14) in Austria to when she was a 37 year old women in prison waiting to be executed. It was definitely a good effort however there is room for improvement. (less)
In her debut novel, Roberta Rich tells the story of Hannah Levi, a Jewish midwife living in 16th century Venice. Hannah’s reputation as a skilled midwife spread to the Venetian nobility which prompts a visit under the cover of darkness to her home in the Ghetto Nuovo. The Conte di Padovani’s wife Lucia had been in labour for days with no results and is near death herself; only Hannah has the skills and tools to save their lives. As Lucia’s life and that of her unborn child hangs in the balance, Hannah is forced to make a dangerous decision. It is forbidden by a papal edict for Jews to treat Christians and the punishments are severe. The Conte is desperate and Hannah strikes a deal with him; she will embark on this dangerous mission and risk everything but for a fee of 200 ducats—a sum great enough to pay her husband’s ransom – Hannah’s husband Isaac was captured in Malta and has been enslaved for months by the Knights of St. John. Throughout the story Rich skips back and forth between Hannah’s story in Venice and Isaac’s in Malta – telling the story of the husband and wife both struggling for survival and their desire to be reunited with each other. (less)
This story could be summed up with one phrase: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get exactly what you want. Alienor of Aquitaine was just y...moreThis story could be summed up with one phrase: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get exactly what you want. Alienor of Aquitaine was just young girl when her father, William X of Aquitaine, started grooming her to become his heir. Alienor learns at an early age to inspire love and loyalty in her people and how to be powerful in the midst of the ruthless politics of court. Alienor enjoyed life in Aquitaine in the Court of Love with her father and younger sister Petra and her only request of her father was to help her become the Queen of France. With her father’s mysterious and untimely death, Alienor becomes Duchess of Aquitaine at the tender age of 15 and she is forced to finish her own betrothal agreement with the King of France—an agreement which is prolonged by Alienor’s refusal to give up her duchy to her husband but to remain Duchess of Aquitaine with the title passing on to her son.
Louis VII was raised in the Church, being the second son he never aspired to become King, however he is forced to do so upon the death of his older brother. The Church means everything to Louis and the Church’s power only grows stronger with Louis VII on the throne. Being young, impressionable and dedicated to God, he is easily manipulated by the Church. Although he is awed by Alienor, now named Eleanor by Louis, his true love and devotion is to the Church and God. Eleanor tries to guide her weak and naive husband but she faces a constant opposition at every turn by the Church. Trapped in a loveless marriage that has only produced daughters for France and in a life in which she does not believe, Eleanor looks to dissolve her marriage to the King of France and return home to Aquitaine.
This story is everything that a great historical fiction should be—it’s educational; it’s exciting; there’s romance, deception and betrayal; and finally it’s a fantastic read. I have loved Alienor of Aquitaine ever since I learned about her in a French history class in University. She was a strong, independent, determined and unconventional woman who was born to rule in a time of male dominance. I read Christy English’s “The Queen’s Pawn” last year and I have to say that English’s sophomore novel is just as good as her debut novel. It is evident that English has a personal love and interest in her subject, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and this shines through in her writing. The story is written in such a way that it is evident that English did her research. She paints her characters in such a life-like way that it is possible for the reader to be able to feel the love between Alienor and her father. Her father William realizes that his daughter is special and instead of remarrying to produce an heir, he is comfortable leaving his lands to his daughter—there is obviously a loving and trusting bond between the two. Her style of writing and the amount of rich details evokes the senses – it is almost as if the reader is transported into the novel and experiencing the same sounds, smells and sights as the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced, page-turner by Christy English and I cannot wait to read what she has in store for the future. (less)
“To Serve a King” is a novel set in 16th century France. Geneviève Gravois is a servant of King Henry VIII of England although she is French-born and...more“To Serve a King” is a novel set in 16th century France. Geneviève Gravois is a servant of King Henry VIII of England although she is French-born and is sent to the court of King François I of France as a spy. Geneviève is trained as a spy and assassin and is told that she is an orphan because of François and from this information stems a great hatred of the man. After arriving in François’ court, Geneviève soon realises that what she has been told is entirely inaccurate and she begins to doubt her abilities to carry out what is asked of her and she begins to question her morals and loyalties.
This was a great book! It was very well written and the characters continued to develop throughout the novel. All of the important people who lived in François’ court, Diane de Poitiers, Anne d’Heilly, Catherine de Medici, are present in the novel however some of their roles, especially that of Catherine de Medici, are drastically underplayed. This novel was obviously researched in great deal and is filled with details. The reader is hooked right from the beginning and the story holds the readers interest from start to finish, page to page. Definitely would recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical fiction. (less)
The newest novel by Marina Fiorato is set in 18th century Siena and tells the story of Pia, a young lady from the Civetta contrada (the Owlet district) who is forced into marriage with Vicenzo from the Aquila contrada (the Eagle district). When Vicenzo is killed in the Palio, her betrothal changes to her deceased fincancés younger brother Nello. Trapped in a loveless and abusive marriage, Pia falls in love with Riccardo, the rider who attempt to save Vincenzo’s life in the Palio and who makes Nello extremely jealous when he spoke to Pia. Riccardo is hired by Nello’s father to teach Pia how to ride, but with ulterior motives. It is his hope that Riccardo will not have time to train his new horse for the upcoming Palio and to make Nello even more jealous, to serve as motivation to win the Palio, not only for his contrada but also to prove that he deserves a wife as beautiful as Pia. Throughout the story of the forbidden lovers, there is another plot going on in the city of Siena to overthrow the governess Violante de Medici.
This is the second novel that I have read by Fiorato and I have to say my expectations for this novel were extremely high and unfortunately the novel did not live up to my expectations. (less)
The story of Nefertiti as told by her younger sister Mutnodjmet - Nefertiti's rise and subsequent fall from power as she is unable to control her husband Akhenaten's (formerly known as Amenhotep) vision of a new Egypt. Pharaoh decides to build his empire Amarna in the middle of the desert and he removes the Priests from their positions of power, greatly angering the people of Egypt. Throughout Akhenaten's reforms, Nefertiti is waging her own battles within her family, mainly with Kiya, Akhenaten's other wife. Kiya has produced an heir for Pharaoh whereas Nefertiti only gave him daughters.
LOVED this book! I was captivated by this story from page one and it was virtually impossible for me to put it down. Moran clearly has a great love of this time period and it is researched with great care. Moran's writing style is exquisite—she gives enough detail for you to picture the temples and the way of life in Ancient Egypt without overdoing it therefore your imagination is still a vital part of enjoying the story. She is also able to create characters that literally jump off the page. It was everything that historical fiction should be as it was full of intrigue, romance and history.(less)
Set in the early stages of revolution in St. Petersburg Russia during a period of great civil unrest. The working class are getting poorer and more desperate each day as they fight starvation, disease and injuries at unsafe factories while the upper class continue to live their extravagant lifestyles. Revolutionaries decide to take things into their own hands and begin to start killing government officials and members of the upper class. This is the story of Valentina Ivanova, daughter of the Minister of Finance to Tsar Nicholas II, Minister General Nicholas Ivanov. In the summer of 1910, Valentina faces death when she is attacked in the forest on her father’s land by Bolsheviks. Valentina manages to evade her attackers and makes it home just in time to see her house destroyed by a bomb. Valentina’s younger sister Katya is seriously injured in the attack and becomes paralyzed as a result. Even though Valentina is born into the upper class, all she wants to do is become a nurse, a station way below her status, in order to take care of her sister Katya. She has no desire to live the life her parents have planned – to marry her off to a Captain in Tsar’s army for his money and for her to live the life of an upper class wife, a life of tea parties and fancy dresses. Instead Valentina falls in love with the dashing Danish “Viking” engineer Jens Friis, builder of tunnels for sewage and water drains. Valentina is determined to live her life the way that she wants to without disappointing her parents or her heart. (less)
In this novel Karen Harper tells the story of a would-be Irish princess Elizabeth "Gera" Fitzgerald and her desire for revenge against Henry VIII for the imprisonment and murders of her family. Throughout the story of Gera's life in the Tudor court, she befriends Lady Elizabeth (Elizabeth I) and her love of an English admiral Edward Clinton.
I absolutely LOVED this book. I have been a fan of Karen Harper for years now and I love how she is able to bring the characters to life as well as being able to describe the settings with great detail. (less)
“The Sins of the House of Borgia” is a historical fiction novel based on the infamous Borgia family who rose to power in 15th century Italy. The story...more“The Sins of the House of Borgia” is a historical fiction novel based on the infamous Borgia family who rose to power in 15th century Italy. The story is narrated by a young Jewish convert Esther who is forced to leave Spain during the Inquisition and settles in Italy with her father. Esther is later used by her father for political advancement and is baptised as a Catholic and sent to live with Lucrezia Borgia. Esther then falls in love with Lucrezia’s brother Cesare, who renames her Violante. The story follows Violante as she travels from Rome to Ferrara with the new Duchess and the trials and tribulations of the life of the infamous Borgia family.
“The Sins of the House of Borgia” is a scandalous novel with shocking characters and an intricate and sometimes confusing plot. The book is rich in detail and well written. Soon into the novel, it stops being a historical fiction novel and turns into a historical romance. I soon became irritated with Esther/Donata/Violante (she has many names in the book) and her infatuation with Cesare. Overall, I was eventually disappointed with the novel... It was a great beginning and a great ending but it fell flat in the middle. (less)
The Heretic Queen is the continuation of Moran's "Nefertiti" and it focuses on the Heretic Queen's (Nefertiti) niece and namesake Nefertari. Nefertari is taken in by Pharaoh Seti I and raised along side his son Ramesses. Nefertari begins to develop romantic feelings towards Ramesses however the union does not appear to be popular among the people and definitely not at court as Nefertari is judged solely on her ancestors. The young couple has high hopes that they will be able to change the people's opinion of Nefertari and that they would come to love her as Ramesses did. As Ramesses was unable to make her his Chief wife, Nefertari must fight for her position at court while Ramesses leads his troops into battle against the ever-threatening Hittites. Thanks in part to her education and her vast knowledge of languages, Nefertari rules Egypt while Ramesses is at war and she eventually gains the love and support of the Egyptian people.
Michelle Moran did it again - another awesome novel about Ancient Egypt. I literally read this book in a day and a half and it was even more difficult to put down than "Nefertiti" was. Again, immense praise for Moran's writing style and her ability to create the most vivid images of the court and everything within right down to the clothing and makeup. Her ability to create vibrant characters of whom there is little know is amazing. The novel is a great example of a great historical fiction novel as it is filled with politics, intrigue, love, betrayal and war. Another aspect that I loved with both this novel and "Nefertiti" was that Moran included a glossary of Egyptian terms- it was definitely helpful. (less)
This is the story of two beautiful girls from Shanghai whose lives are turned upside down when their father forces them into arraigned marriages with two American brothers. Gone is their carefree life of beautiful girls—posing for paintings to sell cigarettes to soap, wearing beautiful clothing, and hanging out with friends until the early morning. Shanghai is under attack from the Japanese and the girls’ home life is also falling to pieces as their father has lost everything. In order to fix his financial problems he sells his daughters into marriage with two American brothers who are looking for Chinese wives. The girls are then forced to leave their beloved Shanghai, the Paris of Asia, for Los Angeles. The journey is full of difficulties and setbacks but the girls stick together and learn how to survive in this dangerous world on their own. Once they arrive in America, it doesn’t get any better as the girls are detained at Angel Island for months waiting to be allowed into the country. Finally once they are presented with their identity cards the girls move into their in-laws house and are forced to work for the father-in-laws many business for long hours with no pay. Throughout the story the girls and their new family struggle for acceptance and freedom in their new country—neither of which comes easy for them. (less)
This is the story of Lady Jane Grey, otherwise known as the 9-day Queen of England. It tells the story of Lady Jane Grey's tragic life beginning with...moreThis is the story of Lady Jane Grey, otherwise known as the 9-day Queen of England. It tells the story of Lady Jane Grey's tragic life beginning with her childhood, her conversion to the Protestant religion, her relationship with Queen Mary, her unwanted marriage and her tragic death.
I thought that it was a great story and very well written however my one main criticism of this novel is that while Weir does a great job of telling the story through the eyes of many people, the constant switching between perspectives can be confusing and even annoying at times. I found this a very difficult to read . . . the subject was fine, but the constant switching point of views drove me bonkers! I constantly had to flip back and check to see who was speaking. About half way through the novel I finally decided that I would only stop reading once I finished with one characters point of view which helped a little when I picked the book back up again. I have given the book 2 ½ stars solely because of the constant changing of points of view . . . had the story been written in a different fashion I’m sure it would have received a better ranking as the story itself (as told by Lady Jane Grey) was decent. Definitely was not one of my favourites. (less)
This is the story of three women, each of whom is directly affected by the war overseas. Each women will need to be strong in order to survive the atr...moreThis is the story of three women, each of whom is directly affected by the war overseas. Each women will need to be strong in order to survive the atrocities of war and each will face difficult decisions. Iris is the town's postmistress, a job which she takes extremely serious. Emma is the young, quite and naive wife of Dr. Will Fitch who goes to England to help the wounded. Frankie is a war time reporter who is reporting literally from the front lines with bomb exploding overhead who is attempting to get the people back home to pay attention to what is going on overseas.