eARC Review: The Bird King, by G. Willow Wilson

the bird king g willow wilson

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Goodreads

I have received an eARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve owned an eARC of this book for such a long time, but then got less enthusiastic about it and forgot it existed for months. Then I read someone say that this author’s books were fast-paced and quick to read and I decided well – might just pick it up. I’m so glad I did!

The Bird King is the story of Fatima, a concubine to the last Sultan in a reign at war with Spain, and Hassan, a mixed-blood map-maker who has magical abilities. When the Spanish Inquisition demands that Hassan, who they deem a heretic sorcerer, be given to torture and certain death, Fatima knows she must run away with him, even if it means treason and never seeing again the palace she calls home. But it means to her also freedom, and that is something she’s willing to give up a lot for. Continue reading

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Mini-Review: White Houses, by Amy Bloom

white houses amy bloomRating: ★★☆☆☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, LGBT+

Goodreads

White Houses tells the fictionalized version of the true story of Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok’s affair in the 1930s all the way the end of Roosevelt’s life.

I bought this book on a whim, as it was not really on my radar at all, but a FF book with real historical characters, glamour and political drama? I was sold immediately.

I enjoyed reading this book and ended up finishing it in a day – it’s around 200 pages only, so easy to fly through. Still, I found myself not really excited about the story and not really feeling emotionally connected to the characters a lot. Eleanor was such an interesting character, but her personality and her relationship with Hick felt told rather than shown. I really hoped for more glamour and more political drama.

The book spends pages and pages on Hick’s childhood and teenage years, but it all felt sensationalized and not entirely true either. The entire circus part was not something I could find about her when doing a quick research, and I would much rather have had more of the book dedicated to the Depression and to Eleanor’s political career.

All in all, while an interesting book, I was hoping for something different, and it failed to wow me.

Review: Tangerine, by Christine Mangan

tangerine christine manganRating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction

Goodreads

In Tangerine, Alice is unhappy with her life in Tangier, Morocco. The beautiful, warm city cannot seem to let her breathe and she loathes to leave her flat – but the arrival of her old friend Lucy is about to change all of this, although perhaps not for the better.

This is a very atmospheric, glamorous read, one of those books set in the suffocating heat that make you feel suffocated, too. I didn’t know what to think of this book in the beginning, the plot and writing style giving off vibes of The Talented Mr. RipleyBased on a True Story and Bitter Orange, so it did not feel original. The plot twists were not difficult to foresee either and, although entertaining, I did not think the book was particularly unique or excellent. Continue reading

Review: The Muse, by Jessie Burton

The Muse Jessie Burton

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Goodreads

If it wasn’t for the blogging community, I would not have read this gem! If you saw my review of The Miniaturist, you know by now that I didn’t enjoy it at all. So I would not have picked up The Muse without reading such positive things about it.

The story starts in 1967, following Odelle as she received a unique offer to work as a typist, the first job offer since she came to London five years before that is anywhere close to her studies and abilities. When she comes across a peculiar painting, she has no idea of the mystery, hope, dreams and heartbreak that come with its history – but Odelle is now involved in its secrets, too.

Continue reading

Review: The Devil’s Queen, by Jeanne Kalogridis

the devils queen jeanne kalogridisRating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

Goodreads

The Devil’s Queen tells the story of Catherine de Medici, a controversial figure whose reign marked her as a bloody and heartless queen. From her early orphan years to the fateful St. Bartholomew’s Massacre, this book is a fascinating fictionalized telling of a most fascinating queen who loved astrology.

I saw this book in a museum bookstore, right after having my brain hammered with Renaissance paintings and thought – this is great?! I love a good historical drama, and so far I’d mostly read Tudor and World War II stories – and I’m always on the lookout for other interesting times in history. So I simply had to have this. Continue reading

Review: Remembered, by Yvonne Battle-Felton

remembered yvonne battle-felton

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Literary fiction, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction

Goodreads

This is such a beautiful literary work, I am so glad to have picked this up!

It’s 1910 in Philadelphia and Edward is in the hospital. His mother has no idea if he will make it through the night, although it does not look likely – so his other mother, his biological one, insists that it’s time he knows of the story of his family. She is a ghost, but a very outspoken one who will not rest until her family’s history is passed on and Remembered. Continue reading

Review: Bottled Goods, by Sophie Van Llewyn

bottled goods sophie van llewyn

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Literary fiction, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction

Goodreads

Bottled Goods is one of the most interesting and unique books in the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 Longlist! It tells the story of Alina, who lives in Romania in the 1970s and is suffering the aftermath of her brother-in-law running away from communist Romania and leaving her and her husband to deal with the suspicion, interrogation and violence.

A bit under 200 pages, this took about a couple hours to read, and I highly recommend it to people who love a bit of magical realism! This was my favorite part about the book, how seamlessly the author managed to add magical elements to an otherwise heavy story, adding some whimsical and funny moments. Continue reading

Review: Swan Song, by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott

swan song kelleigh greenberg-jephcott

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Historical Fiction

Goodreads / Amazon

I didn’t think I would pick up Swan Song, but my recent undertake of reading up the nominees for the longlist of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 made me more curious about this book. I haven’t read anything by Truman Capote yet, although In Cold Blood has been on my list for years. I did find Swan Song much more a collection of gossip about the glamorous women in the 60s that Truman Capote hang out with – before they all shunned him after reading what he wrote in the Esquire. Continue reading

Review: Daisy Jones & The Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

daisy jones and the six taylor jenkins reidRating: ★★★★★

Genres: Historical Fiction

Goodreads / Amazon

Daisy Jones & The Six has been on everyone’s most anticipated lists for 2019, after the emotional breakdown everyone had after reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I heard great things about the audiobook, so that is how I read it, and, based on reviews from other bloggers, this is how I recommend everyone read it!

Daisy Jones & The Six is the story of seven band members and all the other people involved in the big phenomenon of the late 70s. From Daisy joining the band to the reason why it dissolved in 1979.

Gosh, the audio narration of this was… amazing. It’s full cast, it’s done with such emotional depth… I was hooked. And it went so perfectly with the documentary-style of the book it’s almost like it was meant to be listened to. Highly recommend. Continue reading

Review: Transcription, by Kate Atkinson

transcription kate atkinson

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII, Mystery

Goodreads / Amazon

In Transcription, Juliet Armstrong is recruited to join MI5. The year is 1940 and the war has just begun – she believes she can make a difference with her work, and finds the reality of her job alternatively boring and terrifyingly exciting. In 1950, Juliet is a different woman – she works at BBC and has a rather dull life. One day, she sees someone from her past. Little by little, all the people she used to know from her obscure work during the war seem to reappear, and something dark she thought she left behind is coming back to haunt her and make her pay.

I loved this book so much. Juliet is such a witty, funny character who constantly gets underestimated. She’s a talented liar and finds herself a quite accomplished spy as well, whether she wants to or not. Reading about her time as a typist and a spy during World War II was so interesting! The pacing of this novel is fast and it reads almost in a light-hearted way. For people who would like a historical fiction without the sobbing (especially rare for a WWII book), this is it. Continue reading