Genre: Historical Fiction

Review: Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton

Posted April 26, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 31 Comments

Morning guys! I got Sophia on the blog today reviewing Historical Fiction. Gah, how I miss Historical Fiction. Honestly, after reading her review I’m really considering this one. Set in Egypt, it sounds fantastic!

Review: Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie ThorntonDaughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Stephanie Thornton
Series: Standalone
Published by NAL on May 6th 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 442
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars
Heat:three-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Egypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt...and sets her on a profoundly changed course.
Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Horus Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.
Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall....
Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.

Before I get into my review, I have to tattle on myself a little. Usually, I’m a blurb reader and that leads me to actually take up a book. But I was distracted, glanced at the cover- saw female ancient Egyptian and assumed. Yeah… I was prepared for Cleopatra and got a little surprise. Not Cleo, but Hatty. And this book suddenly became sooo much more interesting for me. Hatshepsut is one of my favorite historical figures. I was thrilled to death to read this one.

Alright, so this was Hatshepsut’s story from her early years as pharaoh’s daughter, to a pharaoh’s wife (yeah, they do that brothers marrying sisters thing to keep it all in the family), and then a regent before finally, she goes for the crown and becomes pharaoh. Exciting life to be sure.

I loved how the author went about this story. She doesn’t try to paint a romance or a tale of a woman’s story based on her male relationships. The author focused on Hatshepsut, her fiery temper, and her drive towards more. Yet, there are more facets in play here. There are a blend of public and domestic scenes, of points in this woman’s life where heartbreak touched her. She finds fulfillment in her achievements, but also as a mother and lover, and friend. There were so many wonderful layers to the story. Hatshepsut and the land of Egypt during the New Kingdom era came alive.

And even though this is a real life story, the author takes the facts and manages to slip in some extra intrigue at the court with a few very believable additions that could have really happened even if there are no records to show for it.

For those who follow Egyptian history closely, you’ll know that there is great speculation about Hatshepsut’s relationship with the boy she set aside until after she was gone and his later decision to remove her existence from Egyptian history. I actually take the author’s point of view so I was well pleased with how she wrote this part of the story.

All in all, this was a great colorful and engaging piece- historical fiction at its best, I thought. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoy historical fiction bios.

My thanks to Penguin-Random House for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Posted October 13, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 33 Comments

Review:  Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth OppelEvery Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on October 11th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The hunt for a dinosaur skeleton buried in the Badlands, bitter rivalries, and a forbidden romance come together in this beautifully written new novel that’s Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones.
Somewhere in the Badlands, embedded deep in centuries-buried rock and sand, lies the skeleton of a massive dinosaur, larger than anything the late nineteenth century world has ever seen. Some legends call it the Black Beauty, with its bones as black as ebony, but to seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt it’s the “rex”, the king dinosaur that could put him and his struggling, temperamental archaeologist father in the history books (and conveniently make his father forget he’s been kicked out of school), if they can just quarry it out.
But Samuel and his father aren’t the only ones after the rex. For Rachel Cartland this find could be her ticket to a different life, one where her loves of science and adventure aren’t just relegated to books and sitting rooms. Because if she can’t prove herself on this expedition with her professor father, the only adventures she may have to look forward to are marriage or spinsterhood.
As their paths cross and the rivalry between their fathers becomes more intense, Samuel and Rachel are pushed closer together. And with both eyeing the same prize, their budding romance seems destined to fail. But as danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light, Samuel and Rachel are forced to make a decision. Can they join forces to find their quarry—and with it a new life together—or will old enmities and prejudices keep them from both the rex and each other?

Every Hidden Thing is described as a story of Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones. It’s a story about two paleontologists and their kids in search of the Black Beauty or “rex” one of the biggest dinosauria to be discovered at its time in North America. It is also loosely based on a historical event called “Bone Wars

I don’t know where to begin. I hate, HATE writing bad reviews so I am going to make this as positive as I can.

Samuel and Rachel are the children of two feuding paleontologists. Both of their father’s get a hint from the same source about a possible massive carnivorous dinosaur, awaiting to be discovered in the west in the area called the Badlands. A lot becomes at stake as the two families compete as to who is to find the dinosaur. Samuel and Rachel find unlikely in each other as their father’s behaviors drive them to form a force in hopes of recovering the bones themselves.

What did I like about this book?

  • The story-line was interesting. I like that Oppel went out of his way and did a bit of research into both the Native American culture and the Bone Wars before including it in his book. It added substance to the book and made it slightly more believable.
  • The writing in itself was pretty good and consistent. Nothing in particularly dragged and I managed to get through the book fairly quickly.
  • The book was about discovering dinosaurs and working in the field, which I found fascinating especially given the time period and the territory wars between Native American’s and the white man.

 

So why the two and a half stars? POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

  • I disliked the characters tremendously. I absolutely hated the fathers and the two main characters alike. The adults in this book had been just very childlike, and although I don’t doubt that maybe there was some truth to it based on history, the behavior at times were downright disgusting. Honestly, I disliked all the characters so much I am surprised I finished this.
    Rachel’s father was especially horrendous in his actions, especially when he sawed off the dead Native American’s head and then at one part of the book ironically insisted that he was not a savage. Their actions sometimes made me sick.

“We  could give him a good trashing,” said Daniel Simpson.

I looked at him in revulsion; at the same moment my father sternly said. “That won’t be necessary. We’re not savages. What you can do is fetch the heads. They’re in the storage wagon.”

  • The book is from the point of view of Rachel and Samuel and I just couldn’t get behind these two characters. Rachel was in no way someone I could relate to and Samuel I just generally disliked. There was instant love on Samuel’s behalf, and Rachel was about as emotional as a dry wall. There was no substance to her character outside of her passion for going to a university.
  • The romance was horrible. Samuel fell in love with Rachel quickly and could not understand why she did not reciprocate his feelings. He acted as if he was doing her a favore at being in love with her and basically called her emotionless and plain looking to her face. Once again, I found myself struggling to finish this book at that point. I found the behavior disgusting and childish and I was starting to wonder if Samuel was younger then he was suppose to be because he sure as hell acted like he was.
  • To top it off the two decide to ditch their father and their childlike behavior and join forces by running off and getting married. What? Why? How does this make any sense? The romance felt forced to begin with and all the sudden these two are getting married? Of course after they get married Samuel’s behavior towards Rachel turns absolutely crappy when he starts to realize they got married too young and he might not be able to support her. So he gets pissy and moody and treats her like crap. She knew how he was before she got married to him so it absolutely makes NO sense that she decided to go through with it anyway. And oh god, he gets super pissed off because she doesn’t want to have his babies… what? what? what did I just read?!
  • Also, there were super awkward sex scenes, farts and armpit hair. Need I say more?

I got a little more passionate and irritated as the review went on, I apologize for that. It could have been better, it had the potential to be fantastic, but it fell flat. I came into this book ready to love it, expectations were high. When I think of Indiana Jones the first thing that comes to mind is archeology, adventure, action, danger and passion. Indiana Jones this book was not.

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Review: Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Posted February 16, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 2 Comments

Review:  Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan MeissnerSecrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
Series: Stand-alone
Published by NAL on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 386
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


She stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see…

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden--one that will test her convictions and her heart.
1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, one million children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed…

The moment I saw that Susan Meissner wrote another book, I knew I had to have it. Last time I read one of her books I fell completely in love with her elegant writing and storytelling and found myself falling in love all over again. She is one of many authors that keep my interest with historical fiction alive and why I keep coming back to this genre over and over again.

The story mostly follows a 15-year-old girl Emmy Downtree, her story told by Isabel McFarland when a young scholar comes to interview the elderly woman in hopes of learning some secrets about the war. Emmy has big dreams, and all she really wants is to find love and acceptance from her mother, for her to be proud of Emmy. She loves to draw wedding dresses, so when she get’s a job at a wedding dress shop, it feels like a dream come true. When her boss informs her that she knows a man who is willing to look at Emmy’s brides and could offer her an apprenticeship, Emmy can’t believe her luck. Luck, that unfortunately soon starts to run out. When the war escalates, Emmy’s mother signs both of Emmy and her half-sister Julia to evacuate London and find refuge in the country side. What happens next changes both of the girl’s life forever…

Such an emotional, riveting tale about love, lose, hope and perseverance. I found myself glued to page after page, immersed in the fantastic storytelling by Meissner. Emmy was just a young girl who thought she was doing the right thing, who just wanted to make her dream come true. In turn she watched her entire world crumble into pieces when the blitz hit and she found herself losing everything that has ever been important to her. I don’t want to dig into the story as much as I want to talk about it more with a fear of revealing a little too much. I did find myself irritated by Emmy’s reckless behavior, I found it selfish and one-sided, but I understood that she was just a young girl who was looking to make her mother proud. In hopes that Emmy would never feel like she had ruined her mother’s life, she wanted to show her that she could do something good with hers.

I found myself in tears by the end of the book. Everything that left me with questions midway through did get answered at the end of the book. Luckily there was closure, or else I am not sure how I would have done without it. I wanted to know what became of Emmy and how she coped with the hand that was dealt to her. How she managed to get through with losing so much in so little time. Her tenacity and ambition to make things right were inspiring, so was the fact that she had a hard time giving up. The 15-year-old girl had to grow up fast during the blitz and become a strong and independent woman.

I could have just hugged this book after reading it. Enjoyed it immensely, glad I gave it a shot and hope to see more from Susan Meissner soon.

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