Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Lottie’s Courage: A Contraband Slave’s Story by Phyllis Hall Haislip

Lottie’s Courage: A Contraband Slave’s Story by Phyllis Hall Haislip

During the Civil War, if slaves made it to Fortress Monroe, they were declared contraband of war and so were considered free and protected by the Union soldiers. Lottie’s Courage is a gentle story showing what life was like in Grand Contraband Camp through the eyes of a young girl. It’s a quick read, and is historical fiction done right. I very highly recommend it to children and adults who enjoy historical fiction.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 71
Pages Read in 2022: 25,719
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: We Be Book'N

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

I have loved every book I’ve read by Ruta Sepetys. They are meticulously researched (there were several pages of sources at the end of I Must Betray You) with amazing writing. She managed to capture the paranoia of living in a society where you never knew who might be informing on you. I knew what happened in Romania in December 1989 before I read the book and as the time got closer and closer to the revolution I found myself feeling very nervous about what would happen to the characters because I cared about them very much. While the book has a happy-ish ending, it’s not tied up all nicely in a bow. The bow is kind of lopsided and not totally cute because that’s what life – and the fall of communism – is like. I very highly recommend this book to teens and up who enjoy historical fiction. Romania’s story isn’t one that’s regularly told, but it deserves to be known.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 55
Pages Read in 2022: 19,898
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: Book Club, Reason: We Be Book'N, Young Adult

Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

Above the Bay of Angels is historical fiction that is very heavy on the fiction. It starts with the author imagining that Queen Victoria employed female cooks at Buckingham Palace and moves on to the death of a completely made up royal apparently due to accidental poisoning via a mushroom in a pie. The inspector decides the cook intended that mushroom for the Queen which makes absolutely no sense. She made the pie for the whole royal party so there would be no way to control who got the one poisonous mushroom. In addition to all of that, the cook was around to hear pretty much everything that was going on and did things like console a distressed royal, visit regularly and informally with the Queen, and singlehandedly solve the mystery of who poisoned the Count and why. If you can ignore the incredible implausibility of the story and get past the fact it moves super slowly and little happens for the first three-quarters, it’s an enjoyable book. I just much prefer my historical fiction to be heavier on the historical than fiction.

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 53
Pages Read in 2022: 19,172
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

The first about 50 pages of Let Me Hear a Rhyme were very slow, introducing characters and explaining background. Once it got past that point, it picked up quite a bit. The chapters are told from three alternating viewpoints plus some inserted chapters that explain some things that happened before. Two of the main characters are hiding things, including from the reader, that are necessary to understand completely what happened to their friend and brother. There is quite a bit of slang, some defined at the end, some not, and also some language some may find offensive. The book has a really nice rhythm. I recommend it to teens and up, especially those who enjoy hip hop and rap.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 44
Pages Read in 2022: 16,184
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: Literati, Reason: We Be Book'N, Young Adult

Beyond the Bougainvillea by Dolores Durando

Beyond the Bougainvillea by Dolores Durando

Beyond the Bougainvillea is a bit depressing. If things could go wrong to the poor main character they did. The story itself is quite good and I enjoyed it, but there were a couple glaring issues. There are a lot of typos. More annoying, though, is the writing style. She’d suddenly change the scene with no indication whatsoever. Characters would be having a conversation and then suddenly one of the characters would be thinking back on something that happened long ago. At times I found it hard to keep up with what was going on. I often felt like I must have been reading with my mind wandering and not paying attention to the words (which I do sometimes), but every time I’d flip back I’d find I had comprehended what was written just fine. It was the author who skipped ahead or changed what was going on for no apparent reason. It just made it a bit awkward to read. It’s still a good enough book and I cared deeply about what happened to several of the characters so I don’t regret reading it. (Plus it was the first book for the author and she was 90 when it was published which is pretty incredible.)

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 27
Pages Read in 2022: 9428
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: We Be Book'N

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Lovely War by Julie Berry

I love how these two love stories were told in turns by various Greek gods. They each had their own distinct voice and contributed very different parts to the stories. The book reads very fast. I was surprised to see how long it is after I read it. The love stories are sweet and sometimes heartbreaking. I found myself caring very deeply about the characters. It’s just an all around excellent book. I highly recommend Lovely War to anyone who enjoys historical fiction/clean romance with a bonus if they also like Greek mythology.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 15
Pages Read in 2022: 5751

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: Book Club, Reason: We Be Book'N, Romance

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

The Tuscan Child is a gentle and beautiful book. It flips between the story of a father, a British airmen shot down near a small village in Tuscany in 1944, and the story of his daughter searching after his death in 1973 for clues to her father’s story. I loved how the book would switch to the past periodically to show what happened to her father since she could never learn the whole truth. I had my doubts that the author would be able to wrap it all up, but she did, and in a very lovely way. There were a few surprises along the way that added to my enjoyment. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys World War II stories.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 80
Pages Read in 2021: 26,116

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N

Timebound by Rysa Walker

Timebound by Rysa Walker

Timebound made my brain hurt. There’s time travel involved and different timelines that may or may not all continue to exist and the need to go back in time to prevent people from having changed the world. Even though it made my brain hurt, it all still made sense (as much sense as time travel makes). The action is very steady and questions are answered at a good pace. The main storyline is wrapped up at the end of the book, but many other things remain open for subsequent books in the series. I recommend this book to people who enjoy sci-fi and historical fiction.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 74
Pages Read in 2021: 23,971

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N, Science Fiction, Young Adult

When the Moon Has No More Silver by Connie Lapallo

When the Moon Has No More Silver by Connie Lapallo

Picking up around the time Cecily finally made it to Jamestown, When the Moon Has No More Silver is the continuing story of the early years of the colony, focused on the women and children and told from the point of view of one of the original settlers (Cecily’s mother Joan). The book ends right around the time the Peace of Pocahontas ended. The writing is very descriptive and goes at a relatively slow pace which really works well for the topic. The research in impeccable. The author is descended from various settlers (including the narrator) so it was partly a genealogy project for her so she wanted to get it as correct as possible. There is an entire section at the end explaining which few characters are fiction, short bios of some of the Jamestown settlers, primary source quotes, explanations of various things included in the book, and much more. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in colonization and Jamestown in particular. You do not have to read the first book (Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky) for this one to make sense, but I’d recommend reading it first anyway.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 66
Pages Read in 2021: 21,137

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: I Like the Series, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Ireland by Frank Delaney

Ireland by Frank Delaney

Intrigued by a traveling storyteller he met as a child, Ronan travels the country looking for him and collects stories along the way. The stories of places and events in Irish history are lovely, especially if you have been to Ireland and seen some of those places. Interwoven between the stories of Ireland is a beautiful story of love and family. I didn’t guess the end at all but it made me so happy. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Ireland or has visited Ireland.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 64
Pages Read in 2021: 20,030

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Recommended by a Friend