The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore

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Book Review of The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore

Before I began reading this book, I had never heard of Paper Daughters. I don’t know if many have heard of these women. Allow me to explain. In the late 19th century and early 20th centuries, men from China immigrated to the United States to try and find jobs. Many of these men ended up in California working either in gold mines or on the railroads. Housing conditions were either rough or very expensive, and so many of the women stayed in China to take care of families. There were also other things like heavy taxes and anti-immigration laws that made it difficult or impossible for Chinese women to immigrate to the United States.

In 1882, Congress enacted the Chinese Exclusion at of 1882. This law banned Chinese laborers from immigrating for 10 years. This law was renewed every 10 years until 1943. However, to help better relations with the Chinese, there were some exceptions to this law. They included students, Chinese officials, teachers, travelers, and merchants. This loophole allowed Chinese people, including women, to come to the United States.

With many men in their communities, and very few women, men were not able to “be intimate,” if you know what I mean. This situation set up a deplorable new trade in the United States: selling Chinese women as prostitutes. Human slavery. These disgusting people would find poor families in China and tell their families that there was a wealthy man in the U.S. that wanted to marry their daughter, and that he would give her a good life. These women would come to the U.S. with hopes and dreams of a good life, only to find depravity and degradation. They would find themselves addicted to opium and enslaved as a prostitute.

How did they use the loophole to get these women here? Well, they would tell the officials that these women were daughters of men already here. So, on paper, they were daughters. Hence the name paper daughters. Honestly, I cannot believe that situations like this went on then, and it blows my mind that it can still be going on today. It turns my stomach and makes me ill.

Thankfully, today we have amazing groups like Operation Underground Railroad to help. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, they had Donaldina Cameron and the women of the Occidental Mission Home. I wish I had learned of Donaldina Cameron a long time ago. She’s a true American hero.

Blurb:

Based on true events, The Paper Daughters of Chinatown in a powerful story about a largely unknown chapter in history and the women who emerged as heroes.

In the late nineteenth century, San Francisco is a booming city with a dark side, one in which a powerful underground organization—the criminal tong—buys and sells young Chinese women into prostitution and slavery. These “paper daughters,” so called because fake documents gain them entry to America but leave them without legal identity, generally have no recourse. But the Occidental Mission Home for Girls is one bright spot of hope and help.

Told in alternating chapters, this rich narrative follows the stories of young Donaldina Cameron who works in the mission home, and Mei Lien, a “paper daughter” who thinks she is coming to America for an arranged marriage but instead is sold into a life of shame and despair.

Donaldina, a real-life pioneering advocate for social justice, bravely stands up to corrupt officials and violent gangs, helping to win freedom for thousands of Chinese women. Mei Lien endures heartbreak and betrayal in her search for hope, belonging, and love. Their stories merge in this gripping account of the courage and determination that helped shape a new course of women’s history in America.”

My Book Review:

And now we come to our story: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore. The book is based on the life and experiences of Donaldina Cameron. Many of the people and situations in the book are based on real people and events. However, it is fiction. Ms. Moore did an excellent job of telling this story.

Donaldina Cameron arrived at the Occidental Mission Home in 1895 to teach sewing classes to the women and children that lived there. She quickly found out that it was a difficult job because so many of the resident women and children had suffered greatly. Each woman or child had a story. None of them were happy stories.

As a new teacher there, Donaldina was asked to go on a rescue mission. Three women from the home (including and interpreter) would go with a couple of police officers to rescue women from the brothels and gambling houses. Usually, the enslaved women would contact the home through a messenger. The messenger would know the address and would give the women in the home some sort of token, like a ribbon, to help them identify the victim. Going out like that scared her, but she went. This began Donaldina’s story. She never looked back.

The book continues to tell Donaldina’s story. Her life was spent rescuing these paper daughters and loving those that lived in the home. It didn’t matter what happened in the world around them: earthquakes, fires, corruption in high places, etc., Donaldina found a way to keep these women safe. Her nickname amongst the Chinese mob was Fahn Quai, which means White Devil. The slave owners would tell their slaves to be afraid of her so when she came to rescue them the girls would be afraid and wouldn’t want to go with Donaldina.

Not only does the story focus on Donaldina Cameron, it also tells the stories of some of the paper daughters Donaldina helped rescue. Their stories are unbelievably sad and heartbreaking. Some of the women flourished and went on to get married and have families. Many of the women continued to help at the home even after they had moved on. Unfortunately, there were a few that couldn’t handle the loss of opium or couldn’t learn to move on. I truly loved getting to know these women through their stories. What unbreakable spirits they had.

Even though this is a difficult story to read because of the unimaginable things these women survived, and even though it is tough to think about as part of my country’s history, this is such a good read. I knew that many men from China helped to build the railroad, but I didn’t realize that their families could not come with them. I had no idea this occurred in our history. Donaldina Cameron is a true American hero, and I am so glad I had the privilege of learning her story in this book. I hope that I can be more like Donaldina. Child trafficking still exists in our world today, and I hope that I can play a small part in rescuing these victims as Donaldina did. 

For more info on helping today’s fight against trafficking, please see https://ourrescue.org/.

Content Rating RRating: R (There’s no profanity in this book. This book does have prostitution, drugs, violence against the women, and trafficking. It’s as tastefully done as I think it could be, and none of it is overly detailed or graphic, but it is there. The themes in this book are very much for adults and not for younger readers. It is based off of true people and events. )

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/36pBmRH

 

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Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard The Immortal Llife of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
 
 

Her Quiet Revolution by Marianne Monson

Her Quiet Revolution by Marianne Monson

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Book Review of Her Quiet Revolution by Marianne Monson

I have lived in Utah my entire life, and I had never heard of Martha Hughes Cannon until I read this book. Why? Why don’t they teach about people like her when we learn about our state’s history? It makes me wonder who else I haven’t learned about. What other people (women and men) are out there hidden in history that have made contributions to our society and we don’t even know it? Who else is out there that has done extraordinary things and has been passed over in the history books? Her Quiet Revolution is a historical fiction/biography of Martha Hughes Cannon. I’m not quite sure which genre to put it in. It’s fiction, but it’s based on Martha Hughes Cannon’s life. Marianne Monson included many relationships and events from Cannon’s life, but needed to add a little fiction when the truth wasn’t readily available.
 

Blurb:

A novel based on the life of Martha Hughes Cannon, a pioneer woman who overcame tremendous odds.


When her baby sister and her father die on the pioneer trail to Salt Lake City, Mattie is determined to become a healer. But her chosen road isn’t an easy one as she faces roadblocks common to Victorian women. Fighting gender bias, geographic location, and mountains of self-doubt, Mattie pushed herself to become more than the world would have her be, only to have everything she’s accomplished called into question when she meets the love of her life: Angus Cannon, a prominent Mormon leader and polygamist.

From the American Frontier to European coasts, Martha’s path takes her on a life journey that is almost stranger than fiction as she learns to navigate a world run by men. But heartache isn’t far behind, and she learns that knowing who you are and being willing to stand up for what you believe in is what truly defines a person.

Her Quiet Revolution is the story of one woman’s determination to change her world, and the path she forged for others to follow.”

My Book Review:

As I read this book I couldn’t help but notice how much I take for granted as a woman living in the United States of America today. Yesterday was the primary election in my state, and I had the privilege of voting for the candidate I think should be the president of the United States of America. I graduated from college with a degree in elementary education, and no one questioned my skills or abilities. 29 sixth graders now call me their teacher. Thankfully, I don’t have to wear a dress to work every day. With my husband I own a home and a car. I get to drive wherever I want to, and whenever I want to—without a chaperone. I have rights, freedoms, and liberty.

Many women that have gone before me have not had these privileges, and many still do not have them today. I’m thankful to people like John Hancock, John Adams, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Martha Hughes Cannon (I could name 100 more…) who have had the courage to see a different, better, and more equal path ahead.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved learning about Martha Hughes Cannon’s life. There’s also some history of the state of Utah, and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am a member. Some of the history I knew previously, and some I did not. Ms. Monson did a great job of bringing the three pieces together into a story that seamlessly wove together.

Martha (Mattie) was an amazing woman. She serves as an example to everyone, especially women. At a time when women going to college were frowned upon, she didn’t care. She went anyway. Mattie endured a lot to get her medical degree. I loved how she also went on to improve her oratory skills as well. I am not going to go into her whole life here; for that you need to read the book. Suffice it to say that she accomplished many things and endured some rough trials in her lifetime. Martha Hughes Cannon paved the way for women in the United States of America to go to college, become doctors, vote, and serve as public servants.

The book is very well written. The writing style draws you into Mattie’s life, feelings, emotions, dreams, passions, and pain. The characters are well developed, realistic, and become your friends along the way. It’s obvious that Ms. Monson spent a lot of time researching this book. Her hard work pays off, for sure. I learned so much, but I also came away with questions of my own that I’d like to do more research on. There were some practices (like polygamy) that were stopped completely long ago, and others (like women healing the sick) that have somehow been forgotten along the way. I’d like to look more into the latter.

Whether or not you are from Utah, and whether or not you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will enjoy learning about Martha Hughes Cannon. She may have been from Utah, but her legacy pertains to all women. The way she stood up to her trials and plowed right over them inspires me to be and do better. At a time when women did not go to college, she did. When women were not doctors, she was.

Mattie worked hard and stood up to disappointment, taunts and jeers, and unbelievers. Society really has come a long way in accepting that women are capable of being doctors, senators, scientists, and more—thank goodness! It may not be perfect yet, but we’ve come a long way. I’m thankful to those who sacrificed to bring us this far.

I think the title perfectly describes this book, and the cover art is beautiful and inviting. I really enjoyed this book. It’s an inspiring story of a woman who worked hard and followed her dreams. Martha Hughes Cannon definitely led a quiet revolution that overturned the erroneous stereotypes and misgivings of many people. Her quiet contribution helped pave the way for women everywhere to achieve their dreams.

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy.” Some of the themes are geared toward older readers and would be a bit too much for younger readers.)

Recommendation: Young Adult+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/38nqouW

 

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the immortal life of henrietta lacks Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace 
 
 

The Orphan’s Song by Lauren Kate

The Orphan's Song by Lauren Kate

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Book Review of The Orphan's Song by Lauren Kate

I’ve never been to Venice, but now that I’ve read this book, I seriously need to go. While I was reading, coincidentally, my friend was in Venice. She posted a lot of pictures from her amazing trip, and I definitely felt a little social media jealousy. What a beautiful city! I can only imagine what it had been like in the 1700s. We probably romanticize it more than it was, but since we weren’t there, why not? I did not know anything about the Ospedale degli Incurabili—a hospital and orphanage for children, and so it was fun to delve into that world. I find it so interesting that they taught the children there to love, appreciate, and excel at music, and it also provided funding for the hospital and orphanage. The Orphan’s Song by Lauren Kate is a masterfully written story, and I loved it!

Blurb:

“As befitting a book set in eighteenth century Venice, Italy, the novel spins a riveting tale of secrets kept and secrets revealed and the far-reaching consequences of both. Based on a gripping chapter in Venice’s remarkable history, The Orphan’s Song brilliantly recreates both the glamour and seedy underbelly of a city at its zenith.

Known as ‘the city of masks,’ Venice, circa 1736, is notorious for its excesses and its reputation as the place where lovers and revelers don Carnevale disguises to move secretly within society. On most days the city’s sick and orphans are the only bare faces wandering the city. Yearning to join the masked revelers are two foundlings raised within the walls of the Hospital of the Incurables, a famous house of worship that serves as both hospital and orphanage. Over centuries, its massive stone complex (still standing today) has been reinvented as a conservatory for the best singers and musicians on the continent, an ingenious plan that brings acclaim to the church and its coffers.

Among the talented foundlings are Violetta and Mino, lonely teens with big dreams who meet for the first time on an off-limits rooftop. Violinist Mino is a self-taught luthier with aspirations that reach far beyond his humble beginnings. Violetta, a gifted soprano who, despite her desire to rise to soloist in the church’s renowned choir, yearns to break free of the Incurables’ walls and embrace the unknown on the outside. Their tentative private duet—first musical, then romantic—is strictly forbidden, and the risks they take launch them on separate journeys that radically transform their lives.

Mino is determined to find the mother who abandoned him as a toddler, while Violetta steadfastly avoids entanglements and motherhood in her quest for stardom as a legendary soprano with a secret nighttime life. But both will find themselves tossed by society’s cruel unpredictability as they navigate the world and its endless seductions. Despite their separations and painful discoveries, they’ll discover that fate has more in store for them than they could ever have imagined for themselves. With its stunning plot twists and sophisticated sense of history, The Orphan’s Song blends the author’s signature fast-paced storytelling with an enchanting love story for the ages.”  

My Book Review:

I loved this book! Wow. Just wow. The characters, descriptions, feelings, and emotions transform this book into an intimate view of a very personal story. You become a part of Mino and Violetta’s story. You’re there to witness the highs, lows, and everything in between. You laugh and cry with them. You feel their love and their hate. In return, their story becomes a part of yours.

The Orphan’s Song is very well written. The writing sucks you in from the very beginning. I loved the descriptions of the Venetians with their masks, beautiful clothing, and fancy parties. It’s not hard to see why Mino and Violetta wished for more. From their rooftop they could see so much, and they couldn’t have any of it. As the reader, you feel their loss and their want. The way Kate writes the scene of the mother abandoning her child makes it so real and raw and personal.

Violetta, Mino, and the many other characters just come to life on the page. It may be a platitude, but it is so true, in this book. Seriously. Each character is well developed, realistic, unique, and has his or her own personality. The characters switch off narrating the chapters, and I never had to think about who was talking.

One of my favorite things about this book are the feelings portrayed. The writing is so superb that you feel the emotions of the story. I also loved the complexity of the plot and the characters. I was definitely surprised by some of the events and some of the decisions the characters made. The story flowed well, and I loved it. I could not put this book down.  

Content Rating RContent Rating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. “Intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. Violence including murder and domestic violence.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Jnt8zi

 

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Book Review of The Caseroom by Kate Hunter

The Caseroom by Kate Hunter

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Book Review of The Caseroom by Kate Hunter

Wow! Two books about 19th century Scotland in two days! And to make it even better, it’s also two strong, female Scottish women in two days as well. After reading these two books I know more about the situation of women in 19th century Scotland than I ever thought I would. These two women live very different lives, but their fight for women at that time makes them one in cause. Once again, I’m thankful for women like Iza and Jess that paved the way for the rights women have today. What was Iza’s story? Find out in my book review of The Caseroom by Kate Hunter.

Blurb:

“Set in the thick of workers’ lives in Edinburgh’s thriving print industry, The Caseroom follows Iza into the arcane world of the caseroom where she learns the intricacies of a highly-skilled trade.

As one of some 800 Edinburgh women who for a few decades did so, she becomes a hand-typesetter, work that had been, and was to become once more, a male preserve. Despite hostility to the cheap labour that women represent, Iza persists in work that allows her to feed her imagination on books. But holding on to her trade means hardening herself to the needs of those she loves. And when the men’s union moves to eliminate women from the caseroom and a We Women movement forms to oppose them, there is no middle ground. Torn between class and gender loyalties and embroiled in a bitter labour dispute, Iza must choose sides.”

My Book Review:

In all honesty, before I read this book I had never heard of a caseroom. I had no idea what it was or what it was used for. Oops! You’d think someone who loves to read and proofread would know some of the history of printing. But, no. Everything about the caseroom was new to me. I didn’t know what any of the tools were or what they were used for. The names of the different jobs there were also brand new to me. Needless to say, I learned a lot from this book.

I liked the writing style of the The Caseroom, and I thought it was well written. Most of the characters were well developed and seemed realistic. I couldn’t decide how I felt about Iza. Sometimes I liked her a lot, and sometimes she bothered me. That sometimes happens in real life, though, I suppose. I did admire her for her bravery in standing up for women’s rights. Just working in the caseroom was enough to make some of the men angry, including her brother. She persevered, though. Even without her brother’s blessing she went to work. I loved her determined attitude.

Iza’s family seemed, for the most part, like a good family. They had their problems, but seemed to usually work them out. Each of the family members brought a unique angle to the story.  I also liked her co-workers Netta and Margaret. Roddy Mac was a character that I never trusted or liked, for some reason.

I liked that this story was based on “the author’s father’s family history.” The story happens to be “based on real events and features some actual historical characters.” I think that it’d be fun to write a story about my ancestor’s lives.

The one thing that was hard for me with this book was the language. The author uses terms for things that I’m assuming were appropriate for the time period. I guess it’s a good thing, but consequently, I didn’t understand a lot of the book. Even my Kindle couldn’t define the words, so that’s not a good sign. I think it would be a great story for people who know the language a little better than I do.

Content Rating RContent Rating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. “Intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. A couple of characters died.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Pk6tnz

 

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The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod The Lost Family by Jenna Blum  A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner
 
 

The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod

The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod

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Book Review of The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that takes place in 19th century Scotland. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be a woman during that time. It would be so confining to not have control of your life. Why anyone would think that a woman should not be able to choose her own path is beyond me. Reading this book made me especially grateful to live where I live in this day and age. It also made me thankful for all the women that went before me that have gotten us to this point. I hope you enjoy my book review of The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod.

Blurb:

North Uist, Outer Hebrides, 1848

Jess MacKay has led a privileged life as the daughter of a local landowner, sheltered from the harsher aspects of life. Courted by the eligible Patrick Cooper, the Laird’s new commissioner, Jess’s future is mapped out, until Lachlan Macdonald arrives on North Uist, amid rumours of forced evictions on islands just to the south.

As the uncompromising brutality of the Clearances reaches the islands, and Jess sees her friends ripped from their homes, she must decide where her heart, and her loyalties, truly lie.

Set against the evocative backdrop of the Hebrides and inspired by a true story, The False Men is a compelling tale of love in a turbulent past that resonates with the upheavals of the modern world. 
 

My Book Review:

I haven’t ever been to Scotland, but I’d like to go! It sounds like such a beautiful place. The author did a good job describing the setting. I could totally picture the layout of the land with the homes and farms. The descriptions made me want to go there; so I think they did their job!

I liked the writing style of this book. It was a little hard to figure out what was going on in some places because I’m not familiar with the language, but the more I read the easier it became. The writing is engaging and full of heart. Jess’ heart. She should have been born in the 21st century because she was a bit much for everyone else in the 19th century to handle. Jess believed that she could make a difference, and women didn’t really get that opportunity at that time. She thought she should be able to make her own decisions about her future, and that wasn’t really a thing either.

What Jess decided to do surprised me, and it took the book in a whole different direction than I thought it would. Jess is a great character. She is strong, opinionated, a bit crazy, and full of heart. Her character is well developed and realistic. It’s too bad she just didn’t fit in her time period. I’m sure it was women like her that got the ball rolling, though. I thought that all of the characters were well developed. Patrick, Catherine, and Lachlan were especially well developed, along with Jess’ father.   

Overall, I liked this book. I loved traveling to Scotland via The False Men Express. Maybe someday I’ll be able to actually travel there, but for now, I’m good reading about it.  

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. “Intimacy,” including scenes and discussions about it. Violence including fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2wpd7lz

 

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the book thief by markus zusak the nightingale by kristin hannah  The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack
 
 

Book Review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

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Book Review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

If I could go back in time and live for a week anywhere I wanted, I’d choose Victorian England. Of course, I’d be picky and choose to be a wealthy person. I’d love to walk the sprawling gardens of the grand estates. It’d be amazing to dance at the balls and wear the beautiful gowns. Just for a week, I’d love to write with a quill pen and ride in carriages. What do you think? Where would you go? I love the Jane Austen era, and am so excited about this book! I hope you enjoy my book review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean.

Blurb:

England, 1813 – Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as ‘silly and ignorant’, Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation.

When her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners – and for the first time feels liked and respected.

However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings conspire to ruin Kitty’s reputation. Accused of theft – a crime worse almost worse than murder among the Georgian aristocracy – she is sent back home in disgrace. But Kitty has learnt from her new experiences and what she does next will not only surprise herself, but everyone else too.

Based on Jane Austen’s much-loved characters, this is the story of one young woman’s struggle to overcome the obstacles of her time and place and truly find herself.

My Book Review:

Oh, how I love Jane Austen! I know several friends who cannot stand her writing (you know who you are…), but I love it. I love the crafted language. I love the detail in the characters and their descriptions. It may bore some people, but I love that the stories are NOT action-packed. The people are the main focus, and I love how the stories play around the people and their experiences and thoughts.

What does that have to do with today’s book review? Well friends, I think we may have found a book that is as close to a Jane Austen as we’re going to get in today’s world! Today’s books are marked by action. My own kids have been sucked in, much to my chagrin! If it’s not one action scene followed by another, it’s boring. Well, they’ll be bored if they read this book, but I loved it!

The language was very well crafted. I read it on my Kindle and it turned out to be a good thing because of all the definitions I had to look up. My kids asked if I felt stupid needing to look up so many words and I definitely said, “No!” I loved it! They think I’m weird, for sure. I may not be the “cool” or “hip” mom anymore, but that’s ok with me. I’m smarter because of it.

The time Ms. Kablean took to develop the characters showed off. Each of them were well developed, realistic, and unique. Each had his or her own personality that was different from everyone else’s. They had their own voices. And they each had their own journey to take in the story. I loved watching them grow and come into themselves as the story went along.

I’ve read all of Jane Austen’s books, and have loved them. This book comes as close as I think I’ll get to more Jane Austen stories. They may be Carrie Kablean stories, not Jane Austen stories, but the feeling is the same. The crafted language is very similar, and the attention to detail is mighty close. The only thing I didn’t love was the title. It was not my favorite; I think it could have been better. Other than that, I loved this book. I just got caught up in the feeling of the story, the language of the story, and the characters’ lives.

If you like Jane Austen books, and even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s not fast-paced or action-packed. It’s not about the superhero that swoops in to save the day, or the super powers, it’s about life and the people in it. It is about truth, friendship, trust, love, care, concern, honesty, values, and family. It’s about falling in love and having your heart broken, and it’s about picking yourself up, learning from it, and moving forward. Life. I loved it.

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There is some brief sibling fighting, along with talk of gambling and stealing. One character does die-you don’t see it, you just hear of it after.)

Recommendation: YA (12-18) and up

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2lCwZeW

 

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Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack Check Me Out by Becca Wilhite  Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
This book review is dedicated to my good friend Andy who passed away this week after a six year battle with brain cancer. He leaves my dear friend Betsie and their three beautiful daughters behind. He was an amazing guy and will be greatly missed. Love ya Andy! 
 
 

Book Review of America Uber Alles by Jack Fernley

America Uber Alles by Jack Fernley

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Book Review of America Uber Alles by Jack Fernley

I have always loved studying about the American Revolution. It’s one of my favorite topics to learn about. I have read 1776 by David McCullough several times, along with Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis and a few others. Usually I read the nonfiction history books. This time I thought it might be interesting to read a historical fiction book about it. What did I think? Was it a good choice? Find out in my book review of America Uber Alles by Jack Fernley.

Blurb:

“What if America was based not on the Declaration of Independence, but the values of Mein Kampf?

Germany, April 1945. As the Russians close in on Berlin, a lone plane flies into the city. On board are General Robert Ritter von Greim and the Nazi flying ace, Hanna Reitsch, summoned by Hitler to his bunker. There, the Führer reveals Germany’s secret weapon – a weapon he believes will win the war for the Nazis and change the course of history for ever.

America, December 1776. George Washington and his army are close to collapse, the War of Independence is almost lost. The British army scent victory, aided by the arrival of extraordinary German mercenaries. However, when the Germans offer the Americans secret intelligence to allow a surprise attack on their supposed allies, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems. Who are these Germans and what are they fighting for?

Fast-paced, thrilling and thought-provoking, America Über Alles imagines a world in which the American War of Independence becomes a struggle for democratic values against fascist ideology; perfect for fans of SSGB and The Man in the High Castle.”

My Book Review:

When you know and love a topic really well, it’s difficult to keep an open mind. It’s hard to accept new ideas about it, even if they’re fiction. Even though you’ve never met the actual players, you feel like you know them. You know their thoughts, behaviors, and values, and nothing can change your opinion of them. That’s how I feel reading this book. I’ve studied a lot about the American Revolution and its key players. Accepting many of the points in this book is pretty much impossible for me. I tried though.

The first half of the book dealt mainly with battles and war tactics. The author did spend time building the characters. Many of the important characters are introduced, and some of them you get to know really well. I felt like many of the characters were well developed and realistic. He also tried to show the relationships between many of the characters.

The author also spent a lot of time building up to why the people would accept a new way of thinking. Although I hope I would see it for what it was, I could see how people would embrace the thought of it. I don’t think they’d fully embrace it if they knew the actualities of it, but it’s happened before. It had to be a very subtle change over time.

The second half of the book had a definite change in tone. This half of the book focused more on the people in the Revolution. For much of the second half I hated the book. I seriously could not wrap my head around anyone going along with any of it. I found it scary how fast people changed their whole belief systems. With everything I’ve read about the Founding Fathers, I could not see how any of them would accept this.

The soldiers are a different story. They were suffering hardships, and they were a ragtag band of soldiers. Unfortunately, I could see why they would like the idea of being fed, having shoes, uniforms, and a nice place to sleep. However, I also didn’t see why they would fight for Nazi values after all they’d been through. Trading one form of tyranny for another isn’t a great option.

Towards the end of the book I started not hating the book and just disliking it a lot. I truly could not see any of the Continental Congress or Founding Fathers just standing by or accepting the Nazi values. Once again, I didn’t personally know any of them. However, my brain can’t comprehend them allowing someone else to plow over their ideals. The American Revolution, along with its values, cause, and purpose is too ingrained in me to accept anything less.

Just when I thought it all might be ok, the book ended. Yep, just up and ended. Nope, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It could have used another twenty pages or so to finish things off. It left off with a lot of holes. There were many things that I thought should have been explained, but I was left hanging. That disappointed me, for sure.

Overall, it was ok for me. Maybe a non-American would have an easier time accepting it as a possibility. I guess I did find it interesting to think about how perfectly everything came together in reality. It could have just as easily gone the other way. What would life be like now if it had?

Content Rating RRating: R (There is profanity in this book, including many “f” words. There’s also some “intimacy,” including scenes, innuendos, and discussions of rape. There is quite a bit of violence including war atrocities, murder, bombings, hangings, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2M6vOja

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick  1776 by David McCullough   revolutionary summer by joseph ellis
 

Book Review of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

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Book Review of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

People ask me all the time what my all-time favorite book is. Well, here it is! I have LOVED Les Misérables for many, many years. I saw the Broadway play when I was younger, and it hooked me. I’ve read this book at least three times. The unabridged version, of course (1,463 pages)! I love, love, love it. Please enjoy my book review of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Did I mention that it’s my FAVORITE book??

Blurb:

“Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables (1862) ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them onto the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.

Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait which resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.”

My Book Review:

Wow! Where to start? This book is amazing. Simply amazing. It is my all-time favorite book! I LOVE this book! The character development is unsurpassed. Each character comes to life on the page. Hugo’s attention to the details about the characters allows them to become a part of your life. They become beloved friends, hated enemies, and family. These characters don’t disappear with the closing of the book, either. They stay on your mind for days and years after. You wonder about them, long to see them again.

There’s a lot of history in this book. To some people it may be too much, but I love every word of it. I thoroughly enjoy learning about the French Revolution and its key players. Hugo somehow manages to make it exciting. Now, if you’re not really a fan of long history lessons, you may enjoy the (gasp!) abridged version instead. I, however, love the history and the descriptions of the time period. I love the intricacy and craft of Hugo’s writing. No one writes like that anymore, and I wish they did.

Les Misérables is filled with emotion. As you read you’ll feel the whole range of emotions. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get angry, and you’ll begin to see your own life differently. You’ll look at how you treat people, and how others are treated. You will feel gratitude for your blessings and circumstances. Yes, there are still unkind people and there are still unjust circumstances, but overall, living conditions have drastically improved since then.

If you want a new friend, one that will be with you for awhile, then this book is for you. You’ll have this friend with you for the rest of your life. It takes a long time to read this book, but while you read it becomes a part of you. I cry the last 200 pages. Seriously. I don’t ever want it to end. Please read this book then call me so we can talk about it! I love this book so much and I highly recommend it!

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13+ (There are war-time atrocities and themes along with prostitution. Some characters die, and there are other adult themes.)

Recommendation: 16+ years-old

My Rating: 5/5

5 Star Book Review Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here:

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak The Rent Collector by Camron Wright  the nightingale by kristin hannah
 
 
This review was first published on 09/24/09; updated on 6/18/18.
 

The Man Who Lived Twice by David Taylor

The Man Who Lived Twice Final Cover

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Book Review of The Man Who Lived Twice by David Taylor

I love learning about the American Revolution. It’s my favorite history subject to learn about. The American Civil War comes second on my list. So when the chance came to write a book review for The Man Who Lived Twice by David Taylor, I got excited. I haven’t read any books where the main character fights for the Confederacy, so I got really excited. With such a compelling teaser, I had to jump on the opportunity. 

Blurb:

“A hero to General Robert E. Lee and a legend to the gullible hillbillies under his command in the American Civil War, ‘Ole St Lege’ charged with the Light Brigade in the Crimea, defended the bullet strewn barricades in the Indian Mutiny and hacked his way through the Second Opium War. Yet the Cornish mercenary that fought so valiantly for the Confederate cause was a wanted criminal, a fraudster who bankrupted his own father.

In his search for redemption, Colonel George St Leger Grenfell leads suicidal cavalry charges, soars precariously over enemy lines in a balloon, rides the rails to the Old West and sees the inside of several appalling prison cells before his fortune changes. As he travels the length and breadth of the continent, he meets the characters who made, marred and mythologised American history: the business tycoons and social reformers as well as the back-shooting gunslinger and Lincoln conspirators. Finally, he is granted his fondest wish. A second chance in life.”

My Book Review:

As I stated above, I love learning about the American Civil War. I haven’t ever read a book written from the Confederacy point of view, so I was excited to read it. George St Leger Grenfell is a person I’ve never heard of. Apparently he didn’t start out as the greatest man. He made a lot of poor choices and came to regret some of them.

The book starts out talking about Major General Robert Ross commanding his British troops in August of 1814. His troops pretty much walk into Washington and burn the Capital building with books from the Library of Congress (gasp!). The troops waded through James Madison’s personal items to take souvenirs. One of them found some papers written by James Madison; they stated the reasons the Americans declared war on the British in 1812.

From there it skips to 1862, where George Grenfell is fighting for the Confederacy in the American Civil War. I hate to admit how confused I was reading this part. There are a lot of characters and I could not remember who was who. I’m not familiar with very many military terms, so I got a bit lost. I did catch that Grenfell was the main character and that he was English. I also gathered that he had a past that he seemed to be running from. The character development for Grenfell was pretty good. It takes about half of the book before you see the whole picture, but in the end I thought Grenfell was well developed.

I liked the part about Rose Greenhow and her daughter Rosie. Both of them were also well developed. The very intimate letters written between George and Rose were quite racy. Wow! (I’m still blushing…) What I really liked about Rose was that she was a spy! Seriously? I had no idea that women were spies back in the 19th century. Now I need to do a little research and find out if there are books about other women spies.

The story takes you many different places, and sometimes I found it a little difficult to follow. The author has quite the vocabulary! I had to look up a bunch of words because I didn’t know what they meant. This Grenfell guy had quite an exciting life! It’s neat that the story is based on a real man. I cringed a little bit at the end because of his feelings toward a certain someone, but I guess you never know. The meeting at the very end was a bit corny, but it would be quite an experience to have! (Sorry for being vague, but I don’t want to give anything away…)

Overall, I liked the book. I did find it quite confusing at times, but it’s probably my lack of understanding military terms. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and that became a bit tricky too sometimes. In the end, I thought it was quite an adventure, and I liked that he tried to make things right. I always enjoy learning about new people, and I’m glad to have learned at least a little about George St Leger Grenfell.

Content Rating RRating: R (There is a little bit of profanity. There’s also some “intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. Much of it occurs in wartime, so there is a lot of violence including war atrocities, bombings, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2INVPGJ

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak I Am David by Anne Holm  1776 by David McCullough
 
 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

the nightingale by kristin hannah

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Book Review of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Although this story is sad, it is so inspiring. I can’t imagine living under the same circumstances that these people did. They were so strong, and brave in their own ways. I like to hope that I would have had the courage to do what they did. I first reviewed this book in December of 2016. It has been discussed quite a bit on social media lately, so I updated my review. I hope you enjoy this updated book review of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. 
 

Blurb:

 
“In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says good-bye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requistions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
 
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gaetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.
 
With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion, and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.”

 

My Book Review:

I loved this book! You should know by now that I enjoy reading WWII books, and have read many of them. This one is definitely close to the top of that list! This book is very well written. It flows well, it transitions easily, and you find that the characters are among your best friends. The characters are very well developed and realistic; so much so that you find yourself laughing when they do (although there’s not a whole lot of that in this book), crying when they do, and fearing for your life as they do.

The story can be a little slow in a few places, but overall it moves at the perfect pace and draws you into life in Carriveau. I definitely relate more to Vianne in this story. I’m a rule follower and tend to not take scary chances on things that may get me in trouble or put someone I love in danger. I wish I had more of Isabelle in me. For sure. Vianne may surprise you though! The story of Rachel and what happens to her and her family just breaks your heart, and the story of Von Richter will make your blood boil. Then a character such as Beck will come along, and make you feel a little better about the world.

My book group and I looked it up, and there was a route that people took, just like the one that the Nightingale took, which is interesting to note. I had heard a lot of good things about this book before I read it, and let me say it did not disappoint!! I highly recommend it.

There is language in this book, including at least one “f” word. There’s also some “intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. There is quite a bit of violence in this book. It is a war, so there is fighting and bombings, there are deaths of some of the characters, and a few of them are quite graphic and difficult to read.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. “Intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. Violence including war atrocities, murder, bombings, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2raSqGj

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
 
 
This review was first published on 12/5/16; updated on 4/30/18.