Category Archives: Historical fiction

The Heart of a King by Jill Eileen Smith

 

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description:

Four women captured King Solomon’s heart in different ways, and he indulges his desires despite warnings. For all his wisdom, did Solomon or the women he loved ever find what they were searching for?

My Review:

I love reading biblical fiction and this author is talented in telling a story. 

They do a very good job of capturing the life of a king with the love for God, but also the draw to women to obtain more peace, power and lands. 

Her skill weaves a tale of the confusing facts of polygamy, and its downfalls, even when you think it is sort of ok. I loved Solomon, and yet, I didn’t like him at all. He was the hero that you wanted to do the right thing, but felt like he kept going back to his desire for power, but had a good heart in it all. 

If you want to understand more about this unique king that married, what seems like half the world’s princesses, pick this book up. It is fascinating with a lot of stories in it. 

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A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the Book:

Eloise Drake’s prim demeanor hides the turbulent past she’s finally put behind her—or so she thinks. A mathematical genius, she’s now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.

Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town—but he needs Eloise’s help to succeed.

Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he’d lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them before it’s too late.

 

My Review:

Where can I begin?

I loved this conclusion to this series, but I would say that they could be read as stand alone books. You understand some more of the main character’s story when you have read the previous two books, but you don’t have to have read them.

First of all, the history. She knocks it out of the park with the history of an event that we don’t know that much about. Water is the theme in all three books, and it continues here. The characters are flawed. In fact, there is not much to like about either of them in the beginning, but as you read, they grow on you.

Pain. Rejection. Love. Anger. Mystery. This book has all the elements intertwined and giving us a picture of what it would have been like for a woman in a position of power, but also for a man in power, but having to work with someone he cared for that no longer cares for him.

Romance? Yes, there is romance. But the focus of the book is the story with the romantic threads. I found that I wanted to follow the story, regardless of the romance.

I would recommend this series for older teens and adults that love unique historical books and want to have their fancy tickled to search for more details.

I obtained this book from the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Searching For You by Jody Hedlund

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

 

My Review:

I enjoyed this conclusion to the Orphan train series quite a bit. I loved how she told the hard parts, but had happy stories too. I found myself saddened for the wives, stuck in abusive marriages and realized how little things have changed at times.

I only wished there was more time spent with the sisters reconnecting. I kept imagining some of the issues these little orphans faced after everything. It probably didn’t help with seeing some of the issues with the foster system and the trauma kids face now.

The story was a happy one, but tainted with the reality of the hard facts. This author does an amazing job to make the story realistic and yet make you want to read more.

I obtained this book from the publisher through NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

This book is available for purchase in your local bookstores or through Amazon.

Searching for You 

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Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description:

Much has happened in idyllic Ivy Hill in recent months, and while several villagers have found new love and purpose, questions remain–and a few dearly held dreams have yet to be fulfilled.

Jane Bell is torn. Gabriel Locke is back and has made his intentions clear. But Jane is reluctant to give up her inn and destine another man to a childless marriage. Then someone she never expected to see again returns to Ivy Hill. . . .

Mercy Grove has lost her school and is resigned to life as a spinster, especially as the man she admires seems out of reach. Should she uproot herself from Ivy Cottage to become a governess for a former pupil? Her decision will change more lives than her own.

A secretive new dressmaker arrives in the village, but the ladies soon suspect she isn’t who she claims to be. Will they oust the imposter, or help rescue her from a dangerous predicament?

In the meantime, everyone expects Miss Brockwell to marry a titled gentleman, even though her heart is drawn to another. While the people of Ivy Hill anticipate one wedding, an unexpected bride may surprise them all.

Don’t miss this romantic, stirring conclusion to Tales from Ivy Hill.

My Review:

I totally enjoyed this final conclusion to the series by Ms. Klassen. It had, as the others, a feel of the Austen type era. The story had several characters, and if you were not careful, you were lost for a second and had to refresh where you were.
I found myself rooting for one family, and then another when a new character was introduced. It was one of those winter evening type books that you just want to savor.
If you enjoy a good story, fairly accurate seeming to the time period, you should pick up this whole series. It is quite enjoyable!

This book was recently released. I totally enjoyed it.

 

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The Butterfly Bride by Vanessa Riley

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Frederica Burghley wants to be married by Yuletide. Or else her father will set her up with one of his friends. The bonbon-loving illegitimate daughter of the duke wants to choose her own husband. Advertising in the newspaper seems like the way to go. But a sinister response, with threats against her life, leads her to enlist the help of her very handsome, dear friend Jasper Fitzwilliam, Lord Hartwell.

A father and widower, Jasper is not only tasked with keeping Frederica safe but also with helping his vibrant friend choose a suitable husband. The more he tries to keep the ever-surprising woman alive and find her a good match, the more Jasper realizes he cares for her. The two friends risk their lives for each other, so they should be able to risk their feelings for a chance at a deep and true love together. But he’s not looking for marriage and she’s not looking for convenience.

My Review:

I loved it! I don’t know what all to say, but Vanessa Riley knows how to tell a story. I have to maybe say that I have a new favorite. I loved seeing some of the characters come in from previous books, and she even did a birth scene which I loved!
I totally wanted this book to never end.

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My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge by Pepper Basham

 

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

My Review:

I love this author’s books. I just have to say that right off the bat.
From her lighter ones to her heavier ones, each one makes me want to keep reading and buying more and more of her books.
This book is kind of a Christy feel with hints of humor intermixed. There are a few heavier topics such as alcoholism brought up, but overall, I would say this is a lighter read for one of her books.

When you go to look for a book with truth and good story, I would say pick this one up. It will warm your heart!
I wished it were a tad bit longer as I wanted a little more of their story, but I guess it can’t go on forever!

I obtained this book from NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description

Auschwitz Lullaby brings to life the story of Helene Hannemann—a woman who sacrificed everything for family and fought furiously for the children she hoped to save.

On an otherwise ordinary morning in 1943, Helene Hannemann is preparing her five children for the day when the German police arrive at her home. Helene’s worst fears come true when the police, under strict orders from the SS, demand that her children and husband, all of Romani heritage, be taken into custody. Though Helene is German and safe from the forces invading her home, she refuses to leave her family—sealing her fate in a way she never could have imagined.

After a terrifying trek across the continent, Helene and her family arrive at Auschwitz and are thrown into the chaos of the camp. Her husband, Johann, is separated from them, but Helene remains fiercely protective of her children and those around her. When the powers-that-be discover that Helene is not only a German but also a trained nurse, she is forced into service at the camp hospital, which is overseen by the notorious Dr. Mengele himself.

Helene is under no illusions in terms of Dr. Mengele’s intentions, but she agrees to cooperate when he asks her to organize a day care and school for the Romani children in the camp. Though physically and emotionally brutalized by the conditions at Auschwitz, Helene musters the strength to protect the children in her care at any cost. Through sheer force of will, Helene provides a haven for the children of Auschwitz—an act of kindness and selflessness so great that it illuminates the darkest night of human history.

Based on a true story, Mario Escobar’s Auschwitz Lullaby demonstrates the power of sacrifice and the strength of human dignity—even when all hope seems lost.

My Review:

While this story breaks a lot of the rules of what a successful book must have, it truly is an incredible story based on truth, to give us insight into the experiences of people inside the camps. It is successful in its own right because of that!

I found it especially heart-wrenching as you see so clearly that the guards, doctors and others didn’t really believe they were doing anything wrong. In fact, they believed they were doing right. It reminded me of many of things I see in our society today, where people defend treating others with inhumane treatment simply because others agree with it.

While not really a book to read for a happily ever after story, it shows the bravery of those that went before us and teaches such valuable lessons. I would say even if you are one that likes to pretend bad things do not happen, this is such a valuable piece of history, while being an easier read than some placed in this time period, I would recommend it.

 I review for BookLook Bloggers

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History Through Fiction

Seems backwards, right?

 

Fiction is fiction. History is the story of what happened in the past. The two should not cross.

Yet, every homeschool teacher will tell you as they look at curriculums like Sonlight, My Father’s World, Beautiful Feet, Winter Promise, and so many others that their children learned history best by reading fictional books about historical happenings.

Can you teach history using fiction? I would say the answer is a resounding “YES!”

This year I am teaching a supplemental class learning history through fiction. We are concentrating on American history. I find myself as I am wrapped up in the planning, more and more excited about the books we have to read, and wishing there was more time in the year.

I was thinking, if my voice was not so annoying and pipsqueaky like, that I would love to visit and talk on something like a You Tube channel about my favorite books. However, I am sure my voice would so annoy people, that I thought maybe instead that a series of photos, reviews and maybe short clips would be better.

Which would you rather see?

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Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanna Bischof

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

My Review:

I know that when I pick up a book by Joanne Bischof, to expect something different.
This one did surprise me a little still. I loved the fact that one of the main characters was deaf. I felt for him with his struggles through the book.
The food descriptions will make you crave the recipes and send up signals begging for biscuits, apple butter and berry pies. But overall, this book, like this authors others, don’t expect everything to be cut, dry and over the top romantic. The characters have pain, struggle in their relationships and have to seek to get through hard trials.
Romantic? Yes, I guess you could say there are romantic moments in the story, but it is not the main focus.
This book touches on some of the social injustices of the time period as well. It is well written and one that will leave you thinking!

This book is available on kindle, audio and in print from Amazon.

“Sons of Blackbird Mountain” 

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Giveaway! The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

 

Want a chance to win a copy of this book that just came out in July?

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Read the following interview to find out how!

Everyone has a story but not everyone has a story like Em. Before ever riding the orphan trains she endured life on the streets of New York. Hardened by a life of survival she expects little from her future and only dreams of reuniting with her sister. Life for women in 1881 is restrictive in many ways but to be a woman that is plain and uneducated is far worse. But Em has grit and heart, two ingredients that combined with kindness allow Em to blossom.

A gunshot wound is her ticket to freedom. Broken and grasping for life she enters the town of Azure Springs, Iowa where for the first time in many years she is greeted with friendliness and compassion. But a soul that has been beaten down for so long does not recover all at once. Her journey to happily ever after is marred with pain from the past, uncertainty and hardship.

We all have character strengths and though she believes her only strength is her ability to survive readers will discover that her strengths are many. Em touches the lives of the townsfolks at the same time they are reaching out to her. Their eccentricities excite and awake her to living and not just surviving. With their help the bedraggled Em learns to smile again.

For the first time the illiterate and unwanted Em begins to believe that there might be more for her. Books and letters free her mind. The kindness of the townsfolk awaken her dreams but can the tenderness of the sheriff free her heart?

Pick up a copy of The Hope of Azure Springs to join Em on her journey! Leave a comment answering the following question on this post to enter the drawing as well.

Has foster care or adoption impacted your life at all? If so, how?

Visit Rachel Fordham at Facebook.com/rachelfordhamfans
And at Rachelfordham.com

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