Book Review: Big Water (ARC)

Book Review: Big Water | rachelbrittain.comBook: Big Water

Author: Andrea Curtis

Genre: YA / historical fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Traveling the Great Lakes was a dangerous proposition through the early part of the twentieth century—especially on the Georgia Bay in Canada. Many ships and lives were lost on the uncharted and unpredictable waters. In 1882, the SS Asia, a converted river steamship, set out from the Georgia Bay in Lake Huron, overloaded and top heavy, heading straight into a storm. Equipped only with life vests and flimsy lifeboats unfit for the dangerous waters, the passengers and crew were entirely unprepared when the ship sank. One hundred and twenty three lives were lost, the sole survivors two teenagers. This fictional account of a real historical tragedy explores the circumstances that led those two teenagers onto the Asia and how they managed to survive freezing water, treacherous conditions, and several days among dying men on a lifeboat, adrift in the middle of the Georgia Bay.

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Book Review: My Lady Jane

Book: My Lady Jane

Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Genre: fantasy / historical retelling / YA

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Think back to sixth grade history. What do you remember about Lady Jane Grey? Queen for nine days and beheaded by her cousin Mary Tudor after the death of King Edward, right? Well, according to this revisionist tale history got a few things wrong.

Times are turbulent in England. The King is dying and tensions between Ethians (humans with the ability to shapeshift into an animal form) and Verities (humans who hate Ethians) are at an all-time high. Sixteen-year old Lady Jane Grey just wants everyone to leave her in peace to read her books. Unfortunately, King Edward and his advisors have other ideas, and as the King’s health steadily declines Jane is pushed into a marriage with a man she’s never met and caught up in a plot to kill her beloved cousin Edward. And to make matters worse, someone had the brilliant idea to make Jane queen. What could possibly go wrong?
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Book Review: Da Vinci’s Tiger

Book: Da Vinci’s Tiger

Author: L. M. Elliott

Genre: Historical Fiction/ YA

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Despite being a daughter of one of Florence’s most elite families, life has become fairly monotonous for Ginevra de’ Benci. Her uncle is cruel, her husband is kind but distant and disinterested, and her poetry is unknown. All of that starts to change when the ambassador from Venice, Bernado Bembo, takes notice of her and decides to make her his Platonic Muse. Suddenly, Ginevra is having dinner with the Medicis and having artwork of her commissioned. One painter in particular catches her interest, and as a young Leonardo da Vinci begins his first groundbreaking oil painting, he and Ginevra become friends. But as the two embark on a journey to change the course of the Florentine art world, Ginevra grows more and more dubious about Bembo’s intentions and her own role in a city and a world seemingly controlled by the men around her.

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Book Review: Orphan Train

Book Review: Orphan Train

source: amazon.com

Book: Orphan Train

Author: Christina Baker Kline

Genre: Historical/Realistic Fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Molly has been bounced around from foster home to foster home ever since her father died, and after making a mistake it looks like Molly is going to be shipped off once again. But things are different this time, and Molly doesn’t want to leave. She’s finally started to put down roots– her foster parents aren’t great, but she’s doing well in school and she even has a boyfriend she’s pretty crazy about, so she agrees to do fifty hours of community service helping out an old woman clean out her attic to avoid juvie.

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Book Review: A Madness So Discreet

Book Review: A Madness So Discreet

source: amazon.com

Book: A Madness So Discreet

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Genre: Historical fiction/thriller

Rating: 3/5

What it’s about: Grace Mae isn’t crazy– she’s just an abused young woman whose father commits her to a local asylum to hide her growing belly. But Grace is angry– angry enough to lash out violently against the cruel doctors and nurses that run the hellish asylum and get locked up in the dank basement with the rest of the asylum’s most ‘unruly’ patients. She is meant to die down there, but instead she finds a chance for a new life when a visiting doctor sees the brightness of Grace’s mind lurking beneath her rage. He helps her escape to a new, better asylum where they can hide from the people who might come looking for them. Grace continues to keep up a guise of insanity as she assists the doctor, who is using the new study of criminal psychology to help the police catch killers. As demons from her past begin to catch up with her, Grace’s guise of madness threatens to turn into reality, and worse still, their investigations bring them into the circle of a serial killer who will put all of them at risk.

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Book Review: Outlander

Book Review: Outlander

source: amazon.com

Book: Outlander

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Genre: Historical fiction/speculative fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: As a former WWII combat nurse, Claire Randall has seen many things, but nothing could have prepared her for what happens when she and her husband Frank visit a stone circle in the Scottish Highlands, and she is transported. Claire finds herself still in Scotland… just 200 years earlier. The year is 1743 and although Claire’s world may have found peace, this one is on the verge of war. Skirmishes between the clansmen and English soldiers are commonplace, and all of them are suspicious of this strange Englishwoman who shows up suddenly in the Scottish Highlands. The Scottish think she is a British spy, and the British think she is a French spy, and for her part, Claire doesn’t know what to think or who to trust.

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Top 5: Historical Fiction

1.Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

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source: amazon.com

“Verity” is a British spy during World War Two. She is one of the best…until she is captured by the Gestapo during one of her overseas missions. She is given a simple choice: give up Allied secrets or face torture and execution. Given that terrible choice, she agrees to tell her captors everything she knows.

But the story she tells them isn’t about the British forces, it’s about two best friends, Maddie and Queenie, and how a war, an air raid, and an umbrella began an unlikely friendship that would change both of their lives.

This book is an unbelievably realistic and heartbreaking look into the lives of the women involved in World War Two. Although it is fictional, this story is based on actual accounts of female pilots and spies from the war. It is an honest look at war, friendship, and the lengths people will go to to protect the ones they love.

*Tear jerker warning: have a handful of tissues ready. *

Great quote:

“I am no longer afraid of getting old. Indeed I can’t believe I ever said anything so stupid. So childish. So offensive and arrogant. But mainly, so very, very stupid. I desperately want to grow old.”

 

 

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