Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Book Review: Shadow Warrior: Based on the True Story of a Fearless Ninja and Her Network of Female Spies by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Celia Krampien (Illustrator)

Annick Press
Published Sept. 12, 2017
64 Pages

It’s 1558, and warlords across Japan are battling for territory and control. Into this setting, Tanya Lloyd Kyi weaves the stories of three people: Mochizuki Chiyome, a young woman determined to become a ninja whose plans are thwarted by an arranged marriage; Takeda Shingen (The Tiger), a fierce warlord seeking a new weapon to outsmart his enemies; and Aki, an orphaned tavern girl whose destiny is changed by a mysterious woman.

As their stories intersect, the three characters become key players in an elaborate network of undercover female ninjas who will eventually shift the balance of power in Japan. Based on the true story of Mochizuki Chiyome and her all-female spy network.- Goodreads

*Short Review*

I really enjoyed this. I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up this book but the amount of history and story placed in this quick read was amazing. From the beginning, you are pulled in and you don’t want to leave.

This book is detailed without being dragged out and its colorful and complicated without feeling the author is trying to do too much. My only issue with this read, is I wish it was longer.

I loved how the author moved easily between three different point of views/three different stories. But I wanted to know more about each of them. Not necessarily their past, but what they were doing presently, what happened when the world started changing. I know that this book is meant for children, specifically middle schoolers but this read opened my curiosity to Mochizuki and what women did during this time.

It really is a good starting point for anyone that is mildly interested in badass women.

4 Pickles

Book Review: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

HMH Books for Young Readers
Published July 4, 2017
388 Pages

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind. 

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up. -Goodreads

I’ve been sitting on this book for a while, unfortunately,  so when I actually began reading it, I was very pleased.

The Disappearances started off really well. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time for you to get to some big points in the novel. However, the first thing I noticed was how Aila acted. Although she is 17, her actions, the way she speaks and interacts with everyone makes it appear she is younger than what she is. It isn’t until she starts school… high school that you have a confirmation on her age. From there, how she interacts with others and what her own actions begin to shift. It was interesting to read because I thought she was 12 when I began the book.

Beyond that she was an alright character. I didn’t dislike her nor did I like her. I felt that she was one of those neutral characters that only saves the day because of how it affects her and her family and not necessarily because it may be the right thing to do or because she has that spark in her.

The love interest didn’t have enough chemistry for me to feel that it was truly genuine, which is unfortunate because it would have been nice. Half way through the book things staled a little as not a whole lot was really really going on. When some things did happen, it wasn’t the big explosion the book or even the summary made it seem it was going to be. It was disappointing the say the least.

But I kept reading the book even though my excited for it was dwindling. I couldn’t put it down because the author was very creative and it reminded me a bit of a movie I watch on Netflix called Perfect Sense (2011) featuring Eva Green and Ewan McGregor. It’s a decent watch with a lack luster ending, which surprisingly is exactly how I feel about the ending of this book.

Overall, I didn’t think it was a bad read and for the most part I enjoyed this book. But there were misses in the plot, backstory, romance and twists (the twist is not shocking at all). This book could have been amazing but for the most part, it was a nice between read.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

Penguin Canada Published May 5, 2015 272 Pages
Penguin Canada
Published May 5, 2015
272 Pages

Leo was born into a family with privilege and in 1870 she is short of nothing. Living with her wealthy sister, Leo seems to have the perfect life. But an intense speech impediment (stuttering) stops her from speaking, causing her to mimic her aunt’s words in order to satisfy society’s curiosity.

Thus causing suitors to stay away from her except adventurer Mr. Thornfax. But why would he want a woman like her? And is he connected to the terror attacks plaguing the city with victims are taken over by opium fever? Leo must find out the truth and find her true voice. 

What I enjoyed about this book was the original idea. A woman during the 1870s with a stuttering issues, and no about of doctor visits can solve the issue. I liked how the author brought a different light to the “perfect” woman (protagonist). But this was a hard read as there wasn’t a whole lot of conversation due to obvious reasons. Therefore, the tone sounded the same for a majority of the book and that is a huge problem for me.

I didn’t have an issue with Leo as a character. But I did have an issue with her lack of personality. Although for some time she tried not to speak, I didn’t think that was grounds for making her a bit lifeless. I wanted some kind of spark, rebellion from her not when she needed to find the truth but from the beginning.

The pace of the novel was a bit slow. It takes a while for things to really happen and the beginning of the book doesn’t really get you involved in the book. I wasn’t sucked into this story at all, which is extremely unfortunate but it wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t a great read either.

Overall,

2 Pickles

Book Review: The Spy by Paulo Coelho

Knopf Published Nov. 22, 2016 208 Pages
Knopf
Published Nov. 22, 2016
208 Pages

Mata Hari arrived to Pairs penniless but with a plan; to move up in status. As a dancer, she excited the world with her moves and body but as a courtesan she seduced some of the most powerful and richest men of her time. 

But when war breaks out, Mata comes under fire for her ways and the people she knows. In 1917, Mata was arrested and accused of espionage. In her final letter to her lawyer and daughter, Mata tells her side of the story. 

*short review*

I have never heard of Mata Hari until I read this book. Yes, she is a real person. Yes, she really was a dancer, who also was a courtesan, who was also arrested for being a spy, a traitor. But keep in mind that this isn’t a non-fiction book. Coelho created a story based on research i.e. some facts.  Just wanted to clear that up.

I loved this story. I loved everything about it from beginning to end. Instantly, you are captivated and curious about this woman and that is mainly because the book started at the end. I was shocked not by that method but by the clear picture I saw in my head and the honesty. That is what I loved most about this book; Mata was unapologetically honest even at her death. It was refreshing to read.

The book was constantly moving even when Mata was making silent moves, the book didn’t stale and I really appreciated that. There is one thing that may prove to be a issue for some readers. When the war began and people were being paranoid, Mata was no longer a real likable woman. Looking from the outside in, you can see why people were upset at her. I was upset at her to the point that I believe she set herself up.

But I did enjoy the fact that while reading this book you can’t tell what is fact and what is fiction. It feels completely true; personal thoughts and all.

Overall, I highly recommend this book not only as a good read but as a gateway to finding more about Mata Hari.

5 Pickles

Book Review: Gilded Cage (A Canary Club Novella) by Sherry D. Ficklin

Published Dec. 1, 2016
Published Dec. 1, 2016

Masie is the daughter of notorious boot-legger Dutch Schultz and after being sent away to boarding school, unexpectedly she is called back when her mother falls ill. To keep her family’s dangerous secrets Masie is forced to lie about something so big, it can destroy everything as she knows it. 

I understand this is an introduction into a new series and I understand that this is a novella. However, I couldn’t like it any less if I didn’t know those pieces of information.

My biggest issue of this book was the fact that it felt incomplete. The book simply ended and I know it is to lead into another book but it was weak.

I didn’t like Masie. Her intentions seem really messed up and as much as she complains about her father, all I can think of was how much she is like him. I felt that maybe something decent about her would show but it wasn’t there. This introduction appears to be more about her selfish motives than anything to do with her mother or the family secret.

The overall plot felt like it was put together in a rush and there wasn’t too much concerned for it as it isn’t a full story. I like the author; her Queen of Someday series is amazing. But this did not make me want to read the upcoming series. There wasn’t enough on the surrounding characters, who will play a big part in the series and there wasn’t enough back.

Despite this, there is one thing I did like. The story’s setting is during the Gatsby era New York and I love it. I wish that there was more detail but I did like the aspect of that story.

 

Overall,

 

2 Pickles

Impatiently Waiting For: Ivory and Bone (Ivory and Bone #1) by Julie Eshbaugh

HarperTeen To Be Published June 7, 2016 384 Pages
HarperTeen
To Be Published June 7, 2016
384 Pages

A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along– Goodreads