Review: The Tiger’s Wife

8366402The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.

Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weeklytrips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.


I’m not sure what to think of The Tiger’s Wife. On the one hand, the story was lovely and intriguing. The way the stories branched off into sub-stories and wound their way back may have seemed unnecessary to some readers, but since that’s how I think it matched me perfectly. But on the other hand, I’m not really sure what the POINT of this book was.

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Review: A Study in Scarlet Women

28588390A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

Series: Lady Sherlock
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3+
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.

But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind. 


I am sad to say that A Study in Scarlet Women did NOT meet my expectations for a Sherlock gender-bender. It read more like a semi-romance historical mystery than a sleuth novel.

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Calendar Girls August: Best Historical Fiction

What are Flavia and Melanie trying to do to me?!?!?! How am I supposed to pick just ONE best historical fiction????????

Historical fiction. A fictional novel written in the actual past, containing real events, places, and people. The main character might be an actual person, or might be a made up person. It’s a cool genre because there is a lot of flexibility, but you still have to do your research and know your stuff.

I adore historical fiction. This love goes all the way back to my childhood and Laura Ingles Wilder. There’s just something so magical about reading a great novel where you also learn a little bit. Plus, and I’m just being honest here, the clothes! *swoon* I can’t even begin to count the number of historical fictions I’ve read just about Henry VIII, his wives, and his children. It’s probably my favorite genre, if I had to pick a favorite, because I’m a terrible person who picks favorites, get over it.

I’ve been thinking for weeks trying to decide between three of my favorites, which are all VERY different. In the end I am picking the one that I personally enjoy the most, even if it’s not necessarily the most representative of the genre.

So. Drumroll please. Continue reading

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

2728527The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Genre: Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 1
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways. 


What a nice book. Wow, that sound’s awful, calling a book nice, but that’s exactly what it was. And no less sweet for being rather predictable. It’s exactly the sort of book I could picture middle aged women around the country falling in love with. As a younger person I enjoyed the book, but would by no stretch use the word “love.” While the use of written letters as the only story telling device was enchanting and nostalgic, all the characters read like old women, even the men. Still, there was plenty to enjoy.

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Review: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

11331421The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.


Julia Win travels to Burma hoping to discover what became of her father after he disappeared four years earlier. She meets a man named U Ba who tells her the story of her father’s life. It is a sweeping love story that will make you laugh and weep. At least, that’s what the author tells us. Can I just say how much I hate when an author refers to a story/poem/song in their own book this way? It seems pretty self-assured and assuming to me. Continue reading

Review: Life after Life

15790842Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. 

For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.


Equal parts depressing and fascinating, Life After Life was as difficult to read as it was to put down. It reminded me in some ways of a modern day Tess of the D’Ubervilles in that Ursula seemed to be completely out of control of her own destiny, as well as unaware of what was happening to her. Plus, you know, the sheer number of terrible things that happened to her. But the concept of this book is what makes it truly unique. It’s like a mix between time travel and reincarnation. And while the ending left me with more questions than answers, they are questions I am more than willing to ask myself again and again. While I probably won’t read Life After Life a second time, mainly due to the many unnecessary (and graphic) reminders of how terrible WWII was for ALL parties involved, it is a book I will surely be discussing and thinking about for many years to come. I strongly recommend to anyone who loves history or who just loves to think.

Review: Music of the Ghosts

30753802Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


Leaving the safety of America, Teera returns to Cambodia for the first time since her harrowing escape as a child refugee. She carries a letter from a man who mysteriously signs himself as “the Old Musician” and claims to have known her father in the Khmer Rouge prison where he disappeared twenty-five years ago.

In Phnom Penh, Teera finds a society still in turmoil, where perpetrators and survivors of unfathomable violence live side by side, striving to mend their still beloved country. She meets a young doctor who begins to open her heart, immerses herself in long-buried memories and prepares to learn her father’s fate.

Meanwhile, the Old Musician, who earns his modest keep playing ceremonial music at a temple, awaits Teera’s visit with great trepidation. He will have to confess the bonds he shared with her parents, the passion with which they all embraced the Khmer Rouge’s illusory promise of a democratic society, and the truth about her father’s end. 


If you’re looking for a lighthearted, summer read, look somewhere else. If you want a straight-forward story about modern-day Cambodia, look somewhere else. Music of the Ghosts is a sad, meandering story about the worst times in Cambodian history. The writing is lovely and it will make you think, but I won’t lie to you, it was a difficult read.

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