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

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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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Review: The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

4667024Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆


Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.


It’s kind of pointless to talk about how much I loved The Help because everyone else in the world already has. But goodness, I loved it. The thing is, I love the characters. All three protagonists remind me of myself or who I want to be in some way. Continue reading

Review: The Wages of Sin

30334183The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh

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


Sarah Gilchrist has fled London and a troubled past to join the University of Edinburgh’s medical school in 1892, the first year it admits women. She is determined to become a doctor despite the misgivings of her family and society, but Sarah quickly finds plenty of barriers at school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and—perhaps worst of all—her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman.

Desperate for a proper education, Sarah turns to one of the city’s ramshackle charitable hospitals for additional training. The St Giles’ Infirmary for Women ministers to the downtrodden and drunk, the thieves and whores with nowhere else to go. In this environment, alongside a group of smart and tough teachers, Sarah gets quite an education. But when Lucy, one of Sarah’s patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers.

Painfully aware of just how little separates her own life from that of her former patient’s, Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers in Edinburgh’s dank alleyways, bawdy houses and fight clubs, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh’s most lucrative trades, and, in doing so, puts her own life at risk…


I enjoyed The Wages of Sin! It was a fun, light read with a little bit of feminism thrown in for good measure. However, I’m not sure it was a particularly well-written book.

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Review: 1776

10671776 by David McCullough

Genres: Non-fiction, History
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence – when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, an his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.


Well, I did it! I finished my first historical non-fiction book, and what a great way to start!

1776 was jam-packed with facts and stories, but still somehow read almost like a novel. Lacking dialogue, McCullough masterfully wove in letters almost as if the characters were speaking to one another. I felt as I was reading as though I was really getting to know characters like George Washington, Henry Knox, Charles Lee, and even a lowly private Martin. It was a fascinating book, leaving me wondering why McCullough didn’t write about the rest of the war. I’ve always loved military history, though I’ve never understood why, and finally getting a good look into the Revolutionary War was awesome. I really enjoyed this book, and it leaves me thinking I definitely want to read more of this genre that I’ve always been a little afraid of.