Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

effcubed’s CBR3 #44-48

Yikes, 25 hours left (here in the Central Time Zone), and 4 reviews left! Can I do it? I’ll sure try.

#44: A frightening tale of what could happen if the pro-lifers get their way: what’ really appropriate punishment?

#45: Have Opinions about Comic Sans and Helvetica? You probably should.

#46: Inspired by true events: youth boxing in 1930s Nazi Germany.

#47: I’m running out of books I read recently so I’m digging back a ways for literary fantasy with giant squids and the Apocalypse.

#48: Roald Dahl-esque fairy tale from Italy, newly translated.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

effcubed’s CBR3 #40-43

#40: High school marching band is no place for super serious French Horn player Elsie, right? Who wants to be called Zombie Chicken?

#41: Interlinked romantic short stories from YA superstars John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. Blizzards and Waffle House, a match made in heaven.

#42: YA author Eoin Colfer is all gronzed up and he’s all gronzed up. (It’s a worse reference if you’re not sure how to spell things.)

#43: You thought Jane Austen was the only author who inspired all those prequels, sequels and whatever? Louisa May Alcott has some too.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

effcubed’s CBR3 #35-39

#35:  A hyperactive kid with a penchant for amazing accidents, Joey Pigza.

#36: Beka Cooper, bad-ass police officer in the fantasy kingdom of Tortall on her biggest Hunt of all.

#37 and 38: Two very very different Pride and Prejudice retellings. Post-Civil War Texas or contemporary rock’n’roll fame, take your pick.

#39: Raising chickens. In your backyard. In Minnesota. With pictures. Also, recipes.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

leedock’s CBR-III Review #38-“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” – Brian Selznick

An embittered old toy maker and an orphaned boy both hiding themselves from the world.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

leedock’s CBR-III Review #36-“The Curse of the Wendigo” – Rick Yancey

The second in a series and the first is reviewed here. The stuff of nightmares, to be sure, but beautifully written. Yancey describes these books as a “love story disguised as a monster story”. Very dysfunctional love. Very horrifying monsters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

effcubed’s CBR-III #20: The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss

Regency Magic-y Funtimes!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Malin’s CBR-III Reviews # 69-77: Yes, I did another massive blog update

So my work is keeping me way busier this time of year than I’m used to, which reduces the amount of free time I have for reading. I’m also a lot more tired when I do have spare time, so reading takes longer, but I AM still reading. I just hadn’t really blogged any of the books since the last update. So on the final day of my autumn break, I decided to blog all of them in one day, again. Here goes:

Book 69: The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis de Bernieres –  http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/69-war-of-don-emmanuels-nether-parts-by.html

Book 70: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/70-house-at-riverton-by-kate-morton.html 

Book 71: This is strictly speaking 3 volumes of a comic book/graphic novel, Mike Carey’s The Unwritten – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/71-unwritten-vol-1-3-by-mike-carey-and.html

Book 72: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/72-miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar.html

Book 73: Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/73-archangels-blade-by-nalini-singh.html

Book 74: The Glass Demon by Helen Grant – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/74-glass-demon-by-helen-grant.html

Book 75: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/75-forgotten-garden-by-kate-morton.html

Book 76: Heat Rises by Richard Castle – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/76-heat-rises-by-richard-castle.html

Book 77: The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/77-wild-rose-by-jennifer-donnelly.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Samantha’s CBRIII Review #33: The Girl with the Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier

So, I have to admit (in case you hadn’t already noticed) that I’m a little bit of a literary snob. I generally do prefer older literature to the newer stuff out there, and I just like for things to be written well. Still, every now and then, one has to go for what I like to call “brain candy”. And sometimes, one can be pleasantly surprised by an easy read and find it to be something worthy of higher praise.

The Girl with the Pearl Earring is a fictionalized narrative about the girl who posed for the famous painting by Johannes Vermeer. In Chevalier’s story, she is our narrator, Griet. Griet’s family has fallen on hard times, and she is hired out to be a maid in the Vermeer household. While there she becomes first an assistant to the painter, and finally a muse. This draws ire from the various women in his family and endangers Griet’s position. There are also the unwelcome advances of Vermeer’s wealthy patron, and the attentions of the butcher’s son to contend with, and Griet grows up quickly and learns a great deal about the differences in class and social structure in her world.

After reading this novel, I guess I wouldn’t exactly call it brain candy, although it’s still a very comfortable and easy read. The language is delightfully clear and descriptive, and the characters are interesting, but very subdued. If I knew anything at all about painting in general and Vermeer in particular, I would imagine that Chevalier was trying to use language in the same way that Vermeer used color and images. While there is certainly drama and tension in the story, Griet’s calm, measured narration serves as a steadying influence, and her practicality balances out her love of the artistic, thus keeping the novel from veering too far toward melodrama.

The flaw of the novel is in the characterization, in that there’s not very much of it. While I understand the effort to keep Griet on an even keel, the brief hints and suggestions at a more “alive” side to her personality are never really fleshed out, and that was disappointing. Ultimately, I guess it fits into the story well; Griet, as part of a lower social strata, cannot afford to lose control and be fully free with her feelings and actions, and that is reflected in her character. I just feel as though the reader is offered these glimpses of a different character, and thus assumes that she will make some kind of appearance, but she never really does. All of the other characters in the novel are fairly one-note, although that can again be attributed to the narrative perspective. I suppose one should really give Chevalier credit. She’s given us a character who, at one time, appears to be both fairly uninteresting and a compelling narrator, and we can certainly see how she would have become an artist’s inspiration and a lasting image of artistry.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Samantha’s CBRIII Review #31: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

I finished The Invention of Hugo Cabret a few weeks ago, and have been struggling with what to say about it. I really liked it and thought it was lovely, but there’s something so simple and straightforward about it that it’s hard to give it the usual review treatment.

Hugo Cabret is an orphaned boy who hides out in a Paris train station. He has been tasked by his uncle, who has since disappeared, with keeping all the clocks in the station running. This he does, but on his own time he works at putting together a damaged automaton which, when restored, he believes will provide him with a secret message from his father. Instead, the automaton’s message is an even greater mystery than its composition, and Hugo gets much more than he bargained for.

This is a beautiful book. It’s a novel in words and pictures, with half of the story in text and the other half in really amazingly detailed line drawings, both supplied by Brian Selznick. It is the first novel to have won the Caldecott Medal, which is an award for illustration in children’s books. As I said, the language is very simple, but that’s part of what makes the novel work so well. Because it’s using pictures, you are invited to truly open your mind’s eye and supply the details for yourself. The story itself is not anything special, as orphans are so often the heroes and heroines of children’s fiction, but the historical aspects give the narrative an added appeal and make the mystery and magic of the whole venture sparkle a little more brightly.

All in all, a very lovely and well-made book. It will take you no time at all to read, and you really ought to. It may pique your curiosity to know that it is being released as a film this holiday season (check out the trailer here), and that the movie is directed by Martin Scorsese. Yes. Scorsese is putting out a movie for kids. I believe that the book’s content is the reason why it appealed to Mr. Scorsese, but that would be spoiling it for you, so you’ll just have to read it yourself and see if you agree with me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

xoxoxoe, #43 The Mistress of Nothing, by Kate Pullinger

Here is an excerpt from my reviews of my #43 book, The Mistress of Nothing, on my blog, xoxoxo e:

Pullinger, a Canadian author who lives in London, writes well. The Mistress of Nothing won the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award (Canada). 1860s Egypt is described quite lovingly by her protagonist. It is hard not to get caught up in Sally’s excitement as they begin their journey, even when plot turns are obvious from the first few lines in the introduction — Sally, a spinster of 30, will fall in love and have a falling out with her employer. The Mistress of Nothing is a love story, but less between Sally and her beloved, Lady Duff Gordon’s dragoman Omar Abu Halaweh, than between Sally and Egypt.

Omar Abu Halaweh, from Wonders and Marvels

To complicate matters, Omar already has a wife, Mabrouka, and a little girl. He explains to Sally that he is allowed to have more than one wife and she accepts this quickly, calmly, meekly. She seems to have easily abandoned her English upbringing, viewpoint, and any cautions she may have had towards men. When Sally and Omar not only have an affair they conceal from their employer, but a baby, all hell breaks loose. …

… Omar’s wife Mabrouka is offstage for the first part of the novel, living with his parents in Cairo. Since the story is being told from Sally’s perspective, Mabrouka is not exactly a villain, but she is a presented as a negative character. But then we meet her. Not only is she sympathetic to Sally and her predicament, but she is a well-rounded enough character to be portrayed as jealous and competitive for her husband’s attention. Pullinger had a great chance to really run with a story of unlikely female solidarity. Sally could have healed herself with such a friendship, especially after her illusions of shared intimacy with Lady Duff Gordon have been so shattered. Instead of pursuing this plot thread, Pullinger lets Omar make the rules, but never with any good reason why he will not support Sally, except that he doesn’t want to lose such a great position with Lady Duff Gordon. Sally and everyone else in his life go along with him, even when he is essentially a weak character.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized