Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Blog Tour: The Sworn Virgin by Kristopher Dukes

About The Sworn Virginswornvirgin

Hardcover: 352 pages
Published: August 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Dukes’s gripping historical novel tells the tale of a desperate Albanian woman who will do whatever it takes to keep her independence and seize control of her future…even if it means swearing to remain a virgin for her entire life.

When eighteen-year-old Eleanora’s father is shot dead on the cobblestone streets of 1910 Albania, Eleanora must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Meria.

Nearing starvation, Meria secretly sells Eleanora into marriage with the cruel heir of a powerful clan. Intent on keeping her freedom, Eleanora takes an oath to remain a virgin for the rest of her life—a tradition that gives her the right to live as a man: she is now head of her household and can work for a living as well as carry a gun. Eleanora can also participate in the vengeful blood feuds that consume the mountain tribes, but she may not be killed—unless she forsakes her vow, which she has no intention of ever doing.

But when an injured stranger stumbles into her life, Eleanora nurses him back to health, saving his life—yet risking her own as she falls in love with him…

“It’s hard to believe that the culture Dukes describes was ever real, but the amount of research she put into this book definitely shines through. The story remains fascinating throughout; readers will definitely find it difficult to put this novel down.”—San Francisco Book Review

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Kristopher Dukes

Kristopher Dukes was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has been a nationally published writer since she was in high school. Her work has been featured in the bestselling book series Written in the Dirt and fashion bible WWD. She has been profiled in Vogue.fr, NY Times.com, Fast Company, Forbes.com, and WWD. The Sworn Virgin is her debut novel. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California, with her husband, Matt, and Doberman, Xena.

Connect with her on Facebook.

My Thoughts

Eleanora meant for each day to be an adventure, whether she traveled on foot or merely in her mind.

I just love that quote from the beginning of the book. It shows the person Eleanora could have been, should have been, and maybe would have been if her life had been different.

I’ve been really excited to read The Sworn Virgin ever since signing up for the blog tour a few months ago. I haven’t read a good historical fiction in a while, but it’s a genre I typically enjoy quite a bit. The idea of Eleanora’s story was right up my alley – a woman who swears herself a virgin in order to escape a terrible marriage, who then (of course) falls in love. But, I was also a little skeptical. It’s easy for that kind of story to go horribly wrong. And while I won’t go that far, though I enjoyed it, ultimately The Sworn Virgin left me wanting more.

My biggest beef was the pacing. The first 50 or so pages dragged so slowly for me. There’s a lot of exposition that’s important, but there’s also a lot that isn’t. That said, once the story finally got going, staying engaged was easy.

I didn’t like Eleanora, exactly, but I rooted for her. She struck me as sort of an unlikeable Cinderella at first – spoiled by her father, then has her whole life turned upside down by his death. (Without the singing animals, of course!) In fact, let’s talk about Eleanora for a minute. She’s only 18 years old in the story, but it’s really easy to forget that and think she’s older. Often I caught myself rolling my eyes at her or thinking she was ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time she WAS being ridiculous, but that’s a lot easier to accept – and forgive – when you remind yourself she’s 18.

Back to the pacing, I thought Eleanora’s interactions with Cheremi were entirely too rushed. Dukes spent a lot of time building up Eleanora as this semi-self-reliant, strong-willed sworn virgin, only to rush through her transition into “woman/wife.” For me, that created a distinct lack of tension that felt at odds with the rest of the story. I also struggled to see Cheremi as a love interest, and never truly cared about their relationship. The conflict resolved hastily, and in my mind, left a lot of loose ends (what happened to Meria!?). I do have to give Dukes credit for her ending though – while in a way it felt like the book just sorta stopped, I also think the ending worked.

I’m glad I read The Sworn Virgin. I enjoyed getting back into the historical fiction realm!

Check out the rest of the Blog Tour stops, and show your fellow readers some love!

 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Harper Wave for the chance to participate in this tour! 

Blog Tour: News of the World by Paulette Jiles

About News of the Worldnewsoftheworld

• Hardcover: 240 pages
• Published: June 2017 by William Morrow (reprint)
• Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Goodreads Description: In the aftermath of the American Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this morally complex, multi-layered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.

addtogoodreads

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

paulettejiles

Photo by Jill Gann

About Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, TX.

Find out more about Paulette at her website.

My Thoughts

I admit that I’ve only read half of News of the World. I thought I’d have plenty of time with a 200 page book to knock it out over the weekend. I didn’t think about the fact that it was the 4th of July weekend.

News of the World is the kind of story that makes you feel like you’re in it. It’s slow and steady, with almost a rolling cadence to the words. Jiles writes in a way that uses very few words to describe character interactions – but those words are chosen carefully enough to have maximum impact. Reading it, I feel like I’m in the wagon with Captain Kidd and Johanna.

I’m really enjoying the way the Captain and Johanna are learning to get along. Watching Johanna’s experience makes me stop and think about being a stranger in a strange land. I think a lot of the themes are ones that apply today, despite the fact that News of the World is set right after the Civil War.

I don’t want to give this one a rating yet, because I’m not finished with it – but if I had to guess, it’ll be a solid 4 stars. Don’t be fooled by the short length – News of the World has the makings of a great story.

Check out the rest of the Blog Tour stops, and show your fellow readers some love!

 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for the chance to participate in this tour! 

Book Club: Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

About Moloka’i

• Book Club: March 2017 
• Paperback: 
405 pages
• Published: October 2004 by St. Martin’s Griffin
• Source: Purchased

Goodreads DescriptionThis richly imagined novel, set in Hawai’i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place—and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. Here her life is supposed to end—but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.

My Thoughts

We forgot to choose a theme for March, so I came prepared with a couple random recommendations, and everyone “ooohed” at Moloka’i, so that’s what we went with. I can’t even tell you how long I’ve wanted to read this book. Years. Many years. I’m fairly certain I suggested it at least one other time for book club. And now I finally got to read it! (This is one of the books I listed as a “priority” for my 2017 Goodreads reading challenge, so I get to mark one off my list!)

Moloka’i tells the story of Rachel, a young Hawaiian girl diagnosed with leprosy (or Hanssen’s Disease) at age six. At seven, she’s sent to the island of Moloka’i to live in the leper colony at Kalaupapa. She’s one of the lucky ones who has someone already on the island – her uncle Pono – since her parents and siblings aren’t able to join her. Rachel grows up on Moloka’i, and spends the majority of her life there with the people she comes to consider family.

I loved this book. Moloka’i might sound like a depressing story – after all, Rachel is diagnosed with a horrible disease, sent away from her family, and forced to live in exile for most of her life. She loses so much, so many people. And yet – it’s not a depressing story at all. Quite the opposite. It’s uplifting and heartwarming, because you come to see that the people who live on Kalaupapa are their own family. They build a community full of love and support. To the rest of the world they’re castoffs, but in Kalaupapa, they’re just people. There’s no stigma, no hate. It’s an emotional story, to be sure, but one that’s well done.

Book Club Discussion

We all loved Moloka’i. We loved the characters, we loved the writing, and we loved learning about a history we’d never known. We talked about how our education focused on other parts of US History, and how we realized we knew next to nothing about Hawaii. We talked about how sad it was how lepers were treated, about the stigma, and about the toll it took on families. At the same time, we talked about how the people on Kalaupapa led rich, full lives – if not easy ones.

April’s Book Club Theme: Fun and Fresh

Book Club: Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

About Moloka’i

• Book Club: March 2017 
• Paperback: 
405 pages
• Published: October 2004 by St. Martin’s Griffin
• Source: Purchased

Goodreads DescriptionThis richly imagined novel, set in Hawai’i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place—and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. Here her life is supposed to end—but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.

My Thoughts

We forgot to choose a theme for March, so I came prepared with a couple random recommendations, and everyone “ooohed” at Moloka’i, so that’s what we went with. I can’t even tell you how long I’ve wanted to read this book. Years. Many years. I’m fairly certain I suggested it at least one other time for book club. And now I finally got to read it! (This is one of the books I listed as a “priority” for my 2017 Goodreads reading challenge, so I get to mark one off my list!)

Moloka’i tells the story of Rachel, a young Hawaiian girl diagnosed with leprosy (or Hanssen’s Disease) at age six. At seven, she’s sent to the island of Moloka’i to live in the leper colony at Kalaupapa. She’s one of the lucky ones who has someone already on the island – her uncle Pono – since her parents and siblings aren’t able to join her. Rachel grows up on Moloka’i, and spends the majority of her life there with the people she comes to consider family.

I loved this book. Moloka’i might sound like a depressing story – after all, Rachel is diagnosed with a horrible disease, sent away from her family, and forced to live in exile for most of her life. She loses so much, so many people. And yet – it’s not a depressing story at all. Quite the opposite. It’s uplifting and heartwarming, because you come to see that the people who live on Kalaupapa are their own family. They build a community full of love and support. To the rest of the world they’re castoffs, but in Kalaupapa, they’re just people. There’s no stigma, no hate. It’s an emotional story, to be sure, but one that’s well done.

Book Club Discussion

We all loved Moloka’i. We loved the characters, we loved the writing, and we loved learning about a history we’d never known. We talked about how our education focused on other parts of US History, and how we realized we knew next to nothing about Hawaii. We talked about how sad it was how lepers were treated, about the stigma, and about the toll it took on families. At the same time, we talked about how the people on Kalaupapa led rich, full lives – if not easy ones.

April’s Book Club Theme: Fun and Fresh