Posts Tagged ‘Historical Fiction’


Mock Newbery Nominee: Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

by Morgan Reeves on January 31st, 2018
Mock Newbery Nominee: Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson Cover Image

This is the last Mock Newbery summary and review before voting ends and we declare a winner! Our final nominee is Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson. This intense piece of historical fiction delves into racism, identity and the choices we make.

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Mock Newbery Nominee: Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

by Morgan Reeves on December 27th, 2017
Mock Newbery Nominee: Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk Cover Image

Week five of our Mock Newbery summaries and reviews is the last of 2017, but I’ll be back in 2018 with another five before the final votes are tallied. I present Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk for your consideration. I hope I can convince you to give it a read, as this historical adventure story about belonging and family is one of my favorites of the year.

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[LOVE] Biographical Fiction

by Kara Logsden on December 24th, 2017
[LOVE] Biographical Fiction Cover Image

I enjoy reading Historical Fiction and recently have come to appreciate the sub-genre “Biographical Fiction.”

According to Wikipedia, “Biographical fiction is a type of historical fiction that takes a historical individual and recreates elements of his or her life, while telling a fictional narrative, usually in the genres of film or the novel. The relationship between the biographical and the fictional may vary within different pieces of biographical fiction. It frequently includes selective information and self-censoring of the past. The characters are often real people or based on real people, but the need for “truthful” representation is less strict than in biography.”

I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold winter night than curled up with a good book that will sweep me away to another place and time. Biographical Fiction keeps my mind engaged and I often research facts and details of the person’s life while reading. More than once, learning about someone’s life has sent me on a trip to view their art or learn more about their life. Below is a list of some of my favorite Biographical Fiction novels. All are highly recommended.

Author/Title Description
Benjamin, Melanie

 Swans of Fifth Avenue

Melanie Benjamin’s novel features the relationship between Truman Capote and Babe Mortimer Paley with the backdrop of many upper class members of New York City society in the 1960’s. Reading the book made me want to read Breakfast at Tiffany’s!
Benjamin, Melanie

 The Aviator’s Wife

A memorable book about the life of Charles Lindbergh and his family told through the eyes of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the first woman to earn a first-class guider pilot license. She was also a writer and poet, best known for her novel, Gift from the Sea.
Boyle, T.C.

 The Women

Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate T.C. Boyle writes an interesting story about architect Frank Lloyd Wright as told by a fictional narrator about the women Wright had relationships with during his lifetime. Boyle lives in the George C. Stewart house in Southern California, which was designed by Wright.
Davis, Fiona

 The Address

The Singer Sewing Machine company co-founder, Edward Clark, commissioned the building of The Dakota apartment building in 1880 as the first luxury apartment building and one of the first buildings on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The Dakota has been the home to many celebrities over the years, including John Lennon who was shot just outside in 1980. Davis’ story brings the building alive, hopping between fictional characters who live at The Dakota and their stories in the 1880’s and 1985.
Horan, Nancy

Loving Frank

Horan tells a compelling story about the lives of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney. I didn’t know a lot about Wright or Cheney before I read the book, and an unexpected plot change sent me to Google and a bit of quick research about the real lives of Wright and Cheney (yes … it’s true). Fascination with the story also sent me on a road trip to Oak Park, IL where I toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio.
Horan, Nancy

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Be ready to be swept away through time and travel in this fictional account of the life of Scottish Lawyer Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife Fanny Van de grift Osbourne. Through travel in Scotland, France, New York, Australia & Samoa and reflection on passion and illness, the story unfolds to help the reader understand the man who created both A Child’s Garden of Verse and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
McLain, Paula

Circling the Sun

An unforgettable story that transports readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920’s and a story based on the real life of aviator Beryl Markham. Markham, abandoned by her mother when a child and by her father when she was a teenager, struggles to find her path. Circling the Sun not only captures what made Beryl Markham famous (horse training and being the first woman to successfully fly across the Atlantic from east to west) but also chronicles her free-spirited childhood, adolescent struggles, happiness, insecurities, and heartbreaks.
McLain, Paula

The Paris Wife

The fictional story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. After a whirlwind courtship the couple marries and moves to Paris so Ernest can pursue his writing career. In Paris the couple is caught up in the fast paced social life and struggle with balance, identities, love and loyalty.
Moriarty, Laura

The Chaperone

Laura Moriarty’s newest novel is a hybrid story about the life of silent-film star Louise Brooks and fictionalized character Cora Carlisle. The story begins in 1922 when 36-year-old Cora Carlisle agrees to chaperone 15-year-old Louise Brooks for a summer in New York City dancing with the Denishawn School of Dance.  Readers learn Cora’s life, just like Louise Brooks’, is not what it appears and the story revolves around Cora’s path of self-discovery and quest for happiness.
Russell, Mary Doria

Dreamers of the Day

 

Midwesterner, schoolteacher, influenza epidemic survivor, and world traveler, Agnes Shanklin, witnesses the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference where world leaders, including Winston Churchill, T.E. Lawrence and Lady Gertrude Bell, make a plan to divide the Middle East into the countries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.
Vreeland, Susan

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

 

Because of this book, I went to New York City to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other places to see Tiffany Glass. This is the story of Clara Driscoll, who worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany at his New York studio and is possibly the person who conceived the idea for the iconic Tiffany stained glass lamps. Set with the turn-of-the-century New York City backdrop with issues such as the rise of labor unions, women in the workplace, and advances in technology.

Mock Newbery Nominee: Refugee by Alan Gratz

by Morgan Reeves on December 20th, 2017
Mock Newbery Nominee: Refugee by Alan Gratz Cover Image

Welcome to the fourth week of Mock Newbery summaries and reviews. This week’s title is Refugee by Alan Gratz, the intertwined story of three refugee children and their families from different points in history. Will this suspenseful story of harrowing journeys and action-packed history win a place on your mock ballot?

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Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York

by Anne Mangano on September 16th, 2017
Golden Hill:  A Novel of Old New York Cover Image

New York City. It’s a place where our heroes and heroines of literature go to reinvent themselves. They strike it rich or find themselves desolate. They seek fame or become part of the multitudes of anonymous men in gray flannel suits. New York City can easily play this part. It is a cultural and economic powerhouse and America’s largest city. As Fitzgerald says, the city has “all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”

Francis Spufford shows us a different New York in his new novel, Golden Hill. Spufford’s hero, Richard Smith, a young, educated Londoner, arrives Read the rest of this entry »

2017 Book Madness: Time to vote for the Sweet Sixteen

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 13th, 2017

The Book Madness brackets have been updated to show titles advancing to the Second Round.

2017 BOOK MADNESS – CHILDREN’S BRACKET

Banned Books

  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

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The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton

by Kara Logsden on January 30th, 2017
The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton Cover Image

Wednesday Sisters author, Meg Waite Clayton’s, newest novel, The Race for Paris, captures the fictionalized story of two women who served as journalists during World War II. Clayton layers the story between the brutality of war, determination of the women, and the personal toll a war takes on the human spirit. Her research about women journalists in WWII brings their spirit to life and tells a lesser-known story about WWII heroes.

Liv is an Associated Press photographer who is determined to be the first photo journalist in a liberated Paris. She joins forces with Jane, a reporter who is unsure about this challenge but reluctant to abandon her friend. Together they disobey orders, barter for gasoline and supplies, and stay on the outskirts of the press camps as they make their way across France.

I listened to this story and Jennifer Ikeda’s narration is excellent. I was sad when the novel came to an end. It’s always a pleasure to find a book with excellent storytelling, a compelling plot, and solid characters who the reader cares about.

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

by Kara Logsden on December 15th, 2016
The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis Cover Image

Alternating between 1952 and 2016 in the Barbizon Hotel in New York City, the lives of four women are illuminated by ghosts of the past and future uncertainty.

Darby is a Midwesterner who moves to the city to attend secretarial school. Her first day in town she meets Stella who is a model. Darby also befriends Esme, who aspires to a singing career while fighting discrimination because of her Puerto Rican roots. Rose is intrigued by the women of Barbizon’s past and a tragedy that changes all of their lives.

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The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

by Kara Logsden on October 28th, 2016
The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown Cover Image

Weird Sisters author, Eleanor Brown’s Light of Paris is a tale of two women who are bound by the expectations of family, society, and their own personal fears.

Madeleine is in her thirties, stuck in a loveless marriage, and volunteering as a docent at an art museum in Chicago. Youthful dreams of living as an artist are too painful to remember.

Margie is in her twenties and is dispatched to Paris in 1924 to chaperone her cousin. Upon her arrival she is abandoned by her cousin and left to fend for herself. With dreams of becoming a writer and living independently, she gets a job in a library in Paris and falls in love.

The story evolves as the reader switches between characters, decades and cities. Will the women find self actualization or will they conform to the conventions of expectations?

I listened to the book and Cassandra Campbell’s narration is excellent.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

by Kara Logsden on September 7th, 2016
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave Cover Image

Once again it has happened … I came to the end of a wonderful book and I want more!

Chris Cleave artfully crafts a World War II fiction novel based on love letters between his grandparents. With the backdrop of war, bombing, starvation, bravery, society, and personal sacrifice, Cleave weaves together unforgettable characters in a story that requires pondering long after the book is finished.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven is set in London and Malta. Mary is a socialite who feels compelled to contribute to the war effort. Alistair signs up for service reluctantly because he has an obligation to duty. Tom would rather forget the war, but with Alistair’s enlistment it’s a topic that can’t be forgotten. Three people, three friends, and three wars. Innocence is lost, London is bombed, Malta is devastated, friendship is tested, and morals are questioned.

I listened to the story and Luke Thompson’s narration brings the story to life. When the story was over, I backed it up and listened to the ending again. Highly recommended.