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Tag Archives: Genre: Historical Fiction

Throwback Thursday June 28th: Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books! It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. Through Throwback Thursdays THCW and NTFB hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.

This week’s Throwback Thursday book is Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

Summary from Amazon: Recently arrived in Calgary, Alberta after a long, hard journey from Boston, sixteen-year-old Katherine Mary O’Fallon never imagined that she could lose her heart so easily—or so completely. Standing over six feet tall, with “eyes so blue you could swim in them,” Mike Flannigan is a well-respected sergeant in the Canadian Mounted Police—and a man of great courage, kindness, and humor. Together, he and his beloved Kathy manage to live a good, honest life in this harsh, unforgiving land—and find strength in a love as beautiful and compelling as the wilderness around them.

Why You Should Read This Book: I first read this book waaay back in eighth grade because it had the most possible AR points (I had a system and it worked!). Before I even picked it up I had a feeling I’d enjoy it, the historical fiction was right up my alley! And I was absolutely correct, it was the perfect blend of historical fiction and love story. Oh, and did I mention that it’s loosely based on the true story of Katherine Mary O’Fallon?

I just reread this book about a year ago when I came across a copy in a used bookstore. It had been long enough from my original read that it was as if I as reading the story for the first time. Katherine is a fiercely independent woman and it takes a lot of gut to pick up and move from Boston to Calgary not knowing a soul. I honestly think I appreciate the story even more as an adult, I can understand more of her fear and uncertainty and I admire her courage even more. That and I’m slightly jealous of her marriage, she and Mike are wonderful together. 🙂

If, like me, you appreciate Historical fiction as a genre then this should be added to your TBR list! I promise you won’t regret it.

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[Review] Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Book: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Publication Date: March 22, 2011 by Philomel

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

How I got it: Picked it up at Barnes and Noble on a whim because the cover captivated me

Summary (from Amazon): Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-and at great risk-documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.

Review: I started this book on a lazy Saturday afternoon, think I’d read for a little bit before starting dinner. I ended up not moving from the couch until I turned the last page, tears streaming down my face. It was a gripping, heart-wrenching, and completely beautiful book.

I’ll admit that I initially picked up this book at B&N because I thought for sure it was a book that focused on the Holocaust (and I’m sure you’ve realized by now that I’m a sucker for Holocaust stories). It turned out that it wasn’t a Holocaust book, rather it was the story of a girl displaced for her home in Lithuania by the Russians. The history nerd in me was rather horrified that I didn’t know enough about this incident, but this book was a great gateway into learning.

If you’re familiar with any Holocaust fiction, this is very much in the same vein and as a result it’s an incredibly powerful story. You’ll fall in love with the character of Lina from the very first pages, after all she’s just a normal girl in an extremely abnormal situation. She uses her passion for her art to try and remain connected to her family and the outside world, which it’s a risk as she could be killed if her art work is found but Lina adamantly refuses to give up her art. I love watching her commit this simple act of a quiet rebellion every time she places pen to paper, it shows that not all rebellions have to be lot or direct.

Once Lina learns exactly what is happening to her family, you see her filled with a fierce determination to survive and to help everyone around her do the same. Even though she is by far one of the youngest in her group, it’s obvious that Lina is more aware than the adults around her. And as her story unfolds you’ll find yourself hoping with every fiber of your being that she will survive this torture and be allowed to return to her home in Lithuania.

The story is also peppered with other memorable characters, all who contribute to the moving tapestry that is the “work relocation” program that so many Lithuanians faced. Her brother, who is so young and innocent that you can’t help but feel encouraged; Andrius, the handsome, yet infuriating 17 year old boy that Lina meets on the train; the bald man, who from the beginning is sure that they will all die and repeats this loudly and often; Lina’s mother, the picture of a calm and strong women, someone whom Lina aspires to be like.

If you enjoy historical fiction or, like me, consider The Diary of Anne Frank to be one of the most moving books you’ve read, this is a must read to be added to your list.

 
 

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