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Fiction Book Reviews

***** Historical Fiction *****

History is more than just a bunch of dates. Novels based soundly in the past can help us to better understand where we came from, where we are, and where we’re heading. Oh, and they make for some pretty fun reading too!


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A Light in the Wilderness

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Kirkpatrick, Jane(2014)Recently Added Review
A Light in the Wilderness

Letitia is a freed former slave, but she knows living in the South her freedom is still tenuous. When she marries an Irishman named David Carson, they head West hoping that away from the South her freedom and their marriage will be recognized. After the grueling journey West, they set up a homestead in Oregon. Things seem to be going well for the Carsons, then suddenly Letitia’s life is turned upside down. This time instead of allowing what’s rightfully hers to be taken away, she decides to fight back. Based on real events, Letitia’s life is an example of strength and bravery as she goes from slave to one of the first female land owners in Oregon during her lifetime.

Reviewed by Jessica B., Mint Hill Branch

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The Winter Family

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Jackson, Clifford(2015)Recently Added Review
The Winter Family

Augustus Winter’s name may well soon assume a very high place upon most-memorable fictional evildoer lists. He is more dangerous than an enraged rattlesnake, as coldly insensitive as an iceberg. He is often seen literally soaked in his victims’ blood – much to the horror of even his own vicious family. This immensely readable book traces that family’s atrocity-strewn trail from their Union Army stint as Sherman’s advance unit laying waste from Atlanta to the sea, through rip-roaring election-war-torn Chicago, to a grisly face-off in the rapidly disappearing Wild West.

Reviewed by Jim B., Main Library

Patron Review This book review was submitted on-line by a Reader's Club patron.

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At the Water's Edge

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Gruen, Sara(2015)Recently Added Review
At the Water's Edge

Maddie and Ellis Hyde have just disgraced themselves during a New Year’s Eve party of 1942 in Philadelphia. Embarrassed by their atrocious behavior, Ellis’ parents cut the pair of financially. This gives Ellis the great idea to ship off to Scotland in search of the Loch Ness monster, in order to win his father’s faith back. Ellis’ father once tried to find the monster and failed when his picture was found as a fraud. Set during World War II, Maddie must face the secret truths about her husband and the reality that has become her life. Like Gruen’s other books, such as Water for Elephants, this is an interesting historical read that will have you hooked from the beginning. This story is also very reminiscent of Downton Abbey, with a Scottish twist.

Reviewed by Maeve C., University City Regional

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Dark in the City of Light

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Robertson, Paul(2010)Recently Added Review
Dark in the City of Light

Dark in the City of Light follows one family as they navigate politics and intrigue in Paris in the lead-up to the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. The family is Austrian, but the father figure`s position as Austrian ambassador to France means they live in Paris. The family consists of Baron Ferdinand, his son Rudolph, and his daughter Therese. The Baron`s late wife was the owner of Europe`s largest cinnabar (used to make military-grade mercury) mine, and three countries are vying for private contracts. After her sudden death, the Baron is in charge of the mines, until Rudolph turns 23. Now, those three countries (France, Prussia, and Britain) are courting the men in the family, and not everyone is who they seem.

Reviewed by Marie H., ImaginOn

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A Voice in the Wind

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Rivers, Francine(1993)Recently Added Review
A Voice in the Wind

Following the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70, Hadassah is a young woman alone and sold into Roman slavery. She discovers a life she never imagined as she falls in love with one of her masters while maintaining her faith and influence as a follower of Christ. Enter Atretes; a Germanic warrior captured in battle and sold into the pits as a fearsome Gladiator. Delve into the existence of early Christians and first-century Roman society; encountering a life of decadent wanton, or being persecuted in the Coliseum - facing lions, Gladiators, and crucifixion. A Voice in the Wind will leave you wanting more as Francine Rives keeps you turning pages and ready for the next book in the Mark of the Lion series.

Reviewed by Jeff G., University City Regional

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Ruth's Journey

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McCaig, Donald(2014)Recently Added Review
Ruth's Journey

In an approved prequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, a young black child is rescued from the horror of the slave revolution of 1791 in Saint Dominque and raised by French couple Solange and Augustin Fornier who settle in Savannah, GA. She is baptized and named Ruth. Wise beyond her years, Ruth becomes friend and confidant to Solange, and then Mammy to her two daughters. Two generations pass before Ruth’s knowing eyes, and we learn the history of many characters we met in Gone With The Wind, including the famous, Scarlett O’Hara. Ruth and those who labor with her in the city and plantations of the pre-Civil War South provide a thoughtful perspective of the times. An engaging and moving story.

Reviewed by Annette N., Independence Regional

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Lisette's List

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Vreeland, Susan(2014)Recently Added Review
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Lisette's List

Susan Vreeland presents her theme of art as a life changer in the story of Lisette Roux, a young Parisienne bride, who puts her city life aside to move with her husband, André, to a village in Provence to help care for her aging grandfather-in-law, Pascal. Pascal fortifies Lisette’s appreciation of art with stories of how he acquired some valuable paintings, his relationships with the artists, and his role in the creation of the art. Later, as Nazi forces invade France, Lisette endures personal tragedy, but her commitment to the paintings and to the fulfillment of the vows on her to-do list remains strong. After the war, secrets are revealed, love returns, and choices are made. Spunky Lisette will capture the reader’s heart.

Reviewed by Susanne W., Steele Creek Branch

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Stettin Station

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Downing, David(2009)
Stettin Station

It is 1941, and John Russell is still in Germany. As Nazi brutality has now become a way of life, the demands upon his services are increasingly perilous. Indeed, the Gestapo is beginning to take an interest. If he’s going to get out at all, now is the time. Nevertheless, he cannot leave without his actress girlfriend. Effie is, however, too famous not to be closely watched -- Goebbels himself is a loyal fan and admirer. Downing’s Berlin is pre-war beautiful: a stunning picture-postcard setting for Hitler’s nightmare state.

Reviewed by Jim B., Main Library

Patron Review This book review was submitted on-line by a Reader's Club patron.

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The Witch of Painted Sorrows

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Rose, M. J.(2015)
The Witch of Painted Sorrows

Sandrine Salome has just arrived in Paris, after she escaped the clutches of her evil husband in New York City. She has come to live with her grandmother, a famous courtesan. When she finally arrives at the mansion, she finds it closed up and being renovated by the handsome architect, Julien Duplessi. Sandrine is soon enveloped in the mysteries of her grandmother’s mansion, the art scene of Paris, and the occult underground. Sandrine life spirals out of control when she is possessed by La Lune---a sixteenth-century painter, courtesan, and witch from her ancestry. This is a great historical fiction read that is full of suspense, mystery, magic, and romance set in Paris during the 1890s. If you like M.J. Rose’s other novels, you will enjoy this as well.

Reviewed by Maeve C., University City Regional

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The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress

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Lawhon, Ariel(2014)
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The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress

The lives of three women from seemingly different worlds intersect in 1930’s New York City: Stella, the wife of a politically ambitious judge whose disappearance rocks the local news scene; Maria, the maid who unwillingly sees and hears too much and whose husband is investigating the judge’s disappearance; and Ritzi, the jaded showgirl who desperately wants to hide the fact that she was the last person to see the judge alive. At the center of the controversy is a violent gangster who has a stake in the future of each woman. This atmospheric read is a page turner as the layers of each woman`s past and the deceptions each commits to survive the present are revealed.

Reviewed by Jori F., Steele Creek Branch

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