Category: Historical Fiction

“The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morgan – Audiobook

“The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morgan – Audiobook

Narrated by Caroline Lee

I just loved, loved, loved this story. I have not read the book but the narration her was so compelling that it felt like I was being read a beautiful, dreamy, bedtime story. The story starts in London with a young woman who lives in poverty with her brother after their mother dies. Then she loses her brother and the uncle she’s never known finds her and takes her into his manor home to be a companion for his sickly daughter. The two girls form an intense bond that continues until one of them gets married. Meantime, the reader is also hearing the story of Nell in Australia. Nell was found as an orphan on a ship that came from Britain. No one seems to be looking for her and the man who found her takes her into his family and raises her as one of his own. Years pass and Nell has raised her own daughter and granddaughter and when she dies she leaves everything to her granddaughter, including a cottage in England. Why did she buy a cottage in Britain? And just where did she come from? Nell’s granddaughter sets out to answer these questions.

This is a sweeping story covering 4 generations of women and secrets galore. I am just in awe of Kate Morgan and her ability to create really rich and unique characters in her stories. I also admire the complexity of her plots. In this book, the story moves back and forth between the past and the present, which in an audiobook can be a little confusing for me until I get a feel for the narrator’s voicing of the different characters. That being said, Ms. Lee did a superb job with this book. I enjoyed the narration as much as the story itself. One of my favorite things about this book is the way the ocean was used as kind of an anchor for each of the characters. And let me talk a little bit about the garden. The garden belongs to the cottage owned by Nell. I place she visited once and never saw again. The cottage and garden have been unoccupied for decades when Nell’s granddaughter finds it and sets about bringing it back to life. The garden is a place full of secrets and possibilities. This is a rich and compelling story with a top-of-the-line narration. Get a copy today.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

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“Gods of Howl Mountain” by Taylor Brown

“Gods of Howl Mountain” by Taylor Brown

Rory has returned from the Korean war having lost one leg while there. He’s living with his grandmother on Howl Mountain. Rory’s history is troubled. He was born to an unwed mother while she was in a psychiatric facility, a facility she continues to live in. His grandmother raised me on the mountain, making a living for them by providing traditional remedies to the community. Rory is making money by running whiskey for family friend Eustace. Then Rory has a run-in with the Muldoons, who threaten his life, the county sheriff, who threatens his liberty, and the beautiful Christine, who turns his heart upside down.

This is a beautifully crafted story of life in the mountains of North Carolina. The author carefully reveals to us the challenges that Rory faces as he tries to build a life for himself and deal with the scars, physical and emotional, left him by the war. The descriptions in this story are rich and full of color, and they really draw you into the environment of Howl Mountain. The characters are each unique and complex, hiding a variety of secrets and revealing very little. The story reveals how government actions in the mountains have affected the lives and spirits of the people who live there, and how sometimes the mountain is more menacing than beautiful. This is a story of survival and a story of hope.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-5-star-rating  4.5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“The Tea Planter’s Wife” by Dinah Jefferies

“The Tea Planter’s Wife” by Dinah Jefferies

Journey to 1920’s Ceylon in this deeply engrossing family drama. Gwendolyn, a young Englishwoman, marries Laurence, the owner of a tea plantation in Ceylon, and travels there to begin their life together. She knows his first wife has died but he is reluctant to share details with her. Gwen loves the home that she now finds herself in charge of and gradually takes over the running of the household. Before long she finds herself pregnant and the two eagerly anticipate the arrival of the child. But there are secrets in this household and forces determined to undermine them.

This drama covers the first 10 years of Gwen and Laurence’s marriage and follows them through the challenges of life as plantation owners. The story touches on issues of discrimination and the changes taking place in the culture at the time. I thought the author did a great job of navigating these issues in a way that doesn’t distract from the story but is an integral part of it. Gwendolyn is a lovely young lady who is dropped into a completely different culture and the job of running a large household at the tender age of 19. She must carefully navigate some very troubled waters but comes out stronger every time. Laurence is a good man but he has his flaws and all of this comes out in the book. I felt like I really got to know these two in an intimate way throughout the story. Finally, the author gives wonderful descriptions of the foliage and landscape of Ceylon. This is a sweeping story that takes the reader from England to Ceylon to New York and back again. Really well done!

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-star-rating 4 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Amazon Canada

Thank you to Blogging for Books and Broadway Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

“Carnegie’s Maid” by Marie Benedict

“Carnegie’s Maid” by Marie Benedict

Clara Kelley has been sent to America by her family in impoverished Ireland. Their hope is that she will find work and be able to send money home to support the family, as they have recently lost their land source of income. When she arrives she finds herself being mistaken for a different Clara Kelley who already has a job waiting for her. Clara decides to become this other Clara Kelley and finds herself in Pittsburgh working on a trial basis as lady’s maid to Andrew Carnegie’s mother.  Mrs. Carnegie is known to be a harsh mistress but Clara is determined to win her over. In the process she meets Andrew and the two instantly hit it off as friends. The story follows Clara through her years working in the Carnegie household and the influence she had on Andrew and his charitable work.

I loved this story. I have previously read another book by this author and was really excited about this one. It did not disappoint. The author masterfully created her characters with rich detail and her descriptions of the city of Pittsburgh in the time period are perfect. I was easily drawn into the both the affluent world of the Carnegies and the impoverished world of Clara’s cousins. This is another fabulous story from Marie Benedict and I highly recommend it.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

On Amazon   |   On Goodreads

“Norse Mythology” – Audiobook by Neil Gaiman

“Norse Mythology” – Audiobook by Neil Gaiman

Narrated by Neil Gaiman

Fun and fascinating! “Norse Mythology” is just what it sounds like, a retelling of the Nordic mythological tales. But it was so much more at the same time. This is my first adventure with Neil Gaiman and my first audiobook in way too many years, and I am now hooked on both. I do occasionally enjoy mythology and I was intrigued by this one because I was pretty much clueless about the Nordic myths. When I started listening I thought maybe I’d gotten in over my head because there were a lot of characters with names that I had no reference point for. However, the more I listened, the more the characters came together in my mind and the stories were just fascinating. The characters in these tales somehow seemed more human and less god-like than, say, the Roman or Greek gods. Of course there is Thor with his mighty hammer, but I found myself most fascinated by Loki, who can be quite devilish at one moment, and in the next be the one who has the perfect solution. There are some pretty violent scenes in these stories that might not be appropriate for younger children. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Neil Gaiman is a perfect narrator, not overly dramatic, but able to bring out the characters as individuals. You should give this one a try.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-5-star-rating  4.5 stars!

Happy Reading!

On Amazon   |   On Goodreads

“An Untamed Land” by Lauraine Snelling

“An Untamed Land” by Lauraine Snelling

Christian values and 1880’s Dakota Territory combine in this inspirational story. Roald and Ingeborg, Carl and Kaaren, two young couples from Norway emigrate together to America in order to take advantage of the homesteading opportunities in North Dakota. Just getting there almost costs Kaaren her life, but they have been researching and planning for this trip for years and are ready to hit the ground running when they arrive. Proving up a homestead is no easy task and finding the tools and livestock they need proves more challenging then they anticipated. The story follows these two couples through the first 3 years recounting their triumphs and tragedies, and demonstrating how their faith pulls them through.

I don’t normally read books in this genre but I was drawn to this one because the story takes place in the Red River Valley where I happen to live and I was looking for a change from my usual thrillers. The story did not disappoint. The pacing and creative of the storyline kept me well engaged. I think the author did a great job of bringing the realities of the homesteading life to the reader. My usual problem with this genre is that it can be quite preachy, but I did not find this to be true in this case. If this is a genre you enjoy then you won’t go wrong with this book. This is the first book in the Red River of the North series.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 3-5-star-rating  3.5 stars!

Happy Reading!

On Amazon   |   On Goodreads

“Scarred” by Michael Kenneth Smith

“Scarred” by Michael Kenneth Smith

Synopsis:  After fatally shooting the Confederate sharpshooter who killed his best friend, Zach Harkin’s sense of revenge changes to deep remorse when he views the dead man’s diary and photo. Haunted, suffering from post traumatic stress, and unable to serve, he is mustered out of service. With scant information, he begins an epic journey to search for the dead man’s family. He is captured, imprisoned, tortured, and thoroughly tested as a human being, but after escaping, he never expects to find love in the war ravaged South.

My thoughts: I found this story very moving. Zach Harkin is so damaged by his war experience and yet still all he wants is to return the journal he found on a Confederate soldier to the man’s wife. What he thinks will be a relatively simple task turns into a nightmare for Zach. I liked that even when his circumstances were at their worst, he thought of other’s needs before his own. It’s not often that I come across a story set in the Civil War, but this is a moment of history that has always piqued my interest so that just added to my enjoyment. I cannot recommend this story highly enough, a real gem. I am looking forward to more from this author.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  5-star-rating 5 stars!

Happy Reading!

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“The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds” by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

“The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds” by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

This story is a masterpiece! I’m never quite sure what to expect when I pick up a book set in a different culture and I was very pleasantly surprised by this story. The author has based this story on the life of her great-grandmother and she must have been an amazing woman. The story begins in 1878 and is set in Malaysia. Chye Hoon in born into a Nyonya household and is trained in the tradition. Her marriage is arranged for her by her parents and she is fortunate because they choose a handsome young man who will become not only her husband but her best friend. The newlyweds settle in Ipoh just before the turn of the century and their family grows right along with the town. They will have 10 children before tragedy strikes and Chye Hoon must find the courage to go on. She turns to her Nyonya training to support her family.

Chye Hoon shows great strength in the midst of a quickly changing world. She never learns to read or write but she manages to start not 1 but 3 successful businesses. She faces incredible personal losses but her family keeps her going. Her story is beautifully told in this book. Since Chye Hoon supports her family with her Nyonya cooking there is a lot of talk about food in this story and the author’s descriptions will have your mouth watering in no time. The author also does an excellent job of describing the culture and the tension between the white rulers and the Malaysian people. I am highly recommending this book, especially for readers who enjoy learning about other cultures. This could also be a great book club pick.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  5-star-rating  5 stars!

Happy Reading!

On Amazon   |   On Goodreads

A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley and AmazonCrossing in exchange for an honest review.

“The Other Einstein” by Marie Benedict

“The Other Einstein” by Marie Benedict

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

We all know who Albert Einstein was, but do you know Mileva Maric Einstein? Mileva was Einstein’s first wife and a physicist in her own right. They met while at University in Zurich and had 3 children together. There is controversy in the world of physics about whether or not Mileva played a role in the development of Einstein’s early theories. “The Other Einstein” is a fictional account of Mileva’s life that is very heavily based on the facts. Marie Benedict has beautifully crafted this story. I was riveted from the first page to the last. Reading this book shines a new light on Einstein, which is not always flattering, but may be closer to the truth than the view that we are typically given about him. Mileva’s story is a perfect example of how women of the time period often reduced their own ambitions so that a husband and children could shine brighter. Albert Einstein has been idolized by the world for his brilliance and the accolades are well deserved, but he was still human and susceptible to human failures. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the author’s writing style make it approachable and easy to read. This book would be a great story for those who enjoy historical fiction or women’s stories.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-5-star-rating

Happy Reading!

On Amazon   |   On Goodreads

Book Review: “Constant Guests” by Patricia Nedelea

Book Review: “Constant Guests” by Patricia Nedelea

Isa has just found out that her parents are not really her parents. Her birth mother has been in a coma for 20 years and has woken up, only to die just as Isa sees her for the first time. Then Isa is attacked in the hospital bathroom by an unknown assailant. When she discovers a picture hidden in her mother’s watch she can no longer resist the urge to find out everything she can about this mysterious woman. Her quest will take her all over Europe, to big cities and small towns, and put her life in danger. Along the way she will uncover deeply guarded secrets and her strength will be tested again and again.

This is a fast-paced book with lots of twists and turns. Isa and Mark are well developed characters, but Isa is not the most likeable person. She’s brash and harsh and doesn’t trust easily but as her story unfolds her personality begins to make sense. Mark, on the other hand, is very likeable. He defends Isa from the first moment he sees her and before the journey is over will put his life on the line for her. I think this book will appeal to young adults but history lovers may also enjoy this book because of the historical context of the story.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

Available on Amazon