Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone

When Samuel Collier was twelve, he came to the brand new James Town colony as a servant to Captain John Smith. Blood on the River is his story. The story covers just before he came to the New World through the Starving Time (though he was at Point Comfort and so did not experience those terrible months the way those who stayed in James Town did). There is a slight bias toward the colonists causing most of the problems with the Natives. I enjoyed this book a lot and recommend it to middle grade age kids interested in the founding of Jamestown.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 80
Pages Read in 2018: 19,033
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Pre-Reading for Cameron

The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell

A young mapmaker, Esteban de Sandoval, joins Captain Mendoza on his quest to find gold in the 1500s in the New World. With the gold hidden where no one will ever find it and Captain Mendoza dead, Esteban finds himself on trial for murder, which he denies, and for not giving the king his fifth of the gold, which he admits.

I guess I am just not a Scott O’Dell fan. This is the second book I have read by him and I didn’t care for either of them. The parts of The King’s Fifth that describe the courtroom and the trial are quite interesting, but everything else, which is most of the book, is rather boring. Even a description of a battle with an Indian tribe drags. I kind of wanted the conquistadors to die right then so the book would be over. I liked the premise and how the book went back and forth between what happened finding the gold and what happened in the courtroom. It was just the storytelling that I didn’t enjoy. If there is nothing else available, this book is good enough, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read it.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 78
Pages Read in 2018: 18,545
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: Pre-Reading for Cameron, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz

Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel C. Brill

With her mother and father away, 14-year-old Madeleine stepped into the commander’s role when a group of Iroquois attacked. Because of her bravery, a statue of her stands on the St. Lawrence River about 20 miles downriver from Montreal. Madeleine Takes Command is her story, based largely on her own written account of that week. The story is fascinating and impressive, though at times the narrative drags. I recommend it to people studying or interested in Canadian history.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 73
Pages Read in 2018: 17,357
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: Pre-Reading for Cameron

The Bible Smuggler by Louise A. Vernon

The Bible Smuggler tells the story of William Tyndale translating the New Testament into English through the eyes of his young page boy. It is written in a very engaging manner and reads quickly. The book is pretty fair in its presentation of those who did not want the Bible translated into English. It ends a decade before Tyndale was put to death, though a very short end page provides that information. I highly recommend it to kids on up to adults who are interested in Tyndale or the Bible.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 63
Pages Read in 2018: 15,717
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz

The Shadows of Ghadames by Joelle Stolz

Malika is entering the world of women in the Libyan city of Ghadames. She wonders why things are done how they are done and wishes she could learn to read like her older brother. When her brother’s mother secretly takes in an injured man, her world changes, making it not quite as small as she was expecting it to be.

Malika’s story is fiction, but the culture portrayed in The Shadows of Ghadames was real. The story is very engaging and, while short, you’ll learn a lot about the city and culture. I highly recommend this book to middle grade kids (girls and boys) on up to adults.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 56
Pages Read in 2018: 13,554
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The Second Mrs. Gioconda by EL Konigsburg

Why did Leonardo da Vinci paint the portrait of the plain second wife of a a merchant, the Mona Lisa? The Second Mrs. Gioconda follows the story of Salai, Leonardo’s young servant, through his friendship with another plain woman, the Duchess Beatrice, in order to attempt to answer this question. The book is a quick read and quite interesting. I recommend this book to middle grade age kids who are interested in or studying da Vinci.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 36
Pages Read in 2018: 8511
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski

Twelve-year-old Molly Jemison is kidnapped and given to some women of the Seneca Tribe. She goes from frightened to learning about and embracing the Native ways, though always wanting to find her first family again.

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison is based on a true story. The book reads fast and guides the reader through Molly’s emotions as a captive of the Seneca people. I highly recommend reading it to middle grade age kids.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 33
Pages Read in 2018: 7891
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz