Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore

(Warning: Spoilers ahead. As a rule, I do not include spoilers in my book reviews but it is unavoidable this time since what I will spoil is what made the book so bad.) I did not like Bring the Jubilee much at all. The writing is tedious and pretty much dreadful. It is incredibly boring for the most part. There are a couple decent chapters. But the whole premise is what makes it especially terrible. It’s an alternate history book where the South won the Civil War. As a result, for some reason the North is in terrible shape and super backwards as far as technology goes. But, somehow, the narrator ends up in a place where someone invents a time machine and he goes back to the Battle of Gettysburg. He accidentally sets in motion a chain of events that results in a man dying and the South losing Gettysburg (the battle occurring as it actually did, and, so, the North won the war as it actually did). Because the person who died was the ancestor of the person who invented the time machine, she was never born and so could not build the time machine. Meaning the narrator could not go back in time and change history using that time machine, but he still did, somehow. It was so ridiculous that I put the book down before reading the last chapter – when I only had 1% left in the book – and waited until the next day to finish it. It is really just an terribly written, dumb book that requires you to suspend disbelief way more often than is acceptable. I do not recommend it at all.

1 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 30
Pages Read in 2020: 7049
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

The Button War by Avi

In Poland, four friends find the Great War right at their doorstep and embark on a war of their own, trying to find (steal) the best button from the military men’s uniforms. It’s quite depressing and filled with horror and death, as one would expect in the middle of a war, but it is told from the viewpoint of a twelve-year-old so it’s tone is kind of innocent. The writing is excellent for the most part. The only thing I really didn’t like was most of the time the dialogue attributions were so-and-so said, followed by what they said. That is quite awkward to read out loud (it probably wouldn’t have seemed so stilted if I head read it silently to myself). I recommend it to older elementary kids on up to adults.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 28
Pages Read in 2020: 6693
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

Second Chances by Valerie Tripp

Second Chances is the second American Girl book about Josefina. This one covers several months following the first book. The end is predictable, but exactly how you want it be. American Girl books are historical fiction for kids done right. I highly recommend this book to tweens. It makes a great family readaloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 25
Pages Read in 2020: 6014
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review

Sunlight and Shadows by Valerie Tripp

Josefina, the American Girl of 1824, is coming to terms with the loss of her mother and the addition of her aunt to her life. She lives in New Mexico (part of Mexico) and is learning to run a household. The story is very sweet and surprisingly not nearly as depressing as some of the other American Girl historical books. As with all American Girl books I’ve read to my boys, it’s historical fiction for kids done right. I highly recommend it, especially as a family read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 21
Pages Read in 2020: 5272
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

The Big Break by Megan McDonald

An expanded version of the original first Julie book, The Big Break is all about the 1974 American Girl doll. The story is well-written and has lots of little callouts to the time period. The last couple pages give non-fiction information about life as Julie would’ve experienced it and explains why certain things were included (like Julie struggling with her parents’ divorce and working to get on the boy’s basketball team at school). I recommend this book to kids who enjoy American Girl books. It makes an excellent family read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 17
Pages Read in 2020: 4372
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review

Kit: Read All About It! by Valerie Tripp

Kit is the American Girl doll from 1934. In Kit: Read All About It!, her first book, she has to deal with her father’s job loss, her home becoming a boardinghouse, and that her friend’s family doesn’t seem to be affected by the Great Depression. It’s great historical fiction for middle grade age kids. The end gives some extra factual information about the Depression and how life was in the early 1930s. I recommend this book for kids who like history.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 13
Pages Read in 2020: 3570
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Historical Fiction

Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

Scarlett is really long, but in a good way. Even though it is written by someone other than Margaret Mitchell, the author captured the essence of Scarlett O’Hara perfectly. The book follows Scarlett as she meets more of her family in America, goes to Ireland, and finally grows up. I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Gone With the Wind.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 2
Pages Read in 2020: 1224
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Good Luck, Ivy! by Lisa Yee

Good Luck, Ivy! focuses on Ivy, the best friend of the 1974 American Girl doll, Julie. Ivy is a Chinese-American gymnast who has to make a hard choice between going to her family reunion (and eating Chinese food… again) or going to her gymnastics tournament (and risk falling off the beam… again). As with all American Girl books, it’s historical fiction written in a way that really interests kids. I highly recommend this book to both girls and boys.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 125
Pages Read in 2019: 31,819
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

Julie Takes a Stand by Megan McDonald

Julie Takes a Stand is the second book about Julie, the American Girl from 1974. Julie participates in the wagon train east to commemorate the bicentennial and then runs for study body president for her elementary school. My sons, especially my 11-year-old, loved the book. American Girl really is historical fiction done right. It tells the story on a kid’s level, but still is as accurate as possible. The last few pages are historical background showing where they got the ideas for what happens to Julie in the book. Julie Takes a Stand makes an excellent family read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 124
Pages Read in 2019: 31,734
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review

Kaya: Smoke on the Wind by Janet Shaw

Kaya, a Native girl in 1764, experiences the death of a loved one and coming to terms with her own failings. American Girl books are everything right about historical fiction for kids. They tell the story in a way that gives the history as well as keeping it interesting for children. Kaya: Smoke on the Wind is no exception. I highly recommend this book to kids (boys and girls) of all ages. It makes a great read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 117
Pages Read in 2019: 30,047
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review