Tag Archives: historical fiction

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

I’m over at Tynga’s Reviews this week posting about Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, which is a unique time-travel adventure! Click on the picture to follow the link or click here!



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The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

19370304The Smell of Other People’s Houses

William C. Morris Award Finalist for 2017

Four narratives of teens living in Alaska soon after it became a state intertwine into a coming-of-age story that is unflinchingly detailed and messy with emotion but ultimately heartwarming.

When Ruth was a young child, she lived with her mother and father who loved their life hunting and enjoying each other. After her father died in an airplane crash trying to keep Alaska from being a state, young Ruth and her infant sister Lily are taken to live with their firm, serious grandmother while their mother quietly goes mad from grief. Life with Gran means having church casseroles a lot and never feeling too good about yourself. The only thing keeping Ruth sane is her best friend Selma and her boyfriend Ray, but when Ray gets a new girlfriend and Ruth has a secret to keep, she begins to see things differently.

Dora feels she will never escape the shadow of her father’s abusive drunkenness and her mother’s alcoholism and inability to be responsible or loving. She lives with her best friend Dumpling and her family in order to stay safe. However, when she wins a portion of the Ice Classic and the newspaper really wants to know details, Dora must confront her worst fears, especially when an accident happens and her future is in jeopardy.

Alyce longs to try out for ballet to win a scholarship for college, but with her parents divorced, each summer she goes to help her dad during salmon season and that conflicts with her audition. Since her parents have been divorced, Alyce doesn’t want to make things worse, but she finds it hard to talk to them, especially when her dream is so different from theirs.

Hank and his younger brothers have stolen away on a ferry boat to find a better life away from the unhappiness of their mother and stepfather, but when Sam, the middle brother, falls overboard and goes missing, Hank does everything to try and find him. In their search, the three brothers might find something better than they expected.

I was unprepared to be emotional over the ending of this book! The descriptions sometimes sear in your mind (the description of the backstrap and bloody hands in her mother’s hair?), but yet it kind of brings you to the 1970’s Alaska. You never knew thoughts on Alaska could be so complex. It really brought about an understanding of the different types of characters that made up Alaska when it was new, and the heritage would still be important today what with the fishing trades, the hunting (newsworthy recently), and indigenous peoples. Since the descriptions could be unappealing at times and many of the characters so unhappy, I wasn’t sure what I was reading, but I am glad I finished it. It still propelled you along (as long as you didn’t get confused about who is narrating which section), and the ending blew me away. Lots of tears, happy tears?

If you want to read an interview with Bonnie-Sue, read this over at the Hub.


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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Historical fiction, Young Adult/Teen


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Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson

This week I’m over at Tynga’s Reviews again posting about Like a River Glorious, the second installment in the Gold Seer Trilogy. Click the cover to follow (or click here) and enjoy the quotes!


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Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Today I’m posting over on Tynga’s Reviews about Walk on Earth a Stranger by one of my absolutely favorite authors, Rae Carson! 11659891_10153374014165520_1677397833_o

I was fortunate last year to be able to go to ALA in San Francisco where I met Rae and received an ARC of this book. Click the picture below to view my post (or click here) about her newest series, and look for my review of book two coming soon!


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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Fantasy, Historical fiction, Young Adult/Teen


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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

tumblr_inline_nv73pijtck1qlsm8v_1280Salt to the Sea

In 1945 Prussia, a misfit group of refugees led by a young Lithuanian nurse makes for the coast to attempt to outrun the horrors of the Soviet army. Nearby a young Polish girl is about to be killed by a Russian soldier when a young German male with a secret saves her. The refugees encounter the Polish girl and German boy at a nearby farmstead, and despite best efforts to desert each other, their fates become intertwined. Dodging planes, Russian and German soldiers, and the perils of deadly winter, they reach the coast and must find a way to make it aboard a ship bound for Germany. Thanks to a dim-witted German soldier and the nurse’s skills, a few of their party make it aboard the ships. Many of their party including the nurse, the German boy and the Polish girl, and a grandfather and his adopted son board the military ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff. When they arrive, the Polish girl, who had been largely pregnant, gives birth to a little girl in the midst of chaos as German soldiers hunt the German boy. What follows is a little known tragedy of World War II history. Shortly after the ship departs, a Russian submarine torpedoes the vessel, which had been equipped to carry much less than the over 10,000 people aboard, 5,000 of which were children and refugees. The Wilhelm Gustloff sinks and only a little over a thousand passengers survive.

This book was memorable and emotional, horrible and yet very real with Sepetys’s characters. I won’t give spoilers, but there is a small bit of hope at the end that makes this book not all tragedy. This is a book to read for 2016, and is among the great YA historical fiction.

More information about the Wilhelm Gustloff can be found here.

Note: There is some mention of rape and graphic scenes that may be traumatic for younger readers. Typically high school teen appropriate.



Posted by on January 3, 2017 in Young Adult/Teen


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