Multiple Mini-Reviews: Historical Fiction (1)

Book: Gloria by Kerry Young
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction, Caribbean
Source + Date Read: ARC + July 2013
Recommend: Historical fiction focusing on 20th century Jamaica.
Book Pro’s: Multi-ethnic characters, book charts tensions between ethnic groups and economic struggles in rural and urban Jamaica.
Book Con’s: Text dragged at certain points.

Gloria is an amazing tale of a young woman’s struggles as she is forced from her rural home in Jamaica to the bustling town of Kingston. Gloria is a very tough person, however, as she makes the best of her situation, eventually realising personal, economic and spiritual stability.

This books is crucial for those wanting to dig a bit deeper into Caribbean literature. Not only are there are multitude of different ethnicity’s represented, Young includes homosexual characters, a topic that tends to be taboo in the Caribbean. It’s a coming of age tale that has a checklist of goodies: emotion, relate-able characters, diversity, struggle, love and transcendence.


Book: Sphinx by T. S. Learner
Publisher: Sphere, 2010
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: HalfHeart
Source + Date Read: Library + November 2013
Recommend: For Egyptology buffs.
Book Pro’s: It’s a thrilling tale.
Book Con’s: But it’s poorly written and in some ways, just plain boring.

Where to begin with this? I am usually a very big fan of what I call ‘academic’ thrillers where we have smart person 1 who finds really cool object and has to save the world with smart person 2 (who is usually very hot) and chaos and guns and fights ensue but smart person 1 and 2 usually save the day. Sphinx had all of this and it was still horrible.

I did not enjoy this book one bit, for instance, everything happened too fast in the first 100 pages, then went way too slowly in the last half. I had to resist the temptation to skip to the end to cut my suffering short. Alas, I persevered but wish I hadn’t. The book is uneventful, boring and confusing.


Book: A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepard
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: HalfHeart
Source + Date Read: Library + August 2013
Recommend: For Mary Shelly enthusiasts.
Book Pro’s: It certainly has its twists and turns.
Book Con’s: Convoluted, horrid characters.

I also, didn’t quite enjoy this like I thought I would. The first problem was not the author’s fault, but rather my own. I downloaded this from NetGalley thinking it was a stand alone book, but low and behold it is the second installment in a series. Which made for some confusing reading, as I had no clue where new characters weren’t introduced or why nothing was at all explained.

Plus, I understand that during this time, some serious debauchery went down but some of it was a bit too rank for my stomach. Plus I’m sensitive to racism in books and this book has a touch of it, not that it’s the author’s fault yet again, but rather I am uncomfortable with the time frame that the book is set in. I’m sure this book is quite popular, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.


Book: The Goddess Chronicle (Canongate Myths #13) by Natsuo Kirino
Publisher: Canongate, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source + Date Read: Library + June 2013
Recommend: For myth fans or those who like the Canongate Series.
Book Pro’s: Well written and it gives a feminist take on a popular Japanese myth.
Book Con’s: If you’re not familiar with the myth, it can be a bit confusing.

This was an interesting read! Partially because I had no idea what was going on, as I didn’t know the myth it was based on, but also because after I did some background research, I came to research the truly imaginative and feminist portrayal of the protagonist. I have reviewed another book in this series, which is another feminist retelling of the Illiad by Margaret Atwood.

I always find it fascinating when authors reinvent or reimagine something we already know. The writing is well done and the book’s tragedies pull at your heart strings. The style is more literature based, so it can seem a bit stuffy at times.


Book: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
Publisher: Randomhouse, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: HalfHeart
Source + Date Read: Library + October 2013
Recommend: YA + Historical fiction fans.
Book Pro’s: It’s a truly interesting take on the Bluebeard myth.
Book Con’s: I had to be patient with the main character.

I read this on my phone and that was such an interesting experience. I prefer my kindle, but anyways, I loved this! It’s a YA historical fiction so it was a lighter read but I felt for the protagonist as she navigated her captor’s emotional abuse. And he really did emotionally abuse her. I was a bit frustrated initially because as readers, we know what the hell is going on and I kind of wanted to reach in and knock the protagonist on the head and say, ‘helllllo, time to grow up miss!’ Alas I have no Inkheart abilities and the protagonist had to bumble along and figure things out for herself, which she did and escaped by sheer luck.



About Claire (BWB)

It's Claire (aka Quirky) from Bitches With Books, an online book blog that serves up a healthy dose of book reviews, lists + literary madness.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, International. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Multiple Mini-Reviews: Historical Fiction (1)

  1. Pingback: 2013 Reads | Bitches With Books

  2. Pingback: 2013 Reading Challenge Round-Up: PASS or FAIL Edition | Bitches With Books

  3. Pingback: Your Research to Write Historical Fiction. | I am an Author, I Must Auth

  4. You had some highs and some lows! Decent reads then!

  5. Pingback: Challenge Progress Round-Up November Edition | Bitches With Books

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