Historical Fiction

11.22.63 (DVD)

By James Franco
4
Rated by Jed D.
Sep 12, 2016

Quite possibly the best Stephen King mini-series adaptation so far, 11.22.63 finds English teacher Jake Epping traveling back in time though a portal in his local diner to September 9, 1958. His plan is to thwart the assassination of John F. Kennedy in five years, living off of bets he places using sporting events he already knows the outcome of. While waiting for that fateful day in Dallas, Jake ends up becoming a teacher again using false credentials, falling in love with school librarian Sadie, and investigating any potential clue to Lee Harvey Oswald's involvement. Time has other ideas for

May 4, 2016

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a historical fiction set mainly in 1996 and 2004. The novel opens with Dokka, a villager in the town of Eldar in Chechnya is kidnapped by the Feds, leaving behind his daughter Havaa. A kind neighbor, Akhmed takes it upon himself to care for her and brings her to a local hospital where he hopes she can find refuge. This novel is beautifully written with gorgeous intertwining storylines.


The cover is beautiful and the novel is wonderfully and lyrically written. Everything is described in detail and in the end it was well worth the read. I'm glad I stuck

Affinity

By Sarah Waters
4
Rated by Leslie L.
Feb 18, 2010

Set in Victorian London, Miss Margaret Prior, an upper-class woman, becomes a "Lady Visitor" at Millbank Prison as a diversion from suicidal thoughts. She meets Selina Dawes, a spiritualist-medium who has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for fraud and assault. Miss Prior becomes intrigued by Selina because she is young and lovely and because things occur that cannot be explained - flowers mysteriously appear in her bedroom as well as a cutting of Selina's hair. Miss Prior finds herself falling in love with her and Selina returns her affection. Selina tells her that her spirit friends

Agora

By Alejandro Amenábar
4
Rated by Katie S.
Aug 15, 2014

Based in Roman Egypt, Agora is about a female professor and philosopher, Hypatia, who teaches young men about science. Encouraged by her father, she surrounds herself with information in the great library of Alexandria and is constantly testing new scientific theories. She is quite content to live her life researching but several men would like to marry her, including Orestes, one of the disciples that she teaches, and Davus, her slave. Love, however, is not the only thing that Hypatia has to worry about. Although their world seems calm and peaceful, an uprising by Christians begins to brew

A Hundred Summers

By Beatriz Williams
4
Rated by Heather B.
Oct 15, 2015

In 1931, Lily Dane is dragged along to a college football game by her best friend Budgie Byrne, where Lily instantly becomes smitten with Nick Greenwald. Despite the fact that Budgie is generally the popular one, Nick quickly falls for Lily as well. There is one major stumbling block to their happily-ever-after, however--Nick is Jewish, and while Budgie warns Lily that this will be unacceptable to their high society friends and family, Lily refuses to believe it. She concedes that her mother might be a problem, but Lily is convinced that even she can eventually be brought around. It is

All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr
4
Rated by Megan K.
Aug 8, 2016

Have you ever begun reading a book, and by the first few lines already accepted the fact that you probably will not sleep until the book is finished? All the Light We Cannot See is one of those books for me. I thoroughly enjoy historical fiction books, and this was no exception.


The city in which much of this story takes place- St. Malo, France- is such a beautiful place, and provides an excellent backdrop for many of the events in this book. The story centers around Marie, a sharply intelligent French girl, and Werner, a German boy with the unique talent of working with radios. The story

Dec 14, 2018

 


An Extraordinary Union is a historical romance set during the turbulent American Civil War. The heroine is spunky Elle Burns, a former slave with an eidetic memory who becomes a detective for the Union through the Loyal League, a society of freed and enslaved blacks with networks across the country to funnel intelligence to the North. Her latest assignment is to pose as a mute slave in Richmond, Virginia in the household of Confederate Senator Caffrey. The hero is Malcolm McCall, a Scottish born detective for Pinkerton, also assigned to gather intelligence from the Caffrey household

Jul 5, 2017

Having read many books with Anne Boleyn as either a periphery or main character, Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession offers a very different take on this notorious woman. In this second novel of the Six Tudor Queens series, Alison Weir paints Anne Boleyn in an almost sympathetic light. Where she is generally seen as a conniving, cold and adulterous woman, Weir shows her as a woman shaped by the events of her upbringing and pushed to her limits by the pursuit of a king who always gets his way, and the promise of being Queen.


The second and perhaps most well known of King Henry VIII's wives, Anne

Aug 2, 2016

This is the story of a complicated woman entangled in the lives of a powerful family. Sarah survived World War II in Europe and she’s working her way home to Australia as a nurse onboard an ocean liner. One of her patients is Mrs. Bligh, the commanding matriarch of a wealthy Australian family.  Sarah charms her patient’s son and grandchildren, but when she stumbles on a buried family secret Mrs. Bligh is determined to get rid of her.  Instead of quietly getting out of the way, Sarah just gets on with her life, accepting a position as a nurse in a small town near the Bligh family estate. Mrs

Assassin's Creed: Origins

By Ubisoft
4
Rated by Rachel C.
Mar 3, 2018

The latest in the Assassin's Creed juggernaut, Origins (available for PS4 and XBoxOne) is immediately striking due to the sheer amount of pretty.  The vast expanses of desert, the detail in the cities, the shining pyramids, the stars in the sky...this game is gorgeous.  Happily, it's more than just a pretty face!


The controls are a little bit smoother in this iteration, although you'll still have moments of climbing the wall right next to the ladder you were intending to use.  After this many games, I'm fairly certain that's a feature by now, not a bug.  The weapons/armor system reminds me

At the Water's Edge

By Sara Gruen
4
Rated by Katie S.
Jun 18, 2015

Philadelphia, 1944. The world is at war and yet Maddie and her husband, Ellis, and their friend Hank don't seem to notice. Having been forced out of their home after a drunken outburst at a New Year's Eve party, Ellis and Maddie are cut off completely from his well-off family. After throwing the final insult and claiming his father was a liar when he saw the Loch Ness monster in Scotland decades before, Ellis plans a reckless trek across the Atlantic with Hank, and Maddie is forced to go with them against her wishes. They believe that they will find the monster, prove their worth to Ellis's

A Wedding Wager

By Jane Feather
5
Rated by Margaret O.
Apr 5, 2015

The Honorable Sebastian Sullivan faces the same predicament as his two brothers: a wealthy uncle has promised to divide his fortune among them upon his death on the condition that they each rescue a “fallen woman” by marrying her. Sebastian’s once-lost love, Lady Serena Grantley, was born into nobility but has since been forced into working with her gamester stepfather. She doesn’t really qualify for rescue, but when she turns to Sebastian once again in her time of need, he must find a way to save their rekindled romance. 


A Wedding Wager is the second in the Georgian trilogy, Blackwater

Jan 2, 2019

With an impressive cast,


Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, and serious breakout star of 2018 contender, Cynthia Erivo


Bad Times at the El Royale  is the follow up to Drew Goddard's critically acclaimed directorial debut, The Cabin in the Woods...


   


   The El Royale Hotel was once a hot celebrity getaway, frequented by the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.  Its days of glory are over, however, as a series of strangers check in to an otherwise empty hotel.  There's a priest (Bridges), a vacuum salesman (Hamm), a singer (Erivo), and a woman

Before We Were Yours

By Lisa Wingate
4
Rated by Kari E.
May 17, 2019

Before We Were Yours is a moving, fascinating portrayal of an upper class Southern family dealing with dementia care, cancer, secrets and a family in 1939 ripped apart just because they live on the river. Have your Kleenex ready and Google pulled up. This novel presents many topics to discuss for book groups.


Dual timelines tell the story of Avery Stafford digging into her Grandma Judy’s past. A woman named May Crandall approaches Avery at a nursing home event, confusing her for someone named Fern and slipping Avery’s bracelet off. When Avery returns the next day to retrieve the bracelet, a

Jun 20, 2016

After all of Jacky’s family dies from a disease outbreak, she is forced to dress as a boy and work as a ship’s boy to survive. Now she no longer has to scavenge for food or fight for survival in the streets. As she becomes a skilled and respected member of the crew, she must use every ounce of her wit and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret.


Excellent story! I tend to like those gender-bending characters in general, but Jacky was especially well done. She proves herself worthy in combat, but doesn't relish it. She plays a boy because it will secure her food and freedom. She

Boxers

By Gene Luen Yang
4
Rated by Kate M.
Jun 24, 2014

The companion novel to Saints, this book looks at the same situation from a different angle. Little Bao has grown up reenacting his favorite Chinese operas and looking up to his father. When his father is hobbled by European colonists, Bao's older brothers take over the family, relegating Bao to the role of little brother. In secret he trains with a martial arts master, and quickly out paces his brothers. When colonists threaten his small village, Bao harnesses the power of an ancient Chinese emperor to fight against them.


Sharing the secret of his martial arts training, Bao gathers and

Burial Rites

By Hannah Kent
4
Rated by Debbie L.
Aug 11, 2014

Burial Rites is a fiction book based on real events that occurred in Iceland in the early 1800s. Agnes Magnusdottir is charged with the brutal murder of two men and is ordered to reside with a family and serve as their maid until her execution. Agnes is treated harshly by the townspeople and the family. She is viewed as a monster and they fear her.  Young Reverend Thorvardur has been assigned to council Agnes and he is hopeful that he can steer her toward repentance before her death. It is during the many conversations with the reverend that Agnes shares her version of events that occurred

Callander Square

By Anne Perry
4
Rated by Katie S.
Sep 15, 2014

Callander Square is the second book in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series by Anne Perry. Set in the late 1800s, this novel tells the story of multiple mysterious deaths in a posh area of London. Thomas, a police inspector, is called to the central garden of the high-society Callander Square after two baby corpses are found buried among the flowers. Immediately suspecting a poor servant girl, Pitt begins to investigate each household, causing an uncomfortable mood to hang over the residents of the square. The heads of household wish to be left alone, leaving Pitt with several hurdles to

Child 44

By Tom Rob Smith
4
Rated by Melody M.K.
Aug 7, 2014

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith is historical fiction set in Stalinist Russia when the Government was all powerful and all were constantly watched over by officials. One wrong move could send you to a work camp in Siberia, never to be seen again. Life was hard, and on top of that Smith throws in a serial killer that moves throughout Russia killing children and women at will. Defending this system is idealistic security officer Leo Demidov, a war hero who believes in the iron fist of the law. But when Leo begins to investigate the serial murders he makes a wrong move and becomes disliked by a higher

Circling the Sun

By Paula McLain
4
Rated by Jed D.
Aug 30, 2017

Let’s get this out of the way first: while Circling the Sun is about Beryl Markham, famed aviator of the 1920’s, there are barely two chapters about her adventures as a pilot. What happens between the passages about flying is a compelling historical novel about a young English girl who is abandoned by her mother in Kenya and who eventually wins respect in the male-dominated worlds of horse training and aviation. 


The Spring Hill book discussion group found the love triangle exhausting, but Markham's escapades in the Kenyan bush involving lions, elephants, and colonial politics make it a

City of Thieves

By David Benioff
5
Rated by Bethany T.
May 27, 2014

City of Thieves is one of those books recommended to me time and again, and I always think, "Oh yes, I must read this," and then I never get around to it.  But after stumbling across the audio version and seeing that it was narrated by Ron Perlman, I knew I couldn't delay any longer.  I'm so glad I didn't.  City starts with Lev, our hero, discovering a dead German paratrooper frozen on the streets of Leningrad.  The year is 1941 and the Russians are under siege from the Nazis, starving and freezing to death in bitterly large numbers.  Lev decides to pocket the paratrooper's knife and then is

Cocaine Blues

By Kerry Greenwood
5
Rated by Amy F.
Aug 5, 2014

This is the first book in the Phryne Fisher Mystery series, a charmingly written series set in in early 20th century Melbourne, Australia. The atmospheric and well-researched details in these novels create an engrossing view into 1920s Melbourne society at all levels. The cast has its regulars, like Jack Robinson, the long-suffering and orchid-loving policeman, Cec and Burt, the wharfies who hope for a socialist revolution, and Lin Chung, the well-to-do son of Chinese immigrants. Included in each book is an ever-changing variety of folks from all walks of Australian life, who round out the

Doc

By Mary Doria Russell
4
Rated by Helen H.
May 29, 2013

Before reading Doc by Mary Doria Russell, the only thing I knew about the famous Doc Holiday was that he looked remarkably like Val Kilmer and often suggested his peers might be Daisies. What a delight to read about this fascinating and complex gentleman. Russell tells Doc’s story from the very beginning; John Henry Holiday’s birth. His hold on life was tenuous from the start, as he was born with a hare-lip. Only because his uncle was a skilled surgeon, who performed the cutting-edge surgery, did Doc survive at all. His mother, to whom he was devoted, passed when he was fifteen of tuberculosis

Dunkirk (2017) DVD

By Christopher Nolan
3
Rated by Emily D.
Apr 27, 2018

The film Dunkirk tells a very important story. During the Second World War the British, French and other allied forces get surrounded at Dunkirk, a beach town in France. The limited Navy and Red-cross ships can't seem to make it back across the channel without being hit by German forces, and British fighter planes don't have the fuel capacity to be of much help. Overall, the situation is very grim. The British Navy commissions the use of any serviceable ship or boat to rescue the 300,000 some odd soldiers trapped at Dunkirk.


Now you are prepared to watch a movie that has virtually no

Eleanor & Park

By Rainbow Rowell
5
Rated by Becky C.
Jun 19, 2013

I typically roll my eyes at romance novels--they are so fake! But Eleanor & Park is different. Perhaps because Eleanor and Park are different. Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan--the lead characters in this romance--are different from most romance novel characters, but also just different. Different from their boorish peers. Different from their lame teachers. Different from their parents. And it's their feelings of being different that brings them together in a glorious display of misfit love.


Eleanor and Park meet on the bus. It's 1986 in Omaha, Nebraska. Eleanor is the new kid at school

Jul 10, 2017

In the summer of 1962, the possibility of nuclear war is all anyone talks about. But Scott’s dad is the only one in the neighborhood who actually prepares for the worst. As the neighbors scoff, he builds a bomb shelter to hold his family and stocks it with just enough supplies to keep the four of them alive for two critical weeks. In the middle of the night in late October, when the unthinkable happens, those same neighbors force their way into the shelter before Scott’s dad can shut the door. With not enough room, not enough food, and not enough air, life inside the shelter is filthy

Nov 28, 2015

Thomas Hardy, an English author, spun a classic and spectacular tale of love in his novel, Far From the Madding Crowd. Adapted for the screen by David Nicholls and starring Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby), Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone), and Tom Sturridge (Waiting Forever), the movie stands on its own with this convincing cast of actors. In the beginning of the film, the protagonist Bathsheba Everdene, convinces us she is too independent to need a husband or to be courted by a man. Her first suitor is Gabriel Oak, who is hard not to like with his chivalrous characteristics and the

Fury (DVD)

By David Ayer, Director
3
Rated by Jed D.
Jun 29, 2015

Take one part 300, one part Das Boot, and one part Inglourious Basterds, and you have Fury, a brutal and overly-earnest tank battle movie. Set in the final days of WWII, five American soldiers are trapped in a disabled tank and must fend off hordes of Germans. Brad Pitt, the commanding officer named Wardaddy, leads Michael Peña, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman and Jon Bernthal in an exciting and bloody fight for their lives. The non-stop action is entertaining, but the numerous war movie clichés make Fury mostly forgettable. Also of interest to some, LaBeouf was reportedly involved in behind-the

Garden of Beasts: a Novel of Berlin 1936

By Jeffrey Deaver
4
Rated by Judy C.
Sep 15, 2012

The setting is Berlin and the year is 1936.  In award winning author, Jeffrey Deaver’s book, Garden of Beasts, Germany is planning rearmament while Hitler is strengthening his rise to power. Main character, Paul Schumann, is a hit man for the mob who has been set up and caught by the Feds in New York during one of his assassination attempts.  He is brought to their offices and given a frightening choice: life in prison or go to Germany under the guise of an Olympic journalist and kill the head of Germany’s rearmament campaign, Col. Richard Ernst.  From the moment he steps off the boat and

Garden of Lies

By Amanda Quick
4
Rated by Stefanie E.
Nov 22, 2015

Amanda Quick, a pen name for Jayne Ann Krentz, can be counted upon to write historical romances set in Victorian England, usually with a twist of mystery. They are all light, a little steamy, and feature strong female characters. In sum, they are guaranteed to take you away from reality making them perfect getaway reads. They are especially enjoyable on audio because of the narrators' English accents.


In her latest title, Garden of Lies, Ursula Kern, owner of a ladies secretarial agency, is called away from her current job by the death of one of the office girls. While deemed an accidental