Tagged: Historical Fiction

Ghost Hawk – Book Review

Brian’s Book Review:

Ghost Hawk is a great story of dedication devotion, love and hate.  You’ll be on the edge of your seat not wanting to put this book down.  A historical fiction told unlike any before.  A great story for anyone from young teen to adults.

Sam’s Book Review:

Little Hawk is the son of Flying Hawk. He is eleven now, and he must prepare for his three month long ordeal to become a man. But when he returns, he finds a nasty surprise in store for him, and the white man’s plans to settle on his people’s land.

When the time comes for him to take the test that will decide if he becomes a man and finds his manitou, or guardian spirit, or dies in the wilderness, he knows that he will survive. So he leaves with his father blindfolded. When they reach the spot, Flying Hawk removes Little Hawk’s blindfold and leaves him there to start the journey. The first thing Little Hawk needs to do is build a fire. Then he will be ready for his manitou to find him.

When his three months are over he returns home, only to find that most of the village died from a horrible plague, including one of his two sisters, his baby brother, his mother, and his father. When he goes to his tent, the only one left in the village is Grandmother Suncatcher. When she tells him about the plague, he feels like his world has been shattered. They take care of each other until Little Hawk’s friend Leaping Turtle comes, wondering what happened. Now there are three of them.

Soon afterwards, they receive a signal from another village, and they send one in return. Suncatcher tries to tell Little Hawk and Leaping Turtle to go to that other village, but they tell her that if she’s not going, they’re not going. Finally, they decide to build a litter to hold her. When three people from the other village, come to check on Little Hawk’s village, they take what survivors remain to a new village. After the visit, they arrive at the other village, and Little Hawk’s little sister, Quickbird, comes running up to him when she sees that Little Hawk has survived the plague. At least one of his siblings survived the epidemic.

They live in the village for a little while, then, the white men come. Little Hawk meets John, a little boy. When Little Hawk and Leaping Turtle go to deliver a message, Little Hawk is shot trying to save John’s father, and then tossed into the bushes. John picks up Little Hawk’s tomahawk for safe keeping, and then goes home, where his father dies with a broken leg. When one of Little Hawk’s killers, Daniel Smith, marries John’s mother, Margaret, John uses every opportunity he gets to try to make Daniel realize that he shot a man who was trying to help. This gets him apprenticed to a master cooper, where he meets Huldah, a young girl going, as her family promised to him, to work for the other murderer, Master Kelly.

When going to collect shoots so that he can make a barrel, he sees the ghost of little Hawk. Realizing that he can see Little Hawk, John decides to learn Little Hawk’s language. They have many meetings, where John and Little Hawk become fast friends. When John becomes an adult, he plans to marry Huldah, but Master Kelly forbids him to ever do so in Plymouth because of John’s love for the Native Americans, or, as the settlers call them, the heathens, causing John to become angry and spill the story of Little Hawk’s death, in public.

That’s not all that goes on in Ghost Hawk. There are many twists and turns throughout the story. This book was written by Susan Cooper, the author of The Dark is Rising. It was published by Margaret K. McElderry Books in 2013. The book I read was first edition. This book isn’t illustrated. I’d give it five stars for a plot that twists and turns, and for a gripping story and recommend this to young adults and middle schoolers.

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper


From Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper, a story of adventure and friendship between a young Native American and a colonial New England settler.

On the winter day Little Hawk is sent into the woods alone, he can take only a bow and arrows, his handcrafted tomahawk, and the amazing metal knife his father traded for with the new white settlers. If Little Hawk survives three moons by himself, he will be a man.

John Wakely is only ten when his father dies, but he has already experienced the warmth and friendship of the nearby tribes. Yet his fellow colonists aren’t as accepting of the native people. When he is apprenticed to a barrel-maker, John sees how quickly the relationships between settlers and natives are deteriorating. His friendship with Little Hawk will put both boys in grave danger.

The intertwining stories of Little Hawk and John Wakely are a fascinating tale of friendship and an eye-opening look at the history of our nation. Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper also includes a timeline and an author’s note that discusses the historical context of this important and moving novel.

You can buy a used copy of this book from Thrice Read Books here.

The Other Side of Free – Book Review

About the Book:

In 1739, England and Spain are on the verge of war and former slaves are arriving in St. Augustine, where the Spanish will give them their freedom in exchange for their loyalty. Fourteen-year-old Jem has escaped a cruel master but is now in the custody of Phaedra, a difficult and angry woman. He thought he was free, he thought he was a man – but Phaedra controls his every move and takes every opportunity to remind him that he’s still a child. And as the threat of war becomes more real, Jem starts to understand the meaning of freedom and the complex connections that make a community.

Sam’s Review:

The year is 1739. Tons of slaves are running to Spain from England for freedom away from their cruel masters. In return, they are expected to help destroy the English. Jem sees this as a chance to get back at his master, and prove that he’s a man. However, there’s just one teeny, tiny problem. He’s under the custody of the bitter and angry Phaedra. And she won’t let him fight.

Jem and the others have lived in Fort Mose (say Moh-Zay) for almost as long as the war has been going on. Everybody else has taken the oath of allegiance to Spain, but Phaedra won’t let Jem take the oath. She believes that Jem’s too young to fight, to serve for the Spanish army. He’s looking for a sign that he’ll finally join the Spanish army. He believes that the sign he’s been waiting for all this time is the owlet Omen, the one he saved from crows. As Omen gets older, everyone at Fort Mose tells him to get rid of Omen because he might be bad luck, that he might harm their chickens, but Jem knows that Omens is his responsibility. And Jem will always protect Omen as best as he can.

The English begin to attack the fort, and the people living there are forced to move to the Castillo, where refugees are. There is little food, and a tension between the Spanish and the former slaves is growing. The English attack the Castillo, but their attack fails.

Jem learns that one of his friends, the trader Reynard, is a traitor, working for the English. When Reynard asks him to join the English, Jem knows that he’ll be sold back into slavery, and he turns down the offer. This gets hims burns when he’s forced to pay for his refusal. Then comes an attack by the Spanish on Fort Mose, where Jem is finally allowed to fight. When the battle is over Jem sees that he’s not the only one who’s lost kin…

This is only part of Jem’s tale. You can read the rest in the book The Other Side of Free by Krista Russell. This book was published by RR Donnelley & Sons in 2013. I’m giving this book four stars for a gripping tale, and would recommend it to preteens and juveniles. This book is historical-fiction, non-illustrated, and the book I read was first edition.

This book is available from Amazon in Kindle and hardcover editions here. [affiliate link]

Apricots & Wolfsbane – Review

Thrice Read Books reviews Apricots and Wolfsbane by KM Pohlkamp

About the book:

Apricots and Wolfsbane by K. M. Pohlkamp

Historical fiction (Adult/New Adult)   293 pages in print

Published October 13, 2017 by Filles Vertes Publishing

Lavinia Maud craves the moment the last wisps of life leave her victims’ bodies—to behold the effects of her own poison creations. Believing confession erases the sin of murder, her morbid desires are in unity with faith, though she could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves.

Book club discussion guide included!

At the start of the 16th century in Tudor England, Lavinia’s marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, but rising prestige brings increased risk. When the magistrate suspects her ruse, he pressures the priest into breaking her confessional seal, pitting Lavinia’s instincts as an assassin against the tenets of love and faith. She balances revenge with her struggle to develop a tasteless poison and avoid the wrath of her ruthless patron.

With her ideals in conflict, Lavinia must decide which will satisfy her heart: love, faith, or murder—but the betrayals are just beginning.

About the author:

K.M. Pohlkamp is a blessed wife to the love of her life, a proud mother of two, and a Mission Control flight controller. Originally from Wisconsin, she now resides in Houston, Texas.

Jenn’s Review:

Usually, when I get a request to read and review a book, I don’t read other folks’ reviews first, and I’ll admit that I was hesitant at first to add this particular volume to my to-be-read list for content concerns. When I judged Reading Review Wars on this book last month, my apprehension only grew.

My doubts were utterly unfounded.

I’ve never read a book with an anti-hero (in this case, anti-heroine) as the protagonist, so Apricots and Wolfsbane was a first for me. Lavinia Maud is nothing short of a badass, though, as a woman who’s taken on a career that, in 16th century England, is nothing short of dangerous and illegal. However, she refuses to settle into the role of docile wife as she is expected to do, and she pursues her nefarious trade with a passion.

Ms. Pohlkamp has nailed the inner conflict in her creation of Madam Maud with her protagonist’s conflicted morals. She’s okay with murder-for-hire, but craves absolution after each kill. Admitting to her list of victims isn’t a stretch for her, but she refuses to give up the names of who’s hired her.

I won’t say that Lavinia Maud is likable. Even after the last page, I’m still on the fence about whether I liked the main character. She is, however, (as are all the secondary characters in this story) well developed and multi-faceted.

Fans of bad-ass, female protagonists in historical fiction – this one’s for you. It’s hard not to root for a character who refuses to quietly fit into the mold and boldly takes control of her own destiny. This is the first in a series, apparently, so I’ll be watching for book 2 to come out!

Jenn at Thrice Read Books reviews KM Pohlkamp's historical fiction Apricots and Wolfsbane

Sam’s Review:

Murder. To many, it’s a sin. But to Lavinia, it’s her job. And it’s a nicely paying job as well. Apricots and Wolfsbane is her story, and it is a very fun to read story. The author is K. M. Pohlkamp, and I would love to thank her for sharing this book with me.

Poison is an interest of mine, mainly because it makes for a good story, so that helped boost the rating of the book. It was well written, and filled with tension at the right moments. I got chills reading this book, it was that good.

And in the negatives, well, for me, all I can say is, “what negatives?” It wasn’t too predictable, nor was it too unpredictable. I loved the plot twists, the well developed settings and characters, and I loved everything about this book.

Buy the book:

This book is available as a Kindle or paperback from Amazon here. [affiliate link]

Jenn judged the Reading Review Wars for this book. To read the reviewers’ arguments, click here.

Song of the Sparrow – Book Review

About the book:

“The year is 490 AD.  Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat,  the daughter of one of King Arthur’s supporters,  lives with her father on Arthur’s base camp,  the sole girl in a militaristic world of men. Elaine’s only girl companion is the mysterious Morgan, Arthur’s older sister, but Elaine cannot tell Morgan her deepest secret: She is in love with Lancelot, Arthur’s second-in-command. However, when yet another girl — the lovely Gwynivere– joins their world, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry. But can her love for Lancelot survive the birth of an empire? (From amazon.com’s product listing)

Jenn’s Review:

I read this book myself a few years ago, and fell in love with the long-poem form of it. The author did an amazing job of recreating King Arthur’s court and imagining subtle side currents to the main story that most of us have come to know so well. Well written and engaging. I would rate this a high middle-school level, and let my 11 year old read it recently as she was exploring epic poetry style writing, and she loved it.

Thrice Read Books has a hardcover edition of this book for sale here.

You can also buy this book from Amazon in Kindle, hardcover or paperback edition here. [affiliate link]

Jake – Book Review

About the book:

Orginally published in 2014 under the title Redeemed by a Rebel.

Jake Anderson killed a man defending his fiancée from a brutal attack, but lost her and his freedom in the process. Now he’s on the run, tormented by the need for vengeance.

Becky Finnegan will do anything to escape her drunken father’s fists, including slave away at their mine. Her only hope is to strike gold and make a new life for herself somewhere far, far away from Deadwood. But then Jake arrives and does the unthinkable…forces her to feel, to hope…and to love.

Jake would give his life to protect Becky, but all he can offer her is a broken heart, a criminal’s life, and a past haunted by failure. How can he save her when he’s already lost himself? Will he destroy everything, or can the beautiful rebel redeem Jake’s lost soul?

Jenn’s Review:

In Cynthia Woolf’s first book in her Destiny in Deadwood series, readers follow the story of Jake and Becky during Colorado’s gold rush. 

Jake Anderson loves his fiancee, even though her father frowns on their relationship and resents Jake’s humble occupation as a farmer. But when Jake comes to call on her, and finds her former beau standing over her with a gun, his life begins to unravel. He manages to exact a kind of vengeance on her murderer, but a crooked witness makes his getaway, leaving Jake in a bad situation, with warrants for his arrest for crimes he didn’t commit.

Along with his two brothers and his oldest brother’s two children, Jake makes his getaway to Deadwood, Colorado – a lawless place outside the jurisdiction of any arm of the law.

Becky struggles to maintain the mining claim she and her abusive, drunken father own, but when Jake stumbles into her life, her world is turned upside down. Both Becky and Jake try to avoid their growing feelings for each other, and when Becky’s father announces that he’s sold her to a seedy land owner, the couple hatch a desperate plan to keep Becky out of the hands of yet another abusive relationship.

Can the pair overcome their individual stubbornness and shady pasts to make a real future for themselves where the Law has no say, and vengeance rules supreme? 

Ms. Woolf spins a beautiful, if rough (because living out of tents as prospectors isn’t luxurious) tale of a man redeemed and a woman stronger than she seems. Sweet, raw and funny, all at the same time.

This book is available in Kindle, audiobook and mass market paperback formats from Amazon here. [Affiliate link]

David: Lord of Honor – Book Review

You can buy this book here.

About the book:

David, Viscount Fairly, has imperiled his honor…
Letty Banks is a reluctant courtesan, keeping a terrible secret that brought her, a vicar’s daughter, to a life of vice. While becoming madam of Viscount Fairly’s high-class brothel is an absolute financial necessity, Letty refuses to become David’s mistress-though their attraction becomes harder to resist the more she learns about the man…

Perhaps a fallen woman can redeem it.
David is smitten not only with Letty’s beauty, but also with her calm, her kindness, her quiet. David is determined to put respectability back in her grasp, even if that means uncovering the secrets Letty works so hard to keep hidden-secrets that could take her away from him forever…

The Review:

I’m not a stranger to the Regency Romance genre, but I haven’t read Grace Burrowes until now. When David: Lord of Honor came into our inventory, I picked it up, because of the unusual circumstances that bring the Hero and Heroine into each other’s lives (plus, attractive cover!).

Most romances, especially Regencies, are quick reads for me. I get lost in the story line at 1 in the afternoon, and it’s dinner time before I realize that the afternoon has passed and I’m just closing the cover of the book for the last time.

David: Lord of Honor was not such a book. I took my time through the first half of the book. It’s not that the plot is slow, because it is well-paced. I wasn’t bored (I don’t bother finishing a book if I cannot truly immerse myself in it by page 60). I was, rather, simply not compelled to sit and read the book in one sitting.

However, as the plot began to reach its climax, I had been drawn into the characters and their journeys. I couldn’t put the book down for more than a few minutes, because I needed to keep going. 

Their emotional journeys alone are compelling (it’s difficult at this point to not give away spoilers!), and you don’t want to stop reading, because you want them to get over themselves and get to their Happily-Ever-After (also known as the HEA).

I rarely cry while reading a romance anymore. Something about writing my own romance stories and knowing that at some point, this couple is going to part ways before they get to their HEA takes the sting out of that dark moment for me. But when David and Letty reach theirs, it hit me hard and I spent at least two chapters in tears.

Whether you’re a hard-core Regency fan or you just enjoy an engrossing romance, David: Lord of Honor is definitely worth a read. It is perfect for rainy days (something we have plenty of here on the Washington Coast) or quiet evenings. Make a pot of tea and enjoy the ups and downs of a brothel owner and his madam (and have the Puffs on hand!).

This book is also available from Amazon in Kindle, Paperback and Mass Market Paperback here. [affiliate link]

Black Beauty – Book Review

About the book:

Black Beauty teaches everyone he meets the true meaning of courage and loyalty. From escaping a burning barn to saving the life of his owner, every day is full of adventure. But he longs for a family to love him for the gentle horse he is. Will he ever find the perfect home?

Hear Black Beauty read by Jonathan Keeble, who appeared in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

With the included audio you can HEAR the entire book, word for word, READ ALONG with the audio, or READ the story on your own. 

Each HEAR IT READ IT classic presents the world’s greatest stories in an easy-to-read abridged format. The included audio contains a dramatic reading-with music and sound effects-that match the text, word for word, so children of all ages and reading levels can read along. 

Perfect for high-level young readers experiencing the classics for the first time and also ideally accessible for “reluctant readers,” HEAR IT READ IT classics give young readers the best possible introduction to the world’s timeless tales. It’s a terrific way for adults to re-experience the thrills of a classic tale, too!

Jenn’s Review:

Anna Sewell’s classic tale of the life of a Victorian era horse highlights social issues that were prevalent at the time, as well as issues of animal welfare that still go on today. Suitable as guided reading for children as young as 6, there are some scenes alluding to class differences and animal abuse.

Buy the Book:

Thrice Read Books has a copy of this book for sale here.

You can also purchase this book from Amazon in hardcover edition here. [affiliate link]