5 Star Books · Book Reviews · fantasy · historical fiction · Science Fiction · thriller

I read my FIRST Stephen King Book! 11/22/63

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11/22/63

Published: November 8, 2011

Publisher: Scribner

Pages: 849

Genres: historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, thriller

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: JFK conspiracy theories, history buffs, alternate history novels, long well written books

Foodie Vibes: diner food but made the right way — from scratch, high fat and without preservatives

 

Synopsis: 

Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

 

Review:

Like: 

  • The main character and narrator
  • Discussions of time travel repercussions – while not real, it’s fun to think about
  • The mix of historical fiction, suspense, and science fiction
  • A blast from the past: all the vintage brands, companies, music and fun anecdotes

Love: 

  • The audiobook version: I highly recommend listening to it! You will not be disappointed. 
  • The main topic: trying to go back in time and stop the JFK assassination 
  • The world building: the 1950s and 60s world the author creates feels extremely immersive

Dislike: 

  • All the talk about food poisoning, illnesses, etc. seems to be discussed more than most books

Wish that:

  • everything could be happily ever after by going back in time to change bad events 

Overall, I am so glad that I finally read a Stephen King book. I know, I know, how could I not have read one of his books before? I loved 11/22/63 and am looking forward to reading more of the author’s work in the future. 

 

Bookish Question:

How many Stephen King books have you read?

Which ones do you recommend?

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

 

 

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · historical fiction

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner | ARC Book Review

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The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 400 

Genres: historical fiction

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: WWII, historical fiction, reading about history from an alternate person’s point of view 

Foodie Vibes: a meager meal of stale bread, soup and coffee as food is scarce during the war 

 

Synopsis: 

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943–aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Berkley, and Susan Meissner for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • Alternates between present day and WWII featuring the same characters helps to enhance the story
  • The shared friendship between Elise and Mariko – seamlessly ties the whole story together, even when they’re living on different continents
  • The parents caring for their children during very difficult times

Love:

  • The realism and beauty of the writing
  • We get a more personal complete perspective of the war from the view of a teenager
  • The main characters: Elise, her family, Mariko, and the Dove family
  • Even though it’s fiction I learned more about WWII, especially the experiences of average citizens in the U.S. and Germany 
  • Completely transports me to a different time and place

Dislike: 

  • The sadness, violence and mistreatment of people, even though its realistic to the events in history

Wish that:

  • The character of Max was mentioned more and also more likable 

 

Overall, a wonderful historical fiction novel that tells the tale of two American teenagers who met due to fear an assumptions from the government and changed each others’ lives forever. Definitely, definitely recommend!

 

Bookish Question:

What’s your favorite time period/country to read about in historical fiction novels?

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

4 Star Books · Adventure · feminism · historical fiction · LGBTQIA+ Books

The Pirate’s Booty by Alex Westmore

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Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the review for a fun Bookish Question. I’d love to hear your answers!

 

The Pirate’s Booty by Alex Westmore 

Published: November 22, 2016

Publisher: Broad Winged Books

Pages: 344

Genres: historical fiction, LGBTQIA+, historical romance, adventure

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: pirate adventures, badass women, historical fiction with lesbians, feminism

Read with food: a nice juicy orange which is such a treat for a pirate 

 

Synopsis:

When Quinn Gallagher’s childhood friend is abducted from a dock in Ireland, she’ll do whatever it takes to come to the rescue—even if that means dressing as a man and joining the crew of one of the most notorious pirate captains the world has ever seen.

Quinn soon finds there is much to enjoy living as a man, in particular the company of other women. When she finds herself falling hard for Lady Fiona, a woman far above her own station, she is torn between revealing her true identity and continuing the façade of being a male pirate. Love is never easy, especially in the sixteenth century and especially under false pretenses.

Can Quinn live with one foot in two different worlds, or must she consign herself to either the lusty life of a pirate or the loveless life of a noble woman? Come sail the high seas in this exciting and erotic adventure with the fierce pirate Gallagher as your guide. You’re in for a wild ride and may even score some booty along the way.

 

Review:

I was contacted by the publicist of the author and offered a free ebook in exchange for a review. I read the synopsis and of course said yes! As always, an honest review.

I don’t usually read pirate adventure stories, but when I read that The Pirate’s Booty featured a female pirate queen I was very intrigued. Initially there was a bit of an adjustment regarding the language. It’s written in a 16th century pirate dialect, so I didn’t read it as quickly as modern American English. But as time went on, I became quite used to the writing style. It definitely adds to the atmosphere of the story.

The Pirate’s Booty isn’t what I think of when I imagine a typical pirate adventure novel, but it’s so much better. Female pirate queens, lesbians, women disguised as men, and of course the action packed adventure aboard the high seas!

I found myself captivated by the adventures and heartfelt stories. I loved the focus on woman power. Women proving that they are just as capable as men. The underlying themes of women’s freedom, literally and figuratively, provides interesting parallels to current day women’s issues.

Occasionally there were parts of the story that didn’t captivate me as much as others. However, there was so much going on, that it wasn’t long before another storyline came along to grab my focus.

The Pirate’s Booty is the first in a series of books featuring badass lesbian pirates. A wonderful unique story of heart, bravery and determination.

 

The Pirate’s Booty is the first in the Plundered Chronicles series.

Book 6: X Marks the Spot will be released soon, so keep a look out for it!

 

If you liked my review and are interested in learning more about the author and her books, check out:

Her website (subscribe to her newsletter for updates): http://alexwestmore.net

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alex.westmore/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009227907721

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4lrQpHa8ZX3qdkVDYEi0ng

 

 

Bookish Question of the Review:

Do you stick to a few favorite genres or read almost anything or somewhere in the middle? 

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · historical fiction · Literary Fiction

ARC Book Review | Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

 

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Be sure to read until the end of the review for a fun, bonus question!

 

Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Published: August 7, 2018 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352

Genres: literary fiction, historical fiction

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: fictionalized versions of real life, books about kidnappings, the 1950s

Read with food: a nice milkshake preferably from a diner

 

Synopsis:

Camden, NJ, 1948.

When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

 

Review: 

I won this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, the author and publisher for a copy. As always, an honest review.

Rust & Stardust was very loosely based on the real life kidnapping of Sally Horner in the late 1940s. Her story is also the inspiration for the book Lolita. The author took her story and imagined what might have happened in her day to day life while she was kidnapped. Sally was held for several years. I enjoyed the fictionalized version of what her life experiences might have been. Initially I didn’t realize the story was based on a real girl. I enjoyed it before and after learning this fact.

The storytelling is beautiful, haunting, and absolutely captivating. For a book about such a horrible topic, I couldn’t put it down. The author eludes to Sally’s terrible experiences, but doesn’t go into great detail which I appreciated. We learn more about Sally’s emotional state than anything else. Also each chapter alternates with different characters’ points of view, so we see the impact her disappearance has on her family as well.

The only part that frustrated me was the adults who were to scared or too unsure to help Sally. It was a different time and a different era but still frustrating none the less. Also, there are mentions of kidnapping and sexual assault. It wasn’t graphic by any means, and most of the story wasn’t about that. But I still wanted to mention it.

I was captivated by the writing right from the beginning all the way to the very last sentence. I highly recommend reading this amazing book.

Random Question of the Review:

How long does it take you to read a book?

2.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · historical fiction · LGBTQIA+ Books · Literary Fiction · Uncategorized

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

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The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Published: June 19, 2018

Publisher: Viking

Pages: 421 

Genres: literary fiction, historical fiction, LGBTQ

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: historical fiction about the AIDS epidemic in the 80s

Read with food: Chinese takeaway

 

Synopsis:

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to the publisher and author for a copy. As always, an honest review.

I was disappointed by this read. The story takes place in the art world in 1980s Chicago and also present day Paris. The main focus is the lives of the gay community during the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, which the author does justice. Despite what could be a phenomenal book, it fell short for me.

I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, nor did the story draw me in. Therefore I went through the book appreciating and enjoying certain moments, but overall not invested in either story due to lack of connection. Also the two separate stories barely had anything to do with each other. They honestly could have been 2 separate books or even eliminated most of the present day Paris storyline.

The Great Believers had some redeeming benefits though. It told a story that isn’t always portrayed in the media and actually went into detail instead of glossing over unfavorable moments. A part of the history books that isn’t always done justice.

If you can connect with the characters, then you will probably enjoy it more than I did. But if not then take my thoughts into consideration. The tone of the book and writing doesn’t really change as you get farther along in the book.

 

I liked the overall concept, but it didn’t pan out for me.

 

Anyone have any other similar books that you really liked and would recommend to me?