Best booktubers for historical fiction recommendations

One of my favourite ways to get book recommendations is by watching booktube videos. Although I’m almost certainly going to be sticking to blogging for the time being (the thought of talking to a camera and sticking it on the internet terrifies me!), I’m subscribed to a fair few booktubers, and want to share with you some of the channels giving the best historical fiction book recommendations.

In the interest of keeping this post to a reasonable length, I’m sticking to my top 3 for now – but if you’d like some more recommendations, make sure to let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to oblige!

So here, in no particular order, are my current top 3 booktube channels for fabulous historical fiction recommendations:

 

lucythereader

Lucy is a voracious classics reader, which is what makes her historical fiction reviews so interesting. Like me, she enjoys novels brimming with historical detail – and what I really love is that she compares the modern day author’s take on a historical period to that of an author who was writing at the time.

I love her discussions on how certain scandalous topics covered by historical fiction authors would have been censored in novels of the time, and I always head to her channel when I’m looking for an intelligent, in-depth review.

 

Books Michelle

Michelle is one of my favourite booktubers to watch at the moment! Her reading taste is pretty diverse, but she has a love of historical fiction and studies history at university.

What I love about Michelle’s reviews is that I can always trust them; she isn’t afraid to be critical of books she didn’t like, which I always appreciate. When Michelle says she enjoyed a historical fiction novel, I know it must be really good, and so it usually goes straight to the top of my TBR!

 

Hailey in Bookland

Hailey was the first ever booktuber I subscribed to, and her channel is one of my all-time favourites! I adore Hailey’s personality – she’s so hilarious and full of enthusiasm, and I think she would be the perfect bookish friend.

On Hailey’s channel you will find some great WWII book recommendations, which, as you know, is one of my favourite historical periods to read about. As Hailey mostly reads YA there are also a lot of historical YA recommendations, which I really want to read more of.

 

This post was so much fun to write! I love watching these amazing booktubers’ videos, so I wanted to give more people an opportunity to discover them 🙂

Who are your favourite booktubers to watch? Leave me a comment to let me know – I’m always looking for new channels to subscribe to!

 

 

 

 

Review: The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

The Seven Sisters

Title: The Seven Sisters
Author: Lucinda Riley
Publisher: Pan
Publication Date: 6th November 2014

 

 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’ll begin this review by stating that it’s slightly different from what I normally review here on Sepia Tinted Window, since it’s not 100% historical fiction. What I mean by this is that it’s a dual timeline novel – Maia, the main protagonist, lives in modern-day Geneva, but throughout the book she discovers her family heritage which we experience through the eyes of Izabela Bonifacio in 1920s Brazil.

That being said, The Seven Sisters is certainly 100% historical fiction in terms of the quality of research and ability to bring its setting to life. The story Lucinda Riley constructs around Maia’s heritage is fascinating and highly educational, merging vibrant fictional characters with some of the real events surrounding the construction of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue.

The whimsical premise of this novel (the first in a series of seven) instantly captured my interest. Each book centres around a different one of the D’Apliése sisters, who were adopted by a man affectionately known to them as Pa Salt as he explored different parts of the world. The story begins with the death of Pa Salt, and the subsequent discovery that he has left each sister a clue to their heritage, sparking Maia’s trip to Rio.

Lucinda Riley moves seamlessly between the past and present-day timelines, bringing colour and development to each of her protagonists’ tales. The only thing that really niggled at me was the heavy focus of the narrative on beauty, and the strong correlation between outward beauty and ‘goodness’ of the characters in a way which felt a bit Disney-esque.

I also found both the past and present-day romances pretty predictable, and they didn’t really do anything for me. Luckily there’s plenty more to be enjoyed from the story – I adored the interactions between the adopted sisters, and devoured all the historical detail surrounding the creation of the Christ the Redeemer statue.

Overall this was a light, dreamy read which made for a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience. The next book in the series has been added straight to my TBR, and I’m excited to find out which time and place in history Lucinda Riley will take me to next!

ARC Review: Goodbye for Now by M.J. Hollows

Goodbye for Now

Title: Goodbye for Now
Author: M.J. Hollows
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 12th October 2018

 

 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This WWI debut novel initially caught my interest because of its Liverpool setting. The city holds a special place in my heart – my Nana’s family grew up there, and one of her uncles was killed in the First World War. I knew, then, that this novel had the potential to leave me an emotional mess – and oh boy, did it deliver on that front!

Goodbye for Now tells the heartbreaking story of the Abbott brothers throughout the First World War, demonstrating the hardships faced both at home in Liverpool and across the Channel in the fields of France. Joe, the eldest, firmly opposes the war and refuses to join the army – instead it is George, not yet old enough to fight, who signs up.

I love reading stories about siblings, especially those with a difficult relationship – and I felt that M.J. Hollows captured the complexity of the brothers’ familial bond so well. With such vastly differing opinions about the war, on the surface they were not close – but running through each brother’s respective narrative was their concern and hope for the other’s safety and well-being, which I found so touching.

Part of me would have liked to hear more about the Abbott sisters, and the effects of the war on their lives, but I appreciate that wasn’t the story M.J. Hollows set out to tell. The entire structure of the novel was set up to follow the paths of the two brothers, and it was executed very well.

The first third of the book did feel a bit slow for me – but once the plot really got going, I found myself completely swept up in the story. Once George reached the trenches in France, I was spellbound – the description of life on the front line was so heartbreakingly realistic that I almost felt as if I was there. A significant amount of research has clearly gone into the writing of this novel, and it is these finer details which make it such a powerful story.

Overall, this was an incredibly moving read, simultaneously enjoyable and harrowing. As we approach the centenary of the end of WWI, this is a timely debut novel from M.J. Hollows, and I really can’t wait to read more by this author.

Blog Tour: Chasing Ghosts by Madalyn Morgan

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Chasing Ghosts by Madalyn Morgan, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. Chasing Ghosts is the sixth book in Madalyn Morgan’s Dudley Sisters saga, but can also be read as a standalone.

First up, here’s some information about the novel and author:

Synopsis

Displaying CG-EBOOK.jpgIn 1949 after receiving treatment for shell shock in Canada, Claire’s husband disappears.

Has Mitch left her for the woman he talks about in his sleep? Or is he on the run from accusations of wartime treachery?

Claire goes to France in search of the truth, aided by old friends from the Resistance.

Purchase Link:
Chasing Ghosts: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07D42HP1Q/

 

About the Author

Displaying CH - Author photograph.jpgMadalyn Morgan has been an actress for more than thirty years working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. She is a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

Madalyn was brought up in Lutterworth, at the Fox Inn. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live, as there were so many different characters to study and accents to learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.

In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, Madalyn taught herself to touch type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau, and started writing. After living in London for thirty-six years, she has returned to her home town of Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write.

Happy to be an Indie Author, Madalyn has successfully published six novels. Foxden Acres, Applause, China Blue and The 9:45 To Bletchley are set before and during WW2 and tell the wartime stories of Bess, Margot, Claire, and Ena Dudley. Foxden Hotel and Chasing Ghosts are both post war.  Chasing Ghosts is a sequel to China Blue.

Madalyn’s books are available on Amazon – in paperback and all formats of eBook.

Madalyn Morgan Author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Madalyn-Morgan/e/B00J7VO9I2

Social Media Links –

Madalyn’s Blog: https://madalynmorgan.wordpress.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/madalyn.morgan1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ActScribblerDJ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/madalynmorgan/

 

And now for my thoughts…

 

Review

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a post-WWII novel full of action and excitement. From the very first chapter, Madalyn Morgan throws the reader right into the centre of Claire and Mitch’s lives, with plenty of mystery and drama thrown in.

As Claire sets out to search for her missing husband, the story moves through several countries including Canada, England and France. It was so interesting to read about the aftermath of WWII in each of those countries, and I think Madalyn Morgan captured the essence of their respective cultures very well.

Although this book can be read as a standalone (I hadn’t read any of the previous books before this one) I think I would have got even more from it had I read the rest of the series as well. Particularly during the parts set in France there were a few moments alluding to past events, which made me really want to know what had happened to the characters during the war.

The strongest aspect of this novel for me was Claire’s character. I loved the fact that she could clearly handle herself, and her courage and determination during the search for her husband meant I was rooting for her all the way.

If you like action-packed historical fiction with a strong heroine, then I think you’ll really enjoy Chasing Ghosts!

 

Giveaway (UK Only)

And now, an opportunity for you to win signed copies of both Chasing Ghosts AND China Blue, the third novel in the series!

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494144/

 

 

 

Victober 2018 TBR

I’m so excited for the start of October, as it means the beginning of Victober, which is my absolute favourite readathon to participate in!

What is Victober?

Victoberis a month-long Victorian literature readathon run by hosts Katie (Books and Things), Kate (Kate Howe), Ange (Beyond the Pages) and Lucy (lucythereader).

Last year was my first time participating, and it led to the discovery of a new all-time favourite book for me in Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – so naturally I have pretty high hopes for this year!

Each of the hosts sets a different challenge, and this year I think all four hosts have done an amazing job at coming up with a really diverse range which offer lots of scope when picking a TBR.

The Challenges

Taken from the Victober 2018 Goodreads group.

1. Ange’s challenge: Read a book by one of the hosts’ favourite Victorian authors (Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell or Thomas Hardy).

2. Kate’s challenge: Read a Victorian book with a proper noun (i.e., a place name or person’s name) in the title.

3. Katie’s challenge: Read a book from the first ten years of the Victorian period and/or a book from the last ten years of the Victorian period (i.e., 1837-1847 or 1891-1901).

4. Lucy’s challenge: Read a Victorian book written by a woman anonymously or under a pseudonym.

5. General challenge: Read a Victorian book and watch a screen adaptation of it.

Now I’m not typically a huge classics reader, so I’m not going to push myself too hard to the point that Victober becomes a chore rather than fun! Last year I managed two books (Wuthering Heights and Vanity Fair), and this year I’m going to try and complete three.

So without further ado, here’s my Victober TBR for 2018!

My TBR

1. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë (challenges 2&3)Agnes Grey

After falling in love with Wuthering Heights last Victober, I recently read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and loved that too. Anne is now the only Bronte sister I haven’t read anything by – and since Agnes Grey was published in 1847, just within the first 10 years of the Victorian period, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to give it a go!

 

 

2. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (challenge 4)The Mill on the Floss

I’ve wanted to read some George Eliot (real name Mary Anne Evans) for ages, and I’m so glad to have a reason to do so! Plus, my mum recommended this to me, and she always gives the best book recommendations so I’m definitely excited for this one!

 

 

 

North and South

3. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (challenges 1&5)

I’ve been tempted to watch this on Netflix so many times, but I’m someone who always likes to read the book first – and now I have an excuse to do so! I’m also drawn to North and South because its setting is based on Manchester, which is pretty close to where I grew up, so I’m expecting some good old northern grit, Victorian style.

 

 

So there we have my Victober 2018 TBR! I’m really pleased with the books I’ve chosen – I think they will challenge me without feeling too overwhelming!

If you’re taking part in Victober this year, let me know in the comments what you’re thinking of reading 🙂

And if you’re not yet taking part but think it might sound like fun, check out the Goodreads group. There’s still a week left to choose a TBR, or you can even just wing it like I did last year and potentially end up discovering a new favourite book!

Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko

 

Title: Pachinko
Author: Min Jin Lee
Publisher: Apollo
Publication Date: 7th February 2017
Pages: 537

 

 

This is a difficult book for me to review, because it’s so different to anything I’ve ever read before. From the first couple of chapters I was a little worried it wasn’t for me – it has an unusual style of switching point of view mid-scene, which at first I found really strange – but I soon found myself swept up in the story, and felt that on the whole this style suited the story being told.

To me, Pachinko is everything that defines a historical saga. Spanning most of the 20th century and moving through four generations of a Korean family, I felt as though I had been on an epic journey by the time I turned the last page. In that vein it’s quite similar to Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, but in Pachinko we spend significantly more time with each character, which means there’s plenty of opportunity to get thoroughly invested in their lives.

I really didn’t know much about the history of Korea and Japan in the 20th century, but this wasn’t at all an issue – Min Jin Lee guides the reader effortlessly through the historical detail, never losing the character-driven focus at the centre of her tale.

The characters felt very real to me, so I occasionally wanted to scream and sob at the author for the terrible situations they sometimes ended up in. Min Jin Lee’s strength is in her ability to bring colour and beauty to the everyday lives of ordinary people, which serves to endear her characters to the reader.

Caught between patriotic bind to their homeland and desire to fit in amongst Japanese society, the characters sometimes made some less-than-ideal choices which made them all the more rounded and believable. This is definitely one of those novels which explores how people will react when placed in extremely difficult and unfair situations – one of the aspects I find most interesting about historical fiction.

There were only a minute couple of details which made this a 4* rather than a 5* read for me, including the fact that due to Min Jin Lee’s technique of switching points of view mid-scene, there were some characters whose points of view we heard briefly once or twice, only for them never to be mentioned again. I appreciate that the novel is already quite long and so there perhaps wasn’t time to explore every character in depth, but to be honest I would have been perfectly happy if the novel was longer!

All in all, this was a fascinating read which really opened my eyes to a piece of history I knew very little about. If you love character-driven historical sagas, I would definitely recommend giving this a try!

Hamilton: A history-obsessed-musical-lover’s dream

I’ll be honest: I pretty much booked tickets for Hamilton because of the hype. I usually really enjoy musicals, and it seemed to be getting rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, so I figured I might as well see what all the fuss was about.

At this point I didn’t really know anything about it – but as the time went on, I learnt that it was a) about Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers, and b) a hip-hop musical told through rap.

I was more than a little concerned by now – especially since I’d been to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child the previous month and found it majorly disappointing (please don’t hate me!). Because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had, once again, been blindly swept up in the hype. How on earth, I asked myself, can hip-hop and 18th-century history work?

Well let me tell you, reader: it works. As soon as the opening number reached its conclusion to rapturous applause, I knew this was going to be something special.

It did take a couple of songs for me to fully get used to the rapping – it’s not a genre I listen to often, so at first I found myself concentrating really hard in case I missed something important – but by the interval I was so completely enthralled that it felt oddly jarring to hear the audience members around me not speaking in verse.

Even with composer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical and lyrical genius, the show would not succeed in being so utterly spellbinding without the phenomenal cast. Each and every member of the cast was incredible, pulling you in to the life story of a fascinating and flawed man.

I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned this on Sepia Tinted Window, but I’m a huge American politics nerd. I studied some American politics at A-Level, including the formation of the constitution, so imagine the joy it gave my inner 17-year-old self to hear Hamilton and Jefferson locked in an epic rap battle over the pros and cons of a more centralised government!

The historical costumes, too, are definitely worth a mention. Hamilton covers the period from 1776-1804, and the style of dress changed with the decades, from the robe a la Francaise in the 1770s and 1780s to the Empire waistline of the early 19th century. These are tiny details, but details I very much appreciated.

By the end of the production I was moved to tears, through a combination of the emotion of the music, the sheer power of the story, and not wanting the experience to end! Needless to say, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack non-stop ever since, and will continue to do so ad nauseum (hahaha just kidding, like I’d ever get sick of listening to it!).

So that concludes one blog post’s worth of obsessive fangirling about the BEST MUSICAL I HAVE EVER SEEN. If you haven’t seen the work of genius that is Hamilton yet, what are you waiting for?! I know I certainly won’t be “throwing away my shot” at another chance to experience it!

Photo credits: All from the Hamilton West End Twitter page