Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Genre: Historical fiction, magical realism
4 stars.

On a snowy winter day in 1910, Ursula is born and dies before she can take her first breath. What follows is a tale of life after life, as Ursula gets chances to live again and again and again, taking radically different paths with each choice as history marches before her and carries her story in its wake.

Well written and engaging, I thoroughly enjoyed Atkinson’s look into the way our choices can change the course of our lives. Atkinson weaves mysteries throughout the book, some of which are answered by later story lines, some that are only hinted at, some that are never answered at all. We watch as Ursula navigates and renavigates decisive moments in her life, waiting as she dodges a mistake she made in a previous life. The characters in Ursula’s life are fleshed out through glimpses of their stories, and I found myself caring about the directions their lives took. I also enjoyed Atkinson’s visceral look into the poignant history of early 20th century Britain–exploring the intense toll both World Wars had on a population.

I found Ursula difficult to relate to, however, and her overall personality to be a bit grating and difficult to understand. I cared a lot more for her mother and her sister than I did for her. I felt that she was a character to be projected upon rather than possessing a distinct personality of her own.

I also felt like there was no real ending to the book. Ursula lives so many lives which go in a number of fascinating directions, but the story just seemed to stop, suddenly and with no real conclusion. Was Ursula’s final life supposed to be her best life? Had she finally reached her full potential as a human being and so she stopped being reborn?

Despite those questions, I highly enjoyed Atkinson’s book, the way she wove history through the story, and left her audience rooting for Ursula and the choices she makes in life.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Book Recommendations for History and Fantasy Lovers

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If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you will know that fantasy and historical fiction are my two favorite genres. Books that combine both elements, however, make me absolutely giddy. Well done historical fantasy, as I’ve dubbed this genre, is much more difficult to find than you might expect (with the industry riddled with time-traveling romances like Outlander), so today I’ve drawn up a list of my top ten books for lovers of well done historical fantasy. Continue reading

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical fiction
4.5 stars.

I have read countless WWII novels, but few have haunted me for so many months after I finished it than The Nightingale. This is a tale of the strength of women in wartime, highlighting the ways bravery can take on many different faces. Continue reading

Top 5 Wednesday: Children’s Books

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There were SO many books I adored as a kid. My reading game was never higher than when I was aged 9-12, because back then I actually had the time to read and it was really only school that got in my way. But here are the top five children’s series/books that come to mind. I tried to stick to books that I don’t see often on these lists. Continue reading

Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

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Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes
Genre: Historical fiction
3 stars.

This was such a frustrating mess of positives and negatives that it was difficult to decide between 2.5 and three stars. I eventually went with three stars because, despite all its issues, Ship of Brides was still an enjoyable read. Continue reading

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

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The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
Genre: Historical fiction, Fantasy, YA
3 stars.

“If the story was happy, you’d care less about that tiny little bit of freedom . . . We wouldn’t like the daylight if it wasn’t for the night. We wouldn’t notice the stars if not for the endless dark of night. All the story, like you said? That’s the important part. The sad parts are all about surviving. We are a people that survives. We endure. We will endure this too.” Continue reading

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

25614492Genre: Historical, YA
4.5 stars.

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF THIS BOOK?! HOW?!

I have been a bit of a WWII buff for the past six years and I DIDN’T KNOW, so I was absolutely caught off guard by the ending. That is what blew me away more than anything. Continue reading