Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Ghosts of the Nile By Cheryl Harkness

Wow… okay… um…

This book is pretty short, and I’m not sure if it was supposed to be a fictional comic/story with real-world info, or just an info-dump? Props to the Author for trying, at least.

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Filed under Childrens Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, History, Junior Fiction, Non-Fiction

The Scribe By Antonio Garrido

I got this book from a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway some time ago.

I really wish I could give this book more then 2 stars, but sadly, I can’t.

The overall plot was good, some parts of the action were good, most of the time I was completely absorbed into the story!

But then I’d get jarred out of it again.

The Latin adds to the setting, but if you can’t read it or understand it (like I can’t), then it’s hard to understand what’s being said, especially if there’s no hint of what the translation is. This would have been fine if there had been a little translation cliff-note, or a section in the back with the sentences written out in English. Instead, I had to leave the story, open google translate, and try to make sense of it. Hard to do when the translation site couldn’t translate one word out of the lot, leaving it in Latin.

Another thing that pulled me out of the story was how, sometimes, the Main Female character could be SO Mary-Sue like. If your not familiar with this Term, it means the Character could be replaced with anyone else, fitting the setting or not, and no one would know the difference. Mary-Sues are the Perfect Character without flaw. Sometimes the Main Female Character in this story came off very much like a Mary-Sue type. Other times, she came off as just an idiot. Not wanting to add spoilers, it’s hard to give a solid example of such parts of the story. She also sometimes completely changed her core personality at random, making her very hard to connect to.

There were also redundancies, where a character would do something, take a moment to speak or do something else a few feet away, and then run and do the exact same action again, as if the first time never happened. Or things would be mentioned Suddenly and without explanation.

In the case of things being suddenly brought up with out explanation, I understand wanting the reader to learn as they go along with the Main character, but there was at least one instance where this sort of thing just didn’t work, and it made me stop reading to look back at the previous few chapters searching to see if I had missed a previous mention of the issue that had been mentioned.

Another thing adding to the low score was situations presented in the book. There’s a reason I don’t read some kinds of books, and when I read the blurb for this one and entered the contest, there was no mention that these situations would go INTO DETAIL as they happened. I can forgive a book when they skim over things when they happen, but when the whole plot is sent sideways because of it, then I lose serious interest in even continuing the story.

Due to all of that, despite the actually PURE GOLD of the other parts of the book (the parts I wish the ENTIRE story was written with), I can’t validate even giving this story a better score. In this case, the bad far outweighs the good.

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Filed under Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Treasure Island By Robert Louis Stevenson

AVAST! This here be Treasure Island, Mates! How can I say no to giving this book 5 stars? XD

It’s been a favorite of mine ever since I picked it up the first time. It’s one I never fail to find myself sucked back into the story on rereads. The group Nothing But Reading Challenges did a Buddy Read for this book, so if you want to see my answers to the questions to go along with the read, check out my blog, there’s a link on my goodreads bio. Otherwise, all you need to know is this story is EPIC and I love it! ❤

————–

This is the review I posted on Goodreads, now for the QUESTIONS!

Kristie | 686 commentsQuestions for Part 1: Chapters 1-6

1. What do you think of the voice of the narrator? How do you feel about the contrast between the youthful narrator and the pirates’ worldliness?

2. I was surprised that Dr. Livesey stayed so calm when the pirate threatened him in the first chapter. What did you think of the way he handled Billy? What about Billy’s response?

3. Why do you think Jim wanted to take the map to Dr. Livesay instead of giving it to Officer Dance? Do you think he had an idea what he had and believed that Dr. Livesay would want to go after the treasure? I was surprised that Dance wouldn’t just demand that Jim hand it over. What do you think of that?

4. What do you think of people that consider themselves to be upstanding citizens (an officer, a doctor / magistrate, a nobleman) deciding to go off in search of a treasure and act like pirates?

5. What do you think of Trelawney’s image, at the end of chapter 6, of the pirate’s life being fun and riches instead of crime and treachery? He sounds so excited to be going on an adventure.

Part 1 Answers

1.The Voice of the narrator is a little confusing, since it’s supposed to be something of a memoire, but it often pulls me in as the reader as if it’s all happening in the present, at least until some mention is made that this is the narrator’s Memories he’s recalling.

2. Though it’s made no mention of at this point, I’d say Billy is used to being Second in Command, so Dr. Livesay’s ‘My Word is Law’, Commander-of-it-all attitude probably made our dear Pirate buckle and accept Second in Command status in this situation, as he probably would to his own Ship’s Captain. It probably irked him greatly, seeing as he was Commander of it all until Livesay showed up and pulled a stronger command upon him when he got, in the Doctor’s apparent opinion, to acting above his station.

3. I got a couple of ideas here. First, Billy asked Jim to take something to the Doctor before, after his first stroke. Jim is only a child or early teen I’m guessing here, too young to live on his own or go off without supervision too far from home. Maybe just barely but still. Second, I don’t think he wanted to go against Billy’s wishes, not entirely at least. The poor guy died right in front of the boy practically, and the blow from the death of his Father and the Familiarity with the Pirate probably left some kind of attachment on Jim, Especially once Dr Livesay stopped visiting since his father was already gone. Third, Maybe Officer Dance didn’t want to deal with the paperwork and was rather happy to have the Doctor take over that bit of evidence, possibly because word spread of the Doctor’s first encounter and the threats the doctor made about the Pirate stepping one foot out of line again, and possibly because Billy Pirate was at least once a Patient of the Doctor’s, so much paperwork would have been needed for that stuff. where Pew was simpler, riffraff from the start and no good will spread at all (though Billy Pirate didn’t spread much either at least he was more tolerant and kinder to Jim and his family.) I don’t think anyone had any idea about it save for Jim, and only that the other pirates thought it valuable enough to turn their inn inside out for it.

4. Well, if you had the keys to a sure treasure, unclaimed and means to get there, wouldn’t you go? The way I figure, these high-society peoples had their own issues, maybe gambling or a different kind of drink or habit that put them somewhat in the whole. Besides, don’t all children dream of running away on some big grand adventure, and here one’s fallen right into their laps, though the Squire and the Doctor are no longer young children! I give them credit for planning to take Jim along, as the whole mess would not have been if he hadn’t thought to take the case with the map in the first place.

5. I think he was dreaming grand, like we all do, when we have a chance for something new to happen. Everyone knows Pirates are often bad mannered and black-hearted, but, they are also brave, going out into the unknown of the sea, not knowing if they’ll come back from one trip to the next. For the regular citizenry I think it would be more likely thought of as the big adventure of it they’re too afraid to take on their own. Maybe the Squire had planned to be a pirate in his youth before family and duty got into his head and had quietly resented his station in life ever since, and who better to share this epic adventure, where Nothing could Possibly go Wrong, then with the person who made it possible (Jim) and a Good Friend of some time (Dr. Livesay).

Kelly (LadyKatala) | 601 commentsComments and Questions
September 26
Part 2 (Ch 7 – 12)

6. Why do you think Jim Hawkins describes where he’s staying as a prison? Does that and the tears when leaving his mother make you think he was rethinking his decision? Does the fact that he described it this way from a future point make it sound different than if he were describing it as it happened?

7. Do you think Mr. Arrow accidentally fell off board or was he “helped” by someone?

8. Jim Hawkins states that “the lives of all honest men aboard depended upon me alone”. Do you think that retrieving a treasure that was stolen from others and keeping it for yourself is honest? Would Long John Silver consider himself honest by reclaiming what he thought was his?

9. Does it seem like a terrible plan to go and find a treasure with a crew you know will almost certainly mutiny? Even if you don’t tell them the location beforehand, once the treasure’s on the ship there’s not much to stop them.

Part 2 Answers

6. I think Jim saw his stay at the Hall as almost a prison because he was expecting to stay with Doctor Livesey, maybe travel a bit around the local areas as he visited patients. The reality being him being left behind with someone he didn’t really know (The Gamekeeper Redruth), possibly not allowed very far from that building at all least something happen to the lad.

Jim mentioned that the idea of leaving his Mother and his birthplace, of Being Replaced by another young boy to help his mother while he’s off sailing for treasure, is indeed why he cried about leaving at all. Seems natural to me, if he’d never the chance before to get out from under his parents at all, always staying near enough, helping around the Inn as soon as he was old enough to do, then a bit of separation anxiety isn’t much surprising. Seems He pulled himself together again though as the trip of Jim out to sea is all but unavoidable if we’re to have a story at all.

Everything gets described differently later on then it had happened at the first, if even only by a little bit. It’s still reading to me as if the whole story is happening in the present instead of the past, up until some mention of memory points out the fact of it so who’s to say what really happened at the time. Jim’s grown quite a bit from the time he set out on his adventure to the time of writing it down, if not in years then in personality and how he sees himself to be.

7. I think Mr. Arrow was helped, but not in the usual way. If they didn’t bring any alcohol on board, it’d be hard for Mr. Arrow to get so drunk so often in so short a time. However, we’ve already been informed that at least one person doesn’t think much of the trustworthiness of the crew at large, plus or minus a few of them. So I think maybe Mr. Arrow did indeed fall overboard, but not because of his own wish or just being drunk. I think he was poisoned, and the poison, possibly secreted aboard in a very small amount and needed only even less to make someone react as Mr. Arrow had. Possibly the poison, whatever it was, lead him to being unsteady on his feet. That combined with the naturally unsteady rocking of ships back then, a wave a bit larger then usual might have been enough for him to lose his balance on the down tilt and tip him over. Being poisoned he wouldn’t be in his right mind to swim properly or yell for help from anyone still on duty on board who hadn’t seen him… or who had and just didn’t report it. We are dealing with a crew who knew exactly the nature of the trip after all, and one less person means that much more for their own shares of the treasure. As for the allusion to drunkenness, Jim worked at an Inn with his Mother, He’s used to the Sight of it, as was likely every man on board, so who would chance to think ‘Poison’?

8. To this I don’t think Jim meant anything about the treasure, I think he meant the brave men set on this voyage he saw as honest, such as Trelawney, Livesey and Captain Smollett as well as himself. Compared to what he probably knew of Pirates, He probably saw these few men the most honest aboard the ship at the time. They hadn’t killed anyone, far as he knew, or done other ‘evil pirate’ things, and for what was to come after this line only shows that compared to the rest of the crew, these few men probably were the only HONEST ones. After all, even Trelawney had expressed that the treasure no longer concerned him quite as much as before, so much as the Adventure of it all, so he has apparently become a somewhat more honest man then when he first laid eyes on the map at the start of it all.

9. I think here, Smollett knew it was a bad idea to go on the voyage at all, with all the info the crew knew and was held back from him, however he seems to know that if he didn’t keep an eye on the crew the eventual deaths of his employers would be on his hands and consciousness, so choosing to try and save them the best he knew how; Warn them to be more careful of the crew, and be there AS Captain, even if he didn’t like the idea of it with the crew picked out for him, at least then he could keep an eye on things and possibly interfere if he could with any plans of mutiny. A simple talk wouldn’t matter much at any point once the island’s location was known, the only thing keeping Jim and the other non-sailors safe right now is they’re the only ones who know EXACTLY where on the island the treasure is buried, so until that point is reached, there’s nothing the crew of mutineers would dare to do the map-holders themselves, if someone was keeping eyes on them all the time. The Pirates could however slowly whittle away the honest mew (few there be) away until they can strong-arm the map away from the owners. After all more then one of the crew had to understand what was going on when the powder and guns got moved to make a defense attempt of the part of the ship housing Jim and the others. I think the only thing Smollett can hope for is to fight to his last blade to give them a chance somehow of surviving after the treasure is dug-up. The Pirates wouldn’t need to wait until it’s on-ship to start their attacks if they do turn on Jim and company, they have more then enough hands to get the treasure aboard without Jim and the others once they’re simply in the right spot to start digging.

NancyHelen (literary-tiger) | 213 commentsQuestions for Chapters 13 – 21

10. How are you finding the language so far? Are you finding it difficult to follow in some places, especially when people speak? My edition doesn’t have a glossary, and I really could have done with one. Did yours? Did it help?

11. Do you think it was brave or stupid of Jim to go ashore, knowing what he did?

12. Do you trust Ben Gunn? Do you think his presence on the island is going to have an impact on the final outcome? But it seems he was a pirate himself – which side do you think he’ll help?

13. What do you think will come of the siege situation with Jim’s group inside the stockade and Long John’s outside of it?

14. Do you trust Long John Silver in his attempts at a parley? What do you think his intentions would have been had the Captain agreed to it?

15. I hadn’t realised quite how exciting this story was, even after over a century. Were you turning the page or waiting breathlessly to see what would happen? Or did it all feel predictable?

Parts 3 & 4 Answers

10. The language is a little confusing, as I don’t have a glossary to turn to, but It’s not so much a hang-up that I can’t just read past it and get the context for the most part.

11. Brave, and Stupid. Brave to go among the pirates to keep an eye and possibly provide an early warning, stupid not to let the Doctor or any of the trusted hands know first.

12. Ben Gunn’s presence on the island certainly will have an impact I think. What good is treasure if you can’t use it? I bet he’d eager to get home one way or another, with Pirate or Adventurer. I think he’ll only go with the Pirates as a last resort though, since he seemed worried about Flint’s Crew, and since Silver has a score of them under his command.

13. If they aren’t killed first, I think the Stockade group has some quick thinking to do to survive at all.

14. Trust Silver? No way! I think they would have been betrayed outright if Smollett had agreed to the terms Silver put forth. Out in the open they could had been killed at any moment and the map fished from their pockets.

15. SO exciting, Fetch yer swords, Lads and Lassies, it’s time for a good ol’ Swordfight! >D

Sarah (last edited 12 hours, 17 min ago) rated it 4 stars
Sarah | 1372 commentsChapter 22-27

16. The Doctor went to go meet with Ben Gunn, who has wanted some cheese. Well Doctor happens to carry some parmesan in his snuff box. Parmesan, really? Not the cheese I would be looking for. If you were Ben, what cheese would you be hoping for?

17. Jim Hawkins seems to have caught the adventure bug. He just can’t seem to stay put. Has this book inspired you to want to go on an adventure? What is an adventurous thing you have done, and maybe a little risky?

18. What did you think of Chapter 26,where little Hawkins makes his first kill?

19. Little Hawkins has retrieved the HISPANIOLA and safely anchored her. What is going to be the reaction of Doctor Livesey and his Squire Trelawney and the Captain Smullett? Surely Jim gets a promotion from cabin boy. What do you think his new position may be? Surely not Captain Hawkins quite yet.

Part 5 Answers

16. I actually like Parmesan, specially grated over some pasta, yum! I like Cheddar and Colby too though, so it’s hard to say what kind of cheese I’d most wish for in Gunn’s place.

17. This book is definitely having me wishing for adventure, though, I think I’ll stick to those found in books by other people. XD I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to bugs and new surroundings and such. Definitely more of a home-body. Though I did spend a night in a haunted prison near West Virginia once. that was interesting! I forget the name of the place though or exactly where it was located.

18. Jim was VERY lucky. For being as inexperienced with treachery as he was in that situation of knives being able to be thrown. Luckier still his pistol shots killed his would-be killer on chance alone.

19. I think the others will be quite surprised when Jim returns with news of the Ship. As for a promotion, I think he’ll likely keep cabin boy status, for all the foolish things he’d done in acquiring the HISPANIOLA. He might get more jobs due to the reduced number of crew keeping the ship running, but I think he’ll stay Cabin boy for the duration of this adventure.

And seeing as I came up with the part 6 questions, here’s some for YOU lovely people out there to answer!
Part 6 Questions

20. Jim was surely about to get killed when he tripped into the enemy camp! Silver thinks the game’s up, or so he says. Do you think he’s still planning on escaping, knowing Jim has the ship safe somewhere, treasure and all?

21. And now the Crew has turned on Silver himself! Do you think there’s any hope for Jim, if the pirates so easily cross their leader, or do you think he’ll be one of the first to go when things turn hard again?

22. Dr. Livesay seems to be doctor to the pirates as part of some bargain made while Jim was away, but he mentioned to silver not to seek the treasure. When asked why not, Livesay said its not his secret to share. what do you think he knows but can’t tell?

23. Old Flint seems to have had a horrible sense of humor. Do you think this is tied to the Doctor’s warning of the Squalls?

24. Seems bad luck is slowly and surely befalling the Pirates, First the One Fevered bible-spoiler, now the lot of them with the treasure uprooted long ago! Ben Gunn had said he was Rich earlier on, Did you think he was crazy back then, or did you think he really WAS rich, having claimed the treasures of the island? If not Ben Gunn, then who do you think has the treasure now?

25. Three Pirates Left with claims on the treasure. Make your predictions now!

26. Home Again! But, Are you like Jim, content at the end of your Sea-fairing adventures, or like Silver, always an ear to the next mention of gold. Dare you settle for Shore life, or prepare your muskets and cutlass for adventure anew! o/`Drink up me hearties, Yo ho! o/`

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Filed under Classics, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories of the Supernatural By Robert Louis Stevenson

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – What happens when Doctor Henry Jekyll, an up and coming, somewhat well known scientist, turns his scientific curiosities towards the true nature of man? He’s about to find out, and though it might delight his scientific mind at first, his experiments bring Danger to his very doorstep.
    Edward Hyde, on the other hand, fears not the specter of Danger, and in fact, revels in it, and Blood-lust, and Pain. Addicted to the natural high of violence, Hyde shows no signs of halting his bad behavior, nor returning to his slumbering ways.
  • The Bottle Imp – Keawe, a Hawaiian Native, traveling one day, discovers a man with a strange fortune in the form of a bottle. Keawe’s curiosity gets the better of him, and as the tale of the bottle and it’s leads to fortune are explained to him, he was wiser to trust his first doubts then to do as he did, but the deed is done, and now come the consequences. After all, it is only a bottle, what harm could a bottle do…?
  • Markheim – A Clock-dealer, Christmas, and a horrible, horrible driving force lead Markheim to an act of violence, will he be caught? Can he be saved from himself?
  • The Body-Snatcher – Medicine hasn’t ever had a pristine start, But what Two Medical Students do to further knowledge weights heavily on their consciences. Until they forget their involvement at least, but then, who knows, maybe their past will come back to haunt them.

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Filed under Anthology, Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Short Fiction, Thriller/Suspense

Precious Stone Trilogy: Emerald Green By Kerstin Sier

EEEEEEE!!!!

So many lose ends were tied up so tidily, I can hardly believe it! AAH! And when the ‘secret identities” are reveiled, oh my gosh! Time is so twisted up, AND AND AND! The COUNT! Oh gods! I could hardly believe it! Gideon, and Gwen, and everyone! Read the series, folks! Go! Do it! Libraries are good!

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Teen Fiction

The Crystal Bird By Helen Drayton

My copy was obtained for free through a GoodReads First Reads Giveaway.

I found this book very hard to get into. For the most part, the language got in the way- things were given too much of a spin to poetic to make sense at first for me, but the story itself was still interesting enough that I wanted to see how it would end.

The middle was no better, you get to see what’s going on, but there’s some distance that kept me from really getting into the story, too much back and forth where I had to stop and think ‘they weren’t part of the last scene right?’ and regain my bearings in the land and story overall to figure out what was going on.

Sometimes just the use of a first or last name threw me off what character was being referred to, the same thing happened with job-titles, in place of one uniform way to say what character the paragraph was about. This was compacted with the problem of too quick a flip to another section of what was happening in the story elsewhere, too large a gap in time in some places for a smooth flow of unrestricted story. It was too easy to set the book aside and read others I had picked up at the library at points.

The end of the story was brilliant though, very emotional, I actually cried a bit at the more tender moments. The end of the story was absolutely amazing compared to the beginning and the middle of the book in that the flow was perfect, easy to understand the flips on who’s side of things the reader was being exposed to and why, and I could scarcely put the book down at that point. I just wish the rest of the book had been this way. The end is worth struggling through the rest to read though, at least I think so.

This seemed to be part one of a larger story, and though I found flaws with this part of the larger story, I do hope that part two continues close to where part one left off, or at least we’re given a small peak at what happened in the between time of where this part ends, and part two begins.

Overall I think this book could have used some smoothing, but that just might be part of it’s charm. I’m definitely going to re-read this one again and see if I notice anything differently once some time has passed and the story not so fresh in my memory, though I think I’ll leave a second review to my blog instead.

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Filed under Africa, Historical Fiction