by: Barbara Kingsolver
In 1959, a family of evangelical Baptists from America relocated to the Belgian Congo on a mission to spread Christianity. Led by Nathan Price, the father of the family, the mother and four children experience the beauty, horror, and undoing of their family, all while the Congo faces its own political turmoil. Nathan Price is a single-minded man, not letting anything get in between him and his dream of setting up a church and baptizing the people of the village where they reside. The people of this village have different views on religion and community than Nathan, yet he is determined to turn them into his way of thinking. He drags the family with him on his mission. This book spans three decades, each with new problems for the family. Told from the perspectives of each of the four children, they give their own insight into the Congo, their father, and their other siblings. Each character has their own voice that you can easily pick up on throughout the writing.
I loved this book because of how Barbara Kingsolver discussed religion, politics, race, and of course, both America and postcolonial Africa through the lens of the Christian Americans. Not only that, but Kingsolver also examined the character’s journeys in understanding more about the people of the Congo. It is a good look into an issue I didn’t know anything about before. We hear from the children as they move away from their preconceived ideas about Christianity and assimilate further into the Congo’s culture. Kingsolver has created a wonderful book full of thought-provoking ideas, characters that you both resent and feel for at the same time, and the misunderstanding from the American standpoint of other cultures, people, and languages that leads to the Poisonwood Bible.
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by: Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was the first book I read last year, and it was a great choice. Ageing and unsociable Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is ready; to tell the truth about her glamourous and notorious life. But when she chooses an unknown magazine reporter named Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astonished than Monique herself. This book goes over the themes of loyalty, betrayal, loss, sacrifice, and tragedy. Despite what the title may imply, it doesn’t focus so much on the husbands; but rather on Evelyn herself, where we learn very quickly that there’s much more than meets the eye. I would have to say that I didn’t just enjoy the book and that I loved it, and I recommend everyone to at least read it once in their life because it was beautiful.
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by Genevieve Graham
The historical fiction, The Forgotten Home Child, written by Genevieve Graham, was a shocking but an astonishing novel. This story is based on Canadian history, a history us Canadians shouldn’t be proud of. The main character Winny, also known as Winnifred Ellis, at the age of 15 Winny is absolutely done with her mother and her abusive stepfather. She takes matters into her hands and decides to run away, and she falls in a group with other homeless children. Mary, Jack, Cecil and Edward, all 5 together, find ways to live and at the same time also have fun in Liverpool, England. When the group got caught stealing, the group splits apart, Mary and Winny are sent to Dr. Barnardo’s Barkingside Home for Girls, an orphanage for girls.
The girls soon learn that girls and boys get to go to Canada, where better families are waiting for them. But what they don’t know is that apart of those boys they get to go to, they will see Jack, Cecil and Edward, but unfortunately it’s not a reunion, they eventually all get split apart. Except for the boys, they are accepted to work for a guy. The way Genevieve Graham wrote this novel it’s as if all the emotion that’s happening in the book, you also feel too. Which is absolutely crazy to me how she could make readers feel like that. Either way, what happened to them and other home children are absolutely terrible. Although some home children got to go into better homes that treated them like an actual human being, while others went into homes that got treated absolutely horribly. I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 12 because of the mature topics that unfold within this novel. Nevertheless, I rate this book a 4/5!
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by Suzanne Selfors
Mimi Wallingford, the great-granddaughter of the famous
actress Adelaide Wallingford, has a life some can only dream about. She is an
actress playing Juliet in her family’s production of Romeo and Juliet.
Mimi is playing opposite to teen heartthrob Troy Summer, who is playing Romeo.
The catch for Mimi is that she has no interest in acting, something her mother
cannot understand. But when Mimi, along with Troy, are magically transported
into Shakespeare’s Verona, they both experience the Montagues and Capulets feud
first hand. When Mimi meets Juliet, she realizes that they are not that
different, and Mimi does not want to see the tragic end of Romeo and Juliet
play out. But what will happen if they change the ending to this famous
This book was a unique adaptation of the original play of Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare. It takes place in the modern world (2006, when this book was published). This book was laid out as Mimi Wallingford’s recounted story of what happened when she was magically transported to Shakespeare’s Verona. I found that to be a very entertaining way to tell Mimi’s story. The characters, especially Mimi, were interesting to follow. The pacing was very good, and the parallels between Mimi and Juliet were written well. The only issues that I had with this novel was Benvolio’s character change (as he was changed to be a man who was an awful character, when he was an honest character in the original play), and the relationship between Mimi and Troy seemed rushed. This book is a different take on Romeo and Juliet, but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless. In conclusion, I would recommend that you read this book, especially if you like Shakespeare retellings!
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These Violent Delights
by Chloe Gong
It is 1926 in Shanghai, and Juliette Cai is the heir to the Scarlet Gang. After returning from America, Chloe must assert herself back into a leadership position and earn the respect of the gangsters she will one day lead.
On the other side of town is the White Flowers, the Scarlet Gang’s only opposition. At their helm is Roma Montagov, Juliette’s once lover, now turned enemy.
While both heirs try to navigate the hierarchy within their gangs, a madness takes the city. Civilians, and gangsters on both sides are starting to claw their own throats out and the city is afraid. Together, Roma and Juliette must figure out the cause of this disease and end it.
In this Romeo and Juliet retelling, Chloe Gong weaves a beautiful and inventive tale full of intrigue and action. It is compelling and witty and is sure to leave your heart pounding.
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The Silence of Bones
by June Hur
It is 1800 in Joseon, Korea and Seol is indentured to the Police. She spends her days doing menial tasks and fending off homesickness and memories of her long lost brother.
Suddenly, Seol finds herself helping a young inspector solve a high profile killing of a noblewoman. As they work together, Seol and the inspector form a bond of friendship that is truly tested when he becomes the prime suspect.
Seol now feels the burden of solving the case and figuring out who killed the noblewoman.
June Hur has written an elegant and atmospheric story, a true wonder in YA historical fiction and mystery.
Blood Water Paint
A debut novel based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi.
Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father’s paint.
She chose paint.
By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome’s most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.
He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.
I will show you
what a woman can do.
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In trouble again after a suspension from school and a runaway attempt, Winston is sent to spend time with his father—a journalist who hasn’t been around much since his family split up a year ago.Travelling to Nova Scotia with his father, who is covering what he thinks is just a human interest story about a man trying to run across the country, Winston spends a day with Terry Fox and his best friend, Doug. Their determination to achieve what seems like an impossible goal makes a big impression on Winston, and he takes courage and inspiration from Terry’s run. He is overjoyed when his father’s article about the Marathon of Hope ignites public interest across the country.
But when Winston discovers that his father’s next article about the Marathon of Hope will characterize Terry and Doug in an unflattering way, he is furious with his father and fearful of betraying his friends. Unsure of what to do or where to turn, Winston decides it is time to make a run for it himself…
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The Kite Runner
If you’re interested in cultural novels, then this novel will definitely intrigue you. In Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, the reader will read about the experiences of a young boy named Amir, who lives in Kabul, Afghanistan during the 1970s. Amir narrates the experiences of his life as he witnesses tragic and life-altering events.
The novel highlights major aspects of guilt, redemption, and the dangers of a caste system. This cultural book by Hosseini is exceptionally written, as he portrays a character who is mostly flawed and shows the raw aspect of individuals living in a Middle Eastern country. Hosseini’s work will never disappoint, and this novel will open one’s mind to different experiences of people all around this world.
Amir often faces great challenges, his integrity and loyalty put to the test. His character development is ultimately an opinionated question as readers often view this central character in both a negative and positive light. As a reader, connecting to a novel often takes time, but the plot of this novel will intrigue the individual. This novel may contain some mature scenes and languages, so viewer discretion is advised. – Iffat A.
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Girl in the Blue Coat
It is the year 1943, and the German army has invaded Amsterdam. Hanneke, an 18-year-old young woman, keeps herself and her family afloat by finding and selling goods on the black market. She does all this under her protective parents’ radars. Day in and day out, Hanneke seeks to find items her clients ask for until one request is much different and stranger than what she has gotten before.
As she is making a routine delivery, regular customer Mrs. Janssen asks for Hanneke’s help. Expecting Mrs. Janssen to inquire about the findings of more meat or other goods, she is shocked when she hears that Mrs. Janssen wants her to find a person! To be exact, her name is Mirjam Roodveldt and she is a 15-year-old Jewish girl. Not only alarmed at the odd request, Hanneke is aghast that Mrs. Janssen was hiding someone in her house. A Jew. The punishment would be immediate deportation with her life on the line.
Although Hanneke has promised herself not to get involved, she can’t help but be pulled into this mystery. How could a frightened girl leave when there seems to be no way she could have left the house? And why? As she dives deeper down into this dangerous puzzle, Hanneke entangles herself in a story no one has yet to uncover.
Reading this historical fiction book was exciting yet educational. Girl in the Blue Coat was entertaining as well as emotional and mysterious. It left readers guessing how, and why, at every turn of the page. This book dove right into the plot with the right level of backstory. I highly enjoyed the plot as well as the characters, storyline, and genre. – Juliana M.
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