Historical Fiction

The Outsiders

The Outsiders, written by S.E. Hinton, is a coming-of-age story featuring 1960’s greasers, Socs, cars, switchblades, gangs, books, and family. Read about Ponyboy, his brothers, and their friends as they fight against injustice and prejudice both against them and that they have against others; and not everyone may make it out of the fight alive.

I would recommend this novel for ages 14+. It would fall under the historical fiction and young adult genres and is very well written with an excellent ending. The Outsiders is not one of my favorite books, it was predictable and not one of the most memorable stories I’ve read in my lifetime; there was also some content to watch out for younger readers. 3 out of 5 stars.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Hercule Poirot, a charming and quirky retired Belgian police chief, is asked by his friend Hastings to assist in the unravelling of a confusing turn of events. An elderly, wealthy lady has been murdered; the suspects: her new husband, spiteful family, or long-time companion. The solution: one that nobody was expecting. Follow the unofficial detective and his friend as they tear apart the details of this murder at the Styles Estate in a race against the unknown murderer and the English court of law.

I would recommend The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie for ages 16+. This book is a classic whodunit complete with bumbling police chiefs, nighttime murders, dapper detectives, and family intrigue. There are a few mature details to watch out for, including some minor profanity; overall, a well-written and attention-grabbing mystery. 4 out of 5 stars.  

The Book Thief

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*** The Book Thief-LAST LINE***
I have hated the words and
I have loved them,
and I hope I have made them right.*

Liesel Meminger is a thief. A book thief. She steals the words and devours them, then spills them out to others. But it is a dangerous time for words. The Führer is orchestrating war, and it is sweeping across the world. Nazi Germany is not friendly to words. Or Jews. So when Liesel’s family hides both words and a Jew in their house, they must be careful. Death is busy, but not too busy to make a stop at Himmel Street.

I saw the book thief three times.*

I highly recommend The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak and published in 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf, for ages 17+. This was a phenomenal read; featuring books, colors, swastikas, fire, love, teddy bears, stolen apples, and Death himself. The Book Thief brought out the horrors of war and hatred, but also the joys of love, kindness, and words. Moving and impactful-but with a few mature themes and some language to watch out for, as well as violence. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Yes, often, I am reminded of her, and in one of my vast array of pockets, I have kept her story to retell. It is one of the small legion I carry, each one extraordinary in its own right. Each one an attempt-an immense leap of an attempt-to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.
Here it is. One of a handful.
The Book Thief.
If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story.
I’ll show you something.*

I am haunted by humans.*

 

*All excerpts taken from The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak and published in 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Beautifully simple in its storyline, yet complexly moving in its subject matter-The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, written by John Boyne and published in 2006 by David Fickling Books, is a book well worth the read. It features a lonely boy named Bruno who has to leave his old house in Berlin (which has five floors) and move to a new house at a place he calls “Out-With” (which only has three floors). His father is a high-ranking soldier who must fulfill his duty to his country-although Bruno doesn’t understand why it has to be at this lonely place where the only other people (besides soldiers) are wearing striped pajamas on the other side of a tall wire fence. But after he discovers a friend, life becomes more bearable at Out-With-even though this friend is always hungry, wearing striped pajamas, and on the other side of the fence. This unusual friendship blossoms despite the fence, the soldiers, and the foul weather-but friendships of this sort often result in consequences. And these consequences may be of an unexpected-and devastating-sort.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 13+. It falls under the historical fiction genre and is also labelled as a fable. There are some mature themes to watch out for-this book deals with the effects of war and hatred upon children, and how we’re truly all the same, despite our heritage and looks. One of the most heart wrenching books I’ve ever read. 4 out of 5 stars.

Dust and Shadow

The year is 1887, and Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the world’s most famous detective, is hot on the trail of a notorious killer who has taken the bloody epithet Jack the Ripper. Mr. Holmes is determined to run down this fiend and take him to justice, but when the great detective is laid low from a dreadful injury, he must entrust this case to the hands of his faithful friend Dr. John Watson and their new associate Miss Mary Ann Monk. To make matters worse, the press begins an investigation of their own, with Sherlock Holmes as the main suspect and the object of their suspicions. Beset on every side with distrust, scorn, and outright malice; the three friends must hasten to stop the killer known as “the Knife” before he strikes again, at all costs, for the good of all London.
I recommend Dust and Shadow, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2009 by Simon & Schuster, for ages 17+. This book falls under the mystery and thriller genres, and is an engaging and suspenseful read, true to the voice of the original Holmes stories. There is some mild language and mature elements to watch out for, as well as gruesome details that could disturb younger readers. All in all, a well-written story with a thrilling plot, Victorian drama, and a dash of menace. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Whole Art of Detection

My friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes…*

The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2017 by Grove Atlantic, is a marvelous addition to the Sherlock Holmes cannon. Consisting of fifteen short stories, including two selections from Mr. Holmes’ diary, a garden tea gone murderous, and a strange case of unsolved madness-these tales are sure to delight any Sherlockian. This book would fall under the historical fiction, crime, mystery, and adventure genres.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 13+. Written true to the original stories, The Whole Art of Detection is a remarkable read with only some violence and one or two uses of mature language to watch out for. A well-written book with engaging action and faithful renderings of the famous detective and his faithful counterpart. 4 out of 5 stars.

…has returned to Baker Street. *

*All excerpts taken from The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2017 by Grove Atlantic.

War Horse

War Horse, written by Michael Morpurgo and published in 1982 by the Scholastic Press, is an inspiring and moving tale of war, friendship, and the love between a horse and its owner. This novel falls under the historical fiction\middle grade genres.

Joey, a beautiful red-bay horse, is torn from his farm home and tossed headlong into war. Learning to pull heavy artillery, charge enemy forces, and carry wounded men-enemy and otherwise-Joey is passed from owner to owner, from English forces to German, and from kind men to cruel. He experiences both loss and joy, and is witness to the front line fighting in World War One. But through it all, he fights to stay alive. For his heart yearns for Albert, the farmer’s son he left behind him, and he’s determined to find him again. Will he escape the horrors of the war unscathed?

I recommend this book for ages 14+. There is some violence and mature language to watch out for, but all in all it’s an excellent book with a gripping plot, terse details, and memorable characters, both horse and human. 4 out of 5 stars.

All Quiet on the Western Front

This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. *

All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque and published first in 1928 by Ullstein A. G. and later in 1929 by Little, Brown and Company; is a sobering tale of growth and war told from the perspective of Paul Bäumer, a young German student who fights on the battlefront in World War One. This novel would fall under the war and historical fiction genres.

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow… *

Paul enlists with his classmates, consumed with romantic ideas of fighting for glory, fresh with youth, high on enthusiasm, and full of patriotic ideals. But when they’re out on the front lines, seeing the carnage of war, having their friends blown to bits before their eyes, they begin to reconsider. Maybe war isn’t all that the propaganda made it out to be, and maybe the young men on the other side of the war are much the same as Paul and his friends; boys made to grow up too fast, with big guns, scared eyes, and the same commands drilled into their heads. Fight, kill, never mind the shells exploding or the gunfire taking out your comrades beside you.
Throughout the war, one thing keeps Paul going despite the horrors and filth and loss of war; he must fight against whatever it is that sets men against men, makes them monsters, kills their brothers. He must make it out. He must come back from the western front alive.

We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial—I believe we are lost. *

I recommend this book for ages 18+. There is intense violence, mature elements, and mature language as well as detailed atrocities of war that are not suitable for younger children. All Quiet on the Western Front is a phenomenally well written book however; with memorable characters and excellent imagery. All in all, 4.5 out of 5 stars. (1.5 out of 5 stars for inappropriate content.)

*All quotes taken from All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque and published first in 1928 by Ullstein A. G. and later in 1929 by Little, Brown and Company

The Great Trouble

Written by Deborah Hopkinson and published by Random House Books in 2013; The Great Trouble is a fast-paced street story styled like a Dickens novel and filled with mystery and adventure in 1950s London. It follows the true story of Doctor John Snow and his relentless battle against the Blue Death (nowadays known as cholera) as told from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy, Eel. This well-written novel would fall under the historical fiction genre.
Eel works hard as a mudlark by night and early morning and a messenger boy by day. When he’s framed for theft there’s only one person who can prove his innocence; Mr. Griggs the tailor. But Mr. Griggs is very ill; and by the time it’s discovered that he has the deadly cholera it’s already too late. The feared Blue Death has spread. Will Dr. Snow find the source of the disease before more lives are lost? Will Eel be able to prove his innocence? And who is the dangerous man who is stalking him?
I would highly recommend this book for ages 12+. It is well written and engaging; and filled with excellent historical facts. There are one or two more mature elements that may confuse younger readers; and some mild violence. The dialogue and details are unique but expertly done. All in all; 4 out of 5 stars.

Courageous Love

The camp had come alive. The fire burned brightly, casting an eerie red glow into the sky… Andi ducked back into the shadows. A heartbeat later, powerful arms encircled Andi from behind. “Chica, you will live to regret this.” *

 

Courageous Love is a heart-thumping tale of escapades and adventures in San Joaquin Valley, California, 1885. Written by Susan K. Marlow and published in 2017 by Kregel Publications, this historical fiction story-fourth in the Andrea Carter Milestones series- will not disappoint long-time fans, and is an excellent introduction to the adventures of the Circle C ranch and its high-spirited family.

Andrea Carter-know by most as “Andi”-is a lively, 16-year-old ranch girl. She helps her older brothers run the Circle C ranch, and when she isn’t roping cattle or training horses, she learns trick riding with the help of young horse wrangler Riley Prescott. One day, when coming back from a training session, Andi and Riley come across a cut in the wire fence surrounding heathy black Angus cattle. When nothing seems to be wrong with the cattle, Riley and Andi mend the fence and leave; not knowing that someone had poisoned the cattle’s drinking water. Later, when they find a note- that was wrapped around a brick responsible for breaking a window during a party-telling them about the poison, they realize that cattle may be the least of their problems. Someone is out for revenge against the Carter family; someone who will do anything to ensure pain and sorrow in their midst.

Added to all these larger problems is Andi’s own personal one; her feelings for Riley. He has grown from merely being her friend to something else-something she is not sure she wants him to be. When her world changes dramatically overnight, she must reconcile herself and trust that God has a plan for her-with or without Riley.

Susan K. Marlow is an excellent author; she uses a medium amount of details and description and her dialogue is very good. The story flowed fairly quickly; there was an occasional slow spot at the beginning, but it quickened near the middle and kept it up until its conclusion. Courageous Love is an easy to medium read.

I would definitely recommend this book for girls-and even boys- ages 13+. There is some romance, as well as a few mature themes, but it has Godly morals and is written very well. 4 out of 5 stars.

 

God forgive me. I did what I had to do, but I hope I never have to do it again. *

*Excerpt taken from Chapter 24 pg. 175 of Courageous Love, written by Susan K. Marlow and published by Kregel Publications, 2017

**Excerpt taken from Chapter 25 pg. 126 of Courageous Love, written by Susan K. Marlow and published by Kregel Publications, 2017