Review: The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

img_0175 The Dollhouse is a debut novel that takes place both present day, and with alternating chapters in 1952, in New York City. In the present day chapters of the story, we meet Rose Lewin, a former television reporter, who has been spending a lot of time questioning some of her life choices as of late. She has recently resigned from a very high profile, high paying television job to take what would be considered a big career set-back with a print reporting position. She’s also just found out that her relationship with her live in boyfriend has been completely turned upside down. Rose, desperate for a story to impress her new boss, sets her sights on a downstairs neighbor of hers, Ms. McLaughlin. Ms. McLaughlin is one of the many women who are original tenants of the building they share….moving in back when it was the “old” Barbizon Hotel aka: The Dollhouse. Rose is sure that this group of women who have lived on one particular floor in this building since the early 1950’s must have some stories to tell…especially after a doorman clues her in to a “tragedy” that occurred so many year ago. One that ended with a woman disfigured and another taking a fatal plunge off a upper story balcony.

“The Barbizon Hotel for Women, packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls. Just like you.”

Alternately…in 1952 New York city, we meet Darby McLaughlin, and Ohio native living on her own for the first time. She’s a young and naive girl who moved to the big city to attend secretarial school and live in the famous Barbizon Hotel. At the time, the Barbizon was THE place for young women to stay while living in New York city, trying to make their way as secretaries, models ,or actresses. Over the years, it was home to some very famous women such as; Sylvia Plath, Candace Bergen, and Joan Crawford. Shortly after arriving, Darby’s befriends a maid of the hotel named Esme. Esme slowly introduces Darby to a life that she could never previously have imagined; seedy jazz clubs, handsome musicians, as well as the dark and scary part of the city. Darby and Esme’s relationship becomes more complicated as Darby begins to hear rumors and off-hand warnings to stay away from Esme because she’s “trouble”. What begins as a friendship, ends in a deadly scuffle on the rooftop….but everyone has kept the true story of what happened that day hidden for the past 60 years.

I wasn’t quite sure what to think at the beginning of the book. Darby was a very whiny character for me and almost immediately she grated on my nerves. I didn’t necessarily care for Rose either….she wasn’t whiny like Darby, but I just didn’t find her very likable.
So I guess you’d assume that I wouldn’t end up liking the book…But I did, overall. I really enjoyed reading about the Barbizon Hotel, the women who stayed there, and the true history surrounding it. I also liked most of the secondary characters in the story. So between the interesting time period, history, storyline, and the secondary characters…it turned into a 3.5-4 star book for me.

I’d never heard of the Barbizon Hotel in NY before and I loved learning a little bit about it’s history and some of the famous women who stayed there while getting their start.
If you enjoy reading about different periods in American history, this will likely be an enjoyable read for you. There’s nothing really too heavy, or sad and the overall tone of the book is a positive uplifting one.

My Rating: 3.5/4 Stars

The Dollhouse – Amazon

*** I would like to thank NetGalley, Dutton Books, and Fiona Davis for the opportunity to read in exchange for my honest review***

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Review: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

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“Putting down the burden of the lie has meant giving up the freedom of the dream.” 

Tom Sherbourne returns to his home in Australia after 4 years of fighting in Europe during WW1. He decides to take a job as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an island that is a few hours boat ride from the coast. On one of his short leaves from the island onto the mainland of Australia, Tom soon meets and falls in love with a beautiful young woman named Isabel. When the newlyweds return to their private island and lighthouse duties, they have big plans for starting a family. But the years pass with nothing but heartache….two miscarriages and one still birth leave both Tom and Isabel feeling like they will never be parents.

Then one dark and stormy night, Isabel is certain that she hears the weak and shrill cries of a baby in the wind. Tom and Isabel discover a small boat that has washed up on shore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who is a strict rule follower and takes his lighthouse keeper duties very seriously, wants to immediately report the boat and it’s passengers. But Isabel finds herself falling immediately in love with this tiny and helpless baby and she feels that fate or God has stepped in to make them parents after all. Against Tom’s better judgement, the couple decides to keep the baby, name her Lucy, and pass her off as their own child to the biannual supply boats that come to the Island.

When Lucy is two years old, the Sherbourne’s make their first trip to the mainland since becoming a family of three. While there, Tom and Isabel are reminded that there are other people in the world who have been affected by the choices they made two years previous. They must come to grips with the fact that sometimes the line between right and wrong can be very fuzzy and confusing…especially when you think you are doing what’s best for the people you love.

“We live with the decisions we make, Bill. That’s what bravery is. Standing by the consequences of your mistakes.”

This was an incredibly intense and emotional roller coaster of a ride! I found myself completely empathizing with every single character in this book, for different reasons and at different parts of the story. Very rarely has a book been written in such a way when it’s hard for the reader to not agree with or understand such opposing sides to the same story. The characters are very well written, believable and all are even likable in their own way…which is why this is such a roller coaster of a read. At no point was I convinced one person was right or wrong…there are no easy answers in this story and nothing is simple.

For the first half of this book, I was pretty sure that this would be an easy 4 star rating for me. But, at some point during the second half, I was absolutely certain that I could give this book no less than 5 stars. The Light Between Oceans pretty quickly earned it’s place into my “favorites” category and I foresee myself recommending this book often to many different people. It was for sure a tear jerker for me…so you’ll need the tissues handy and it’s not always an easy read as there is a lot of heartache and emotional torment in the story. But it’s a book that is worth the tears. This is a story about the blurred lines of right & wrong,  love and loss, the hard choices we make, and the long term consequences of those choices. I still can’t get over the fact that this is a debut novel…I will for sure be on the look out for other books by this author.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

The Light Between Oceans – Amazon

Review: The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell by Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell by Nadia Hashimi

Genre: Historical Fiction

img_4973 This is the story of Rahima and Shekiba, two women of the same family, born generations apart near Kabul, Afghanistan.

In present day Afghanistan, we meet Rahima…an 11 year old girl who desperately wants to go to school. But because of the rules of her opium addicted father and the cultural stigma associated with young girls in Afghanistan….Rahima and her sisters are rarely allowed to leave the home. Her only hope for a normal childhood lies in the ancient custom of “Bacha Posh”…one in which a young girl dresses and is treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age.  Rahima then becomes Rahim…and as Rahim, she is able to go to school, run errands for her mother and chaperone her older sisters while they are out. Her newly found freedom does not last long as her father’s addiction and his need for money becomes worse. Rahima, at the age of 13….is married off to a powerful war-lord, a man more than twice her age. The life that follows Rahima into adulthood is one of tragedy, abuse and sorrow.

“I was a little girl and then I wasn’t. I was a bacha posh and then I wasn’t. I was a daughter and then I wasn’t. I was a mother and then I wasn’t.”

Alternately to Rahima, we also learn the story of Shekiba, Rahima’s great-great grandmother. Shekiba is a disfigured orphaned girl living in a tiny village outside of Kabul at the turn of the twentieth century. Shekiba’s story is told in the third person account to Rahima by her aunt as a means of passing on family history. Shekiba came from a loving family….but at a young age, Shekiba’s brothers died of a harsh Cholera epidemic. Her mother goes mad with grief and all that is left is Shekiba and her father to tend to the family farm and rely on each other for survival. Soon after her father dies, Shekiba is passed along from her extended family, on to the palace as a guard for the King’s harem, and then is eventually married off to a man she doesn’t even know.

The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell  is a tragic tale rich with history, politics, customs and emotions. I was almost immediately hooked into the story of these wonderful and brave characters and found myself thinking about them constantly throughout my day. Fans of Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns will likely enjoy this tale about the power of hope and the strength of women when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and overwhelming grief. All of the characters in this novel were written with beautiful depth and dimension. I absolutely loved the alternating chapters between Rahima and Shekiba…it was interesting to hear how so many customs and laws regarding women in Afghanistan hadn’t changed in over a century. So many times during this book, I found myself feeling both angry and sad for these women and they ways in which they are treated…but I also found myself feeling hopeful and happy in their inner strength and determination.

“The human spirit, you know what they say about the human spirit? Is is harder than a rock and more delicate than a flower petal.”

I listed to the audiobook version of this story and I felt like maybe there was a tad too much dialog for this to be a great listening choice….this may be one I would have preferred to read instead.  While this is a well written story with plenty of parts that are quite poetic…. it’s still not quite up to par with the beauty that is the writing of Khaled Hosseini.  But then again…I’m not sure many authors can be compared to Hosseini, so that may be an unfair comparison 😉 Overall, this is definitely a book I recommend to people who enjoy International themed books and works of Historical Fiction.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell  – Amazon.

Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

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Lib Wright, an English nurse trained by Florence Nightingale, herself, has been hired for a two week job in a small Irish village. Her job: merely observe what some are calling a miracle – an eleven year old girl who claims to not have eaten any food in over 4 months. People are flocking from all over to meet Anna O’Donnell, a young girl who believes she has been specially chosen by God to live off of manna from Heaven. Lib, along with a Catholic nun, have been hired by a private committee to take shifts and sit with Anna constantly in order to prove or disprove the validity of the girl’s claims. The nurse finds herself torn between wanting to do a good job for the task that she was hired and wanting to actually save this girl from herself and from whatever or whomever are convincing her to continue this fast.

The timeline of this novel is set just after the great potato famine of the mid-nineteenth century in Ireland. Emma Donoghue drew from past cases of over 50 different “fasting girls” in Europe and North America between the 16th and 20th centuries. I really enjoyed this one and…like Donoghue’s other novel, Room…. I was sucked in almost immediately by the storyline and the characters involved. The majority of the story takes place in a tiny cabin and there aren’t more than a handful of important characters in the entire story…because of this, the reader is able to feel fully invested in the story and the ultimate outcome very quickly. This story has a very dark and almost gothic feel to it as the conditions of Anna’s quickly deteriorating and emaciated body are described…along side the beliefs of the Irish Catholic family and community.

The Wonder was just released on September 20th of this year. If you were a fan of Donoghue’s best seller, Room, I think you’ll also enjoy this one. I received a review copy of The Wonder in exchange for my review from Netgalley. I’d like to thank Emma Donoghue, Little Brown and Company, and Netgalley for the opportunity.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Wonder – Amazon

Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Genre: Historical Fiction, African Fiction

img_4670  This newly published (June of 2016) New York Times Best Seller debut novel starts with the story of two half sisters, Effia and Esi, born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. At a very young age…Effia, the village beauty,  is married off to a British Colonialist and lives a life of comfort in the Cape Coast Castle. Her marriage is arranged as a means to ensure the Asante’s place in the slave trade with the governing British. Effia’s family and descendants remain in Ghana dealing with British Imperialism and centuries of tribal war between the Fante and Asante tribes.

Unbeknownst to Effia, her half sister, Esi is being held in the dungeons below the vast castle after she was captured and sold along with thousands of others in the booming slave trade off the Gold Coast. Esi is soon shipped off to America where she, her children and grandchildren will live their lives as slaves. Each generation being affected by slavery in some way… from the plantations, to the Civil War, to The Great Migration, to the coal mines, to the jazz clubs, to the civil rights movement, to the dope houses in Harlem….all the way up to present day .

“We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing?, Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there you get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.”

Homegoing traces a single blood line, through two sisters, seven generations of their families, and over two hundred years of history in just over 300 pages. It sounds impossible….but it works. The format and  prose in this fantastic debut novel is so deep and perfect, I could not put it down. Each chapter follows a completely different member of the next generation in the story…alternating between Effia and Esi’s families. Because the individual chapters are short…roughly 20 pages each, they almost read like short stories or vignettes of each person…all the while intertwining with each other to form one large, epic family tale. There are sometimes years or decades that pass in-between stories, however the way it’s written, you don’t feel like you are missing out on anything. The entire novel just has such a pace and flow to it that there are no slow parts, no lagging. I found myself devouring each chapter just so I could see how each person’s story ended up….only to be introduced to get yet another character that I couldn’t stop wanting to read about.

I still cannot get over the amount of history, story line, character development and beautiful flowing language that was included in such a relatively short novel. Gyasi has woven such an epic, intense and important story…I learned quite a bit of new (to me) history as well as felt such a deep and visceral connection to each character. Homegoing is a definite recommend from me…especially if you are a fan of historical fiction. But even if you usually don’t gravitate toward this genre, I still think it’s something you should try. Sometimes the best part of reading is that it can not only give us new information and entertainment…but it can also enlighten us to a perspective that me might otherwise never understand. Homegoing has easily earned it’s spot into my “favorites” category and will likely be one of the best books I’ve read this year.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Homegoing – Amazon

Review: At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

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Maddie, her husband Ellis, and their friend, Hank decide on a whim to travel to Scotland to find and photograph the Loch Ness Monster…all in the midst of the fighting and bombings of WW2. The trio come from very affluent families and lifestyles in the United States, but when Maddie and Ellis are suddenly financially cut off from his parents…after thoroughly embarrassing themselves with terrible behavior at a social event…they decide that the only way they can get back in his father’s good graces is by proving this monster is real. They take little to no regard to the war that is happening around the world…after all, it doesn’t directly affect them very much in their daily lives in America. Once they make it to Scotland, they realize just how different life is there compared to home and just how much of an everyday impact the war has on the people there.

Maddie, who previously had very little family and really only had Ellis and Hank for a social circle, begins to befriend the staff at the Inn where they are staying. She soon learns the true meaning of friendship and she also begins to see Ellis for what he really is….an unloving, manipulative, spoiled and selfish husband and person. Because of the daily hardships Maddie witnesses all around her, she begins to look at the world in a very different light and her opinion and view of her life back in America also changes. There were things she chose to ignore in her previous life that she could no longer turn a blind eye to. Maddie, Ellis, and Hank’s lives will forever be changed after they make the long and dangerous journey across the ocean to Scotland.

I read this book based on a recommendation from someone in a Goodreads reading group and I’m so glad she chose this for me…because I likely otherwise wouldn’t have picked it up.
Sara Gruen also wrote Water For Elephants and, like that book, this is beautifully written with fantastically developed characters. At The Water’s Edge was easily a 4.5 star read for me. Sara Gruen’s writing style is just so beautiful and flows so well…you really feel for these characters and to be able to witness their transformation on the page is just so enjoyable. I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of the search for the Loch Ness Monster at first… but as the story and history unfolded, I began to understand how that fit into the rest of the story. I also liked how even though WW2 was the setting and part of the focus of the story…it wasn’t the ONLY thing about the story. It set a very dramatic and real backdrop that had a definite impact on the characters and storyline….but the book, as a whole, was more about relationships, understanding, redemption and love.
If you were a fan of Water For Elephants, I think you should definitely give this one a try.

My Rating – 4.5 Stars

At The Water’s Edge – Amazon

Water For Elephants – Amazon

Review: The Throwaway Children by Diney Costeloe

The Throwaway Children by Diney Costeloe

Genre: Historical Fiction

img_4642  The time and place is post WW2 Europe. Families are busy morning the losses of their beloved fathers, brothers and sons all while trying to build the fractured pieces of their family life back together. Rita and Rosie Stevens are only nine and five years old when their recently war widowed mother marries a mean and abusive man named Jimmy Randall. When Mavis finds out that she is now pregnant with her third child, Jimmy becomes increasingly more insistent that the girls, Rita and Rosie, are not only disobedient but also a finical burden that the growing family can no longer afford. Because Mavis is caught in the throws of grief, depression and a very abusive relationship…she agrees to sign her two daughters over to an orphanage in England. In her mind, this will only be a temporary situation until she can convince Jimmy that the girls will not be a burden and that she can, in fact, manage to be a good mother to all three children. Unbeknownst to her, the papers that she signed were not temporary and in doing so…she relinquished all legal and custodial rights to her two daughters.

Not long after the children begin to get accustomed to life in a group home with very strict and sometimes cruel rules….the find out that they are being moved to a new orphanage in Australia. While the girls, along with dozens of other English children, are on a 6 week ocean liner trip across the world, Mavis…still believing that her daughters are in England…is losing her grip on her ability to mother a new, needy baby while dealing with her controlling and abusive husband.

The Throwaway Children is a sad and tragic Historical Fiction novel about the “forgotten children” of post WW2 Europe. This type of book is a great example of why I love the Historical Fiction genre so much…this is the first I had ever heard of or read about England’s practice of secretly shipping off their orphans to Australia. Most of the time, without anyone knowing and often to never be heard from again. It was an interesting but sad story that kept me engaged most of the time and found it heart wrenching and heart warming at the same time.

I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit even though I did have a few small issues with it: At some points, I found the pacing of this novel a little odd. There were particular parts that seemed to drag on a little too long with a tad too much detail… and then others that seemed to be rushed through. I also felt like the ending was a little too perfectly wrapped up for how tragic the earlier parts were. However…those issues weren’t huge and overall, the story was a good one that I found both interesting and informative.
I liked all the characters and the story itself. I just wish the pacing was a tad different and the ending not so “perfect”….but those are just tiny little picky issues that likely won’t even bother other readers. Because most books in this genre, especially the WW2 era books, can have a rather depressing theme and undertone, some people shy away from them. This particular book does have it’s sad moments, but the ending leaves you feeling hopeful and not sad or depressed.

If you are a fan of the Historical Fiction genre…this would be a good choice for you. And…if you have and read on a Kindle, Amazon has The Throwaway Children e-book on sale right now for only $1.99 (regularly $9.99)

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Review: Sutton by J.R. Moehringer

Sutton by J.R. Moehringer

img_3412 Willie Sutton was born and raised in the Irish slums of Brooklyn in the beginning of the 20th Century, and grew up seeing the out of control abuse of banks on society. Generational poverty, social depression, and forbidden love convinced Willie that in order to get out of the slums and make something of his life, he was going to have to take matters into his own hands.

So became the makings of one of the most prolific bank robbers in American history. “Slick Willie” Sutton spent the next 30 years of his life breaking into banks and breaking out of prisons with such finesse that the FBI quickly put him at the top of the very first Most Wanted list. Local police named him the most dangerous man in New York. The public, however, didn’t see a villain…Willie never, in his entire career, fired a single shot. Sutton’s victims were the true villains of society….the blood sucking banks. When Sutton was finally captured for the last time in 1952, crowds gathered outside the jail, chanting his name and praising his life long work.

After spending the next 17 years in prison, Willie Sutton receives a surprise pardon on Christmas Eve, 1969…and that’s where the story of Sutton begins. Moehringer gives us a tale that is part authentic research and part fictionalized retelling of the very wild, mostly secretive and vastly unknown life of Willie Sutton.

I absolutely loved every single minute of reading Sutton. When it’s done well…historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read…and this book is a prime example of why. Moehringer writes in a way that the reader is transported back in time, experiencing the Depression era of the 1920’s and living the life of America’s most loved bank robber.  If you enjoy reading historical fiction, true crime, and biographies….this book is for you. I highly recommend it!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Review: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood

Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood

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I received an advanced reader’s copy of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This book will be available to the public as of June 1, 2016.

This is a very magical and entertaining (although sometimes very dark) story highlighting the days of freak shows and carnival workers on Coney Island just after the turn on the twentieth century.

We first meet Miss Kitty Hayward as she sits alone, confused and vulnerable on a public park bench near Coney Island in the spring of 1904. Shortly after arriving in America via a steamer ship from South Africa, her mother becomes very ill. The hotel doctor sends Kitty on a wild goose chase for medication only to have her return to tell her that they don’t recognize her, know her mother, or have a room for her. Kitty notices that certain hotel staff will not look her in the eye, yet nobody will help her, tell her where her mother was taken, or even if she is alive.

Alone, scared and hungry…Kitty happens upon Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet…a sort of museum of the strange and unusual. There she meets all sorts of “Unusuals”….the cast offs of society… people left to be the entertainment of carnivals and freak shows all the while looked down upon by the rest of society.  People like; Zeph, the Legless man…Rosalind, the half man/half woman….P-Ray, the mute boy. The Unusuals decide to take Kitty under their wing and help her find out what happened to her mother.

Pretty soon after befriending the Magruder’s crew of people, Kitty and the Unusuals realize that Kitty’s mother isn’t the only sick person who has quickly & quietly disappeared with no trace. Within days, it’s pretty apparent that there is a plague outbreak and almost immediately, Coney Island is put on quarantine. The once popular vacation destination is now closed off and left to the “freaks”, madmen and anarchists all trying to survive.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The cast of characters is wonderful and sort of reminiscent of Water For Elephants with the carnival/circus/freak show people and their story being the main focus. While this book is very entertaining and does have it’s “fun” parts….it also has some dark and disturbing areas as well. There are also quite a few serious and realistic topics addressed such as; discrimination, gender roles, classism, etc.

It was a very quick and enjoyable read for me with a unique and interesting plot. The cast of unusual characters was, by far, my favorite part of this story. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book with such a colorful, unique and well written cast of characters as are in this story.

As a side note: I’ve seen some of the negative reviews on this book claim that they were caught off guard because they assumed this was a children’s or YA book. It is definitely not. Maybe it’s the cover art that confused some…but this is, for sure, is an adult read.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Sourebooks Landmark and H.P. Wood for the opportunity to read and review this book.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Review: Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

img_2686  I received an ARC of Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This novel will be published and available for purchase as of April 1st, 2016 and is a follow up story to The Kitchen House…written by the same author, published in 2010.

While Glory Over Everything is technically a follow up story or sequel to The Kitchen House, the publisher is pretty clear in the beginning that this is a stand alone novel. I agree that one can read this book without first reading The Kitchen House and not be confused, however…I highly recommend starting with The Kitchen House and then reading this.

Glory Over Everything follows the story of Jamie Pyke, son of both a black slave and the master of Tall Oaks Plantation, after he escapes the plantation at the age of 13 years old and lives a life on the run. The story starts in 1830 where Jamie is living as a wealthy white man in Philadelphia high society as an artist and the owner of a successful silversmithing business. When Jamie learns that his mistress, Caroline, is pregnant he begins to worry that the secrets behind his parentage will be brought to light and that his life, as he knows it, will be over. Around the same time, Jamie learns that his young servant, Pan, was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. After promising Pan’s father…who Jamie owes much of his freedom and current life to…Jamie begins a journey to a plantation in North Carolina to rescue Pan. His journey will bring forth many memories of his childhood as well as reuniting him with other people from his past. He will have to rely on the help of the very same people he’s tried to distance himself from. When Jamie finally does find Pan, he realizes that the boy is actually under the care of Sukey, another former slave from Tall Oaks Plantation. Together, Jamie and Sukey are determined to get Pan to freedom though the Underground Railroad as well as with the help of other escaped slaves.

This book was sort of a slow start for me. It’s been about a year and a half since I’ve read The Kitchen House and while I remember most of the story…I didn’t quite remember the exact details of Jamie’s young life. Luckily, at certain points in this book, the author has flashbacks to his story and it all came back to me rather quickly.

I didn’t care for Jamie as an adult at first…his chapters in the beginning of the book were slow moving for me and kind of tedious to read. Rather than the story picking up where The Kitchen House left off…Glory Over Everything starts with Jamie as an adult and he recounts his days following his escape from Tall Oaks in memory form. If the author had continued the story, still with his first person account, and kept it a chronological account of his life after Tall Oaks, I think the first half of the book wouldn’t have moved so slow for me. That being said…..I absolutely LOVED the second half of this book!

As much as I didn’t  care for Jamie at the start of the book, I grew to really like him by about half way through. Then there is Pan….I absolutely loved his character from his first chapter! He is such a precocious, inquisitive and caring boy and the chapters told in his perspective were  some of my favorites. I really enjoyed reading about and following up with many of the characters from The Kitchen House in this book…there was also quite a bit of needed closure in this story. The second half of Glory Over Everything was fast paced, exciting, heartbreaking and had me not wanting to put it down. Reading about the Underground Railroad and the things that escaped slaves had to endure just to get to freedom was just so disturbing and tragic.

So while this is technically a stand alone book…I do feel that a reader would get the most out of this by first starting with The Kitchen House. And…if you’ve already read The Kitchen House and loved that book as much as I did, I think you’ll definitely want to read this follow up. It’s an important story with very moving characters, based on the very real tragic history of American slavery.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I would like to thank NetGalley, Kathleen Grissom, and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read an early copy of this book.