With a Book in Our Hands

Eighteen reviewers telling you the good, the bad, and the ugly

With a Book in Our Hands

Eighteen reviewers telling you the good, the bad, and the ugly

Tag: Historical Fiction

April 6, 2021

The Garden of Angels

The Garden of Angels is a story split between the present and the past. In the present, Nico Uccello has been suspended from school for a week for watching classmates attack a Jewish newcomer. When he confesses this to his dying grandfather, his grandfather gives him his own story, written down in parts, to read and keep secret until he is finished. In the past (grandfather Paolo’s memoir), young Paolo lives in Nazi-occupied Italy and finds himself entangled in the underground Jewish resistance.

March 25, 2021


Everyone remembers Nick Carraway, the unreliable and oh-so-passive narrator of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, but what did his first 30 years of life look like before he found himself renting next door to the mysterious wealthy party host? Michael Farris Smith set out to find out and share the answer with us. Now that copyright has lapsed on Gatsby I expect we’ll get a lot more retellings and spinoff stories, but this will be remembered as the first prequel story, and a strong one at that!

March 12, 2021

She’s The One Who Cares Too Much

She’s the One Who Cares Too Much is the second book in the War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters series by S. R. Cronin, and it follows the story of the second-born sister Coral. This book is fairly well self-contained and if any readers interested in the series gain access to this one first I do think it’s readable on its own. There’s a lot of world-building done in book one that isn’t repeated that might leave gaps in establishing who the velka are, why this particular family has a rocky history with the velka, and the nuances of the relationship between Ryalgar and Prince Nevik. Beyond that, however, there’s enough done to make the world here make sense, and there’s a whole lot of world-building around the luskies introduced. We also have all of the tidbits about farther reaches of the realm thanks to Coral’s connection with a high ranking military officer.

February 12, 2021

The Nature of Fragile Things

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin’s silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin’s odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn’t right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.

The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.

From the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War and As Bright as Heaven comes a gripping novel about the bonds of friendship and mother love, and the power of female solidarity.

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