Belinda’s Book Nook Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger


Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger
Author: Rae Carson
Copyright: September 22, 2015
Genre:  historical fiction, fantasy
Format: book  Pages: 432

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.

My Thoughts:

I just finished this book and wow, what a pleasant surprise. This is my first book written by Rae Carson that I have read. I remember hearing about this book all over booktube and thought the concept of a person that could sense gold in the ground was really cool. So I took a chance and pre-ordered it this summer. When it arrived, there was definitely insta- cover love! Very pretty cover and I dived right in.

The characters:

I really liked the main character Leah. She was both strong but still retained her youthful innocence when it came to her love interest.She of course couldn’t read her friend Jefferson so it allowed for a slow burn romance.

I also like how it touched even if lightly on the treatment of the Native Americans and Slavery in the story. Their encounters with the Native Americans were not stereotypical from the part of the Natives. However the ignorance of the whites was represented a bit with regards to the Native Americans and I think this was important for her to include that rather than ignore the prejudices that were prevalent during this time period (1849). Her inclusion of a free-black man was also a pleasant surprise and I liked that he played a big part in the story too.

The setting:

The book initially takes place in Leah’s hometown and then moves on the road towards the west and I truly enjoyed how the book took you on this journey with her. I know little about the American Gold rush and so historical fictions are my fancy for peaking my interest in different aspects in history. I felt like the author did a great job with the details of the atmosphere.

The story:

I was not disappointed in this book. I think it quickly built a foundation of characters and drew me right in. I felt the pacing was also great. I especially love reading author’s notes at the end of their books. Carson Rae expanded on some of the thought behind her characters and her reasons why to include them. Her decisions reminded me of Sue Monk Kidd’s author notes in that she chose to include a free-black man and they in fact were real people.

The rights of women which were pretty much non-existent set up the stage for Leah’s struggle and eventual decision to dress and pretend to be a boy in order to make her journey. I found it both sad and fascinating to witness her journey as a girl pretending to be a boy and all of the rights the boys received.

Overall, wow, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to book 2.  So I will be giving this book 4.5 butterflies.

4.5ratingHappy reading friends!


Belinda’s Book Nook Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


Title: The Nightingale
Author: Kristin Hannah
Copyright: February 3, 2015
Genre: historical fiction
Format: audio book and book  Narrator: Polly Stone Pages: 438

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

My thoughts:

I heard about this book on booktube and had decided I had to buy it. It was one of my books I received from my birthday book haul. I have been meaning to share my haul with you so stay tuned for that. I did something very different with this book. I began reading the physical book and then I downloaded the audio book version on to my iPhone. Some background here, I took Spanish in high school and Japanese in college so to say my French is lacking is quite an understatement. Sadly, I don’t even know where to begin with pronunciation of French words. So after reading a bit, I tried out the audio version and instead of just listening, I followed along in the book.  It was the best thing ever. I was able to hear the correct pronunciation for all the characters and locations in the book. So when I did read without the audio, I sounded pretty darn good in my head!

This book focused on two sisters, Vianne and her sister, Isabelle who lived in a small village called Carriveau beginning in 1939.  The book also jumps to present day in America where one of the sister is speaking of her life today and reflecting on the past and her experience during war time. The death of the girls’ mother puts them both in a predicament with their grieving father and he sends them away.

 In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. 

What a way to start this book. I think at some point or other we all think about what it would like to be in war and wonder how we respond. We never truly know until we are thrust into the thick of it. Because so many factors are hard to imagine.

The book explores many things but one thing that sets the two sister’s apart in their journey moving forward is their perception of the relationship they have with their father. Vianne tended to be more forgiving and looks for love and finds it with her husband and little girl. Isabelle’s perception leaves her to constantly run back to her father to seek his love and  his “rejection” eventually develops a strong will in Isabelle that leads her to join forces with the French resistance when Hitler’s regime pushes past the Maginot Line to occupy France. The Maginot Line was miles and miles of concrete walls and obstacle sand weapons that had been constructed along the German border after the Great War to protect France.

One thing I really loved about this book is that is shows the strength both sisters have despite the different paths they choose. They both are very strong women in a very difficult time. I really liked that. I liked that the author didn’t make you feel one was better for the choices they made. They both were amazing women and now that I think about it, all of the women in this book were resilient from Vianne’s Jewish neighbor and best friend, Rachel, to the Mother Marie-Therese at the orphanage, to one of the lead contacts for the Resistance, Micheline. None of these women were simple victims. They made difficult decisions and followed their hearts.

As I write this review, I realize I like this book even more. The detail the author provides, pulls you right in like you are standing there next to the characters. The denial they all felt when Hitler’s regime began invading felt so real. Because when crisis strikes, we always feel a sense of disbelief that it can happen to us. The lack of necessities when the German soldiers invaded and confiscated food and fine goods was written in such a way that it allowed the reader to see the transformation from life before to after the invasion.

Favorite Quote:

“It’s hard to forget,” she said quietly. “And I’ll never forgive.” “But love has to be stronger than hate or there is no future for us.”
– Vianne to Sophie

This quote is Vianne talking to her daughter Sophie about a choice she had to make for their safety. It’s a very raw and heartbreaking part of the book but it helped to keep perspective of the dark realities of the times.

This book is so worth the read, for it isn’t just a book about the war, it’s about people and love, and loss, and redemption and so much more. Just read it already!

I rarely give a 5 butterfly rating but I think that this book did everything it meant to do and more. This was my first Kristin Hannah book that I have read but it was a great first read.

5ratingHappy Reading!


Belinda’s Book Nook Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd


Title: The Invention of Wings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Copyright: January 7, 2014
Genre: historical fiction
Format: paperback

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

From the celebrated author of the international bestseller The Secret Life of Bees comes an extraordinary novel about two exceptional women.

Sarah Grimké is the middle daughter. The one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On Sarah’s eleventh birthday, Hetty ‘Handful’ Grimké is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows what she does next will unleash a world of trouble. She also knows that she cannot accept. And so, indeed, the trouble begins …

A powerful, sweeping novel, inspired by real events, and set in the American Deep South in the nineteenth century, THE INVENTION OF WINGS evokes a world of shocking contrasts, of beauty and ugliness, of righteous people living daily with cruelty they fail to recognise; and celebrates the power of friendship and sisterhood against all the odds.

My thoughts:

I have had this book on my TBR for quite some time and jumped at the chance to recommend it for the book club I am in because I felt like I would keep putting it off for something else. So I was very happy when it was chosen as our April read. I went into it not sure what to expect. I had searched far and wide to find this UK edition because I loved the cover. I don’t know why some publishers make such ugly covers for the American version and stunning one’s abroad.

The Characters: I thought the author did an amazing job of character development. The main characters were Sarah, the wealthy white girl who’s family owned slaves in the deep south (Charleston to be exact) and Hetty the daughter of a slave that Sarah’s family owned. I really felt myself drawn to the two of them very quickly and the book was written so well that you were plagued with emotions throughout the book. There was enough depth to allow me to understand and empathize with both characters. They later introduced us to Angelina, Sarah’s younger sister and she developed into quite a good character as well. The supporting characters, Sarah’s family members were rich as well even if not always taking center stage.  I could almost visualize a movie made of this book. Not sure who I would cast for the characters but definitely see that it would make for a great movie.

I usually have a hard time with slavery stories and this one had it’s moments that I had to take a long pause to gather myself but then I would be drawn back to the story to find out what would happen next. The book explored the complexity of slavery in the south as well as the plight of women and women’s rights during this time. It included information about the Quakers and the abolitionists during this time.

I was also fascinated with the talk of Story Quilts in this book. I have heard of them and found it great how the author weaved them into the story. This book had so many topics that I find interesting and would love to read further on. The author even included a great list of references to further explore many of the topics in the book. What a treat!

I love historical fictions because they can bring you there just as well as a non-fiction if written well and this one was written well. I never heard of Sarah and Angelina Grimke.  They were real people that rejected their wealthy lifestyles and moved to the north to fight for the end of slavery and for women’s equality. They eventually retired in Hyde Park, Massachusetts.

What is a shame is that history books have neglected to include them and their contributions. Please take time to explore more about these women. I have included a link here to read a bit more about these women here.

Favorite quote:

“I have one mind for the master to see. I have another for what I know is me.” (Mr. Vessey p. 172)


“History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.” (Julius Lester) (p. 370)

My rating:

I went in not knowing but hoping for a great book and I found it. I gave this five butterflies and highly recommend it.

Happy reading!!!



Belinda’s Book Nook Review: The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber

Rachel Dupree

Title: The Personal History of Rachel Dupree
Author: Ann Weisgarber
Copyright: July 26, 2011
Genre: historical fiction, African American history
Format: paperback Pages: 357

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“An eye-opening look at the little-explored area of a black frontier woman in the American West.” —Chicago Sun-Times

Praised by Alice Walker and many other bestselling writers, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree is an award-winning debut novel with incredible heart about life on the prairie as it’s rarely been seen. Reminiscent of The Color Purple, as well as the frontier novels of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Willa Cather, it opens a window on the little-known history of African American homesteaders and gives voice to an extraordinary heroine who embodies the spirit that built America.

My Thoughts on The Personal History of Rachel Dupree:

I bought this book from Goodreads and was intrigued by the description. I knew nothing of black homesteaders.  I always enjoy historical fiction for teaching me while I enjoy the journey rather than a straight out history book.  So after finishing my last book, I thought I would pick a small book to fit in before the year ends and this book fit the bill.

The story focuses on Rachel who is living with her parents in the beginning of the story and cleaning house for a well to do African American woman.  I struggled with the mindset of her employer in how she treated Rachel and all of her domestic staff. It’s strange how she sees them “beneath” her despite that during this time period, African American’s aren’t treated well by many whites.  So for her to step on her staff’s pride unnerved me a bit.  There wasn’t much opportunities for men or women of color at this time. Either the slaughter house or joining the military for men and domestic work for the women.

I felt the author did a great job bringing you into the world of Rachel and seeing how her logic propelled her into to marriage and become a frontier women. I think she had good character development and the secondary characters were interesting too.

My heart ached often while reading this book because of the predicaments Rachel continually finds herself in and having no one to help her work through them was so sad.  The relations between the Native Americans in this book also saddened me. Of course I have the benefit of time, to be able to reflect and see the devastation the Natives’s faced when they were invaded. I know they were the original inhabitants of this country. But aI am deeply saddened by the way this book portrays the relationship between African Americans and Native Americans.  I don’t doubt it, I just don’t like it.

Overall, I found this to be a good book and fast read. I feel it’s worth the read to learn a little more about American history.

I gave this book 4 butterflies!




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