Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser

2662952“It is said that without George Washington there would be no United States, but without Martha, there would be no George Washington.”

I have always held a particular fascination for early America, from about the time the first settlers came to the continent to the establishment of our country some hundred years later. I have really been enjoying TURN: Washington’s Spies and how it focuses not just on people living during the 18th century, but actual historical people such as George Washington and others who were part of the Culper Ring. So when I heard about this book, I got really excited because I’ve never seen anything written from the point of view of the true First Lady. So I picked it up and despite a slow beginning, I read this in only a couple hours.

The historical detail in this book is so well done, but not overdone, and even in the slow parts, it keeps you interested. I love having books that have real historical events tied to them, whether it be a war, a tragedy such as the Titanic, or something fun like the World Fairs. But this book is labeled as fiction if you look at it through the Goodreads website. The book is mostly truthful, but it also has fictional elements that the author clears up at the end.

I really loved Martha’s story. I had always thought of George and Martha together, not exactly realizing she was an individual and had a life before him. While I wouldn’t consider her story in itself a feel good story, because she endured so many hardships in her life, but there are some fun and humorus parts of the story that kept it from being too much of a downer.

I think people who are learning about the American Revolution and/or George Washington will really enjoy this non/fiction book about America’s First Lady.

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Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergen

7879278“But that was the thing about courage. Sometimes you had to fake it to feel it.”

This book is a lot different than what I’ve ever read before, for many reasons. The first being it’s target demographic, young adults. I usually despise reading young adult fiction, mostly because the main characters have way to many problems that I prefer to read about, and it’s usually the same set of issues for every book. However, this one I found to be a neat little twist to what you would usually find browsing the young adult section of a bookstore or website.

I first read this in 2011, so I apologize if I don’t quite catch everything, but I loved and still love this book so much I want to share it with you!

My favorite thing about this book is definitely the setting. The book starts and ends in 21st century Italy, but for the bulk of the book, readers are taken back to 14th century Italy (I believe the exact place is around Vienna, but I’m not 100% sure). I don’t read many books set in this time period, I usually stick to the 18th century and beyond, so this was a nice change. I also found the dialogue between the characters to be very believable, as well. That, to me, is one of the most important things when reading (or watching) a historical piece.

Those who enjoyed The Hunger Games will probably enjoy this too, because of the battle scenes we are invited to “watch”. This book had a nice balance between action and having a more relaxed vibe. We also get a more realistic look at the romantic “Knights in Shining Armor”. Are there knights? Yes. But the shining armor, not so much. Because this is set during the Middle Ages, we get a great look at what the Lords and Ladies of Italy may have experienced when things got a bit out of hand and people got too sensitive.

I also enjoyed the characters. They felt very believable, and it was fun reading Gabi interact with all the 14th-century Italian men and women. Speaking of Gabi, girls who find themselves celebrating girl power I think will really enjoy her character. She’s logical and intelligent, and unlike many teenage (and even adult heroines) doesn’t let the romantic stuff get to her head. Though we don’t see much of her sister Lia in this first book, those who find themselves more in tune with her will really enjoy her character development in the later books.

But if you easily turn squeamish, I advise you to maybe not read this book, or at least not before or after eating. There are some pretty descriptive battle injuries, which kind of got me squirming in my seat so just keep that in mind.

I usually try to leave you with some things I saw people got annoyed about, so here we go. I read a lot of reviews where people did not enjoy the stereotypical teenage “language” (like, totally, whatever). Which I can understand, but remember that this book is written for teenagers. Another thing is how easily Gabi is able to pick up the old Italian language, but this is explained in a later book; the longer you spend 1300’s Italy, the easier the language becomes to read and understand.

Now if you think it may annoy you, try to keep in mind that this book was written for the entertainment of teenagers; I don’t think the author thought so many older readers would be interested.

Overall, I really love this book and the rest of the series and highly recommend it to all of you.

If you are interested in reading this book, it is free on Kindle and the Kindle app! Click here to be taken to the page on Amazon.com.

If you are interested in learning more about the Italian Renaissance, click here to be taken to a short but informative article on LifeInItaly.com. Click here to be taken to a webpage on SparkNotes.com.

The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

9781601424969_p0_v1_s600“After all, He was the giver of every good gift… She would not doubt Him now.”

As a lover of Downton Abbey, I was very excited to find this book set in the same period and setting that the TV series starts out in. I love the period so much, the clothes and the glamor of it all and this book gives a different perspective of what you might see on Downton Abbey. This book was sweet and easy to read that held my attention for most of the story.

First, the cover. It’s gorgeous. I love how it gives the reader a little bit of visual to where the book is set and what the mansion looks like. I suppose one could use their imagination, but I enjoyed having the estate in the background. I’ve heard some people don’t like having the face of the books heroine, Julia, on the cover, but I like being able to see what she looks like.

As for the characters, I’ve never read a book where the main character was a missionary. Julia was a refreshing change of character from the other books I’ve read. She kept strong faith throughout the entire book, even through the difficulties she faced she kept faith in God to lead her through it, rather than helping her out of it (if that makes sense). I enjoyed Julia’s character. Her personality is quieter and a little less headstrong than other heroines, but I think it fit her profession (governess) well. Not to mention there are so many female characters that fit the progressive feminist role, so I enjoyed her.

The only beef I have with the character of William is that he is, unfortunately, the cliche of a person who was betrayed by his (or her) significant other and has a hard time trusting another person for the prospect of marriage due to the possibly she (or he) might be like his previous SO. It was got on my nerves a little bit. I would have preferred if he pulled more of a Rochester from Jane Eyre, instead of a 50% can’t-trust-women and 50% can’t-marry-her-because-she’s-the-governess. Nonetheless, he wasn’t that bad. I just would have preferred him to have a different personality.

Other Comments – I wish Julia had a bit more spunk about her, but due to her calmness it just really wasn’t part of her personality. I did like the little twist at the end, and it wasn’t terribly predictable.

Conclusion – I enjoyed it immensely and thought it’s conservative enough for any Christian to read.