Browsing Category: Historical Fiction

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

hosseini the kite runnerSeries: Standalone
Genre: Fiction / Historical Fiction
Published: May, 2003
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: June 30th, 2016
Finished: July 2nd, 2016
Drink Pairing: Dark, black coffee and two sugars.

The Kite Runner has always been a book that seemed distant to me. Not just because of the geographic distance between Canada and Afghanistan or the religious difference between something-in-between-nothing and Muslim, but because The Kite Runner has always hung around my head for years in big, flashing bold Impact font. It’s whispered and beckoned like all the classics – The Iliad, the Odyssey, Frankenstein, The Divine Comedy – that sing like sirens and taunt their maturity. Their pages are full of stories and verses that make your head spin and your heart soar, and they tear down the walls you’ve built up and think you hide behind only to give you a stick and push you on a path and tell you to walk. You know they are great: partially because you’ve always been told they’re great, and partially because you want to believe them. Even though it isn’t right to fear a book that is on the other side of your wall I think that it’s okay to put it aside, let it simmer and wait until you warm to it, before picking it up.

The Kite Runner waited many years for me. I saw it on all the top, “Must Read!” lists and Gilmore Girls and Emma Watson has recommended Hosseini’s other works too – it’s constant praise is most likely what raised it to the level of classics (the comparison I’m sure many will not appreciate). Then finally one morning, I woke up thinking, “It’s time,” like I was staring in a Hollywood heist movie. Hidden away in my favourite used book shop I found my copy; a few weeks later I was savouring every page.

And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.

Despite our history together, as soon as I opened to the first page all preconceived notions and expectations evaporated. I was able to enjoy the book for what it is:

a beautiful fiction novel.

Amir is the son of a wealthy and highly respected businessman in Kabul, and Hassan is the son of his father’s servant. They have played together since they were born, flown and ran kites together in the winter, and climbed the pomegranate tree with their names carved into it. But personal histories only go as far as loyalties run, and Hosseini beautifully portrays the dynamics between father-son and childhood boys, and the power jealousy has over the fragility of friendships. As it was set in Afghanistan, the culture, history, and religion drew a beautiful and eerie back-drop of what life in Afghanistan was, and is, like as it contrasts with Western culture. There is even a brief glimpse into Afghan community life within San Francisco.

So was the build up appropriate for the book? In a way, yes. Hosseini’s writing was beautiful and captured my attention, I enjoyed savouring the pages and took my time reading them. The story and characters were diverse and spanned many years, there was growth and shortcomings, change and stagnation. And in a way, no. It’s not life changing like I was expecting it to be. Eye-opening, sure, and enjoyable, of course. But not quite the life changing read I was expecting. Though, is this really a bad thing? The Kite Runner is, after all, only a fiction.

For you, a thousand times over.

Do you come across many books that have a long-standing history
and set expectations, that turn out to be something completely different?

The Lady Who Lived Again, by Thomasine Rappold

rappold the lady who lived againSeries:  Sole Survivor # 1
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Romance
Published:  June, 1991
Goodreads | Amazon CA / US / UK | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

“Madeleine Sutter was once the belle of the ball at the popular resort town of Misty Lake, New York. But as the sole survivor of the community’s worst tragedy, she’s come under suspicion. Longing for the life she once enjoyed, she accepts a rare social invitation to the event of the season. Now she will be able to show everyone she’s the same woman they’d always admired—with just one hidden exception: she awoke from the accident with the ability to heal.

“Doctor Jace Merrick has fled the failures and futility of city life to start anew in rural Misty Lake. A man of science, he rejects the superstitious chatter surrounding Maddie and finds himself drawn to her confidence and beauty. And when she seduces him into a sham engagement, he agrees to be her ticket back into society, if she supports his new practice—and reveals the details of her remarkable recovery. But when his patients begin to heal miraculously, Jace may have to abandon logic, accept the inexplicable—and surrender to a love beyond reason…”

Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3 / 5
Format:  Library Ebook
Started:  April 10th, 2016
Finished:  April 10th, 2016
Drink Pairing:
  A hot cut of chai tea (Samurai Chai is my favourite).

 She decided at once that if given the chance to pilfer a caress or two, she would rob the man blind.

Yes, you can expect a lot of cute, cheesy lines like this.

This is a really cute read.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading from both Madeline and Jace’s perspectives, and I absolutely loved Madeline’s personality! Her wit and confidence was wonderfully refreshing, and her flirtiness was cute. Her independence is a bit of a hindrance at spots – as she has come to rely solely on herself, she convinces herself that she will always be alone and she can never let anyone know her secret. Never believing Jace will come to accept her, she helps the town in secret to try and give something even if they hate her. I do understand her reasoning but it still irritated me. Especially when I imagine how back in 1882, to treat the doctor’s patients without seeing if his remedies work would just add insult to injury. Everything Jace worked so hard for in his life is pointless compared to her abilities. By believing no one will love her, she makes it harder for them to and pushes anyone away.

The rest of the story is pretty much as the synopsis says – it’s all there. It’s so hard to write a review for books that are “meh.”  It’s not bad but it’s not amazing, I enjoyed reading it but I won’t read it again. If you have a few hours and are looking for a quick read to keep you entertained, give you a few laughs, and then SPOILER: have a happy ending, I recommend The Lady Who Lived Again.

In a yellow dress and matching hat, she filled the room like sunshine.  The light of her presence touched everything around her, illuminating every nook and corner inside the dreary room.  Inside Him.
Christ Almighty.
He was so full of nonsense that he didn’t even recognize himself.

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

gabaldon outlanderSeries:  Outlander # 1
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Romance
Published:  June, 1991
Goodreads | Amazon | AudibleIndigo | Barnes & Noble

“The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

“Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4.5 / 5
Format:  Mass Market Paperback
Started:  April 4th, 2016
Finished:  April 7th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
  Bodacious Shiraz – sweet, rich, and just heavenly goodness.

The accurate and short review of Outlander:

librarian gets seriousi can't even

hawkeye yessss

i don't know what my feelings are doing

The bumbling, but slightly more verbose, review of Outlander:

“Ye werena the first lass I kissed,” he said softly. “But I swear you’ll be the last.”

I’m going to start with a bit of imagery for you.  This GIF is from episode one in the TV show (which I still have yet to watch because I wanted to write this review first but couldn’t for ages because reasons) and I haven’t heard anything bad about this show (from a female).  Any book lover knows the book is always better because you don’t just watch the show you actually live it…

So lets’ be real.  Whether you’re watching Outlander with your girlfriends, reading the ebook on your phone, or stalking the GIFs not-so-secretly on Tumblr,

it’s all because of Jamie.

Gabaldon has created a searing, passionate, and absolutely intoxicating love interest (yes, I am making myself sick writing this) that sucks you into 1743 Scotland so suddenly that I was lost for three days and couldn’t put Outlander down.  The deceivingly short description on the back of the book gives no no hints as to what actually happens – all you know is that Claire goes back in time, meets this steamy hot Scottish bloke who is usually shot or stabbed or shirtless (oops, spoiler), and is swept off her feet into a romance that is so sickeningly romantic it makes your stomach turn in all the right ways.  But it’s so much more than the initial romance because the story just kept going and going and going!  Deciding to read Outlander is a commitment that takes dedication and a whole lot of time.  Gabaldon splits the book conveniently into parts (there are seven in Outlander) and reading one part per sitting would have been perfect (or you can go for the weekend binge as I did, but I found the emotional rollarcoaster too taxing).  Gabaldon’s writing style is absolutely enthralling – writing the Scottish accent into the narrative was a beautiful and necessary touch (and probably why it took me so long to read – you need to read it with all the accents), and her structure captivates the reader without giving away all the details.  Having a good imagination is not a curse with Outlander.

“Oh, aye, Sassenach. I am your master . . . and you’re mine. Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own.”

The only reason I’m not giving Outlander a solid five-stars is because Claire’s physical weakness and indecisiveness (any loyalty to her first husband whom I don’t like) irritated me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m still young and incredibly immature when it comes to romance and relationships, but Claire’s reluctance to admit her feelings towards Jamie and her constant fight to go back to England in 1945 was grating.  There was several times she would say ridiculously hypocritical and childish things to Jamie that it was always a shock to remember she is, in fact, older than Jamie by quite a few years.  She was the perpetual damsel-in-distress stereotype, and while I enjoyed her wit she had too much of a complex and self-importance for me to relate to her at all.

But really, Jamie makes up for it all.  Despite all of Claire’s short-comings he somehow still loves her stronger and stronger, and we poor twenty-first-century lasses are left adoring him all the more for it.  And really, Jamie makes Outlander.  He is the perfect, swoon-worthy male protagonist that is strong and resilient, witty and cunning, and gentle and loving all at the same time.  He’s infuriatingly addictive and I couldn’t get enough of him.

Outlander is a fast-paced romance that will leave you breathless and not sure if you want to reread everything you just read or continue on with the story.  There’s a bit of magic, a dash of politics, a whole lot of romance, and all of Scotland to roam (*ahem*).  I have no regrets and sincerely doubt you will either.

“You’re tearin’ my guts out, Claire.”

Disclaimer:  I am putting most of my faith in the GIFs to convey an accurate review.  I have no confidence in my description of Outlander at all because it’s taken me almost a week to write these few paragraphs and it still feels completely inadequate.  Too many feels!