historical fiction

Starving Review: Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivack

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Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivack (Amazon, Goodreads)

There is a temptation from the menu entry of Unspeakable Things to want to put it into certain categories, certain specific cuisines.  A homefront war novel, perhaps?  A coming-of-age historical novel?  A Holocaust-themed book?  What will this meal actually turn out to be when it gets to the table?  Better yet, will it be any good?

Before we dig to the bottom of the dish, let’s recite the Starving Review motto:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible

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Starving Review: South of Rising Sun by J. D. McCall

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South of Rising Sun by J. D. McCall (Goodreads)

STARVING REVIEWER’S NOTE: Mr. McCall had the misfortune of his previous publisher imprint closing up shop.  However, he has already been picked up by another, so South should be available through Amazon and other outlets again shortly.  I will update the links when that happens.

If you’ve been hanging around the Starving Review kitchens, then you know by now that I love a good Western.  Of course, the emphasis needs to be on the ‘good’ part.  As a fan of the genre, I am obviously most sensitive to amateur chefs who burn the bottom, sour the filling, and generally botch up the recipe.  From first bite, South of Rising Sun seems to be as pure of a Western genre recipe as possible, but does it live up to standards or do we have another cake dropped on the kitchen floor?

Before we find out, let us review the code of the Starving Reviewer:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible

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Starving Interview: Don Westenhaver, Author of Alexander’s Lighthouse

It’s been a while since we had a chef visit our kitchen, but I’m proud to have Don Westenhaver, the mind behind the latest Starving Review book, Alexander’s Lighthouse, here to answer our usual, intense battery of questions!  Let’s see what he has to say.

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Starving Review: Alexander’s Lighthouse by Don Westenhaver

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Alexander’s Lighthouse by Don Westenhaver (Amazon, Goodreads)

Historical fiction has always been a cuisine of some consternation for yours truly.  You see, I am something of a history buff (I had early dreams of being a history teacher, even) and, obviously, I’m also a big fiction fan.  Yet, while I love both foods separately, I often find the mixing of the two to fall short of the sum of the parts.  The war between historical fact and fiction interpretation often leads to a clash of flavors, leaving one side of the taste equation unbalanced, spoiling the mix.  Still, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well.  The question, then, is whether today’s chef pulls out a winning recipe from that struggle or it simply sours.

Before we figure that out, let’s recite the Starving Review Creed:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible

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Starving Review: Forgotten Brothers by Gary Knight

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Forgotten Brothers by Gary Knight (Amazon, Goodreads)

Historical fiction, it can be many things, all depending on the mix of the recipe.  It can be dry and stale as an actual textbook or as flavorful as the finest genre fiction.  As with all other literary treats, it often comes down to what ingredients the chef throws in and how skillfully they cook it all up.  Today’s treat is a dish that looks to the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the tale of two brothers essential to the success of his first voyage.

Before we take apart the layers and taste the gooey centers, let’s recount the Starving Review creed:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.

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Starving Review: I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust by Mathias B. Freese

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I Truly Lament: Walking Through the Holocaust by Mathias B. Freese (Amazon, Goodreads)

Not all literary meals are laid out on the table purely for the stuffing of the reader’s face with new entertainment.  Some have a purpose behind their creation and other recipes are crafted to bring the reader an important message or a deep feeling as he sits chewing the fat.  I’ve reviewed at least one book like this before so it’s not a stranger to this Starving Reviewer and I have another such literary meal at my table today.  The message and the event it seeks to fill our taste buds with is older but even stronger than the previous book.  I Truly Lament deals with one of the great and terrible tragedies of the 20th Century: the Holocaust.  Does it perform its mission admirably?  Let’s find out.

But first!  The Starving Review creed!

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.

(more…)