Mini Reviews ~ Historical Fiction with and without Magic

Posted August 26, 2015 by Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog in 2015 Book Challenge, Reviews / 37 Comments

Mini Reviews ~ Historical Fiction with and without MagicThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferAnnie Barrows
Published by Dial Press on 2008
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 277
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
3.5 Stars

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb.... As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends--and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island--boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.


I had tried to read this a year or so ago based on a co-workers recommendation. I think I made it half way or so before I had to DNF. In general I liked it but it was moving slow and I stopped caring. However, one of the categories in my reading challenge is to read a book you didn’t finish. I thought I would give this one a try again – but went the audio route. Well, I am really glad I did pick this up again and even more glad I went with audio. All of the narrators were wonderful.

This is told post-war through various letters to and from lots of people. The main character is Juliet, who is a writer and looking to write her next book. She starts to correspond with a man on the island of Guernsey after he found an old book with her name and address. This leads to her starting to write letters to others on the island leading to a possible book idea. She also writes to her editor, best friend, and a boyfriend.

The part I didn’t get to the first time was when Juliet actually goes to Guernsey to meet and speak with the people there for her book. To me, this is when the story really picks up and wish there was more of it. I loved her interactions with everyone there. Also, the ending was just perfect and made me so happy I finished it this time.

Mini Reviews ~ Historical Fiction with and without MagicThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on September 13th 2011
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Historical
Pages: 384
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.


When this book started I will admit I was pretty confused. There were dates, places, names just all over the place. I kept going back and trying to see if it was the same people. Was this before or after the last part. Finally, I gave up and just listened and hoped I caught up and caught on.

I did get hooked at some point and got it mostly straightened out. I loved the circus and all its magical goodness. The competition between the two magicians, Celia and Marco, was fun, extravagant and sounded beautiful. However, only one can win. The romance that develops between the two is slow, deep and well, magical.

I was also taken with so many of the other secondary characters that popped up throughout. They were quirky, and big and woven so well within story and added so much. Also, the circus was pretty much a character in itself. I loved all the descriptions which made it really come to life.

I felt this was beautifully written, wonderfully paced and  couldn’t have ended in a better way.

Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog

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37 responses to “Mini Reviews ~ Historical Fiction with and without Magic

  1. Hooray! I’m so glad you like The Night Circus. I love the book, but I don’t think I would’ve cared for the audio. Well, maybe if I did it as a reread since I’m already familiar with it. That’s cool that you enjoyed the Potato book more this time on audio. I haven’t haven’t heard of it before.
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  2. I’m not really a historical fan or a fan of books about war post or during. So I won’t read these I’m sure, even if they do sound intriguing. Glad you were able to pick that first one back up and enjoy it.

  3. Nereyda and I were talking yesterday about how there are just some books that we would probably hate while reading but love listening to because the narrators are awesome. This sounds like one of these books for you, Grace. I’m glad you had better luck with the book the second time around and that it did pick up for you.

    I’ve been wanting to try Night Circus for the longest time! It sounds absolutely amazing, Grace and I think I’d really enjoy the circus. Love that the circus itself was a character. I’ll have to check if the library has copies of the audio.

    Lovely reviews, Grace!
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  4. Girl let me tell you, I purchased the Night Circus ages ago, (last November to be exact) and I STILL haven’t picked it up. I’m definitely waiting for the right time, which will probably be when it’s nice and chilly, so I’m aiming for oct/nov. I just love the fact that it’s centered around a circus, and I’ve heard from pretty much EVERYONE that the writing is beautiful and magical! I can’t wait to dive in 🙂
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  5. Oh oh oh it’s the Potato Peel book! I enjoyed that on my first try, even though it was pretty slow, and I was more reading it because of how weird the plot was haha! And I loved The Night Circus, but I haven’t read it in so long and I don’t exactly remember what happened. I’ll have to revisit it one day. Awesome review Grace!
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  6. Both of these books are high on my to-read list. I *might* own a copy of the Night Circus or maybe I’ve just been thinking about buying it for so long that I think I do! It sounds very confusing at the start so I don’t think audio will work for me for this one as I do better with a physical book or ebook for that.

    I love the war/post war setting for TGLAPPS so I will probably get to that one sooner. I’m glad it worked out for you on your second attempt.
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