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Welcome! The ultimate luxury for me is curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. The next best thing is reviewing books and sharing them with others.

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5 05, 2016

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

By | May 5th, 2016|Categories: Family Saga, Genre Fiction, Giveaways, Historical, Literature & Fiction, Romance|Tags: , , , |15 Comments


belgravia blog tour bannerPlease join Julian Fellowes, creator, sole writer, and executive producer of the hit television series Downton Abbey and the author of the new novel Belgravia, who is touring the blogosphere with a progressive blog tour from April 14 to June 16, 2016!

Similar to a progressive dinner party, where a group of friends each make one course of a meal that moves from house to house with each course, this progressive blog tour features eleven bloggers and authors, each offering a recap and review of one episode from the book. 

Visit The Calico Critic to learn more about Episode 4: At Home in Belgrave Square, and read on for our review of Episode 5: The Assignation. 

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win 1 of 3 hardcover copies of Belgravia–details below! 

Reviewed by Alisha Churbe


26 04, 2016

Review: The Making of Home by Judith Flanders

By | April 26th, 2016|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , , |0 Comments


the making of home book coverReviewed by Meg Massey

In The Making of Home: The 500-Year Story of How Our Houses Became Our Homes, author Judith Flanders traces the evolution of houses from the 16th century to the present, in Europe and America. From great houses that were open to the public to homes that became more intimate spaces, the change in these spaces is quite fascinating.

As I read through this book, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to historical series like Downton Abbey. That particular series centered around the lives of a family and their servants, in the early 1900s, when change was on the horizon for great houses and the people in them. Over the course of the series, we saw that war, technology, a continually changing political and economic climate, and many other external forces influenced the lives

16 12, 2015

Review: Black Earth by Timothy Snyder

By | December 16th, 2015|Categories: Gift Ideas, Historical, Military, Non Fiction, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment


black earth book coverReviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Timothy Snyder takes a fresh historical look at the Holocaust and not only ties together the events and logistics of the time, but also approaches the information with a view on modern day events and ethics. Snyder is an intelligent and careful writer, detailed and fills the book with maps, personal narratives pulled from survivors, participants, documentation and beyond. Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning highlights the Holocaust, obviously a much studied and often discussed event and churns up new information along with a message of caution and raised awareness for citizens of today and the future. The terrible actions as well as the humanitarian acts that were also transpiring during this time in history each carry important lessons on humanity, civility, good and evil. While circumstances and groups have changed, Snyder

27 11, 2015

Review: The Witches by Stacy Schiff

By | November 27th, 2015|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Religion & Spirituality|Tags: , , |4 Comments


the witches salem 1962 book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Schiff’s strength is in narrating history and bringing new light to an old story. The Witches: Salem, 1692 is impeccably researched and it’s dense with historical facts. The book begins with six pages for a “Cast of Characters”. With this, you know right away the book will be intense and you should be prepared for the endeavor. It’s not a quick read and the sheer number of characters made it a difficult read.

Schiff has done a great job retelling the story of the Salem Witch Trials in a new way, adding so much to the story that isn’t available in the history. Schiff’s narration is distant, which is fitting to the subject, but it makes the story hard to get through. Schiff’s retelling adds details and sarcasm that wasn’t necessarily in the historical

25 09, 2015

Review: The End of Tsarist Russia by Dominic Lieven

By | September 25th, 2015|Categories: Historical, Military, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |2 Comments


end of tsarist russia book coverReviewed by Nikhil Sharma

The End of Tsarist Russia: The March to World War I and Revolution by Dominic Lieven is a serious, dense, and sometimes overwhelming look into Tsarist Russia on the threshold of World War I. Lieven’s first chapter, “A World of Empires”, is a sweeping account of the world from 100-years ago: the Ulster crisis in Britain, the industrialization of economies, the Boer politics in South Africa, the core-states of Prussia and Piedmont in Germany and Italy respectively, the after-effects of the Congress of Vienna of 1814-15, the nationalism in the Balkans, and the rise of Japanese power. As the centenary celebrations of the First World War reverberate around the publishing and television world, countless books and tele-series have been launched to make sure we never forget how it all started. The assassination of Franz

12 05, 2015

Review: American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus

By | May 12th, 2015|Categories: Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |4 Comments


american ghost book coverReviewed by Alyssa Katanic

Despite having grown up on Stephen King movies, Friday the 13th, and books like Haunted Ohio, I am not one for ghost stories these days. Nor would I be tempted to pick up a book with “ghost” in the title. It’s just not me. Yet, I took a chance (read as: I really needed something to read and wasn’t sure what I “felt” like reading) and picked up Hannah Nordhaus’ American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest, and I am so glad I didn’t miss out!

American Ghost is not simply a ghost story to make you feel creeped out or spooked. In fact, it is so much more than anything that I would call “simple”, or even term as a “ghost story”. Instead, it is an amazing feat of family history and genealogical

10 05, 2015

Blog Tour: The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower

By | May 10th, 2015|Categories: Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |3 Comments


the residence book coverPlease join Kate Andersen Brower, author of The Residence, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Sarah McCubbin

Behind the doors of America’s most famous home lives a world mostly unseen and unknown to the public. Part manor, part government hub and part icon, the White House operates smoothly every day due to the dedicated service of men and women who devote their lives to ensure the comforts and image of the First Family are given detailed attention. Most of what the staff does is never known. They operate with secrecy and discretion to protect the family name and security. Yet, their private work has a huge impact on the ability of the President and his family to function.

In order to unveil some of the mystery of this prestigious home, Kate Andersen Brower seeks to peek behind

7 05, 2015

Review: Van Gogh: A Power Seething by Julian Bell

By | May 7th, 2015|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction|Tags: |2 Comments


power seething book coverReviewed by Nina Longfield

Van Gogh: A Power Seething by Julian Bell is a fresh look at the life of Vincent van Gogh and the man as the artist. Bell creates a picture of Van Gogh as a child and a wayward young man stumbling through life before he gave in to his artistic passion. Bell draws upon historical accounts, medical reports, and Vincent van Gogh’s artworks and numerous letters to fill in the details of Van Gogh’s life and thoughts. Yet, at no point is Bell trying to explain Van Gogh’s actions or ideas. As Bell wrote, “to ask “why the ear” is to seek logic for what’s grimly illogical” (p113).

As an artist himself, Julian Bell has a knack for capturing the artistic moment. At these times, Bell’s prose comes alive describing both Van Gogh the man and Van

22 03, 2015

Review: The Wilderness of Ruin by Roseanne Montillo

By | March 22nd, 2015|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Psychology, True Accounts|Tags: , , , |2 Comments


wilderness of ruin book coverReviewed by Jax Kep

The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America’s Youngest Serial Killer by Roseanne Montillo has an interesting premise on the surface: fourteen-year-old Jesse Pomeroy is abusing children in Boston right after the Civil War. While the search is on for him, Boston burns in a horrible fire. It seemed as though this book would be similar to The Devil in White City, but unfortunately this disjointed story simply cannot live up to that classic nonfiction.

Part of the problem is the odd title: there is a lot going on! Jesse’s story is interesting because he was so young and disturbed, but he had absolutely nothing to do with the Great Fire, nor was he in the vicinity while it raged on. The police detective who was looking for him was not the person

8 01, 2015

Review: Paris at the End of the World by John Baxter

By | January 8th, 2015|Categories: Historical, Military, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |2 Comments


paris at the end of the world book coverReviewed by Jax Kepple

World War I was an absolutely incredible, global war that permanently changed European life forever. John Baxter’s Paris at the End of the World: The City of Light During the Great War, 1914-1918 aimed to take the journey through Paris to see how the city and the civilians coped with the war. However, this swift read is one of disjointed vignettes, threaded through with a narrative of how Baxter’s grandfather served from Australia and what had happened to him.

Each chapter takes on another aspect of European life and how the war affected it – it reads like several magazine stories, with one theme (WWI) but not much else joining it together. It jumps from prostitution to doughboys to Picasso’s Parade ballet. And all these topics are just touched upon and not detailed,