Book Review: “Debutantes” & “The Giver of Stars”

Hey guys! Today I’m sharing two standalone novels that I’ve read this month. This has been a really good reading month for me, both in terms of the number of books and the quality of books. I’ve already hit four books this month, and there is a good chance I’ll finish one more before the month is done. But anyway, today I have two different historical fiction books. I’ve been reading lots of fantasy lately, so it was nice to read another genre. Let’s get into it.

Debutantes, Debutantes by Cora Harrison, Cora Harrison, book, book review, historical fiction, YA historical fiction

The first book we have is Debutantes by Cora Harrison. I’ve had this on my bookshelf for many years, it was purchased sometime when I was in high school. The novel follows four sisters who live with their father and great-aunt in an old mansion in 1920s England. The oldest sister is hoping to have her debut season but may not be able to because of the family’s difficult financial season. On top of this, the sisters find out a mystery that could change their lives. This is a young adult historical fiction.

This book gave me such Downton Abbey vibes. From the big old house to the older, sassy relative, to the friendly staff, and the book is set in the same time period. It’s also similar in the sense where there are some difficult situations, things always end well. The book is PG, with very little romance. It’s more about the sisters and their relationships with each other.

I think I would have liked the novel if I was 10 years younger. The story is pretty cute but very surface-level. There is so much discussion on fashion, which I would have loved as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes and fashion. But it becomes excessive when every outfit is described in detail.

The mystery is also pretty obvious. I guessed it almost right away so there was no suspense for me. I enjoyed reading it and seeing the clues, but I wasn’t left guessing what was going to happen.

Overall I give this book 3/5 stars. I don’t think it’s bad. I just think it could have been better. I would recommend this book to 13-year-olds who are interested in history. But if you’re looking for Bridgerton level romance, this isn’t it. Also just wanted to note that there is a sequel but I won’t be reading it. I felt like the end of the first novel was satisfying enough that I didn’t need to read the second.

book, book review, historical fiction, Jojo Moyes, The Giver of Stars, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, Reese's Book Club

The second book I have to review today is The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. The novel follows Alice, who moves from England to Kentucky to follow her new husband. There she joins a group of women who run a travelling library in rural Kentucky in the 1930s. This is a historical fiction novel.

Wow, I loved this novel. It’s a very easy read. It’s paced very well and I found myself wanting to read to find out what happens to the women. I didn’t know much about this area, so it was easy to learn because one of the main point-of-views is from Alice who is also an outsider.

I think that Moyes did an amazing job of balancing the line between critiquing and showing the beauty of rural Kentucky. There are many issues that Moyes highlights such as the way women are treated, how people of colour of treated and the atrocities the mining company is allowed to commit for the sake of money. But Moyers also highlights the community aspect of small towns and also the physical beauty of the mountains. It also highlighted a little-known topic of the Packhorse Libraries that ran in the 1930s under Eleanor Roosevelt.

I loved the cast of characters in this novel. Each character was unique and added something to the story. It featured powerful women who were trying to make a difference in their community, which is something I love to read. It also talks a lot about the love and power of reading. As an avid reader, it’s fun to read about characters who also love reading.

I will say that the story is slightly predictable in the sense that I had a feeling what the ending was going to be. But how the story got to the ending was a complete surprise so I wasn’t bored while reading. If you want a book that will give you a happy, satisfying ending, this book perfectly fits the bill.

Overall I give this book 5/5 stars. Five-star books for me are books that I wouldn’t change a thing and feel comfortable recommending to anyone. And this book is that exactly. I think this book is an easy, comfortable read that I think would have a broad appeal to many people even though it’s such a niche topic. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel so I think it deserved five stars.

I will note that if you go on Goodreads or Google the book you’ll notice that there has been some controversy with this novel, with claims of plagiarism. Just wanted to bring this up because I know that this might matter to some people. I haven’t read the other book, so I cannot confirm if the allegations are true. I would recommend doing your own research before making a decision.

And those are my two book reviews for today. I’m currently in the middle of a series so it might be a bit before I have another book review. As always, please let me know your thoughts if you’ve read either of these novels. And let me know if you have any recommendations for me, I’d love to check them out!

xoxo

Lea

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