Elsinore has grown up feeling ugly, unloved, and like she’s a burden to her family. They tell her she’s too tall, not pretty, and sickly. It’s the 1920’s and women tend to be married and have children by the time they’re twenty years old and Elsinore is twenty-five. She wants a change and wants to enjoy life so she cuts her waist-length hair to her chin and buys red silk and creates a flapper dress. She sneaks out one night to go to the speakeasy in town but they won’t let her in and tell her to go home when they realize it’s her. She walks down the street and meets an eighteen-year-old Italian man who wants to have fun. They both admit they’re lonely and see each other a few times to have sex. Rafe calls Elsinore “Els”; she likes the nickname and feels wanted when she’s with him. She ends up with morning sickness and her parents disown her and her father takes her and one packed suitcase to Rafe’s family farm. Elsinore’s father tells Rafe’s parents what’s going on and leaves her there, stating that their family is done with her. Rafe’s parents have saved for him to go to college for a better life but he seems happy to stay on the farm with Els and says that he doesn’t want to go to college anyway. Elsa and Rafe have a girl then a boy. His parents are grateful for Elsa because she’s strong, brave, a hard worker, and a good wife and mother. When the Great Depression hits, Rafe leaves his family behind because he can’t stand staying on the farm anymore. His parents help Elsa raise their grandchildren and they all take care of the farm together. When the land turns into a dust bowl, life gets even worse! The people and animals struggle to survive the heat, the powerful winds, and the extreme dust everywhere. Ant, the youngest grandchild, becomes deathly sick with dust pneumonia and that’s when they decide it’s time to leave the Great Plains behind. When Elsa leaves for California with her children, she’s terrified but sees no other solution. They make it to California but find discrimination and harsh prejudice, horrible working and living conditions, and struggle to survive because of little and sometimes no income. The three do discover strength and loyalty and what they are truly capable of. A story of great strength, determination, and unbelievable perseverance, 5 stars!
Detective Jazz is assigned a case of a missing detective. The case belonged to Roberts and he investigated for two days then supposedly left town for a different job. There’s no way to get a hold of him. The murderer is leaving poems on paper inside the victims’ mouths and Detective Jazz thinks he has a god complex. Many investigators are helping with the case, from tracking cyanide purchases to surveillance. Jazz believes she has it narrowed down to a man she refers to as The Poet. I enjoyed the book until the ending. The mystery has an interesting base but feels rushed in the end. I would have liked a little more length added to the chase. The ending felt anticlimactic. 3 stars!
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I read a paper by a student and her analysis and description of this book drew me into the story, so much that I purchased the book right away. World War II, 1939, France is the beginning setting of the narrator’s memories.
Vianne watches her husband Antoine leave for war with a terrified heart. She recalls the state of the World War I soldiers when they returned home and she doesn’t want these men to go through the horrors of war too, as her father did. Vianne and her daughter Sophie return home. Vianne’s eighteen-year-old younger sister, Isabelle, is sent away by their father, to live with Vianne. Vianne has always been a rule follower and Isabelle has always been a rebel. When a German soldier is sent by authorities to live in their home, Vianne frustratingly complies and Isabelle can hardly contain her anger. Vianne sacrifices everything she can to keep her daughter Sophie as safe and healthy as possible. Isabelle is discovered by the resistance and decides that she will do everything in her power to help them, so she moves back to Paris and is known as The Nightingale because of her covert activities. Meanwhile, Vianne tries to help her neighbor and best friend, Rachel, to run to a safe zone. Rachel takes her sleeping baby Ari in a wheelbarrow and her daughter Sarah walks next to her with Vianne. When they reach trees by the checkpoint barrier, Vianne watches Rachel and her children walk to the queue. Almost immediately, a machine gun sprays the crowd with bullets. Rachel runs with her children back to the trees but her young daughter Sarah gets riddled with bullets across her chest. The horror of the French government turning on their Jewish people who have husbands fighting in the war and are prisoners of war is too terrible to grasp but add the slaughter of innocent children and other family members to that and it’s a completely unfathomable nightmare that truly happened less than 80 years ago! The details of the struggles, loss, torture, love and sacrifice make this book a true historical fiction classic for the ages! The Nightingale continues to tell the story of the two sisters and both of their World War II ordeals. I absolutely love this book! Great character growth and strength and the resilience of the human spirit is awe-inspiring! 5 stars!
The new series, by Sarah J. Maas, opens with House of Earth and Blood which involves Bryce, half-fae/half-human and her world. The cover is beautifully complex!
In the beginning of the book, Bryce is trying to calm her wolf friend because of an injustice occurring, which let a criminal receive freedom. Bryce goes on a date with her human boyfriend and he ignores her the entire time, so she dumps him and leaves to party at a club with her friends. As Bryce returns home, she can tell something is off, even though she’s wasted. Once she reaches her apartment she finds her best friend and roommate, Danika, slaughtered, as well as the rest of Danika’s wolf pack. Briggs, the criminal that had been set free, is arrested for the murders because of evidence and motive. Two years later, the same type of murder takes place while Briggs is still in prison. Bryce is assigned to work with the police to help find the murderer. She reluctantly and grudgingly let’s them follow her around for her protection and she spends more time and energy being annoying, rude and wasting the police’s time when all she needs to do is give them a list of Danika’s whereabouts and who she spent the last week of her life around. This makes Bryce seem like a completely selfish brat. While she seemed to be wasting time, she was actually gathering information to share with the Angel protecting her. Eventually Bryce and Hunt, the Angel guard, work together and try to find answers to several mysteries, not just Danika’s death. They also become friends and more to each other. Things take a turn for the worst and Hunt feels like he will be a slave forever. Twists and surprises abound and make this first book in the Crescent City a great start to a promising new series, 5 stars!
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is one of the best fairy tale retellings that I have read.
The writing demanded my attention from the first chapter and each chapter ends in a bit of a cliffhanger! I had to force myself to stop reading to go to bed. Harper is kidnapped but for reasons that are different from what she ever expected. She’s been kidnapped from Washington D.C. to help break a prince’s curse. Prince Rhen and his top guard, Grey, are the only two that know about the curse and the secret that Rhen is horrified about. Lilith cursed Rhen years ago and he’s turned into a violent monster every season since. Once he changes, he has no memory or control, and because of that he’s ending up killing the royal family, his family. Harper doesn’t like Rhen at first but she understands him better the more she gets to know him. Grey is an intimidating guard but a kind and caring soul. Each season, Rhen becomes a different creature but he’s always violent and ruthless. Harper helps Rhen and his kingdom by pretending to be a princess. A cruel ruler threatens to take over the kingdom and Harper and Rhen tell her that the princess’s father is sending reinforcements to stop her. Rhen, Harper and Grey continue to work together and become closer. This story is full of action, loyalty and bravery and ends in an intense surprise, 5 stars!
Mindful insight into human behavior!
Joe’s point of view tells the story of how he first sees Beck at the bookstore where he works and then stalks her incessantly. Joe twists happenings and events to fit into his logic so he can get closer to Beck. Beck is insecure and enjoys attention and feeds on it. Joe spins quickly and thoroughly down the Beck rabbit hole. He quietly watches and stalks her, starts a relationship with her and becomes consumed with all things Beck, even as she continues to flounce through her unproductive life.
Beck is spoiled and isn’t goal oriented and she doesn’t really know how to have a healthy relationship. Her behavior taunts Joe and he’s too obsessed with her to move on without her. This book is a look into injured minds and it really nails the reactions to situations that people who are insecure or emotionally stunted have. It’s valuable insight into understanding others. I did get tired of Joe’s logic and Beck’s self-centeredness but they tell the whole story. I want to read Hidden Bodies and then watch both seasons of the Netflix show, You, to compare and contrast the show with the books. Morbidly fascinating, 4 stars!
Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down. Providence weaves a young friendship that’s postponed, over and over, from becoming more. Jon is awkward and kind. Chloe has many friends but she considers Jon her best friend. Her other friends don’t like Jon and some of them are outright bullies to him. He walks through the woods to get to school so he can avoid the bullies. One day, while walking through the woods, Jon is hit over the head and kidnapped. He isn’t heard from for four years. He does return home but he’s different and so is everyone else. Chloe mourned him along with his parents but no one else did. Jon discovers that he has a negative effect on people, causing them to have heart attacks if he gets too close or too emotional. His life becomes lonely solitude and he doesn’t dare get near his parents or Chloe. Providence is a unique story with complex characters. It’s a thought provoking read that never reveals the mystery entirely; 5 stars for characters that I truly cared about!
Veiled By Desire by Candace Robinson, is the sequel to Clouded By Envy. This sequel happens much later in time than the first book of the Laith series. My heart went out to Tavarra because she believed in love, felt cheated and then her entire life was shattered by a horrible transformation.
Rhona is mistreated and my heart goes out to her and her friend Perin, also. I love when loyalty is strong between friends and when the bond cannot be broken. Tavarra meets Rhona and they work together to improve the lots they’ve been given. I enjoyed this sequel much more than the first and I think it’s because the characters were more relatable and the struggles seemed more harrowing, somehow. 4 stars!
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys is a novel masterpiece!
Poverty and suppression hidden under sunshine and kindness describes the picture painted of Spain as the rest of the world sees the land and its people. The story tells itself with alternating points of view and the author’s writing draws the reader into the characters’ lives, so I was pulled quickly into caring for them. Ana lives with her siblings and each of them works as many jobs as possible since their parents are no longer with them. Daniel traveled to Spain from Texas with his parents, his mother of Spanish descent and oil-rich father. Daniel meets Ana at the hotel where she works as a maid. Daniel loves photography and Ana helps him as much as she dares. Daniel starts noticing that Ana keeps her distance like she’s afraid. Another revelation occurs when Ana’s brother Rafe and his coworker realize that the baby coffins being sent to the cemetery for them to bury are actually empty. More injustice is revealed as we learn that Ana’s parents were killed because they wanted to start a school and their ideas went against the beliefs of the leader of Spain, Francisco Franco. The snippets taken from primary sources bring this story to a deeper level and helped me to understand how the rest of the world perceived Spain during this time frame.
The characters and their lives all connect in one way or another and those relationships show how truly complicated and complex Spain’s history is. My heart goes out to the people who suffered in silence for decades and for those still affected by the repercussions. Ruta Sepetys amazes me with every book she writes. Her dedication stands above and beyond what is required because she pours her heart and soul into the stories she creates. I’m grateful that she shares them with the world because, with each book, I gain more knowledge of cultures and history across the globe.
Fountains of Silence, a true work of art! 5 stars!
Secrets and Folklore!
Thanks to Bookish first, Atria Books, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield!
Twists and turns and many characters along with their stories bring Once Upon a River to life. The book opens with a background of the setting and builds up to the present when a four-year-old girl is found and brought to the Swan, where storytelling is at its finest. The man who brought the little girl in is very injured and he loses consciousness, so no one can ask questions. The storytelling begins by the regular inhabitants of the Swan and continues to build with speculation. Everyone falls in love with the little girl and their hearts warm to her. Because of the girl’s appearance in the community, many lives are changed and things that have been hidden for years come to light. A food for thought story full of folklore and secrets, 4 stars!