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!
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly Mattie is the eldest of her three sisters and helps her father take care of everything, farm and family, since their brother Lawton left and their mother is no longer with them. Mattie loves words and treasures the dictionary she inherited from her mother. She teaches her siblings new words every day. Mattie loves to read and write and she’s attending school as often as she can to earn her high school diploma. In 1906, women didn’t have voting, purchasing, or really any legal rights. Men decided pretty much everything. There wasn’t really any birth control except abstinence so that changed the course of many lives. Mattie observes others and analyzes their actions to understand their behavior better and empathize with them. So much around her is complicated and more than the eye, or gossip, can see. She also listens to the judgmental gossip and realizes how selfish the gossiping people are and how they see that people need help but they don’t help at all, instead they just enjoy talking about them. The grit, roughness, grief, joy, hardwork, and the everyday living details are included in this story and that makes a wonderfully, realistic historical fiction read! I love Jennifer Donnelly’s writing style and have read all of her books except one, Tea Rose is on my to-be-read pile. 5 stars for a satisfying historical read!
Action packed historical fiction with a supernatural twist! Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Roaring by Lindsey Duga! A siren, Eris, hides in a speakeasy in Boston during the roaring 1920’s. A bureau agent, Colt Clemmons, is sent to capture and bring her in because they believe she’s a monster. Eris sings with the band but refuses to speak to anyone since she doesn’t want to influence people, except when she can use her influence for good. Colt and Eris run and become involved in numerous acts of violence and danger, while falling for each other. They also discover a devious plot that no one suspected. I enjoyed the historical fiction aspect of the 1920’s setting and both the characters of Colt and Eris. The supernatural added a unique twist to the story and brought in a bit of science fiction also. Genre-bending story set in the 1920’s, 4 stars!
Revolutin by Jennifer Donnelly pulled me into historical Paris! By page 50, I was completely hooked by this book! I love and feel for Andi, I enjoy her clever sarcasm and appreciate the intellectual and cultural references throughout the story! Andi’s younger brother died in the street two years earlier and she’s never been able to move on and neither has her mother. Her father is handling it better due to his scientific and analytical thinking. Since Andi is failing classes, her father decides to take her to Paris during winter break. He wants her to work on her thesis and improve her grades during their stay in Paris. The two of them stay with her father’s long time friend and French Revolution historian. Andi accidentally discovers the journal of the young king’s caretaker during the Revolution. She becomes engrossed with the journal and the information it holds. Her reality begins to intertwine with the Revolution history and she wishes for the young king to be safe just as she wishes the same thing for her brother. This is my favorite historical fiction book with the strong and tortured main character, extreme character development and depth, research based story line and the vivid descriptions of Revolutionary Paris, 5 stars!
This book is just as awesome the second time around!
I love the characters and the historical tidbits throughout the story that keep it in line with factual events!
I read Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco as part of the Goodreads group, One ‘n Done Book Corner for the May Book of the Month (BOTM).
Audrey loves science and wants to pursue a career in the medical field. She’s learned everything she knows about anatomy and diagnosis from her uncle. She finally convinces him to let her be a student in his class, as long as she dresses like a young man and talks to no one. In her first day of class, she meets Thomas. The two have much in common and neither is squeamish around dead bodies. I enjoy the clever banter between Thomas and Audrey. I enjoyed this second reading of this book as much as the first read, even though I knew the ending the second time around. A historical mystery worth 5 stars!
Interesting and intelligent mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn!
Veronica is an orphan who has been raised by her Aunt Nell and Aunt Lucy. They weren’t really her aunts but they gave her what she needed. The story opens as Veronica attends the funeral for Aunt Nell. Afterwards, as she’s entering the cottage she resides in, she realizes someone has ransacked the place. She assumes that a burglar was trying to steal whatever they could find after her aunt’s passing. A baron comes to escort her to London for her safety and Veronica can’t fathom that anyone might harm her. She thinks she’s unimportant and happily so. The baron takes her to his friend’s house to keep her safe. This friend goes by the name of Stoker and he’s a complete enigma to Veronica. Little by little, they get to know each other and each other’s stories and secrets. Soon enough, Veronica’s life is threatened and the secret surrounding the danger is brought to light. The secret is a whopper! This is a wonderful mystery filled with intelligent and interesting characters set in Victorian London. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series, 5 stars!
The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu tells the story of Mozart and his older sister Nannerl when they were children and the fantastical world they discover together through their musical talent. I absolutely love how Marie Lu based this story on sources she found while reading about Mozart. She discovered that he did have a sister and they shared compositions along with their love of music, as well as their co-created stories of the Kingdom of Back. The historical based story fascinates me and I enjoyed every minute reading this fantasy. The struggles Nannerl dealt with because of the day and age she was born in were unfair but she persevered as much as she could. I love this story and give it a full 5 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!
Based on the true events of Florida’s infamous reform school!
Thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday for the opportunity to read and review The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead!
Historical fiction novel based on the real reform school that horribly mistreated the boys who resided there. Traumatized young men were left to deal with the abuse on their own. The story focuses on Elwood and we learn about other boys’ stories through his eyes as he witnesses them. The prevalent racism harbored hatred to the point of punishing innocent people and sending them to this terrible reform school where even harsher acts of racism occurred. The abuse went on for decades and through several headmasters. After reading this novel, I felt compelled to research the truth behind the story and was sickened at the amount of violence and abuse that young boys had to live through. Some didn’t survive. I truly don’t understand how the adults took part in or witnessed and kept quiet about any of the abuse. What’s their excuse? The Nickel Boys is tremendously powerful, enlightening and tragic, 4 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White!
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a fresh and unique retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic story. I love the female protagonist, Elizabeth. Her background has been lonely and she’s always struggling to secure her place in the world, much like women of the time period the story takes place in. The mystery intrigued me and after Elizabeth’s background was set, the action and mystery picked up the story’s pace. Tragedy seems to strike all too often around the Frankenstein manor where Elizabeth was taken in as a young girl. Her favorite companion has always been Victor Frankenstein and he claims ownership and complete companionship of Elizabeth. The story becomes darker as it progresses, which makes it even more interesting to read. Historical fiction, horror, and a retelling earn 5 stars! Kudos to Kiersten White for her remarkable retelling!