Lale is transported to an Auschwitz concentration camp in a rail car with many other men. He arrives and is requested to help the camp tattoist because of his fluency in several languages. On his first days of tattooing prisoners, Lale tattoos a woman that he immediately feels a strong connection with. Her name is Gita and their relationship continues to grow. As the tattooist, Lale gets extra food rations and he befriends the camp residents that take the prisoners clothes and belongings to sort them out. They find many valuables and share with Lale so he can get supplies, such as food and medicine for needy prisoners. He comes face to face with Mengele, the infamous and horrible doctor that experiments on prisoners. His assistant is castrated by Mengele and I had no idea that he performed terrible acts like castration, which was probably tame compared to his other experiments. Years go by as prisoners, and eventually the camp, is liberated. Lale searches for Gita as soon as he possibly can. This is a true story that’s heartbreaking and heartwarming. It’s full of historical information that the world needs to remember, 4 stars!
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!
Two beautiful people open the story with their jaw-dropping presence. They turn out to be the god of war, Ares, and the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Aphrodite describes how she feels no passion or love and this is because she’s bound to give love to others but never be able to feel it in return, for all of eternity. She tells the story of James and Hazel; when they first met one week before he was heading into the Great War. Their story continues through letters after he’s sent to war, at least during his training. Hazel becomes a relief volunteer and heads to France. Aubrey, a pianist from Harlem, is in France with his unit heading to the war. Colette has lost her loved ones during the German attack on Belgium. The story floats around the interactions and experiences of these four, Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. World War I history has been unclear to me but this book helped my understanding of this horrible war known as the Great War. I adore the four main characters and my heart soared and broke right alongside theirs. Based on historical facts and people, Lovely War tells a powerful tale, 5 stars!
Evvie is a teenager helping her younger siblings to lighten the load of her single mother. Their father is in prison. Jubilation runs in the family and Evvie’s magic is coming on strong. She causes odd behavior in others and can change the world around her, usually unintentionally. She’s falling for Clay, her longtime crush that’s very interested in her too. A creepy stranger keeps showing up, scaring Evvie and her mother tells her the past experiences with him. Virgil Hampton is not a good man and he hurt Evvie when she was little. Her mother lost her job over it because she was angry that he hurt Evvie and she was fired because her family is black and Virgil’s family is white and rich. This is a beautiful story of hardship and perseverance which brought me to tears many times while reading it. I cried for the touching and sweet moments, for the fear and loss and for the bravery, kindness, love and hope. Highly recommended and an emotional journey, 5 stars!
Alice’s grandmother leaves her a Paris apartment in her will when she passes away. So, Alice travels with her mother and father to Paris to see the tourist attractions and to visit the apartment that no one in the family knew about. Alice discovers a diary from a teen Adalyn, her grandmother’s sister that her grandmother never spoke of. The diary was written in during World War II and ends on May, 30, 1944. Alice meets Paul, a French teen, and the two of them work together to figure out her family’s secrets. Surprising discoveries open Alice’s eyes to her ancestors and to her mother’s depression. Wonderful young adult historical fiction, 5 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!
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!