They Went Left by Monica Hesse

TOUR BANNER (23)

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher and fantastic flying book club! Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: They Went Left

Author: Monica Hesse

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: Jewish main characters!

Rating: 5/5

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Recommended Age: 16+ (romance, violence, death, TW for Holocaust mentioning)

Synopsis: Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to eighteen-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal; her mind feels broken. And her life is completely shattered: Three years ago, she and her younger brother, Abek, were the only members of their family to be sent to the right, away from the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Everyone else–her parents, her grandmother, radiant Aunt Maja–they went left.

Zofia’s last words to her brother were a promise: Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet. Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany, and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past: Miriam, desperately searching for the twin she was separated from after they survived medical experimentation. Breine, a former heiress, who now longs only for a simple wedding with her new fiancé. And Josef, who guards his past behind a wall of secrets, and is beautiful and strange and magnetic all at once.

But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her–or help her rebuild her world.

Review: This book is equal parts heartbreaking and equal parts inspiring. The character development is amazing, I absolutely loved our main character and I loved how she wasn’t cookie cutter, she had flaws as well. I loved the world building, it’s hard to realize how devastating a place can be after a war. I am fortunate enough to not live with destruction like that and to see life go on as normal. I think books like this are very important because we only learn about the during and we don’t get to hear a lot about the after.

However, I did think the pacing was hit or miss. Sometimes we were sailing through and others we were at a standstill.

Verdict: a marvelous book! Definitely recommend!

BOOK INFORMATION

They Went Left

by Monica Hesse
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 7th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Synopsis:

Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to eighteen-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal; her mind feels broken. And her life is completely shattered: Three years ago, she and her younger brother, Abek, were the only members of their family to be sent to the right, away from the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Everyone else–her parents, her grandmother, radiant Aunt Maja–they went left.

Zofia’s last words to her brother were a promise: Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet. Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany, and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past: Miriam, desperately searching for the twin she was separated from after they survived medical experimentation. Breine, a former heiress, who now longs only for a simple wedding with her new fiancé. And Josef, who guards his past behind a wall of secrets, and is beautiful and strange and magnetic all at once.

But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her–or help her rebuild her world.

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47539277-they-went-left

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2UBy7kn

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/they-went-left-monica-hesse/1132821504?ean=9780316500746

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/they-went-left/id1475457444

Bookdepository: https://www.bookdepository.com/They-Went-Left-Monica-Hesse/9781549131714?ref=grid-view&qid=1584711908355&sr=1-1

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Monica_Hesse_They_Went_Left?id=AKGnDwAAQBAJ&hl=en_US

Monica Hesse by Cassidy DuHon

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Monica Hesse is the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in the Blue Coat, American Fire, and The War Outside, as well as a columnist at The Washington Post writing about gender and its impact on society. She lives outside Washington, D.C. with her husband and their dog.

AUTHOR LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5768028.Monica_Hesse

Website: https://www.monicahesse.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MonicaHesse

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/monica.hesse.7

Blind Sympathy by Roberta B. Bombonato

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: Blind Sympathy

 

Author: Roberta B. Bombonato

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 2.5/5

 

Diversity: blind main character

 

Publication Date: August 22, 2019

 

Genre: Romance

 

Recommended Age: 18+ (romance and sex)

 

Publisher: Indie Published

 

Pages: 239

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Vafara is a blind composer who creates new symphonies for the world. Alone in a cabin with only her service dog, she’s not concerned in the slightest for zero cell phone reception in a secluded in the woods. This is her special time where she can be free to let her musical compositions speak to her. Israfel is a demon one assignment short from graduation: possession of an innocent soul. He’s always know he was different from others of his kind, and meeting the pure Vafara confirmed it.Will he be able to possess the passionate musician when all he wants to do is hold her? Or will he throw it all away and risk an Angels and Demons war to save her innocent soul from the dark fate that awaits?

 

Review: I felt like the book did good with the plot. It had an interesting story and the book was unique. The romance was interesting as well and I did like that the author included a blind main character.

 

However, I don’t think this was the book for me. The author had very strong views and it comes through in this book, which can irk some readers. The book just didn’t strike my fancy, I felt it was too fast paced and that the book wasn’t written very well. The romance scenes weren’t very well executed in my opinion as well.

 

Verdict: An interesting romance story!

Renia’s Diary: A Holocaust Journal by Renia Spiegel

Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: Renia’s Diary: A Holocaust Journal

 

Author: Renia Spiegel

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Diversity: Jewish main character and side characters

 

Publication Date: September 24, 2019

 

Genre: YA History

 

Recommended Age: 14+ (teen angst, some love, inner thoughts, some violence, some horrifying events especially at the end)

 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

 

Pages: 336

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: The long-hidden diary of a young Polish woman’s last days during the Holocaust, translated for the first time into English, with a foreword from American Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt.

Renia Spiegel was a young girl from an upper-middle class Jewish family living on an estate in Stawki, Poland, near what was at that time the border with Romania. In the summer of 1939, Renia and her sister Elizabeth (née Ariana) were visiting their grandparents in Przemysl, right before the Germans invaded Poland.

Like Anne Frank, Renia recorded her days in her beloved diary. She also filled it with beautiful original poetry. Her diary records how she grew up, fell in love, and was rounded up by the invading Nazis and forced to move to the ghetto in Przemsyl with all the other Jews. By luck, Renia’s boyfriend Zygmund was able to find a tenement for Renia to hide in with his parents and took her out of the ghetto. This is all described in the Diary, as well as the tragedies that befell her family and her ultimate fate in 1942, as written in by Zygmund on the Diary’s final page.

Renia’s Diary is a significant historical and psychological document. The raw, yet beautiful account depicts Renia’s angst over the horrors going on around her. It has been translated from the original Polish, with notes included by her surviving sister, Elizabeth Bellak.

 

Review: I don’t like to rate people’s diaries because a diary is much like poetry. It’s a place to write as you will and want outside of the limitations of language. I really liked the diary and I felt like it can definitely appeal to younger people as Anne Frank’s diary does and it can help younger kids understand more of the war from multiple viewpoints. I know Anne Frank is still assigned reading in some schools and I don’t doubt that this one will be as well. The war was more vast than Anne Frank’s neighborhood and that’s where Renia’s viewpoint shines. Many people forget the Soviet’s impact and fault in the war and much of it has been lost in history in order to skim past the timeline (thanks school constraints). This isn’t saying that this compares to Anne Frank. Anne Frank was introspective and more of a journalist whereas Renia is a poet who discusses feelings and items “in the moment”, so the grip of the war isn’t as great as it is in Anne’s, but both are about young girls facing one of the greatest horrors of thie world and how they chose to survive and process it. Anne did so through detailing her living conditions and what was happening outside, whereas Renia reverts back into her first love and how her inner circle is handling things. In fact, her sister’s detailing at the end of the book was much better, in my opinion, than the whole of the book but I like facts whereas some people like feelings, nothing wrong with either of those things. And although I did find it weird that the poems rhymed in English (this was obviously a translation) I can’t fault the book for anything because I can’t fault how someone writes their personal thoughts because thoughts transcend language.

 

Verdict: Definitely recommend and if you are in school or are a teacher consider using this alongside Anne Frank!

Hybrids, Volume One: Trouble by Jennie Dorny

Disclaimer: I received this book from Reedsy Discovery! Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: Hybrids, Volume One: Trouble

 

Author: Jennie Dorny

 

Book Series: Hybrids Volume One

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

 

Genre: Science Fiction

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (violence, gore, lots of water)

 

Publisher: Indie Published

 

Pages: 443

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: She sought refuge on an ocean-covered planet. She didn’t learn its codes until too late. Now she must leave to survive. Theo’s dreams of exploring distant lands are cut short when her father betrays her. On the run, she flees to Eridan, where Washone, the spiritual leader, is expecting her. As she is about to reach this ocean-covered planet inhabited by telepaths, she is kidnapped by a bounty-hunter. Ashta, an Eridani Savalwoman, befriends Theo, rescues her, and they land together on Eridan. While Theo trains to become a Savalwoman – a warrior – bleak memories of past hurts disrupt her attempts to trust herself and others. She is unaware of her own mental powers, so when she believes that she has been betrayed by Ashta, she nearly destroys her friend’s mind in a fit of wounded rage that blazes across the planet. To protect Theo from those who, like ambitious Keith of Rain Forest, would like to use her powerful mind for their benefit, Washone decides that she must leave Eridan. Can Theo convince Washone to let her stay? Or will she have to leave her new friends and go on the run again, with no place to go?

 

Review: This book gave me definite water-world feels! I loved the story and plot, I loved the writing and I felt like the author has a real talent for this! The characters were also very well developed.

 

However, I did have some thing I didn’t like about the book. I felt like the banter between the characters were a bit dry and could have been better. I felt like the world building could have been better as well. The action scenes were a bit chaotic and hard to follow as well. Also, at certain times, the pacing really slows down and it really drags the novel along.

 

Verdict: Overall, I really liked this book! Definitely one worth reading!

The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson

Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: The Lucky Ones

 

Author: Liz Lawson

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

 

Genre: YA Contemporary

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (discusses and depicts gun violence/school shooting TW, some delinquent behavior, romance)

 

Publisher: Delacorte Press

 

Pages: 352

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: How do you put yourself back together when it seems like you’ve lost it all?

May is a survivor. But she doesn’t feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through–no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her.

Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister…and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won’t let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night. The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band.

Which is how May meets Zach. And how Zach meets May. And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all.

 

Review: I really liked this book! I think the author did well to approach the subject with grace and sensitivity. I think that the writing was well done, the characters were likeable and well developed. The pacing was also well done. I also liked how the author showed how different grief is. Grief isn’t just tears and there’s no one way to deal with it. Sometimes grief manifest itself in different ways and each person has to come up with ways to deal with it in their own way.

 

However, I did feel like the romance was a bit forced, but it felt more natural as the book went on. The book also did well with the subject of school shootings, but otherwise there wasn’t much of a story outside of how characters deal with grief, which normally doesn’t keep my attention (but in this one it did for the most part). Ultimately, it’s just saddening to think that while these characters get to heal, the process will begin all over again with new children, some of them as young as 5, until we come together as a nation to figure out a way to stop these from happening to the next group of children.

 

Verdict: A well done book that, while doesn’t present ways to prevent gun violence, helps show how we can better help those who are “the lucky ones”.

The Lost Orphan by Stacey Hall

Disclaimer: I received this book from netgalley and the publisher! Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: The Lost Orphan

 

Author: Stacey Halls

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (mental health issues, sex references, possible rape TW)

 

Publisher: Mira Books

 

Pages: 352

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: A mother’s love knows no bounds…

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her newborn, Clara, at London’s Foundling Hospital, young Bess Bright returns to reclaim the illegitimate daughter she has never really known. Dreading the worst—that Clara has died in care—the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl—and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in a quiet town house, a wealthy widow barely ventures outside. When her close friend—an ambitious doctor at the Foundling Hospital—persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her—and will soon tear her carefully constructed world apart.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, The Lost Orphan explores families and secrets, class and power, and how the pull of motherhood cuts across them all.

 

Review: I liked this book for the most part. The world building was masterfully done, I really loved the feel and flow of this book, and I felt like the book did well as part historical fiction and part thriller/mystery as the main character tries to figure out the pieces of what happened and as the reader is taken through a twisty windy turn through this world. The book also did well to showcase and discuss mental health issues like PTSD and agoraphobia!

 

However, I did feel like the book had uneven pacing and the story was kinda disjointed with going back and forth between the past and the present.

 

Verdict: It was a well done novel!

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: Night of the Dragon

 

Author: Julie Kagawa

 

Book Series: Shadow of the Fox Book 3

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Publication Date: March 31, 2020

 

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (violence, gore, death, slight love and romance)

 

Publisher: Inkyard Press

 

Pages: 384

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.

 

Review: I thought this book did amazing! I loved the relationships and how the characters interact with one another. I think that’s one of the best things about this series, the author realistically portrays relationships between others in a way that anyone can relate. The plot did well and the book continued well from the second to this. The ending was amazing and this will definitely be a series that I reread!

 

My only issue is, again, the world building, but it was better than the first two books.

 

Verdict: I recommend this series!

The Darkness We Hide by Debra Webb

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own!

 

Book: The Darkness We Hide

 

Author: Debra Webb

 

Book Series: The Undertaker’s Daughter Book 3

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Publication Date: March 31, 2020

 

Genre: Thriller

 

Recommended Age: Can’t recommend, DNF-ed

 

Publisher: MIRA

 

Pages: 352

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Some secrets are worth dying for.

For months, Doctor Rowan Dupont has been staring death in the face. It followed her back to her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, ten months ago, cloaking the walls of her family’s Victorian funeral home like a shroud. In investigating the mysterious deaths of her loved ones, Rowan has unearthed enough family secrets to bury everything she’d previously thought true. But each shocking discovery has only led to more bodies and more questions; the rabbit hole is deeper than she ever imagined.

Despite settling in to a comfortable life with Police Chief Billy Brannigan, Rowan knows dangerous serial killer Julian Addington is still out there. She can’t let her guard down now. Not when she’s this close to ending his torment once and for all. But with a storm brewing on the horizon, she’ll get only one shot before the impending darkness takes hold, threatening to wipe away every truth she’s uncovered—and everything she holds dear.

 

Review: I had to DNF this book. It was very hard to keep everything straight with it being a third book and I’d rather wait to read the first two before I jump in. This isn’t a DNF because the book is bad, it’s a DNF for now because I need to make a book review for this and I don’t want to DNF a book with amazing writing and characters because I can’t understand what’s going on.

 

Verdict: Read book 1 and 2 before this!

THE DARKNESS WE HIDE

Author: Debra Webb

ISBN: 9780778309475

Publication Date: March 31, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books

 

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

 

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @DebraWebbAuthor

Instagram: @DebraEWebb

Facebook: @DebraWebbAuthor

Goodreads

DebraWebb

Author Bio: 

 

Debra Webb is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama. Visit Debra at www.DebraWebb.com

or write to her at PO Box 176, Madison, AL 35758.

 

Book Summary:

 

In the thrilling conclusion to The Undertaker’s Daughter series, THE DARKNESS WE HIDE, Doctor Rowan Dupont has been staring death in the face for so long, she’s willing to meet it for the secrets it holds. Death has followed her back to her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, ten months ago, cloaking the walls of her family’s Victorian funeral home like a shroud. In investigating the mysterious deaths of her loved ones, Rowan has unearthed enough family secrets to bury everything she’d previously thought true. But each shocking discovery has only led to more bodies and more questions; the rabbit hole is deeper than she ever imagined.

 

Despite settling into a comfortable life with Police Chief Billy Brannigan, Rowan knows dangerous serial killer Julian Addington is still out there. She can’t let her guard down now. Not when she’s this close to ending it once and for all. But with a storm brewing on the horizon, she’ll get only one shot before the impending darkness takes hold, threatening to wipe away every truth she’s uncovered—and everything she holds dear.

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

Disclaimer: I received an arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: Cilka’s Journey

 

Author: Heather Morris

 

Book Series: The Tattooist of Auschwitz Book 2

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Diversity: Some LGBTQA+ relationships mentioned, Jewish main character and side characters

 

Publication Date: October 1, 2019

 

Genre: Historical Fiction (based on a true story)

 

Recommended Age: 18+ (TW rape, TW child molestation, TW sexual assault, TW torture, gore, violence, language, childbirth)

 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

 

Pages: 352

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: In this follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, the author tells the story, based on a true one, of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again.

Cilka Klein is 18 years old when Auschwitz-Birkenau is liberated by Soviet soldiers. But Cilka is one of the many women who is sentenced to a labor camp on charges of having helped the Nazis–with no consideration of the circumstances Cilka and women like her found themselves in as they struggled to survive. Once at the Vorkuta gulag in Sibera, where she is to serve her 15-year sentence, Cilka uses her wits, charm, and beauty to survive.

 

Review: I thought this book was absolutely wonderful. The writing immediately drew me into the book, the story saddened and depressed me, and the main character was very well done. It’s hard to make likeable characters out of characters who do bad things sometimes, but the author did this very well with Cilka. The book was also very well paced and the world building was marvelous.

 

My only issue is that the book time jumps a lot, sometimes with dates at the top, but sometimes not, so you really have to pay attention to the timeline of the book.

 

Verdict: A very well done and beautiful book!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Disclaimer: I bought this book before Rowling came out as transphobic. *sigh*

 

Book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

 

Author: J.K. Rowling

 

Book Series: Harry Potter Book 5

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Publication Date: September 1, 2004

 

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

Recommended Age: 14+ (teen angst, violence, slight gore, Umbridge)

 

Publisher: Scholastic Inc

 

Pages: 870

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: There is a door at the end of a silent corridor. And it’s haunting Harry Pottter’s dreams. Why else would he be waking in the middle of the night, screaming in terror?

Harry has a lot on his mind for this, his fifth year at Hogwarts: a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher with a personality like poisoned honey; a big surprise on the Gryffindor Quidditch team; and the looming terror of the Ordinary Wizarding Level exams. But all these things pale next to the growing threat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named—a threat that neither the magical government nor the authorities at Hogwarts can stop.

As the grasp of darkness tightens, Harry must discover the true depth and strength of his friends, the importance of boundless loyalty, and the shocking price of unbearable sacrifice.

His fate depends on them all.

 

Review: This was an amazing read for me! I absolutely loved going back into the world of Harry Potter and seeing teen angst Harry. I loved the writing of this book. Rowling does well at aging her characters along with her audience and you can see that definitely in this book. The character development was amazing, the plot was intriguing, and I’m anxious to read book 6 for the first time this month!

 

My only issue is that while Harry was developed tremendously (as he should be) I didn’t feel like some of the others weren’t as developed. Luna and Ginny got a bit but not a lot. Hermione… meh. Just a bit of an issue with me as I love all three of them, but it’s hard to accomplish that in a book where it’s first person POV.

 

Verdict: Definitely ready for shiz to happen in book 6!