A Bend in the Stars by Rachel Barenbaum

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

 

Book: A Bend in the Stars

 

Author: Rachel Barenbaum

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 1/5

 

Diversity: Jewish characters!

 

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

Recommended Age: can’t recommend – dnf

 

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

 

Pages: 464

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: This is at once an epic love story and a heart-pounding journey across WWI-era Russia, about an ambitious young doctor and her scientist brother in a race against Einstein to solve one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

In Russia, in the summer of 1914, as war with Germany looms and the Czar’s army tightens its grip on the local Jewish community, Miri Abramov and her brilliant physicist brother, Vanya, are facing an impossible decision. Since their parents drowned fleeing to America, Miri and Vanya have been raised by their babushka, a famous matchmaker who has taught them to protect themselves at all costs: to fight, to kill if necessary, and always to have an escape plan. Can they bear to leave the homeland that has given them so much?

Before they have time to make their choice, war is declared and Vanya goes missing, along with Miri’s fiancé. Miri braves the firing squad to go looking for them both. As the eclipse that will change history darkens skies across Russia, not only the safety of Miri’s own family but the future of science itself hangs in the balance.

 

Review: Another book I had to DNF. The book was written well, but it felt YA when it wasn’t and the emotions of this book just didn’t turn me. The characters were hard to relate to, especially when the love triangle came out… and I hate love triangles. The book just, overall, felt forced and I didn’t like forcing my way through it.

 

Verdict: Not for me, but it might be for you.

Haunted Chattanooga by Jessica Penot and Amy Petulla

Disclaimer: I bought this book at a ghost tour! Support your authors!

 

Author: Jessica Penot and Amy Petulla

 

Book Series: Haunted America Book 2

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Publisher: History Press (SC)

 

Publication Date: August 16, 2011

 

Genre: Historical Fiction/Supernatural

 

Recommended Age: 10+ (ghosts)

 

Pages: 106

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: It is the home of one of the most famous railways in American history, the site of a historically vital trade route along the Tennessee River and the gateway to the Deep South. Chattanooga has a storied past, a past that still lives through the spirits that haunt the city. Whether it is the ghost of the Delta Queen still lingering from the days of the river trade, the porter who forever roams the grounds of the historic Terminal Station or the restless souls that haunt from beneath the city in its elaborate underground tunnel system, the specter of Chattanooga’s past is everywhere. Join authors Jessica Penot and Amy Petulla as they survey the most historically haunted places in and around the Scenic City.

 

Review: I really liked this book! I thought this was a great book that was steeped in the history of Chattanooga. The writing was well done and compelling and I miss this town already.

 

However, I did feel like there could have been more to the book. It was very factual and stuck to a few stories, but didn’t really elaborate on the ghosts or theories or anything like that outside of a few sentences here and there. I think there’s enough about Chattanooga to write a full length novel, not just a novella.

 

Verdict: If you’re into history and ghosts you’ll like this one!

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!

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!

Blame the Dead by Ed Ruggero

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

 

Book: Blame the Dead

 

Author: Ed Ruggero

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

Recommended Age: 18+ (violence, murder, gore, sex, rape mentioned a lot TW)

 

Publisher: Forge Books

 

Pages: 336

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: The nurses of the US Army’s Field Hospitals, mobile units that operate just behind the battle lines, contend with heat, dirt, short-handed staffs, the threat of German counterattack and an ever-present flood of horribly wounded GIs. At the 11th Field Hospital near Palermo, Sicily in the bloody summer of 1943, nurses also live with the threat of violent assault by one of their own–at least until someone shoots Dr. Myers Stephenson in the head.

Enter Eddie Harkins, a tough former Philadelphia beat cop turned Military Police lieutenant, who is first on the scene. Although he has never been a detective, Harkins soon finds himself the lone investigator, either because the Military Police are under-staffed or because someone in power thinks this rank amateur will never get close to the real killer. When the hospital commander tries to derail Harkins’ investigation by transferring or harassing key witnesses, it becomes clear to Harkins that the unit is rotten to its core, that the nurses are not safe, and that patients who have survived Nazi bullets are still at risk after they arrive at this place that is supposed to save them.

Harkins fights–and worries that he is losing–multiple battles. He is driven to give hope to nurses who just want to do their life-saving work, to right at least a few of the wrongs around him, and to do penance for sins in his own past. The one bright note for Harkins is a rekindled relationship with Kathleen Donnelly, a nurse from Harkins’ old neighborhood; but even that is complicated when Donnelly becomes a victim.

 

Review: I found the book to be pretty good. It hard a great mystery and the plot kept me interested for most of the book. The book had great character development and action was all over this book! The world building was also masterful and it really felt like you were in the combat during this book.

 

However, I had some issues with the book. I have a great grandpa who was an MP during WW2 and from researching stuff about him and his job I know that who conducted murders and special cases were a tricky topic. By 1942 they felt that MPs weren’t very well equipped to investigate these crimes effectively so by 1944 the CID was reestablished (which was still around from WW1 but was drastically smaller after that war ended). So I’m not sure if the type of crimes in this book would have still been investigated by an MP. Also, the book is very mature and there is a lot of awful things mentioned in it. Check the recommended age for those details. The book is also very slow paced, especially in the beginning.

 

Verdict: A great tale, a but mature, but overall really good.

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

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

 

Book: The Mountains Sing

 

Author: Nguyen Phan Que Mai (I can’t do the accent marks to properly spell their name, so sorry!)

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Diversity: Vietnamese Main Family!

 

Publication Date: March 17, 2020

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (war, violence, slight gore, family conflict)

 

Publisher: Algonquin Books

 

Pages: 352

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the BanyanThe Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English.

 

Review: I thought this book was very well written and almost lyrical in how it was written. The book is a multi-generational book (kind of like Roots) where this family weaves their story together. It’s a wonderful tale that describes the absolute horrors, but absolute strength of people in war time.

 

However, I did feel like the characters didn’t connect with me. I’m not sure if it was because we were just forced into each character or if it was just the slow pacing that didn’t make me connect with the book, but I kind of want to reread it to try and connect with them again.

 

Verdict: Definitely recommend!

The Deep by Alma Katsu for The Fantastic Flying Book Club

TOUR BANNER (16)

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

 

Book: The Deep

 

Author: Alma Katsu

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Publication Date: March 10, 2020

 

Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror/Paranormal

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (horror, gore, slight violence, paranormal activity)

 

Publisher: Transworld Digital

 

Pages: 320

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

 

Review: I thought this was a great horror book for the most part. The story was intriguing and the characters were developed. The setting was creepy and uninviting, like any horror book should be, and the author did well to research this story as fact and fiction are woven interchangeably throughout the book.

 

However, I got so lost on occasion with the dual POV running side by side. The switching back and forth and the overlap of characters make this sometimes hard to follow.

 

Verdict: I really enjoyed this read!

BOOK INFORMATION

The Deep

by Alma Katsu
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Release Date: March 10th 2020

Genre: Horror, Historical Fiction, Adult

 

Synopsis:

 

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

 

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

 

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

 

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/46158562

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3aqb6aO

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-deep-alma-katsu/1132077819?ean=9780525537908#/

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-deep/id1468741587

Bookdepository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Deep-Alma-Katsu/9781787631359?ref=grid-view&qid=1579373308626&sr=1-2

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-deep-27

Google Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/The_Deep?id=q5mdDwAAQBAJ&hl=en_US

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Alma Katsu is the author of The Hunger, a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party with a horror twist. The Hunger made NPR’s list of the 100 Best Horror Stories, was named one of the best novels of 2018 by the Observer, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books (and more), and was nominated for a Stoker and Locus Award for best horror novel.

 

The Taker, her debut novel, has been compared to the early works of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander for combining historical, the supernatural, and fantasy into one story. The Taker was named a Top Ten Debut Novel of 2011 by Booklist, was nominated for a Goodreads Readers Choice award, and has been published in over 10 languages. It is the first in an award-winning trilogy that includes The Reckoning and The Descent.

Ms. Katsu lives outside of Washington DC with her husband, musician Bruce Katsu. In addition to her novels, she has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly, and a contributor to the Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Program and Brandeis University, where she studied with novelist John Irving. She also is an alumni of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

 

Prior to publication of her first novel, Ms. Katsu had a long career in intelligence, working for several US agencies and a think tank. She currently is a consultant on emerging technologies. Additional information can be found on Wikipedia and in this interview with Ozy.com.

 

AUTHOR LINKS

Website: https://www.almakatsubooks.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3387293.Alma_Katsu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/almakatsu

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/almakatsu/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlmaKatsuBooks/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.es/almakatsu/

 

The Girls With No Names by Serena Burdick

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

Book: The Girls With No Names

Author: Serena Burdick

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction

Recommended Age: 15+ (unwanted feelings, TW abuse, gore, and violence)

Publisher: Park Row

Pages: 336

Amazon Link

Synopsis: The Girls with No Names pulls readers into the gilded age of New York City in the 1910s, when suffragettes marched in the street, unions fought for better work conditions—and girls were confined to the House of Mercy for daring to break the rules.

Not far from Luella and Effie Tildon’s large family mansion in Inwood looms the House of Mercy, a work house for wayward girls. The sisters grow up under its shadow with the understanding that even as wealthy young women, their freedoms come with limits. But when the sisters accidentally discover a shocking secret about their father, Luella, the brazen older sister, becomes emboldened to do as she pleases.

But her rebellion comes with consequences, and one morning Luella is mysteriously gone. Effie suspects her father has made good on his threat to send Luella to the House of Mercy and hatches a plan to get herself committed to save her sister. But she made a miscalculation, and with no one to believe her story, Effie’s escape from the House of Mercy seems impossible—unless she can trust an enigmatic girl named Mable. As their fates entwine, Mable and Effie must rely on each other and their tenuous friendship to survive.

Review: I thought this book was set up well. The world building was amazing, the history behind it great, and well-researched from what I could tell. I really liked the POV switches in the books and the character development was very well done.

However, I thought the book could do more and show the reader more. I also thought it was very slow paced. It was a great read, but I was just left with this feeling that more could have been done in this novel, within the time period and within the House of Mercy. Also, the amount of details in this book was way too much. It really bogs down the read in my opinion.

Verdict: Overall, a good read.

Saving Washington by Chris Formant

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

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Diversity: One of the main characters is African-American

 

Publication Date: February 19, 2019

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

Recommended Age: 18+ (violence, war, gore)

 

Publisher: Permuted Press

 

Pages: 320

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: On a marshy Brooklyn battlefield on August 27, 1776, four hundred men from Baltimore, Maryland assembled to do battle against a vastly superior British army. Seemingly overnight, these young soldiers had matured from naïve teenagers to perhaps the most important, yet most forgotten, citizen soldiers in all of American history: “America’s 400 Spartans.”

Saving Washington follows young Joshua Bolton and his childhood friend Ben Wright, a freed black man, as they witness British tyranny firsthand, become enraptured by the cause, and ultimately enlist to defend their new nation in a battle that galvanized the American nation on the eve of its birth.

Chris Formant’s gripping tale blends real-life historical figures and events with richly developed fictional characters in a multi-dimensional world of intrigue, romance, comradeship, and sacrifice, transporting us two-and-a-half centuries back in time to the bustling streets of Baltimore and the bloody, smoke-filled carnage of battle in Brooklyn.

 

Review: I thought the book did well with the world building and with the writing. The plot was also intriguing and I liked the part where an actual battle was described.

 

However, I did feel like this book was really slow and the characters weren’t that interesting to me in the end. Maybe it was just me, I was having an off weekend.

 

Verdict: If you like History you’ll love this.

Across The River by Richard Snodgrass

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

Book Series: Books of Furnass Book 4

Rating: 4/5

Publication Date: Decemebr 26, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction

Recommended Age: 17+ (some slight violence, war, hard choices, and love)

Publisher: Calling Crow Press

Pages: 340

Amazon Link

Synopsis: In the summer of 1863, Judson Walker, a captain of Morgan’s Raiders, and Jonathan Reid, a young engineer, come to Furnass to appropriate two of Colin Lyles’ steam-powered road engines. The purpose is to outfit the engines with iron plate and the newly developed Gatlin Guns, and, with Morgan, deliver the war engines to General Lee’s army in Central Pennsylvania. Amid Walker’s growing involvement with Lyle’s wife Libby, deserting soldiers, and Reid’s own agenda, Walker learns Morgan isn’t coming. The novel reaches its climax with Lyle trying to sabotage the war engines. Walker must decide between Libby and duty toward his men, the war and individual human values.

The Books of Furnass tell the story of a fictitious mill town, ten miles from Pittsburgh in southwestern Pennsylvania. At the heart of the series is the Furnass Towers Trilogy, about the efforts of men and women to maintain their lives, and the life of the town, in the face of the mill closings. In addition to contemporary life, the series chronicles the town when it was just an outpost after the French and Indian War…the town as it grew around an iron furnace in the wilderness…as it became an industrial center from the time of the American Civil War to the Vietnam War. And the series tells the story of the Lyle family, who were involved with the town from its founding to its struggles to survive after the mills went away.

Review: Overall I thought that this book was really well done. The writing was really poetic and smooth, the character development was amazingly well done and I really enjoyed the characterization of the characters as well. It’s definitely worth the read just for the writing alone.

However, I do feel like the book could have been more historical. It felt like we focused on the characters and the romance too much and the plot, while interesting, was a bit too thin for the length for me. It felt like the story dragged a bit in the end for my personal tastes.

Verdict: A lovely, worthy read.