Fiction · Historical · Young Adult

Luck of the Titanic

Title: Luck of the Titanic

Author: Stacey Lee

Page Count: 368

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 4, 2021 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardcover

Review: I really enjoyed Lee’s The Downstairs Girl, so I was surprised by how little I enjoyed this book. The heroine, Val, felt like a regurgitation of Jo in a different setting. Not a whole lot actually happens in this book until the end, and her charade as the Merry Widow seems highly implausible throughout. There are a bunch of jumbled subplots that don’t add much to the story overall, and the relationship building between characters fell flat for me. I appreciate what Lee is trying to do with this novel, but the slow pacing and convoluted storyline made it hard to get through.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star

Fiction · Historical · Young Adult

Rebel Daughter

Title: Rebel Daughter

Author: Lori Banov Kaufmann

Performer: Ellen Archer

Length: 10 hr, 32 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 9, 2021 by Listening Library

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I checked out this eAudiobook from the library primarily because I love reading about this time period in history. It’s a fictional story, but the author based much of it off of real historical events and people. It is meticulously researched, and I really appreciated the author’s note at the end that explains many of her creative choices.

Now to the story itself. I found the whole plot to be rather dry. I’m not sure if it was the characters or the author’s writing style that didn’t really appeal to me. Perhaps I compare it too much to other books I have read and enjoyed based in this time period, but I just didn’t find any aspect of it to be especially compelling. I do, however, think the right reader would really enjoy it, so I will keep it in my back pocket as a possible book recommendation.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fantasy · Fiction · Historical · Paranormal · Romance · Young Adult

Chain of Gold

Title: Chain of Gold

Author: Cassandra Clare

Page Count: 672

Series: The Last Hours, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 3, 2020 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Format: eBook

Review: The more I read books by Cassandra Clare, the more I draw similarities between her style and the style of Sarah J. Maas. Both write sagas with lengthy tomes that are riddled with relationship angst. Both have predictable plot formulas they follow, and they always manage to pair off nearly every character into a romantic relationship. Clare in particular really has a penchant for relationship triangles and drama, and it seems that she repackages her storylines with different characters and settings. Despite this, I find some comfort in knowing what I am getting into when I pick up one of her books, and I often find myself enjoying them. In some ways it is just mindlessly pleasant reading. The Shadowhunter world is very engrossing, regardless of how many different ways the same story is presented to me. I find that in general I like her historical fiction series more than her contemporary ones. I don’t know how historically accurate her settings are, but the afterword in this book implies that she does put a little research into her craft. I’ll definitely keep reading when the next book is published, if only because the covers in this series are so dang gorgeous.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fiction · Historical · Young Adult

We Are Not Free

Title: We Are Not Free

Author: Traci Chee

Performers: Scott Keiji Takeda, Dan Woren, Ryan Potter, Ali Fumiko, Sophie Oda, Andrew Kishino, Christopher Naoki Lee, Grace Rolek, Erika Aishii, Brittany Ishibashi, Kurt Sanchez Kanazawa, & Terry Kitagawa

Length: 10 hr, 26 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 1, 2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Format: eAudiobook

Review: Dare I say it, but in my mind this is a nearly flawless work of historical fiction. It’s been a long time since a book has made me cry (ok, maybe not that long) and this one did me in. It is SO well written, with the many POVs skillfully woven together to create a comprehensive and heartbreaking depiction of life for Japanese-Americans following the bombing at Pearl Harbor in 1941. I don’t think the treatment of Japanese-Americans who were incarcerated during the years following this tragic event is talked about nearly enough. It is one of the most shameful periods in American history and the rippling effects have repercussions that follow us into the present. Chee’s ability to so poignantly capture the betrayal, heartache, courage, love, and resilience demonstrated by the youth of that era is masterful, and if this book does not receive a shower of awards and accolades it will be a damn shame. I am so impressed with the way she created fourteen distinct voices that captured so many different elements of the time period and included so many different settings, all while keeping the many characters tied together. A truly phenomenal piece of work in every respect.

I would also like to note that the audiobook version is very well cast. Kudos to all the performers for bringing this story to life!

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Fiction · Young Adult

Kent State

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Title: Kent State

Author: Deborah Wiles

Performers: Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina DeLaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, & David de Vries

Length: 1 hr, 59 min, 56 sec

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2020 by Scholastic Audio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: Poetry is not really my thing, so it was hard to rate this book.  I listened to it in eAudiobook format, so it really felt like I was listening to a play with all the back and forth dialogues and monologues.  I personally did not really enjoy it, but I didn’t give it a low rating because I appreciate the amount of research that went into it and I liked that the author showed several different conflicting perspectives.  This gave a more complete picture of what happened (and why) on the fateful and tragic day of May 4, 1970.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Historical · Non-fiction

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh

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Title: The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh

Author: Candace Fleming

Performer: Kirsten Potter

Length: 9 hr, 41 min, 36 sec

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2020 by Listening Library

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This was a difficult book to rate because it was very well written, organized, and researched, but I did not care for the story at all.  If I had rated it for the former rather than the latter, this book would have received a much higher rating from me.

This was another committee book assigned for the Mock Printz at work, so I felt compelled to finish it despite the fact I was very bored nearly the entire way through.  Charles Lindbergh was a pretentious, controlling, and manipulative human being that I could have gone my whole life without knowing about.  I would catalog this in adult fiction, so I am not even sure why it is being considered by my committee.  I did my due diligence, however, and finished it before passing judgement.  I’m glad to be done with it, and look forward to moving on to the next book on my TBR list.

Kirsten Potter was a great performer, and I do not hold the story of this man against her.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fantasy · Fiction · Historical · Young Adult

The Court of Miracles

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Title: The Court of Miracles

Author: Kester Grant

Page Count: 464

Series: A Court of Miracles, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: June 2, 2020

Format: eBook

Review: I have never been a huge fan of Les Misérables.  True to it’s name, it is both lengthy and wildly depressing.  I am also not a big fan of musicals so that form of adaptation never interested me.  Nevertheless, the synopsis for this book piqued my interest.  Eponine?  As a cat burglar? Ok! If I had to pick one character I would like to see a retelling for, it would be Eponine, so I requested this ARC with very few expectations.  Perhaps this is sometimes the best way to approach books, because when they actually blow you away, it is a very pleasant surprise.

This book was FANTASTIC.  I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed it.  The plot, the character development, everything about it felt fresh, despite the fact it is an adaptation/retelling of a classic and well-known novel.  Eponine was a character you could not help but root for, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.  The one bummer about reading ARCs that you love is that you have to wait a very long time for the next one.  Even so, I like the way the author ended this book.  Some story lines were wrapped up, while others were simultaneously opened.  This left me finishing the book feeling both satisfied and chomping at the bit for more.  A pleasant combination.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical

City of Flickering Light

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Title: City of Flickering Light

Author: Juliette Fay

Page Count: 400

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 16, 2019 by Gallery Books

Format: Hardcover

Review: Interestingly, this book addresses very similar themes to another book I read recently, City of Girls.  This book is, however, much better in my personal opinion.  Though these characters are also flawed, I found them to be much more likeable than any of the characters in City of Girls.  It is hard for me on a personal level to understand the allure of the film industry, but it was fascinating to get a historical view of the glitz, glamour, and seediness of early Hollywood.  I also think this is a very timely novel, as it addresses the topic of sexual abuse and manipulation within the industry.  Despite it’s heavier content, this book is ultimately a book about unconditional friendship and the transforming power of love.  I especially enjoyed the character of steadfast Irene, and her relationship with naïve but charming Millie.  Overall it was an uplifting read.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical

City of Girls

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Title: City of Girls

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Page Count: 470

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: June 4, 2019 by Riverhead

Format: Hardcover

Review: This was a firm 3 star read for me.  In other words, I liked it, but I did not love it.  This book is billed as a “love story,” however, I would hardly consider it a romance.  In fact, I wouldn’t even tag it as romance.  In a lot of ways this story reminded me of the TV series How I Met Your Mother.  Vivian, our protagonist, is writing the story to Angela, the daughter of her deceased love.  Angela has reached out to Vivian to ask about the nature of her relationship with her father and Vivian answers in a very prolonged and roundabout way.  She includes many details that are of no relevance to how she met Angela’s father.  For the most part, I found Vivian to be a rather unlikeable character, at least for about 60% of the book.  Life circumstances make her grow as a character, but I never truly became endeared to her.  The last 25% of the book was by far the most enjoyable part of the story, but after all the build up to meeting Vivian’s father, I was a bit disappointed with how little page time he actually got.  So as I said, this wasn’t really a love story, but a story about Vivian.  This is not to say that the book made no impression on me whatsoever.  Gilbert is undeniably a gifted writer and there were enough things I liked about the book to keep reading it.  For one thing, I was extremely envious of Vivian’s skill with a sewing machine, and I almost want to take a sewing class as a result.  I was fascinated by the way she talked about fabric and clothing and design.  This book also had a lot of really good one liners sprinkled throughout and some very memorable characters, such as Aunt Peg.  It was enough to keep me moving through the book at a steady pace, and certainly enough to inspire me to finish it.  This book certainly has it’s share of scandal, but it’s not particularly graphic, and it really tackles the double standard that men and women are held to when it comes to sexuality.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fantasy · Fiction · Historical · Magical Realism · Young Adult

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

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Title: Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

Author: Laura Ruby

Performer: Lisa Flanagan

Length: 9 hr

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2019 by Balzar + Bray

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I had great expectations for this book, because I really loved Bone Gap.  Ruby does a great job with magical realism, and this book is no exception; however, I found this book to be a bit too meandering for my liking.  It follows two characters, one alive and one deceased, and oftentimes there really doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the plot.  It jumps from one story to another, with the reader occasionally getting a glimpse of the past.  The deceased character, Pearl, is fascinated by Frankie’s life although it isn’t really clear to me why.  Pearl isn’t sure why she hasn’t ascended, and there isn’t any real resolution to this (in my opinion).  Secrets are revealed, but they didn’t blow my mind because there was no anticipation built up around them.  I wasn’t bored listening to this audiobook, but I also wasn’t chomping at the bit to get back to it.  It was a nice snapshot of the time period, but overall a very average read for me.

On an entirely different note, I loved the title of this book, loved the cover, and I thought the reader did a great job.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold