Fiction · Historical

Realm

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Title: Realm

Author: Alexandrea Weis

Page Count: 397

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 14, 2019 by Vesuvian Books

Format: eBook

Review: I first off want to state that although the cover art for this book is gorgeous, it is highly misleading.  Roxana was not in any way a warrior princess.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  She spent most of her time sequestered away in baggage caravans and palace quarters.  Her entire life was mostly dictated by others, and though a lot happens in the background, not much actually happens to her until the end.  I will, however, say that this book was well researched.  Some creative liberties were taken, but it seemed that for the most part, the author adhered to what experts speculate happened to the real Roxana and her family.  For some reason I was not really expecting this and thought that this would be a looser adaptation of historical events.  In a way this was a pleasant surprise, because I learned more about an intriguing woman from the past, and it made me interested in conducting a little bit of research on my own.  History buffs will really enjoy this book, but those looking for a thrilling adventure will probably find the pacing to be too slow.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Historical · Non-fiction

The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
Title: 
The Lost City of Z

Author: David Grann

Page Count: 352

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2009/Doubleday

Format: eBook

Review: I will read anything and everything written by David Grann. He has such an amazing writing style, so it’s very easy to get caught up in his work. In the Lost City of Z, he talks about Percy Fawcet and his multiple trips into the Amazon and then goes and tries to recreate the route he was taking when he disappeared. The book alternates between both tales: the past and the present, meaning you aren’t stuck too long on one specific part of the story.

I quickly got swept up in the exploration of the Amazon and the charting of the unknown, and it’s easy to see why Grann frequently writes about people obsessed: he can get into that mindset himself and tell their stories in ways that make the reader feel it too. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever suffered from wanderlust and loves to explore.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Historical · Non-fiction

DOUBLE REVIEW: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

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Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Page Count: 262

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 4th 2018 by Harper (first published January 27th 2018)

Format: Paperback

Review: I loved this book. It’s heartbreaking and awe-inspiring and wonderfully written. It’s a quick read, which is good because you don’t want to get stuck in that mindset for too long, since it’s about Auschwitz.

Lale’s story is one of immense hardship and Heather Morris tells it very well. It also makes you wonder what you would do if put in his position. He was a remarkable man, and I really enjoyed reading about him.

Lale, as the title suggests, was a tattooist at the concentration camp. His job was to etch numbers on the arms of the new prisoners, and what first grabbed me about him was how he tried to be gentle with Gita’s when she came into his line. He did not know her but he felt the need to make this process as easy as possible, to the point where he almost got in serious trouble for going so slowly. Sometimes it’s the small things that endear someone to you so much.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

 

Review: This is an incredibly moving book, and it is no wonder that it is a best seller (it had over 80 holds in my library system at one point!).  This book is a very quick read, so I recommend reading it in one sitting if you can.

As you can imagine, the content of this book is incredibly sad.  My stomach was churning literally the whole time I was reading it.  It is through a series of miracles, both large and small, that the main characters, Lale and Gita, survive.  Honestly I don’t know if I could have made it through the book without knowing that in advance.

This is one of the rare cases that instant love between two people in a story does not make me roll my eyes.  It is literally love at first sight for these two, and though they know very little about each other, it is a love so pure it makes your heart ache.

There is one particular scene in this book that stands out to me and I think it really encapsulates the heart of this story.  Lale comes across a single flower while walking to his barracks one day, and the mere sight of it gives him pause.  It is such a rare sight to see something so delicate and beautiful that he can’t help but stop and marvel at it.  In my mind, this flower is symbolic of the love between Lale and Gita.  It is the one beautiful thing blossoming in a landscape of unimaginable horrors.

After reading this book it is hard not to believe in the concept of soul mates.  It is unlikely that these two would have met under any other circumstances, and it is even more unlikely that they would have both been able to survive the atrocities committed against them.  Yet they did meet, they did fall in love, and they did survive.   This was a story that needed to be told, and I am so glad it has reached such a wide audience.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Historical · Non-fiction

How to Remove a Brain

Title: How to Remove a Brain

Author: David Haviland

Page Count: N/A

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: July 2017/ Thistle Publishing

Format: eBook

Review: This was a fun, quirky read. It’s full of interesting stories and tidbits about medical history, including, of course, how to go about removing a brain. Each chapter is broken down into multiple stories relating to one overall theme, meaning it can be read quickly, which is always nice.

David Haviland managed to write the exact amount needed for each topic, never going too far or coming up short. The reader is given the relevant information and can go on to read more on their own time if they want, which means the book isn’t bogged down with too much needless information.

Haviland debunks popular medical myths and discusses how they most likely started. He also finds the obscure fact in order to keep you on your toes.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes medical facts, history, and stories and wants a quick, fun read.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical · Romance · Young Adult

Lovely War

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Title: Lovely War

Author: Julie Berry

Page Count: 480

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 5, 2019 by Viking Books for Young Readers

Format: eBook

Review: In the past I have enjoyed both books relating to Greek mythology and World War I/II.  Never before have a read a book that combines both themes.  It is an interesting concept, and I gave the book an extra half star in my rating for originality.

There were parts of the story I really enjoyed, however, there were also parts that I felt fell short of my expectations.  This story is meant to be a sweeping romance, intertwining three sets of lovers, but I did not feel swept away by any of the couples.  It is a very sweet story, and I greatly enjoyed the historical aspects.  The two mortal lovers are struggling through a very dark point in history, World War I.  This is a less common setting than the more commonly discussed World War II.

Trench warfare is truly heinous, and I think the author did a good job of depicting how wretched and traumatizing fighting in this war was.  I was less of a fan of the insta-love that sprang up between the two mortal couples.  I know that war has a tendency to heighten emotion, but the complete and utter devotion that the couples felt towards each other upon meeting was a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around.

I was not at all a fan of how the author incorporated the mythological aspect of the Greek gods into the story. To be honest, it didn’t really seem as well constructed as the rest of the story, and it did not really add much to the plot other than an introduction of the mortal characters.  I think the story would have read equally well if this portion of the story had been eliminated entirely.

In the end, I can safely say that I liked the story but did not love it.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Historical · Non-fiction · True Crime

The Lady in the Cellar

Title: The Lady in the Cellar

Author: Sinclair McKay

Page Count: Unknown

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 30 October/ White Lion Publishing

Format: eReader

Review: I really enjoyed this book. Sinclair McKay has an amazing writing style, bringing the historical mystery to life and giving enough background information without it feeling like you’re being bogged down with too much information.

The mystery is so engaging and kept me guessing the whole time, which is not something I can say about too many mysteries these days. They tend to be predictable and the twists and turns aren’t actual twists and turns. This one had me at the edge of my seat, so definitely no complaints there.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good yet quick read.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fantasy · Fiction · Historical · Young Adult

Dread Nation

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Title: Dread Nation

Author: Justina Ireland

Performer: Bahni Turpin

Length: 11 hr, 56 min

Series: Dread Nation, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 3, 2018 by HarperAudio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This book is fantastic, and I loved every minute of it.  Bahni Turpin did an excellent job reading it, and I have come to expect nothing less from her than a stellar performance.

Shortly before finishing this book, I browsed through some of the reviews posted on Goodreads and was surprised to find that there has actually been some controversy regarding this book.  After reading through these criticisms, I strongly believe that many people misunderstand the difference between author opinion and writing a story that is true to the era in which it is taking place.

Many people took issue with the fact that people of color are spoken of negatively in this book and did not like the way they were portrayed.  I saw words like “colorism” being thrown around because of the way the main character describes herself and other people of color, but it is important to remember that people of this time period had been indoctrinated with a very negative view of people of color.  It is not surprising that many people of color internalized this negativity, and it deeply affected the way they viewed themselves and others.  This is largely the reason that colorism exists, and I think this book was a powerful commentary on how damaging that type of rhetoric is.

It also confused me that so many people considered this an LGBT+ representative book.  Some people consider Jane bisexual, but I think that this is a stretch.  I think it can be argued that she is curious, but her strong attraction to men is made apparent throughout the book.  I understand that sexuality can fall on a pretty broad and fluid scale, but it does not seem that she considers herself to be particularly attracted to women.  It is also stated by reviewers that another central character, Katherine, is asexual, but I think this is also a stretch.  She admits that she has not experienced attraction to anyone, however, considering her traumatic upbringing and the near constant barrage of sexual harassment she experiences on a daily basis, I do not find this to be especially surprising.  My point in all of this is that this book should not be touted as LGBT+ literature.  Perhaps this topic will be explored more deeply in the next book, in which case I may change my mind.

There are so many positive things to say about this book.  It features strong female characters who are equally clever and badass.  It is a truly original story and the character development is quite good in my opinion.  The author even hit me with a twist at the end that I did not see coming at all.  I feel good about the ending, and I am so excited for the next book in this series!

 

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold