Book Review

Book Review: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical Fiction
Length: 400 pages
Author: Kristin Harmel
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: July 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.

EMOTIONS.

I had a lot of up and down with this one, but by the end I was really invested in getting some kind of ending I could be satisfied with. And even though it took awhile, I loved the way this ended which solidified a great book for me.

One of the things I struggled with was Eva’s Mother. I could understand the grief and despair she was feeling, but kept being angered at how much she taking out on Eva. There was never a chance for them to truly reconcile and it hurt my soul watching the relationship slowly deteriorate because of atrocities outside of their control.

World War II historical fiction is common in the genre. While sometimes I find the stories repetitive, I thought this one took on new aspects. I liked the focus on the children and of a Jewish woman working to forge papers to help those around her. Not to mention the romance sub-plot thrown in was SO SWEET. I mean, definitely tore my heart out, but also the development was spot on. The action and movement kept me interested and I enjoyed reading this as an audio book. Even when you could kind of see things coming, the whole of the plot still took me by surprise.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction [WW2]
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, one little detailed open scene
  • Violence:
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of loved ones, depictions of World War 2, suicide (a small paragraph with depiction of method)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: A Feeling Like Home by Haleigh Wenger

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 270 pages
Author: Haleigh Wenger
Publisher: Sword and Silk
Release Date: August 3rd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sixteen-year-old Paige Williams can’t stop self-sabotaging.

Not when her dad gets sick, not when her relationship implodes, not even when her parents send her to another-freaking-state for the summer to live with her sister. Paige just wants to have fun, spray paint a few walls, and block out everything stressful, including her growing concern that she might be sick as well. To make things worse, her parents threaten her with boarding school in the fall if she can’t prove she’s changed her bad habits.

Paige’s parents sign her up for a rebuilding project in Texas where her sister lives. Meanwhile, Paige reluctantly befriends her sister’s straight-laced teenage neighbor, Joey, who is a frequent guest. He’s so different from her, but Paige realizes that may not be a bad thing, especially since being around Joey curbs her urge to vandalize and ignore the rules. He even makes her forget about the debilitating stomach cramps she struggles to hide.

Just as Paige begins to feel settled in Texas, her dad’s worsening Crohn’s disease brings her home to Seattle. When her own health fails her, she has the choice of staying at home and receiving care. Or, she could go back to Texas and prove for once and for all that she’s more than her mistakes and more than a disease. Torn between two worlds and two versions of herself, Paige must decide where, and with whom, she truly feels at home.

Thank you to the author for an eARC.

MIXED THOUGHTS.

There’s some good and some bad here. Trying to wrangle my thoughts for this one.

Something I could understand were the emotions coming from 16 year-old Paige. She’s going through a lot and I recognize the thoughts and feelings she would be going through during a hard time in her life.

Now an item I really didn’t love. Paige. While I mentioned above, some stuff was fine, the rest definitely was not. One major issue, cheating. I don’t like it. Ever. I can’t get on board with any reasoning as to “why it’s okay.” It’s not. She dragged on a love triangle that was ridiculous and rubbed me the wrong way multiple times.

This book covered a lot of difficult subject matter (See trigger warnings). It was painful to watch the story unfold searching for hope. I liked the way Wenger brought that out in the end and gave Paige (and her family) a chance to reconnect and find some measure of peace.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loved one with a chronic disease, loss of a parent, being diagnosed with a chronic condition, vandalism, cheating

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Book Review

Book Review: The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Sandy Barker
Publisher: One More Chapter
Release Date: October 16th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Chloe, Jules, and Lucy meet at a Maui resort kids’ club, aged 11, forging a lifelong friendship spanning two decades and three continents.

Twenty-two years later, they decide to swap Christmases, none of them expecting the hilarity and romantic escapades that will ensue.

Chloe from Melbourne spends her Christmas with Lucy’s mum and dad in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England, stunned to the core when she discovers who grew up across the road from Lucy.

Lucy, who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules’s loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.

And Jules leaves the cold climes of Colorado to spend a balmy ‘Orphan’s Christmas’ with Chloe’s friends in Melbourne, finding that time away from her mundane life is just what she needed.

Join these three lovable women as they each get a Christmas to surpass their wildest dreams.

JUST STOP.

Oh goodness. I can’t with insta-love y’all. I will admit, I have read good renditions of it, this was not one of those.

There’s 400 pages to cover three entirely separate story lines. It was clearly not enough to actually put any angst or moments into anyone’s romance. I couldn’t get past how quickly everything was happening and wanted it to just slow down. There was no background on relationships and the love interests. All 0 to 100 faster than I could convince myself to read this book.

I wanted to like everyone, and I did for the most part. And the premise was a nifty idea. Switching places with friends to enjoy a “new to them” Christmas celebration seemed enchanting.

I’m going to keep this short because I don’t have any desire to rip into this more. It wasn’t a love story I was on board with.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses; mentions of nights together (but no details)

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Book Review

Book Review: A Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes #4) by Sabaa Tahir

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 528 pages
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: December 1st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Prepare for the jaw-dropping finale of Sabaa Tahir’s beloved New York Times bestselling An Ember in the Ashes fantasy series, and discover: Who will survive the storm?

Picking up just a few months after A Reaper at the Gates left off…

The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.

At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.

Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory–or to an unimaginable doom.

And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life–and love–he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save–or destroy–all that he knows.

STUNNING FINALE.

It’s time.

It’s time you read this series.

It is beautiful, raw, strikes so many chords and is nothing short of a magnificent story.

I love these characters and how real everything feels to me because of how the writing conveys their tale. The highs and lows and everything in between drag out all of the emotions and made me sit there and hug this book afterwards. This isn’t a happy-go-lucky story. A lot of bad things do happen, but I love the infused sense of hope that something is better out on the horizon. That we’ll get there.

You’ll never find yourself bored or dragging through any of these points-of-view. The high stakes action bouncing off of angsty moments had me gripping pages to know where things were going. I feel like even the side characters got some great spotlight and I was hooked on them by the ending too. While yes, totally hate how some things went down (without a doubt had me in tears), it all still somehow worked out in the end. That’s what I love. The loss of who/this/that didn’t overshadow where everything was leading.

This entire series took me on a such a journey and I have a hard time putting into words what the closing of this final chapter meant. An Ember in the Ashes will definitely go down as one of my favorite young adult fantasy series. The amount of dedication and work that clearly went into this jaw-dropping. I’m a fan for life and can’t wait to see what Tahir writes next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: little light
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs; some little detailed fade out scenes (still felt appropriate for YA genre)
  • Violence: depictions of war, gory and bloody murders and battle scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of multiple loved ones

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