Book Review

Book Review: Lovely War by Julie Berry

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction + romance
Length: 480 pages
Author: Julie Berry
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A sweeping, multi-layered romance with a divine twist, by the Printz Honor-winning author of The Passion of Dolssa, set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II.

It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep—and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.

Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.

CLOSED THE BOOK WITH TEARS IN MY EYES.

Y’all. When I first read the synopsis I thought it was a bit curious to combine Greek mythology with World War 1. I have heard good things about this book and decided to give it a shot, IT WAS AMAZING. SERIOUSLY.

The writing was absolutely beautiful. This had some insta-love that we all know I’m weary of. This is one of those times when it worked out flawlessly. The writing really captured my soul and it had me cheering on both of these couples through their trials.

Hazel and James were my precious broken souls. Oh how I love them. I was most involved in their story and was wrapped up in the nuances of the few chance meetings they got over the months while James was in the trenches of France. Lovely War showed a lot about the human condition. Struggling with having to kill others, PTSD, explosions, loss of friends and family. I felt the atrocities of war brought to an awful light.

Aubrey and Coletter were a wonderful relationship to watch flourish too. As an inter-racial couple in this time period the amount of awful things they had to deal with just to be together makes my stomach turn. They both had the hope and fight to be with one another and I begged for them to get a happy ending.

The narration of the story by the gods (mostly Aphrodite) was definitely unique. Thought it was a bit odd at first, but the deeper I got into the story, the more it all made sense. Bringing in Ares, Apollo and Hades brought new point of views. By the end their was an even bigger love story between Aphrodite and Hephaestus. I thought this played out beautifully and connected all the dots in the end.

One of my favorite tidbits was that it’s mostly set in World War 1. I’m always looking for different historical fiction books set in time periods I don’t normally read about.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + romance
  • Language: a few words
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: war, physical, guns, see trigger warnings for more
  • Trigger warnings: racism, hate crime, PTSD, sexual assault (unwanted grab and kissing), descriptions of the trenches and battle scenes

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Book Review

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: World War II Historical Ficiton
Length: 502 pages
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. 

WHAT A BOOK.

WOW. This is the one of the best historical fictions about World War 2 that I have ever read. This was utterly amazing. Made me want to cry, throw things, and feel all sorts of emotions. I barely recognized how long the book actually was, it kept me interested and involved the entire time.

We had Catherine, an older woman in NY who falls in love with a man that has a life back in Paris. She spends her wars years hoping that Paul is okay and raising money and items for all those she can. I loved her personality and hope she held onto, until she didn’t. UGH. I hoped for a more complete ending for her, but I also understood. This wasn’t a book for happy endings, but enduring til the end.

Kaisa destroyed me from one end of this book to the other. She was the subject of horrid trials at Ravensbruck. Her story line caused me to struggle the most. I hadn’t heard much history from the women’s concentration camp and I loved the focus this author put on it. I learned so much and yet again had to cope with how awful humanity can be. Watching Kaisa encounter trial after trial brought out so many emotions.

I can hardly talk about Herta, but I’m also glad she was in the book. It was an interesting perspective to have someone who was pro-German during the time period. She made me so angry, but having this unique take compared to the two others balanced the entire story.

These three characters (that were based off of people actually involved in the war) was outstanding and well thought out. I couldn’t put this book down.

Note: this book does not hold back on describing what happened. Please read at your own caution.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction about WW2
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses, an almost fade-to-black scene
  • Violence: whips, guns, death by animal mauling, starvation
  • Trigger warnings: rape, sexual assault, mention of self harm, self-harming (by cutting), attempted suicide, child abuse, PTSD, surgical experimentation, loss of loved ones

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