Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Huntress by Kate Quinn (Review and GIVEAWAY)


Looking for a new WWII historical fiction adventure to sweep you off of your feet? The Huntress is a story in three parts about the hunt for a Nazi war criminal.  The Huntress lived on a remote lake in Poland with her Nazi lover and used Jews, refuges, and captured Allies as prey to hunt.  After the war she escaped from Germany, but where did she go?  How can she pay amends for her war crimes?

Ian Graham is a British war correspondent who has a personal vendetta against the Huntress, his brother was one of her victims, and his wife, Nina, only narrowly escaped her.  Together with Nina, and American veteran and linguist Tony, the trio works on tracking down the Huntress.  Will they be able to find her?

Nina Markova grew up half wild in frozen Siberia. After seeing a plane for the first time, she is bitten by the flying bug and travels away from her native home to learn how to fly.  When World War II breaks out, Nina becomes a part of the all-female night bomber regiment and is honored by Stalin himself.  How does Nina the fearless flyer become Nina the victim after the war who marries Ian? 

Jordan McBride is a teenage girl growing up right after WWII in Boston.  After her widowed father meets the mysterious Anna and they become engaged, Jordan can’t shake the feeling that there is something wrong and dangerous about Anna.  Even as Anna and her daughter Ruth become a part of her life, she never feels settled.  What is the truth behind Anna?  Will Jordan be able to chase her dreams of becoming a photographer or will she marry her high school sweetheart?

The Huntress was a truly wonderful historical fiction novel.  I loved the viewpoints switching between Ian, Jordan, and back to the past with Nina.  It made for a riveting story, especially as all three stories masterfully converged together.  Kate Quinn does a great job with this character driven story.  I cared about all of the characters, but the history behind them was particularly fascinating.  Although I am a fan of WWII history and of aviators, I had never heard of the all-female “Night Witches” bomber regiment.  I was fascinated.  I can’t imagine how heroic these women were flying bi-planes over Germany.  Even better was the author’s note at the end. Kate Quinn details how she used real facts to craft Nina’s story as well as the overall story of the hunt for Nazi war criminals.  It was fascinating.  I loved the action-packed conclusion.  This would make a GREAT movie.

I also loved how Quinn wrote Anna as an evil, but also a caring person.  Jordan was confused on her feelings for her stepmother as she thought, how can this woman be evil when she has really been a great person to me, helping me to achieve my dreams?  I loved that about the character, although I would have liked to learn even more about Anna and why she did what she did.

Favorite Quotes: 
“Soldiers get made.  Hunters get born.”

“No one likes to talk about their war, after it’s fought.  They want to forget.  And what happens when they die, and they’ve taken all their memories with them?  We’ve lost it all.  And we can’t.”

“How pleasant to enjoy a man who was not official, not in the slightest.”

Overall, if you love riveting, character driven historical fiction, this is the novel for you!  If you love World War II fiction, The Huntress has a unique story that I have not read before in other WWII novels. I highly recommend this book!

Book Source: Review Copy from William Morrow.  Thank-you!


GIVEAWAY
I was accidentally mailed two Advance Reader Edition's of The Huntress so I am going to give one of them away! If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment on what interests you about this book.  Have you read any books or watched any movies about WWII aviators or war criminals?  If so, what was your favorite?
 
As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

  For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using random.org (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to addresses in the United States.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday April 26th!

Please make sure to check the week of April 29th to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas has been on my very long “too read” list for a least a decade. My son is Kile reading it in 7th grade this year so I decided it was time for me to read it as well.  Although Kile is now annoyed at me for finishing it before the class and says I’m not allowed to tell him the ending!  I’m patiently waiting for them to finish it so that we can discuss it.

Bruno is a nine-year-old boy living in Berlin Germany during World War II.  He loves his house, his friends, his family, especially his Grandmother who makes him costumes and helps him to put on skits during special family events.  His world is turned upside down when the “Fury” (Fuhrer) visits his home for his dinner and his father is promoted to be the Commandant of “Out-With” (Auschwitz).  The family moves to Poland.  Bruno misses his friends, old home, and grandparents until he meets a mysterious boy in striped pajamas who lives on the other side of the fence by his home.  Who is this boy and why can’t they play together?

I thought the novel had many good points to think on.  Some of which I’ve detailed below in the spoiler section as they involve the ending of the book.  One major theme to me was Bruno’s innocence.  He was just trying to live his childhood and seemed to miss all signs of WWII.  I enjoyed the reader’s guide at the end of the novel that described the author’s choice to make Bruno an innocent like in a fairy tale or fable.  And he also describes all of the people who had “no idea” the Holocaust was happening all around them.  I have always had a problem with that.  I really don’t understand how you wouldn’t notice.  I do think the juxtaposition of the extreme innocence versus the truly evil works quite well in this story, although I will admit that Bruno seemed much too innocent to me.  My 10-year old son and eight -year old daughter would have asked questions and figured things out.

I think this is an interesting book to introduce middle school kids to historical fiction and should prompt good discussion.  It does not give explicit details, but the ending is horrifying.  I think 7th grade is a good age for it. I do hope they read Anne Frank’s Diary someday as I really think that non-fiction diary really gives the best account of what the Holocaust was really like for a teenager.

I picked this book for the April Rogue (aka FLICKS Book and Movie Club) Book Club for the pure fact that I had it, wanted to read it, and it was very short.  We only had two weeks to go until our meeting so this met the criteria.  It also helps that the movie version is on Netflix. Our meeting is tomorrow night.  Hopefully this book/movie combination sparks a good discussion. 

SPOILER ALERT
I liked that in the end, Bruno and Shmuel had each other and were not alone.  I thought it was very touching as they held hands in the gas chamber.  I was torn in my feelings for Bruno’s Dad.  On one hand, I felt really sorry for him as a parent wondering what happened to his child.  On the other hand, he was the commander in charge that killed many people and many innocent children.  Was it a sort of brutal justice for his child to be one of those lost in the gas chamber?

The other mystery to me in the novel was what happened to Lieutenant Kotler?  After the mention of his father being a professor that ran away to Switzerland, the Lieutenant himself disappeared.  Did anyone else find his relationship with Bruno’s mother strange?  Bruno’s sister had a crush on him, but did his mother as well?  Is that part of why he disappeared?  Am I reading too much into this for a children’s novel?
SPOILER END

Favorite Quote: 
“You wear the right outfit and you feel like the person you’re pretending to be.”

Overall, the Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a good fable to juxtapose innocence with evil in Hitler’s Germany as seen through a child’s eyes.

Book Source:  Kewaunee Public Library

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman (TLC Book Tour Review and GIVEAWAY!)



December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy.  Eva Cassidy is on her way across the ocean to Hawaii for a new assignment as a nurse at Pearl Harbor in November 1941.  Her sweetheart, Billy, is stationed on the island and awaits her there.  Her father’s dying wish was that she marry Billy. 

Life is complicated for Eva.  Her sister Ruby is back in Michigan trying to recover the use of her legs after a bout with Polio.  Eva has changed her name and signed up as an army nurse after an unfortunate incident at the hospital she worked at.  Several flashbacks throughout the novel detail the mystery behind this event.  On the boat over, Eva meets the handsome Lieutenant Clark and their chemistry can’t be denied.  Unfortunately, once the attack at Pearl Harbor happens, romance is put on the back burner.  Will Eva be able to move on from her past?  Will she find love with Billy or Clark?  Will all three survive the attack on Pearl Harbor?  Why does it seem that mysterious forces do not want anyone to know that there will be an attack?

This novel truly captures the horror of a peaceful tropical island facing a sudden surprising attack.  It was a gripping to read about the horror of the attack as well as Eva working as a nurse in the hospital dealing with not only the aftermath, but the fear that the island will imminently be invaded.  I loved the sisterhood between nurses.

I also enjoyed the start of the story with the cruise to Hawaii.  The tension between Lt. Clark and Eva was palpable.  The characters were very entertaining and I also loved the mystery of Lt. Clark starting to figure out that there is a Japanese force amassing near the Hawaii islands. 

Also, as a fan of Georgette Heyer – I loved that The Spanish Bride was mentioned as reading material on the boat ride over.

Favorite Quotes:
“Eva was well versed in lakes, but here in San Francisco, the air was thick with salt and the tang of it.”

“Blaming is a waste of time.  Nobody knows what the future holds, and of course if you had, you would have done things differently.”

“War suddenly seemed different when it was down to the lowest denominator.  Man on man.”

Overall, The Lieutenant’s Nurse is a riveting World War II novel that shows the nurse’s side of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It also has a nice romance and a couple of mysteries.

Book Source:  E-book Review Copy for being a part of the TLC book Tour.  Thank-you!  For a full list of the stops on this tour, check out this link.

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner has a chance to win a copy of The Lieutenant's Nurse by Sara Ackerman.  If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment on what interests you about this book.  Have you read any books or watched any movies about WWII or Pearl Harbor?  If so, what was your favorite?
 

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using random.org (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to addresses in the United States.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday April 19th!

Please make sure to check the week of April 22nd to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!