“The book of lost names” Kristin Harmel

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster.) To be published July 21, 2020.

The book of lost namesIn 2005, Eva Abrams sees an article in the New York Times seeking the owner of a rare book that had been looted by the Nazis. Eva knows it’s her book that she’d thought was lost long ago, and that it contains a secret she’s waited 60 years to find. With single-minded purpose she books a trip to Berlin to claim it, hoping it might contain a message from her long lost lover who died in 1944.

From Florida 2005, readers are taken to 1942 Paris where we’re introduced to Eva Traube. She and her parents don’t believe there’s going to be a roundup of Jews but, when her father and thousands more are taken, she and her mother escape to Free France where they planned to continue on into Switzerland. Instead, against her mother’s wishes, she becomes involved with the French Resistance. In the hidden library of a Catholic church her artistic skills are put to use forging identity documents for hundreds of Jewish children escaping to Switzerland. There she and Rèmy, a fellow forger, develop a secret code based on the Fibonacci sequence and use a rare book to record the real names of the children to whom they were giving false identities.

Through flashbacks between the past and present readers learn of the difficulties Eva faced by falling in love with a Catholic, the battles she had with her grieving and bitter mother, and the hard work she did to save the lives of many children. We see the ways in which the Catholic church was involved in saving lives, the love she held for Rèmy, and how she’d hidden her true self for many years. It is a story of love, hope and faith, in the midst of despair, that rings true to its time and place.

Highly recommended for Adults.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Four days of you and me” Miranda Kenneally

Rated 1 star * ARC. Sourcebooks. To be published May 2020. 340 p.

Four days of you and meIt took forever to finish this book because it was so disjointed it lost my interest. The storyline of two high schoolers (Lulu and Alex) who either hate or love each other during their high school years is a good one, but I have a problem with how their stories are told.

Each section of the book focuses on Lulu and Alex during the same timeframes of different school years (freshman, sophomore, etc.), but too much of their story doesn’t take place in real time. In each section Lulu’s interactions with Alex are either taking place in real time, in the very near past, or months ago. I found it too confusing to switch my brain back and forth from a memory to real time and back again. In addition Lulu was too whiny and insecure for me.

If the author had just stuck to a school year, telling Lulu and Alex’s stories in order during that specific year, I would have been able to give the book at least 3 stars. As it stands I gave it 1 star because she had a good idea, but it wasn’t well executed.

I didn’t like it, so will leave it up to teens, ages 16 and older, to decide if you want to read it or not.

“Green Lantern: Legacy” by Minh Le. Illustrated by Andie Tong

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. DC Zoom. To be published January 21, 2020.

Green lantern legacyThirteen-year-old Vietnamese-American Tai Pham lives with his parents and grandmother above the Jade Market, her Vietnamese grocery store. Though someone keeps spitefully breaking the store windows, and his parents want her to sell because the neighborhood has changed, she refuses. After her death, Tai inherits her jade ring and soon finds out that owning it automatically makes him a Green Lantern – Guardian of the Planet.

Though he’s been warned about the dark side of power the more Tai learns about the powerful things he can do as a Green Lantern the more he starts to let everything get to his head – especially when Xander Griffin, a local billionaire, takes him under his wing. Tai will have to decide what kind of Green Lantern he wants to be, and will need to come to that decision very quickly.

Tai’s adventures, and the richly colored, detailed illustrations, make for quick page turning. It will keep even the most reluctant reader glued to its pages. I enjoyed reading about the first Vietnamese-American Green Lantern, and love that DC superheroes are being diversified – allowing even more readers to see themselves in its pages.

Highly recommended for ages 9-14.

“The glittering hour” by Iona Grey

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. St. Martin’s Press. To be published December 10, 2019.

The glittering hourIn early 1936, nine-year-old Alice was confined to her grandparent’s estate while her beloved Mama goes on a business trip with Papa. Polly, her Mama’s former servant, is the only one to show her kindness as most of her time is spent with her Governess or in the nursery. Grandmama doesn’t want her around, while the only bright moments in her dreary life is receiving letters from Mama where she recalls her time as a young flapper in 1925. Her letters contain clues to a treasure she has to find – just like her Mama used to do when she was younger.

In 1925 Selina spent her days and nights drinking and partying with her rich friends. They traipse from one wild party to another, as she tried to forget the pain of losing her brother in the War and to break away from her parent’s tight grip. They want her to stop scandalizing the family name and settle down, but Selina wants to live her life as outrageously as possible. It was during one of her boisterous nighttime hijinks that Selina met Lawrence, a poor painter and photographer, earning his way through portrait commissions. Though they came from two vastly different places in society, they were instantly smitten with each other and fell madly in love.

Told in alternating viewpoints between the past and present, Selina and Lawrence’s love story draws you deep into the emotional whirlwind of their lives. Theirs is a love story that will leave you longing for a Lawrence of your own, someone who will love you forever and whose love is deeper than the deepest sea. I laughed. I cried. I couldn’t put it down. You will feel the same way. My only criticism is the cover. It, as well as the flowery UK cover, are too bland as neither captures the emotions this book generates.

This cover (see below) was the best of the three. download

Highly recommended for Adults.

I received an advance copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“This light between us: A novel of World War II” by Andrew Fukuda

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Tor Teen. To be published January 7, 2020.

This light between usAlex was ten years old in 1935 when his teacher forced him to become pen pals with a girl named Charlie who lived in Paris, thousands of miles away from his American home on Bainbridge Island. Despite his initial horror at being paired with a girl their friendship deepened as, letter after letter, year after year, they shared their innermost thoughts.

In 1941 Alex’s life forever changed when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Though he was an American citizen, and his parents had emigrated from Japan, they were treated as enemies by neighbors who’d known them for years. A law was passed saying all Japanese, regardless of their citizenship, had to relocate to holding camps. Alex and his family were sent to Manzanar where they, along with 10,000 others, lived as prisoners surrounded by barbed wire and soldiers.

Meanwhile Charlie was experiencing her own prejudice due to being Jewish, and their letters helped keep them grounded. As the war dragged on Charlie was forced into hiding to avoid roundups, and her letters ceased. Alex enlists in the 442nd Battalion, created solely of Japanese-American soldiers, partly to get his father released from prison and partly to find out what happened to Charlie. While in Europe he experiences the horrors of war, but thoughts of finding Charlie kept him sane. He is determined to find her and live out the dreams from their letters.

I absolutely LOVED this amazingly well researched book, and couldn’t put it down. The author did an excellent job in his descriptions of what it was like for Japanese American citizens to be interned for no crime other than for their ancestry, and in describing the battles endured by the 442nd. He brilliantly fused together the prejudice experienced by both Parisian Jews and Japanese Americans and, I will have to say, I cried at the end.

I don’t want to give out spoilers as to why I cried, so will leave it up to you to read it and find out for yourself. Maybe you’ll shed a tear too. I predict this book will win lots of awards in the 2020 cycle. You read it here first!

Highly recommended for ages 16 and older.

I received an advance copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

“Big lies in a small town” by Diane Chamberlain

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. To be published Jan. 14, 2020. St. Martin’s Press.

Big lies in a small townIn 1939 twenty-two year old Anna Dale was excited to have been chosen by the government to paint a post office mural in the little town of Edenton, North Carolina. When she moved there from New Jersey she was excited to learn more about the town, but soon learned not everyone was happy she’d gotten the job. She took on three teens to help her, but Southern tradition soon began to raise its ugly head. Young Jesse Williams was amazingly gifted, and Anna knew if he went to art school he could set the art world on fire. She was happy to mentor him while he helped her, but townspeople were spreading rumors because she was working with a colored teen.

In 2018, Morgan Christopher had been in jail for a year. She was surprised to get a visit from the daughter and lawyer of the famous artist Jesse Williams, telling her his will stipulated she must restore a Depression-era mural within two months. Desperate to get out of jail, she agreed to the strange transaction. As she began to work on cleaning the mural, Morgan began to discover strange things, leaving her to wonder if Anna Dale, the mysterious artist, had become insane.

Chamberlain seamlessly wove through time in alternate chapters, as she told Morgan and Anna’s stories. As more and more of the mural’s clues were revealed, what had been happening while she painted was described through Anna’s point of view. This chilling story of betrayal, murder, vindication and hope will keep readers turning pages until its very satisfying conclusion.

Highly recommended for Adults.

I received an advance copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Beyond the moon” by Catherine Taylor

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Published June 25, 2019. The Cameo Press.

Beyond the moon

Louisa, devastated at her beloved grandmother’s death, was drunk and a little confused at the top of a cliff during a foggy evening. Unsure of her footing, she fell partway down. The doctors were convinced she was suicidal, and admitted her to a psychiatric hospital against her will. A ruthless and uncaring staff ran the hospital, with patients left to fend for themselves.

During a smoke break a friend showed her how to sneak into the abandoned part of the hospital, which dated back to Victorian times. There Louisa discovered Robert, a soldier recovering from World War I injuries. She’s shocked to discover that when she’s with him it’s 1917, but when she leaves his presence she returns to her own time period – one hundred years later. It doesn’t take long before the two of them fall in love but how can their relationship work when they’re separated by time, and only Robert sees her?

After an unpleasant parting back to her own time period, Louisa somehow manages to travel back in time again. Her name is now Rose, a VAD nurse caring for wounded soldiers in France. Her desperate work as a nurse, and her hopes to be reunited with Robert are interspersed with his story as a British Prisoner of War in Germany as the author weaves seamlessly from 2017 to 1917 and back as she tells their wartime love story.

I was absolutely enthralled with this book, and couldn’t put it down. I loved reading about World War I, and was really upset at the way psychiatric patients were treated in 2017. The head nurse Louisa and her friends nicknamed Nurse Enema reminded me of Nurse Ratched from the movie “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.” If you’re interested in historical fiction, time travel and romance, then this book is for you.

Highly recommended for Adults.