Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

How even in the most brutal situations, the is always hope, and sometimes even a little bit of happiness. What those people went though is awful, and to know that everyone in the world knew about it, but decided to do nothing, just pissed me off. I read many books on WWII, but always from the Russian or American point of view. I never even knew that the Soviets did this to Lithuania. It's just so sad.

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Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez review

I had no idea what this book was going to be about when I bought it. I just kept seeing it everywhere I went, so I determined that it must be good if all the stores are selling it. I didn't even know it was about slavery, I thought it was about some servant girl. But beside the point, I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have, maybe it was really good, but I just couldn't get into it. I like reading about war, slavery and other historical topics, because I know I will get a tearjerker and a resonant story. But this book didn't have that spark, the characters were poorly developed, if not at all, and the story just lacked in many places. I did not enjoy it.

For any of you that are as unaware of what this book is about, it's about slavery, but not just any kind of slavery, it's about a group of black women, slaves, who are more than just slaves to their masters, they are basically sex slaves, black mistresses. The men take these slaves to go with them to a resort in Ohio every year, without their wives, imagine what goes on there, Yah. That was just so disturbing to read, every few pages someone was essentially raped by their master. It was a little over the top for me. I couldn't focus on the story, it was confusing and I lost interest very quickly. The main character Lizzie, was not as interesting as the other characters in the book. To be honest, at first I thought Mawu was the main character, until Lizzie stepped in with her boring story. Mawu wanted to run away, make a difference, live. Lizzie was in love with her master. She lacked character, and spirit, she was confusing and unpredictable, I didn't know what was going on in her mind, and my the end of the book I was even more confused.

There was no climax, no resolution, just a slave who doesn't know what love it. I listened to most of this book on audio, and I got to say, there were many many moments where I just tuned out. It didn't hold my attention at all. I don't think I recommend this book either. Seems like all but one of the books I chose for the book-a-thon were bad. Oh well. Better luck next time.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

This story follows many, MANY characters, but mainly Frankie, Iris and Emma. I had to read the first two chapters at least three times, I just couldn't figure out the characters, we are introduced to everyone at once, at least that what it seemed like. The point of view kept changing so quickly and unannounced that I didn't know who was speaking when. And it was especially difficult because I was listening to the audio book, and didn't get to see the little brake between paragraphs to know when one ends and another one begins, which is when the speaker changes. It was confusing. Iris is the Postmistress (postmaster) in Cape Cod, and obsessed with order, even gets a certificate of virginity from her gyno (she is about 40 years old)... What? Yea it happened. She is supposed to be the stable one in the story, the one keeping peace and making people feel safe and comforted by the mail they get from loved ones.

Emma, the talk of the town, is newly married to the town doctor, who decides to go to Europe and help in the war. Emma's life is torn apart when she is left all alone, pregnant and only letters as communication with Will.

Frankie is a radio broadcaster who is currently in London, during the Blitz, she is the one who is right there where the action is, she doesn't just want to be a bystander, she wants to report the real news, to show the people back home what this war is really like. And maybe they will do something to help.

Even though these women are totally different from one another, the war shatters their lives and they all have to face their challenges.

 

I really didn't care much for this book, it was a bit boring, and the characters didn't feel real, they weren't developed all the way. I went into this book with hight expectations, I didn't really read any reviews before I bought it, I just saw it at the store, thought it sounded good and got it. I had the idea that this was gonna be more girly, with letters not being delivered and how that messes with peoples lives. How not getting certain news would affect people, and spiral out of control causing mayhem within the town. Nope, that is not what happens. The secret is pretty obvious, and really doesn't make a great difference in the end.

 

I don't know if I should recommend this book. If you are interested in WWII stories you should read Between Shades of Grey, I just finished it and loved loved it. I will post a review really soon.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

This book on the other hand started out great, I was super excited to find out what happens to Brianna and Roger and how they are living their life, and we do get to see it, at least some of it. Most of the book is focused on John Grey and William. (Doesn't John Grey have his own series. Why is he taking over this one too.) I go to admit, I did skip quite a few chapters because I DID NOT want to read about William, I have no interest in him, so he's a grown boy and in the war, who cares. I don't that's for sure. It was really difficult to enjoy this book, I read a quickly as I could so I could move on to something else. Will not be starting Written In My Own Hearts Blood for a while, I need a break from their boring life. Diana Gabaldon  needs to focus more on the actual story and the details that matter, not the sex life of 60 year old, I don't want to know anymore what Claire's breasts look like and how Jamie likes to touch her butt. So that is all, I won't go into detail much more, because if you read this book you must have read the first one, and if you read the first one you know that the story is good, it's just the 1300+ pages that really get in the way.  Let me know how you felt about these books. And do you recommend me reading the next one soon. It's already sitting on my shelf, ready to be picked up, but I don't think I'm ready yet.

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy—a time-traveler’s certain knowledge. Claire’s unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead—or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes.
Once again Diana Gabaldon shares with us the world of Claire and Jamie, now settled on the Ridge, their life takes on a different turn, as grandparents. But life on the ridge isn't as peaceful as they hope it to be.
 
I have been in LOVE with this series since I read the description of it on Amazon two years ago, the first three I read in just a couple days, COULD NOT put them down. But once the fourth book came out, things went down fast. Curiosity still won over and I still keep reading, but I can't wait till it's over.
 
This book has so far been the worst book in the series, for me at least. It took me over two years to finish it. I put it down and didn't pick it up for a long time. I just couldn't do it. There was too much unnecessary information and detail that blinded the main story. I don't even know what the main story was, there was nothing interesting going on in this book, only preparations and political choices. I understand that we have been with these characters for years now, but do we still need to hear about their sex life. Over and over again. Don't get me wrong I still love this series, but it is just wayyy too long. 
I would still recommend this book to everyone who started this series, and everyone should start reading Outlander right now. Because this is the best series ever. 

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

I've been into historical fiction since I read The Bronze Horseman (WWII Russia), learning just a little bit of history without having to read bulky non-fiction history books is my kind of thing. Though this had more fiction than I would have liked. I got to say I was a little confused at the beginning of this book, probably due to the fact that I was trying to read it while taking care of a newborn, but as the baby got settled I got into the book more and more. By the end I couldn't put it down (even though it has some major flaws). If any of you read Diana Gabaldons' Outlander, this is right up your alley (Outlander is much better in my mind).  It takes place in Scotland as well, but in the early 1700s. Although I did like this book, and I couldn't put it down, after I finished it I was quite angry with the way it ended. But you have to read it to find out. It's kind of a love-hate thing. 

     An OK book, Im not gonna spoil it for those who didn't read the book yet, but as a mother, I was almost crying (it's still just a book), and even after it was done and over with, I just couldn't let it go. I still can't, I wish I could rewrite the ending. Maybe thats how people behaved is the 18th century, but I just can't stomach it. The author does a good job describing the scenery but when it comes to character building she needs a little help. I just could not get into the characters lives, it seemed rushed, we barely get to know some of the characters, and I know it's fiction, but I just can't help but feel like most of the characters are fake. At first I was more drawn to Carries side of the story, but later on Sophias' life seemed more real than Carries. I don't know, it just didn't sit well with me that Carrie's life had to be so parallel to Sophias. To me it seemed like they were fighting for my attention. What ever happened in Sophias life happened in Carries. The books seemed too clean and precise. I would like the lives of both of the girls to be a little more chaotic. It seemed like everything was planned to the last detail. And I didn't really believe in the whole ancestral memory thing, for some reason I can believe in time travel but not this. It just seemed too far fetched. Like that author didn't want to use time travel since it's been done so many times and she came up with this. For me it just didn't work. Not to say that I didn't enjoy the book, I just didn't like when Carrie would go into one of her "trances" when the memories were coming through. She seemed more psychotic to me.

The ending is a bit too predictable, and doesn't seem realistic, I would have liked to be surprised. I was not. Instead I was shocked by the stupid choice Sophia makes.  So overall it's a good book to read if you don't focus on all the negative things about it, and really it's supposed to be read for fun, it's not a serious book. I would still recommend it.

Timeline by Michael Crichton

This was the first novel by Michael Crichton that I read, it was recommended to me by a co-worker, and I gotta say, I loved it. Who doesn't like time travel, especially when it's well written. Crichton gives enough scientific details that you might think parts are non-fiction. He bases his writing on actual scientific studies, and lots of research, so you do end up learning something too. And personally I like the way he explains quantum theory and why this would work. But maybe it's just because I like science. Others might get confused with all the science talk. The story comes alive with all the details, and the characters take turns in telling their part of the journey. It's a great way to get to know everyone on a deeper level. 

The story is set in 1400's France, after a team of archaeologists is sent back to find their professor who accidentally got left there. Now they must not only find the professor but also stay alive, as France is in the middle of a 100 Year War. I found the ending a little bit predictable, not much, but if you really pay attention to the characters personalities you might guess what happens at the end. I still loved the book, will have to check out some of his other work.  I watched the movie after I read this book, but it was so awful I'm not even gonna go reviewing that. 

Drums Of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

This is the fourth book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. And while I loved the first three this one dragged throughout most of the first half. Then we get some great action, and then it slowly fizzles out again. I don't know, maybe it's because I don't care for Brianna that much. But her story is just not as compelling as Claires. I felt like she was getting in the way some of the time. The characters pretty much stay the same from the third book, there are a few more, but noting exciting really happens. It didn't keep me glued to the book like the others did. I still read it pretty quickly, but I think that was because I kept hoping something will happen. Also Roger is really bugging me. He's like a fish out of water, just doesn't seem to fit into the story. When I first met Roger I never expected to dislike him that much. Hopefully he redeems himself in the next books.

So the story goes like this. Claire and Jamie end up in the colonies after their adventurous voyage, here they try to start a new life, while Brianna is left in Boston all alone. And while all alone she keeps searching for her parents wanting to find out if they are still alive, if Claire has made it back to Jamie. She ends up stumbling on some information that sends her back to the stone circle, in the effort to try to change history she meets dangers and heartbreaking events that alter her own life forever. Overall the book wasn't bad, I guess you can't put that many events into a persons life before it really becomes fake. And I guess that's what Diana was trying to achieve, just to show us the normal day to day life of Jamie and Claire. Nothing special. Still good though, and I will recommend it if you read the previous ones. 

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon really knows how to tell a good story, her attention to detail and character development are amazing. This book is the third in the Outlander series.I wasn't sure how she was going to pull off having a 20 year separation between Claire and Jamie, but she did a great job. You do get to know what happened with each of them during those long years. And anticipate the reunion. Lots of shocking secrets are revealed and when Laoghaire makes an appearance I wanted to scream at the book. We also meet a chinaman and get to know Roger and Brianna more and I think this is where Lord John makes his official arrival into the series. (By the way Lord John has his own series by Diana Gabaldon) The first half of the book ties all the loose knots, but the second half is spent on a voyage to save young Ian who was kidnapped (I think by pirates). And that's really where the actions starts, but I personally preferred getting to know what they were up to for those 20 years. If you fell like it startes dragging when they are on the ship, don't worry and just keep reading, the ending picks up with some twists and turns.Dianas' characters really come to life, and like I've said before, she makes you feel like you're part of the book and not just reading it. I couldn't put it down, I literally carried it with me room to room around the house. I can't recommend this series enough. I just looooove it. Hopefully it will continue to rock my socks off. There are quite a few more to go. 

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

"With her now-classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon introduced two unforgettable characters — Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser—delighting readers with a story of adventure and love that spanned two centuries. Now Gabaldon returns to that extraordinary time and place in this vivid, powerful follow-up to Outlander....
 
For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ... about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ... and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his....
 
Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart ... in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ... and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves...."

Despite all the romance that goes on in this book, it's really a historical fiction, the reader gets to explore 18th century Scotland, from the  King Louis XV of France to the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 in which Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tries to reclaim the throne of Scotland and England. And not only that, we also get to know the lives of regular people as well, down to the workings of hospitals and medicine at that time. Which in itself is amazing, how without modern medicine Claire is healing people with plants and herbs. I felt like I was learning a lot. There are also a lot of twist and turns as we discover more ancestors and how many of the characters seem to connect with one another. But aside from all the history in this book, it still focuses on Claire and Jamie's love. We see them grow more and more toward each other in a realistic way. And it makes us feel like we're in this relationship too. Not just reading about it, but that is mostly through the massive amounts of research Gabaldon did for these books. And you will definitely not be disappointed with the humor, sometimes I would have to stop reading because I was laughing so much. She has found that special way of making the characters feel normal, and real. Like we're in the same room with everyone, you can clearly imagine what everyone is doing, wearing and the facial expressions they make. It really makes you fall in love with all the characters of this book.  Jamie has a strong male role, he's the hunky Scot who protects Claire at every step, who is not afraid to die for what he believes in, and he will take unexpected risks for his own reasons. But don't think that Claire is a girly girl. She is a strong woman too. And stubborn just as much as Jamie. She is healing people left and right, which results in it's own problems. Yet they are so down to earth, you can't help but love them. So I'm recommending this book to everyone. Especially if you read the Outlander, it does not loos any of it's charm.

Poison by Sara Poole

The story takes place in 1492 in Rome and is told from the point of view of Francesca, who in trying to avenge her fathers' murder does the unthinkable. 

poison book review

Cardinal Borgia, who is willing to put everything on the line in order to achieve becoming the Pope, hires her as his private poisoner. Her job is to protect him and his family from assassins while plotting to kill the current Pope. While she does this she also uncovers what her father was trying to achieve and who he was. Which brings her closer to his killer. Francesca is a brave young woman who will do anything in her power to protect the ones she loves, while not afraid to die for them if she must. I liked the idea of this book, but thought it was poorly written. The detail and the language of the time period just didn't seem to be that accurate. I understand that the Borgias were real and Francesca is the fictional character that the author invented, I still hoped it would be a little more believable. Francesca is such a fictional character that if she got killed in the book I really wouldn't care. Many times I said to myself "yea right, that would not happen in the 15th century". There are so many aspects that just don't make her real. I couldn't get into this book. I forced myself to get through the first few chapters and then it became a little easier but not by much. The story is told from her point of view, and the way it's written it feels like she is in the 15th century and now she's telling us what has happened. Like a campfire story. So you know she survives even though her life is at danger all the time. And then when she talks about the poison and how to prepare certain kinds she brakes off and explains that she can't say more or us (the reader) would know how to make such poison and she is protecting us. Well all I felt was the author didn't know much about poison and now we have to suffer.  I felt like there was no action in this book, mostly because it was interrupted by Francesca talking.  I feel there is too much talk and not a lot of action. The so called romance between Cesare Borgia and Francesca is merely a couple quickes. It lacked passion. There were also some spelling issues that just bug the hell out of me.

 

 

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

sarah's key book review

The litte girl Sarah Starzynski manages to hide her little brother in a cupboard (their secret hiding place) before the police take her and her parents to the Vélodrome d'Hiver, where they await to be transported to Auschwitz.Fast forward sixty years later Julia Jarmond an American journalist living in France uncovers what has happened to her and her family. This discovery makes her question her relationship with her husband and his family's involvement. She is determined to find out the truth, even if it destroys her family. About half way though the book the story shifts to Sarahs point to view and back to Julia. We are able to connect with the girl on a deeper lever and feel what she felt. Her love for her brother nearly got her killed yet she never gave up.Although the book is written in pretty simple language I still enjoyed it and would recommend it for someone who enjoys an easy read. But it still could have been written a little better. After the big secret is revealed the book looses steam. It feels more like it's about Julia then Sarah, how she struggles with her marriage, family and some moral issues. I would prefer to find out more about Sarah then just the woman who's doing research on her.

Overall this book is pretty good. Makes you think of what people went though during the war and while some people try to face the facts, others seem to think that since they didn't live through it it never happened. There is also a movie made from this book. Check it out

Hoping Netflix has it soon. Looks pretty good compared to the book.

 

 

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