Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly




Series:
Standalone
Genre:
Adult, Historical Fiction
Publication Date:April 5, 2016
Pages:487 (Hardcover)
Published By:  Ballantine Books
Website:Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received in Once Upon a Bookcase Club Box

Where to get:

  



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.

(Goodreads)


Somewhere in a corner of our hearts, we are always twenty.
If I’d known I was about to meet the man who’d shatter me like bone china on terra-cotta, I would have slept in.
Turning oneself to the misfortunes of others is the best way to dispense with personal troubles. Hadn’t Lord Byron himself said, “The busy have no time for tears”
It’s just a thing, Kasia. Don’t waste your energy on the hate. That will kill you sure as anything. Focus on keeping your strength. You’re resourceful. Find a way to outsmart them.


      Written with compassion, but also unflinching objectivity, Lilac Girls is an absolutely riveting and haunting WWII story about brutality of war, courage, love and survival. Boasting a diverse, incredibly well drawn cast of characters, it's a profoundly affecting, often-times completely devastating and heart-breaking look at Holocaust through the eyes of three very different women - a Polish girl named Kasia, an ambitious German doctor, and an American philanthropist working for French embassy in New York.

     This book was... Everything and more! I am so thankful to Michelle from @onceuponabookclubbox for choosing it for her first adult box, otherwise it's likely I would've missed it! Or I would've at least put off reading it. Once I started reading, I couldn't put this book down. The writing style was incredibly compelling and heartfelt, and the alternating points of view offered a great deal of insight, not only into the minds of people trying to survive the concentration camps, but also into those on the other side of "the fence", like Herta, or even people across the ocean, observing the events from afar, trying to help those affected. All three women had fascinating, breath-taking stories to tell, and they all invoked many feelings in me. I despised Herta, despite the rare glimpses of her humanity, she was not a very positive character. I liked Caroline and admired her for the work she did during and after the War. And most of all, I connected on more than one level with Kasia. As someone who grew up in Poland and had grandparents directly affected by the War, I sympathized with Kasia, I understood her struggles and fears, I respected her strength and defiance. I loved her. I loved everything about her. She was an absolutely marvelous character - one that is an inspiration to me, now and forever. 

     Not only is Lilac Girls a beautifully written, engaging, often times shocking and heartbreaking story, it's also - or most of all - very powerful and important, and so relevant to our times! I loved the the different perspectives and how the characters' lives intertwine with one another, I loved Martha's absorbing and evocative writing style, and I loved that the story continued beyond the War years, to show us the consequences and how everyone was affected by the War events in the years after. It was a phenomenal reading experience and Martha is one ️immensely talented writer that I will be following closely from now on!




Once Upon a Bookcase Box:

I received the book in the very first Once Upon a Book Club box, and if you don't know what that is, let me enlighten you: it's the most fabulous subscription box ever. Michelle, the lady-boss behind this box, picks a book every month and then adds 3-5 special gifts that come beautifully wrapped and numbered with certain pages. Once you reach a certain page, you get to open the gift. All the gifts are related to the story, too! They're super meaningful and make the reading experience so much more amazing!

Take a look at the photos of the book box I got and if you're interested in subscribing, Michelle now offers the adult version and the young adult version of this box, and you can use code EVIEBOOKISH for 10% off!!!




Friday, May 19, 2017

Book Review: Want by Cindy Pon



Genre:
Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publication Date:June 13, 2017
Pages:336 (Hardcover)
Published By:  Simon Pulse
Website:Cindy Pon

Want on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review

Where to get:

  



From critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution, about a group of teens who risk everything to save their city.

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

(Goodreads)


"I took a leap of faith", she said to me. It was my turn to jump.
Nothing big was ever gained without sacrifice.
Books aren't afraid to show you the truth. 
Seize control of the narrative. Redirect the plot.


We are all creatures of this earth, of this shared ecosystem.

     Welcome to near-future Taipei, the world divided between yous (the ones who have) and meis (the ones who don't). The world, in which the air is so polluted and filled with viruses, the sky is no longer blue and people who can't afford luxurious and incredibly expensive suits designed and sold exclusively by a dirty international corporation based in Taipei. 

This was what it meant to be a you, to have. To be genetically cultivated as a perfect human specimen before birth - vaccinated and fortified, calibrated and optimized. To have an endless database of information instantly retrievable within a second of thinking the query and displayed in helmet. To have the best air, food, and water, ensuring the longest possible life spans as the world went to rot around them. 

Jin Corporation isn't only responsible for the invention and manufacturing of the protective, ultra-advanced suits that keep the polluted air away, ensuring a healthy, comfortable life for the rich of the world. The company also makes sure that the suits are in high demand in the first place. They are powerful, merciless and won't stop at anything to get their way. And that includes corruption, threats, murder and endangering lives of thousands of people. 

If I had learned anything growing up, it was that there were no guarantees in life. But that didn't mean you simply sat back and never tried.

A group of young environmental activists has come up with a wild and extremely dangerous plan to stop the Jin Corporation. They're clever, resourceful, unafraid to take the risks and willing to sacrifice for the cause. All they want to do, is make a difference. 

We follow this story through the eyes of Zhou, a teenage boy who lost his mom to the sickness caused by the city's pollution and viruses. He's the one charged with infiltrating the corporation, in order to destroy it. To do that, he needs to pretend to be one of the rich yous and befriend the Jin Corp CEO's daughter, Daiyu. This near-impossible task gets even more complicated when Zhou begins to develop feelings for Daiyu...

     Want is a powerful, intelligent, and very deftly plotted Sci Fi novel with environmental undertones that feel all too familiar and real for comfort. Deadly smog, corruption, social divides - it's all stuff we are faced with presently, all around the world. It really isn't too hard to believe/connect with the plot of this book, as the ideas explored by Cindy Pon aren't some far-fetched, vague, fantastic schemes pulled out of a magical hat. These are all issues that surround us. 

    As someone who was recently diagnosed with asthma and went through days upon days of not being able to breathe, I feel like I was able to get into the mindset of the meis in this book more than I usually would. And even though Cindy Pon didn't include any gruesome details in her descriptions of the people suffering as a result of the low social status and inability to afford air purifiers and suits, the idea of people suffering such horrible fates got deep under my skin. 

     Want isn't only about environment, activism and trying to stop an evil corporation from destroying the world completely. The story is much more than just that. It's about friendship, sacrifice, and unlikely allies. It's also about love and how we shouldn't judge people based on their appearance, social status, or family roots. And it's written in a very captivating, fast-paced style that keeps you flipping pages till you hit the back cover. I breezed through this book, it was so good! And I really enjoyed getting to know the diverse cast of characters and cheering them on their mission. I definitely recommend reading it, especially if you enjoy action-packed plot lines, drool-worthy food descriptions and books set in Asia. 


I loved Want so much, I actually made two designs inspired by this story. You can check them out here:



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review + Giveaway: Deadmen Walking by Sherrilyn Kenyon


I am thrilled to be a stop on the book tour for Deadmen Walking by Sherrilyn Kenyon, hosted by JeanBookNerd! I have a review for your reading pleasure, but be sure to check out the tour schedule below, or click the banner above, for more!
Don't forget to enter the giveaway!



Series:
Deadman's Cross Trilogy #1
Genre:
Adult, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Historical Fiction
Publication Date:May 9, 2017
Pages:384 (Hardcover)
Published By:  Tor Books
Website:Sherrilyn Kenyon

Deadmen Walking on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

  



Hell On Earth

When the Chthonians brought the primal gods to a truce at the end of their great war, part of the pact they forged was that the worst of the evil the gods had unleashed against each other and mankind would be forever banished.

But forever is a long time. And nothing can contain those determined to find a way back.

To catch evil, it takes evil . . .

While Thorn is able to contain the demons unleashed on the ground, the ones who prey on the innocent sailors and sea faring travelers are beyond his reach.

For the sake of humanity, he makes a shaky alliance with an old foe, Marcelina. In the form of the ship they sail upon, she assembles a team under the command of Captain Devlyn Nathaniel Bane, one of the most notorious and bloodthirsty pirates to ever sail the high seas.

Damned and murdered by his own, Bane is out for revenge. With his own secret agenda, he agrees to take charge of the motley crew of pirates and brigands, and to protect the seas from the preternatural terrors that seek to devour every unwary soul they can take.

Theirs is a sacred and deadly task, as they are hunted by their prey and human authorities alike. If they fail, the world will fall to the ancient gods of chaos, and anarchy will reign. Most of all, the Southern gate, where the greatest, most powerful darkness is imprisoned, will be opened and there will be no stopping it.

It’s yo ho ho and a bottle of high seas stakes where the souls of all humanity are the ultimate prize and bargaining chip.

(Goodreads)

Praise for DEADMEN WALKING: A Deadman's Cross Novel

"Kenyon (Born of Legend) puts the lie to the old adage “Dead men tell no tales” in this jam-packed, appealing first book of her Deadman’s Cross historical fantasy series...this piratical tale is filled with swashbuckling, death, glory." Publishers Weekly on Deadmen Walking

“Kenyon’s writing is brisk, ironic and relentless imaginative.” Boston Globe

“Arguably the most in-demand and prolific authors in America these days.” Publishers Weekly

“[An] engaging read.” Entertainment Weekly


I will admit to being a hardcore Sherrilyn Kenyon fan. I will also admit to the fact that my love of her books has waned, slightly, over the last few years. Don't get me wrong. I love her books and I love her writing, but I got bored of the same formula: Tortured guy and (sometimes) tortured girl meet and eventually fall in love, healing the wounds of each other's past.

At the same time, I can't fault her because this works. While her novels follow a similar formula, she has the ability to make each story its own. The backstories are different, the current predicament is different but connected to her overarching story line. These facts, and amazing writing talent, are what keep me coming back again and again.

I can't get enough of her. There's a reason her books are one of the few that I've managed to re-read over the years. The woman knows how to write.

Deadmen Walking, while set in the same universe as her Dark-Hunter novels with familiar characters, is a new and fresh take on this world. Our characters are pirates and the story takes place in 1715 and 1716. I've got a soft spot for pirates (I can thank Johnny Depp and teen-Andrea for this), so I was excited about this new trilogy.

Sherrilyn doesn't introduce us to Deadmen Walking's main characters right away. We first meet Captain Paden Jack in the prologue, followed by his sister Cameron in the first chapter. Unlike her previous novels, she doesn't focus solely on our hero and heroine (Devyl and Marcelina), but allows for additional narratives, which keeps the story flowing.

Devyl and Marcelina have known each other for centuries, always at each other's throats, but unable to escape the other. I'm not going to explain too much about their relationship to avoid spoilers, but I enjoyed watching their relationship change over the course of the novel as we learned more about their pasts.

As always, Sherrilyn doesn't just create a story with her main characters but forms bonds and relationships between the secondary characters. However, these characters are anything but secondary. They all stand on their own with their own personalities, secrets, and stories to tell. While weaving her tale of Devyl and Marcelina, we are getting hints and tidbits as to what is happening with Cameron, Kalder, Thorne (those of you familiar with her Dark-Hunter series will be rather familiar with him), and others.

I'm looking forward to continuing this series with the next installment, Death Doesn't Bargain






New York Times and International Bestselling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon, is a regular at the #1 spot. With legions of fans known as Menyons (thousands of whom proudly sport tattoos from her series and who travel from all over the world to attend her appearances), her books are always snatched up as soon as they appear on store shelves. Since 2003, she had placed more than 75 novels on the New York Times list in all formats including manga and graphic novels. Her current series are: Dark-Hunter, Chronicles of Nick, Lords of Avalon and The League, and her books are available in over 100 countries where eager fans impatiently wait for the next release. Her Chronicles of Nick and Dark-Hunter series are soon to be major motion pictures while Dark-Hunter, Lords of Avalon and The League are being developed for television. Join her and her Menyons online at SherrilynKenyon.com and www.facebook.com/AuthorSherrilynKenyon



Three copies of Deadmen Walking: A Deadman’s Cross Novel and poster by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Must be 13+ to enter
Open Internationally


Tour Schedule

May 9th - JeanBookNerd
May 10th - Reading for the Stars and Moon
May 11th - Wishful Endings
May 12th - Captivated Reading
May 13th - Booklovers For Life

May 14th - Jump Into Books
May 15th - Her Book Thoughts
May 16th - Crossroad Reviews & Sabrina's Paranormal Palace
May 17th - A Dream Within a Dream
May 18th Thursday - Bookish Lifestyle & Movies, Shows, & Books

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