The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

nightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a fabulous choice for historical fiction fans or any fiction readers. Set during World War II in and around war ravaged Paris, it is a story which alternates between two sisters and what they each must endure to survive the war. Older sister Vianne and her young daughter Sophie are left to fend for themselves when Vianne’s husband Antoine is called away to serve in the war. The hardships begin when a series of Nazi soldiers decide to billet in their home, taking and using whatever and whomever they please. Vianne’s younger sister, Isabelle is rebellious and passionate. She makes it her goal to make a difference and do something to fight back against the Germans who are taking over her city and her home, no matter the danger and risks. The thing that I loved most about this book is that is centered around female characters fighting for their lives and those of innocent children. It really paints a truthful (though heartbreaking and unfathomable at times) portrait of the war’s effect on women. I challenge you to read this book with dry eyes. I certainly couldn’t. I will even go out on a limb and say this is the best book that I have read about World War II and the Holocaust so far. Close seconds are Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller and Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Amazing, just amazing.

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I Was Here by Gayle Forman


I Was Here is a new YA book that will be published Tuesday, January 27, 2015.

I enjoyed this book, much more than Forman’s If I Stay and Where She Went books. The book brings a serious and often overlooked issue on the subject of suicide to light. I can’t spell it out because of spoiler alerts. Cody’s best friend Meg has committed suicide and planned everything out, right down to the last detail of sending emails in advance to Cody and Meg’s parents. Cody saw no warning signs and the suicide came as a complete shock. As she tries to come to grip with extreme grief and guilt for the situation, she also starts to dig and find out what really happened. In the process, she meets Meg’s housemates, who are complete strangers to her, but so much more at the end of the book. Cody’s no-nonsense, harsh perspective as a narrator is a breath of fresh air to the reader. Forman based this story on a true life story of a girl named Suzy, which she describes in more detail in the end notes. This book is really moving, and although extremely sad, it does bring out some ray of hope at the end. I would highly suggest it for adults and teens. Well done, Gayle.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway


Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway is a YA novel that is set to be published 6/23/15. Wow! I absolutely loved it. It packed a powerful punch of emotions, especially at the end. As a Mom reading it, I totally cried. Emmy & Oliver have been best friends and next door neighbors since they were toddlers. But, Oliver disappears when he they are only 7 years old, leaving his family, Emmy, and their other two best friends, Caroline and Drew absolutely heartbroken. Then, one random day 10 years later, Emmy gets the news that Oliver has been located and is on the way home. Will they be able to pick up the pieces of friendship (or maybe more) when he comes home? Is he a different person altogether? How strong are the bonds of friendship, family, and love? I will not give out any spoilers. Trust me; you will want to read this. It is a beautiful novel. Just read it.

A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot


I really enjoyed this book. It was in part a memoir and also in part a diary of the author’s historical journey to discover the details of her grandparent’s relationship during World War II. The author was never sure why; but her grandparents had not spoken to each other in 50 years. She decides to try to write their history and find out what happened by moving back to a small village in France where they once purchased a home and lived for a short time. However, in the process, the author discovers more about herself and finally allows herself to begin living in the present in order to love and be loved. The author weaves rich historical detail throughout the story, which makes for a beautifully written story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of WWII fiction, historical fiction, memoirs, or family historical research.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

This is a brand new and refreshing YA (young adult) novel which was published today, 1/13/15. It was certainly a nice break from all the post-apocalyptic YA fiction that is constantly being published. This novel, which takes place in modern day, reminded me of a teen version of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code because it has some of the same elements, such as following clues in foreign countries and trying to trace historical happenings in order to solve a current day mystery. Also, who could forget the element of being chased and the character being in grave danger throughout the story. The difference is that the main character is just an average teenage girl (Avery) at the beginning of the book. She quickly realizes that others have plans for her life, which she knew nothing about. And, there is a bit of romance, which makes the story line even better. Two young gentleman, Jack and Stellan, are both dishing out affectionate vibes at times, even though neither one is actually allowed to be with her based upon their position in the Circle. Nothing wrong with a little love triangle to make a book more interesting! The book ends abruptly and makes me wish the sequel was already on my night stand waiting to be read next. I really must know what happens next with Avery, Jack, and Stellan! I would highly recommend this book to both teens and adults. It is a great first novel by author Maggie Hall.

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

 

zoo chinaI absolutely loved this fast-paced action thriller. I had never read anything by Matthew Reilly prior to this, but now I think I will go check out some of his other novels. It reminded me quite a bit of my favorite author, James Rollins’, books. The story line is incredibly creative and interesting. It certainly does have some far fetched elements, but that is what makes fiction so much fun! From start to finish, this is a roller-coaster of non-stop action. It is a bit gory in parts, so I wouldn’t advise reading it if you are squeamish with talk of blood. I would recommend it with flying colors, otherwise. Awesome!!!

 

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

I absolutely loved this book. I will admit that the first few chapters started a bit slow for me, but then it picked up the pace very quickly. Maddie, the main character, is a wealthy American housewife and newlywed in a loveless marriage. She has an overbearing,  controlling, and at times verbally abusive husband. Her husband and his best friend Hank drag her across the country to Scotland right during the middle of World War II on a wild goose chase to find the Loch Ness monster, which they are convinced is real and will make them rich and famous. The historical setting and rich descriptive detail of the Scottish Highlands are key for such a beautiful story. I would highly suggest reading it, because I can’t give away the spoilers. The book reminded me a little bit of Sara’s other bestseller, Water for Elephants, as well as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series (minus the sci-fi time portals and all of that).

The book will be published on March 31, 2015.