Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Here we go again, another World War II novel.  But this one is a story that you probably haven’t heard.  Ruta Sepetys is one of the best at finding the story that you haven’t heard.  This story involves groups of people that were rarely spoken of and a ship wreck that was the greatest maritime disaster in terms of lives lost in history and yet most have never heard the name of the ship.  The alternating narrative chosen by the author creates a feeling of snippets of memories being reveled in an edited slide projector format.  To see the story play out from many different narrators gives you a disjointed feeling of seeing the events but only partially.  It is a highly emotional journey because you know the fate of at least some or most of the characters you meet and yet you want to hope for the best.

 

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people—adults and children alike—aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein’s Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloffthe greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity and love can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.

Front Lines by Michael Grant

I was enthralled by the premise of this book as soon as I heard about it at  the Bureau of Education & Research’s What’s New in Young Adult Literature conference.  I have always had a fascination with the 1920-1960 time period and especially the World War II years.  This book takes an alternate look at history with women being drafted for life on the Front Lines. It felt authentic and harsh but the retelling of history was an amazing look into what life might have been. It is definitely a young adult book. It is not highly censored and is definitely a realistic look into military life (boot camp, barrack life, and war) where the two sexes have to figure out how to live and work as a team. I loved every minute of this book and look forward to reading the rest of the coming series. As always, the publishers blurb is below.

 

World War II, 1942. A court decision makes women subject to the draft and eligible for service. The unproven American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

Three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering: Rio fights to honor her sister; Frangie needs money for her family; Rainy wants to kill Germans. For the first time they leave behind their homes and families—to go to war.

These three daring young women will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, they will discover the roles that define them on the front lines. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I usually fly through books, reading them in two days, but this book was different. Not only because of the nature of the writing but also because of the nature of my life when I started reading it. However, I stuck with this book, reading it little pieces at a time, and by the end I was very sad to be finished. It was a wonderful look at history through a very odd narrator.  I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I got to spend in Amor Towles’s Moscow.  Included below is the publisher’s description found on Amazon.

He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Awesome…surprisingly creepy…historical…strong female lead character…mystery…still creepy…and Awesome!

The Lie Tree was one of my favorite books that I have read in a long time. I enjoy series of books because I enjoy sticking with Characters for a long amount of time and investing in their story but I felt that this stand alone novel made me invest in these characters from the moment I started reading.  There were twists in the story that were surprising and a creepy factor that I was not expecting. Readers who enjoy horror, mystery, historical fiction, or fantasy will find something to love in this book! Publishers blurb is included below.

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy—a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.
In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder—or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

The Selection; The Elite; The One by Kiera Cass

Well, it has happened. I can now say that I am addicted to audiobooks. I listen in the car. I listen while my daughter and I are playing with puzzles, books, toys, etc. And I listen before I go to sleep. I have “read” three and half books this month which is a record for me! I have enjoyed using Overdrive so much these past weeks and I hope you will look into how you can use it too.

Now to the actual books… I have been reading The Selection series.  These books are steeped in romance, princes, princesses, but also in danger, adventure, and even politics.  It has been a very intriguing series to read.  I will include the publishers summary of the first book for you below.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.

Then America meets Prince Maxon—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor (Audio Book)

I am currently using our Overdrive digital library to listen to Rick Riordan’s new Magnus Chase book.  I am impressed with the single actor’s ability to create voices for each of the characters and am really enjoying being able to “read” while driving back and forth to work.  I look forward to listening to many more digital audiobooks in the car and hopefully this summer while riding my bike with my daughter. I am including the blurb summary of the book from Rick Riordan and his publishers. I hope that you might use our Overdrive system or North Shelby library’s Overdrive system to check out your own audio or e-book!

 

Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon – the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds – but this time the hammer isn’t just lost. It has fallen into enemy hands.

If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki — and the price he wants is very high.

 

Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X. by Frank Beddor with Adrienne Kress

Hatter Madigan is the orphaned son of two of the greatest Milliners who ever lived in Wonderland, the younger brother to the Queen’s new official bodyguard, and is well known by all the professors because he already lives at the Millinery Academy, where those born to protect the queendom train to become spies, assassins, and bodyguards. However, this is the year when everything changes. This is the year when Hatter becomes a cadet. When he begins to train to become a milliner, and has to fight to hide his seemingly endless range of emotions that he always seems to wear on his sleeve. He excels and struggles with classes on the history of Wonderland, the properties of caterpillar silk and how it can be manipulated to imbue weapons, clothing, etc. with special power, and the new addition, the H.A.T.B.O.X. (Holographic and Transmutative Base of Xtremecombat).  When strange things start happening around the Academy, Hatter is caught in between being the best cadet he can be and doing what he thinks is right.  This first novel in the Hatter Madigan series is sure to impress readers who are looking for adventure!

Truthfully…Picture Books

Most of my reading time for the past couple of months has been with my daughter, reading picture books.  We have immersed ourselves in Olivia, The Little Blue Truck, Giraffes Can’t Dance, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Are you My Mother?, There’s a Monster at the End of This Book and other wonderful stories.  While they certainly aren’t hard to read and definitely don’t take a lot of time, it has been fun going back to my childhood memories through books! Maybe you would enjoy looking back through books you read as a child and reliving memories. I am about to start forcing myself to stay up a little longer at night in order to read more Juvenile and YA things, so keep coming back!