Book Review: The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow

The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow is Scarface and The Godfather rolled into one. You live as the good guys the bad guys and the people in between that are casualties of the drug war. This looks at both sides like I have never read before, it shows the good guys having to cross lines they never thought they could cross and the bad guys crossing those lines to keep what they have. There’s a scene that will leave you floored as a bad guy does the unthinkable to take down a rival, think Red Wedding from Game of Thrones. This book goes through 3 decades of drug traffic starting in the 1970’s to the 2000’s, from Mexico, Columbia and the United States, through the mob, the cartel and the narcos. This is the first book in the Power of the Dog Series, it continues in The Cartel, and in The Border. I have read the Cartel and it is just as excellent as The Power of the Dog. Winslow has this writing style that feels so real, he can take you to the past in a blink of an eye while wrapping up the current narrative. His writing style reminds me of Mario Puzo meets James Ellroy. The fiction blends perfectly with real events, making the novel feel so real. This is My third Don Winslow novel, and I have been blown away each time. It was just announced that the novel The Force will star Matt Damon and be directed by James Mangold, who just directed Damon in Ford v Ferrari. Winslow has previously had the Secret Life of Bobby Z and The Savages who both starred John Travolta.

The Plot: Art Kellar a soldier in Vietnam War takes a job at a newly formed organization the DEA. His job is to stop the flow of heroin from Mexico to the US. Art makes friends with the Tio Barrera a local cop with a lot of influence and his nephews Adan and Raul. Adan and Kellar are fast friends and the reason he now has the influence he has in the organization. Kellar and the Barrera’s take down the drug kingpin of heroin in Mexico. Which the DEA calls job well done. Only the Barrera’s had an ulterior motive to take up the distribution and use it for a cheaper new drug cocaine. Art Kellar has to convince his superiors of the new drug and new power players, Kellar feels responsible for giving power. Kellar dedicates his life to stopping his former friends the Barrera’s. It will take a Priest, a prostitute, and a member of the Irish mob to all play a part.

What I Liked: The history in intertwined in the novel elevates it to the next level. The way the CIA plays both sides and the motive that is given. The ups and downs of good guys to bad guys. This side characters that are explored and make sense when you see the whole puzzle in how they fit into it. The way people are described really sets them apart. There’s easily over fifty characters and I was never once confused on who they were and who’s side they were on. The twist and turns of people flipping, of plans not working out, of people having hidden agendas, and of how connected they really are, is what makes this novel so great. The story flows so seamlessly despite how complex the storyline is. Nora and Callan’s arcs are my favorites to good supporting character’s that are more than they seem. The bridge scene is, the scene that will stick with me for a while, it’s tension filled, it’s a do or die moment for one character, and it was so horrific, so shocking, that it made me cry with grief. This is the Red Wedding moment in Game of Thrones.

What I Disliked: Understanding of Columbian politics, I feel like I need a whole book to understand Columbian politics, and the book takes a shot at it and I still came away confused. I feel like it is more of the complexity of the situation than the explaining of it, it didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the book, and I still took a lot a way from it.

Recommendation: The Power of the Dog is a book that feels like a great gangster movie as your reading it. There’s too many trigger warning’s too list, If you enjoy gangster movies or Game of Thrones the series or the books then you can handle the brutality of this. This is my third novel by Don Winslow and it will not be my last. I read the Cartel first before knowing it was a series and was blown away and not too lost, I now plan on rereading it, to get the impact of everything that happened before, and eventually read the Border the newest entry in the series. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow gets the same score as the Cartel 5 out of 5 stars. Do yourself a favor and check out Don Winslow’s work, if you can handle it.

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow is a love story at its heart, that I found very beautiful, it dips into the science fiction by way of magic, and the time period of early 1900’s makes it historical fiction as well. I liked the idea of doorways to another world, where some people want to explore them, while other’s want them destroyed. The story is told as a book with in a book, which took a little getting used to, once I got used to it I liked the storytelling more, and there’s a few surprises in this way of storytelling that really work for the narrative. When there is action it is fast and well described. The book has a lot of little twist and turns that keep the story interesting until the very end.

The Plot: January is 7 years old when she finds her first door way, is it a child’s imagination that she found a doorway to another place or not. When she tells her caretaker, Mr. Locke, this, he scolds her about growing up and not living in a fantasy world. He also burns the door down. January’s father Julian works for Mr. Locke procuring rare items and in exchange allows his daughter to live with the wealthy Mr. Locke. January likes Mr. Locke despite his strictness and sees him as a surrogate father. January learns to grow up in class and still thinks about the doorway that she went through when a child, and has a token a gold coin she found that day, that she still keeps. January finds a book on doorways to other worlds, and it tells of a girl that is about her age that is obsessed with doors. Julian is reported missing, January wants to go find him, but Mr. Locke wont let her, and locks her up. She remembers that time when she wanted the door from her childhood to open, she wrote it down and that is what she does, hoping for some way out, and the door is unlocked. She tries to escape but is found by Mr. Locke and some of his society members. She is questioned about how she got out, and in her anger she shouts at an aggressive society member, “I hope you get locked behind a door to another world.” Which they turn to Mr. Locke and say you told her, everything about doors is a reality.

What I Liked: January the main character is really fun, I love her voice the first 5 or six pages really hooked me as she tries to introduce herself to the audience. I loved that there is a pay off to who the book is to in both books since this is a book with in a book. Jane is a great supporting character, I loved her backstory. Actually this book nails every backstory, Mr. Locke’s, Jane, Julian, and January’s mother. The world created and the door worlds were really cool a couple of them I wanted to see explored. The bad guys have a pretty good well thought out motive for what they do. I loved how many twist and turns this book had.

What I Disliked: When the book within a book is first introduced it is really jarring, especially since it starts with a preface and has a funky date that threw me off ( it is explained later). The narrator of the book tells his story in third person which was off putting, at least it is addressed but later in the story. This is all in the first hundred pages then the book gets really good, and I had no problems with it.

Recommendations: I enjoyed this book the beginning took a little strain with getting used to the book with in a book, but after that this book is amazing, I was captivated, and couldn’t wait to see what happened. This book reminded me a little of The Long Earth by Terry Prachett and Stephen Baxter mixed with The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. If you like your science fiction and historical fiction mixed then this book is for you. I rated The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Queen of Bedlam by Robert R. McCammon

The Queen of Bedlam by Robert R. McCammon is a haunting historical fiction that takes place in 1702. This is the second novel in the Matthew Corbett series. The series follow Matthew Corbett a young idealist full of honor and virtue living in the time of America’s beginning. Matthew a young lawyer’s clerk loves and respects the law, and wants to see those who break it properly punished. He has a knack for getting in trouble and having adventures. In Speaks the Nightbird Matthew defends a woman accused of witchcraft in the Carolina’s Colony that the town and his own magistrate believe to be true, but Matthew sees the makings of a deep conspiracy. This time Matthew is in New York and chasing a “Jack the Ripper” like murderer the Masker. This series is fun and the character of Matthew keeps evolving, he’s only a clerk for a little while as a greater calling suits him, that of a detective. This book manages to fit in nicely with the first novel, and has a decent amount of call backs. The tone is the same blending Historical Fiction with Mystery with a dash of Horror. This is my second time reading the Queen of Bedlam.

The Plot: After the events in Speaks the Nightbird, three years later Matthew Corbett is with a new magistrate, Magistrate Powers in New York. New York is Matthew’s old home, where he was selected to be a clerk from the orphanage. Matthew now stalks his old and current orphanage headmaster Ausley, speaking to those he abused trying to get them to testify in open court. Matthew while out and about wandering the streets to watch Ausley hoping he commits a crime, stumbles on a murder by the Masker. The Masker is a serial killer known for cutting the victims face like a mask. Matthew’s current magistrate sees potential in him not as a magistrate but for a new organization that help solve mysteries. He gets a trial run on the queen of bedlam case. A woman with no identity is in a catatonic state in a mental institution, she is referred to as the Queen because the only thing she will ask about is if, the king’s reply has returned, but recently she reacted to the death of one of the Masker’s victims. Matthew is tasked with finding out who she is in hopes of awaking her. What Matthew finds out is maybe this woman’s identity is the key to discovering who the Masker is.

What I Liked: The Character of Matthew Corbett keeps getting better and better, as he evolves. The history all fits nothing seems out of ordinary, the descriptions are very detailed and create a perfect visual of the mind. My Favorite new character is Hudson Greathouse the lead detective to Matthew. he’s all brawn and is often surprised how far Matthew’s intellect gets him. I loved the fencing scenes the most. This novel is very well written with lots of little details that add in the end. The climax to this novel was so exciting, I couldn’t remember what happened or who lived or died, which made it even more exciting, like reading it for the first time. The bull through the glass shop was amazing, easily one of my favorite scenes. The tease of the next villain M.r Slaughter was done where you get just enough, and crave his return in the next book.

What I Disliked: Though this plot and climax are better in story and in mystery. This novel misses a very important the first book had, and that is immediacy. The plot moves a long fine but there’s no immediacy in it’s action. In Speaks the Nightbird, Matthew had to solve and disprove the witchcraft, or she was burned at the stake. I this book the murders from the Masker stop for a good while slowing the book down.

Recommendations: I whole heartedly recommend this book, it’s a great mystery set in time that does not get written all that much. The horror element are quick by really good. On my second rereading of Queen of Bedlam my rating went up a point, really liking how much pay off of the little details there is to the main and side plots. I rated Queen of Bedlam 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau is a novel that is insightful when dealing with class warfare and structure, but when it is not, the novel is a fairly obvious mystery that is easily solvable. The novel is called Dreamland after the Brooklyn Amusement park on Coney Island, it is most infamous for having a ride called Hell Gate. A horror boat ride at the time that was full of fire and live actor’s. Dreamland in the novel is more of an after thought since less than a fourth of it takes place there. I love reading about the amusement parks of yesteryear, and was eagerly anticipating this one since I had just read Curious Toys which was about Hell Gate a couple of years later in 1915. Maybe my review was tainted where the text in that book was way more descriptive and captured the atmosphere, Dreamland was really vague in details. That being said the one part this book nails is the class warfare and thoughts on immigrants. Bilyeau made comparisons to the muslim people of today and the struggles to break with people being lumped in as a group instead of being an individual. That was my favorite part, too bad the mystery took up the majority of the book. Thanks to Netgalley and Endeavor Media for giving me a copy. This book was published on January 16 2020.

The Plot: Peggy a New York shopgirl who at the Moonrise Bookstore, she is not you ordinary shopgirl, Peggy it part of the elite class and bucking the system as she craves for independence in 1911. Peggy’s Family owns mines and is making good money off them she has a huge trust that she gets when she turns 21. Her family was in a bit of turmoil and worry about their elite status as her father has passed away. He younger sister Lydia is set to marry Henry a very rich man who used to court Peggy. Lydia and Peggy are a bit estranged but thanks to Henry’s demands of the family, he moves them all to the Oriental Hotel in Brooklyn, not to far from Coney Island. When they arrive woman is found dead in the ocean. The death has everyone on there’s toes and the police protecting the rich from the amusement park patrons and workers. Peggy goes with some of her family and can’t stand the way they talk about the poor and splits off to go on her own adventure. Where she meets a foreign painter who doesn’t know that she’s rich. They end up falling for each other, but a women is murdered on the very spot where they kiss, and Stefan the painter is the only suspect the police want for the crime. Peggy is determined to find the real killer.

What I Liked: The class warfare was really good, and how you can see similarities today was really well done. Same with how immigrants are treated in America and judged on a group of people instead of an individual. I liked the character of Peggy and her feminist ideals that women in this country are still fighting. I hated the character of Lydia, Peggy’s Sister, at the beginning, but at the end of the book she was my favorite. The cover art is beautiful.

What I Disliked: The descriptions in this novel are so weak, it was hard to imagine what 1911 New York looked like. There’s a scene where Peggy is blown away by Stefan’s art, and she must buy two pieces, yet the reader gets only the briefest description of this incredible art. Hell Gate the attraction is so visually stunning I would have been lost if I had not read the book about it previously. The killer was way to easy there was no other suspects, and it was telegraphed so early on, you almost think, okay there’s got to be a twist, but there is not. Did really not like Stefan as a love interest, didn’t think they would get a long. The plot is slow a lot of start and stops so far as pace goes.

Recommendations: This is one that I can not recommend, there’s some nice little bits about class warfare and structure, but with this novel as a whole there’s not enough there to enjoy. I found the mystery incredibly weak, the novel does try to make it more exciting in the end but was still so so easy to solve. I love a great historical fiction but they need the descriptions to put me in that certain time period, and I felt them lacking, (note: I did read an advanced copy so these descriptions have hopefully improved). I hate to give books a low rate but I have to give Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau 2 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Speaks the Nightbird by Robert R. McCammon

Speaks the Nightbird by Robert R. McCammon is one of my favorite stories by one of my favorites authors. This is my second reading of this epic tale that combines Historical Fiction with Murder Mystery, and adding a dash of Horror. We get a tale about witchcraft only 7 years after the Salem Witch Trials in 1699. Where witchcraft was in murky waters of being real or not. This book introduces Matthew Corbett and is the first book in a proposed 9 book series that has two more book to be released. Speaks The Nightbird is in development at FX with Blumhouse producing and each book will be a season. I have read up to the third book before but have wanted to read the series again when it was ending, or close. This book is so good and exceeded my expectations, I remembered snippets here and there, this book is a murder mystery with a lot of plot twist, even though I was pretty sure I remembered who the mastermind was this reread gave me doubts about my memory. I original memory was right, but I had great doubts if it was right or not. When I read this 10 years ago I gave it five stars and it remains in that fie star category today.

The Plot: Magistrate Woodward and his young cleric Matthew Corbett are sent to Fount Royal a fairly new settlement in the Carolina Colony, to investigate witchcraft and murders. The road there is filled with danger as the colony is 40 miles away from any other settlement, and they have to worry about Indians and cut throats. Matthew and Woodward hear of the tale of witchcraft and murder with each man forming his own initial assessment, Matthew the skeptic believes there must be some more rational explanation and Woodward who is older has seen evil like this before read up on the Salem Witch trials. They meet the Witch, Rachel, both men are taken away by her bewitching beauty especially Matthew, but her mouth is bold and blasphemous. The trial starts with witnesses saying she was seen cavorting with the devil. Each testimony more condemning, but Matthew sees something in the testimony that he can’t explain, and has to pursue. This dark road leads to death and a conspiracy that the town is keeping hidden. There truly is a devil in Fount Royal.

What I Liked: The Characters are great and each one different. There’s about 60 characters and almost every one is a suspect in the conspiracy of witchcraft and murder. Matthew Corbett is that great character who won’t quit even if all the odds are against him. This story pays off on the little details, there’s a lot of little side stories that are tied up in conspiracy it wraps them all up as the story still drives towards the mastermind. The villains all have great have great motives, they have reasons for the terrible things they do, also some manage to keep their humanity, which I found really touching. The written dialects all work and sound natural, since this is the birth of a America 1699 there’s people coming from all over and McCammon has found a way to give each voice its unique flavor. The mystery is really great with so many layers that have to get pulled back until you see the whole thing. This novel has one of the greatest red herrings where you know a character is hiding something, but when you experience what it is prepare to laugh yourself silly.

What I Disliked: The mastermind’s lament goes on a little too long, he kind of tells everything and rambles for a few pages. After the main climax there is a slight lag as we go into the big reveal. For a 900 page novel there is very little lag.

Recommendations: Robert R. McCammon is one of my favorite writers he is criminally under the radar in writing. He mainly writes horror but with this series he can do Historical Fiction as well. Stephen King lead me to Robert R. McCammon books when he said he is in awe of his horror writing. This book nails the history of 1699 America. It shows off the frightening use of blood letting and blister cups for medical practice of the time. It highlights what a melting pot of people early America was. For mystery lovers this books ending will keep you guessing, while giving you all the facts. I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars and will keep reading the series.

Book Review: Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean is a bleak tale of survival involving eight kids and three adults stuck on an island made of black rock in the Wales. The story is based on a true story, with a lot of fictional license taken. The novel can’t help but remind me of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, as young boy’s are thrust in to adulthood but still have the pressures of fitting in. Where the World Ends is almost 200 years before Lord of the Flies, where religious superstition is high and omens mean life or death. The language used took me a bit to get into with the old words and the accent. This novel is marked as Young Adult, and the younger audience can enjoy it like the Lord of the Flies but as an adult you will get meaning behind gestures, and will better understand the power struggle. Despite this novel being bleak there’s is life to it and hidden joys as characters make choices for the betterment of others to survive. Thanks to Netgalley and Flatiron for sending me an Advanced Readers Copy this book was published on December 3 2019.

The Plot: The town of St. Kilda is a small town living on the Wales in the summer of 1727. The town has horrendous winters and must prepare in the summer. There’s an island 4 miles out to sea that is full of birds before they fly south for the winter. The island has been a sort of rite of passage for the boys of the village, to spend three weeks gathering eggs and bird meat. Quill is one of the older boys and the novels narrator, it doesn’t give an age but if had to guess 14, he has just found love for the first time, and doesn’t really want to leave for that matter. But he does and on his first outing on the island is named the leader of boys he finds and almost grabs the king bird. Everthing is going great they have more than enough supplies, but the boat is late picking them up. They continue a month over when doubt sets in and they believe this must be the end of the world, for they’re parents not to save them.

What I Liked: The island setting I thought would get boring but I did not as a couple different caves were explored. The elements as the enemy really worked. It showed how religion can lead to hope but also be manipulated for power. Storytelling as a tool to motivate other from staying positive was used the best. I loved the character of John and the secret he hides, and how it can change everything for desperate men. quill was a good narrator that you follow in highs, lows, and madness. The cover was absolutely beautiful. The story as a whole was really good, there were a couple of lulls in pacing but they did not last long. The reason that the boat does not return was really good and made sense at the end.

What I Disliked: At first it was really hard keeping up with who was an adult who was a kid and the ages. The characters, physical descriptions were barely there, which was one of the reasons that age was so hard to determine. You got to differentiate the people through personality rather then physical traits. The birds were described better then the people.

Recommendations: I you love tales of survival, the obvious story to compare is Lord of the Flies but I saw a lot of 127 Hours in it as well. If you like historical fiction then this is a time a setting that I have never read before, the history aspect felt very real. I feel the Reading age should be 13 due to death, disease, and survival I rated Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand

Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand is an atmospheric Historical Fiction surrounded in a world mystery by a deadly serial killer of young girls. The story takes place in 1915 fair grounds in Chicago about twenty years after the World’s Fire fire and the serial killer H.H. Holmes, with it’s own serial killer to deal with. The history is a big part I was constantly reminded of the nonfiction work The Devil in the White City which covered the 1893 Chicago’s World’s Fair. The history and the rides at the time were really neat, The book only covers one in detail Hellsgate ride I could almost imagine it. The book is LGTBG friendly with it’s lead character Pin who is a girl who lives as a boy and struggles with her feelings about girls and one girl in particular Glory. I have not read a great amount of LGTBQ books but I found this one really nailed the questioning of ones self. A special thanks to Netgalley and Mulholland Books for giving me a copy, Curious Toys was published on October 15 2019.

The Plot: Pin is a 14 year old girl who lives as a boy, it started for safety but she likes it and prefers it, her mother is a fortune teller at the fair. The both live on a shack on the fair grounds. Two years’s ago Pin’s sister was lost, she had a form of down syndrome, and has never been found. Pin runs drugs for Max, a he/she act where one side is a man and the other a woman. Pin is always curious and noticing things adults don’t she is sensitive to young girls and strangers. She watches a young girl in a yellow dress get into a ride with a man and never get out, the man she doesn’t get a good look but is sure what she’s seen. She sneaks into ride and discovers a body. Pin is the only one who cares as the body brings even more people to check out the ride and the fair, Pin is willing to risk her life but she might have to risk something more important to her identity.

What I Liked: Pin as a character was fascinating, wish we spent more time with her, and her crisis. I liked the little twist with Glory and who she turned out to be. I liked the Charlie Chaplin bit especially the bit about the cops questioning him being ashamed at the way they are portrayed in his movies. I liked the climax it was pretty exciting. The killer was good the reader was left to fill in a lot of their reasons for the crimes. I did like the flashback of the killer, even at the time reading it you didn’t know who’s flashback it was. I did like the Fatty Bacon cop character and the date scene he had. I love, loved, the part about Pin wanting to expose the killer put to do it in a way she could keep her identity as being a boy, I found that really powerful. I liked the language and found it fitting of the time period. This was one of the coolest covers with all the images about the book is has, it was one of the reasons I selected to request this novel form Netgalley.

What I Disliked: The character of Henry Darger I didn’t care for a hospital janitor that isn’t all there, slightly crazy, that looks out for young girls and has a club protecting them. His character was not needed and it kept the reader away from Pin. I would have liked his character a little more if his slight bio was at the beginning instead of at the end. I didn’t like that the story jumped around having 7 different character’s narratives. Pin, the killer and maybe one more character was all you needed, though I did like being in Charlie Chaplin’s head briefly it didn’t serve a narrative purpose and could been in the newspaper. I figured out who the killer was early, I saw where the novel was pulling me and saw through the misdirection. There was not that many possible suspects, so I found it easy to make the leap. I wanted better descriptions of all the people and things it keeps talking about boater hats, which I had to look up to know what they looked look then see it in the words on the page.

Recommendation: I would mildly recommend this to a reader searching for a LGTBQ character in the early 1900’s and the questioning of one’s self and identity was really good. If you like historical fiction of the early 1900’s, I love Charlie Chaplin and found that part fascinating, as the description of the Hellsgate amusement park ride. I rated this novel 3 out of 3 stars. I found there were some really great moment and some not so great moments that it balanced out.

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly a book that take real people and actions during World War II and creates a compelling work of fiction that fells very true. Lilac Girls follows three women Kasia a Polish teenager who works for the underground against the Nazis, Herta a young German doctor that works at women’s German prison camp, and Caroline an American that volunteers at the French Consulate and helps the war effort. These tails are all connected in some way and intermingle at times. Tis story is a bout the war but also after it and about how broken the war tore apart these countries. This is the first book that really deals with the war and the aftermath, where most novels stop at the end of the war, lilac girls takes place in 1939 and goes up until 1959 way after the war was over. This novel has a serious melodramatic tone but there a plethora of emotions these ladies go through some have highs when others have lows, that balance really helps with the flow of the novel.

The Plot: Caroline is a former broadway star, that now dedicates her life volunteering at the French Consulate in America. When a big star drops out last minute of a charity ball she get Paul a current broadway performer that is French. Caroline falls big for him but he’s married, there marriage has no love anymore with him living full time her and her back in France. Things are heating up between the two of them when Germany invades France. Paul can’t just leave his wife there and journey’s back with Carolines help securing a visa for them both, but things don’t go as planned. Kasia is a young Polish teenager when Poland is invaded by Germany, she’s half german half polish, which makes her not good enough she has friends that our Jewish and taken away. She ‘s young but wants to do something, she joins the underground, a resistance works to overthrow German rule in Poland. She gets caught and declares her and certain members of her family enemies of the state and sent to a Concentration Camp. Herta is a young German woman working her way to be a doctor, she wants to help people. The war happens and she gets a job at the only place that will hire her a doctor at a Concentration Camp. She soon finds out the job isn’t about keeping prisoners well but performing experiments. Will she comply and throw away every thing she believes in or not?

What I Liked: The history is mingled in really seamlessly, and really easy to follow the events. I liked that this novel doesn’t show just how badly the Jewish people were treated, but everyone else who went against Germany. The novel really explains country pride and how that is used to motivate. The aftermath of the war is very eye opening I think this is the first story that I’ve read that goes into detail about how the war messed up people, places, and finances. This story easily wraps the reader up form the start. The switching between narrators was really effective in terms of story and not confusing to the reader. The twist and turns are written really well and keep you on your toes. The acknowledgements go other what Kelly added and what she drew from with Caroline and Herta being based on the real people, it was really helpful, and neat to know how much was true.

What I Disliked: I thought there was a bit too much coincidence in the novel, you have how all the women are connected which I actually liked, but the story line had too many first time coincidences, for example there’s one scene with a lost baby, one that was taken from it’s mother at a camp and a character is sent to find, she finds the baby at the first place she looks, which I went really no exhaustive search. No characters spoke with an accent of inflection, even on attempts to speak english.

Recommendations: World War II fiction is my absolute favorite and this book is one of the better novels of it. Lilac Girls is the first in a series and I plan to read book 2 in the series Lost Roses soon. I recommend this book for historical history buff, women’s fiction this book has some kick butt female leads. The immersive writing reminded me of World War II fiction like The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars I acknowledge this books flaws but the fantastic story more than makes up for it.

Book Review: Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pearce

Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J Pearce is a historical fiction debut novel set in Britain during 1940-1941 during the Blitzkrieg. This novel balances heartbreaking with heart warming splendidly. A fantastic debut novel. The novel is Historical fiction but doesn’t tell the audience a history lesson on World War II it just sets up so someone with basic knowledge can understand Britain is against the Nazis and there’s is a war being fought over head with an occasional bomb dropped every now and then. This novel tells history of other ways in clothing, music, dialogue and women’s rights, and does an amazing job at it, and never made me question the era.

The Plot: Emmy Lake wants to be a war journalist, she is very up on current events of present day 1940’s war torn Britain and also, wrote for her home paper when she lived there, and she has just seen an advertisement for her dream job at the London Evening Chronicle as a junior reporter. But when she gets the job it is not about journalism at all and it is not for the London Evening Chronicle but a subsidiary magazine called Women’s Friend, where she will forward acceptable letters to Mrs. Bird the advice columnist. The problem Mrs. Bird doesn’t want any unhappiness of war posted, she wants best way to avoid getting freckles. Emmy is advised to not read the unpleasant letters and to immediately rip them up. Emmy challenges Mrs. Bird by sending her unpleasantness but with women desperate for advice, but Mrs. Bird does not budge. Emmy can’t take it anymore and decides to write back to a young girl desperate for advice on love for a soldier, and signs it Mrs. Bird. When she gets a heartfelt letter back, Emmy decides to write back more as Mrs. Bird.

What I Liked: How this book took place in the 1940’s and is still relevant in today’s world on women’s rights and on unpleasantness. This book has plenty of hilarious moments, I laughed out loud a couple of times, and was definitely not expecting that. The funniest moment that comes to mind is Bunty’s plan to get Emmy alone with a guy. I love the character of Bunty and Emmy and their dynamic together. I liked the love story and thought it felt very real. The brief history of the bicycle shop was a great moment as description and history. The balance of the emotional rollercoaster that this book takes the reader on.

What I Disliked: I felt it ended too soon with a few story lines in the air, it wrapped up the main story pretty well, but not the side stories, there was a lot left hanging in the air, two character’s and there future relationship with Emmy. The Blitzkrieg could have been described better it was too vague.

Recommendations: I will recommend Dear Mrs. Bird for readers to check this book out, I did an overview of the plot, but there’s a lot of little surprises that made this story really a fun read. If you like historical fiction, it not as detailed as I would’ve like, but still done where I never questioned if it was the right decade. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars and since this is her debut novel will look forward to reading the author’s next work.

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is magnificent, just good old fashioned storytelling at it’s best. This book does a great thing of showing you on the surface tis is what Evelyn Hugo’s life is through the tabloids, then letting you hear in her own words what her life and marriages was truly about and it changes everything you know and perceived. I thought at the beginning that this book was headed one way focusing on the glitz and glamour of Evelyn Hugo’s life only for the story to take a turn and shows so much heart. Taylor Jenkins Reid shows us a character that we should all be jealous over then at the end you can’t help but feel sorry her and the anonymity of a normal life and the freedoms that we the reader have. It was awesome to see a book get so much hype, really and truly blow me away by how amerced I got with the character and the story.

The Plot: Evelyn Hugo is one of the bigger movie star’s of the silver age that she started in the 1950’s and a cultural icon, even though she has one an Oscar her career is over shadowed by the fact she’s been married a total of 7 times ( The Character of Evelyn Hugo is based on a amalgam of female actresses like Elizabeth Taylor and her 7 husbands, the looks and background of Marylin Monroe, and at least one screen role reflects Jane Fonda’s Klute). Evelyn’s life has been told in the tabloids but she’s never set down for an in-depth interview until now, on the eve of her daughter’s death from breast cancer, she’s donating dresses made famous to charity for breast cancer research. , and she wants more press for the event. She chooses a reporter Monique who doesn’t have much clout, so she can seemingly push her around, but Evelyn is quick to tell her there’s a specific reason she chose her and will be revealed at the end, also this piece is about dresses and will be her final interview. Evelyn reveals the truth behind all her husbands ad it will change the way the world ever thought about her and also change Monique’s life as well.

What I Liked: The way this book grabs you and puts you in Evelyn’s world, While reading it became jarring when Monique and Evelyn would talk, because I was so amerced in the story Evelyn was telling. The direction of the book was not one I was not expecting, but really enjoyed the ride and the character development that went with it. The look at the Hollywood during the mid fifties was portrayed really well, and the author clearly did a lot of research on the era. The character’s are all so well rounded and really stick with you even side character’s are memorable. The pace of this novel is incredible if I didn’t have things to do could easily have read this in one sitting.

What I Disliked: I would have wanted to see a little more Hollywood after the early years, but I know that came with the shift of focus that the novel switched to but it would’ve been nice. I did guess the reason that Monique was involved, a little early, I was still satisfied with it, but the moment when it was revealed was over too fast. I didn’t like the way Evelyn delivered the news.

Recommendations: I highly recommend this novel it’s just a great story from start to finish, and a new one to put in my favorites. If you like historical fiction this is a good well researched book on Hollywood in the 50’s and the rise of an ingenue. If you like Biographies then this reads like an in-depth Bio where the artist reveals her soul. This book has some LBGTQ character’s that are portrayed very real with all there flaws and triumphs. I rated this book a rare 5 out of 5 and added this book to my favorites.