Review: Black Chamber (Tales from the Black Chamber #1) by S.M. Stirling

When this book came across my desk for review—I was stoked. I don’t read a ton of alternative history, but this one sounded so so so good that I was eager to read it without question.

I sounded like alternative history mixed with some espionage and sci-fi so how could I pass? I couldn’t!

In 1912, just months before the election, President Taft dies suddenly, and Teddy Roosevelt wastes no time in grabbing power as he wins another term as president. By force of will, he ushers the United States into a new, progressive era with the help of the Black Chamber the mysterious spy organization, watching his back.

Luz O’Malley–a brilliant, deadly, and young Cuban Irish American agent of the Black Chamber–heads to Germany. She’s on a luxury airship swarming with agents of every power on earth, as well as conspirators from the Mexican Revolutionary Party and the sinister underground of the reborn Ku Klux Klan, yet none know her true identity.

Her anonymity will be essential as she strives to gain the secrets of Project Loki, an alarming German plan that Roosevelt fears will drag the U.S. into a world war. To gather this intelligence, Luz will have to deceive the handsome yet ruthless Baron Horst von Duckler. She, along with naive Irish-American Ciara Whelan, has to get this vital information back to the U.S.–or thousands of lives might be lost (summary from Goodreads).  (more…)

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Review: The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

This was a book that I actually passed on initially. Yes it sounded good and like something that would be right up my alley. But my summer reading schedule always fills up so fast and I just didn’t have room for this book so basically I had to pass.

I did however agree to do a special feature on this book as I think it would appeal to many of my readers. As I was working on the special feature, I felt really sad that I wasn’t reading this book because it sounded so good.

After some very aggressive reading and maneuvering, I was able to fit this book in. There were many times that I stayed up way later than I should have reading this book…..not just so I could finish it, but because it was an excellent read!  (more…)

Review: Echo Moon (Ghost Gifts #3) by Laura Spinella

This book appealed to me for a couple of reasons, but one in particular stood out above all the other general ‘pick me’ signs that I saw in the pitch. The thing that caught my eye was the twist between historical fiction and magical realism/paranormal.

This book is set during the Great War (hello my favorite era) but yet has paranormal characters and the combo between the two interested me.

They sound like two very conflicting different genres and the first thing that I thought was ‘this could go one of two ways—really bad or really good’. So I agreed to review this one.

Knowing that it was the third in the series, I was prepared to be a little lost in the story but I had seen that many readers said it could stand alone so I was hopeful that that was truly the case.  (more…)

Special Feature: The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

“Jenna Blum shines a powerful light on how the past swings back and how we must face it. The Lost Family is an extraordinary read, the kind of book that makes you sob and smile, the kind that gives you hope…. It is compassionate, masterful and disturbingly contemporary.”
—Tatiana de Rosnay, bestselling author of Sarah’s Key
This is high praise indeed from a very well known author! That’s what caught my eye with this one. I am a fan of Tatiana de Rosnay so seeing how much she recommended this novel made me in turn excited to read it. I am actually reviewing it next week, I made room for it in my review schedule as a matter of fact because it sounded like something that I would love.
Be on the look out for my upcoming review of this one, but in the mean time, enjoy this special feature!

 

The Lost Family is an amazing upcoming novel from Jenna Blum that explores themes of war, grief, family and the true love that we share. Listed as one of Oprah’s Favorite Women Writers and a New York Times Bestselling Author, Blum is a force. In The Lost Family, she crafts a beautiful ode to the survivors of the Jewish Holocaust and Nazi death camps, reminding us that life must go on despite immense pain, and that beauty still exists.

 

In 1965 Manhattan, patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its Brisket Bourguignon and admire its dashing owner and head chef Peter Rashkin. With his movie-star good looks and tragic past, Peter, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the most eligible bachelor in town. But Peter does not care for the many women who parade through the restaurant hoping to catch his eye. Running Masha’s consumes him, as does his terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camp while his wife, Masha—the restaurant’s namesake—and two young daughters perished.
Then exquisitely beautiful June Bouquet, an up-and-coming young model, appears at the restaurant, piercing Peter’s guard. Though she is twenty years his junior, the two begin a passionate courtship. When June unexpectedly becomes pregnant, Peter proposes, hoping a new family will allow him to let go of the horror of the past.  But over the next two decades, the indelible sadness of those memories will overshadow Peter, June, and their daughter Elsbeth, transforming them in shocking, heartbreaking, and unexpected ways.
Spanning three cinematic decades, from the explosive 1960s and swinging 1970s to the glittering 1980s, Jenna Blum artfully brings to the page a husband devastated by a grief he cannot name, a frustrated wife struggling to compete with a ghost she cannot banish, and a daughter sensitive to the pain of both her own family and another lost before she was born.

About the Author

New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels THOSE WHO SAVE US (Harcourt, 2004) and THE STORMCHASERS (Dutton, May 2010) and the novella “The Lucky One” in GRAND CENTRAL (Berkeley/Penguin, July 2014). One of Oprah’s Top 30 Women Writers. Novel THE LOST FAMILY forthcoming from Harper Collins JUNE 5, 2018!

Review: Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Many times I get review pitches months before the actual review posts. When I get the review pitch, sometimes the book sounds interesting at that time but when it comes time to pick it up to actually read it for review months later, it might not sound as interesting.

So how do I combat this? I trust the process. I have to believe that something about the book appealed to me at one time or another enough for me to agree to review it and even if I am not 100% in the mood to read it when it’s time—I need to trust that I had good judgment.

That’s kind of what happened with this book. I have had Karen White on my radar for years. I’ve seen a number of her novels and they all sound great—though I hadn’t read anything by her, I was eager to read one of her books when it came up for review. (more…)

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