The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

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Elise is an 80 year old woman who has Alzheimer’s. When she was 14 years old, living in Iowa, World War ll was in full swing. Her family was sent to an internment camp because her father, who was born in Germany, was feared to be a Nazi sympathizer. While there she became best friends with a Japanese American, Mariko. Their friendship helps Elise survive not only the internment camp but also the tragedies she experiences through the rest of the war and then as she tries to go on with the rest of her life. Now Elise wants to find this dear friend before the memories of her are gone. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • Alzheimer’s 
  • The things that happen to us lay the ground for the person we will be
  • World War ll
  • Heartbreaking
  • Internment camps during World War ll
  • Friendship 
  • Love
  • Self discovery

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

There were so many things I really loved about The Last Year of the War. I loved the idea of a woman with Alzheimer’s searching for her friend before she can no longer remember her. I loved how Elise named her Alzheimer’s and talked to her. I loved the story of her life in the internment camp and learning more about that time in our county’s history. I knew that Japanese Americans were kept in these camps but I did not know that German Americans also were. I also loved learning about what life was like in these camps. Elise and her family are sent to Germany during the last year of the war and I really liked reading the perspective of a family  living in Germany during the end of the war. I could easily picture what these different experiences were all like and how difficult it was for a young girl. I loved the characters during these times and felt drawn to them and felt their heartbreaks. 

The end of the book was not as good for me as the beginning. I wasn’t really sure about some of the decisions that Elise made and they seemed to come out of no where. The characters in the first part of the book seemed in depth and characters in the last part seemed rushed and I didn’t really feel like I knew them. The ending felt a bit rushed, which after all the details of the beginning was a disappointment. 

My copy of The Last Year of the War was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton

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Lori Shepard is shocked to learn Aunt Dimity has died. She thought Aunt Dimity was a fictional character her mother made up to use in bed time stories. Lori has had many misfortunes the last few months and so agrees to go to England and complete a task Aunt Dimity has left for her. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #1 in the Aunt Dimity mystery series
  • Kindness
  • Guilt
  • Love
  • Pain, loss, disappointment
  • Courage, hope, healing
  • Friendship
  • Mystery not involving murder
  • Ghosts

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I read Aunt Dimity’s Death in one day while home sick. It was the perfect home sick book to read. It had characters that I loved and that I wanted to spend my day with. There were stories about people who had tragedy but overcame that tragedy to find happiness. The plot was engaging and the time reading this story went quickly. I am excited to continue with the series. 

A Cold Day In Paradise by Steve Hamilton

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Alex McNight was a cop in Detroit until his partner was killed and he was shot three times. He retires to a small town in the upper peninsula of Michigan. A couple of murders hit this small town and the killer sends notes to Alex with details that sound like only one person. But this person should be in prison for the murder of Alex’s partner and for the three bullets put in him. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • 1st in the Alex McNight series
  • Quick read
  • Great setting
  • Plot driven

LOVE IT OR LOATH IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

My favorite part of A Cold Day in Paradise was the setting. I lived in the upper part of the lower peninsula for three years and took a few trips to the upper peninsula so I really enjoyed the descriptions and the look into life in that quiet part of the world. The plot kept me going and the ending was a surprise. I’m not really sure yet how I feel about the main character so I will continue with the series. I hope the character of Alex gets more developed and I also hope some of the characters I didn’t like don’t return. 

New York Dead by Stuart Woods

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Walking home late one night police detective, Stone Barrington, witnesses a woman falling from a building. He runs to the building but fails to catch the person leaving the top apartment. When he returns to the place where the woman fell, he discovers that she somehow survived the fall. She is put into an ambulance, and then disappears completely. When the fallen woman turns out to be an anchorwoman all eyes are turned to Stone as he tries to discover what happened and whether or not Sasha Nijinsky is still alive. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #1 in the Stone Barrington series
  • Look into police departments
  • Explicit content
  • Derogatory comments about women and other minorities
  • Cussing 

LOVE IT OR LOATH IT

⭐️

I really liked the premise of New York Dead. Unfortunately that is all I liked. I became turned off fairly early in the book with Stone’s view of woman and it just went downhill from there. I can’t remember the last time I have rolled my eyes so often in a book. There is nothing that felt realistic, the cussing bothered me, I could tell it was written in 1991, I guessed everything that happened in the end, and I didn’t like a single character. This will be a series I will not be continuing. 

Vandals by Olen Steinhauer

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An FBI agent goes undercover to research an underground left wing movement. 

QUICK GLANCE

  •  Short story prequel to the Middleman series
  • Lots of cussing
  • Violent
  • Betrayal

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT 

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Vandals was a short story so I didn’t really get very much character development on the main character Rachel. The plot was fast moving and read much like an action movie. Though there was cussing it was easy to skip over without it being burdensome. I’m intrigued enough to continue with the series

The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry

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William Monk wakes up in a hospital. He has no memory of who he is. He tries to figure out who he is without anyone else knowing he doesn’t know, all while solving a murder. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #1 in the William Monk mystery series
  • Set in Victorian London
  • Self discovery
  • Strong woman
  • Look into society

LOVE IT OR LOATH IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really enjoyed The Face of a Stranger. I loved the idea of a police detective using those skills to figure out who he really is, without anyone else knowing he has no memory. I loved the self discovery journey that Monk goes on, at times not liking who he believes he was. I found the mystery he was assigned to be intriguing and the ending was a surprise. The characters were all varied and great, I definitely had my favorites, including those who showed great kindness, selflessness and courage. 

Moon Water by Pam Webber

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Set in Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in 1969, Nettie, a high school senior learns about changes to nature and people. She also learns if she is strong enough to go through those changes that are most difficult.

QUICK GLANCE

  • Historical Fiction
  • Rural setting
  • Journey
  • Faith
  • Native American culture and beliefs
  • Forgiveness

LOVE IT OR LOATH IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really enjoyed the plot, it moved at a good pace, a lot happened and it kept me interested. I loved the setting. The descriptions of the Blue Ridge Mountains were detailed and I could easily picture them. I loved Nibi and reading about how she uses nature. I found what happened to the Blue Ridge Mountains in August of 1969 fascinating and did more research about the events and looked at pictures to see better what happened. 

However, I just never really connected with the characters. Big things were happening to Nettie and she had a lot to process and think about and I wanted to go on that journey with her. Everything ended so nicely and easily for her and it just didn’t feel authentic to me. I didn’t feel the struggle that she must have gone through. 

 

My copy of Moon Water was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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A coming of age story set during World War ll at a boy’s school

Quick Glance

  • Teenagers 
  • Reflective writing style
  • Character driven
  • Classic
  • Friendship

Love It or Loath It

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved most of it. I attended a boarding high school and so I’m pretty picky about the way boarding schools are portrayed. Way to often they are portrayed with the freedom of a college but for teenagers. A boarding school is taking on the responsibility of its under age students. There would be serious consequences if kids kept leaving the school on their own. But, who knows, maybe boarding schools in the 1940’s had no concerns for keeping their students safe.

Other than the leniency in rules and protecting students I enjoyed the book. Teenagers have a way of thinking the world revolves around them as they seek to understand who they are and what their place in the world is. I loved how this coming of age story was done and found it an enjoyable, though hard at times, journey to go on with Gene. I loved the slow, reflective writing style and felt it went well with the internal struggles Gene has. I also loved the different depictions of friendship throughout the book and Gene’s understanding of friendship changing and evolving. 

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

D0A3F37D-AFAB-48B2-8787-5970882B1A58I was sucked into Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye with the first sentence. “Of all my many murders committed for love and better reasons, the first was the most important.” Jane Steele is the tougher version of Jane Eyre. Jane Steele is what Jane Eyre would be when called evil. Jane Steele is promoted as a gothic retelling of Jane Eyre. While many of the events and places were similar to Jane Eyre, and the slow, descriptive writing was similar, I felt that Jane Steele was a much different reading experience. 

Jane takes her happiness in her own hands. She is funny and had me laughing out loud many times. She is a protector and though also a murderess, she loves people with her whole heart. This book had me not only laughing out loud but tearing up and gasping in surprise. 

I don’t want to say to much because I think the reading experience is so much more fun when you can enjoy all the surprises. I will say there is a mystery included and I also learned about the British East India Company in 1845, and did deeper research on Punjab and the Sikh empire. 

I loved this book and want to tell everyone to read it, especially those who did not like Jane Eyre

An Artless Demise by Anna Lee Huber

72D7B622-CA87-4060-A0F0-AED39CFE4288In An Artless Demise, the 7th book in the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber, Kiera and Gage have returned to London. Kiera’s past is brought front and center when a gang of body snatchers are arrested for killing people and selling their bodies to medical schools. Kiera and Gage are also asked to investigate the murders of young men of nobility. Are these murders related to the trial going on with the body snatchers? 

This is a historical fiction mystery and I found the history and the mystery fascinating. The Italian Boy murder and the resurrectionists trial did happen in 1831 and I really enjoyed learning about this moment in history as told in this fictional mystery. I also loved reading about the affect that this time period had on society.

Many people judge Kiera because of her past. They talk bout her, say unkind things, make assumptions, some don’t include her. I like the look into what that feels like for a person to go through. I learned from those who saw her for herself and not her past and were kind to her. Kiera is so worried about how her scandal affects Gage and her friends and family. But they stand by her and let her know she is not alone.

The history in An Artless Demise pulled me into the story, the mystery hooked me and the look at society and the affects of how we treat others kept me enthralled. 

My copy of An Artless Demise was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review