Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall

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*No Major Spoilers*

Set in the rapidly changing world of 1920s America, this is a story of three people from very different backgrounds: Henry “Schuler” Jefferson, son of German immigrants from Midwestern farm country; Cora Rose Haviland, a young woman of privilege whose family has lost their fortune; and Charles “Gil” Gilchrist, an emotionally damaged WWI veteran pilot. Set adrift by life-altering circumstances, they find themselves bound together by need and torn apart by blind obsessions and conflicting goals. Each one holds a secret that, if exposed, would destroy their friendship. But their journey of adventure and self-discovery has a price—and one of them won’t be able to survive it.

As they crisscross the heartland, exploring the rapidly expanding role of aviation from barnstorming to bootlegging, from a flying circus to the dangerous sport of air racing, the three companions form a makeshift family. It’s a one-of-a-kind family, with members as adventurous as they are vulnerable and as fascinating as they are flawed. But whatever adventure—worldly or private—they find themselves on, they’re guaranteed to be a family you won’t forget.

This book was a major slow-down compared to the other novels I’ve been reading. However, I found this story to be heart-warming and enjoyable to follow throughout. The thought of these planes making all of these crazy stunts is wild and thrilling.

This audiobook’s narrator was monotone and I had to focus to keep up with the story. I would highly advise others to read this novel.

One of my favorite parts of the story was how Henry, Gil, and Cora was performing shows where Gil would do tricks with his plane, and Cora would be doing stunts on her motorcycle with her trusty dog. It felt so natural for them to be together, as a makeshift family. After so much tragedy and heartbreak from WWII, it was nice to see these three misfits come together.

I felt like each of the character’s secrets was relatable and relevant of the times. Of course, I won’t discuss spoilers here, but I did like how they weren’t “huge” or “strange” plot twists. The secrets didn’t paint the characters in any bad light. It’s just to be expected when a makeshift family happens. Sometimes we have to keep something of ourselves out of our friendships.

I love this book, I think the author really took her time and developed this story and the characters to the fullest. I don’t remember any plot holes or inconsistencies. I felt that this story was well-written and very beautifully so. I enjoyed following Henry on his adventure of growing up in a post-war world. The hijinks that happen, and losses they all share.

I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of “coming of age” stories, 1920’s America, airplanes, and stories about misfit families.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

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*History Spoilers*

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines brightly in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

I first came across this nonfiction novel by listening to a podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class. The way the narrators of the podcast discussed this story shocked me. It is a heart-wrenching story of young women who were just trying to support their country, in the end, to be poisoned and wasted away is difficult to hear.

This was a “Goodreads Choice Winner” in 2017. I can see why this historic story won. A tale of 1920s America and the mistreatment of the female workers is what makes this interesting to read. The coming age of nuclear energy is clear in this memoir.

The Ramifications from this outbreak of what’s proclaimed to be “not harmful” and “a miracle medicine” caused laws and legislation to be put in place so that workers have rights if their workplace caused them harm. As well as regulations and laws about protecting a worker from radiation poisoning and keeping the Earth safe from fallout debris.

I would highly recommend this novel if you’re interested in true stories about the 1920s America and scandals involving large corporations. This memoir will have you reaching for the tissues and make you feel for those workers and their families.

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: Baccano! Vol. 1 by Ryohgo Narita

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*No Major Spoilers*

New York, 1927.

In a corrupt city where crime rules the streets, Firo Prochainezo is Camorra, an Italian criminal syndicate distinct from the mafia. A member of the relatively small Martillo family, Firo nevertheless got big ambitions and is determined to make his mark. But while the Martillos may not be the biggest bad guys on the block, they’ve got some distinct advantages working in their favor. Does Firo have what it takes to become a made man?

Let the crazy ruckus begin!

I was really excited about this manga when I saw this at my library. I enjoy 1920’s era stories as well as Mafia/the Mob stories. Sadly, this one disappointed me.

The characters were generic, I had a difficult time telling them apart. Generic mobsters all fighting for control. For example Similar hairstyles and hair colors between each one it was a bit of a headache trying to distinguish them apart

The storyline only got interesting when I was more than half-way into it. At that point I had lost my enthusiasm for the rest of the story. I did finish the story though. When I finished it things started finally making sense, but up until that point, it was like going to a family reunion and seeing most of the people you’ve never met.  Kind of like when Aunt May comes up to you and squeezes your cheeks and says “OH I REMEMBER YOU WHEN YOU WERE JUST A BABY!!” And you’re standing there like “Mom, why is this strange woman pinching my cheeks?”

I did like when the plot fully came together and started to make more sense. I would be willing to read the next book in the series to give it a second chance.

I would recommend this to people who are more into 1920’s era New York and a bit of the Noir theme.

Buy it here on Amazon!

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

ARC REVIEW: The High Climber of Dark Water Bay by Caroline Arden

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*Spoilers Ahead*

**Huge thanks to Turner Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this novel early**

  ***The High Climber of Dark Water Bay by Caroline Arden will be hitting your local bookshelves June 5, 2018, ***

This novel takes place in Seattle in the 1920’s. Times are hard after the war, and it’s no different for twelve-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzie” Parker. Her parents have died and now lives with her sister and her fiance and her newborn nephew.

As Lizzie’s sister’s fiance can’t find a job, Lizzie finds herself on a trip to Dark Water Bay. Her rich uncle has invested in the small logging camp and offered Lizzie to come and tutor her younger cousins for $100. Money that Lizzie’s family desperately needs.

As soon as she reaches Vancouver, things start to go wrong. Her uncle had left the camp months ago, and the owner of the logging camp is not as nice as he seems. How will Lizzie survive in the wilderness with no means to escape?

**Spoilers Ahead**

This book is classified as a book for children in middle school. However, I think it’s for more of the older middle schoolers. There are gambling and a few curse words mentioned in this book. So maybe a PG-13 rating.

I don’t read kids books that often, however, this one did not disappoint. This had me entertained and enthralled throughout. The action was good, and the descriptions of the scenery made me want to take a trip to Dark Water Bay and see the sights for myself.

Lizzie is a very relatable character. She comes from a prim and proper lifestyle and is thrust into a world where sweat and grease are the lifestyles. Seeing her change as the story went on felt practical. She is a dynamic character and changes throughout her adventure.

I loved the uniqueness of each logger. I especially loved Red. He was like a father-figure to Lizzie and gave her advice, and helped her overcome her challenges. All the loggers were more or less caring and supportive towards Lizzie as she discovered her place in the camp.

Overall this was a pretty good book. The characters were realistic and believable. The atmosphere was fantastic. This was an enjoyable read. I would recommend this for upper middle school and above.

Pre-Order it on Amazon (not sponsored)

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James

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*No Major Spoilers*

This thrilling novel follows Ellie Winter, a psychic/medium in 1920s London. Many are searching for answers for the loved ones they lost in the war. There are both real psychics who want to help people and those who feed off of the grieving to make a living.

When one of Ellie’s colleagues is a victim of a gruesome murder, it’s up to Ellie to investigate. She uses her powers and receives help from a couple of resources; James Hawley and George Sutter, to interview people who were at the scene of the crime.

As she closes in on who the killer is, other psychic mediums start dropping dead or fleeing London for safety in Paris. Will she be able to solve this mystery before she becomes a victim too?

In anticipation of her upcoming novel The Broken Girls. I wanted to review one of Simone St. James’ past works. Broken Girls will be hitting bookstores March 20, 2018.

I loved this book! The well-written atmosphere, the attention to detail of the characters made it easy to put me in Ellie’s shoes and solve the mystery with her. The romance between Ellie and James felt natural and real. To be honest, this book would have been fine without the romance angle, but it’s nice to find a genuine story where the guy saves the girl.

The ending was a huge plot twist! I did not expect where that was going to go, but it does make sense on how it worked out in the end. I had to chew on the ending for a bit to see if it felt right to me. The book wrapped up nicely and left no loose ends.

I would recommend this book who loves historical London. Those who love mysteries and the paranormal. The romance was PG-13, so don’t expect a filthy romance here. This book is getting my Choice Award (I’m trying to be critical I promise). So if you’re looking for an awesome read, this is where you’ll find it!