5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · historical fiction

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner | ARC Book Review

40530049-2

 

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 400 

Genres: historical fiction

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: WWII, historical fiction, reading about history from an alternate person’s point of view 

Foodie Vibes: a meager meal of stale bread, soup and coffee as food is scarce during the war 

 

Synopsis: 

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943–aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Berkley, and Susan Meissner for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • Alternates between present day and WWII featuring the same characters helps to enhance the story
  • The shared friendship between Elise and Mariko – seamlessly ties the whole story together, even when they’re living on different continents
  • The parents caring for their children during very difficult times

Love:

  • The realism and beauty of the writing
  • We get a more personal complete perspective of the war from the view of a teenager
  • The main characters: Elise, her family, Mariko, and the Dove family
  • Even though it’s fiction I learned more about WWII, especially the experiences of average citizens in the U.S. and Germany 
  • Completely transports me to a different time and place

Dislike: 

  • The sadness, violence and mistreatment of people, even though its realistic to the events in history

Wish that:

  • The character of Max was mentioned more and also more likable 

 

Overall, a wonderful historical fiction novel that tells the tale of two American teenagers who met due to fear an assumptions from the government and changed each others’ lives forever. Definitely, definitely recommend!

 

Bookish Question:

What’s your favorite time period/country to read about in historical fiction novels?

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · history · Medical · non fiction · science · Uncategorized

ARC Book Review | The Atlas of Disease by Sandra Hempel

38509772

 

The Atlas of Disease: Mapping Deadly Epidemics and Contagion from the Plague to the Zika Virus by Sandra Hempel

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: White Lion Publishing 

Pages: 224

Genres: non fiction, medical, health, science, history 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: learning about health and wellness, medicine, science in general but especially human health

Foodie Vibes: healthy well balanced meals that are prepared with the ultimate food safety in mind 

 

Synopsis:

Behind every disease is a story, a complex narrative woven of multiple threads, from the natural history of the disease, to the tale of its discovery and its place in history.
 
But what is vital in all of this is how the disease spreads and develops. In The Atlas of Disease, Sandra Hemple reveals how maps have uncovered insightful information about the history of disease, from the seventeenth century plague maps that revealed the radical idea that diseases might be carried and spread by humans, to cholera maps in the 1800s showing the disease was carried by water, right up to the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s and the recent Ebola outbreak.
 
Crucially, The Atlas of Disease will also explore how cartographic techniques have been used to combat epidemics by revealing previously hidden patterns. These discoveries have changed the course of history, affected human evolution, stimulated advances in medicine and shaped the course of countless lives.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, White Lion Publishing, and Sandra Hempel for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The Atlas of Disease is perfectly summarized in the title. The book features diseases that have caused epidemics, outbreaks and overall ill health in humans throughout history. The author uses maps to help illustrate the spread of, infection rate, and other useful information relating to each disease. 

Each disease featured starts with the basics about it, so even if you’re not an expert in the field you can learn about the disease enough to have a good understanding to read the rest of the section. The next few pages describe the history, transmission, and much other information related to that specific disease. I found it fascinating and learned some new information, even beyond what I had learned in my college courses. 

I found it very interesting to see how people’s actions affect the spread of disease including individual people’s choices, the political climate, war, poverty, and famine. Also the book is a great example of why vaccinations are so important. Yes, anti vaxxers I’m talking to you. Vaccinate your children!

However, some of the maps didn’t interest me that much. Partly because I was reading it on my iPhone so I had to constantly zoom in and move the page of the book around the see the whole map, so it was more bothersome than worth it. Also I already understood most of the information through reading the text, so the map didn’t give me too much additional information. But if you’re a big visual learner or very next to the subjects then the maps would be very helpful. 

All in all, I really enjoyed reading The Atlas of Disease. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a nerd like me. 

 

Do you think learning about diseases is interesting or scary? 

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Comics/Graphic Novels · politics · War

Graphic Novel | Yallah Bye by Joseph Safieddine

38908049.jpg

 

Yallah Bye by Joseph Safieddine, illustrated by Kyungeun Park

Published: January 16, 2015

Publisher: Le Lombard

Pages: 168

Genres: comics, graphic novels, political, war

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: political graphic novels, engaging ways to bring complex events to the masses

Foodie Vibes: a few drops of water at the bottom of your glass

 

Synopsis:

July 2006. Gabriel El Chawadi says goodbye to his family at the Paris airport as they leave for their summer vacation in southern Lebanon. But a conflict at the Israel-Lebanon border escalates into a full-blown aerial attack, and for the next few harrowing weeks, the family hides for cover with friends and relatives, watches helplessly as people and buildings are destroyed all around them, and hope against all hope that France will evacuate them to safety. Back in Paris, Gabriel watches the events unfold on television with growing horror and sends out desperate calls for help to anyone who will listen.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Le Lombard, the author and illustrator for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Yallah Bye is a beautifully illustrated, heartbreaking graphic novel. It shows the atrocities of war through it’s depiction of families struggling to survive a conflict at the Israel-Lebanon border. It shows how different people are coping with the terror, but yet are still all terrified, hurting and trying to get through each minute. The people’s fear of getting bombed is palpable throughout the intense writing and illustrations. 

Yallah Bye is a great way to learn about parts of history that often overshadowed by bigger wars. I can see it being required reading in high school history or literature classes, as a foray into teaching about these conflicts. A great way to get teens and young adults excited about history! 

However, I still didn’t fully understand all of the political and historical aspects mentioned throughout. I’m not that familiar with these, and the graphic novel can only cover so much. I wish there was a little bit more education for people who are a bit unfamiliar with the political scene during the conflicts. 

All in all, Yallah Bye is great graphic novel that educates, entertains, and connects on a human level with the readers. 

 

Have you ever read a graphic novel/comic for education purposes?

What was your experience like?

Book Reviews · non fiction · What You Missed Wednesdays

What You Missed Wednesdays – Non Fiction Edition

adult beautiful blue eyes book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

What You Missed Wednesdays is exactly as it sounds!

Book reviews of each week’s genre of choice that you might have missed, and I think you should really hear about.

3 Books a Week with 3 Words/Phrases to Describe Them 

Click on the title of each book to be taken to my full review.

I hope you find new books that you’re excited to add to your TBR!

 

41066898

The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in the Brain Drives Love, Sex and Creativity — and Will Determine the Human Race by Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long

4/5 stars

enlightening, fascinating, interesting look at brain chemistry

 

IMG_4416

Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

4/5 stars

intriguing, informative, weird science and history

 

IMG_4551

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara 

5/5 stars

fantastic true crime, the ultimate book of the genre, can’t get enough 

 

Well there you have it!

Another edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

Keep coming back each Wednesday for more Can’t Miss Books!

Which book(s) are you now adding to your TBR?

4 Star Books · Adventure · feminism · historical fiction · LGBTQIA+ Books

The Pirate’s Booty by Alex Westmore

35919690

 

Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the review for a fun Bookish Question. I’d love to hear your answers!

 

The Pirate’s Booty by Alex Westmore 

Published: November 22, 2016

Publisher: Broad Winged Books

Pages: 344

Genres: historical fiction, LGBTQIA+, historical romance, adventure

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: pirate adventures, badass women, historical fiction with lesbians, feminism

Read with food: a nice juicy orange which is such a treat for a pirate 

 

Synopsis:

When Quinn Gallagher’s childhood friend is abducted from a dock in Ireland, she’ll do whatever it takes to come to the rescue—even if that means dressing as a man and joining the crew of one of the most notorious pirate captains the world has ever seen.

Quinn soon finds there is much to enjoy living as a man, in particular the company of other women. When she finds herself falling hard for Lady Fiona, a woman far above her own station, she is torn between revealing her true identity and continuing the façade of being a male pirate. Love is never easy, especially in the sixteenth century and especially under false pretenses.

Can Quinn live with one foot in two different worlds, or must she consign herself to either the lusty life of a pirate or the loveless life of a noble woman? Come sail the high seas in this exciting and erotic adventure with the fierce pirate Gallagher as your guide. You’re in for a wild ride and may even score some booty along the way.

 

Review:

I was contacted by the publicist of the author and offered a free ebook in exchange for a review. I read the synopsis and of course said yes! As always, an honest review.

I don’t usually read pirate adventure stories, but when I read that The Pirate’s Booty featured a female pirate queen I was very intrigued. Initially there was a bit of an adjustment regarding the language. It’s written in a 16th century pirate dialect, so I didn’t read it as quickly as modern American English. But as time went on, I became quite used to the writing style. It definitely adds to the atmosphere of the story.

The Pirate’s Booty isn’t what I think of when I imagine a typical pirate adventure novel, but it’s so much better. Female pirate queens, lesbians, women disguised as men, and of course the action packed adventure aboard the high seas!

I found myself captivated by the adventures and heartfelt stories. I loved the focus on woman power. Women proving that they are just as capable as men. The underlying themes of women’s freedom, literally and figuratively, provides interesting parallels to current day women’s issues.

Occasionally there were parts of the story that didn’t captivate me as much as others. However, there was so much going on, that it wasn’t long before another storyline came along to grab my focus.

The Pirate’s Booty is the first in a series of books featuring badass lesbian pirates. A wonderful unique story of heart, bravery and determination.

 

The Pirate’s Booty is the first in the Plundered Chronicles series.

Book 6: X Marks the Spot will be released soon, so keep a look out for it!

 

If you liked my review and are interested in learning more about the author and her books, check out:

Her website (subscribe to her newsletter for updates): http://alexwestmore.net

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alex.westmore/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009227907721

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4lrQpHa8ZX3qdkVDYEi0ng

 

 

Bookish Question of the Review:

Do you stick to a few favorite genres or read almost anything or somewhere in the middle? 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Comics/Graphic Novels · history

The Forgotten Slaves of Tromelin by Sylvain Savoia

 

33850731.jpg

 

Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for my Random Question of the Review!

I want to hear all your thoughts and opinions

 

The Forgotten Slaves of Tromelin by Sylvain Savoia

Published: September 16, 2016

Publisher: Europe Comics

Pages: 123

Genres: graphic novel, comic, history

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: learning about history in a unique way, socially/culturally relevant comics, forgotten moments in history, graphic novels with a purpose

Read with food: water and be so thankful for every drop

 

Synopsis: 

This story takes place on a tiny, far-flung island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, whose nearest neighbor is Madagascar, 500 kilometers away… In 1760, the Utile, a ship carrying black slaves from Africa, was shipwrecked here and abandoned by her crew. The surviving slaves had to struggle to stay alive in this desolate land for fifteen years… When this tale got back to France, it became the cornerstone of the battle of Enlightenment to outlaw slavery. More than two hundred years later, the artist Sylvain Savoia accompanied the first archeological mission in search of understanding how these men and women, who had come from the high mountains of Madagascar, had survived alone in the middle of the ocean. This is the story of that mission, through which we’re exposed to the extraordinary story of the slaves themselves.

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Europe Comics, and Sylvain Savoia for a copy of the comic to review. As always, an honest review.

I read the entire graphic novel in a day. By nature, they’re not too long, but since I hadn’t heard about Tromelin before I absolutely had to find out what happened to all the slaves shipwrecked on the island.

I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels and comics, because most of them are based on superheroes. Not my thing! However, when I saw this one I knew I had to read it. I first noticed the illustrations. They’re gorgeous, detailed, evocative of so many emotions, and incredibly powerful. They tell the story wonderfully. The combination of the illustrations and text makes the emotions jump off the page. I felt as if I was right there trapped on the ship with the slaves ~ tired, scared, hot, hungry.

Not too many graphic novels discuss slavery, especially a part of history that’s as forgotten as Tromelin. I certainly hadn’t heard of it before reading this. The story is told by alternating from present day scientists, journalists, archeologists, etc. excavating the site, and the historical events as they were occurring.

While the history was wonderfully done, the parts about the present day excavations were only okay. Their findings of long lost artifacts did help to complete the story. Also definitely a trigger warning for slavery, assault, abandonment, etc.

Overall, I highly recommend reading The Forgotten Slaves of Tromelin. Powerful, emotive, impactful, an important part of history that’s told through gorgeous illustrations in this graphic novel.

Random Question of the Review:

What book has opened your eyes to something new, recently? 

4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Gothic · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

IMG_4487.JPG

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Published by Berkley on March 20, 2018

Pages: 336

Genres: mystery, thriller, gothic, suspense, historical fiction

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: Criminal Minds, Cold Case, creepy satisfying books

Read with food: popcorn ~ the suspense is that good; it’s like watching a movie you can’t take your eyes off 

 

Synopsis: 

A suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare…

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

Review:

Murders, deaths that may or may not be accidental, haunted boarding schools, disturbed teenage girls. What more could a reader possibly want in a creepy, can’t put down book?

The Broken Girls alternates between 1950 and 2014. In 1950, 4 girls live in a haunted boarding school, Idlewild, for disturbed/delinquent teenage girls. One of them goes missing. Secrets are uncovered, and nothing is as simple as it seems on the surface. Then in 2014 a body is discovered on the grounds of the now derelict Idlewild.

In between, a young woman is murdered on the grounds. Fiona, the sister of the murdered woman, is now a journalist. Writing an article about the renovations on the grounds of Idlewild. She digs up more than a few secrets that the small town wishes to keep buried.

The Broken Girls is a perfect mix of an unsettling episode of Criminal Minds directed by Matthew Gray Gubler and a satisfying episode of Cold Case.

I definitely recommend you give this haunting book a read!

 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · non fiction

Book Review: Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

IMG_4416.JPG

Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

Published by Algonquin Books on February 14, 2017

Pages: 332

Genres: non fiction, science, history, anthropology, biology, nature, psychology

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books that include a comprehensive mix of multiple sciences to uncover the facts, science nerds

Read with food: 100% vegan salad

 

Synopsis: 

For centuries scientists have written off cannibalism as a bizarre phenomenon with little biological significance. Its presence in nature was dismissed as a desperate response to starvation or other life-threatening circumstances, and few spent time studying it. A taboo subject in our culture, the behavior was portrayed mostly through horror movies or tabloids sensationalizing the crimes of real-life flesh-eaters. But the true nature of cannibalism–the role it plays in evolution as well as human history–is even more intriguing (and more normal) than the misconceptions we’ve come to accept as fact.

In Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History, zoologist Bill Schutt sets the record straight, debunking common myths and investigating our new understanding of cannibalism’s role in biology, anthropology, and history in the most fascinating account yet written on this complex topic. Schutt takes readers from Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, where he wades through ponds full of tadpoles devouring their siblings, to the Sierra Nevadas, where he joins researchers who are shedding new light on what happened to the Donner Party–the most infamous episode of cannibalism in American history. He even meets with an expert on the preparation and consumption of human placenta (and, yes, it goes well with Chianti).

Bringing together the latest cutting-edge science, Schutt answers questions such as why some amphibians consume their mother’s skin; why certain insects bite the heads off their partners after sex; why, up until the end of the twentieth century, Europeans regularly ate human body parts as medical curatives; and how cannibalism might be linked to the extinction of the Neanderthals. He takes us into the future as well, investigating whether, as climate change causes famine, disease, and overcrowding, we may see more outbreaks of cannibalism in many more species–including our own.

Cannibalism places a perfectly natural occurrence into a vital new context and invites us to explore why it both enthralls and repels us.

Review: 

A book about cannibalism seems like it would be weird and horrific, but it was actually quite intriguing. That is not to say I want to engage in cannibalism … actually quite the opposite.

The book discusses the history of cannibalism in animals and humans, and the mainly evolutionary and survival purposes for the practices. Young animals, especially amphibians, would engage in cannibalism by eating other smaller animals of the same species to increase their chance of survival. I found this fact intriguing and informative, as my preconceived notions were that cannibalism was only creep psychotic serial killers.

In humans, the practice of medical cannibalism throughout history occurred in some cultures. Mainly as an attempt to cure health conditions or periods of extreme famine.

Overall, I found this book to be incredibly interesting. The author is truly trying to understand the practice of cannibalism, not sensationalize it. A bit of an odd book choice for some, but if the topic intrigues you, then I definitely recommend this book.

 

So . . . I want to know, what’s the weirdest book you’ve read?