Friday, November 15, 2019

#BookReview: A Fight in Silence by Melanie Metzenthin

Genre
War Era Historical

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

DESCRIPTION: 
Germany, 1926. When Richard and Paula meet in bustling, cosmopolitan Hamburg, everything feels possible. They fall in love, marry and are soon blessed with twins, a beautiful boy and girl. When Richard qualifies as a psychiatrist, life ahead looks bright. Their only sadness is that their son, Georg, was born deaf, although with his family to protect him they’re sure he’ll be okay.

But happiness turns to horror when the Nazis seize power and begin forcing doctors to euthanise anyone the regime deems imperfect. Suddenly, Richard is falsifying medical records to save his patients—and hiding Georg, whose deafness now makes him a target for the Reich.

With his family plunged into darkness and his son’s life in his hands, can Richard find the strength he needs to keep his family together and evade the world’s most merciless regime?

REVIEW: 
Can readers demand a publisher translate an author’s entire backlist? That’s a thing, right? If not, can we make it a thing? Because I need more Melanie Metzenthin in my life.

I know World War II is trending, and the market is saturated, but A Fight in Silence is not a bandwagon publication. Metzenthin is a German author whose heritage gives the novel a cultural authenticity I’ve not seen from her American peers. She is also a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy, which plays to her advantage in a novel about Aktion T4.

The story candidly chronicles the rise of Nazi power in Germany and the divisive effect it had on the medical community of the day. Richard and Paula are fictional characters, but their experiences and personal challenges reflect those of real doctors caught in Hitler’s crossfire. The material is heart-wrenching, but I loved the voice this story gives those who used their positions to subvert the party’s ultimate objectives.

A Fight in Silence brilliantly illustrates the complexities of retaining one’s humanity amid overwhelming persecution and hate. A highly recommendable must-read.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: November 12, 2019
RELATED READING




Thursday, November 14, 2019

#BookReview: Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

Genre
Literary Fiction

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

Social Media
 Official Website
Facebook
Instagram


DESCRIPTION: 
The Handmaid’s Tale meets Alice in Wonderland in this gripping and imaginative historical novel about a shunned orphan girl in 16th-century England who is ensnared in a deadly royal plot and must turn her subjugation into her power.

The Sin Eater walks among us, unseen, unheard
Sins of our flesh become sins of Hers
Following Her to the grave, unseen, unheard
The Sin Eater Walks Among Us.

For the crime of stealing bread, fourteen-year-old May receives a life sentence: she must become a Sin Eater—a shunned woman, brutally marked, whose fate is to hear the final confessions of the dying, eat ritual foods symbolizing their sins as a funeral rite, and thereby shoulder their transgressions to grant their souls access to heaven.

Orphaned and friendless, apprenticed to an older Sin Eater who cannot speak to her, May must make her way in a dangerous and cruel world she barely understands. When a deer heart appears on the coffin of a royal governess who did not confess to the dreadful sin it represents, the older Sin Eater refuses to eat it. She is taken to prison, tortured, and killed. To avenge her death, May must find out who placed the deer heart on the coffin and why.

REVIEW: 
I don’t have words to describe Megan Campisi’s Sin Eater. Well, none that do it justice at any rate. Suffice it to say I had high hopes when I acquired this piece and the execution surpassed every one of my expectations.

Dark storytelling isn’t everyone’s cuppa, but it holds my attention just fine. I found the shadowed pageantry of May’s world utterly captivating and happily lost myself in the potent imagery, superstition, and secrets that surrounded her. That said, I should note I’m a history junkie and came to this novel more interested in the references to 16th century England than I was the literary comparisons in the jacket description.

The noble class enjoys a renaming, but it doesn’t take much to recognize the players here. Henry VIII/King Harold II, Anne Boleyn/Alys Bollings, Thomas Seymour/Titus Seymaur, etc. and so on. Campisi’s rework, however, brings something new to the Tudor table, something bold, creative, and utterly addicting.

Campisi’s prose is rich and poetic, a fact which makes Sin Eater more literary than the majority of recently released historical fiction. Some might find this jarring, but I found the mature tone of the novel wonderfully attractive. It gave me something to sink my teeth into if that’s not too crass a phrase...

Audacious, imaginative, and beautifully rendered, Sin Eater is not to be missed.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: November 13, 2019
RELATED READING




Wednesday, November 13, 2019

#BookReview: To Crown A King by Raedene Jeannette Melin

Genre
Biographic Fiction

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

Social Media
 Official Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

DESCRIPTION: 
Scotland, 1295. The kingdom is on the verge of rebellion. John Balliol wears the crown, but even his powerful Comyn kin cannot break King Edward of England’s insatiable desire to conquer the northern realm.

For Christina Bruce, neither man is worthy of being called King of Scots. Born into the influential Bruce family, the only noble house to rival the Comyns, she is expected to obey her father and side with England. But when a chance meeting with an outlaw named William Wallace brings her into the conflict, she risks everything to get what she wants most – freedom.

From award-winning author Raedene Jeannette Melin, To Crown A King is the empowering tale of Christina Bruce and her struggle between family loyalty and Scottish freedom. Discover her untold story and follow along as she takes her destined place in history.

REVIEW: 
I missed it when selecting Raedene Jeannette Melin’s To Crown a King, so I’m going to start by noting the book is a biographic piece based on the life of Christina Bruce, sister of that other Bruce, the one carefully omitted from the jacket description in favor of a Mel Gibson reference.

All joking aside, I admit I liked this piece. Melin’s To Crown a King is smaller in scope than J.M. Harvey’s Sisters of the Bruce 1292-1314, but I think the modest frame of this narrative allowed a beautiful degree of thematic depth. Melin doesn’t forget the history, I felt it layered a bit thick in places, but there is enough character arc to balance the fact.

My only quib with this piece is the pacing. I was slow on the uptake, but once I got my head on straight, I remembered enough to recognize where this story was going and consequently found it hard to rouse my enthusiasm for the twists and challenges the rebellion was meant to create for Christina.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: November 12, 2019
RELATED READING