Grace lives in Maine in a small town in a small house where she raises her two young children and takes care of her husband - a typical housewife in the late 1940's. Her only respite is the time she spends with her friend's house and that is fleeting. When a massive fire takes over the town she flees with her friend ,a buggy and the children. The husbands have left to fight the fire and there is no time to grab anything in the house. Desperate, Grace flees to the ocean and makes them all lie in the freezing water. She saves them all but loses the child she was carrying. Assuming that her unaccounted husband is dead and nothing left, she takes the family to her mother in law's vacant house and starts fresh. With each small step Grace begins to come in to herself and becomes more self confident each day. Until something happens that no one saw coming. This brilliant story starts quietly but just like the fire that started her transformation, it ignites and burns deep into your soul.
Alexandra arrives in Sofia Bulgaria leaving behind her broken parents and grieving for her lost brother. She is there to teach English but has a little time to explore her new home. Little did she know that one bag from a family at a hotel getting mixed up with hers would be the start of a dangerous adventure in a country she knows nothing about. With the help from a friendly English speaking taxi driver, Alexandra and Bobby set off to find the family and return the missing package containing ashes in an urn. They set off in and around Sofia stopping to question friends and distant family of the travelers and slowly begin to piece together the story of the man whose remains they carry but they are not alone in this quest and the journey soon becomes very dangerous. Historical fiction set in Eastern Europe is Kostova's forte and she, once again, expertly guides us through the rich landscape that made us fall in love with Eastern Europe in "The Historian".
This story takes place in the future in the divided former United States. There are obvious similarities to our world today and it doesn't take a huge leap of faith to see that this story could become our future. The raw emotion and pain that the Chestnut family and others endure is substantial and timeless. Imagine Louisiana at the time of the Civil War - hate runs high in the Southern states as does patriotism, rations are scarce with death and danger always on the doorstep. When the family loses the father/husband to a bombing , mom and three children leave their home to seek shelter at a refugee camp where they will simply learn to survive. Sara, called Sarat, stands out among the kids as the one that will take any dare, run faster than any sniper and is smarter than most of the boys and equally as dangerous.
She will meet a man whom she thinks of as a teacher but he will recruit her and turn her into a runner and insurgent. Her family lost to her, she will be imprisoned and suffer unimaginable horrors. Even after her release safety and peace are lost to her and will make a terrible choice. This is a brutal look at civil war past and future and what one family will do to survive. It will stay with you for a long time after you finish the final page.
The sequel to "Sleeping Giants" contains just as much action and page-turning suspense with a tad less government agencies looking to place blame. The story begins four years later and is told through interviews,memos, news reports and other documents relating to when the first robot after Themis lands in London. This new alien robot and others do not seem to be a threat at first but soon Earth is in an uproar and Themis and her crew is once again called upon to make contact. The main characters are back and are still dealing with past issues. Even the snarky mystery interviewer is back still pulling the strings of the marionette crew. The interesting part for me is not how the alien robots can reek havoc on Earth but how humans react to their world being under attack from an unknown source and all the emotion that goes along with it. Read the first book before you tackle this one but the good news is that you will have a shorter time than the rest of us waiting for the next installment.
This is such a fun series because the main character takes everything in stride refusing to act the part of a lady and instead doing the unthinkable - using her brain to solve a murder! Kendra is once again using her FBI skills to help get her boyfriend Alec off for the nasty murder of his ex-mistress who happened to be with child - aghast! Using all of the Duke's connections and help from her female friends in the Ton she will place herself in great danger and have to fight crime wearing uncomfortable shoes and too many petticoats. My only thought was in wondering how long it will be before Kendra finally bends to society's rules and marries Alec. For those who did not read the first book, there are enough hints for the reader to figure out that Kendra was a former FBI agent who traveled back to Regency England and for reasons unknown, can't return to the present.
A sweeping historical look at the Great Fire that burned most of London in the 1600's. The city was on fire and so was the politics. A young man runs into a burning St. Paul's and as another tries to save him only to find out he is a she and his cloak is lost. Marwood is looking into a series of murders and searching for a young woman, Catherine Lovett who the king is hoping will lead them to her traitor father. Cat is searching for her father as well while trying to stay just ahead of rapists, family members who wish her harm and will take her inheritance away from her. She dreams of working with Christopher Wren and other architects who have been given the task of pulling a new London out of the ashes. Cat-and-mouse political intrigue where one's loyalty to family means disloyalty to the crown and can have fatal results. Fans of Hilary Mantel will enjoy this well-researched mystery.
Many of the WWII books that have been published recently deal with the common victims - the Jews who were run off their property imprisoned or worse, the brave resistance fighters who fought next to
the dashing Americans and the stoic British forces. This novel is about another kind of victim, that of three German women whose lives changed when their husbands were executed for treason for their part in the attempted assassination of Hitler. After the war, they banded together in the crumbling estate of one of the women to raise their children and keep each other upright. Rich in character development, the book is narrated by each of the women and we get a clear sense of their loss, inner strength and the love they have for each other. It is a guidebook on the human side of war where the
lines are blurred between hero and victim.
Helen, Yoshi and Sergei have been trained and working their whole lives for this trip - to be the first group of humans to go to Mars. Prime, the company that is handling the mission, agrees that they are the exact perfect team to go but first they must face one last test - to exist in a simulation that will last the year and a half it will take to complete the mission. This simulation is actually in the desert but these three astronauts must rely on themselves and their wits to get by in what could be certain death or the most incredible experience any human has undertaken. We see them work through problems dealing with sleep deprivation, boredom and missing their loved ones. Each chapter alternates between the three astronauts and their family members and gives us an understanding not of what it is like to be in space but what astronauts and their family must deal with before the mission even starts. Each crew member has things they must personally overcome and it is funny to hear them spouting Prime propaganda before too long. It is a character study of what makes a great astronaut and team member, the finding out if you have the right stuff to make it in space.
A couple who are writers accept an unusual invitation to be caretakers to their old college professor's estate. It turns out that some may have an ulterior motive for having them there and soon they are both writing and reigniting their old relationship with the professor. Clare begins writing a story about one of the estate's ancestors and his affair with a local girl who is said to haunt the estate . Soon Clare begins feeling the pull of the house and as her marriage begins to fall apart the dreams of a happy life on the estate may be threatened and the price to live there may be too steep. A bit of a ghost story and a bit of a modern day mystery with small town secrets this novel builds the tension well until the ending you don't see coming.
Kate Warne is an independent woman in Chicago in the mid-1850's without a husband or anywhere to go until she finds herself applying for a job as Pinkerton's first female agent. As the first of her kind you can imagine the obstacles in her way but she gets around them and soon has most of the other agents and her boss admiring her abilities and pluck. This is a very dangerous world and it gets even more dangerous when she travels into the war torn South to spy for the Union army and prevent an assassination attempt on President Lincoln's life. This is a historical novel with heart and soul as well as all the violence and mayhem of a pulse racing thriller. Based on a true story we see that Kate Warne's exciting life was not a bed of roses and in the end she is left with a few close friends and no family outside of Pinkerton's but she did live her life the way she wanted.
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