A young female reporter from New York heads over to London to report stories about the war. Knowing how few women have the chance to report any real news, she takes more chances than her editors and friends would like and soon makes herself invaluable to the London office. When she falls for a military man with a mysterious past and job the story becomes more intense and she must either trust her heart or her head. She will take a chance to get the story as Paris is liberated or the London Blitz but can she survive if her heart gets broken? Well represented story of how the real war was won behind the lines and how ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things under pressure.
Madame Curie discovered radium and the world thought that it could be a miracle substance. In the 1920's young women flocked to new businesses that were using radium churning out important machines that would help the military and consumers see in the darkness. These women were proud that they had a great job in a safe environment painting watch dials that would illuminate the world. The women loved what they did and took great delight in the glow that spotlighted them all through their hometowns. These select jobs were considered a godsend as the wages kept food on the tables of families and even gave the women their own spending money for the first time.
They followed the instructions to point the brush with their lips, dip into the powder and paint the dials as fast as they could. They listened to the supervisors who told them it was harmless and in doing so, ingested poison that would take its gruesome toll over the next few years. As employees began to have health problems they asked if it could be their work environment and again they were told that it was safe. A small group of persistent brave women challenged the system and took two of the companies to court. Years later, even as they began to die off, the group fought. This book will make you sad with what happened to these brave women but it will make you furious that they did not receive justice for so long. Do not skip the jaw dropping postscript which will make you livid. This is an amazing look at a sad period in this country's treatment of working women.
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.
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