Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the Watchman

February 28, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 5 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanCourting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
Series: Courting Darkness Duology #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on February 5, 2019
Pages: 512
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Mortal Heart

dnf

Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?

DNF @ 10%

Courting Darkness returns the focus to Sybella (originally from Dark Triumph) and her new mission in life. I adored the original trilogy and while it has been said that it’s not necessary to read them to appreciate the new duology, I found a definite lack of world-building and establishment of character in this installment. Whether or not it’s necessary, I would highly recommend reading them for the background knowledge alone since it does not appear to be given in Courting Darkness. And while it must be said that there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this story (despite my obvious DNF) I realized shortly into this that while I was originally excited for more stories set in this world, I felt that the original trio’s stories had been told and nothing more was needed.

I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanThe Cassandra by Sharma Shields
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on February 12, 2019
Pages: 304
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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The Cassandra follows a woman who goes to work in a top secret research facility during WWII, only to be tormented by visions of what the mission will mean for humankind.

Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River in remote South Central Washington, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs.

Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself after a lifetime spent as an outsider. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health in jeopardy. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th century reimagining of Cassandra's story is based on a real WWII compound that the author researched meticulously. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man's capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.

DNF @ 21%

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was cursed to speak prophecies that no one would ever believe. Sharma Shields’ Cassandra is a woman who also possesses the ability to prophesize and when she goes to work for the research facility that created the atomic bomb during WWII, her protestations fall on deaf ears when she tries to warn everyone of what’s to come. The plot of this one sounded fascinating and I was anxiously awaiting my opportunity to read it but unfortunately, I found Cassandra’s character to be insufferable and the rest of the characters were completely depthless. Whether or not they were developed further on in the story is a moot point since I obviously did not finish this story, however, character development is not a better late than never sort of thing and should have been done in the very beginning. The bit of story I did read left a lot to be desired plot-wise as well. Cassandra’s story lacked fluidity and felt rather like she was simply checking off boxes on a list of what she knows she does in life. Considering she’s got the gift of prophecy it’s thoroughly possible that this could have been the reason, except, Cassandra never felt like an active participant in her own life and seemed much more likely that it was the author checking off boxes instead. It was at about the point I hit this quote that I decided this just wasn’t for me:

“I admired his stridency. I wanted to bake it, to eat it like a large meat loaf so that it would enter my bloodstream and become my own.”

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanThe Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
Published by Atria Books on March 5, 2019
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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In this breathtakingly bold, intricately constructed novel set in 18th century Stockholm, a dying man searches among the city’s teeming streets, dark corners, and intriguing inhabitants to unmask a ruthless murderer—perfect for fans of Perfume and The Alienist.

It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.

DNF @ 20%

The Wolf and the Watchmen is a story set in 1793 involving the brutal murder of a man and the duo on the hunt for the perpetrator. This is quite a violent and graphic story but it paints a vivid portrait of 18th century Sweden. Did anyone watch the show Taboo with Tom Hardy? It reminded me a lot of that except Taboo has a facet of the supernatural and this story did not. While I don’t normally need supernatural additives in my historical fiction for them to suceed, it did make me realize that I felt like there was something missing to this story that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This story is admittedly very well-written and I can see why it was awarded best debut novel by The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers, unfortunately, the bleakness of the story was absolute and I couldn’t find the motivation to finish.

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Early Review – We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean

September 17, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 4 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko JeanWe'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on October 6th 2015
Pages: 288
Genres: Mental Illness, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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two-stars

Murder.

Fire.

Revenge.

That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

‘So where does a story that ends in fire and death begin? It begins in the snow on the coldest day of the coldest winter of the last fifty years, with two girls on their sixth birthday in silent house. It begins with a body.’

Alice and Celia are twins who have had an arduous life, but fortunately they’ve had each other to get through it. After their grandfather died when they were six, they’ve bounced around to various different foster care homes, some worse than others. When Alice is seventeen years old, Celia intentionally sets a fire  that almost kills her but does kill her boyfriend, Jason. She wakes in a mental health hospital called Savage Isle to find herself recovering from burns and a definite lack of memory surrounding the incident. All Alice knows is Celia killed Jason and revenge begins to consume her thoughts.

Honestly, the summary gives it all away and if you didn’t bother to read the summary then the prologue definitely will. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a mystery that’s predictable because the story itself can make it all worth it, but I have a hard time becoming sympathetic towards characters and their plights when I know more than they do. Their mental stumbling, trying to uncover obvious clues becomes more obnoxious than tragic.

We’ll Never Be Apart could have been saved with some tension but I never felt a sense of urgency from Alice to uncover the mystery. She finds herself in a mental hospital being charged with a crime that she knows in her heart she didn’t commit, yet instead of attempting to work through her memories she becomes resigned to her plight and instead focuses her attention on her crush. Nevermind that her boyfriend of several years just died in a fire a few weeks ago. Becoming resigned to the situation she finds herself in would have been one thing, because can you imagine waking up in a mental hospital being blamed for something you didn’t do and being force-fed medication? That would be terrifying and I think we’d all mentally shut down to some extent, but the focus on the boy was what really ruined it for me. And all the security card stealing so that the two can carouse the halls of the hospital at night. Because that’s totally legit.

I kept reading, hoping for a twist that I maybe hadn’t foreseen. Alas, the end came, and it was less twisty and suspenseful than I had been hoping for. The resolution was also far more tidy than I would have expected given the topic. All in all, this one is far from being a terrible read, but I’ve read too many books that touch on the same topic that have just been done better.

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Waiting on Wednesday – We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean

June 3, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko JeanWe'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on October 6th 2015
Pages: 288
Genres: Mental Illness, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: We'll Never Be Apart

Murder.

Fire.

Revenge.

That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

About Emiko Jean

Emiko Jean is the author of the forthcoming YA psychological suspense novel WE’LL NEVER BE APART (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s), which was inspired by her work with children in the foster care system. Aside from reading, writing, and teaching math to elementary school students, Emiko is passionate about bugs. She can often be found in the remote forests of the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her husband, hunting giant moths and cataloguing rare insect colonies.

I’ve found so few YA psychological thrillers that really impress but I have yet to give up yet on the genre. This sounds like it certainly has serious potential though and I can’t wait to see for myself!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

dvd-pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Blog Tour – Undertow by Michael Buckley

May 4, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book Tour, Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2015 3 Comments

I received this book free from Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour – Undertow by Michael BuckleyUndertow by Michael Buckley
Series: Undertow #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 5th 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
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four-stars
*Amazon Purchase links are Affiliate links*

For fans of Rick Yancey and Marie Lu, Undertow is book one in this much-anticipated, genre-breaking, breath-catching new trilogy for teens from New York Times bestselling author Michael Buckley in which a 16-year-old girl is caught in an epic clash of civilizations when a society of undersea warriors march out of the ocean into modern-day Coney Island.

First, we feared them. Then we fought them. Now they might be our only hope.
Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s best chance for survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this cinematic saga!

About Michael Buckley

New York Times bestselling author Michael Buckley was born in Akron, Ohio. He tried his hand as a stand-up comic and lead singer for a punk rock back before attending Ohio University. After graduating with honors he moved to New York City to be an intern on the Late Show with David Letterman which led to stints developing programming for Discovery Networks, MTV, MTV Animation and Klasky Csupo (producers of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats). Today he lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Alison, and their son Finn.

‘All of them were in a state of metamorphosis. Tails became legs. Fins sank into flesh. Gills vanished, causing their owners to choke on their first breaths of air. There were elderly creatures, babies, teenagers, and families, all climbing onto the beach, eyeing us with wide-eyed wonder. At first they numbered in the hundreds, then thousands, until eventually I could no longer see the sand for all the bodies.’

Three years ago, a mysterious species of ocean-dwellers emerged from the depths of the sea to take their place on land. Since those three years, the creatures that call themselves the Alpha have set up camp on the beaches of Coney Island leaving the humans in the dark as to their intentions. In an attempt to integrate the Alphas into society and to hopefully suppress the ongoing intolerance they face, the government has negotiated that some of their children attend public schools. Lyric Walker has a secret which has caused her to keep a low profile in an attempt to avoid close scrutiny. The disclosure of this secret could mean her death yet when she’s assigned to personally work with the prince of the Alphas she becomes fearful that her secret won’t be secret for very long.

Undertow is strongly reminiscent of one of my favorite movies, District 9where a race of aliens arrives on Earth in an attempt to find refuge. It’s nothing like you would expect since it focuses less on the invasion itself and more on the prejudices and hatred that these different species face. The injustices that they suffer. Undertow takes a similar route with these creatures that are immediately forced to undergo an intolerance that no species should ever have to endure. It was also reminiscent of the racial desegregation during the American Civil Rights Movement when black students became allowed to attend “white schools”, just with another species of course. Regardless of who the “foreigner” is though it showcased just how rampant xenophobia can become in our narrow-minded society.

‘Its skin is swamp brown and highlighted in eggplant purple; its mouth is a huge gaping hole. Teeth lean in all directions like tombstones in an abandoned cemetery. Its empty eyes are calm and black, offering little evidence of life or intelligence, and a long, wormlike appendage dangles from the top of its head to its bottom lip, ending in a bright, glowing bulb. It grunts and clicks and barks at us.’

The most interesting aspect of this tale was the descriptions and detailing of the sea creatures which only added to their alluring mystery. There are various different clans among the Alphas which are basically different forms of the same species and they’re all interesting (and sometimes terrifying) in their own way. The Alphas were fierce and ferocious creatures and the mystery surrounding their appearance on land remains a mystery for the greater part of the novel. That mystery possessed an interesting twist that I thoroughly enjoyed and can’t wait to see how it pans out in the next installment.

Undertow is more than some science fiction invasion story. It’s a story about family and honor, of respect and deference.  And about overcoming prejudices and not standing for intolerance. Undertow was a most appealing tale and a tenacious start to this trilogy.

5 winners will receive a prize pack that contains an Undertow beach towel, beach bag, bookmark, a finished book. US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

dvd-pearl

This post was a part of the ‘Undertow’ blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours.
Be sure to check out the other tour stops below!

Week One:

4/27/2015- Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf– Interview
4/28/2015- Mom With A Kindle– Interview
4/29/2015- Moonlight Gleam Reviews– Book Trailer Post
4/30/2015- Word Spelunking– Review
5/1/2015- Bewitched Bookworms– Book Excerpt

Week Two:

5/4/2015– For the Love of Words– Review
5/5/2015– Novel Novice – Guest Post
5/6/2015– The O.W.L.– Review
5/7/2015Library of a Book Witch– Review
5/8/2015– Literary Meanderings  – Sneak Peek of Book 2 Post

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Book Review – Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

December 6, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 1 Comment

Book Review – Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFeversMortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #3
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on November 4th 2014
Pages: 444
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Courting Darkness

three-half-stars
In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.
She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

His Fair Assassin Trilogy

Early Review – Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by R.L. LaFeversEarly Review – Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by R.L. LaFevers

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers {PurchaseMy Review}
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers {PurchaseMy Review}

‘We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are.’

The final installment in His Fair Assassin trilogy introduces Annith who anxiously awaits the day when she’s sent out into the world to serve Mortain. She excels at all she does and can’t comprehend why she still remains at the convent until the day she overhears the abbess proclaim that Annith is to be trained to be the next Seeress. Refusing to be subjected to the role which would keep her locked within the convent until her dying day, Annith decides to take matters into her own hands and serve Mortain in her own way.

So. Mortal Heart. It was easily one of my most anticipated releases of the year because of how much I adored Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph both. The only accurate way I can describe how I felt about Mortal Heart is to pull a Kevin Sorbo and throw my head back and howl my disappointment.

It must be said though, that LaFevers writing remains spectacular and the historically relevant details are incorporated wonderfully into this tale of fiction and make for an interesting and informative tale. I mostly had an issue with Annith herself and found her to be far too impulsive in her decisions despite the fact that I knew where she was coming from in her decision to leave the convent. Almost the entire first half of the book was spent in first person with the intent to get to know Annith and her mindset but I had a dreadfully hard time staying interested. Once she finally does take the leap of faith to leave the convent to venture out on her own, it does pick up but the seemingly requisite male that these females must meet is introduced and as much as I liked the originality of this love interest he was still described as “breathtakingly handsome in a dark, almost broken way”. Queue the eye rolls. I was fine with Ismae and Sybella’s stories and their meeting of their men but I guess by the third time of the same sort of tale it was getting a little old. If any of these girls tales could have done without a romance I think it would have been Annith. I would have much preferred a story centered around her need to flee the convent and grow in character as a strong and independent female making a life for her own.

Setting aside my opinions on Annith, my primary issue with Mortal Heart is the slow and meandering plot that unfortunately never ends up amounting to much. It took me two weeks to read this and while I love a book you can read slowly and savor, it was instead a definite struggle to finish. Its two predecessors were packed to the gills with action and it was sorely missing in this installment. Add to that, the unexpected and decidedly picturesque ending missed the mark completely for me. View Spoiler »

As much as I hate to call this the worst installment, it’s still a trilogy I would highly recommend for the first two installments alone. If you’re a fan of action-packed historical novels with a cast of incredible women, do check this out.

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Early Review – A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

March 1, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2014, YA 10 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – A Death-Struck Year by Makiia LucierA Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on March 4, 2014
Pages: 288
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

A deadly pandemic, a budding romance, and the heartache of loss make for a stunning coming-of-age teen debut about the struggle to survive during the 1918 flu.

For Cleo Berry, the people dying of the Spanish Influenza in cities like New York and Philadelphia may as well be in another country--that's how far away they feel from the safety of Portland, Oregon. And then cases start being reported in the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode--and into a panic. Headstrong and foolish, seventeen-year-old Cleo is determined to ride out the pandemic in the comfort of her own home, rather than in her quarantined boarding school dorms. But when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she can't ignore the call. As Cleo struggles to navigate the world around her, she is surprised by how much she finds herself caring about near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student and war vet. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies begin to pile up, Cleo can't help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?

Riveting and well-researched, A Death-Struck Year is based on the real-life pandemic considered the most devastating in recorded world history. Readers will be captured by the suspenseful storytelling and the lingering questions of: what would I do for a neighbor? At what risk to myself?
An afterword explains the Spanish flu phenomenon, placing it within the historical context of the early 20th century. Source notes are extensive and interesting.

It’s 1918 in Portland, Oregon and 17-year-old Cleo Berry is living temporarily in the dormitory of her school when her guardians, her older brother and his wife, leave on vacation to celebrate their anniversary. Soon after their departure the news everyone has been dreading arrives: the Spanish influenza has made its way to the west coast. After her school is shut down, Cleo decides to sneak back home to wait for her brother to get back to town. She inevitably decides to assist the Red Cross after a newspaper advertisement shows them asking for volunteers, preferably those with transportation.

There were a few things that initially drew me to this book. One: This reminded me a lot of In the Shadow of Blackbirds which I enjoyed immensely. I had never read anything about the 1918 Spanish influenza but I was riveted by the details of that time period. Two: I loved the idea of this girl volunteering to assist in something so dreadful. I knew she had to be an amazing main character to persevere through something like that. Unfortunately, what I found most intriguing about this book didn’t pan out for me.

The details regarding the Spanish influenza were detailed and clearly well-researched but the story as a whole managed to lack an emotional intensity especially when you consider the devastation going on. The story is told from the point of view of Cleo and she gives us a firsthand account of her day to day life while the influenza spreads through Portland like wildfire. We’re witnesses to the deaths of men, women and children but there was a seemingly unintentional disconnect like Cleo wasn’t truly living in the moment but as if we’re being giving a secondhand accounting instead. It all felt very subdued and didn’t generate the type of emotion I think I should have been feeling given the subject matter. In addition to the lack of emotion, I missed the lack of effect the war was having on the states. There was only brief references to the war going on and soldiers coming home but the people didn’t seem to be effected by hardship due to rations or anything of the sort. I realize that by 1918 we’re at the tail end of the war but it still had a serious impact on peoples way of life for many more months.

As I stated above, I loved the idea of this young girl deciding to assist in helping the Red Cross during this tragedy when she didn’t have to. I loved the idea of this experience having a maturing effect on her and causing a form of transformation. But after about the fifth time she mentioned she had forgotten her mask after walking into a house stock full of sick people I had just about had enough. Putting on your mask to help prevent against the flu isn’t difficult. You’re nursing people that are hacking up a lung and bleeding all over the place and you’re like, “Oops! I left it in the car.” Seriously?!

Every time this would happen it only succeeded in completely enraging me and throwing off the flow of the story. She kept saying throughout the story that she’s not a child and that she can take care of herself when in fact her actions told a completely different story. Cleo could have been an amazing character for me but her complete disregard for her own health was ridiculous and only proved to me that maybe she should have stayed home.

The budding romance, as the summary describes it, is a perfect description. We don’t ever get to witness the bud come to fruition and bloom, we only receive the hints of it. But the ‘budding’ itself between Cleo and Edmund wasn’t anything to get excited about and there really was zero chemistry between the two. I honestly don’t see the reason or purpose for it being a part of the story.

As much as I wanted to love this one, I wasn’t impressed. The story was well written and the research was evident but the the lack of characterization completely killed the story for me. When writing about something as devastating as the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic then I would expect to be completely enshrouded in the desolation of the event and I wasn’t.

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