REVIEW: Salt to the Sea – Ruta Sepetys

25614492Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Rating: ★★★★½

This is actually my third time picking this book up. I had made two previous of attempts, which both ended with me DNF’ing before getting even a quarter of the way through. I am so extremely happy I gave Salt to the Sea another chance, because I really, truly loved it.

What is this book about? Salt to the Sea takes place during WWII and is essentially about a group of characters that eventually all find themselves aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff – a German cruise liner that was supposed to transport military personnel and refugees away from the Red Army. The story follows the point of views of four different characters, all of whom have very different backgrounds and reasons for wanting to board this ship. 

What did I like? I’m a big fan of WWII historical fiction and this was no exception. Ruta Sepetys did an excellent job of grabbing my attention throughout the novel and telling some very compelling stories with the characters. The first time I attempted this book, I hated all the characters and couldn’t connect with anyone. This time, I found myself loving Florian, Joana, and Emilia and was intrigued (although very disturbed) by Albert. 

What didn’t I like? My only issue was that there was really nothing distinguishable between the four voices of the characters. Many time I found myself flipping back to the beginning of the chapter to remember whose POV I was supposed to be reading through. 

Overall thoughts: Ruta Sepetys once again has told a marvelous story about a period of history that is often unremarked upon. Previous to this book, I had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff which is very unfortunate considering the astronomical loss of life experienced. Salt to the Sea was a compelling story that kept me hooked from the beginning after easily falling in love with the characters. 

#SixforSunday: Books That Have Been on My TBR the Longest

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! #SixforSunday is a weekly meme hosted by Steph @ A Little But a Lot. The theme for this week is books that have sat on our TBR lists the longest. The struggle of many a reader are those books that we keep meaning to read, but never actually seem to get around to actually doing. And with so many new and interesting books released every year, it seems almost impossible to ever catch up on my TBR. 

The Zookeeper's Wife MIT.indd1. THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE
I couldn’t even attempt to guess how long this book has been sitting on my bookshelf unread. I’ve started this a handful of times, but could never seem to even get halfway through the first chapter. Historical fiction – especially set during WWII – is one of my favorite genres to read. Even with the release of the movie, I couldn’t seem to get motivated to read this.


218536212.
THE NIGHTINGALE
I bought this book on a whim (which I never do!) because I kept seeing so many five star reviews and positive things about it. And then when I started to dig a little deeper and read some spoilers (oops) it kind of made me regret my decision. Everyone seems to absolutely love this book, and as a historical novel set during WWII it’s right up my ally. However, those spoilers alerted me to the fact that one of my biggest turn-offs while reading, is actually a huge plot point in the book. So now the book just sits on my shelf, and I remain unsure as to whether or not I actually want to go through with reading it.

187052093. THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS
The very last book in the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series, and I have yet to read it. I attempted to start it when it first came out, but I didn’t get very far and quickly became bored. I know the reason I haven’t read this yet is because Annabeth and Percy don’t have POVs, and honestly I’m not as invested in anyone else’s story, with the exception of Reyna. One day, I hope I will finally get around to finishing this series, however. 

2590294. BLACK HAWK DOWN
War memoirs are a very small sub-genre that I find myself really enjoying. I bought this when I had just finished Lone Survivor and American Sniper consecutively, and wanted another book-to-movie adaptation to read. Black Hawk Down is one of my favorite movies and I thought I would dive right into this as soon as I had time, and yet it too has sat untouched on my shelf for years, much to my chagrin. 

135310795. BIRDSONG
For someone who claims to enjoy reading historical fiction, I am now realizing how many books on this list that I haven’t read fall into that category. I’ll be honest: most of the time I forget I even have this book. It’s been on my shelf for so long it’s basically just decoration at this point. To be fair, this has been turned into a tv series which has also been left unwatched in my amazon watchlist for quite a while as well. 

104413346. FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC
I’ve seen the movie, and this is one of the books my mom bought me because she really liked it as a teenager, but I’ve never felt compelled to actually sit down and read it. Like, I want to eventually read the book, but I don’t know when I will ever feel the motivation to do it. 

 

REVIEW: Orphan Monster Spy – Matt Killeen (ARC)

35575184Title: Orphan Monster Spy
Author: Matt Killeen
Rating: ★★★

ARC provided by Penguin First to Read.

“I am Ursula Bettine Haller, she answered. Good little, dumb National Socialist monster. Nobody’s enemy. Everybody’s friend.”

I love historical fiction and books set during WWII so when I read the synopsis for Orphan Monster Spy, it sounded exactly like the kind of book I would want to read. The plot was well done and intriguing, and I was interested in the characters – especially Sarah – but I feel like a lot of things were just glossed over in the story. Parts of Sarah’s history were briefly mentioned and then never brought up again, which left me with a lot of questions by the end of the book. For a majority of the story, we follow Sarah as she attempts espionage by attending a Nazi boarding school for girls. There isn’t a whole lot going on during these parts, other than the horrifying conflicts and struggles Sarah has with the teachers and fellow students. The action picks up towards the end of the book, and that’s when things really become chilling and intense. The events in the last portion of the story are disturbing, and yet I didn’t want to stop reading. The story starts out fast-paced, slows down for a good chunk of the book, and then picks back up again.

Matt Killeen clearly put a lot of research and effort into writing a historical fiction novel full of details and accuracies. Orphan Monster Spy is an engaging story, but I think the book moved almost a little too fast at times and left a lot of loose ends and questions after the ending for me to be fully captivated by it.