Title: Out of the Easy
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Borrowed from: Ann Arbor District Library
Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars*
Review: Jo, Josie or Josephine (depending on who you ask) just finished high school and needs to plan for her future. Her mother has a disreputable job** in an equally disreputable part of 1950’s New Orleans, her father is nowhere, the mob is at her doorstep looking for money and just when she can see the life she dreams of coming to fruition murder, theft and small lies and truths twist the story round and round. This beautiful coming of age story shares the trials and tribulations as Josie works to become anything but her mother (avoiding bad reputations and less than savory clients) while working in a bookstore with her dream of college just out of reach. Using her smarts and wit, Josie is able to start on her way out of New Orleans and although it doesn’t seem like it, she has a lot of people fighting in her corner to be something better.
Recommended for ages 14 – 18, historical fiction lovers and anyone intrigued by New Orleans.
Of note: This is the authors’ second novel. Her first was “Between Shades of Gray” which is also a beautifully, haunting work of historical fiction set in Russia during WWII. I highly recommend either book for history lovers in your life.
*Truthfully, 4.5 Stars if Goodreads had half star ratings. Sepetys is an author that can really take you places and her imagination comes across each and every page.
Spoilers may be found in the following discussion.
**For those interested: the disreputable job is working for a brothel. Although Josie only cleans the house every morning, many scenes are set inside and within the brothel house and many characters frequent the house or work there. Josie is also propositioned and although she ultimately decides it isn’t worth it, these decisions are not often ones openly discussed. If this is a concern it may be worth it to read this novel with your children or before your child reads it so as a family you can openly discuss issues it raises. I definitely wouldn’t skip this one!
Now for the real discussion: I love historical fiction and I am so excited that I am finding good historical fiction written for teens but enticing to adults. New Orleans has a certain mystery surrounding it (and has always been a place on my MUST travel to list) so seeing it via a teenage girl in 1950’s who is just trying to get out is an interesting perspective.
Title: Rose Under Fire
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Received from: NetGalley
Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Please note: this book was received as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) through NetGalley. Publication date is set for 10 September 2013 in the USA and 3 June 2013 in the UK.
Review: In this companion novel to Code Name Verity, Wein introduces us to Rose, an American pilot who is captured and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp where she meets numerous women who will forever change her life. What follows is an intricate tale weaving stories of those who were operated on in the name of medical science, “the Rabbits”, those who guard them and those who finally find freedom. Rose Under Fire is a haunting novel that truly shows the changes so many went through – one day a girl getting her nails painted for her date and the next day trading poetry for cigarettes to bribe prison guards. The book follows through there escape from Ravensbruck and the beginning of the trials that ultimately held many accountable for their actions and the actions of others. This is a must read. Although fiction, it is based on real events with real testimony and the authors’ note at the end works to explain where fact and fiction collide.
Recommended for ages 14 – 18, and anyone who loves historical fiction.
Title: My Ideal Bookshelf
Art by: Jane Mount
Edited by: Thessaly La Force
Received from: Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway
Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Please note: this book was received by the reader for free through a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.
Review: Vignettes of ideal bookshelves tell such interesting stories. The whole concept of this book is for somebody to describe their ideal bookshelf – the number of books doesn’t matter, the titles of the books doesn’t matter, how they are organized doesn’t matter but in the end you get a glimpse of that person. And what a sweet book this is. Jane Mount provides the illustrations and various people tell their stories and their memories through books. From musicians to artists, from authors to designers, chefs to comedians and everybody in-between, readers are given the chance to look into the medicine cabinet of their souls. And boy, what a treat it is. I often find myself randomly opening to a page and reading about that person, reading the books they love and once again considering what I would put on my ideal bookshelf.
Recommended for ages 14 and up, but especially for the reader in everyone.
Of note: I have always been a person that likes to see what is bookshelves and coffee tables and nightstands. Last year I found Jane Mounts’ “Ideal Bookshelf” art on Etsy and immediately pinned it. I wanted to make ideal bookshelves for my friends’ baby gifts but since I am a broke grad student, I settled for asking for a print for Christmas for myself. After opening the print I knew that one day I would make a personalized bookshelf but in the meantime was so happy to frame and hang my cookbook bookshelf in the kitchen. Fast forward a year and I heard about this book and knew I would get it one way or another. It is truly a beautiful book and I am so thankful I received it as a giveaway.