Source: Netgalley

Nazi War Criminals & Night Witches: THE HUNTRESS (2019) by Kate Quinn

Published by William Morrow Paperbacks Genres: Adult, Historical
Source: Netgalley
The Huntress by Kate Quinn
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on February 26, 2019
Pages: 560
Goodreads
five-stars

Are you looking for an intriguing historical novel set at the end of WWII, featuring a plethora of fascinating characters including a Nazi war criminal hiding out in America and one of the Night Witches—an all female regiment of bomber pilots who flew during WWII in opposition to Hitler? Then THE HUNTRESS by Kate Quinn is the choice for you!

I was so excited when I saw that Kate Quinn had a new book coming out. THE ALICE NETWORK is one of my absolutely favorite historical novels!

Thanks to William Morrow Publishing, I read an advanced copy and was immediately hooked by the multiple POVs. I also appreciated that the bulk of the story didn’t just take place during WWII, but after it. The narrative gives attention to the challenge of how Nazi war criminals were brought to justice after the war. This was something that was actually very complex and challenging.

A SPIRITUAL DIMENSION

If you have followed my blog in the past, you’ll remember that I’m interested in how spirituality can be illuminated in fiction. There is definitely an in-depth dimension to explore here in terms of the spiritual dimensions of life–when people or groups of people act in inhumane ways towards other people, how do we hold them accountable? This is one question that surfaces in THE HUNTRESS.

MY THOUGHTS

One of the central character is Jordan, whose father meets and falls in love with a German widow in Boston. I loved following Jordan’s journey, as she harbored dreams to become a photographer, but was also affected by the cultural constraints at the time. She is suspicious of her new stepmother’s history, and struggles with how to reconcile her love for her father and her anxiety about what this German widow might be hiding. I think that Kate adeptly navigated the different POVs and the conflicts among and within the different characters.

I highly recommend any book in which I become so invested in the characters. And that definitely happened with this one. In fact, I wish we were going to get a sequel as I would love to know what lies in store for each of the characters at the end of the story.

And the Night Witches! I don’t see how anyone can not be fascinated with this all-female group of bomber pilots who fought against Hitler during the war in the air. These Russian women were so courageous and braved the harsh elements in order to fight. Whereas other countries held their women back from taking part in the war effort, the Soviet Union put them in the sky. Following Nina’s journey in the story was a treat—she is not a character you will easily forget.

THE AUTHOR’S NOTE

One of my favorite parts of this book, and many other books like it: THE AUTHOR’S NOTE! I absolutely adore when authors share their research journey for a novel, and they illuminate the truth behind what they wrote. Kate’s author’s note is no exception—this girl did her research! And as someone greatly interested in WWII history, this was a real reward for me.

Needless to say, I think you can tell that I loved THE HUNTRESS and give it all the stars. Like THE ALICE NETWORK, I’ll be recommending this one a lot in the near future and beyond! I hope you’ll check this one out. Please tell me what you think!

What Katie Read

Portals of History: ONCE WAS A TIME (2016) by Leila Sales

Portals of History: ONCE WAS A TIME (2016) by Leila SalesOnce Was a Time by Leila Sales
Published by Chronicle Books on April 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
Pages: 272
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
three-half-stars

In the war-ravaged England of 1940, Charlotte Bromley is sure of only one thing: Kitty McLaughlin is her best friend in the whole world. But when Charlotte's scientist father makes an astonishing discovery that the Germans will covet for themselves, Charlotte is faced with an impossible choice between danger and safety. Should she remain with her friend or journey to another time and place? Her split-second decision has huge consequences, and when she finds herself alone in the world, unsure of Kitty's fate, she knows that somehow, some way, she must find her way back to her friend. Written in the spirit of classic time-travel tales, this book is an imaginative and heartfelt tribute to the unbreakable ties of friendship.

Time travel! England during WWII! Tea! A British protagonist! Two bosom friends…all these elements and more are what drew me to read Leila Sales’ new Middle Grade book, ONCE WAS A TIME.

The Book:

Charlotte and Kitty are the two friends we focus on in the opening pages of the narrative, and it’s Charlotte’s father who is actually researching time travel. Charlotte is aware of the importance of her father’s work and is curious about what the ability to time travel might mean, but she is not prepared for the dangerous situation into which she, Kitty, and her father are thrust. Lives are at stake, and Charlotte has to make a split decision about whether to stay with Kitty or to leave. In other words, the opportunity for time travel presents itself, and Charlotte has to decide whether to make the leap…or not.

What I Loved:

Awhile back, I read one of Leila’s Young Adult books, and when I heard that she wrote a time travel middle grade, I was intrigued, especially since it featured a British protagonist and opened in the great country of England during WWII. If you keep up with me on Goodreads or even this blog, you’ll know that I am especially fond of children’s and young adult literature set during the WWII period—historical fiction is one of my favorite genres—in the world of children’s, young adult, and adult books. So it’s no surprise that I snatched this one up on Netgalley as soon as it was available!

Readers with a passion for children’s literature in general might appreciate the many references to different children’s books and even the large role that a library plays in the story. Spoiler: Charlotte does travel through time, but it’s forwards, and not backwards.

Charlotte’s friendship with a librarian is a highlight of the story, and the notion of libraries closing due to lack of funding is brought up, bringing in a real life (and sad!) connection. If you were an avid reader as a young person (or if you are now), you will be delighted at the many books referenced in the story due to Charlotte’s great appetite for reading as many volumes in the library as possible.

The celebration of friendship and its capacity to be enduring and weather trials is strong in this story, and readers certainly have room to discuss the nature of authentic relationship and connection. I loved the connection between Charlotte and Kitty–especially in the last part of the book, but I wanted to read even more with them on center stage!

Finally, I love that cover! Well-done Chronicle books for a unique and intriguing design!

What I Didn’t Expect:

If you glanced at my Goodreads review, you would have seen that I made a comment about this story was not quite what I expected. While I assumed certain characters would take center stage in the narrative, that was not actually the case.

Also, I was surprised at the direction of travel that the transporting took place! I won’t give anything away here, but there was an interesting twist with who traveled where, and for how long they stayed in that time period. There might be some readers who are a little incredulous at the way the story is resolved, but I didn’t have too many issues with the ending, due to the readership and the scope and length of the book.

Are you planning to read ONCE WAS A TIME when it is released in April? What are your thoughts on time travel in Middle Grade titles? Other favorites to share?

three-half-stars
What Katie Read
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