Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
★★★★★ (5.00)
Genre – Historical Fiction

Summary – San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break26192915 from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

Initial Thoughts – This book covers so many important issues, especially the racism and sexism of the past. I learned so much from this book about discrimination and the horror of the earthquake in San Francisco.
Plot – ★★★★★ The plot is pushed forward again and again by Mercy’s bravery. She refuses to be cheated from a good education and a happy future just because of her skin color and gender. When tragedy strikes, she gets up and faces it head on. Her bravery was infectious.
Characters – ★★★★★ Mercy isn’t afraid to do what’s necessary to gain her education, even if it’s slightly illegal. The friends that she gains along the way captured my heart, especially Francesca.
Story world – ★★★★★ Lee clearly did her research while writing this novel. On every page, there was a little mention of culture that taught me so much without being overwhelming or info dumping. I felt truly connected to Mercy’s world.
Style – ★★★★★ The style of this novel just might be my favorite part. Lee has a talent for creating beautiful metaphors that steal your breath away.
Closing Thoughts – This might be one of my favorite books. Though I don’t often venture into the historical fiction genre, Lee always manages to capture my attention with her novels.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of breaking down expectations, impossible bravery, and going back into time.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)
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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

★★★★☆ (4.25)
Genre – Young Adult Historical Fiction25614492

Summary Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Initial Thoughts – I love all of Ruta Sepetys work, so when I found out she was writing another piece, I was so excited.
Plot – ★★★☆☆ It took a while for the plot to pick up. With the four different view points, it took me a while to become connected and interested in the plot line. After the first a hundred pages, the plot really picked up and I loved it.
Characters – ★★★★☆ The characters in this novel were pretty well developed, but it was difficult to get close to them with the four different view points. However, I did eventually root for all of them.
Story world – ★★★★★ This was by far the best part of the novel. Sepetys certainly has a talent for historical fiction. I was transported  back in time with this novel and I loved every second.
Style – ★★★★★  Ruta Sepetys has the perfect style for historical fiction. It’s simple, yet very descriptive.
Closing Thoughts -While the plot may have been slow in places and the characters were at times confusing, I still loved the concept of this novel. The story of the Wilhelm Gustloff told through  Salt to the Sea will stay with me a long time.
Recommendation – Recommended to someone who wants a unique historical fiction about a rarely known event in history.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

★★★★★   (5.00)
Genre – Adult Historical Fiction18143977
Summary – Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
Initial Thoughts –  After it’s won so many awards and gotten so many raving reviews, I ordered this book from the library. After I finally got through the long waiting list at the library, I read it. And thank God I did.
Plot – ★★★★★ Everything is weaved together so beautifully with the different characters’ stories. It’s difficult to take three seemingly unconnected characters and twist their stories together so that they all fall together in the end. Anthony Doerr does this perfectly.
Characters – ★★★★★ These characters come from different backgrounds and contradict each other, yet I still love all of them.
Story world – ★★★★★ Anthony Doerr did his research. I walked through the cities of Paris, skipped through coal mines, cowered in collapsing cellars, and drove through desolate Russia with these characters.
Style – ★★★★★ Anthony Doerr’s style is beautiful. One of my favorite parts of the book was the POV of Marie-Laure, because he managed describe the setting perfectly, using all the other senses but sight.
Closing Thoughts – If you haven’t read this haunting story yet, you have to. It’s perfect for fans of Between Shades of Grey and The Book Thief.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)