Genre: Mystery

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

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

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne BlankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on April 22nd 2014
Genres: Historical, Mystery, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

To anyone who thinks research for a book is not worth the time or effort, Prisoner of Night and Fog proves to the contrary. Based on true historical events, Anne has crafted a brilliantly compelling and incredibly authentic story entwined with real historical figures who are given a second breath of life. This is a story of a girl’s desperate search for the truth.

Underneath it all, Prisoner of Night and Fog is a gripping account of Hitler’s rise to power. The plot introduces many real-life characters who were part of Hitler’s entourage or impacted his life in some way. Naturally, fictional characters are also added to the mix to initiate an engaging mystery that, although fictional, is entangled inside real historical events. I may not be a history buff, but it’s clear from the start that immense research went into this novel. The details and specifics give its roots as well as its characters such authenticity. It’s also highly atmospheric; the setting came to life right before my eyes. Not just the setting itself, but the energy of its people as well. The mixture of fear and adoration towards Hitler and his perverted sense of patriotism is, as expected, very unsettling, but he makes for an extraordinary character study. The way he thinks, the way he uses his dark charm to hypnotize others to carry out his psychotic will; it’s morbidly fascinating. Some of the facts used inside this story may not be new to some, but it does bring a lot of characters into play that give us a great insight on his person. The author’s note at the end is also worth a read as she separates fiction used for the plot from the not-so-far-off facts.

With that said, don’t start thinking this is a tedious historical novel full of dull, recounted facts on our world history. These details are woven into an interesting and mysterious plot with such skill that I was constantly craving the next page. This is achieved with the help of a protagonist who is so determined and resilient that you can’t help but love her. With a corrupt family life that is made up of a murdered father, a submissive mother, and a psychotic brother whose empty heart mirrors pure evil – not to mention “Uncle Dolf” himself – we come to understand the root of her cynicism, as well as her fixation on discovering the truth. In the meantime, there’s also some light romance that’s sprinkled throughout with a fearless Jew who shows Gretchen they are not what she was taught to believe. This results in a wonderful forbidden love story which completes it all, really.

The writing is excellent, the characters are either fascinating or likable, and the plot has a constant undercurrent of mystery and menace that propels you to the end. A masterpiece for any historical fan!


5 Hot Espressos

Review: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Review: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Posted by on 03/31/2014 • 24 Comments

With a strong blurb and a cover that’s both creepy and pretty, I went into this one with a lot of expectations. It is my favorite genre and an author I’ve previously enjoyed, after all. I can’t say I’m disappointed, exactly, but I’m sad that didn’t end up loving this one as much as I was hoping.

Amnesia is a commonly used trope in mystery novels, but I still find myself drawn to them every time. Even though it’s been done before, I found the memory loss aspect very well executed. When Samantha reappears into a life where she had it all, she’s not sure how to deal with the way people describe her. She was a selfish bitch, to put it bluntly. I found this contrast between her…

Review: The Cellar by Natasha Preston

Review: The Cellar by Natasha Preston

Posted by on 02/26/2014 • 26 Comments

The beautiful, yet haunting cover for The Cellar is what initially drew me to want to read the novel.  Once I read more about it and saw that it was about girls who were kidnapped and kept in a cellar for months, possibly years, I had to read it because uncomfortable topics like that always draw me to stories (I’m weird, I know this.)  In the end this was an interesting story that kept me engaged the whole way through but unfortunately it failed to really affect me in any way or draw out any emotion.

I can’t really pin point why I felt so disconnected to The Cellar, but I think a very large part of it was due to the overuse of flashbacks while also using multiple POVs. …

Review: Codename Zero by Chris Rylander

Review: Codename Zero by Chris Rylander

Posted by on 01/30/2014 • 19 Comments

There’s nothing better to cleanse the reader’s pallet than a good ol’ middle grade novel.  No cliche romance, no chance of a love triangle and just piles of fun! Codename Zero was such a fantastic read, one that I took in in a single day and one that I could have devoured much more of if given the chance.

Carson Fender is a prankster.  He lives in a small town in North Dakota and is quite frankly bored with the every day small town life.  He likes to spice things up with his pranks, take people by surprise and uproot the daily routine.  One afternoon while carrying out an epic prank involving fainting goats and super glue a sweaty man in a suit rushes up to him and hands him…

Review: Fake ID by Lamar Giles

Posted by on 01/16/2014 • 21 Comments

The synopsis for this book is one that I actually took the time to read, I know, shocking right? The mysterious vibe it gave off immediately had me hooked and I had to get the book off Edelweiss to find out exactly what is going on in this boy who calls himself Nick Pearson’s life. After diving in I was sucked into and intrigued by the twisted web that is weaved involving the Witness Protection Program (WitSec) and the ties this family has to the mob.  While it didn’t fail to keep me entertained it did fail to provide much substance to any of the characters to lead me to actually care about their well being.

We meet Nick on his first day of high school in a new town…

Review: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Review: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Posted by on 01/07/2014 • 39 Comments

There’s something scary about going into a book like No One Else Can Have you. I mean, maybe I do it to myself, but I always take a peek at the ratings (not reviews) kicking around Goodreads before I start a book and the ones for this book are incredibly polarizing.  I knew going into it that I would either love it or hate it with every bone in my body. Luckily, I fell into the former group and I had an absolute riot reading this book!

Not only is this book funny but it also features a pretty good murder mystery to boot.  The person who was responsible for the murder was someone that I did have pegged at one point in the novel, but I had moved on…

Review: Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Review: Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Posted by on 12/02/2013 • 20 Comments

Omen is very much the first in its series, it is also very much a Kelley Armstrong book. Not to say it’s anything like her other work as it’s actually quite different, but in terms of wonderfully crafted characters, a world you can see yourself walk the grounds of, and an all-around compelling story, its got the Kelley signature on every page. This is what I’ve come to expect of her novels, and Omens was not an exception.

Omens tells the story of a young woman with a seemingly perfect life; wealthy, career-driven, intelligent, about to marry a man with an important political career ahead. She had an incredible life ahead of her. Then she – along with the whole world – finds out who her real parents are:…

Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted by on 10/25/2013 • 32 Comments

The Naturals is a hit or miss for me and very hard to review. Some parts of the book I really enjoyed, while others I found lacking. To give you an example – I’m not even sure if this book is part paranormal or not. As a serial killer mystery, however, it has its fair share of appealing qualities.

This novel starts by introducing us to our protagonist, Cassie, who’s always been good at reading people with only the tiniest of details. She quickly meets with an FBI team who takes her on to train as a profiler. That is about all we get as an introduction. Forget learning very much about this classified Naturals program. Moreover, we don’t find out where these special abilities come from. Are we supposed…