Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste is a powerful and heart-wrenching debut set during the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974, the demise of Emperor Haile Selessie, and the terrifying military regime that followed.
Alternating between multiple perspectives, this book chronicles the struggles and sacrifices of one family through a diverse and intricate cast of characters and voices.
There is Hailu, a distinguished surgeon at the hospital in Addis Ababa, struggling with his beloved wife’s declining health, the friction between his younger son, Dawit and himself, and his duty as a doctor in a country whose government is brutally torturing and killing its citizens.
When Derg soldiers bring in a severely tortured prisoner and order Hailu to heal the victim so they can torture them some more, Hailu struggles with his conscience and ultimately makes a decision that will put his life in jeopardy.
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Goldengrove devoured my sister every time I closed my eyes.”Woman 99 by Greer Macallister
Goldengrove is a privately owned institution designed for those in need of mental health care. From the outside it appears to be a tranquil, welcoming place for rest and recovery. However, it may not be as healing as it seams.
Set in the late 1880s in a time where many outrageous treatment practices for mental illness were being performed, Woman 99 by Greer Macallister portrays what life was like in a mental health institute or asylum of that day.
Charlotte and Phoebe Smith are two close knit sisters of a wealthy and privileged family in San Francisco. Image is everything to their mother, and they must put on the best front, or risk embarrassing the family name. When the older sister, Phoebe begins to show signs of recurring mania and melancholy, her parents commit her to a nearby asylum run by family friends. Just like that, Phoebe is locked away, cut off from corresponding or visiting with her family, almost as if she wasn’t part of the family in the first place.
Desperate to get her sister back, and believing Phoebe has been wrongfully admitted, Charlotte devises a rash and impulsive plan to get her sister back. She will become a patient of Goldengrove and she will find her sister and bring her home. Feigning despair, Charlotte enters as ‘woman 99’. Now she is only a number, and with her unknown identity she hopes she can locate her sister. However, once admitted, Charlotte realizes its much harder to get out than in.
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Carefully crafting the world around which forgery thrived, The Book of Lost Names opens a door into the underground world of the 1940s, and gives us a glimpse of what it could have been like to work in the secret cells of the Resistance.
Alternating between 2005 and the 1940s (with the majority of the novel set in WW2) it chronicles how this illegal act became a vital source of resistance work and one of the core means of survival and escape in World War Two.
Eva Traube is a young Jewish Frenchwoman living in Paris and attending university when she is told a shocking and unbelievable rumour: thousands of foreign-born Jews are about to be rounded up in Paris. Although, Eva herself is French, her parents are Polish and could be in danger if these rumours are true. And yet first, Eva doesn’t believe them–they are too horrible, too unimaginably unjust to be plausible until the unimaginable happens.
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Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang is a haunting and heartbreaking novel set in China just before the beginning of World War Two. It shows a side of history that can be overlooked and offers a raw, vivid picture of the atrocities committed in the name of war and country.
The pages are filled with so much anguish and unimaginable suffering that it can be hard to take in at times, and at the same time it voices the courageous inner strength and convictions of it’s central characters. It is a story of pain and injustice, as well as a message of hope and perseverance in the face of bitter brutality.
The novel opens days before the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, which is also known as the Nanking Massacre or the Rape of Nanking, where thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians were slaughtered, and an estimated 20,000 women were raped and then killed.
Jasmine is a courageous, daring young woman, who must at times hide her beauty to protect herself, and fight for survival in her war-torn home. When she discovers Danny, a fallen American pilot who is part of a movement called the ‘Flying Tigers,’ Jasmine goes to great lengths to protect him, falling in love with him along the way. However, loving him may come at a great cost.
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I’m participating in the Top Ten Tuesday, which was created by The Broke and the Bookish in 2010 and moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in 2018. This is my first time participating.
*At no cost to the reader this post contains affiliate links, however if you end up buying the book through this link, I will receive a small commission.*
Here are ten of my favourite opening lines from some of my favourite books:
- The Nightingale by Kristan Hannah This is one of my favourite books. Reading it was like watching a movie unfold. I’m looking forward to the movie adaptation coming out Dec, 2021.
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The Nightingale–Kristin Hannah
If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”
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I wrote a review for this book last year, however, I never got around to starting a blog and publishing it. Since this is one of my very favourite books I would like to share my review with you now.
“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.” Burial Rites–Hannah Kent
Based on a true story, Burial Rites is the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person to be executed in Iceland in 1830. Convicted of the murder of two men, Agnes is imprisoned on a farm in Northern Iceland to await her execution. Surrounded by the family imprisoning her and the young priest she has chosen as her spiritual advisor, Agnes begins to make sense of the events which led up to her current situation as her life is drawing to a close.
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The Strange Adventures of H by Sarah Burton captures the story of a young girl growing up in 17th Century England. H as she is called, chronicles daily life, both in the time leading up to the Plague and Great Fire of London and it’s aftermath.
She records her many hardships and adventures (with more hardships than adventures to say the least)–growing up as a penniless orphan, estranged from some of her sisters, and at the mercy of her kind, though unknowing Aunt and her licentious cousin, Roger.
When the Plague snatches everything that she has held dear, H is thrown into a dangerous and contagious world. Finding herself penniless and homeless, as well as friendless, she has to fend for herself in the Plague-ridden streets of London, where she must use both her will and her wits to survive.
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Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon centres around the true story of Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, an Australian expatriate who became an crucial member in the French Resistance and later a trained spy for the British during World War Two, earning her the position as one of the Nazis’ most hunted targets.
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