Tag Archives: World War II

HFVT Blog Tour | Review and Giveaway — The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Cover image of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

“An epic novel ….[Epstein] thoughtfully describes the hellish realities of war: the lack of tolerance for, and unwillingness to understand, other cultures; the universal pain of loss and human suffering; the brutality of mankind as lives are torn asunder.”

~ Advance praise from Kirkus Reviews

 

Synopsis:

One summer night in prewar Japan, eleven-year-old Billy Reynolds takes snapshots at his parent’s dinner party. That same evening his father Anton–a prominent American architect–begins a torrid affair with the wife of his master carpenter. A world away in New York, Cameron Richards rides a Ferris Wheel with his sweetheart and dreams about flying a plane. Though seemingly disparate moments, they will all draw together to shape the fate of a young girl caught in the midst of one of WWII’s most horrific events–the 1945 firebombing of Tokyo.

Exquisitely rendered, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment tells the stories of families on both sides of the Pacific: their loves and infidelities, their dreams and losses–and their shared connection to one of the most devastating acts of war in human history.

(Synopsis and book cover image provided by Historical Fiction Virtual  Book Tours)

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My Thoughts:

Initially I struggled to feel comfortable with the slow forward progress in this story. However, once the characters began to align, the plot unfolded a little more, and a variety of interactions between characters arose I was intrigued by developing story line and the author’s detailed research with respect to Tokyo during WWII and the aircraft used in its bombing.

Additionally, Epstein researches so well that the disturbing details of the aftermath of war and its egregious battles and treatments became mental images for me. Epstein is an exceptional crafter of scenes and images.

However, the layering of the impact this world, time and war would have on the girl, Yoshi’s, life becomes overshadowed by random scenes and dialogue and sex scenes that seemed unnecessary to the central theme of the book: the universal experience of loss in war not because we necessarily hate the people our country opposes but because we lack an understanding of who they are and what they stand for, their culture and traditions, and likewise they don’t understand us or our culture and traditions.

Finally, those who suffer the most in war are those who are left to pick up the pieces and carry on. This is where Yoshi is left.

My Recommendation: 

Lovers of historical fiction, especially centered around World War II and particularly Japan, will enjoy this book. If you like to read a story that spotlights a character who has the grit to rise above circumstances, you will enjoyThe Gods of Heavenly Punishment.

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Meet the Author:

Jennifer Cody Epstein, Author

Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment and the international bestseller, The Painter from Shanghai. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Self, Mademoiselle and NBC, and has worked in Hong Kong, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two daughters and an especially needy Springer Spaniel.

http://www.jennifercodyepstein.com/

(Bio and image provided by Historical Fiction Virtual  Book Tours)

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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:

Paperback Publication Date: January 13, 2014
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback: 400 pp
ISBN-13: 9780393347883

I received a copy of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment from the publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions and recommendations expressed are my own.

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GIVEAWAY VIA RAFFLECOPTER

To enter the giveaway, just follow the link below.
The contest ends at 12:00am on January 13th.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Story of Fierce Determination | Gracianna by Trini Amador | Blog Tour Sponsored by HFVT

Gracianna

“Odds are I was the only four-year-old to have ever freely fumbled a loaded German Luger.”  Prologue to Gracianna, Trini Amador remembers

“Once she decided to engage with anyone on a given subject, they would become transfixed by her confidence, and the grasp and depth of her knowledge.  Her sureness came from her strong core.”  Describing Gracianna (page 7)

“Even though we did not learn much about other kinds of people, I am glad how we learned to be tolerant of others no matter their difference.”  Gracianna speaking (page 46)

Synopsis:

The gripping story of Gracianna–a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.

Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador’s great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun.

Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna’s past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother’s story.

Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s–on her way to America, she hopes–but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it–even if it means using lethal force.

As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won’t soon forget.

(Synopsis and book cover image provided by Historical Fiction Virtual  Book Tours)

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Click here to see entire tour schedule

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My Thoughts:

The opening line to Gracianna is startling once you realize this four-year old boy is the man writing the book you’re holding. More startled than the reader, I believe, was his great-grandmother who turned to find Amador holding the Luger pointing at her.

Toni Amador has lovingly coupled what he knows of his great-grandmother’s story, holding it safely in his hands near his heart, with what he believes may have happened as her story played out in war-ravaged Paris during World War II.

From the French-Basque country, Gracianna Lasaga travels in search of a better, more productive life than that of a Basque sheep herder’s wife. In Paris, Gracianna finds a different lifestyle and an entirely different world than she has ever known.

As she sees her sister taken away by Nazi soldiers to Auschwitz, Gracianna becomes determined to find her sister any way she can. Her determination aligns her with the French Resistance and a life of sheer threat and danger. Will she find her sister alive? Will she live to continue her search? Is her life worth the risk she takes?

The one thing I would like to have seen more of is Paris through the eyes of young Gracianna. It must have overwhelmed this 16-year old Basque farm girl to arrive in Paris, and yet the reader doesn’t experience her reaction fully to the first sights and sounds. Also, at times some of the characters seem a bit distant, perhaps due to the third-person nature of the book.

And still I fell in love with Gracianna and her story. Her courage, strength and determination are alive on the pages of as you read of her commitment to the French Resistance and finding her sister.

My Recommendation: 

Lovers of historical fiction, especially centered around World War II and particularly France, will enjoy this book immensely. Anyone who loves a good story of honor, love and determination will come away satisfied.

 

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Meet the Author:

Trini Amador AuthorTrini Amador vividly remembers the day he found a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering through his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun. This experience sparked a journey towards Gracianna, Amador’s debut novel, inspired by true events and weaving reality with imagination. It’s a tale drawing from real-life family experiences.

Mr. Amador is a traveled global marketing “insighter.” He is a sought-after guru teaching multinational brand marketers to understand how customer and consumer segments behave based on their needs, values, motivations, feeling and values. He has trained over five thousand brand marketers on how to grow brands in over 20 countries in the last 15 years. His counseling has been valued at global brands including General Electric, Microsoft, AT&T, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, Google, Jack Daniel’s, The J.M. Smucker Co., DuPont, Mattel, and Rodale, Inc..

Amador is also a founding partner with his wife and children of Gracianna Winery, an award-winning winery located in Healdsburg, California. The winery also pays tribute to the Amador Family’s maternal grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. Her message of being thankful lives on through them. The Gracianna winery strives to keep Gracianna’s gratitude alive through their wine. Learn more at: www.gracianna.com, like Gracianna Winery on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @GraciannaWinery.

Amador resides in Sonoma County with his family.

(Bio and author photo supplied by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)

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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:

Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Greenleaf Book Group Press
Historical Fiction
Hardcover; 296pp
ISBN-10: 1608325709

I received a copy of Gracianna from the publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions and recommendations expressed are my own.

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GIVEAWAY VIA RAFFLECOPTER

To enter the giveaway, just follow the link below.
The contest ends at 12:00am on November 20th.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

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COMING UP:  Something for the family — Vacation Hiro by Meg Welch Dendler. Don’t miss my review of the second book in the Cats in the Mirror Series. 

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