Today on Books in Review I have a new novel by Ruta Sepetys. Salt to the Sea is classified as a young adult novel, but it’s as powerful and moving as any adult novel that I have read. Set at the tail end of World War II, the novel features four young people who all find themselves, for various reasons, trying to escape the brutal Soviet advance. They converge on Gotenhafen, a port on the Baltic Sea, desperately searching for a boat to bring them to safety. Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, Salt to the Sea lifts the veil on the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, with losses estimated at 9000 people, the majority of which were civilians, women and children. Historical fiction is particularly moving when the author can bring it so fully to life.
Yes, this book is about war and about a devastating piece of history, but the characters are amazing and incredibly real. Salt to the Sea is truly a must read for all ages.
Today on Books in Review I have to tell you about the new Lisa Gardner thriller, FIND HER. Flora Dane was abducted during her spring break. After being held for 472 days, she is finally rescued, but she comes back a much different person. She is a survivor, though, spending the last five years trying to reclaim the rhythms of regular life – trying to be normal. But it’s not normal to have one wall covered with pictures and details about other young women who have been abducted. When Flora crosses paths with Boston detective DD Warren, over the body of a suspected abductor, it’s starting to look like Flora has gone rogue and crossed into vigilante territory. When Flora herself disappears, things start pointing to a much more sinister predator. In this tight, emotional thriller, Gardner introduces a new character – FBI Victim Advocate Samuel Keynes. What does he know about Flora’s activities and what is his role in her adjustment to ‘normal life’?
You have to read the book to find out. Get a copy of FIND HER and clear your schedule – you’re not going to want to put the book down.
Today on Books in Review I have Breaking Wild, a breakout new novel by Diane Les Becquets. The story follows two women, one who is missing in the Colorado wilderness, and another bent on finding her and helping her to get home to her family. Amy Raye Latour, wife and mother of two, goes out on the last weekend of the season. Compelled by the quiet rush of nature, she wants to enjoy it alone. Normally more than capable, this time her venture into remote areas presents a new set of dangers and she finds herself on the verge of the precarious edge that she has flirted with her whole life. When Amy Raye does not return, ranger Pru Hathaway and her dog respond to the missing person call. Because of weather, the search and rescue quickly becomes a recovery operation. But Pru is not entirely resigned to that idea.
As the novel follows these two amazingly capable women in alternating threads, we learn more about their lives, their secrets and their determination. Breaking Wild is very compelling read!
By: Brianna Meagher – Endicott College
Owning an independent bookstore isn’t easy, especially today, but according to bookstore owner Laura Cummings, it’s worth it. Cummings owns White Birch Books located in the tourist town of North Conway, N. H. She purchased the store back in 2005 from Donna Urey, the founder of White Birch Books, after realizing her Chamber of Commerce job might not be the right fit for her and her lifestyle. She started when Urey “offered [her] a part time job” and she said that talk began immediately about her buying the store in the near future.
But it hasn’t all been easy for Cummings. She purchased the store right before what she referred to as a “perfect storm of nastiness as far as being a bookseller goes.” What she’s talking about here is a combination of a recession, the advent of online sellers like Amazon, and large chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble. The late 2000s were a rough time for independent booksellers and many stores closed their doors during this time. Cummings said that she survived “by the skin of [her] teeth and you know a little bit of infusions, some cash infusions from family” and she said that she “wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise.” Her family and the community surrounding her are the reason that White Birch Books is still around and thriving today.
Cummings said that although nobody’s getting rich in the independent bookstore business, “there certainly has been a resurgence of late.” She attributes that to the experience that people seek out at bookstores like hers. You don’t get a face-to-face interaction when you purchase a book online. The staff at White Birch Books are “real people with personalities and they see us around [town]” and that’s the personable aspect that online sellers like Amazon are missing. She said that sites these have “really tried to turn books into a commodity” and although they are in one sense, the part that “the independent bookstores keep alive are the stories and getting the stories to the right people.” You don’t get that connection when you type in your credit card number and press ‘checkout’ online.