The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix

The Faithful Spy, by John Hendrix, is a riveting true story about the enemies of Hitler, presented in illustrated form. It tells the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young theologist who loved his home country of Germany, but despised the man who gained control of it. Dietrich’s only wish is to protect his beloved country and restore it back to what it used to be. For this to happen, he has to get rid of Hitler. Dietrich and his friends conspire, travel, and spy, all in the name of German safety.
John Hendrix writes with determination and interest, sharing the unknown details of many important figures in Germany’s unfathomable history. This book is riddled with knowledge about World War II and the Holocaust. It is informational, yet also a journey through one man’s sacrifices. Stunning pictures and an amazing format bring the images to life as the book takes you through the entirety of World War II and the Holocaust, all through Dietrich’s eyes.
The Faithful Spy is intense and emotional, but teaches so much lost history about these tragic events. This book is great for history buffs, or anyone interested in learning more about these events and the different sides of humanity.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Athur Golden

There are a few books that you know are going to be great. They are going to be
everything you wanted and an utterly transformative experience.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden was one of those books. A book that when I saw
it in the book store something instantly resonated. So much so that when I finally got my hands on a used copy it took me maybe three years to finally read it. The already worn and well thumbed through novel sat on my shelf collecting dust at the very end of the book shelf, then it sat in a box when I moved out for college. Then one winter break while I was looking for something to read during a long trip across the country I stumbled upon it again at the bottom of a tub in the garage. a It had taken a few years before I could finally get around to it before I was in need of such a novel. Really glad to have waited.
If I had just devoured it the second I got all the details, I would have missed the intricacies and full beauty of this wonderful story. You know how when you love a story you try to push back the end? Either by not reading the last chapter, watching that last episode or pausing every single moment to take it in and make it last for as long as possible? That’s what I did with this book but not by not finishing it but by rereading passages. Whenever there was a particular moment or word that caught my eye it would be flagged either with a post-it or scrap of paper or pencil mark or folded page. Sometimes when there was a call back I could go back to that moment and bask in how Chiyo -the narrator- grew from then or how she excellently set up the reader for the twist or piece of irony. Totally recommended as a new way to lengthen your new reading experience!
Now, without further ado here are a few reasons why Memoirs of a Geisha is such a lovely and heartfelt book:
Aside from Chiyo the truly incredible narrator and protagonist who is one of the single greatest literary characters ever written, she is the only one who can tell her story. That is why you should read this novel, to hear this story from her. Chiyo was representing a culmination of experiences, traditions and characteristics of real Geisha life while still being her own unique person and not some caricature. Before reading this book I thought that it was simply translated

by Arthur Golden but discovered towards the end that this novel is a result of countless hours of research, admiration and respect for Geisha and Japanese culture. Chiyo is so real and sounds not only like a real Geisha but a real woman. a woman who has lived a full life. Hers was a life and a journey reflecting on human experience that is so moving and so provocative.
With just over 350 pages a whole life is shared with the reader. While Chiyo was looking back on her life there was still this sense that she was reliving these moments rather then just recounting them. This allowed for bits of dramatic irony to unfold or for more fine details to be planted early on for reveals later.
Now, historical fictions with an element of romance are a personal favorite and an unguilty pleasure, so that made this novel capture my heart even more. Chiyo begins her journey with discovering what love is and how many types of love there is!
Well, who is this novel for? Luckily a fairly large audience. Memoirs of a Geisha is a piece of historical fiction, a timeless romance, tragedy, success story, and an insight into the world of Geisha. So if you have any interest in learning about pre and post World War II in Japan, and how someone becomes a geisha, or another take on what love is, then you should read this classic.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Among modern children’s classics, few books ring as true or hit as hard as Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. In leu of Bridge of Clay’s release (his first children’s novel since The Book Thief) I thought it would be a good idea to have his first book as our Throwback Thursday review. The Book Thief is a gem in the world of historical fiction, and a timeless tale that will entrance generations to come.
When Liesel picks up a bedraggled book left by accident on her brothers grave, she has no idea what will happen. She has no idea that her mother— a communist in Nazi Germany— is taking her to live in safety with a foster family. She has no idea she will make friends with a boy with yellow hair and learn to read with her father, no idea she will steal books from a bonfire and a mayor’s library. She has no idea what she will learn and love and lose in the brief span of her fleeting childhood.

The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen

Megan Bannen’s debut novel, The Bird and the Blade is a rich and poignant story of love, loss, and the bloody struggle for power within a fractured Mongol Empire during the 13th century.
Jinghua lost everything on the day the Mongols invaded her home and slaughtered her people. Now she’s a slave in the house of one of the most powerful warlords of their time: Timur Khan, lord of the Kipchak. But when the Kipchak Khanate is invaded and its army destroyed Jinghua must follow Timur and his son Khalaf as they escape their conquered kingdom if she is to have any chance of returning to her own home.
But when Khalaf enters a deadly game to win the hand of a powerful princess, everything changes. Turandokht is treacherous, beautiful, and heir to the Mongol Empire. The man who weds her will be the next Great Khan, the catch? He must first solve three impossible riddles, or die trying. Soon Jinghua is forced to make an impossible choice: betray the boy she has grown to love, or give him up to the princess who would rather be his death than his bride.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf is a harsh and beautiful book, vivid and brutal and haunting from the from the first page.  Wolf by Wolf is set in 1956 Germany, with one twist– the Nazi’s won the war, and Adolf Hitler rules most of the world. The protagonist, Yael, is a girl with the ability to alter her appearance at will, due to experiments conducted on her in the prison camp before she escaped. Now Yael is an agent of the resistance, an agent with the most important mission of all upon her shoulders—assassinate Hitler.  Yael is one of the strongest female characters I have ever encountered in YA literature, strong and smart and fearless. Wolf by Wolf provides a hauntingly plausible look into an alternate past that is powerful and engaging.  The book is brutal and beautiful at the same time, making for an amazing story as Ryan Graudin blends historical fiction with science fiction, and adventure in this brilliant YA novel.

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

In this fast-paced time-travel novel, Ryan Graudin blends everything from sci-fi and fantasy to historical fiction, romance, and humor. With a compelling and action-packed storyline, and a vibrant and unique cast of characters, Invictus is perfect for a wide range of readers. Graudin brings a new take to the idea of time-travel, weaving in themes of friendship, romance, mystery- and the odd red panda. Whether or not time-travel or sci-fi is your usual genre, Invictus is a book that will grab you from the first chapter and not let go until you reach the last page. In the space of five minutes you’ll laugh, and you’ll cry. And you will definitely fall in love with Imogen’s rainbow hair, Priya’s patience, Farway’s ego, Gram’s cluelessness, and Eliot’s mysterious mission. Hop aboard the Invictus, and sit back to enjoy this wonderful, quirky, mysterious, beautiful book.