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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 528 pgs.
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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, available at HarperCollins, is a stunning and intricate look at the network of female spies during WWI (and later, in WWII) and how integral they were to many of the triumphs and near misses that occurred to bring down the Kaiser (and later, Hitler). Eve is just one of those spies, but the intersection of her story and that of Charlie St. Clair happens just after WWII as a pregnant young woman comes to England in search of the one woman who might know what happened to her cousin Rose. Both women carry extreme guilt for those they were unable to save and both have been broken by those failures.

“It was why she’d been hired, her pure French and her pure English. Native of both countries, at home in neither.” (pg. 25 ARC)

In a world in which men were called to war by posters seeking identical soldiers who would follow orders without question, Eve’s call to arms came in an unexpected way as she typed letters in other languages in an office. Her unassuming stature and her stutter rendered her nearly invisible and an outcast at once, and this is exactly what Captain Cameron sought in recruits. But she would need more than the ability to be invisible, she would need to transform into another person and be able to lie without being detected, even among those who were proud of their lie detecting abilities.

Both Charlie and Eve are women who face the double-standard — groomed to be or expected to want nothing more than to be mothers and wives but having the ability to be much more. Charlie, a walking adding machine, is searching for the cousin she loved like a sister who disappeared during WWII, and she bails on her mother’s hope for a brighter marriage. Eve is reluctant to join the search until a name from her past creeps up and her unfinished business rears its ugly head. Quinn has researched the network of spies well, but what she also has done is delved deep into the hearts of these patriotic women to uncover their desires, their fears, and their uncertainty in the face of the unknown.

Eve is real, a woman who should have lived during WWI and gained the respect of military men for her unwavering bravery, and Charlie is more than that wayward boarding school girl acting out. These women have experienced great loss and are forever changed by it. But together they realize that a future can still be had for the both of them, if they can only survive the past. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is a sure winner and a “best book of 2017.” It’s a book you won’t want to put down but sad to see end because you don’t want to leave these heroines behind.

RATING: Cinquain

I was happy to participate in a TLC Book Tours online Junket with Kate Quinn. Please check out the video below:

Blogger Junket Video:

Photo by Kate Furek

About the Author:

Kate Quinn is a native of Southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.

Find out more about Kate at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

New Authors Challenge 2017

WWII Reading Challenge 2017

The Trigger by Tim Butcher (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 10 hrs.
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The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War by Tim Butcher, narrated by Gerard Doyle, is a mixture of travelogue and a sort-of-biography of Gavrillo Princip, the man who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and set the wheels in motion for World War I.  Princip has been considered a radical in many texts, but Butcher seeks to remedy that image and bring to life a more rounded view of the assassin, who eagerly sought the unification of the Slav people in a single nation of their own.

Butcher travels as Princip had traveled from his days growing up and in school and until he joins a group aimed at creating a unified nation free from foreign rule.  Moving from the feudal frontier village of his birth through the mountains in the northern Balkans to Belgrade and Sarajevo where Ferdinand was murdered.  While the story of Princip is engaging, the constant reflections on Butcher’s life as a war reporter in the 1990s during a more modern war in Bosnia draws parallels while pulling readers out of the story about the assassin.  Butcher meets some well-meaning people on his journey and some have no information about Princip, while others have pre-formed perceptions of the teen.

Doyle does an excellent job narrating and maintains the readers attention with his inflections and enthusiasm for the subject.  Butcher’s reminiscences about growing up in Britain after WWI and reporting on modern war are distracting.  The most interesting parts of the story are obscured by the travelogue for the most part and could have been reduced significantly to ensure the history shines through.  Readers interested in the history of the region and why Princip assassinated Ferdinand would be better served by another account of the man’s actions.  The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War by Tim Butcher, narrated by Gerard Doyle, takes too much time outlining the travels of Butcher and his past, focusing merely one-third on Princip, how he was shaped, and why he assassinated the archduke.

About the Author:

Tim Butcher is a best-selling British author, journalist and broadcaster. Born in 1967, he was on the staff of The Daily Telegraph from 1990 to 2009, covering all major conflicts across the Balkans the Middle East and Africa. Recognised in 2010 with an honorary doctorate for services to journalism and writing, he is based with his family in the South African city of Cape Town.

Week 1 of the Stella Bain Read-a-Long

This year at War Through the Generations we’ve been hosting a read-a-long specific to one of the 6 wars we are covering.

As this year marks the 100th anniversary of WWI, we’ve decided to select one of our favorite authors — Anita Shreve — to honor the war.

Stella Bain is our selection for August. Synopsis from GoodReads:

When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.

A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his house guest. Stella had been working as a nurse’s aide near the front, but she can’t remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.

In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.

iscussions will be posted on Friday for the designated chapters. Here’s the reading schedule and discussion dates:

Friday, Aug. 8: Pages 1-70
Friday, Aug. 15: Pages 71-138
Friday, Aug. 22: Pages 139-207
Friday, Aug. 29: Pages 208-end

We hope that you’ll join us for the read-a-long and discussions at War Through the Generations.

Read-a-Long of Anita Shreve’s Stella Bain

This year at War Through the Generations we’ve been hosting a read-a-long specific to one of the 6 wars we are covering.

As this year marks the 100th anniversary of WWI, we’ve decided to select one of our favorite authors — Anita Shreve — to honor the war.

Stella Bain is our selection for August.  Synopsis from GoodReads:

When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.

A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his house guest. Stella had been working as a nurse’s aide near the front, but she can’t remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.

In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.

Discussions will be posted on Friday for the designated chapters.  Here’s the reading schedule and discussion dates:

  • Friday, Aug. 8: Pages 1-70
  • Friday, Aug. 15: Pages 71-138
  • Friday, Aug. 22: Pages 139-207
  • Friday, Aug. 29: Pages 208-end

We hope that you’ll join us for the read-a-long and discussions at War Through the Generations.

2014 War Through the Generations Read-a-Longs

Here’s the schedule of read-a-longs for the 2014 War Through the Generations Reading Challenge With a Twist.

  • February: Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers for the Gulf Wars (this one is about Operation Iraqi Freedom).
  • April: I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn for the French and Indian War.
  • June: War Babies by Frederick Busch for the Korean War
  • August: Stella Bain by Antia Shreve for the 100th anniversary of WWI.
  • October: The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter for WWII.
  • December: Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien for the Vietnam War.

We hope that you’ll be joining us for at least one or more of these read-a-longs in 2014.

Bess Crawford Read-a-Long with Book Club Girl

Sometimes kismet happens and another event in the blogosphere happens to coincide with the war we’re covering here at War Through the Generations. In this case, a WWI-related mystery series written by Charles Todd — a mother-son writing team — is having a read-a-long at Book Club Girl. The series is those starring Bess Crawford.

If you’re interested in joining, here are some of the details:

The “Book Time with Bess Read Along” kicks off now and runs through the publication of the newest book in the series, An Unmarked Grave in June 2012.

As an added bonus to get you started, the e-book of A Duty to the Dead is just $1.99 for a limited time, so order up today and get reading!

The read-along officially kicks off today (but don’t worry, our first discussion won’t take place until March 26th) and it runs through the publication of the paperback of the most recent Bess Crawford novel, A Bitter Truth (on sale 5/1), as well as the new Bess Crawford hardcover, An Unmarked Grave (on sale 6/5). We’ll end the read-along in June with a Book Club Girl on Air Show with the Charles Todd writing team to discuss all the books in the series.

Here’s the schedule of when I’ll post questions about each book for us to discuss:

March 26thA Duty to the Dead discussion
April 30th
– An Impartial Witness discussion
May 1st – A Bitter Truth paperback goes on sale
May 29th
– A Bitter Truth discussion (May 28th is Memorial Day)
June 5th – An Unmarked Grave – the new hardcover goes on sale
June 25th
– An Unmarked Grave discussion
June 28th
Book Club Girl on Air Show with Charles Todd to Discuss the Entire Series

Look for updates along the way here, on Twitter (#besscrawford), and on the Book Club Girl and Charles Todd Facebook pages.

Please check out the rest of the details and sign up here.

2012 War Through the Generations Reading Challenge: WWI

WWI Reading Challenge

Anna and I, as you may already know, co-host the War Through the Generations Reading Challenges each year.

Since creating the blog, we have delved into WWII, the Vietnam War, and the U.S. Civil War (reader’s choice).  The website contains ever-growing lists of book recommendations for each of those wars, plus a running list of reviews for books that are from challenge participants and others that we’ve found across the blogosphere.

In 2012, Anna and I could not pass up the opportunity to delve into WWI, often considered The Great War, which occurred roughly between 1914 to 1918 and started roughly with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary.

The WWI Reading Challenge will be held between Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2012.

Books must have WWI as a primary or secondary theme and occur before, during, or after the war.

Here are the reading levels:

  • Dip: Read 1-3 books in any genre with WWI as a primary or secondary theme.
  • Wade: Read 4-10 books in any genre with WWI as a primary or secondary theme.
  • Swim: Read 11 or more books in any genre with WWI as a primary or secondary theme.

We’re waiting on some buttons for the challenge, but you can read all the details and sign up at War Through the Generations.

***Also, if you sign up, Please follow War Through the Generations in your feed readers and on Twitter @wargenerations and Facebook for updates, giveaways, and more***

I’ll be signing up for the Wade level of 4-10 books.  How about you?

***This Just In***

The read-a-long book for 2012 is A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway