Book Promo: Sparrow Squadron

Sparrow Squadron 1117.jpgBook-cation Location: Moscow, Russia

Book: Sparrow Squadron by Darius Jung
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Print Date: February 2018
Goodreads | Amazon

Book Summary

“There was a time when flying didn’t mean looking over my shoulder for death coming at me.”

World War II. June 1941. Hitler’s war machine turns to the Soviet Union.

Escaping her hometown ahead of the Nazis, 16-year-old Aelya Makarova seizes a chance to live her dream. Obsessed with flying, she joins a women’s fighter squadron to defend her homeland against the invaders. She’ll go faster and higher than she’s ever gone before.

But the harsh reality of Air Force life shatters her expectations and forces her to grow up fast. The squadron is split by petty rivalries, male pilots treat them like a joke, and the ideal country she thought she was fighting for doesn’t really exist.

Finally given a chance to prove herself in battle, Aelya is pushed to breaking point. With all her talent, the help of her comrades, and a lot of luck, she might just make it through. But will there be anything left of her humanity?

With fast-paced action and a heart-rending mix of humor and tragedy, Sparrow Squadron is an adventure novel for young adults that brings an overlooked episode of history to life.

I don’t know about you, but this book sounds amazing! I’m a sucker for Historical Fiction and can’t wait to dive into this book! Check out the excerpt from the book below.

Aelya leaned back and focused on connecting the scenery below with what was on her maps. Flat, grassy terrain, cut with many rivers stretching to every horizon. She hated being a passenger, but that couldn’t stop her from taking in all that she loved about flying: shadows cast by intermittent clouds distorting the landscape, the sway of the plane, the thrum of the engine.

Stitches was right; it required the utmost concentration not to get lost under these calm conditions, let alone during combat. Far off, dark clouds of smoke marked the one unmistakable feature: the ruined city of Stalingrad.

“So what’s your background?” Stitches asked. “When did you decide to fly?”

“I’m supposed to be watching the landscape.”

“I’m testing you. A good pilot pays attention to multiple things at once.” He laughed.

“Now you’re interested in my story? I thought I didn’t have enough missions.”

He turned his face so she could see his strained smile. “Much as I hate to admit it, I saw enough during that interception. You’re not without skill.”

“Thanks, I guess.” Was he telling her to be proud of herself? That was patronizing. The more she thought about it, the worse her performance had seemed.

“I don’t doubt your ability,” Stitches continued, “but combat’s not just about being good. Only luck will determine when you go out. Whether you get shot down next week or make it through this war without a scratch, the odds are the same.”

He seemed happy to hear himself talk. Stitches was a veteran. With four confirmed kills, he was almost an ace. She shifted to the edge of her seat, gripped with the urge to take advantage of this moment of openness.

“I probably could have done better.” A lot better. “Any suggestions?”

“It’s impossible to know what’s going on with so many planes in the air. Half the time I have no clue what anyone else is doing. To be honest, I have no idea how well you did, but that you dived into a swarm of Junkers and came out all right speaks well of you.”

“Wait . . . you saw enough to confirm I damaged one, right?”

“Caught me in a lie, I’m afraid.”

She slapped him on the shoulder. “I don’t need your pity.”

“It’s not pity.” He lowered his voice, and she strained to hear him over the canopy rattling against the wind. “It’s what we do for each other. Everyone plays up their numbers. Damaged planes don’t count for anything anyway, just kills. If you added up all the planes we say we shoot up each month, it would be more than all the planes in Europe.”

She had to calm down. Although it seemed patronizing, she realized that Stitches’s little lie meant she was one of the group. In some small way, she belonged.

“To be honest,” she said, “I barely hit anything before using up my ammo. Any ideas how to get better?”

“Practise?”

“Thanks, that’s very helpful. Doesn’t matter—I’m a crack shot in practice.”

“Do you hit the towed targets every time?”

“Yes.”

“When you fire in combat, do your tracers always fall behind the target?”

“How did you know?”

Stitches chuckled. “This happens to a lot of greenies. When you practise, you’re tracking the plane towing the target and not the target itself, aren’t you? That messes up your range. You fire too early and don’t lead your target enough. Wait until you’re close enough to see the rivets in the enemy plane—then fire.”

“But if I wait to get that close, won’t they have a chance to hit me?”

“Not if you get your positioning right. That’s the difference between an ace and a dead man. Positioning. And luck.”

Suddenly it was all making sense, although it didn’t explain why Roza or Tonya had no issues hitting their targets.

“So it’s not some sort of mental block? I thought I was going mad,” she said.

“It doesn’t hurt to be mad in this line of work.”

About the Author
DL Jung has been an enthusiastic student of history since grade school, when he spent lazy afternoons flipping through an old Encyclopedia Britannica set. He enjoys blogging about history and writing historical fiction. He also writes fantasy and horror fiction as Darius Jung.

Jung is married, with two children, and lives in Toronto, Canada. They are lucky enough to spend part of the time in New Zealand. Outside of writing, he has tried stints as an industrial engineer, a film and TV script supervisor, an IT consultant, a professional game show contestant, and a grossly under-qualified business wear model. Sparrow Squadron is his debut novel.
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebookInstagramAmazon Page

BOOK-CATION IDEAS

As I mentioned above the Book-cation location for Sparrow Squadron is Moscow! While the book wasn’t located in Moscow the entire time, when I think Russia I think Moscow. Check out my recommendations below!

  • Red Square. This is a must visit area of Moscow. A place of history and architectural beauty!
  • The Central Museum of Armed Forces.  What better place to immerse yourself in the actual history of Russia’s part in World War II and more than spending a day here.
  • St. Basil’s Cathedral. This is probably one of the most recognizable locations for most people when they think Moscow so this is a must see on your visit!
  • The Kremlin. 
“Fair maiden, do you come from Mars?
Borne on wings to softly dance through the air
You fly, crowned not with gold but stars,
To conquer and tame the skies that few men dare,
Practicing a warrior’s art,
And thus, you vanquish my heart.”
~DJ Jung, Sparrow Squadron

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Book Review: The Alice Network

32051912Book: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Genre: Historical Fiction
Print Date: June 2017
Goodreads Score: 5

Short ReviewA captivating suspense filled story!

Book Summary 

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth …no matter where it leads.

Long Review: I developed a love for stories set during wars at a young age. My Dad reads a lot of Historical Non-fiction so I thought I would give it a try when I was in Junior High and thus my love of Historical Fiction was born. I love learning about history, even if it is laced with fiction, so when I saw the summary for The Alice Network I knew I had to read it. I made the suggestion to my book club and thankfully they were all just as excited as I was to read it.  I highly recommend that you go out right now, or quickly grab your Amazon Kindle, and order this book immediately.

The characters are amazing. Amazing doesn’t actually even come close to describing them. They are spies, former soldiers, young girls searching for lost ones after the war, and evil French men. Each chapter goes back and forth between the two main characters, Charlie and Eve. You spend half of your time neck deep in 1914 during World War I and the other half just after the end of World War II. At the end of each chapter you hate to leave your heroin yet you can’t wait to get back to the other. I honestly can’t pick just one favorite character from this book. I love Eve and Charlie’s determination, fearlessness, and strength and the depth to each character. I even fell in love with some of the smaller characters. You also are introduced to an evil character that you obviously don’t love, but who you know makes the story as powerful as it is.

What I loved about this story was the emphasis on strong women. Yes, the story is laced with strong men, both good and evil, but mainly it is about the strength of women. I loved learning about the Queen of Spies, Louise De Bettignies. This is a a real story. A story of a woman that ran a large network of spies in German occupied France during World War I. Her fate in the book was her true fate in life that earned her the name Queen of Spies and I loved reading every word of it!

There is so much suspense throughout this book that you will literally be on the edge of your seat as you read. You will feel like you are right there being scrutinized as a spy is asked to present their papers at a border crossing, right there as Charlie discovers another clue to her cousin’s whereabouts, and right there as bombs are dropped and bullets are fired. Kate Quinn did an amazing job with this book and I can’t wait to read more of her work!

“Fleurs du mal,” Eve heard herself saying, and shivered. “What?” “Baudelaire. We are not flowers to be plucked and shielded, Captain. We are flowers who flourish in evil.” 
~Kate Quinn, The Alice Network

 

Book Spotlight: The Diplomat’s Daughter

BookCover_TheDiplomatsDaughter

Book: The Diplomat’s Daughter by Karin Tanabe
Genre: Historical Fiction
Print Date: July 2017
Giveaway: $15 Amazon/Barnes & Noble Giftcard
Enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post! 

 

Author Karin Tanabe’s Japanese father was three years old when the firebombing of Tokyo and Yokohama occurred in May of 1945—his very first memory was seeing his city on fire and hearing the cries of babies on the shore, where they had been carried for safety. While many Americans associate World War II with a parent or grandparent who fought bravely in Europe, Karin’s understanding of the war started with her father being attacked by American bombs.

These memories, as well as those of a family friend whose own wife and family were interned in a war relocation center, and additional friends who were born in captivity, piqued Karin’s curiosity, and spurred her to write a love story born out of one of the most unlikely places: a mixed-race internment camp. THE DIPLOMAT’S DAUGHTER is a captivating and informed tale of three young people divided by the horrors of World War II and their journey back to one another.

Book Summary 

During the turbulent months following the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, twenty-one-year-old Emi Kato, the daughter of a Japanese diplomat, is locked behind barbed wire in a Texas internment camp. She feels hopeless until she meets handsome young Christian Lange, whose German-born parents were wrongfully arrested for un-American activities. Together, they live as prisoners with thousands of other German and Japanese families, but discover that love can bloom in even the bleakest circumstances.

When Emi and her mother are abruptly sent back to Japan, Christian enlists in the US Army, with his sights set on the Pacific front—and, he hopes, a reunion with Emi—unaware that her first love, Leo Hartmann, the son of wealthy of Austrian parents and now a Jewish refugee in Shanghai, may still have her heart.

Fearful of bombings in Tokyo, Emi’s parents send her to a remote resort town in the mountains, where many in the foreign community have fled. Cut off from her family, struggling with growing depression and hunger, Emi repeatedly risks her life to help keep her community safe—all while wondering if the two men she loves are still alive.

As Christian Lange struggles to adapt to life as a soldier, his unit pushes its way from the South Pacific to Okinawa, where one of the bloodiest battles of World War II awaits them. Meanwhile, in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, as Leo fights to survive the squalor of the Jewish ghetto, a surprise confrontation with a Nazi officer threatens his life. For each man, Emi Kato is never far from their minds.

Flung together by war, passion, and extraordinary acts of selflessness, the paths of these three remarkable young people will collide as the fighting on the Pacific front crescendos. With her “elegant and extremely gratifying” (USA Today) storytelling, Karin Tanabe paints a stunning portrait of a turning point in history

I am very excited to read this book.  Some of my favorite Historical Fiction books are set during World War II like this one.  The Diplomat’s Daughter sounds amazing with a dash of romance and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Take a look at the excerpt from the book below!

A week later, Helene started to feel the baby kick. Christian was walking back from his second day at the German school when he saw his mother approaching. She had a smile on her face that belied her dismal surroundings. Christian had planned to tell her how his German abilities did not extend to writing essays in the language, but when he saw her happiness, he decided to delay the bad news. Within just a few days of his arrival, he’d learned why he couldn’t attend the American school. The elected spokesman for their side of the camp was intensely pro-German and anyone who sent their children to the American-style Federal School was deemed a traitor.  There were whispers that one family’s food had been withheld for several days because their daughter, who spoke no German, enrolled there.

“Put your hand here,” Helene said when she’d reached Christian. She placed his right hand on the top of her stomach. She was wearing the dress that was given to women when they arrived, and Christian thought it made her look plain and homespun, definitely more Mrs. Tomato Soup than Mrs. Country Club.

They waited a few minutes, but nothing happened. Christian started to fidget, and his mother laughed at him. “Do you have somewhere to be? Wait to feel the baby.”

So they waited. Mothers walked by them and smiled, teenagers coming out of school slowed down and whispered, and finally, when Christian was about to pull his hand away, embarrassed, the baby kicked.

“I felt it!” he said, pressing his hand harder against his mother’s belly.

“I told you it would be worth the wait,” said Helene, her voice full of delight.

Christian thought of the tiny body inside his mother bursting with life. He imagined the growing organs, the heartbeat, the developing brain and he felt sorry for it. He wished it could be born far from loaded guns and barbed wire. At least it would have love, he thought, looking at his mother’s joyful face.

Helene kissed her son’s hand and walked off, letting him catch up to the other boys who were making their way from the school to the German mess hall, where they worked prepping the next day’s milk delivery. Internees in the camp woke up to a bottle of fresh milk on their stoop every day, one of the measures that the camp’s warden took to show that he was going well beyond the laws of the Geneva Convention.

The camp, it was whispered among the internees, was one President Roosevelt took great pride in, and the guards didn’t want any suicides or fence jumpers to ruin his vision. “They want happy prisoners,” his father had told him. “So just remember, it could be much worse.”

For Christian, sharing seven hundred square feet with another family and sleeping on floors with scorpions did not make for a happy prisoner. The view of miles of barbed-wire fencing him in did not help, either. The orphanage had changed him—he felt it in his newfound patience. Even gentleness. The way he felt toward Inge, had guarded her on the train, he was sure the old Christian would not have been as kind. But it didn’t mean he was elated about his circumstances.

Then there was the camp’s segregation. In two days, Christian had learned how bad it was. Though he had seen the large group of Japanese internees when he came in, invisible lines kept them apart inside. The Germans and Japanese, despite being allies in the war, occupied separate sections of the camp, ate in separate facilities, worked different jobs, and played different sports. The only places where they mixed were the hospital—as illness never discriminated—and the swimming pool. The few Italians were sprinkled among the Germans, but they kept to themselves, too.

Author Bio
Karin Tanabe is the author of The Gilded Years, The Price of Inheritance, and The List. A former Politico reporter, her writing has also appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and The Washington Post. She has made frequent appearances as a celebrity and politics expert on Entertainment Tonight, CNN, and The CBS Early Show. A graduate of Vassar College, Karin lives in Washington, DC. To learn more visit KarinTanabe.com and @KarinTanabe.

Purchase the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Giveaway
Karin Tanabe will be awarding a $15 Amazon/Barnes & Noble Gift Card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter!  To enter Click Here!

“Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt – 6 May 1942

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