A Bitter Rain by James D. Shipman

thSIGHV84HPublisher Synopsis

A former professor descends into darkness in this provocative story of a Nazi soldier torn between duty and conscience.

East Prussia, Nazi Germany, 1939. History professor Erik Mueller is a model citizen and a family man. He’s also a decorated sergeant in the Gestapo. Proving his courage on the battlefields of Poland and the Soviet Union, and proud of the German army’s victories across Europe, he embraces what he thinks is the righteousness of the Third Reich’s cause.

But his loyalties are soon tested when he crosses paths with his old university friend Trude Bensheim. Forced into unemployment for being Jewish, Trude and her husband start a secret organization to help Jews escape Germany. But when they are betrayed by someone they thought they could trust, their lives hang in the balance.

Teal Review

**Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC copy of A Bitter Rain**

*Spoilers*

This story broke my heart and then mended only half of it in the end. This was my first historical fiction book that wasn’t a Ruta Sepetys novel, and while it didn’t have that special Ruta touch it was still heart breakingly good. Once you start reading and get introduced to these two German families, one that is Jewish and the other that is part of the SS, and you will feel bad for both families; six people total. However, in the end you will end up only feeling bad for four people; and hate two people.

Shipman’s writing is so raw and he doesn’t hold anything back. You will feel the pain and the heart break that his characters feel. But you will also feel immense hatred by the time you turn the last page.

I felt pure hatred towards Corina, she is a selfish, disgusting women. I felt happiness and irritation towards Trude. I felt nothing but sadness for Erik and while I was angry with Johannes past actions, I still felt sad for him as well. Corina was a horrible human being the entirety of this book. I had a feeling that she turned Trude and Britta in, but to found out that she ACTUALLY did made me want to rip her head off. She is horrible to Erik the entire book and then she tops it off by escaping Germany with their family friend, leaving him and his parent behind. What?! What kind of monstrosity leaves her husbands parents at a shipyard while she gets on a ship with her daughter and the man she has been committing adultery with?!

At the end of this book I feel like the two men of the story, Johannes and Erik got the short end of the stick for sure. They both lost their lives with no help from the action of their wives.

I definitely recommend this book! Worth the read.

Happy Reading!

xoxoSarah

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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

salty

Publisher Synopsis

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war. As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

Teal Review

Let me start off by saying I cried like a baby throughout this book. Talk about a through back to the Boy in the Stripped Pajamas and all the feels! I wasn’t sure going into this book, because I have never read a historical fiction novel, but I am in love *heart face emoji*. Ruta Sepetys’ writing is so easy to read, it just flows through, creating the perfect image of her story in your head. The story that Ruta creates with break your heart, give you hope and make you realize what’s important in life, all in one chapter. There were a few parts of this amazing book, towards the end, that tore at my heart until it was raw.

“Floating in the sea of black, we were forced to witness the massive and grotesque deaths of thousands of people. I clutched the baby tight and closed my eyes. But the scenes continued to play in my mind: The severely angled deck. A woman throwing her baby down to a sailor. He reached. He missed. The child hit the steel raft and then rolled off into the sea. Thousands of desperate people jumping, kicking, gulping. Seawater  filling mouths and nostrils, collapsing lungs”.

This scene made me feel so SICK to my stomach. Just imagining and mother trusting another person with their babies life and doing something as drastic as throwing a baby over board only to watch their horrible death. I can’t even imagine the devastation. Another scene in Salt to the Sea that really got me was:

Would she have to learn the grotesque details of our suffering? Would news make it to my hometown of Birzai, to the dark bunker in the woods where my brother and father were thought to be hiding?

Joana Vilkas, your daughter, your sister. She is salt to the sea. 

We floated in blackness, bobbing along the waves. A woman in the boat announced the time every thirty minutes. There was no more splashing in the water, only the quiet echoes of crying. We sat, snow falling from an infinite sky.

We Waited.

We drifted”.

Ughhhhh this book was amazing!!! I went out and got Between Shades of Gray by Ruta to read next! Read this book, you wont regret it! Five out of five stars from me!

Happy Reading!

xoxoSarah