Reviewed by Alethea B.
In the middle of the Balkan Civil War, Lea Kostovic finds herself on the wrong side of the border for a person of her ethnic descent. Without a realistic possibility of surviving the winter on her own, Lea chooses to accept Major Russell’s offer of trading sex for protection, shelter, and survival. By the end of Major Russell’s deployment, both find that their relationship has grown into something more than just a business arrangement; they must now try and build a marriage from an initially unhealthy bond.
On the one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sanctuary, Julian’s sophomore novel. I’m interested to see what will develop as she matures in her writing. Her sense of what makes an interesting plot and her pacing have already hit a rather sweet spot. In addition, Julian’s description of the alienation of depression hit the ‘uncanny valley’ for me, matching just enough of my personal experience for the off notes to be really jarring.
On the other hand, I thought the characters were lacking in depth and wanted a better sense of emotional continuity. With a notable exception or two, events felt like rocks that were dropped into a pond but failed to create any ripples.
I also found that Sanctuary’s back cover teaser was at odds with the story within, and seemed to be based on a reading of a summary rather than the entire book. The plot points were accurate, but events that were emphasized did not occur until much later in the novel. The character descriptions were also off enough to give a different feel to the story than what readers get once they delve inside.
For more information, please visit N.E. Julian’s website.
This book was provided free of any obligation by N.E. Julian. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.
Please join Tatjana Soli, author of The Lotus Eaters, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!
Reviewed by Carly M.
The harsh and violent fall of Saigon hardly seems like a place in which a haunting love story could unfold, but Tatjana Soli manages to find beauty and heart in the cruelest conditions in her book, The Lotus Eaters. The author introduces us to Helen Adams, one of Vietnam’s few female photojournalists, as she struggles to capture the truth in Saigon’s final moments without losing herself or her husband. The last days of American involvement in Vietnam, in all their horror, offer an introduction to these characters and set the stage for the story to travel back twelve years, to a time when nobody could guess how bad it would all get.
Helen’s journey from amateur photographer to leading celebrity photojournalist is punctuated by passionate love stories and wrenching crimes against humanity. As Helen struggles to capture the war without letting it devour her, she finds unexpected hope and friendship in the form of two men: Sam Darrow, an accomplished American photojournalist covering the war, and Tran Bau Linh, a Vietnamese assistant fighting to escape his dark past as a soldier. From these men, Helen learns both the roughness of survival and the softness of the details that often get lost in war. Through them, Helen is able to come into her own, as a photographer, a lover, and a woman.
Tatjana Soli’s characters are rich and deep and although the book carries a lot of sadness in it, she manages to weave a strong thread of hope throughout the story. I’ve read many books focused on Americans in Vietnam during the war and found this one to be one of the least predictable and most sincere portraits of humanity in crisis. It was easy to get lost in the story and I read the book from cover to cover in one sitting. The Lotus Eaters was completely mesmerizing, if emotionally exhausting, and I recommend it highly to anyone who loves a good love story.
Please visit Tatjana Soli’s website and follow along with her blog tour!
Carly lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their two cats. Her favorite thing to do is to curl up by a window with a library book. When she isn’t reading, she’s usually writing on her blog at www.beingcarly.com.
This book was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.