Review: “Eagle and Crane” by Suzanne Rindell

36694774Title: Eagle and Crane

Author: Suzanne Rindell

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Son’s/Penguin Publishing Group

Publication Date: July 3, 2018

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Pre-order it:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon Books-a-million

(Digital ARC graciously provided by publisher via Edelweiss)

Suzanne Rindell combines historical fiction, mystery, romance and family drama in her third novel Eagle and Crane.

Louis Thorn and Haruto “Harry” Yamada — Eagle and Crane — are the star attractions of Earl Shaw’s Flying Circus, a daredevil (and not exactly legal) flying act that traverses Depression-era California. The young men have a complicated relationship, thanks to the Thorn family’s belief that the Yamadas — Japanese immigrants — stole land that should have stayed in the Thorn family. 

When Louis and Harry become aerial stuntmen, performing death-defying tricks high above audiences, they’re both drawn to Shaw’s smart and appealing stepdaughter, Ava Brooks. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and one of Shaw’s planes mysteriously crashes and two charred bodies are discovered in it, authorities conclude that the victims were Harry and his father, Kenichi, who had escaped from a Japanese internment camp they had been sent to by the federal government. To the local sheriff, the situation is open and shut. But to the lone FBI agent assigned to the case, the details don’t add up.

Thus begins an investigation into what really happened to cause the plane crash, who was in the plane when it fell from the sky, and why no one involved seems willing to tell the truth.

Goodreads

A plane crash and two dead bodies, one too badly burned to even identify, opens up the story immediately bringing to the fore the mystery that readers will have to puzzle out throughout the whole book. At the center of it all are three characters – Haruto “Harry” Yamada, Louis Thorn and Ava Brooks. FBI Agent Bonner adds up tension to the story, playing the role of a connector stitching together the pieces of the story. The narrative toggles back and forth detailing the family feud between the Yamadas and the Thorns, the beginning of Harry and Louis’ daredevil act, and the internment of Japanese immigrants in the U.S. during World War II.

This was a slow starter for me. Rindell’s story took time to unfold, her prose stilted at times and meandering even at some points. Eagle and Crane is not the type of book you just pick up and read in one go. This sometimes counts against the book for me, but somehow I just couldn’t put this one down and let it go unfinished.

Meticulously researched and carefully detailed, Eagle and Crane is an immersive work that will transport readers to a time when America let fear rule over her.

I’ve read quite a few historical novels set during WWII but not one of them included anything about Japanese internment camps, so this was both a revelation and an informative bit of history for me. I didn’t know that this happened and I just can’t help thinking how it somehow mirrors what is currently happening in U.S. right now.

But more than the strong historical foundations of this story, it was the characters that made me stick through finishing this book.

All three of the main characters – Ava, Harry and Louis – were well-developed and complex. Their trio is Eagle and Crane’s heart and soul. Harry and Louis’ complicated friendship, Ava’s love for both boys, Louis’ conflicted loyalties – these fuel most of the book, and it were these parts I loved most. I think it brought out the human factor I’m looking for in every historical fiction and allowed me to connect more to the story. Though I must say, Agent Bonner’s parts often felt pat and contrived to me.

Overall, Eagle and Crane was a satisfying read. If you’re one for historical fiction, then I definitely recommend this book to you.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “Dear Mrs. Bird” by AJ Pearce

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Something only a few people know about me is that I love history, and somehow that love also extends to loving historical fiction. Today’s CWW is a book set in WWII London, but unlike previous novels I’ve read, this one looks like a fun, quirky read.

36373413London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Goodreads

Dear Mrs. Bird is still available for requests on Edelweiss but I saw it too late. The book comes out next week, July 3.

💗💗💗

Rachel

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What book are you excited for this week?

Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief and The Power of Words

I have a special interest in books about war. I know it may sound sick but it’s really just the history buff in me kicking and resurfacing. You can also blame my dad since he was the first one who made me get into this stuff.

I find wars hard to understand – from how and why they start to how they rage on down to how they end – there’s a certain mechanism to all of it. Wars are ugly. Wars are messy. Wars are complicated and it is something I don’t want to happen.

But they still do until now.

And that is why I think we need more books about war. We need more things to remind us just how destructive they are because, apparently, the reminders that we already have now are still not enough. We humans have real short memories sometimes.

I’m happy I picked up Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief even if I know it’ll break my heart. True enough, it lived up to my expectations. It broke my heart. It made me think about the effects of war. Most importantly, it made me do a double take on just how powerful words are.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is a story about the power of words.

Set in the middle of Nazi Germany, the novel follows Liesel Meminger’s life during the Second World War as told from Death’s perspective. It covers the events of 1939 -the start of World War II- down to 1943 -the start of the Germans’ fall.

I just have three words to describe this novel: Important. Beautiful. Heartbreaking.

I must admit, my knowledge about World War II is limited to its effects in Asia Pacific because, well, that’s the only thing they teach us in school, which makes me think that World History should be made a compulsory subject. Maybe if we all learn about each other’s, each country’s past struggles we’d be able to understand one another more. We’d be more compassionate. Anyway, that’s just me throwing in my two-cents’ worth into the conversation. Going back, yes, I may have a limited knowledge about WWII but I do know that Adolf Hitler was a gifted and charismatic orator.

Hitler started a war using his words. He knew its powers and he used them to accomplish what he thought was for his people’s good.  Zusak couldn’t have put it better:

“Yes, the Fϋhrer decided that he would rule the world with words. “I will never fire a gun,” he devised. “I will not have to.” Still, he was not rash. Let’s allow him at least that much. He was not a stupid man at all. His first plan of attack was to plant the words in as many areas of his homeland as possible.

He planted them day and night, and cultivated them.

He watched them grow, until eventually, great forests of words had risen throughout Germany… It was a nation of farmed thoughts.”

So the war began and with it came the prosecution of the Jews and the death of millions of people. All of those because of words. The words of one man became the thought of one nation. Well, almost.

There were still people who resisted Hitler’s words, of course, and they risked their lives just by doing so. Some helped and hid their Jewish friends. Some did not support the Nazi’s cause. This is the conflict provided in Zusak’s novel. He used the Huberman’s to illustrate this point, showing his readers the other side of Nazi Germany. Most importantly, however, the author showed just how important words were during that time. While Hitler destroyed people with his words, a poor girl kept a handful of people alive by reading the words from a stolen book. Later on, she writes her own story amidst all the ugliness of the world surrounding her, and it saved her life. In a way, it is like stealing back the life Hitler’s words took.

*** THE BOOK THIEF – LAST LINE***

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.

Our words have great power. Put them together and they can do whatever you want them to do – be it to uplift or to hurt; to inspire or to down. Good or bad, it’s our choice. Words become thoughts which in turn can be picked up by a handful of people then passed on to many more.  The effects are tremendous.

That is why we should all be careful about the way we use our words. They are our reflection, they express our thoughts. Yes, the thoughts inside our heads may not always be good but we have the choice to not say them, to not act them out. We should always keep in mind that by saying them out loud our thoughts could reach other people and influence them. It is challenging but it can be done. Being the thinking beings that we are, we should know how to be responsible for the things that come out of our mouths.

Many of the world’s wars, even every day arguments, could have been stopped if people were just more careful about the words they use. More people could feel empowered if only more of us chose to use our words to inspire others. Our words can make so much difference.

I feel like I’ve already stressed so much about how words can work so I’m not going to bore you out any further.  I just hope that somehow I was able to get some important things out. This is, after all, how I choose to use my words.

Originally posted on The Bright-eyed Wanderer 22 June 2013