Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: January 7, 2015

Two women, one in the present day and one in 1942, each hope for a brighter future. But they'll both have to battle through their darkest days to reach it. "Today. "With the grand opening of her new gallery and a fairytale wedding months away, Sera James appears to have a charmed life. But in an instant, the prospect of a devastating legal battle surrounding her fiance threatens to tear her dreams apart. Sera and William rush to marry and are thrust into a world of doubt and fear as they defend charges that could separate them for life. "June 1942. "After surviving the Blitz bombings that left many Londoners with shattered lives, Kaja Makovsky prayed for the war to end so she could return home to Prague. But despite the horrors of war, the gifted journalist never expected to see a headline screaming the extermination of Jews in work camps. Half-Jewish with her family in danger, Kaja has no choice but to risk everything to get her family out of Prague. But with the clutches of evil all around, her escape plan crumbles into deportation, and Kaja finds herself in a new reality as the art teacher to the children of Terezin. Bound by a story of hope and the survival of one little girl, both Sera and Kaja will fight to protect all they hold dear. 

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There's no point in denying it, I was excited about reading Kristy Cambron's A Sparrow in Terezin. I downloaded the book to my kindle the moment the publisher issued it for review and jumped in without a second of hesitation. Three pages later, I slammed on the breaks.

Had I done my homework it wouldn't have been a problem, but I'd jumped the gun and learned the hard way that Cambron's Hidden Masterpiece series aren't written as standalones. I'd barely scratched the surface, but I was brutally aware I'd missed something huge, so I did a little digging and learned A Sparrow in Terezin is in fact, a sequel. I also realized I had an advanced reader's copy of its predecessor on hand, so like any other book addict, I had a good laugh at my own expense and picked up The Butterfly and the Violin with the same blind enthusiasm I'd given its successor.

Things did not go well. Not well at all, but that's a story for another review. Suffice it to say skepticism replaced the eagerness I'd previously experienced and I was hesitant to pin my hopes on a second Cambron novel. Book in hand, I ultimately decided to proceed with caution, but I quickly discovered prudence had little effect on the end result.

I found the conclusion of book one incredibly far-fetched and I was bitterly disappointed to see Cambron refashion her improbable resolution as the foundation of book two. William and Sera continued to bore me, but I enjoyed being reunited with Penny and found something to appreciate in Liam, Kaja and Dane. I liked the historic details of the 1939 storyline, but can't say I thought much of the present day drama. I've never been of fan of instant romantic attraction so I had a lot of difficulty with Kaja's love life and while I enjoyed the scope of her experience, I found much of it predictable. The nail in the coffin, however, was the same lack of balance I noted in the original story. Again, some readers appreciate this sort of handling, but I personally prefer inspired lit that displays faith and fiction in equal measure. 

When all is said and done, I like Cambron's command of language and while I think her religious messages have merit, I admit the heavy-handedness of her presentation doesn't sit well with me. To each their own, but I don't believe I'll be returning to this series or author any time soon.

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Hannah’s face shifted as if she was finally giving up trying to hide something, with the blast of engines and the cadence of soldiers’ footfalls tromping in the street behind them. War was no longer coming—it was here. Staring them in the face. It was bleeding evil, trickling in the streets like vessels carrying death to the heart of Prague. 
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