ARC REVIEW: Along The Broken Bay – by Flora J. Solomon

Title: Along The Broken Bay
Author: Flora J. Solomon
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 1st 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: July 19th 2019
Pages: 389

“Manila’s magic was gone, replaced by an undercurrent of fear potent enough to be sensed by an observer.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have always had a weak spot for historical fiction, and especially if the story is set during WWI or WWII. I admit I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of Along The Broken Bay, as you don’t often see a WWII fiction setting in the Philippines and Gina’s story of working in the resistance sounded absolutely fascinating. I was looking forward to fully emerge myself in what I thought would be a new favorite story, but sadly fate had a different reaction for me in store. Because while I still think that the premise of this story is fascinating, unfortunately I can’t say I enjoyed the execution all that much. I’ll try to explain below why.

First of all I have to state that the description of the Manila and Zambales mountains settings is thorough and gives us insight in the local flora and fauna. It made the Philippines come alive and gives this WWII fiction read an exotic vibe. I can’t say I was too happy with how the local population was described though, nor how the main characters interacted with them. The demeaning way the locals, their culture and how they interacted was described left me with a very bad taste in my mouth and for me it crossed the line of racial discrimination. I think that the fact that (rich) Americans and Europeans living in Manila might have seen the locals in that way back in the 1940s is no excuse to degrade certain characters in such way. Likewise, I found Gina to be too much of a typical ‘rich white woman with prejudices’ cliche; her constant whining and complaining about the precarious situations she suddenly finds herself in not only distracting but also highly highly annoying. I really couldn’t stand her character, and as the story was basically build around Gina, it was really hard to convince myself to stay invested in the story. In fact, I had such a strong averse reaction to her that I confess that I probably wouldn’t have made it to the final page if this wouldn’t have been an ARC.

The pace in Along The Broken Bay is quite slow as well, and combined with my repulsion for the main character and the way the story treated the local population I ended up struggling considerably to reach the final page. I still think the premise on its own is intriguing, and it was interesting to learn more about how the resistance operated and their network in general. The nightclub was also an interesting twist; the dangers of the operation adding a hint of suspense to the story. The little chapter introductions featuring the thoughts of Gina’s husband Ray while he is separated from his family were likewise a nice touch. And while Along The Broken Bay clearly wasn’t my cup of tea despite my love for the genre, I’ve also seen that most people seem to have a very positive reaction to this story, so definitely don’t give up yet if you are intrigued by the premise.


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WWW Wednesdays #232 – July 24th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m so excited to be finally reading Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson! I’ve heard so many fantastic things about this series in general and I’ll be looking forward to catch up and join the blog tour for the third book in September. ❤ I’m also very excited to be meeting Josie Quinn again in Her Silent CryLisa Regan sure knows how to write a fast and suspenseful ride, so I can’t wait to see what she has in store for Josie and her team this time around. And I’ll be reading the Frankenstein retelling The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White, a title I’ve been meaning to pick up for ages…

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/07
I’ve been looking forward to read it, and I definitely didn’t realize just how twisted things were going to get during this story. Oh yes, Pretty Girls is without doubt a breathtakingly disturbing read that will chill you to be bone… Just when you think it can’t get more disturbing and twisted, Karin Slaughter let’s you know another nugget of the full truth and disturbing is taken to a whole another level. And again. And again. My main issue with Pretty Girls is simply the credibility of it all. The writing itself was of course excellent and twistedness of the story without doubt made my blood curl. I just think that less would have been more in this case.

2. Along The Broken Bay by Flora J. Solomon (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 26/07
I admit I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of Along The Broken Bay, as you don’t often see a WWII fiction setting in the Philippines and Gina’s story of working in the resistance sounded absolutely fascinating. I was looking forward to fully emerge myself in what I thought would be a new favorite story, but sadly fate had a different reaction for me in store. Because while I still think that the premise of this story is fascinating, unfortunately I can’t say I enjoyed the execution all that much. More in my review on Friday.

3. The Escape Room by Megan Goldin (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 05/08
My full review will be available during my stop of the blog tour on August 5th!

4. The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon (5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/08
This story has once again proven to me that Amy Harmon is a truly brilliant writer and can tackle completely different genres with utter and total success. This is the first time reading one of her fantasy stories (I’ve been meaning to try The Bird And The Sword for ages though), and I was blown away by it. The worldbuilding, the Norse mythology influences, the characters and their development, the plot, the writing… Oh yes, there were plenty of reasons that made me give The First Girl Child the full five stars it deserves.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m looking forward to a little break from ARCs and finally start reading those titles I’ve been meaning to read for ages… First up is The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, which I’m a bit afraid to pick up to be honest because it’s so SO hyped; fingers crossed the hype won’t affect me this time around. I’ve also be meaning to finish another duology by reading The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh, which is also one of the last pending titles I need for my BTB Bingo challenge. And I think it’s about time I read Malala Yousafzai’s memoir I Am Malala as well.  My latest TBR jar pick is still The Cellar by Natasha Preston.


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WWW Wednesdays #231 – July 17th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I picked up Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter on a whim as I’ve been meaning to read another of her titles for ages… I was planning to finally meet Will Trent, but I opted for one of the stand-alones instead. I’m enjoying it so far! I’m also starting a pending WWII fiction ARC: Along The Broken Bay by Flora J. Solomon. I’ve heard mixed things so fingers crossed I’ll end up enjoying it.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Closer I Get by Paul Burstonby (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 22/07
My full review will be available during my stop of the blog tour next Monday!

2. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (4/5 stars) REVIEW 25/07
This is such a hyped book and I’ve lost count of the times it has been recommended to me since it was published last year. I definitely understand the love for the story, and while it wasn’t a 5 star read for me, I still thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. The pace might be slow in the beginning, but the character descriptions and setting are extremely detailed and wonderful done. I think my favorite part of this story were the many descriptions and references to the marsh and its wildlife… I also liked how past and present chapters were mixed and slowly helped you understand more about Kya, her past and the events leading to the present. I admit I guessed the ending, but I still think the twist was very well handled.

3. The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (5/5 stars) REVIEW 25/07
Another title that has been recommended to me multiple times… So I was very happy the Instagram @criminallygoodbookclub picked it as their July read. I have found myself a new favorite character duo in Washtington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw! These characters are probably one of the main reasons I had no option but to give The Puppet Show the full five stars, because Poe and Tilly are absolutely brilliant together. Apart from that, we have brilliant written, a fascinating plot, wonderful descriptions of the Cumbria setting, a chilling serial killer and a dark dark secret and scandal of the past. What’s not to love?

4. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (3/5 stars) REVIEW 30/07
I picked up this Peter Pan retelling on a whim, looking for something a little different to read… It served that purpose just fine, but I ended up having mixed thoughts about the story itself. While I liked how the story was told from Tink’s POV and Tiger Lily was an interesting character, I felt that the so-called “spark” was missing and certain characters really started to get on my nerves. I wasn’t a fan of the romance either; it felt forced and the love triangle (should I say rectangle?) was quite frustrating as well. Can’t say I was happy with how the abuse and Tik Tok not being like the rest of the men of the tribe was handled either.

5. Small Places by Katherine Arden (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 19/07
An entertaining middle grade horror read that would have been perfect for the Halloween month. More in my review on Friday.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I need to get those blog tour and ARC reviews in so I can take a proper blogging break in August, so I’ll probably read The Escape Room by Megan Golding and Her Silent Cry by Lisa Regan next… And since it’s a blogging and not a reading slump I’m facing, I’ve decided to pick up the second Outlander book Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon in between ARCs, which will take probably me a little while to finish with its 900+ pages and I won’t have to worry about writing reviews in the meantime. 😉  My newest TBR jar pick is still The Cellar by Natasha Preston.


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WWW Wednesdays #230 – July 10th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally reading Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens! It’s still early days as I wanted to finish my Spanish Harry Potter read first, but I have high hopes for this one. I’m also starting my Criminally Good book club read The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven and I’m so excited to be finally reading this story!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews (5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/07
This title was one of my most anticipated releases this year and I can say it has without doubt lived up to expectations. What an absolutely wonderful and heartbreaking read! You will want to clear your schedule for this little gem, because once you meet the main characters Sam, Moxie and Avery you will find yourself unable to say goodbye to them and stop reading. The writing style is engaging and wonderful; the characters and their descriptions are likewise excellently done. There is just something about Sam, Moxie and Avery that made them win over my heart almost immediately, and my heart ached for them as their story slowly revealed itself.

2. Trance by Adam Southward (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 11/07
I admit it was hook, line and sinker when I saw the cover of Trance and read the blurb. The promise of a dangerous character with the ability to control minds sounded absolutely fantastic, and there was no way I was going to be able to resist reading it. It might have been that I had set my expectations too high, because unfortunately I can’t say I was convinced by the story itself and I ended up having mixed thoughts.

3. Ivory And Bone by Julie Eshbaugh (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/07
Despite the mixed reviews I decided to give this story a chance anyway, mostly because I don’t come across pre-historic settings that often and the premise sounded fascinating. I still think the pre-historic timeframe is the most interesting aspect of this story, and I don’t think I would have made it to the last page without it. Oh yes, sadly I belong to the group that didn’t react well to Ivory And Bone. A lot of my reaction to the story has to do with the fact that part of it is told from a second person POV. I had forgotten how much I despised this technique and I only refrained from DNFing because thankfully it was only used when Kol was talking about or interacting with Mya. Apart from the POV, I found the plot of Ivory And Bone to be rather dull and uneventful during mosty of the story.

4. The Silent Ones by K.L. Slater (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/07
I think most will know by now I’m a huge fan of Kim Slater‘s psychological thrillers and when I saw she had a second new title coming out this year I might have squeeled a little. Of course I couldn’t resist this title for long, and I can say that this story is without doubt another winner. What a read! The writing is just as brilliant as always and draws you right in; the plot itself is fascinating. The Silent Ones is basically a family focused psychological thriller with a dramatic twist and a LOT of secrets that will keep you on your toes. I admit I saw part of the final reveals coming, but it cannot be denied that it was a brilliant way of turning around the story completely.

5. House Of Furies by Madeleine Roux (4/5 stars) REVIEW 18/07
I loved her Asylum series and I’ve been wanting to read more of her work ever since… And this one was definitely another success for me. I LOVED the 1810 setting in the Coldthistle House and the creepiness of it all. The writing was engaging and made me fly through this story… This would definitely make a perfect Halloween read and I’m already looking forward to read the sequel.

6. Harry Potter Y La Orden Del Fénix by J.K. Rowling (3,5/5) NO REVIEW
I finally finished my Spanish reread of the fifth Harry Potter book! I had forgotten just how much I despised Umbridge and she is definitely one of the main reasons book five is my least favorite of the series. The fact that Harry is constantly angry and shouting at everyone can get a little frustrating as well… Still, I always love visiting Harry Potter’s world and I’m already looking forward to reread the next book in Spanish. It will probably be a few months before I do so though…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m reading this month’s blog tour read The Closer I Get by Paul Burston next as my blog tour stop is coming up… I can’t wait to read it, as I’ve heard lots of fantastic things about the story already. I also need to read the ARC Along The Broken Bay by Flora J. Solomon soon… The WWII historical fiction setting in the Philippines sounds fascinating. Also, I’m finally going to pick up my copy of The Silent Patient by MichAlex Michaelides!! Fingers crossed I won’t get an unpopular opinion review for this one. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Cellar by Natasha Preston.


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