Two audiobooks, historical fiction about 2 events, characters, or places that I was not aware of. Both books are well researched. I enjoyed the narration for both.

The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris, Cassandra Campbell (Narrator)

Published September 6th 2022 by Sourcebooks Landmark, Recorded Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fenna Vos is raised by her widowed father in Michigan. When her father is killed in the Italian Hall disaster, she ends up in an orphanage for a short period of time. She eventually moves in with her best friend’s family and becomes part of their lives. Arie jansen and her are inseparable for many years, doing magic tricks, and communicating in code. Now an adult, Fenna is working as an assistant to illusionist, Charles Bouchard. She was the mastermind of the act, and after he tried a few too many dangerous things, she leaves his act. Not sure what to do next, she is recruited by British intelligence, designing escape aids with Clayton Hutton, and his secret M19 team. They design things to be used by the allies and becomes known as “The Gadget Girl”. She is sent into Holland on a dangerous mission and learns about Arie, her best friend who is now suspected as a traitor. She learns some things that have happened in Arie’s family and using her wits, magic tricks, looks, anything to stay one step ahead of the Germans, she steps in to save a little girl.

As I have said before, I like reading historical fiction where I will learn about people or events that I did not know about. The Ways We Hide is based on a couple of real people and events. Christopher Clayton Hutton and Charles Fraser-Smith were real men who made gadgets and tricked out monopoly games that were used to save an estimated 35,000 allied airmen and soldiers. Jasper Maskelyne was a professional magician who was also a British army officer who used his skills and tricks in the war to some success. Fenna Voss was loosely based on female workers that Hutton met, and was a strong, smart protagonist. All this and more research brought The Ways We Hide to life. This is a story filled with adventure, danger, risk and some luck. Fenna’s and Arie’s friendship was wonderful. Begun as children, they rekindled that friendship as adults and vowed to help one another. The story was realistic, at times hard to read, emotional and enlightening. I listened to this book and Cassandra Campbell narrated The Ways We Hide. As always, she does a nice job with this story. Some of her voices were not strong, but for the most part, she gave the main characters a voice and using accents, tone and inflection the story was very real to me. There were times that the story moved a bit slowly, but it is an extremely well written and researched story about, family, friendship, loyalty, war, loss, espionage, courage, and coping with the unexpected challenges. If you enjoy historical fiction set during WWII, then pick up this book, it is a good one.

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman, Morgan Hallett (Narrator)

Published August 30th 2022 by Kensington Book, RB Media, Recorded Books

3.5 Stars:

Sage Winters and her sister Rosemary were twins. Rosemary suffered from seizures and often lived in her own world, but Sage loved her twin. When they were ten, Rosemary died from pneumonia, at least that is what everyone was told. Now 16, Sage is living with her stepfather since the death of her mother. She overhears her stepfather Alan talking to his friend, saying that Rosemary has gone missing from Willowbrook State School and she’s shocked and angry. Rosemary is alive! She decides to go to Willowbrook to find out what is going on, and to assist in any way she can. She has heard rumours about the “State School”, none of them good. Sage is young, she doesn’t tell anyone where she is going, and when she arrives at Willowbrook they think she’s Rosemary and they lock her up. Sage is shocked at the conditions and treatment of the residents. She also needs to find out what has happened to Rosemary. No one will tell her anything, as they all believe she is the delusional Rosemary. Sage is in trouble, will she ever leave Willowbrook?

Having taught students with developmental disabilities, this book was of great interest to me. I have visited large institutions housing children and adults with a variety of medical and mental health issues and was appalled. I am glad they are no longer in existence here in Ontario, however we still have a long way to go to provide proper services. Sorry, I digress, back to The Lost Girls of Willowbrook. I was not aware that this is based on an actual hospital and events. You can google it and find all kinds of shocking information. This book shows the reality of facilities that were used to house/hide children and adults with birth defects, mental problems, and adolescents who are too much trouble for their parents to handle. Sage is a character that I will think about for a long time. She starts the story as a spoiled and selfish teenager, but turns into a strong woman who is determined to get justice for her sister and the many others, as well as to survive her ordeal. The part of the book that was not as interesting to me was the mystery of who is murdering patients. I would have been fine without the lengthy and drawn out storyline of the murderer. For the first half of the book, I would have given 4 or 5 stars, but as I lost interest toward the end, it dropped to 3. I settled in the middle for 3.5. The audiobook is narrated by Morgan Hallett, another new narrator to me. I enjoyed her voices and expression and she kept my attention to the end of the story. If you enjoy historical fiction and a mystery, pick this book up, but be prepared for some shocking and disturbing treatment of human beings that can not protect themselves.