Rebecca Cantrell’s “A City of Broken Glass” is smashing!

The front cover of "A City of Broken Glass"

After I closed the pages of A Game of Lies, I immediately wanted to know what would happen next to Hannah Vogel and especially to her relationship with Lars Lang.  Would Hannah choose Boris over Lars?  How would Anton react to Lars?  My main theory was, though, that something indeed would happen to Lars on his trip to Russia…but that he had to be reunited with Hannah again no matter what.  Therefore, my eyes were widely open and my jaw dropped open when I read the newly released synopsis for A City of Broken Glass.  I literally had to stop myself from jumping up and down and screaming “yes!” ecstatically.

Hannah and Anton are in Poland to catch a story.  They never dreamed of witnessing the deportation of Polish Jews from Germany on the way.  Or meeting a very alive Lars after believing him to be dead for 2 years.  After one unexpected stop-over and a kidnapping, Hannah’s agenda turns deadly: find her best friend’s missing daughter, escape Berlin and the Gestapo, save Anton and Lars, and evade the one person who is determined to kill her.

No, Rebecca Cantrell never does make it easy for Hannah.  But each novel in the Hannah Vogel series has been a thrilling historical ride so far, and A City of Broken Glass is no exception.  I enjoyed seeing Anton again, now a young teenager who finally meets Hannah’s last love interest face-to-face.  Hannah was as quick-witted and determined as ever, fighting for her life and injustice when she can.  This time, however, she is injured at the start of the novel, which makes her situation even more difficult.  I confess that Lars is my favorite of Hannah’s love interests, so I was very pleased to see him in the picture again, physical injuries, heartache, and love scenes included.  I was impressed how Cantrell has made him more human of a character than ever before, pointing out his flaws and his mistakes more acutely and polishing over my high opinion of him.  She also completes what she started in A Game of Lies by ultimately pushing Boris out of the story for good.

In A City of Broken Glass, Hannah gains a lot, but she also loses a lot.  She ends up back in Berlin, meets old friends, confronts a new enemy, and receives a marriage proposal—all of which result in either added joy or a lot of extra trouble.  Or both.  In comparison to previous novels in the series, there are more major events here happening at the same time in a short time span.  There also is more violence.  Historically speaking, the author creates an “inclining plane” to lead into the beginning of World War II.  Just as Hannah reaches another climax in her life, the world she lives in is just on the edge of its own, teetering between hidden and open oppression.  One of the things that drew me to the Hannah Vogel series in the first place was how Cantrell painted a sharp, visual experience of history for her readers and how her main character is not only admirable but also very likeable.

And I never, ever got bored during the course of the plot.  The story flowed in a smooth combination of action, drama, and romance.  And I loved every step taken.  From Hannah’s defense against her kidnappers and her conversations with Anton to her reunion with Paul and the rescue of his daughter, A City of Broken Glass was graphic and exciting.  It was bitingly suspenseful, emotionally moving, and just a little bit tantalizing.  The Kristallnacht scenes were very eye-opening and they made me cringe, as they should.  The ending was just as satisfying as in A Game of Lies—it left me still wondering what is going to happen to Hannah (and Lars) next.

Natalie Gorna

Now we’re on track

I’ve been meticulously scanning over my past blog entries, some of which are irritably short and more like from a military logbook than a personal journal of thought.  I’ve also noticed that I’ve stopped mentioning any of my current writing projects or reads thanks to the very psychotic Goodreads.  This needs to be rectified immediately.  Now.  Here.  After all, I’m way overdue for an up-close and personal entry.  Let’s get up-to-date!

Brief update (we don’t want to give them more attention than they deserve, now do we?): More changes to the site have been implemented.  The Examiner seems to never get enough of changes.  My review quota is now 330 book reviews and 212 movie reviews in total.

According to Goodreads, I read approximately 30 books in 2011, all of varying length.  I finally finished the Twilight series, the Harry Potter series…I read many classics and young adult books…I also took adult fiction seriously for the first time.  Island by Jane Rogers was an ear-bleeding challenge that was worth it in the end.  I fell in love (or close to it) with Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel series after reading the author’s dream casting of her main characters (especially Michael Fassbender as the enigmatic Lars), which in turn led me to reading volume #3 (A Game of Lies) right after volume #1 (A Trace of Smoke).  Now all I have to do is read volume #2 (A Night of Long Knives) and I’ll be prepared for volume #4 (A City of Broken Glass), which comes out this July.  However, now I’m set on reading some recommended books, one of which is Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle (thank you Bookshop Talk and Romola Garai!).  I have big plans for my reading list, because several new series are on it.  The order in which I will read them is, thanks again to Goodreads, the only unpredictable thing left.  Signing up for a delightful site called NetGalley is one of the few benefits of my book reviews for the Examiner.  For once, I just may be able to review e-book ARCs before the books are released to the public.  Hopefully.


My last blog entry outlined some of my troubles that have recurred in 2012 already.  Now I’m going to add to the list.  It seems that despite previous warnings, the Fresno Police Department and its Gestapo members will not desist in their constant harrassment of me and my mom.  They won’t leave us in peace.  Why, last Sunday (Jan. 29) at 11:30 p.m., we were bothered yet again by another swaggering and rude Nazi in uniform who tried to interrogate us out of turn and threaten us.  The same “procedure” repeated a few days later at night (Feb. 2 at 10:30 p.m.) and during broad daylight.  Yes, broad daylight.  This all makes me wonder if living in Europe during World War II was as terrifying and dangerous as living in Fresno now.  After all, during those times the world was in a state of war, but now we’re supposedly in a state of PEACE.  Yeah right.

Back to the drawing board from my reality check-list: what am I watching these days?  Well, I got to watch series 4 of the British TV show Merlin at the same time as the British, and since October 2011, I’ve been faithfully following season 1 of Once Upon a Time, an American TV show that is creative, original, and very appreciative of fairy tales.  I like them.  All too much.  Conclusion: I’m attached to Merlin, Once Upon a Time…and Colin Morgan.  Ahem.

Anyway…the horror of being in my shoes and the glaring lack of change for the better in my life is only adding more loads to my heavy bundle of pessimism.  Or couldn’t you tell?  Congratulations, loyal reader.  Together, we’re now on top of the events in my life so far in 2012.

Natalie Gorna