Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sapphire Skies by Belinda Alexandra

Sapphire SkiesLately, I've been picking up a lot of books featuring women pilots and have found myself disappointed at the lack of aviation/flying. Though SS is about a woman pilot, inspired by Lydia Litvyak, the aviation scenes are few, but the story is not lacking in any way. There's never a dull moment and there is so much going on...and I have set this book down more knowledgeable about Russian history, about Stalin, about the arctic prisons, than ever before. And while there is more of this other stuff than actual aviation, the aviation is well done and exciting and I have no complaints.

Basically, it just worked.

We have not one, but two incredible heroines--actually three. We have the modern-day Lily who is recovering from a tragic loss and has this thing for saving stray cats. But what is really remarkable about her is her compassion for others. Despite the grief afflicting her, she has room in her heart and enough love in her soul to help an old lady, a perfect stranger. The historical story is about Natalia, how she grows up in Stalin's Russia and becomes a fighter pilot during the Great Patriotic War. (We call it WWII). Through her eyes we see what everyday life was like during this time--the fear, the arrests, the paranoia, the backstabbing, the subway tunnels, the brainwashing, the scarcity of supplies. This was probably my favorite thing and I learned so much from this story.

Lydia Litvyak
There's a lot of political corruption, a lot of lies, and we get to visit those arctic prisons I mentioned above, something that I've only heard about vaguely yet now know so much more about.

The third remarkable woman is Sveltana, Natalia's aircraft mechanic. She's loyal and wishes to atone for a sin. She goes above and beyond...

There's also a romance, but while it's passionate and paced wonderfully--not too fast, not too slow--it does not overshadow the importance of the issues within the story. We don't have a heroine here whose sole goal in life is just to find a man and fall in love. There is SO MUCH MORE. I can't stress that enough. (I want to thank my blogging partner Shomeret for coming up with that line in italics. It's something she said to me this last week regarding a different book altogether and the line stuck in my head.)

Now, the writing itself...it flows seamlessly from past to present to past, from POV to POV without issues. I had no difficulty telling who was who or even what time period I was in. The writing itself also transported me to another time and place. I couldn't even sleep while reading this book. I'd turn off my kindle and say, "Okay. Bed time," and twenty minutes later, I'd say, "Screw it. I'm gonna read some more."

My only complaint...I don't really see what the cats had to do with anything. A lot of the story was devoted to cats and I couldn't see how that tied in. I really don't see how the modern-day heroine tied in with the fighter pilot either, but I liked her story regardless.

He simply asked if I didn't think the brooch was too precious to take into combat. I answered him, "I'm precious and I'm going into combat!"

I bought this book on Amazon Kindle. Photos are from Wiki Commons.


  1. I've been so tempted by this book, and now I think I'll get myself the Kindle copy that's been sitting on my wishlist. It sounds totally engrossing, and the cover is fabulous. I also like cats, even if they didn't quite fit into the story :)

  2. Hi Tara, I just replied to your blog comment but wanted to say thanks again! It's on my Kindle now :)