Review by Goodreads user Penelope (The Reading Devil) 12, February 2021
Wow. This is quite a powerful book. I’d like to commend the author for her exquisite use of the English language and her ability to seamlessly fuse fact with fiction in creating this world.
This book is outside of my usual go-to genres, as you may have noticed, but something about it made me realize I needed to read this book. I have long been fascinated by Romania and its cultures and traditions and perhaps that is why I decided to delve into the realm of historical fiction. Whatever it was, I can say that I am so glad I did. This book was a testament to the creative genius of Roberta Seret and her outstanding writing abilities.
The premise for the book was quite intriguing. It follows the story of a young girl, Mica, as she escapes from the communist regime of Ceausescu in Romania to the promising land of America. Once there, she does everything she can to rescue her parents from Romania and bring them to America with her. The book tells the story of how she gets from Romania to America and what happens once there, and everything in between in vivid detail. What I love about Seret’s writing is that she was able to give so much detail and insight into each scene without ever slowing the book down or making it boring. I felt like was dancing right alongside Mica, feeling her emotions, struggling and persevering with her through each stage of her life. It was both fascinating and disturbing to read about life under a communist regime. While I know that Seret mixed fact with fiction, I believe many of the lifestyle conditions she described were accurate. The book also tied in the horrors faced by Jews in Auschwitz and connected them to Romania’s reign at the time, all of which is historical fact! I loved getting a glimpse of real history mixed with the fictional aspects.
In terms of characters, I enjoyed reading the book through the eyes of Mica. Mica is independent, strong-willed, and has a knack for survival. She faces challenges head-on and keeps going even when the odds are stacked against her. I felt scared when she did during her daring escape, hopeful when she did as she fought to get to America, and happiness with her when she finally achieved her dreams. I felt like her manner of speaking was true to her character as an immigrant and appreciated the author making her as authentic as possible. I wasn’t sure how to feel about her uncle and aunt at first. But as the story evolved, they grew on me and I came to like them. The only piece that felt a bit unfinished to me was what Mica did with the knowledge she had on Ceausescu and his allies. There was quite a bit of attention brought to the conversations that Mica overheard during this book, but then we never really see what becomes of this information. There is discussion on whether or not she will divulge what she knows to the world, but I don’t think that that ever actually happens. It’s the only loose end I found, and I found it a bit odd that so much attention was given to this information but nothing was really done with it. This is a pretty minor detail however, and does not impact the enjoyment one gets out of reading this book!
Overall, I found this to be a very powerful, compelling read. I feel that I have a better understanding of the history surrounding communism in Romania and Romania’s connections to Nazi Germany. Even if you are not a lover of historical fiction, I encourage you to give this book a try! You may be surprised at how much you enjoy the journey alongside Mica. I am excited to see what happens next as the trilogy continues. Keep in mind that the three books do not have to be read in order as they are each focused on a different main character (though all main characters from each book become supporting characters in the others).
Review by Paige Green on Goodreads, February 23, 2021
Diversity: Jewish characters
Review: For the most part I liked this book. The plot instantly hooked me and I read the book within 3 hours. The book had great character development and I loved that the book stuck to some historical facts. The book did well to weave fiction and fact into the story. The world building was wonderful and I absolutely loved this read.
Verdict: It was great!
Prolific United Nations professor Roberta Seret, Ph.D. infuses government secrets and stories from Romania with fiction to construct an influential and interchangeable series of self-discovery in the upcoming Transylvanian Trilogy (Wayzgoose Press, February-April 2021). While many associate Transylvania with vampire stories and gothic architecture, Dr. Seret unveils the secrets of the legendary region with characters forever influenced by its dark past. The novels, which can be read independently and out of order, all connect by four lifelong friends who call themselves the Four Musketeers. With each book in the Transylvania Trilogy—Gift of Diamonds, Love Odyssey, and Treasure Seekers, readers are transported back and explore each part of Transylvania with a different view: a survival story beginning in 1960s Romania under its first spell of Communism, a love story between two doctors fighting a typhus epidemic, and a mystery set in Istanbul in 2013, where two friends find themselves tangled in an international laundering scheme. While each story has its own sets of political thrills, they set our heroines on a different journey to find the missing, unanswered part of themselves—the parts that which they truly seek. Click Here for full article
“…The Gift of Diamonds, the first book of the trilogy is to be released on February 23, 2021. The novel is an exciting tale of intrigue featuring seventeen-year-old Mica, a determined aspiring actress living with her parents in Romania during the former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s rule. As her parents become a target to for the ex-Securitate Secret Police and they are soon arrested, Mica finds herself in the position to flee the country with her father’s rare diamonds.
Taking the reader on a riveting ride from Romania to Hungary to America as she escapes with rare, colored diamonds, Mica takes risks and faces many obstacles until she becomes autonomous in New York at twenty years old. It is then that she is finally able to fulfill her promise of bringing her parents to America. However, in order to complete her journey, she must return to Transylvania where her story begins in the Prologue, twenty-four years later in 1989, to complete her quest and find peace…”
Nerdy Girl Express review of Gift of Diamonds Book Review from @kleffnotes – January 31, 2021
Seret has used her knowledge to create a story that feels very real and while it is fiction, it is something that you will connect with easily. Mica is young woman, but she is trying her hardest to survive and dealing with dangerous forces that could impact her family. The love she has for her family is beautiful and continues to push her even when things seem tremendously dire. If you are looking for a well written historical fiction work this is a standout choice. You can find out more about Gift of Diamonds on the official Transylvanian Trilogy website.
Prolific United Nations professor Roberta Seret, Ph.D. infuses fictional government secrets and stories from Romania to construct an interchangeable series of self-discovery in the upcoming Transylvanian Trilogy (Wayzgoose Press, February-April 2021). The first book set to release this February 23, 2021, Gift of Diamonds, is a survival story beginning in 1960s Romania under its first spell of Communism.
5-Star Review by Lesley L. on Amazon – February 7, 2021
“Diamonds Really Are a Girl’s Best Friend”
Roberta Seret creates a most compelling character in Mica, the protagonist in this engaging novel. Set in the 1960’s when Romania was riddled with violence and corruption, Mica escapes to Long Island New York thanks to grit, smarts, and her secret stash of precious diamonds. But Mica cannot rest until she brings her parents to safety. Their future depends on Mica and she must come to terms with the price of their freedom. In Mica, Seret creates a character who may be from a strange place but her longings are all too familiar.
5-Star Review by OrchidLady on Amazon – February 7, 2021
“A New Voice in Historical Fiction”
It is so exciting to read FACTS made more exciting through the use of FICTION — and FICTION is made more real when heightened by FACTS. Roberta Seret’s Gift of Diamonds is a new voice that offers the reader a world of exoticism, imagination, passion and crime. The heroine, Mica, is a gem with multiple facades. I can’t wait to read the next books of the Trilogy: Love Odyssey and Treasure Seekers.
5-Star Review by Judith Vogel on Amazon – February 7, 2021
“Fun, Fast Paced”
This book was suspenseful, gripping and I learned a lot of the history of Romania, which I really didn’t know at all. Mica is a great heroine, she’s strong, brave and close to her family, a great role model for young girls. I also learned about the history of diamonds… more to diamonds than I ever imagined! All in all a fun read and I highly recommend.
5-Star Review by Nancy C. on Amazon – January 21, 2021
“A Fascinating Read”
This novel, inspired by real events, was fascinating to read. The Transylvanian history, the writing, the characters, the secrets, and the terrifying escape story captured my interest from beginning to end. Despite the difficult story it tells, it underscores how we each need to be determined and hopeful. I knew next to nothing about Romania so I was delighted to read the first of what I understand will be a trilogy!
5-Star Review on Amazon.com – January 21, 2021
“A captivating story combined with fascinating background information”
I finished the book in one day and I got so involved with the character that I wanted to know how she and her family fared in the USA. The background information was fascinating. It was like a mini course in the history of diamonds as well as their characteristics. Likewise, the history of Rumania added an important dimension to the story. I highly recommend “The Gift of Diamonds” to anyone who likes captivating historical fiction.
Gift of Diamonds is initially a daring tale of escape that morphs into one of self-preservation and self-discovery. Mica is a flawed human and is forced to make decisions that are often uncomfortable, but she is determined to be free and above all, to save her parents. Her journey of discovery as she grows into a strong woman is a sweet one, but fraught with tests of her personal mettle. Gift of Diamonds is the first book of three that focuses on a group of childhood friends from Romania, one of whom is Mica. It is a different book than what I typically read, but I enjoyed it.
Review by Goodreads User Brenda – January 2, 2021
“It was amazing”
From start to finish, this book practically had me holding my breath! I absolutely loved the Transylvanian history, the writing, the characters, the secrets, the escape…and though grim, the realities of war make it feel like nonfiction in places. And though the subject is difficult, this certainly is not a dreary or bleak book; rather, it is full of hope and determination. The author mentions her inspirations in her notes. Romania has fascinated me for years so I was thrilled to discover this gem. Finding out this is the first of a trilogy is very exciting!
Mica is a 17-year-old girl who lives in Romania during the reign of Nicolae Ceausescu where conditions aren’t much better than those of the Great War. Many other countries didn’t even realize what went on in Romania then…it must have seemed so very distant. Even listening to Radio Free Europe could mean death. Mica’s dear parents were anti-communist and as such visited by the Secret Police. Subsequently, the family had a plan in place, should the inconceivable happen. And it does. Mica must leave her home and country on her own to get to Hungary. But she shelters a secret. She is also held up in Hungary and in the interim works as a translator. As with human nature, not all her choices are wise but she seeks to make a difference for the good. After a lengthy wait, she eventually makes her way to her father’s brother in America. What happens from Point A to B to C is told here, all incredibly interesting. The vivid descriptions are brilliant. As someone who lives in Central Europe part time I can relate to differences in cultural mentalities, outlooks and priorities. So, I really connected.
What a unique storyline as well. Historical Fiction readers should definitely include this on their to read list because it really is that good and well worth your time. General Fiction and Women’s Fiction readers would find a lot here to enjoy, too.
My sincere thank you to Wayzgoose Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this enthralling book in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated. Am already anticipating Book 2!
Review by Christian Sia
Gift of Diamonds by Roberta Seret is a spellbinding novel with an international setting that takes readers across countries in the era of the communist regime in Transylvania and Romania. The story follows Mica fleeing the country that’s been her home. It is filled with history and intriguing plot twists. Her parents have been involved in the resistance against the communist regime in both Bucharest and Budapest and when they are arrested by the Secret Police, Mica finds herself running away, at night and alone, with rare diamonds in different colors. She intends to get to the US, sell the diamonds, and start a new life. This novel documents her struggles and her journey through Budapest to New York, a journey filled with challenges, and at times, life-threatening setbacks.
This is an absorbing story that features a wonderful female protagonist. The story is rich in history and the historical setting is written with strong allusions to the plight of the Jews under the communist regime, the cruelty of Ceausescu and his nuclear business partners, and spying. There are references to Auschwitz that explain the origins of the diamonds. The author has a unique gift for character and it is interesting to watch Mica evolve from a seventeen-year-old girl who once enjoyed wandering in the woods of Transylvania and the Carpathian mountains with her friends to an independent, self-reliant, and strong woman, learning to depend on herself to survive. Gift of Diamonds is written in language that is flawless. I loved the well-crafted and strong themes, the well-written international setting, and the political ideas explored in the story. But what had me going from page to page is the deft treatment of the protagonist — she is real, genuine, and sophisticated.
Reviewed By Jose Corneli
Gift of Diamonds by Roberta Seret is a compelling narrative with strong historical undertones and a story with a memorable female protagonist. The story follows seventeen-year-old Mica who sets off at night after the arrest of her parents by the Secret Police of the communist regime in Transylvania. She’s always dreamed of becoming an actress, but now she is alone and with nothing but rare diamonds that she brings along, her only hope of crafting a future for herself and her parents — if only they can survive the communist cruelty. She seeks asylum in the American Embassy in Budapest from where she plans to immigrate to the US and to eventually bring her parents with her. From connecting to the right people, guarding her secret about the diamonds, and finding the strength to stand up for herself, Mica will have to go through untold challenges, including rape, espionage, and staying alive. Can she make it to the US, sell her diamonds at Sotheby’s, and win her and her parents’ freedom? It will be interesting for the reader to find out.
This is a well-crafted, fast-paced, and character-driven story that had me on the edge on my seat. The reader is introduced to a young female protagonist who has to grow up quickly and become independent against the backdrop of an oppressive regime. The author offers powerful images of what it was like to grow up in communist Transylvania. There are strong shades of the experience of Auschwitz in relation to the diamonds. Roberta Seret’s prose is fantastic and I was delightfully moved by the evocative character of the writing. The descriptions are gorgeous and the author leads the reader into the psyche of the protagonist with intelligence. The setting is well written, and the contrast between the horror that Mica is running from and the hope of liberty in the US is mesmerizing. Gift of Diamonds is cinematic, an engaging story that I would love to watch as a movie.
Review by K.C. Finn
Gift of Diamonds is a work of fiction in the historical and interpersonal drama sub-genres and was penned by author Roberta Seret. Written as the third novel in the Transylvanian Trilogy, the work explores the story of central character Mica, who flees from Romania during her teenage years to forge a new life for herself in America. Burdened with the knowledge that the diamonds she carries are likely to be blood diamonds, Mica must hang onto them to sell them and fund safe passage for her and her parents to escape the communist regime in her home country. The path is far from smooth and contains some truly traumatic events along the way.
Author Roberta Seret has crafted a highly immersive novel that takes recent historical times and brings us up to date on how much life and politics have changed for women over the decades. The 1960s austerity of communist Transylvania is a truly unique setting, brought to life with unique details in the prose and a highly empathetic understanding of how this life would have oppressed a young woman who aspires for more. I really enjoyed Mica as she grew from strength to strength, though some more sensitive readers may find parts of her struggle very harrowing to read about. But she comes through in an accomplished emotional arc and plot structure that brings about a powerful ending to her tale. Overall, I would certainly recommend Gift of Diamonds to readers seeking high drama and immersive historical fiction.