The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein – Blog Tour, Book Review and Giveaway #HeavenlyPunishmentTour

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I received a free copy of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for my honest review.

About the Book:

Publication Date: March 11, 2013
W.W. Norton & Company
Hardcover; 384p
ISBN-10: 039307157X

A lush, exquisitely rendered meditation on war, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment tells the story of several families, American and Japanese, their loves and infidelities, their dreams and losses, and how they are all connected by one of the most devastating acts of war in human history.

Fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan’s New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm—an attack that leaves one hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins. In the days that follow, Yoshi’s old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo’s prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own. Directly or indirectly, each will shape Yoshi’s journey as she seeks safety, love, and redemption.

About the Author:

Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment and the international bestseller The Painter from Shanghai. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Self, Mademoiselle and NBC, and has worked in Hong Kong, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two daughters and especially needy Springer Spaniel.
For more information, please visit

My Opinion:

WWII is a popular time period for historical fiction right now but I must acknowledge that Ms. Epstein takes her reader to a different time and place than most of the books I have read lately. It was very interesting to read a novel taking place in Japan as the US starts its offensive and retaliation for Pearl Harbor.

I have to admit to a sad lack of knowledge of the who/what/where etc., of WWII and of the Eastern front in particular. This is good for me as a reader of a novel because I don’t come into it knowing all that will come to pass as I do when I read a Tudor book. This book actually starts a bit before Pearl Harbor as we get to know the circle of people that will form the core characters of the entwining stories. But this is Yoshi’s story in as much as we meet and learn so much about the others – almost too much as the start of the book does drag a bit.

That being written, once Japan is firebombed – I did not know of this horror, but then there is much horror in war and I must say, thankfully I remain ignorant of much of it – but now, thanks to the quality of Ms. Epstein’s writing I don’t think I will ever forget it. Why, when the result of these acts come to pass and we learn of the individual suffer, does War still occur? A question for the ages, eh?

Yoshi is a compelling character – I was captivated from the start. War changes everyone. I’ll leave it at that. Some of the other characters were not as interesting to me – her parents were not very likable but they were complex. There is much conflict in any story of war and at the time, here in the US the Japanese were the enemy with a capital E no matter the individual. Look was we did to Japanese Americans. It’s always important to remember the person, the mother/brother/sister/wife outside of the State that is the enemy. Ms. Epstein does that for us very well in her novel.

War books are never easy to read and this one was no exception but that is never an excuse to not read them.


You can see The Gods of Heavenly Punishment Tour Schedule

You can purchase The Gods of Heavenly Punishment on

The Giveaway:

One lucky reader (INT) will win a copy of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment. How do you win? It’s easy, just hop on the Rafflecopter. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for my honest review.  I received no compensation for this post.


  1. says

    I was not aware of the firebombing, but have read other books about Japan and this time period. They are usually tough but important books. I would like to read this book. Thank you for the giveaway.

  2. says

    I did not know about the firebombing of Tokyo in 1945. I doubt that very many people born in North America after the war would know. It’s not the sort of action anyone would be proud of.

  3. says

    I did know about the fire bombing. My father told me about it, he is one of the few living veterans left from that war. Thanks for having the giveaway.


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