I've been reading, reviewing, and blogging over on Facebook
I wish I could say I've been serenely reading like this woman, but I have been reading, A LOT, and blogging and talking books over on Facebook page. It's just been awhile since I played around over here!
Since January I've read, 24 books. Goodreads says 23,but there's a glitch with one, Three Days Missing by Kimberly Belle. Goodreads says I've read it and it also shows I'm currently reading it. I have reported it to Goodreads.
ARCs I have waiting for me:
When Never Comes by Barbara Davis (actually just completed it last night. Review will be up this weekend) It's contemporary fiction with a little mystery, romance, and elements of family drama.
Relase date is May 1, 2018.
Our House by Louise Candish is mystery/thriller. Release date is August 7, 2018.
Sold On a Monday by Kristina McMorris is historical fiction. Release date is August 28, 2018.
The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis is historical fiction. Release date August 7, 2018.
WWII historical fiction read since January:
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
I know I'll be adding this one to my WWII favorites list. This story is told from a slightly different angle than normally found with WWII. This follows three women who are tested and pushed to the limit as war widows immediately after the war. Marianne von Lingenfels is the widow of a Nazi Resistor whose family was upper class. Much of the story takes place in the castles of her husband's ancestors. She's a bit of a do-gooder, rescuing family and friends, volunteering at the camps for displaced people, and remains very politically focused even after the war. Benita is the wife of Marianne's childhood friend, also the widow of a Nazi Resistor, but Benita comes from a humble farming area and has always relied on her beauty and charm to get ahead in life. Then there is Ania, whose background is a bit of a mystery throughout the book. She turns up in one of camps where Marianne is volunteering. Ania's husband was also a resistor, but we find there's much more to Ania's story than meets the eye. The story doesn't stop after the war is over, but we get a glimpse of the intervening years after the war, as Germany struggles to rebuild and define itself again. The women grow old, their children are grown, yet they still have the memories of the horrors of the war and their struggles to survive connecting them.
The Baker's Secret by Stephen Kiernan
This book will be added to my all time favorite WWII list of books. Extremely well done. The setting is the small village of Vergers on the Normandy Coast of France. The story leads up to D-Day, June 5, 1944. The story seems so simple on the surface, but it is well crafted and deceptively profound. We meet the villagers all beaten down, suffering, and barely getting by under Nazi Occupation. The protagonist, Emma becomes the town baker when the Jewish man who was her boss, is hauled away to a concentration camp. She lives with her grandmother, Meme, who seems to be getting a bit senile. Goat is the name a man who Emma attended school with who now she can't seem to stand, though she allows him to live in her pig shed. Pierre is a farmer with the last few cows left in the village. Fleur and her mother are what's left of the veterinarian's family after the Nazis killed him as the village looked on. There are so many more villagers, the Argents and their baby Gabrielle (wealthy Parisians who own a large villa on the coast) Monkey Boy (who seems like a simpleton, but might be autistic) Odette (owner of the village restaurant stuck catering to the Nazis), Margeurite (owner of the tobacco shop), Maria (who might be the village tart giving favors to the Nazis) and the Monsignor (trying to save the souls of the villagers). They are all tied together by what they all have to offer and what they all need. The story builds to D-Day and we get to see it from the other side, the village watching from high on the hill as the troops come ashore. Quote: You came for us! I never thought you would." - Emma.
Salt to Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Long on my TBR, this book completely delivered as I knew it would. 4 stories, told in alternating chapters. Joana fleeing Lithuania for Germany, Florian a Prussian soldier on a secret mission, Emilia a Polish teen fighting memories and avoiding the Gestapo, and Alfred a German sailor. All will find themselves bound together in a little known tragedy of WWII. The ship, Wilhelm Gustloff was requisitioned to help Germans escape from East Prussia as the Russians closed in from the east, toward the end of the war. The Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk on Jan. 30, 1945 by a Russian sub and more than 9000 people perished, many children. Ms. Sepetys uses this real life tragedy at the heart of her story so brilliantly that you will almost be convinced that Salt to Sea is a true story. A very satisfying read for any WWII historical fiction fan.
Other great historical fiction I read:
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Gorgeous,gorgeous cover! I was so happy to get to read the ARC of this book. It told such a poignant story of the Perez family, focusing on Elisa not yet out of her teens during the tumultuous rise of Fidel Castro. We find out the Perez family flees to Miami as exiles, at the beginning of the story, but we are taken back to hear the details of the story,when Elisa's grand-daughter Marisol goes back to Havana to spread Elisa's ashes after her death. The two time lines blended seamlessly as the story of Elisa's elicit romance in 1958 Havana comes to light and we see Havana today through Marisol's eyes as she chases her grandmother's ghost to piece together the story she never knew. Thank you to the author for the opportunity to read and review the ARC. All opinions are my own.
A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor
I absolutely love Hazel Gaynor's books. Such talent! This book had me turning the pages, as two stories in one intertwined. I was totally mesmerized by the story of Florrie and her little sister Rosie, poor orphaned flower sellers in London's Covent Garden in 1912. What a dreadful life those poor girls led. I enjoyed learning about Tilly Harper, the young girl who came down from the Lake District to work in the home/orphanage for the flower girls started by the benevolent Mr. Shaw to help the flower girls live a decent, productive life. I found myself fully transported to another time and place with Ms. Gaynor's wonderfully, luscious, descriptive writing. There's a bit of mystery, history, and romance to be found between the pages of this sweet read. I shed a few tears to be sure, but what a satisfying ending
The Way of Beauty by Camille di Maio (releases May 1, 2018)
|I was thoroughly charmed by this cover and suspected I was going to love this book. I have a fondness for when an historical fiction book can teach about a landmark or place that you've been to and known about for years. Yet,you realize you've only scratched the surface with that knowledge. The story is two stories in one, that of German immigrant Vera Keller in turn of the century New York City and Vera's daughter Alice many years later. Their lives are tied to New York's Penn Station. Through the two lives the author illustrates the changing attitudes of the eras, but love of their family and romantic love they find is what keeps bound together.|
The Phantom's Apprentice by Heather Webb
|Gorgeous retelling of the tale of the Phantom of the Opera. I thoroughly loved this book as a Francophile, historical fiction fan, and Broadway music fan. The descriptive scenes immersed me in Paris of by gone days. After reading this, I definitely want to tour the Opera Garnier next time I am in Paris. Christine Daae is talented singer, performing around town for the elite's salons, but father and daughter are one step from sleeping in barns without the goodwill of a dear lady friend. Professor Delacroix, a friend of their benefactor secures an audition for Christine at the opera house and thus begins her professional career. The path to stardom is a twisty one and Christine soon finds herself drawn into the dark underworld of the opera. She will have to be cunning if she is to survive and beat the Angel of Music at his own sinister game. Thank you to the author for the ARC to read and review. All opinions are my own.|
Thriller/Mystery books I read:
The Sandman by Lars Kepler, Joona Linna series #4, I have read #1, 5 stars, sent by the publicist.
Charity Bashed by Sharon Geltner, a funny mystery sent to me by the author, 3 stars.
London Calling by Sara Sheridan, Mirabelle Bevan series #2, 5 stars (LOVE this series!)
Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky, women's fiction/mystery, 3 stars, sent be the publicist.
The Perfect Roommate by Minka Kent, new to me author, 3 stars
Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser, new to me author, 5 stars
Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant, new to me author, 5 stars
Someone I Used to Know by David Bell, new to me author, 4 stars, sent by the publicist
Ones to Watch Out For:
The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall (Releases July 10, 2018)
I was a huge fan of the author's, The Balance Project and when I heard the premise of The Subway Girls, I knew I wanted to read it. The captivating story involves two time lines, 1949 with spunky Charlotte who wants to work in a NYC advertising firm as a copy writer. She's even willing to take a job in the typing pool (basically the only option for women at that time), but even that seems impossible. It looks like Charlotte is going to end up working at her families Brooklyn hardware store, until Charlotte receives a chance to try out for Miss Subways, an ad campaign highlighting girls from the five boroughs of New York. The feminist in Charlotte struggles with Miss Subways being a beauty contest of sorts, but what if it's her ticket to independence? The second story line involves present day Olivia, who works as an ad executive at a boutique advertising firm. She ends up pitching the MTA account, though we realize not much has changed for women in her field as it appears that misogyny abounds. Through Olivia's ideas for the MTA pitch, we find how the two stories are entwined. No spoilers, but the scene where all the Miss Subways turn up was just the best! As I read this story I realized how far we've come as women, yet how far we still have to go! I saw this recently in my job in the corporate world, where a company I deal with finally hired a female managing director after 25 years! We need strong women to break into the old boys club. This book was delight to read and makes me want to visit the New York Transit museum to see the place the author did research and find out more about the real Miss Subways. Thank you to the author and publisher for the ARE in exchange for my honest review.
A Matter of Chance by Julie Maloney (Released April 10, 2018)
Mysteries involving disappearances are always a big hook for me. I started this book on Easter weekend and REALLY wished we celebrated Easter Monday as they do in Europe, because I wanted to blow off work to finish it! As it was I read like a machine, because I was so intrigued by what had happened to Vinni. As a mother, I can only imagine the horror and heartbreak, single mom Maddie must have felt when in a matter of minutes, Vinni turns up missing on the beach. I truly loved the character of Evelyn, Maddie's neighbor, an artist who had become like a surrogate mother to Maddie. She helps Maddie cope with the loss of Vinni through art, a passion they both share. Maddie never gives up and neither does Detective John d'Orfini, the policeman called out on the day of Vinni's disappearance. He and Maddie develop a bond and burgeoning romance, which was a sweet highlight of the story. Maddie almost jeopardizes the ongoing investigation several times, but as a parent I could understand taking these risks to try and find your child. The conclusion is both shocking and satisfying. I look forward to more from Ms. Maloney. Thank you to the author for the ARC, all opinions are my own
Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr, light chick-lit, part one of 3 part series
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, long on my TBR, a treasure.
The Intermission by Elyssa Friedland, a surprising delight.
My Grape Year by Laura Bradbury, a fun memoir of a high school girl's year abroad in France.