Showing posts with label historical fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label historical fiction. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Pam Jenoff's Lost Girls of Paris Book Review

Lost Girls of Paris Book Review


With the novel The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff, I once again reviewed life in Europe during and just after World War II. The book is fictional but based on the true story of Vera Atkins and her female special operations agents.

THE STORY


I struggled at first to settle into the pages of this book but when I did, I was rewarded with the story of a woman named Eleanor Trigg and a group of women she recruited and trained to become secret agents. Those women would eventually be sent from England to occupied France as part of the resistance movement’s effort to disrupt the advance of the German army. The women were employed as couriers and radio operators and were eventually lost. 

The book travels from Europe to New York City when a suitcase containing photographs of the missing women is found in Grand Central Station. The story of these female special agents would have been totally abandoned and they themselves left unaccounted for if it were not for the efforts of one woman after the war.

REVIEWS


Reviewers on Amazon peg the book quite correctly as romantic in nature. Some question some of the historical facts and many of the decisions made by characters in the book. Some felt that the book had too many coincidences and that it did not always ring true. However, despite these criticisms, the book received 86 percent four- and five-star ratings, which does not seem too bad to me so I looked further.

U.S.A. Today called this Jenoff work of fiction “a gauzier, more florid and awkwardly romantic account” of the true story of Vera Atkins and her team of  spies saying that the book has “all of the tension of a Hallmark card.” I agree. It definitely is romantic and nice version of the story and is not the best historical fiction book from that time period that I have read.


The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff


Kirkus calls the book, “a sadly slapdash World War II adventure”, which references, I believe, some of the factual problems readers have with this book. The problems are in errors with the details. Did diners (restaurants) have television sets in the 1940s? Would those TVs have been broadcasting the news while diners ate their meals? How could you have planned a honeymoon aboard the Queen Elizabeth II, which was not built until the 1960s? Was renting a car possible in those days? Were the terms single mother and Ms. in use? Was duct tape available to the public or just the military? How many states were there in the United States in 1946? I have not fact checked any of these questions and some of them I did not jump out at me when I was reading the book. A few of them could have and hopefully have been easily corrected in subsequent printings.

Finally, the readers at Goodreads give The Lost Girls of Paris a score of 3.88. Once again, that score is not too bad in my opinion. On that platform, reviewer Matthew said, “I liked the story, but in the realm of WWII fiction it is not in the upper echelons. Maybe you will enjoy it more than I did and can look past the issues…” Personally, I am inclined to agree with that score on Goodreads and with Matthew’s comments. 

I would RECOMMEND but NOT highly recommend the historical work of fiction that is The Lost Girls of Paris.

If you enjoy historical fiction set in World War II, Europe, or if you are looking for a book with interesting female protagonists, you should enjoy this book. That is, if you are willing to accept it as written and not be tripped up by historical inaccuracies like those referenced above.

If you want to learn more, you can find The Lost Girls of Paris on Amazon by clicking right here. If you do read the book, be sure to come back and let us know what you think.

I will end with a question. How important is historical accuracy to you in your historical fiction books? Do mistakes like those mentioned above ruin a book for you or are you happy to discount them as part of an author’s work at crafting a compelling story?

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

More World War II Fiction:




Pam Jenoff's The Lost Girls of Paris


The Lost Girls of Paris






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Thursday, February 11, 2021

Review of Historical Novel....West with Giraffes

Photograph my sister Julie took while in Tanzania

 

West with Giraffes is one of the best books I've read in a long time and I have read some books I've really enjoyed lately.  But you know how some books just resonate with you, well that is how West with Giraffes was with me.  I usually read before I go to bed for about 1/2 hour.  With this book, I would wake up in the morning thinking about the book and of course I had to make time to read more during the day.
 

                                      

Setting

The book is based on the true story of two Giraffes that are waylaid during a hurricane and end up on the docks in New York City.  They are met by two unlikely characters who end up driving them all the way to the San Diego Zoo.  The time frame is during the Great Depression and we learn some of the history of the era along the cross country drive.  It is based on the amazing story when two giraffes make headlines when they travel cross country.


Characters

The characters in the book are so real you feel as if you know them personally.  

The Old Man-  During most of the book Riley is called the Old Man.  He is the one who met the giraffes at the  dock in New York.  He works for the San Diego Zoo and he is tasked with meeting the giraffes and taking them to San Diego.  We get  to know him gradually as he makes his way across country with Woody.

Woody is a 17 year old orphan from Texas.  When his family is wiped out during the dust bowl tragedy he makes his way to New York City where he ends up on the dock when the giraffes land.  He hears they are headed to "Californy" and makes it his goal to somehow follow them there.  Woody's full name is Woodrow Wilson Nickel and during the long trip cross country we find that he is as endearing as his name.

Red is a young photographer with a secret who is determined to be published in Life magazine and claim her fame with her story about the giraffes.

The giraffes themselves really show their different personalities and become a wonderful part of the book.  All of the main characters are drawn in by a love of the beautiful animals.  They call the giraffes Boy and Girl.  Girl had been injured during the hurricane and they all had to stop often to treat her hurt leg.  She is the more aggressive of the two giraffes.  Boy is shy and more approachable.

This is a book that I would highly recommend.




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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Her Silent Knight (Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair Book 1) Reviewed

Her Silent Knight Book
Did you know that it is recorded that the Thames River has frozen over 24 times?  Seven of those times, the ice was solid enough that they held a Frost Fair in London.  

The celebrated Frost Fair of 1683-84 featured multiple activities including horse races, football, bowling, ice skating, sledding and more. Vendor booths were set up to sell souvenirs, food and refreshments. Londoner's clearly knew how to quickly make a rare occurrence into a fun festival for all.  

In 1814 (the last Frost Fair), an elephant was led across the ice. Reminiscent of previous frost fairs, there was dancing, ice skating and of course, vendors.  It lasted only 4 days before the ice broke up and several people drowned.

The very real historical Frost Fair of 1814 is the setting of the entire "Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair" series.  This series provides a wonderful look back into history, as well as some really awesome romantic stories. 

First in the series is "Her Silent Knight". It was such a captivating book, that I read it in one night.  Yes, it was nearly 4 am before I went to sleep, but it was worth it!  I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet story.


Her Silent Knight Synopsis

 Her Silent Knight: A Christmas Regency Romance (Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair Book 1)Check PriceSelina Ellis becomes secretly engaged to Noah Skinner, a solicitor who is below her social status. Mr. Skinner would never be considered an acceptable suitor for Selina, especially by her own mother.  But, Selina doesn't care!  She believes she is in love with Mr. Skinner and when he proposes marriage at the Frost Fair, Selina agrees to marry him, even if it means they would be required to elope.  

The couples embrace is witnessed by a childhood friend that Selina hasn't seen in years. When Sir Edmund Sharp recognizes the two people hugging each other, he knows he must find a way to save Selina from the man with a scandalous reputation.  She is young, naive, and clearly unaware of Mr. Skinner's "manipulations". What Sir Edmund cannot immediately figure out is why Mr. Skinner would pursue a lady with no inheritance. Upon her father's death, their home and money was entailed to a distant relative since Mr. Ellis has no sons.  That left Selina and her mother living on a meager stipend.

Sir Edmund agrees to keep Selina's secret if she will make sure he is invited to spend the Christmastide (the 12 days of Christmas) in her home. The request makes sense because his grandmother recently died and he has no other family in London. Selina's mother had always adored Edmund, plus she saw him as the perfect suitor for Selina. Therefore, securing an invitation for Christmastide was not difficult at all.

Now, Sir Edmund only has to figure out how to separate Selina from Mr. Skinner.  That won't be as easy as Sir Edmund had originally thought since Mr. Skinner has possession of Edmund's grandmothers will. Skinner is willing to do whatever is necessary to keep Sir Edmund from interfering in his relationship with Selina.




 

"Her Silent Knight" is a sweet story of love, chivalry, and childhood loyalties embedded in an enchanting historical fiction, set in the fantastic short-lived Frost Fair on the Thames River in London.  It is the first book in the Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair series shown below.

All but one of these authors are new to me.  I love that when it happens in a co-op series!

 

 Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair (5 Book Series)Check Price



House of Sylvestermouse




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Saturday, January 9, 2021

How Did I Become a Bookworm?

 I haven't written many book reviews when you consider how many books I've read in my life.  The reason why is because I don't want to inadvertently ruin the book for someone by mentioning a twist or alluding to something I saw in the book that they interpreted differently until much later.

Image from Pixabay

Hi, my names Louanne and I'm a bookworm, I've been a bookworm for as long as I can remember certainly before I started school.   My parents always read to us before going to bed (until we wanted to read by ourselves) and my mum told me a few years ago about dad trying to skip a few pages and make up the story in order to get me asleep quicker and I would get quite pretentious in telling him - that's not what it says and making him start again!

My daughter went into daycare from about 14 months old and I was told by the staff what a large vocabulary she had.   Like my parents before me, I had always read to her because, in my opinion, teaching a child to read a book is like ensuring they will always be able to choose their own adventures.

There are books on every topic and if your child loves space they only have to find a quiet space and the right book and they can transport themselves onto a new planet or a spaceship and have an absolute ball.   If they want to become dragon slayers, fairies, or pirates - there are books available for all of them.

I have always read a wide variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction and I credit this habit of reading for allowing me the ability to think outside of the box and also for doing well at trivia quizzes!

When I was younger I used to read at least one book a day and I collected Bookworm Certificates at school so often the teacher couldn't believe how much I read, she actually told my parents, "Louanne doesn't read books, she inhales them."   I've always remembered that because I was going to put it on my author bio when I published all of my literary works.   Well writing a book hasn't happened (I'd much rather read!), but a couple of my friends (and reviewers on this site) have done so.

Beverley Owens has written some great cozy mysteries, check out her Amazon page here

Barbara Tremblay Cipak - has written riddle books which are so much fun (although sometimes frustrating!), check out her Amazon page here.

What Kind of Bookworm Are You?

Throughout my life people have always asked me one of two questions - who's your favorite author? or what genre of books do you like to read?

I really can't pick a favorite author, there are just so many.   When I was younger I remember loving

Enid Blyton books
Enid Blyton and I would alternate between preferring the Famous Five or the Secret Seven (the Secret Seven won out the most!).   I can remember getting a few of her books as sets for Christmas - Malory Towers & St Claires and I loved that as it wasn't just one book, but a whole set.   After inhaling both these sets I really, really wanted to go to boarding school!

I also found a fondness for Agatha Christie as a teen as she was one of my nan's favourite authors, my nan also introduced me to these cheap little paperback mystery books (the name of the series escapes me now) that were written to be consumed quickly and by a range of different authors.   They were written in much the same style as cozy mysteries which I think is probably why I love settling down with them.

I also discovered Ruth Rendall as a teen and after reading A Murder of Crows was thoroughly hooked.   At the same time as I was reading these, my best friend was delving into the books of Jean Plaidy.  Of course, I had to see what she was reading and so I started 'inhaling' historical fiction as well.

What' genre of books do I like to read is also too hard to answer as I'm sure you can tell from the above paragraph!

When I had finished all the Ruth Rendall & Jean Plaidy books in our local library I decided to pivot and started to read biographies.   I just grabbed the biographies without worrying who they were about - some people I had never heard of before!  I read every biography in the library, some were boring but the majority were so interesting and now and then they'll be a trivia question and I'll say the answer without thinking and I have no idea how I knew it.   Reading - it's great for building knowledge!

When I was 18 &19 I lived with my Gran for nine months and her favorite author was Catherine Cookson so I found myself devouring all of those.  She also enjoyed Danielle Steele.

After that, I tended to alternate between whodunnits and family sagas.   I had moved to a smaller town when I was 19 so I would start reading an author and then read every book the library had by that author before trying a new one.   It was a great way of getting to know new authors, it was where I first came across Penny Vincenzi and I would put her new book title on my Christmas list for several years afterward.

I have the Kindle Paperwhite
Gradually I started adding 'Chick Lit', psychological thrillers & John Grisham to my book lists.  It seems like the only type of book genre I haven't really been able to immerse myself in is science fiction.   I prefer my Sci-fi on the screen.

I am now in my 50s and finally have a kindle which doesn't stop me from reading actual books, by the
way, it just seems to mean I read even more!   I have started to add personal development books into the mix.

Let's have a look at a few of the books I have reviewed here on Review This, let me know which one's you've read as I wouldn't dream of asking you for a favorite author or genre!







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Saturday, December 26, 2020

Reviewing A Splendid Ruin by Megan Chance

 If you embrace the saying, revenge is a dish best served cold then you will love this historical novel by Megan Chance.

A Recommended Read

Although this author has many titles to her name this is the first novel of hers I have read and I loved it.   The novel is divided into 3 parts.   The first part introduces us to May Kimble who has been living in Brooklyn, New York until after her mother's death.   She receives a letter from her mother's sister of whom she had no idea even existed and is welcomed into the arms of her newfound family in San Francisco in 1904.

She has lots of questions, but receives no answers to them and is unfortunately too naive to realise that she is being manipulated.   She suspects things are amiss, but doesn't act on her instincts or her laudanum addled aunt's ravings at her to go home.

Part one culminates in the death of her aunt and the ultimate betrayal from her family and May realises just how she's been played.

Part two is terrifying as May learns how to survive in a place that her mother hadn't even thought to prepare her for.   She learns her lessons quickly and uses her knowledge to improve her conditions while thinking of her revenge.   Why do I call it terrifying?  It's certainly not a scary, horror book, but it's terrifying as to how easy it was in 1904 for this to happen and it's something that I have read about in other historical books and novels alike.

Part Three is called Retribution and begins on April 18th, 1906.  For any American history buffs out there you may recall that this is the date of the great San Francisco earthquake.   The earthquake gives May a chance to escape where she was and she takes advantage of that.

May proves to be very resourceful and brave.  You really see how she has grown since arriving in California.   She plots her revenge and also falls in love (well, I believe the seeds for falling in love were planted in part one, but now she is ready).

The ultimate revenge doesn't come in the way that May and her paramour planned, but was the perfect moment and absolutely embodied the saying, revenge is a dish best served cold.

I really enjoyed this historical novel and a little glimpse into San Francisco's turn of the century society and also how the earthquake was dealt with by the people on the ground - the author portrayed the confusion that would have been about really well.

I recommend this read for anyone that enjoys historical fiction with a strong heroine (although she was frustratingly naive in the first part, she certainly grew into a strong heroine).  I will certainly be reading other books from this author.

This book was available as part of Amazon Prime - I love Amazon Prime as not only does it have Kindle books, it has a number of television series that I enjoy on it and also gives me free shipping when I purchase anything - find out more about it here.

It is also available as part of Kindle Unlimited which is great if you enjoy reading, I started with a free trial and am now in my second month of it.   Definitely worth the free trial, especially over these holidays when there aren't as many get together as usual - more time for reading!




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Monday, December 21, 2020

Book Review: Nickel's Luck by S.L. Matthews

Nickel's Luck is the debut novel by S.L. Matthews. I overlooked this book because westerns are not my preferred genre. However, I did eventually download it to my Kindle and devoured the story of Ryder Wheeler, a sailor named Old Joly, a cowboy named Bannack, and the beautiful gulf coast town of Indianola, Texas set in the late 1800s. This is a western slash historical fiction slash coming of age slash story that I hope to someday see as a television mini-series. I enjoyed getting lost in this story.

Book Review: Nickel's Luck by S.L. Matthews on ReviewThisReviews

Ten year old Ryder is an adventurous, charming child who cannot turn down any dare. He has rejected his family name and calls himself Ryder because he claims to be able to ride anything, and has proven this to be true until the day he could not ride the dolphins because the waves drug him out to sea before he could catch up to them. His best friend, Les, calls him "Nickel" because Ryder is lucky; unnervingly lucky at times. Nickel becomes the town's golden child and everyone adores him.

Everyone except his father and an older brother. Oren Wheeler is a drinking, smoking, angry man who produces many children that he isn't very concerned about providing for. He is a fisherman, like many residents of Indianola, but his family often goes hungry. Alastor, an older brother, seems to be following in Oren's footsteps. Ryder literally sleeps with his eyes open due to Alastor's malintent.

Part way into the book, and with tears streaming, I paused to do an internet search to see if Indianola, Texas was an entirely fictional place. Surely, this had to be a figment of the author's creative imagination. I was stunned to find that the town had indeed existed. Indianola was a gulf coast town in the 1800s. A bustling port where business was booming and life revolved around the sea and fishing. People like Old Joly, a sailor, lived life on and next to the water. That way of life is described; the myths, sea monsters, tattoos, fishing, and floods. I felt I was there with my toes in the sand and listening to the waves on the shore. 

Bannack is the type of cowboy I tend to imagine when I think about westerns. The lone, dark stranger and his horse. Complete with hat and jingling spurs, fists and gun. Bannack knows nothing of the sea life or those who live it. Les and Ryder loved dime store novels. Loved is probably not the correct word. They obsessed over dime store novel heros. And Mustang Grey, pony express rider, was their favorite. Les had re-read these books to Ryder repeatedly. They had all of the details of Mustang Grey's life or death ride memorized. Les and Ryder are quickly suspicious that Bannack is Mustang Grey. I am not adept at writing reviews and I am concerned that any more I say about Bannack will create spoilers. So I will stop here. 

Despite his luck, Ryder is in danger many times from age 10 into his adolescent years. Old Joly saves his life immediately and Bannack sets out to save him long term. The residents of Indianola are superstitious and love their lucky golden child. Girls line up, vying for his attention. Ryder's nickname sticks as the residents believe that if you give him a nickel, you can buy some of his luck. Through the book, and through the years of Ryder's life (experiencing abuse, love, trauma, and loss) I began to wonder if he had sold all of his luck.

Nickel's Luck is a wonderful peek into two very different worlds (sailor and cowboy, seaport and ranch). The superstitions and myths believed of those who live on the water was intriguing. The rootin', tootin' and shootin' of the wild, old west was intense. 

I thought I had guessed how the story would end. But I was wrong. While I raced to the ending (quite frankly, to see if anyone would survive) I was sad when I reached the last page. This was a gritty, sometimes violent and heart-breaking novel that kept me turning pages late into the night. 


Related Link:

S.L Matthews is a multi-talented and interesting soul. She is a photographer and living history reenactor. Over the years I have enjoyed her photographs on social media. I completely relate to her statement that her favorite smells are "horse sweat, saddle leather, and campfire smoke. These are prioritized even over the aroma of chocolate." To learn more about her, visit her author page here. 

Author S.L. Matthews

For the purpose of transparency: I had met the author and family once when they lived in my area. Via social media and mutual internet friends, I was aware that the author was in the process of writing and publishing a book. Westerns are not my go-to reading genre (although, I do enjoy Westerns in the movie form) so I had no intention of reading this novel. But between the down time created by the current socially-distant environment and comments by mutual friends who enjoyed reading Nickel's Luck, I decided to give it a try. I feel this is an honest review and I did not receive a copy for review. Over time, I have seen how much the author enjoys all things related to the 18th and 19th centuries; especially the Old West and that love and familiarity clearly shines through in her writing.

*Images used with the permission of the author. 





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Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Magnificent Dappled Sea Book Review


 
In this delightful historical novel by David Biro, a young boy from a small town in Italy is discovered to have leukemia and can only be helped by a bone marrow transplant.  The search for a donor brings up secrets from the past and stretches across the ocean to a rabbi in the USA.  I found this to be another one of those novels that I couldn't put down and wanted to keep reading.  It is also one where the characters come alive to the reader and linger long after you have put down the book.

Characters from the Book


  • Luca- A fascinating young boy who comes down with a dreaded disease.  Luca has a wonderful imagination and a "friend" he talks to that only he can see.  His parents were killed when he was very young and he lives with his grandparents in a small Italian village.  
  • Giovanni- Luca's grandfather who loves his grandson dearly, but is haunted by a decision he made years ago during the war when he found his son Paolo (Luca's father) and brought him home to raise him as his own.
  • Nina- A young nurse who is very dedicated and helps to lead the search to find a donor for Luca.  This search turns into a life changing event for her.
  • Rabbi Joseph Neiman- A rabbi in Brooklyn, New York who is struggling with his faith.  When he works to help a young girl in his community find a bone marrow donor, he has his own marrow tested and finds he is a match for a young  boy in Italy.  What secrets will be revealed to show how a young Catholic boy can have Jewish genes?  
  • Sarah- The wife of the rabbi who has very bad feelings toward anyone from Italy, where her grandparents were captured and sent to a concentration camp during the war.
  • Samuel- The son of the rabbi.  Samuel makes friends with the young boy from Italy.

The Book on Amazon



Lessons from the Book


The book is a work of historical fiction, which contains lessons for us all.  The book challenges our identities and shows how as humans, we are really more alike than we are different.  This is a wonderful novel which I highly recommend.



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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Lost Vintage Book Review


I've visited World War II Europe in my readings on numerous occasions in books like Cilka's Journey, The Girl They Left Behind and The Nightingale. This month I revisited the era via Ann Mah's 2018 novel, The Lost Vintage. I enjoyed the trip though of course, the situation was not always a pleasant one. 

The Lost Vintage travels between current day California and France and World War II France, where one family did as best they could to survive the German occupation. 

Living on a prestigious wine domaine in the Burgundy region of France, they managed for a while to avoid drawing attention to themselves by keeping their heads down but eventually they were drawn into the war in one way or another. 

The mystery that drags the current generation down in the modern day part of the book is whether or not members of the family were Nazi collaborators or members of the resistance.  The idea that our ancestors were on the right side of history is an interesting one that cannot be true for all of us.

Because this book is well written, I had no problem switching back and forth between the different time periods. I was a bit less enthusiastic about the inclusion of the occasional French phrase, sometimes translated and sometimes not. I expect the French was included to give a French feeling to the book and translation is not necessary but I did find the practice intrusive.

As the back of the book says, this story contains a mystery, a love story and of course, a history lesson.  It is packed with French food, culture and of course, wine. It is well written and it is easy to read. If you enjoy historical fiction, wine and/or reading about France, I believe that you will enjoy The Lost Vintage. You may even find yourself needing to read "just one more chapter", wanting to drink a bit of wine and desiring a trip to France.

Without giving away the secrets of this book, I will mention that it deals with a little discussed part of the story of France. That is, what happened to French women when the country was liberated from the Germans. French women were often treated as traitors and found guilty without a trial by what was really mob justice. No allowances were made for varying situations like the difference between women who slept willingly with German soldiers and those who were raped. 

This book comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You can buy your copy of The Lost Vintage from Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas movie reviewed.




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Friday, October 23, 2020

Forever By Your Side by Tracie Peterson Book Review

Forever by Your Side
As soon as I saw this book available, I requested a copy.  Tracie Peterson is one of my all-time favorite Christian fiction authors.  I always love her books.  

I didn't realize this was the third book in the series, Willamette Brides, but that was not a problem.  I had already read the first two books, so I was familiar with the characters and the background story for the book.

A reader would probably enjoy this book without reading the first two in the series, but I'm not sure it would mean as much to them.  Knowing the complete backstory, what brought us to this point in time on the Indian reservation, fills in what might otherwise be blanks in the book.  I do recommend reading the first two books first, but you will definitely want to read the resolutions in "Forever By Your Side". 


Synopsis of Forever By Your Side

 Forever by Your Side
(Willamette Brides)
Constance Browning is thrilled when she is hired to catalogue the history of the American Indians on the Oregon reservation, her own childhood home.  Constance's parents are still missionaries there and she is excited to return after years away at school.  

Tom Lowell, Connie's best friend, is the second half of the team hired to record the historical facts.  Together, they travel from the East Coast to the Oregon reservation.  Once there, they are welcomed to stay with Connie's parents instead of other government accommodations.  This is an optimum arrangement for Connie & Tom since they also hope to find out who is supplying the Indians with whiskey and guns.  It has been rumored that her parents are behind the shipments and are organizing an upraising.  

Connie is certain her parents are not involved in anything that would put the Indians in danger.  She knows their hearts and their mission to help the people they love.  Unfortunately, her opinion doesn't matter when there is evidence that her father is part of the operation.  

Since Connie knows some of the Indians, she & Tom plan to use their research as a cover for inquiring about a potential upraising.  They are stunned by some old friends who now consider Connie's family the enemy.  

Connie is equally surprised by the government agent, Clint Singleton, on the reservation who now expresses a romantic interest in her.  She had a childhood crush on him years before and he had totally dismissed her then.  She has to ask herself, is she still in love with Clint?

All the changes are confusing, but Connie is determined to prove her parents are innocent.  With the evidence against her father, that won't be easy to do.


My Recommendation

As I stated in my introduction, while this could be a stand-alone book, I believe the entire series should be read in order.  Connie's cousins, their marriages, and most especially one husband's murder, are important to understanding the entire Willamette Brides story plot and the resolutions in this book.  

Personally, I was glad to finally know the true identity of Mr. Smith and the reasons behind his actions.  

The previous books in the series, Secrets of My Heart and The Way of Love are wonderful books, full of love, mystery and an excellent story that carried through the series.  I highly recommend the Willamette Brides series by Tracie Peterson, especially now that we have Forever By Your Side that provides the answers and resolutions.


 

 

I received an advance copy of "Forever by Your Side" to review from NetGalley. I would like to express my appreciation to Netgalley, the author, Tracie Peterson, and the publisher, Bethany House, for this opportunity. 
 



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Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Last Correspondent Book Review

The Last Correspondent is a work of historical fiction written by Soraya M Lane.  It takes place during World War II just prior, during and after the invasion of Normandy.  The scenes are set in London and France during the war.  

This story is about three woman who fight to use their careers to tell their story in a man's world.  They show a tremendous amount of courage, grit and determination in order to get the story told.  This then is the story of a war correspondent, a photographer and a model.

I found this book to be a real page turner.  In fact after I was about half way through the book, I couldn't put it down till I read the whole book.  It is one of those books where the author does such a good job of making the characters believable that I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

The Three Women

  • Danni-  Danni is a seasoned photographer, who has photographed the war on several different fronts.  As the days close in on the Normandy invasion she finds herself in London.   Only the  men are allowed to get passes to cover the war during the invasion, but Danni is determined to find a way to get to the action.  She has teamed up with a correspondent, Andy, who has been with her during her last several assignments.  They have become good friends and cover each others backs.  Danni enlists Andy to help her sneak aboard a medical ship that is sailing toward Normandy.
  • Ella-  Ella is a reporter who has written stories  under a man's pen name in order to get her works published.  When she is found out, her publisher fires her.  She finds a job with a magazine reporting on the war from a women's point of view.  She interviews women working on the war effort and the magazine is so pleased with her work that they send her to London to report on the war.  Like Danni, Ella also finds she is limited in her access because she is a woman.  Ella goes by herself to try to find a way to the action and find herself on the same medical ship as Dani and Andy.  After a rough night hiding on board they decide to team up as they make their way to shore.
  • Chloe-  Chloe is Andy's sister who was a Vogue model prior to the war.  When she was in Paris on a modeling job she met Gabriel, an editor, whom she fell in love.  At the beginning of the story Chloe is at her home in England, longing to find a way to be with Gabriel in Paris.  She says she is a showgirl in order to make her way into Nazi occupied Paris.


The Men in Their Lives

  • Cameron- Cameron is a Lieutenant that Danni first meets and has a conflict with when she is covering the war in Sicily.  She meets up with him again in a bar in London and then in Normandy.  They have a real love/hate relationship.
  • Andy- Andy is a war correspondent and best friend to Danni.  They have been together on several war zones and he always has her back when she is pushing the envelope.
  • Gabriel-  Gabriel is Chloe's lover and she sneaks in to Paris to be with him, only to find out the it is very pre-occupied working for the resistance.  
  • Michael - Michael is also a war correspondent and Ella first meets him at the bar at the Savoy in London.  This is a meeting place for many of the correspondents and photographers.  She next meets up with him in Normandy.

Recommendation

If you are a lover of historical fiction this is a wonderful  read.  It is full of history, women's fight to be treated as equals, and just a bit of romance.  A great read all around.  I highly recommend it.




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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey, A Book Review

Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey, A Book Review

Following the very successful novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz, comes Heather Morris' 2019 book, Cilka's Journey. Yes, it is a sequel of sorts to the first book though it definitely stands alone. 

Frankly, this book is another dark look into a horrible time in man's history. That's to be expected based on the subject of the novel. Initially, I did not care for how the story flipped back and forth between the main character's time in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Germany and in her time in the Vorkuta Gulag Labor Camp in Russia but I quickly managed to overcome the darkness and the style and be absorbed by the very real characters in the story.

Cilka was sent to Birkenau when she was taken from her home at the age of 16 simply because she was Jewish and young and healthy and able to work. When Birkenau was liberated, she was tried and sent to the Siberian labor camp for having slept with the enemy. For her crime, she received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor. 

Whether the beautiful 16 year old really had any choice about whether to sleep with the enemy or not is debatable but the book is about her journey through and survival of both facilities. I don't need to say how unpleasant that situation was and I will not reveal how it ended.  Here's the official book trailer:


 


This second video is from the author and discusses albeit briefly the connection between this book and her first, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. 

Warning, this next video has LOTS OF SPOILERS but it does do a good job of telling you about the story.



FICTION OR NON-FICTION?

If you watched the preceding video, you know the answer to this question. Cilka's Journey is a fictional account of the true-life story of Cecília Kováčová. 

Of course, the story is filled out with details the author cannot really know but in large part it is said that the book is based on the conditions and situations people including Cilka found themselves living in at those two facilities. 

Descendants, however, declare the story to be outrageous calling it "lurid and titillating." They say that this is not the way Cilka shared her story to them.

The author defends the book saying that it is based on first-hand testimony given by people she interviewed and the experiences of women who were subjected to the life in those camps. She says, "It is a novel and does not represent the entire facts of Cilka's life." You can read more about the controversy here on The Guardian

In another interview with ABC, the author defends the disputed fact that women were used sexually in the camps and sums up with, "If it's all the same to you I think I'll go with their testimonies because they were there."


Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey Book Review


IS IT RECOMMENDED?

Yes, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMEND by me. The book has an average 4.39 stars on Goodreads and 92 percent of the reviewers on Amazon gave the book a five-star rating.

WARNINGS

Well, I feel that writing a warning about the unpleasant reading that comes in a book set in Nazi Germany and a Siberian Labor Camp in the 1940s is almost unnecessary I will say that this book deals with sex, starvation, murder.  The main character's work in the Labor Camp finds the reader face to face with terrible workplace accidents. It is definitely not nice but it is present and it is an intricate part of the story.  Plus, of course, there is the controversy of just how true this story really is.

WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

Anyone who has an interest in historical fiction will enjoy the book, with consideration to the warnings given above. Anyone who read The Tattooist of Auschwitz and liked it will enjoy this book. As author Heather Morris says in the second video shown above, you should enjoy this book "not for the horror and evil that is included but for the humanity and the compassion and the love and the hope." I agree.

You can find your copy of Cilka's Journey on Amazon by clicking right here. Be sure to come back and let us know what you think of the book.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

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Friday, October 9, 2020

A Defense of Honor (Haven Manor Book 1) by Kristi Ann Hunter Reviewed

A Defense of Honor has a very unique plot. That fact alone drew me to this book. Plus, I had never read a book by Kristi Ann Hunter and I love finding new authors (new to me). 

Normally, I review books that I can highly recommend to anyone.  A Defense of Honor delves into some very unpleasant realistic attitudes, especially during the time period of the book's setting of London in 1816.  Therefore, I would only recommend this book to someone who doesn't mind examining the dirty underbelly of society, as well as their own hearts and minds. 

As I read the book, I found myself questioning several things, which is most unusual when reading a Christian fiction.


Synopsis of A Defense of Honor (Haven Manor Book1)

Kit FitzGilbert is "The Governess".  She is hated by London society, even though her true identity is concealed.  Her self-appointed job is to ensure that illegitimate children are financially supported by their wealthy fathers.  She and her friends also protect the mothers and allow them a way to re-enter society without the child or society being any the wiser.

 A Defense of Honor (Haven Manor Book #1)Kit, Daphne & Jess provide a home for the children which is supported by the funds that Kit extracts from their fathers.  

Haven Manor is a large secluded estate that is overseen by a local solicitor, Nash Banfield.  The owner has no desire to live there, so Nash allows the women and children to live in the manor.  This arrangement benefits all parties because the women take care of the upkeep of the manor, the children have a home away from public awareness or scorn, and the owner's property maintains it's value.

It all works quite well for twelve years.  Then, Kit meets Graham, the Viscount Wharton, who is heir to the earldom of Grableton, at a ball she was not invited to attend.  When they go their separate ways, he doesn't even know her full name, but he is haunted by the memory of the beautiful woman in the green gown.

When Graham accidentally finds Kit at Haven Manor while searching for a friend's sister, he is thrilled to once again have an opportunity to get to know her.  However, even though he now knows where she lives, he has no idea who she really is.  In fact, until recently, he had never even heard of The Governess.  

Their relationship is tested multiple times as he discovers more about her, the children, and the household.  It is highly unlikely that a friendship between the two can continue.

 

My Opinion the Book "A Defense of Honor"

Even though this is a Christian fiction, it challenged me.  The reading was not difficult, but some of the judgemental attitudes of the characters were hard for me to embrace.  I don't really understand being able to totally write-off someone you love and dismiss them completely from your life.  

After reading certain chapters, I would stop and think about them.  Question if I knew someone who had done anything like that.  I wondered if the attitudes and actions were very "real-life".  As I delved into my own memories, I found that I have known individuals who, in fact, walk away from family members and friends.  They seemingly never look back, yet leave broken hearts and pain that can take years to overcome, if ever.

There was another point of opinion I found difficult.  The main character, Kit, was judged harshly for the means she used to ensure illegitimate children were financially supported by their biological fathers.  I'm not sure I see the great "sin" in her methods, even though I certainly see the danger.

Plus, the ending bothered me. I can't go into detail about that without ruining the book for you, but I would love to know how others feel about the plot's resolve.  If you read the book, please come back and tell me what you thought.


 

 




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Friday, September 18, 2020

Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker - Book Reviewed

Otherwise Engaged is a fabulous book!  It is a clean and wholesome romance for those of us who do not like explicit content.  It is also a historical fiction which is one of my favorite genres.  

This is the first book I have read by Joanna Barker, but it will not be the last!   She is a phenomenal writer who includes vivid descriptions of people and surroundings.  I was barely into the first chapter of Otherwise Engaged when I noted how much I loved this author’s captivating descriptions. I could easily envision the people and places in my mind’s eye. 

I also enjoy the touches of humor Barker includes throughout the book.  Several times I laughed out loud at the witty repartee between characters. 

All of these exceptional elements made this a thoroughly enjoyable book which I would highly recommend.   


Synopsis of Otherwise Engaged
England - 1822

Rebecca Rowley has just returned home from Brighton.  She has a big announcement to share with her family.  One that she knows her family will not be excited to hear.  Rebecca is engaged to Edward Bainbridge, whom she just met while in Brighton.  
 
She had heard the Bainbridge name before.  Their fathers had been business partners years before.  The reasons for the dissolution of that partnership had always been a secret that the parents never shared with their children.  Neither Rebecca nor Edward knew why they couldn't be together.  They agreed to find out the secret and, together, try to get their families to leave the past in the past, forgive and forget whatever was necessary, so they could be married with the acceptance and support of both families.  
 
 Otherwise EngagedCheck PriceRebecca had another secret.  She loved to ride her horse, Stella, but she enjoyed riding bareback.  She knew her family would disapprove of her riding in such an unladylike and dangerous way.  So, she would leave the estate with Stella saddled, then remove the saddle when they reached a secluded meadow.  Together, they would run like the wind, free and unencumbered by restraints. 
 
After one of their unconventional rides, Stella heard someone crying for help.  She and Stella immediately responded.  A child was drowning.  Rebecca ran into the water and swam to the girl, whose dress was caught on an underwater tree branch.  Once Rebecca freed her, she pulled her to safety on shore where they were joined by the child's very angry adult half-brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery.  This was definitely not the best way to meet new neighbors, especially since Rebecca was soaking wet and anyone could see that her nearby horse was not wearing a saddle.  This stranger now knew one of her best-kept secrets.  
 
Rebecca soon learned that Nicholas Avery was his sister, Olivia's, guardian.  Her mother had recently died and their father had died a few years before.  Nicholas barely knew Olivia since she was a much younger step-sister.  He had been in the navy all of her life and had only seen her a few times.  He wasn't always sure how to handle Olivia.  As a navy lieutenant, he knew how to make men obey his orders, but was clueless about how to deal with his little sister.  Rebecca stepped in to try to help.
 
Over the next few weeks, Rebecca and Nicholas became friends.  She confided in him and he kept her secrets, plus he enabled her to pursue activities that were otherwise not considered acceptable for a lady in society.   Rebecca's mother thought Nicholas would make the perfect suitor for her, but Nicholas knew Rebecca was otherwise engaged.
 

Conclusion


I immediately adored the free-spirited Miss Rebecca Rowley.  I applauded her desire to take on difficult tasks and live life on her own terms, not by wealthy society rules that stifled women.  I was tickled by Lieutenant Nicholas Avery’s independent little sister, Olivia, who clearly had a mind of her own.  I loved the witty quips of Rebecca’s family, as well as her conversations with Nicholas, and the jocular repartee they shared with each other.   
 
There are some authors who leave me wondering how they do it. How they write so well that they capture my attention.  How they describe their characters with such detail that I feel as if I know them, that they are close friends who have shared every confidence. How they weave a story that captivates me to the point of tears, laughter and even anger. 
 
Joanna Barker has done just that, and more, in “Otherwise Engaged”.  I have no doubt that I will miss Rebecca, Nicholas, and even Olivia in the upcoming weeks.





I received an advance copy of "Otherwise Engaged" to review from NetGalley. I would like to express my appreciation to Netgalley, the author, Joanna Barker, and the publisher, Covenant Communications, for this opportunity.



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