Book reviews and all things literary. My favorite genres are fiction, historical fiction, mystery, psychological thriller, cozies, YA, and Children's. I also read Romance, Christian/Catholic, cookbooks, and non-fiction.
I am currently reading Kristin Harmel’s newest book and I was reminded that I had not finished this novel from last year! This is a wonderful WWII story about a young American woman who marries a French man and stays in Paris during the Nazi occupation. Their lives are intertwined with the Jewish family next door, and Ruby must decide if she will risk all she has in order to do what she knows is right for those she cares about.
Highly recommended! Thank you for my copy to review through Net Galley!
For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II.
When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.
Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.
Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.
When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.
If you know me, you know I like a suspenseful read that keeps you guessing! I will say that I figured out this one pretty early on, but I enjoyed reading it and especially liked how it went back and forth in time from the past to the present day. It’s the perfect summer read for a little excitement!
Some readers may find content of sexual abuse (not graphic) disturbing.
Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!
From Catriona McPherson, the Agatha-Award winning author of Quiet Neighbors, comes a clever, spine-tingling standalone Gothic thriller.
“Go to My Grave is both a classic ‘country house mystery’ and a thriller. Atmospheric, with mind-bending twists, a narrator who may or may not be reliable, and an ending that will take your breath away and leave you astonished.” —Louise Penny
Donna Weaver has put everything she has into restoring The Breakers, an old bed and breakfast on a remote stretch of beach in Galloway. Now it sits waiting—freshly painted, richly furnished, filled with flowers—for the first guests to arrive.
But Donna’s guests, a contentious group of estranged cousins, soon realize that they’ve been here before, years ago. Decades have passed, but that night still haunts them: a sixteenth birthday party that started with peach schnapps and ended with a girl walking into the sea.
Each of them had made a vow of silence: “lock it in a box, stitch my lips, and go to my grave.”
But now someone has broken the pact. Amid the home-baked scones and lavish rooms, someone is playing games, locking boxes, stitching lips. And before the weekend is over, at least one of them will go to their grave.
The very kind Susan Schild sent me an electronic copy of her latest Lakeside Resort novel in order for me to read and review. I just love this series! It centers on a 40-something-year-old woman (Jenny) who is making a fresh start by creating a resort with some property she has inherited. She lives in a trailer there and has two cute dogs and an adorable pet miniature horse. I totally want a mini horse since reading these books!
Here’s the overview:
Ready for more love and adventure after 40?
Forty-three year old Jenny Beckett has just renovated eight rustic guest cabins on beautiful Heron Lake, North Carolina. Brand new to the inn- keeping business, she is struggling to make The Lakeside Resort profitable. Wrangling guests like The Fighting Couple, persnickety attorneys, and the curvy gals from the Fabulous You Fitness Week keep her on her toes. Jenny’s business isn’t her only problem. Her mother and stepfather have just moved in for an extended stay. Startling developments with her possible fiancé, Luke, make Jenny question his commitment to her. An all-gal camping trip in her old Airstream lifts her spirits, but Jenny still has doubts about whether she and Luke can make their love work.
After all the heartache she’s had, can Jenny learn to trust love again and finally find her happily ever after?
This book is sometimes termed “romance” or “women’s fiction” or “clean reading” or even “Christian” – all I can tell you is that it’s a feel-good story that is very relatable if you, like me, found your love when you were older! Plus there’s that cute mini horse!! Lots of every day issues and challenges and an easy flow to the writing make it easy to read. And I always love a happy ending.
Thank you, Ms. Schild, for my copy!! I notice that that place that I no longer link to has kindle copies for only $4.99 right now!
And — You don’t have to read the first in the series to appreciate this one, but do yourself a favor and get it, too!
Came across this post from 2011 and had to share it again since the LIW conference is coming up this month! The only thing that has changed since I wrote this is that now I have met Wendy personally and now that patient boyfriend is her husband. This is still a book that can make me laugh and cry.
For my birthday, my friend got me this book as she knows that when I’m not busy being obsessed with Louisa May Alcott, I’m busy being obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I promptly put this book in a “safe place” and then couldn’t find it for six months. I was so very happy that I found it a few weeks ago and got to read this wonderful and hilarious book, where author Wendy McClue goes searching for all things Laura.
But first, let me backtrack. When I say I loved the Little House books when I was a kid, I mean I reallyLOVED the Little House books when I was a kid (um – as an adult, too). I read them all mulptiple times. I actually owned and wore a sunbonnet on a regular basis. And yes – I made my family call me “Laura” (but only when I was…
Each summer my family likes to decompress from the stress of school and welcome summer by taking a special vacation. This year we cruised from Boston to Bermuda on the Norwegian Gem. We love to cruise and our two favorite lines are Norwegian and Disney.
Our family cabin was beautiful!
the kids room with bunk pulldown (and their own bath)
family area w/kitchen (to the right)
Master Bath our area
We cruised in comfort!
Bermuda itself was amazingly beautiful and warm and relaxing!
The Naval Dockyard
Me and the hubs looking relaxed!
I love Melanie Benjamin’s writing (The Aviator’s Wife, The Swans of Fifth Avenue, The Girls in the Picture – to name a few). She makes historical characters come alive and her attention to historical is spot on. She also never makes anachronistic slips in her writing. Mistress of the Ritz is based on the real person, Blanche Auzello, and her husband Claude who was the manager of the Ritz during the German occupation of Paris in WWII. Blanche is a vibrant and unforgettable character, as daring as she is brave, even as she hides a secret. Apparently, there is not too much known of the personal lives of the real Claude and Blanche, but Ms. Benjamin’s writing never feels campy or too incredible. Instead she does what she does best — slowly peeling away the layers of character so that by the end of the book we feel we know the person intimately.
This was an interesting and great read.
Thank you for my e-copy to review via Net Galley!
A captivating novel based on the story of the extraordinary real-life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II—while playing hostess to the invading Germans at the iconic Hôtel Ritz in Paris—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue.
“A compelling portrait of a marriage and a nation at war from within.”—Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network
Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel’s director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests—and each other.
Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goëring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets and lies. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For in order to survive—and strike a blow against their Nazi “guests”—Blanche and Claude must spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish.
But one secret is shared between Blanche and Claude alone—the secret that, in the end, threatens to imperil both of their lives, and to bring down the legendary Ritz itself.
Based on true events, Mistress of the Ritz is a taut tale of suspense wrapped up in a love story for the ages, the inspiring story of a woman and a man who discover the best in each other amid the turbulence of war.
Advance praise for Mistress of the Ritz
“No one writes of the complexities of women’s lives and loves like Melanie Benjamin. In Mistress of the Ritz, Benjamin brings wartime Paris brilliantly to life. . . . Intense, illuminating, and ultimately inspiring!”—Elizabeth Letts, New York Times bestselling author of Finding Dorothy
Me again — having read this, I wondered about the real Paris Ritz as I’ve never seen it. Here’s a link to google images of it – oo la la!
I will admit that I didn’t know too much about Michelle Obama beyond her being First Lady and her work to promote healthy eating for children. I have great respect for anyone who can pull off being married to the President with grace and style, and I also wondered how stressful it was to raise children in the White House. This book was an amazing insight into Mrs. Obama’s life — her upbringing in Chicago, her thoughts and feelings about Barack when she first met him, her wild ride into the White House, her time as First Lady, and more. I absolutely loved this memoir and found it so interesting! One of my favorite parts was reading about her close knit family while she was growing up. You could just feel the love and connectedness that she shared with her parents, brother, and extended family. I found the Washington years so interesting, especially when she talked about some misconceptions in the press’ portrayal of her (which I remembered). All in all, this was an insightful and positive read, which I actually listened to as I got it with my audible credit. It is read by Michelle Obama herself, which makes it extra special.
This spring I listened to the audiobook of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane via Audible and I loved it! I knew Katherine Howe from her awesome YA novel, Conversion, so I knew I’d enjoy another novel by her. Physick Book is the first in a series about women “witches” and their descendants. It was quite intriguing and well-narrated. And I was thrilled that I could immediately pair it with The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs, since that continued the story. That said, I don’t think you need to read one in order to read the other — “Daughters” stands alone as a novel in its own right.
Here’s the overview:
New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe returns to the world of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane with a bewitching story of a New England history professor who must race against time to free her family from a curse
Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows.
When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a hundreds’-years-long deadly curse.
Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs affectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most.
Now I’m the type of person who LOVES reading about history and Salem and Katherine Howe has a wealth of information and knowledge, and is a gifted writer, so this was a win for me. I actually had the chance to briefly meet Ms. Howe at BEA several years ago and she was quite gracious and lovely and humble.
Thank you, Net Galley and Henry Holt and Co., for my review copy!
Oceans and decades apart, two women are inextricably bound by the secrets between them.
Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage to the son of her father’s business associate would secure her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community, but Naoko has fallen for another man—an American sailor, a gaijin—and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.
America, present day. Tori Kovac, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation—one that calls into question everything she understood about him, her family and herself. Setting out to learn the truth behind the letter, Tori’s journey leads her halfway around the world to a remote seaside village in Japan, where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.
In breathtaking prose and inspired by true stories from a devastating and little-known era in Japanese and American history, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.
Oh – I loved this beautifully written book about a young woman tracing the secret past of her family. I particularly liked the story of the past, with young, headstrong Naoko who is in love with an American. As always, redemption is a favorite theme of mine and this story was compelling, memorable, and touching.
Recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction!