THE WEDDING DRESS SEWING CIRCLE by JENNIFER RYAN

Three plucky women lift the spirits of home-front brides in wartime Britain, where clothes rationing leaves little opportunity for pomp or celebration–even at weddings–in this heartwarming novel based on true events, from the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.

Cressida Westcott fled her family manor many years ago. She is now a very successful designer in London and runs her design house. Until the Blitz. Bombs drop on the poor and wealthy the same way. Like so many people, she now has no place to go. Swallowing her pride she calls her niece and nephew who still live at the manor and is told she is more than welcome.

Returning with only what she had on when the bombs fell. Her niece, Violet, is thrilled her aunt has come to stay. Violet is young and about as shallow as a saucer on the surface. Her father taught her from birth that it is her job to marry well and have children.

Cressida isn’t the only thing going to the manor. So is Violet’s conscription letter. She is furious. How in the world can she find a titled husband wearing a uniform and scrubbing toilets?

Meanwhile, in the village, the vicar’s daughter, Grace, is hoping her sewing circle can help mend her mother’s wedding gown so that she can wear it at her own wedding to a much older and staid man of the cloth.

While trying to be useful Cressida and Violet both volunteer at the sewing circle and much to everyone’s surprise it’s a great fit. Cressida has connections and Grace is a worthy protege for her. As she helps them, they also help her. What woman doesn’t want a special white dress for her wedding? The ladies soon hatch a plan to get as many gowns as they can and re-make them so the war brides all feel special on their day.

Having Cressida down in the village encourages her nephew, Hugh, to come as well. And he finds he may still have feelings for the little girl who was his best friend for so long.

Oh, the power of women having to make do. That is when things get interesting. And this book was full of women getting the job done. And figuring out who they are in this new world.

Such a beautiful concept and telling of a story that made me laugh and cry!

NetGalley/: May 31st, 2022 by Ballantine Books

WHO CAN HOLD THE SEA by JAMES D.HORNFISCHER

THE U.S.NAVY IN THE COLD WAR 1945-1960

A close-up, action-filled narrative about the crucial role the U.S. Navy played in the early years of the Cold War, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Fleet at Flood Tide

This remarkable work tells of the Navy in the Cold War. There is history, and adventure, on and under the water.

In 1945, at the end of WWII, the Navy is sending its soldiers home and decommissions most of its warships. And then, Stalin, a former ally, begins to make moves in Europe leading Churchill, worried about the Communists, to declare an iron curtain and the U.S. set out to establish military bases all over the world.

The Navy played a crucial role in that time of increasing tensions. Things were happening and they were at the forefront. The A-bomb tests, the science behind waging war and sonar, and the underwater battles with the submarine.

So much research went into this book. All of his books. He passed away writing this book. If you are interested in Naval History, this is the book for you!

NetGalley/ May 3rd, 2022 by Bantam

DAMN LUCKY BY KEVIN MAURER

Damn Lucky: One Man's Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History

One Man’s Courage During The Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History

The incredible true story of John “Lucky” Luckadoo, who survived 25 missions as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot in WWII.

John “Lucky” Luckadoo truly was damn lucky. He and his best friend enlisted together. With John having a college degree, he was put into a bomber.

This guy flew 25 missions in combat. This was a pretty amazing stat considering what the odds were of him coming home alive.

The story is written from his firsthand accounts by Maurer. The actions scenes were incredible and the bravery of this generation is inspiring.

There was a lot of nail biting going on in this read. Comparing the planes we have now to what they had then, I’m surprised anyone signed up for that job and came home.

Heartbreaking, inspirational and a darn good read!

NetGalley/ April 19th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

Sister Stardust by JANE GREEN

Sister Stardust

Jane Green reimagines the life of troubled icon Talitha Getty in this transporting story from a forgotten chapter of the Swinging ’60s 

A reimagining of Talita and Paul Getty living the rich and exciting life that small- town Claire can only dream about. But she has dreams and heads for London.

After some fortuitous meetings, she finds herself invited to stay at their home in Morocco. A place teeming with hedonistic pleasures and famous people.She quickly adapts to this world of art, music , drugs and partner -swapping. And socialite, Talitha Getty takes her under her wing and shows her a different side to the glamour. While Claire, at first so charmed by these odd people, finds herself not sure at all she would want this permanantly.

The book is told by Clair, after she and her daughter find boxes and boxes of beautiful things from Morocco, along with a note from Talitha asking her to return. And so begins a mother telling her daughter the fabulous adventures she had as well as the heartbreak.

What a fascinating look at this period in time. When musicians were gods and groupies were everywhere. Claire just wanted a glimpse of the Stones but she got way more than she bargained for. While she loved Morocco, she could never justify the things that happened there that change and ruined so many lives.

I absolutely loved this book. I learned so much about that time period and the famous and infamous people of that time. This was a well told and much loved book.

I enjoyed it immensely.

NetGalley/April 5th, 2022 by Hanover Square Press


  

BLACKOUT by SIMON SCARROW

Blackout

Berlin, December 1939

So much tension in this one! The Nazis are quickly taking over and everyone is a little paranoid and terrified. There are shortages, blackouts, and murders.

The wife of one of the Nazi lawyers is found murdered. Brutally so. CI Horst Schenke is following the law and doing his investigation. He is already suspicious in the eyes of his superiors for not registering for the Nazi party.

When another body comes up he thinks they may be looking at something truly evil. But who is to be trusted? No one.

This was a tense read. Not only are the Nazis making life impossible for everyone in the country, but they fight among themselves just as cruelly. It was amazing to see someone stand up to them and get some sort of justice.

NetGalley/ March 29, 2022, Kensington Publishers

THE TSARINA’S DAUGHTER by ELLEN ALPSTEN

The Tsarina's Daughter

Ellen Alpsten’s stunning new novel, The Tsarina’s Daughter, is the dramatic story of Elizabeth, daughter of Catherine I and Peter the Great, who ruled Russia during an extraordinary life marked by love, danger, passion and scandal.

I love Historical Fiction. This book took a true story and added in what could have been said or happen.

This is the story of the Romanovs. Peter and Catherine, herself not his first wife, but a former serf. The lovely Tsarevna Elizabeth and her sister are the only children left of their union. And they were born before the couple wed, so yes they are illegitimate. The only son was executed for treason and his infant son banished.

While she is adored and has an embarrassment of riches, nothing actually belongs to her. Everything can change without notice. And when Peter dies, Catherine rules. But not for long and she isn’t very good at it and trusts people who would see them all dead.

When Catherine dies, Elizabeth is pretty much banished and penniless. But she does have the support and loyalty of the soldiers and people of Russia. When the crown is turned over to an infant, Elizabeth will find herself out in the cold and in mortal danger. Elizabeth has a decision to make. Remove an innocent child and rule herself or be executed for treason. And while she abhors bloodshed, she will be fine with banishing you to Siberia.

I love Elizabeth. She went from spoiled and carefree to a warrior. There was so much opulence and overindulgence here it was embarrassing. The Imperial Court was full of snakes in waiting. Everyone looking to move up a notch and not caring how they did it. Elizabeth was such a courageous and sly heroine and I adored her and this book!

NetGalley/March 15th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Griffin

AFTER the ROMANOVS by HELEN RAPPAPORT

 

After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War

After the Romanovs, the story of the Russian aristocrats, artists, and intellectuals who sought freedom and refuge in the City of Light.

Ms. Rappaport has given us a well-researched story of Paris before and after the Russian Revolution and what led to the downfall of the Romanov dynasty.

Paris has always been a gathering place for culture. The food, the fashion, the ex-pats, including the Russian aristocracy. The Russians brought money and spent it almost obscenely. And those descriptions go a long way to explaining the Bolshevik’s rage and brutal acts. Those who escaped were those who had either thought ahead or the ones who ran with only what they could carry.

In Paris, these same former royals were doing menial labor along with their families. Paris welcomed everyone. Artists, writers, and even spies. Some did very well and some did very poorly.

The research in this book is spot on. I have always had a fascination with the Romanovs and this book went a long way in explaining the politics and the Romanovs.

Very Well Done!

NetGalley/ March 8th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

CIRCUS OF WONDERS by Elizabeth Macneal

Circus of Wonders

Macneal takes us back to Victorian England. It is 1866 and everyone is a bit manic over the circus life. The freaks, the oddities, the animal tamers, and of course those human wonders.

Jasper Jupiter has a plan for his Circus of Wonders. To be the biggest circus anywhere. He believes it is his destiny and he will do anything to keep it. As they set up their tents in small poor towns, people come to gawk and take advantage.

In one of those towns lives Nell. Nell has vitiligo, a disease no one knew back then. It causes the loss of skin color in patches. She is made fun of, shunned, and then the worst of betrayals. Her father sells her to Jupiter. Calling her the “leopard girl”. Nell is crushed. Surely her brother will come for her. But as time goes by and she bonds with the performers, she isn’t so sad anymore.

Nell is transformed into a human wonder. She is the Queen of the Moon and Stars. Flying high over the crowds and becoming famous. A little too famous for Jasper.

Jasper and his brother Toby have a co-dependent relationship that has something to do with what happened during the war. Jasper holds it over Toby’s head until the truth comes out and everyone runs.

I am not embarrassed to say I cried so hard in this book. Nell is a courageous and determined character. She goes from wanting to fade into the background to knowing her worth and following her own star.

Macneal is a genius at pulling on our heartstrings as well as giving us looks at Victorian England in all of its ugliness at the time.

Well Done!

NetGalley/ February 1st, 2022 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

The CHURCHILL SISTERS by RACHEL TRETHEWEY

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A lot has been written about Winston Churchill. And there are books about the girls and their mother. This book pulls all of them together, using unpublished letters from archives and numerous other sources, the author gives us a complete picture of the private lives of the three girls who lived to adulthood. Diana, serious and fragile, Sarah, a free-spirit, a glamorous, ambitious woman who wanted a career in acting, and Mary, the baby who stayed the course. Their brother, Randolph, did not live up to anyone’s expectations however.

The girls were smart and very different from each other. Their life goals were different as well. With Winston as their father, they also had a tremendous sense of duty to the country. Each found some way to be a part of the war efforts. They adored their father and were a little less enamored of their mother, who was often cold and distant.

They were Churchills and everything they did was news. While Diana and Mary were careful to be seen as proper ladies, Sarah, could have cared less. She lived her life to the fullest.

It was most interesting to see their relationship with their father. Clementine was gone a lot. But to read of the great man himself playing hide and seek in the bushes with his girls was a side I hadn’t seen.

How difficult it must have been to live in a fishbowl and have your every movement scrutinized. To be judged on who your father is rather than who you are.

I thoroughly enjoyed this look at the sisters. And this book was thoroughly researched, listing every source. Beautifully written.

NetGalley/ December 07, 2021 St. Martin’s Press

AMERICAN KLEPTOCRACY by CASEY MICHEL

American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World's Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History

How the U.S. Created the WORLD’S GREATEST MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME in HISTORY

Casey Michel shows us the world of illicit offshore money schemes.

American Kleptocracy looks at how the United States morphed into the center of global money offshoring.

Our country has been at the center of this illicit game for far too long. While our leaders decry corrupt regimes around the world, we are happy to take their money.

If you want to start your own shell company go to Delaware. Or Nevada. Delaware will let literally anyone set up a virtual shop. Having managed property for a long time, most of my owner’s companies are LLCs in Delaware. A state they don’t live in. Soviet Oligarchs, African despots, the worst of the worst store their money here while their own people starve. And when Trump came along it was a marriage made in greed. Restrictions were released. Laws made it easier to launder and hide money.

Do we really know how much of our own country is owned by outsiders? Shocking.

This was an excellent book that taught me a few new things. The author has a way of breaking down a rather large topic and just saying, “Hey, this is what is going on!”. He also talks about how our new President could proceed.

Very well researched and written, this was a great read.

NetGalley/November 16th, 2021, St. Martin’s Press