Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Paris Never Leaves You

A story with Paris, a book shop, a publishing house and set in the past and present sounds like a great idea.

Charlotte was a difficult character to know. I didn’t feel as if I knew any more of her story than what we knew at the beginning.

What was her sin? We know people who did whatever they had to do to survive the Nazi regime. They lied, they took food from the enemy, some even informed on their own people. But Charlotte wasn’t one of them. And where this war is concerned, people aren’t so forgiving of those who did what she did.

The entire thing felt disjointed and shallow. Not my cup of tea.

NetGalley/ June 2nd, 2020 by St. Martin’s Griffin

 

 

BLOG TOUR* AN EVERYDAY HERO by LAURA TRENTHAM* RELEASE DAY! EXCERPT!

An Everyday Hero cover image

Always a pleasure to read Laura Trentham’s work. And this was exceptional.

The Story:

Greer Hadley thought by now she would be a big star in Nashville. But after a long struggle with no success, her big moment has passed her by.  At thirty she is back in the town of Madison living with her parents and making bad decisions.

She’s hurt and behaving badly. And one of those lands her in jail and standing before her Uncle Bill in court. Sentenced to community service, Greer is angry and not planning to do anything but pick up trash. But her wise uncle sends her to volunteer at a musical rehab facility for vets and their families.

The problem is Greer has lost her joy in music. So how is she going to help anyone?

Her first two challenges are a 15-year-old whose father did not come home from war. Ally is angry, hurting and acting out. Her mother isn’t handling things very well either.

Emmett was the man in high school. Handsome, athletic and expected to do big things in the military, much like his father and grandfather. But Emmett came home missing more than a limb. He lost himself. Riddled with guilt that shouldn’t be his, he is full of rage and self-loathing. How is Greer supposed to handle that?

By a twist of fate, they all may be able to save each other. Three stubborn and hurting people. Will they get a second chance?

I am so glad I was home alone when I read this. I sobbed. It was painful and uncomfortable and I am so much better for having read this.

A Five Star Read!

Well Done!

NetGalley/February 4th, 2020 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Chapter 1

 

“Disorderly conduct. Public intoxication. Resisting arrest.” Judge Duckett put down the paper, linked his hands, and stared over his reading glasses from his perch behind the bench with a combination of exasperation and fatherly disapproval.

 

Greer Hadley shifted in her sensible heels and smoothed the skirt of the light pink suit she’d borrowed from her mama for the occasion. “I’ll give you the first two, Uncle Bill—” The judge cleared his throat and narrowed his eyes. “Excuse me—Judge Duckett—but I did not resist arrest.”

 

“That you recall.” Deputy Wayne Peeler drawled the words out in the most sarcastic, unprofessional manner possible.

 

She fisted her hands and took a deep breath. The impulse to punch Wayne in the face simmered below the surface like a volcano no longer at rest. But ten o’clock on a Monday morning during her arraignment was not the smartest time to lose her temper, and she’d promised herself not to add to her string of bad decisions.

 

She sweetened her voice and bared her teeth at Wayne in the facsimile of a smile. “I recall plenty, thank you very much.”

 

Truth was she didn’t recall the minute details, but the shock of Wayne’s whispered offer on Saturday night to make her troubles go away for a price had done more to sober her up than the couple of hours spent in lockup waiting for her parents.

 

Dressed in his tan uniform, Wayne adjusted his heavy gun belt so often she imagined he got off every night by rubbing his gun. Giving him a badge had only empowered the part of him desperate for respect and approval. His nickname in high school, “the Weasel,” had been well earned.

 

Unfortunately, she was the unreliable narrator of her life at the moment and no one would trust her recollections. Judge Duckett, her uncle Bill by marriage until he and her aunt Tonya had divorced, rustled papers from his desk.

 

The ethics of her former uncle acting as her judge were questionable, especially considering they had remained close even after he’d remarried, but if nepotism is what it took to make this nightmare go away, then she wouldn’t be the one to lodge a complaint.

 

“A witness claimed you were sitting quietly at the end of the bar until a song played on the jukebox. What was the song?” Her uncle glanced at her over his glasses again, which made him look like a stern teacher.

 

“‘Before He Cheats’ by Carrie Underwood.” She forced her chin up.

 

His mouth opened, closed, and he dropped his gaze back to the paper. A murmur broke out behind her.

 

She would not cry. She wouldn’t. She blinked like her life depended on a tear not falling. Later, in the privacy of her childhood bedroom, she would bury her face in the eyelet-covered pillow and let loose.

 

Beau Williams, her cheating ex-boyfriend, was only partially to blame for her embarrassing behavior. It was a confluence of setbacks that had had her holding down the end of the bar. Hearing Carrie’s revenge anthem had hit a nerve exposed by the shots of Jack. Rage had quickened the effects of the alcohol, and that’s when things got fuzzy.

 

“Yes, well. That is a rather … Let’s move on, shall we? The witness also claims after a heartfelt, albeit slurred speech about the vagaries of relationships and how the moral fiber of the Junior League of Madison was frayed, you fed five dollars into the jukebox and played the same song for over an hour. ‘Crazy’ by Patsy Cline, was it?”

 

Ugh. She didn’t recall how much money she’d fed the machine, but it sounded like something she would do. “Crazy” was one of her favorite songs. A master class in conveying emotion through simple lyrics. She was just sorry she’d wasted five dollars on Beau. He didn’t deserve her money, her heart, or Patsy.

 

“No one can fault my taste in the classics.” Greer tried a smile, but her lips quivered and she pressed them together.

 

Her uncle continued to read from the witness statement, “You proceeded to throw two glasses on the floor, shattering them, and attempted to break a chair across the jukebox.”

 

She swallowed hard. A vague picture of a frustratingly sturdy chair surfaced. The fact the chair remained intact while she was falling apart had sent her anger soaring higher and hotter. A glance from her uncle Bill over the paper had her giving him a nod. She couldn’t deny it.

 

He continued, “A patron called 911. When Deputy Peeler arrived, he pulled you away from the jukebox and forced you outside. That’s where, he claims, you kicked him … well, you know where.”

 

“Wayne dragged me down the stairs—”

 

“Deputy Peeler, if you please.” Wayne sniffed loudly.

 

“As Deputy Peeler escorted me down the stairs, I lost my balance and fell. The heel of my shoe jabbed into his crotch. Sorry.” Greer didn’t make an attempt to mask her not-sorry voice with fake respect.

 

If she accused Wayne of misbehavior on the job, he would deny it and spin it somehow to make her look even more irresponsible. Lord knows, she’d embarrassed her parents enough for a lifetime. Anyway, seeing him rolling on the ground and cupping his crotch had been sweet payback.

 

“I sustained an injury where that spike you call a heel caught me.” Wayne half turned toward her.

 

Instead of playing it smart and soothing his delicate male ego, she batted her eyes at him. “I’m sure that’s left the ladies of Madison real upset.”

 

Wayne took a step toward her. “You are such a—”

 

The gavel knocked against the bench and her uncle stood, looming over them. “I’ve heard enough, Deputy. Sit down.”

 

Wayne turned on his heel and left Greer to face her uncle Bill. This was where she would promise such a thing would never happen again, and he would give her a stern warning before dismissing all charges.

 

“I’m striking the resisting arrest charge. It was an accident.”

 

Greer forced herself not to look over her shoulder and stick her tongue out at Wayne. That left only two misdemeanors, which her uncle could expunge with a swipe of his pen.

 

He settled behind the bench and picked up his pen, his gaze on the papers. “You will pay for any damages.”

 

“I’ve already reimbursed Becky.” Technically, she’d had to use her parents’ money, considering she’d crawled home from Nashville broke. “And apologized profusely. You can be assured there will not be a repeat performance. I’ve learned my lesson.”

 

“Good. As for the other charges…”

 

Her deep breath cleansed a portion of the tension across her shoulders, and a smile born of relief appeared.

 

“You will perform fifty hours of community service.”

 

Her smile froze on her face. It sounded like a lot, but she’d been stupid and immature and deserved punishment. “I understand. Clean roads are important.”

 

“Litter pickup? Goodness no.” He took his glasses off and smiled at her for the first time, but it wasn’t the jolly-uncle smile she was familiar with. “You have talents that would be wasted on the side of the road picking up trash, Ms. Hadley. You will spend your fifty hours working at the Music Tree Foundation.”

 

“I’m not familiar with it.” She swallowed. The mention of music set her stomach roiling. “Highway 45 was in terrible shape on my drive in last week.”

 

“The foundation is a nonprofit music program that focuses on helping military veterans and their families cope with the trauma they’ve endured serving our country. They’re in need of volunteer songwriters and musicians.”

 

“I can’t write or play anymore.” Her dream of hearing one of her songs on the radio had died. Not in a blaze of glory but from a slow, torturous starvation of hope. At thirty, she was resigned to finding a real job and cobbling together a normal life in the place she’d tried to leave behind.

 

“My decision is final. As far as I can determine, your brain—despite this lapse in judgment—is in fine working order. You can and will help these men and women heal through your gift of music. Unless you’d rather spend thirty days in county lockup?”

 

Would her uncle actually throw her in jail? For a month? “No, Your Honor, I don’t want to go to county lockup.”

 

“Good. Once you turn in your log with all your hours signed off by the foundation’s manager, your record with this court will be cleared.” He handed her file to a clerk. “Case closed. Next up is docket number fourteen.”

 

She stood there until he met her gaze with his unflinching one. “Go home, Greer.”

 

Her parents were waiting at the door to the courtroom. While they’d faced the horror of having to bail their only child out of jail stoically, her mother’s embarrassment and disappointment were ripe and all-encompassing. Greer wilted and trailed her parents out of the courthouse.

 

She felt like a child. An incompetent, needy child living in her old bedroom and dependent on her parents for emotional and financial support. She thought she’d hit rock bottom many times over the years, but her situation now had revealed new lows.

 

The silence in the car built into a painful crescendo.

 

“The tiger lilies are lovely this year, don’t you think?” Her mother’s attempt at normalcy was strained but welcome.

 

Her father’s hands squeaked along the steering wheel as an answer.

 

Greer huddled in the backseat and stared out the window, the clumps of flowers on the side of the road an orange blur. As a teenager, she’d chafed at her parents’ protectiveness and had wanted nothing more than to escape to Nashville, where she’d been convinced glory and fame awaited. Now she was home and a disappointment not only to her parents but to herself. Even worse, she hadn’t come up with a plan to turn her life around.

 

“Ira Jenkins is back in the hospital. I thought I’d run by and check on him. Since Sarah passed, he seems a shell of the man he once was.” Her mother turned to face the backseat. “Would you like to come with me? I’m sure he’d be happy to see you.”

 

“He won’t remember me, Mama.”

 

“I’m sure he will.”

 

Greer scrunched farther down in the seat. The last thing she wanted was to make small talk with a man she hadn’t seen in years.

 

“You’ll have to get out eventually and face the music.” Her mother’s smile wavered and threatened to turn into tears. “So to speak.”

 

Her mother was trying, which was more than could be said for Greer at the moment. Her parents deserved a better daughter. Someone successful they could brag on at the Wednesday-night potlucks at church. Not a daughter they had to bail out of jail.

 

“I will. I promise. Just not to see Mr. Jenkins.” Greer leaned forward and squeezed her mother’s hand over the seat, needing to give her something to hope for even if Greer wasn’t sure what that might be.

 

Her father cleared his throat. “You need to think about the future.”

 

He ignored her mother’s whispered, “Not now, Frank.”

 

“A job. Or back to school. We’ll put you through nursing or accounting or something useful.” He shifted to meet her gaze in the rearview mirror. “But you can’t keep on like you’re doing. You need a purpose.”

 

“I’ll start looking for a job tomorrow.” School had never been her wheelhouse. She’d been sure she’d make it in Nashville and had never formulated a backup plan.

 

They pulled up to her childhood home, a two-story brick Colonial on the main street of Madison, Tennessee. Oaks had been planted down a middle island like a line of soldiers at attention. They had grown to shade both sides of the street. It was picturesque and cast the imagination back to a time when ladies lounged on porches with their iced tea and gossiped with their neighbors to escape the heat of summer. Air-conditioning had altered that way of life.

 

At one time, as a kid, she’d known every family up and down the street well enough to knock on their door for help or run through their backyard in epic games of tag. Now, though, the houses were being bought up by people who used Madison to escape the bustle of an expanding Nashville. They built pools in the backyards and fences and weren’t outside except to walk their trendy dogs.

 

The march of progress through Madison added to her melancholy sadness. There was a reason not being able to go home again was a recurring theme in books and songs.

 

“We love you, Greer. You know that, don’t you?” Her mother’s voice was tight with emotion, but she didn’t turn around, thank goodness.

 

Her mother never cried and if Greer witnessed tears, she would burst into sobs herself and embarrass everyone.

 

“I know. Thanks for everything. I’m going to do better. Be better.” It seemed a wholly inadequate promise she wasn’t even sure she could keep, but it was all she could manage. She ducked out of the car and skipped around to a side door of the house that was always unlocked.

 

Her room was both a haven and a mocking reminder of the state of her life. Posters of album covers papered the wall behind her bed, the colors faded from the sun and the edges curling with age.

 

In high school, she’d gravitated toward indie folk artists and away from the commercially driven country-music machine located a few miles south. Joan Baez was flanked by Patty Griffin and Dolly Parton. Even though Dolly veered more country than Greer, no one could deny the legend’s songwriting chops. The guitar Greer had hocked for rent money had borne Dolly’s signature like a talisman. Sometimes Greer ached for her guitar like a missing limb.

 

The flashing glimpse of a woman in a pale pink suit stopped her in the middle of the floor. She turned to face the full-length mirror glued to the back of the closet door. God, it was like glimpsing her mom through a time warp.

 

Greer touched the delicate pearls that had been passed down to her on her eighteenth birthday. They were old-fashioned and traditional and stereotypical of a Southern “good girl.” Not her style. She’d left them in her dresser drawer when she’d left home the day after high school graduation.

 

A tug of recognition of the women who had come before her had her clutching the strand in her hand as if something lost were now found. Was it her circumstances or her age growing her nostalgia like a tree setting roots?

 

She turned around to break the connection with the stranger in the mirror, stripped off the pink suit, and pulled on jeans and a cotton oxford. Her mother would appreciate seeing her in something besides the frayed shorts and grungy concert T-shirts she’d lounged around in the last week. She reached behind her neck for the clasp of the necklace, but her hands stilled, then dropped to her sides, leaving the pearls in place.

 

She stepped out of her room and was enveloped in silence. Her father had returned to his insurance office and her mother must have set off for her hospital visit. The house took on an expectant quality, as if waiting for its true owners to return. She was no longer a fundamental part of this world. Not unwelcome, perhaps, but a loose cog in her parents’ lives.

 

She tiptoed downstairs to the kitchen and made herself a ham sandwich. May was too early for fresh tomatoes, but in another month or two her mother’s garden would make tomato sandwiches an everyday treat.

 

Craving an escape, Greer grabbed a book and settled in her favorite window seat. The rest of the afternoon passed in the same expectant silence. The chime of the doorbell made her start and drop her book. If she pretended no one was home, maybe whoever was on the front porch would go away. The last thing she wanted was to face one of Madison’s gossips masquerading as a do-gooder.

 

The creak of the door opening had her bolting to her feet.

 

“Greer? I know you’re home. Are you decent?” Her uncle Bill’s booming voice echoed in the two-story foyer.

 

She propped her shoulder in the doorway of the sunroom. “Letting yourself in people’s houses is a good way of getting shot around here.”

 

“While your mama would have liked to have shot me during the divorce with her sister, I hope we’ve made our peace.” He closed the door behind him and Greer did what she’d wanted to do in the courtroom—she threw herself at him for a hug.

 

He lifted her off her feet and spun her once around. Her laugh hit her ears like a foreign language. It had been too long since she’d laughed from a place of happiness.

 

“You could have just come out to the house. You didn’t have to get arrested to see me.” Bill let her go, and she led him into the sunroom.

 

“Do you want something to drink?” Greer asked, already turning for the kitchen and the fresh brewed pitcher of sweet iced tea.

 

“No, thanks. Mary has fried chicken ready to go in the pan, so I can’t stay long.”

 

Bill had divorced her aunt Tonya more than a decade earlier and married the choir director of the biggest black church in town. A scandal had ensued not because he’d married a black woman, but because he, a long-standing deacon in the Church of Christ, had converted to a heathen Methodist.

 

“How is Mary?”

 

“Always singing.” He shook his head, an indulgent smile on his face, as they settled into their seats.

 

His comment sprinkled salt on an open wound. She’d begged off going to church with her parents because of the questions she was sure to face and the hymns she couldn’t bring herself to sing. Some of her earlier happiness at seeing him leaked out. “Good for her.”

 

“I came to make sure you weren’t mad at me.”

 

“Why would I be mad?”

 

“I got the impression you expected me to dismiss the charges.” His smile turned into a wince.

 

“I wouldn’t have been upset if you had, but I get it. I was an idiot and deserve punishment.” She picked at the fringe on a decades-old needlepoint pillow and cast him a pleading glance. “I’d rather pick up trash, though, if it’s all the same to you.”

 

“It’s not the same to me.” He crossed his long legs and tapped a finger on the cherry armrest of the antique chair that looked ready to surrender at any moment to his bulk. “Do you remember Amelia Shelton?”

 

“Mary’s daughter? She was a couple of years ahead of me in school. We didn’t hang out or anything, but she seemed nice.” Greer couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen Amelia. Greer’s side of the family had skipped Bill and Mary’s small wedding ceremony; the acrimony between him and her aunt Tonya hadn’t faded at that point.

 

“Amelia is the founder and director of the Music Tree Foundation and is desperate for qualified volunteers. You’ve been playing and singing and writing music since you were knee high. It was meant to be.”

 

“It’s not meant to be. I’ve got to get a real job.”

 

Her uncle made a scoffing sound. “You’re too much like my Mary. You could never leave music behind.”

 

“Music dumped me on the side of the road, gave me the finger, and peeled out.” Greer shook her head and touched the string of pearls, her gaze on his polished black dress shoes. “I’m a mess, Uncle Bill. I have nothing to offer. In fact, I’ll probably make things worse for whatever poor soul I get paired with.”

 

She expected him to argue, but he seemed to be weighing the truth in her words like the scales of justice. His shrug wasn’t in the least reassuring. “Amelia has done something really special with her foundation. It might do you a world of good to focus on someone besides yourself.”

 

“Dang, that’s harsh.”

 

He patted her knee. “I’ve seen all kinds come through my courtroom. The ones who turn it around are the ones who quit feeling sorry for themselves.”

 

“But—”

 

“But nothing. Beau is an asshole. Not the first or the last you’re likely to encounter. Don’t you deserve better than him?”

 

“Yes?” She wished she’d been able to put more conviction into the word.

 

Beau was successful, nice-looking—even though a bald spot was conquering his hair day by day—and respected in their town. They’d known each other since high school, but had only started dating in the last year.

 

He was solid and steady and comfortable. Three things lacking from her life. Catching him cheating with the president of the Junior League had been another seismic shift in her world, leaving her unsure and off balance.

 

“If you can’t believe in yourself yet, then believe me. You are talented, Greer, and you have the ability to help people find their voice.” He slipped a card out of his wallet. When she didn’t reach for it, he waved it in her face until she took it.

 

A tree styled with musical symbols of all different colors decorated one side of the card. She ran her thumb over the raised black ink of Amelia’s name and an address on the outskirts of Nashville. “I don’t have much choice, do I?”

 

“Not if you want to stay in my—and the court’s—good graces. She’s expecting you tomorrow at three.”

 

“No rest for the wicked, huh?” Her smile was born of sarcasm.

 

Bill rose and ruffled her hair like he had when she was little. “Not wicked. Lost.”

 

Greer walked him out, brushed a kiss on his cheek, and murmured her thanks. She leaned on the porch rail and waved until he disappeared down the street.

 

I once was lost, and now I’m found. She’d sung “Amazing Grace” so many times that the lyrics had ceased to have an impact. But, standing on her childhood front porch, having come full circle, a shiver went down her spine, and goose bumps broke over her arms despite the heat that wavered over the pavement like a mirage. Her granny would have said that someone had walked over her grave. Maybe so. Or maybe change was a-coming whether she wanted to face up to it or not.

 

Copyright © 2020 by Laura Trentham

 

An Everyday Hero by Laura Trentham

An Everyday Hero (A Heart of a Hero #2)

Always a pleasure to read Laura Trentham’s work. And this was exceptional.

The Story:

Greer Hadley thought by now she would be a big star in Nashville. But after a long struggle with no success, her big moment has passed her by.  At thirty she is back in the town of Madison living with her parents and making bad decisions.

She’s hurt and behaving badly. And one of those lands her in jail and standing before her Uncle Bill in court. Sentenced to community service, Greer is angry and not planning to do anything but pick up trash. But her wise uncle sends her to volunteer at a musical rehab facility for vets and their families.

The problem is Greer has lost her joy in music. So how is she going to help anyone?

Her first two challenges are a 15-year-old whose father did not come home from war. Ally is angry, hurting and acting out. Her mother isn’t handling things very well either.

Emmett was the man in high school. Handsome, athletic and expected to do big things in the military, much like his father and grandfather. But Emmett came home missing more than a limb. He lost himself. Riddled with guilt that shouldn’t be his, he is full of rage and self-loathing. How is Greer supposed to handle that?

By a twist of fate, they all may be able to save each other. Three stubborn and hurting people. Will they get a second chance?

I am so glad I was home alone when I read this. I sobbed. It was painful and uncomfortable and I am so much better for having read this.

A Five Star Read!

Well Done!

NetGalley/February 4th, 2020 by St. Martin’s Griffin

 

 

THE FOUNDING FORTUNES: How The Wealthy Paid For and Profited From America’s Revolution by Tom Shachtman

The Founding Fortunes: How the Wealthy Paid for and Profited from America's Revolution

In The Founding Fortunes, historian Tom Shachtman reveals the ways in which a dozen notable Revolutionaries deeply affected the finances and birth of the new country while making and losing their fortunes.

In times of war, the rich usually do get richer and the poor are still poor, yet free. Somewhat.  This well-researched telling of the well known and not so well known who put their money into biting the very hand that was feeding them. In order to have control over what they grew and who they sold to this young country and its leaders were far from perfect and often put their own interests above the country.

The British wanted total control and the John Hancocks and George Washingtons of the time wanted the opposite. To control their own taxes, representations, to settle their own disputes and have free trade. We also meet a lot of people who were less well-known but never the less played significant roles in this time period.

Several things struck me reading this book. One, these guys did not have, as a rule, long lives. So what they accomplished as very young men was astounding. They were determined to define their own destiny in this new world. They had left England for a reason and that was the freedom to determine their own fate.

Excellent research and a much-needed history lesson for the times!

NetGalley/ January 21st, 2020 by St. Martin’s Press

 

 

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey *BLOG TOUR*

The Glittering Hour

An unforgettable historical about true love found and lost and the secrets we keep from one another from an award-winning author

Set in London and covering a decade in the life of Selina Lennox, one of the bright young people whose life is one party after another without thought to consequences or propriety, and whose life is turned upside down by a chance meeting with Lawrence Weston. A painter who aspires to be a famous photographer.

Selina has a wild affair with the man but she understands that she must marry for money and not love. And she does. But she has a special gift from Lawrence that will forever change all of their lives.

There was a lot of truth in this beautiful and moving story of love, loss, and redemption. I am not ashamed to admit I cried more than a little. The characters were flawed and real, with a backdrop of one war over and another about to begin.

A truly beautiful story from a talented author!

NetGalley/ December 10th, 2019 by Thomas Dunne Books

Glittering Hour Blog Tour - Facebook v1

Iona Grey

Iona Grey has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in the rural North West of England with her husband and three daughters. She is the award-winning author of Letters to the Lost, and her new book The Glittering Hour is on sale October 17, 2019 (UK) and December 10, 2019 (US)
She tweets @iona_grey and is on Instagram as @ionagrey

THE SHIP of DREAMS: The Sinking of THE TITANIC and the end of the Edwardian Era by Gareth Russell

The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era

Gareth Russell has done his research. Uncovering previously unpublished sources and including photographs. Russell tells the story not just of the sinking of the Titanic, but of six well-known and well-heeled passengers and the role they played in history.
He is a gifted writer and puts the event in context with what was going on in the world. Especially the Americans and the British. With the Edwardian Era ending, war on the horizon and changes in the social norms, technology, politics, Irish Home Rule, the class system, this was a major time of change for the world.
We follow the stories of six of those passengers on the Titanic and how their lives changed.  The description of the sinking, minute by minute, the different ways Americans and the British handled the tragedy. Not everyone was chivalrous or brave. And for some that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
For me personally, this was the best book I have read on the subject. And that was because it was so well researched and written. Myths were shown for what they were. Facts and journals told stories never heard before. The pictures were priceless in creating an image in your head of who these people were and how they behaved.
I would have no problem recommending this book as a definitive look at this point in our history.
Extremely Well Done!
NetGalley/ November 19th, 2019 by Atria Books

“Cilka’s Journey” by Heather Morris, author of The “Tattooist of Auschwitz”

Cilka's Journey

The Tattooist of Auschwitz #2

From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller, The Tattooist of Auschwitz comes the new novel based on an incredible true story of love and resilience.

Her beauty saved her life – and condemned her.

Cilka is mentioned in the first book and now we have facts of her life blended with some fiction to fill in the question of Who was Cilka Klein?

She was only sixteen when she and her mother and sisters were taken. In 1942, she arrives at Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. Already a beautiful young woman, her looks do not go unnoticed by the Commandant, Schwarzhuber, who separates her from the other women. Her job is to look after the sick and dying women who will be taken to the gas chamber. She knows these women hate her. She hates herself. In this place, in order to survive, you had to use whatever power you had. And hers was her beauty and ability to compartmentalize everything she had to do.

When the camp is liberated Cilka is sentenced to prison for sleeping with the enemy. Literally. This did not sit well with me. How unfair was that? At 16 you do what you need to do to stay alive. After all of the suffering and now she is being sent to Siberia for 15 years.

Once there, a young, female doctor takes her under her as an apprentice nurse. Cilka is good at this work and forms bonds with the doctor and the nurses. Using her privileged position to help the other women in her hut. She is especially taken with one man in the ward. But will she ever be free? Will she ever know the love she deserves?

This story is part true, part fictional. But the facts are there. It was difficult to read and the images in my head will always be there. The brutality of the enemy along with the equal brutality of fellow prisoners. It was heartbreaking and beautifully written and I will never forget Cilka’s Journey!

NetGalley/ October 1st, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

 

 

 

 

THE GOOD COP by PETER STEINER

The Good Cop

In a world of growing nationalism, a quiet few are determined to resist. This gripping historical mystery explores the darkest days of the early 20th century. 

Peter Steiner has given us a work of Historical Fiction with a lot of truth in the mix.

WWI has been lost. Germany is in chaos and the new government isn’t anything to brag about. Everyone is in some way corrupted. Detective Willi Geismeier has a front-row seat to the rise of Adolph Hitler.

You have Fascism and Communism and violence everywhere. This is a country that needs a leader desperately. Unfortunately, that leader comes in the shape of Adolph Hitler. Everything is politicized and investigations of crimes become impossible.

We also have the viewpoints of Maximillian and his wife, Sophie, a reporter. Together they will fight to stay alive, knowing that things are not going to end well for many.

This was a historical fiction story with a whole lot of truth behind it. It moved fast and I really enjoyed seeing Munich in the 1920s through the eyes of those who were there. Good plot, good characters, and a fast pace. Well Done!

NetGalley Reviews/ Severn House  September 3rd, 2019

 

 

The BeeKeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

The unforgettable love story of a mother blinded by loss and her husband who insists on their survival as they undertake the Syrian refugee trail to Europe.

A beautiful and haunting tale of Syria and the families who lost so much and fought so hard to stay in their home country, only to be driven out by war.

This is the story of Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife, Afra, who is an artist. They live in the city of Aleppo and their life is a good one. Until war comes. In a bomb strike their lives change forever. They change forever. Afra has seen such horrors, she is now blind. But with the aid of Nuri’s cousin, they escape. 

It is a long and hard journey they must now go on. Now they are refugees. Looked down on and taken advantage of. Nuri is suffering from PTSD and only wants to find a place to raise his bees and be safe. They can never go back. All they have is memories of a home that will never be theirs again.

This is a story of human strength and compassion. A real story of the horrors of war in
Syria and the real people who are dying and suffering for a reason we don’t really understand. Nuri and Afra may never see Syria again, but can they find their way back to each other?

This is a book you need to read. It’s not pretty and it’s very sad, but it’s honest and I cried and was very grateful to have read it.

Very Well Done!

NetGalley/ August 27th, 2019 by Ballantine Books

 

The Undertaker’s Assistant by Amanda Skenandore

The Undertaker's Assistant

“The dead can’t hurt you. Only the living can.” 

Effie Jones, once a slave, escaped a place she can not even remember as a child.
Found outside of a Union camp and taken in as a ward for an army surgeon. The Captain and his wife taught her to read and write, also how to forget her past and how to embalm bodies.

Effie’s feelings are buried so deep she appears cold and unfeeling. Leaving Indiana and returning to the last place she remembers, New Orleans, she quickly finds employment in the Re-Construction Era, 11 years after the Civil War, with an undertaker who needs her. He is a tortured drunk and Effie does all the work.

Effie maintains a distance from the other ladies at the boarding house. Not interested in anything but work and saving money. A chance meeting with a creole young lady has her learning to be comfortable with society and going to political meetings.

Things around the South are very volatile between the races and not a lot has changed for the better. After a confrontation, Effie begins to have flashes of painful memories of a holding pen and other slaves. She decides to find out who she is and where she came from.

This was a hard book to read. Not a part of our past I am proud of but these stories need to be told. I can’t imagine not knowing something as basic as your own last name. The trials and heartbreak Effie went through only made her stronger.

An exceptionally well-told tale!

NetGalley/July 30th, 2019 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

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