Castle Shade by Laurie R. King

I just LOVE the Mary Russell books by Laurie R. King! Mary Russell is so intelligent and clever, along with being quite plucky, and she gives her husband Sherlock Holmes a run for his money in terms of intellect. The mysteries are always well-plotted but I delight in these books primarily due to the unique and wonderful voice of Mary Russell. If you enjoy women sleuths and/or Sherlock Holmes, do check this series out! Each one is a stand-alone.

I should add that I think Laurie R. King captures Sherlock Holmes better than any other interpreter outside of Sir C-D himself!

Here’s the overview:

A queen, a castle, a dark and ageless threat—all await Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in this chilling new adventure.

The queen is Marie of Roumania: the doubly royal granddaughter of Victoria, Empress of the British Empire, and Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A famous beauty who was married at seventeen into Roumania’s young dynasty, Marie had beguiled the Paris Peace Conference into returning her adopted country’s long-lost provinces, singlehandedly transforming Roumania from a backwater into a force.

The castle is Bran: a tall, quirky, ancient structure perched on high rocks overlooking the border between Roumania and its newly regained territory of Transylvania. The castle was a gift to Queen Marie, a thank-you from her people, and she loves it as she loves her own children.

The threat is . . . well, that is less clear. Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may be only accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep.

When Queen Marie calls, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are as dubious as they are reluctant. But a young girl is involved, and a beautiful queen. Surely it won’t take long to shine light on this unlikely case of what would seem to be strigoi?

Or, as they are known in the West . . . vampires.

Thanks for my review copy via Net Galley!

Bookouture Blog Tour for A Light in the Window by Marion Kummerow

Today I’m part of the Bookouture Blog Tour for Marion Kummerow’s latest novel: A Light in the Window. I recently read Marion’s earlier novel, Not Without My Sister, which is also historical fiction.

This story was fast-paced and at times suspenseful, but I will admit that I liked Marion’s other novel better (not sure exactly why, but I just did. I think I like “sister stories”). I found the info in the afterword really interesting about Ms. Kummerow’s research, etc. This story had suspense, romance, and adventure, all set in Paris in WWII.

Here’s the overview:

Book Description:
Margarete stumbles out of the bombed-out house, the dust settling around her like snow. Mistaking her for the dead officer’s daughter, a guard rushes over to gently ask her if she is all right and whether there’s anything he can do to help her. She glances down at where the hated yellow star had once been, and with barely a pause, she replies “Yes”.

Berlin, 1941: Margarete Rosenbaum is working as a housemaid for a senior Nazi officer when his house is bombed, leaving her the only survivor. But when she’s mistaken for his daughter in the aftermath of the blast, Margarete knows she can make a bid for freedom…

Issued with temporary papers—and with the freedom of not being seen as Jewish—a few hours are all she needs to escape to relative safety. That is, until her former employer’s son, SS officer Wilhelm Huber, tracks her down.

But strangely he doesn’t reveal her true identity right away. Instead he insists she comes and lives with him in Paris, and seems determined to keep her hidden. His only condition: she must continue to pretend to be his sister. Because whoever would suspect a Nazi girl of secretly being a Jew?

His plan seems impossible, and Margarete is terrified they might be found out, not to mention worried about what Wilhelm might want in return. But as the Nazis start rounding up Jews in Paris and the Résistance steps up its activities, putting everyone who opposes the regime in peril, she realizes staying hidden in plain sight may be her only chance of survival…

Can Margarete trust a Nazi officer with the only things she has left though… her safety, her life, even her heart?

A totally heartbreaking and unputdownable story about how far someone would go to save one life, that fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzThe Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See will adore.

Thank you for my e-galley and for making me part of the tour!

Author Bio:

Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany, before she set out to “discover the world” and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich where she’s now living with her family.

Inspired by the true story about her grandparents, who belonged to the German resistance and fought against the Nazi regime, she started writing historical fiction, set during World War II. Her books are filled with raw emotions, fierce loyalty and resilience. She loves to put her characters through the mangle, making them reach deep within to find the strength to face moral dilemma, take difficult decisions or fight for what is right. And she never forgets to include humor and undying love in her books, because ultimately love is what makes the world go round.

The Therapist by B.A. Paris

Just out this week is the latest from B.A. Pairs – a suspenseful thriller that kept me up all night reading so that I can finish it in one sitting!

Here’s the overview:

Description

The multimillion-copy New York Times bestselling author B.A. Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in The Therapista powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

I have to say that I think I’ve read all her novels and have liked some more than others (loved Behind Closed Doors!). I liked this one a lot!

Let me know what you think…and thanks to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for my review copy!

All Things that Deserve to Perish by Dana Mack

The good folks at Books Forward sent me a copy of this historical fiction novel, centering on a young woman coming of age in Germany at the turn of the century. This is a time period and an area of Europe that I’m not overly familiar with, so I found this book so interesting. The social mores and rules, the role of women, the views on religion (especially Judaism), were all new ground for me. Lisi’s story is interesting, but also sad in some ways. Mack’s writing is flowing and clearly well-researched.

Thank you for sending me a review e-copy!

Here’s the overview:

The year is 1896, and Elisabeth (‘Lisi’) von Schwabacher, the gifted daughter of a Jewish banker, returns home to Berlin from three years of piano study in Vienna. Though her thoughts are far from matrimony, she is pursued by two noblemen impressed as much by her stunning wealth as by her prodigious intellect and musical talent. Awakened to sudden improvements in the opportunities open to women, Lisi balks at her mother’s expectation that she will contract a brilliant marriage and settle down to a life as a wife and mother. In a bid to emancipate herself once and for all from that unwelcome fate, she resolves to have an affair with one of her aristocratic suitors — an escapade that, given her rigid social milieu, has tragic consequences.All Things That Deserve to Perish is a novel that penetrates the constrained condition of women in Wilhelmine Germany, as well as the particular social challenges faced by German Jews, who suffered invidious discrimination long before Hitler’s seizure of power. It is also a compassionate rumination on the distractions of sexual love, and the unbearable strains of a life devoted to art.

About the Author:

Dana is the author of two non-fiction books: The Assault on Parenthood: How Our Culture Undermines the Family (Simon & Schuster; Encounter Paperbacks) and The Book of Marriage: The Wisest Answers to the Toughest Questions (Eerdmans). An historian, journalist and musician, Ms. Mack’s articles on music, history, culture, family issues, and education have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Commentary Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the New Criterion, the Washington Post, USA Today, and many other publications. All Things That Deserve To Perish is her first novel.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

I enjoy Sally Hepworth’s writing, so I was excited to get her latest novel The Good Sister from Net Galley. I enjoyed the story, which has some twists to it. To be honest, even if it wasn’t a mystery and just a straightforward story, I would have enjoyed it as I loved the character of Fern – a neurodiverse librarian who meets a young man as unique as she is and falls in love. For me, Fern’s story was enough for an entire novel – suspense wasn’t needed!

This was yet another book that I couldn’t put down and read straight through!

Here’s the overview:

Description

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A stunningly clever thriller made doubly suspenseful by not one, but two unreliable narrators.” 
 People

Sally Hepworth, the author of The Mother-In-Law delivers a knock-out of a novel about the lies that bind two sisters in The Good Sister.


There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

Bookouture Blog Tour for THE SHUT AWAY SISTERS by Suzanne Goldring

Today I’m part of the tour for this WWI historical fiction story about two sisters who live out their lives quietly in the house where they were born. They seem fairly quiet and ordinary, but, through diaries we come to know them and their lives, hopes, and lost dreams.

I really liked this one, though it was sad. This story is told in two parts: current day and 1917-22. I much preferred the story and characters from the past. I think they reminded me a bit of a relative I had that would have been the same age who also lived her life with her sibling in the house where she grew up. Who knows what stories she left behind that we have yet to uncover?

Thank you for my copy and for making me part of the tour! I always enjoy books from Bookouture!

Book Description:
Two ordinary sisters. A long and brutal war. A heroic sacrifice…

London, 1915. As German bombs rain down on the East End of London and hungry children queue for rations in the blistering cold, fifteen-year-old Florrie is forced to grow up fast. With her father fighting in the muddy trenches, Florrie turns to her older sister Edith for comfort. But the war has changed Edith. She has grown quiet, with dark shadows under her eyes, and has started leaving the house at night in secret. When Florrie follows her sister through the dark and winding streets of London, she is shocked by what she discovers. But she knows she must keep her sister’s secret for the sake of their family, even if she herself must pay the ultimate price…

Years later Kate, running from her broken relationship, is sorting through her dead aunt Florrie’s house, which she shared with her sister Edith. As she sits on the threadbare carpets, looking at photos of Florrie during the war, she notices the change in her aunt – from carefree young girl with a hopeful smile to a hollow-cheeked young woman, with dark sad eyes.

Determined to put her family’s ghosts to rest, Kate must unearth the secret past of her two aunts. Why is there a hidden locked room in the little house they shared? What is the story behind the abandoned wedding dress wrapped in tissue and tied up with a ribbon? And when Kate discovers the tragic secrets that have bound her family together, will she ever be able to move on?

A heartbreaking historical novel of war, tragedy and the sacrifices we make for those we love. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Kristin Hannah and Victoria Hislop will be hooked by The Shut-Away Sisters.

Author Bio:
Following an eventful career as a public relations consultant, specialising in business and travel, Suzanne Goldring turned to writing the kind of novels she likes to read, about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Whether she is working in her thatched cottage in Hampshire or her seaside home in North Cornwall, Suzanne finds inspiration in the secrets hidden by everyday life.

https://suzannegoldring.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/suzannegoldringauthor
https://twitter.com/suzannegoldring

Buy Links: (not associated with BBNB)

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For My Ears: Twice a Daughter – A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging by Julie McGue

The good people of Books Forward recently sent me an audiobook of Julie McGue’s memoir chronicling her search for her biological parents.

Here’s the overview:

Michigan City, IN – Julie Ryan McGue is adopted. And she is also a twin. But because their adoption was closed, she and her sister lack both a health history and the names of their birth parents — which becomes pertinent for Julie when, at 48 years old, she finds herself facing several serious health issues. McGue’s poignant and hopeful debut memoir, “Twice a Daughter,” (May 11, 2021, She Writes Press) chronicles the complex search for her uncharted family history.

To launch the probe into her closed adoption, McGue first needs the support of her sister. The twins talk things over and make a pact: McGue will approach their adoptive parents for the adoption paperwork and investigate search options, and the sisters will split the costs involved in locating their birth relatives. But their adoptive parents aren’t happy that their daughters want to locate their birth parents — and that is only the first of many obstacles Julie will come up against as she digs into her background.

The quest for her birth relatives spans five years and involves a search agency, a private investigator, a confidential intermediary, a judge, an adoption agency, a social worker and a genealogist. 

By journey’s end, what began as a simple desire for a family medical history has evolved into a complicated quest — one that unearths secrets, lies and family members that are literally right next door.

McGue earnestly writes about discovering who you are and where you come from, all while trying to make sense of it all. In sharing her unconventional journey through life, which involves new family, exploration and acceptance, this heavy-hearted history considers personal identity and all the complicated and captivating moments that encapsulate one’s life.

Me again!! This was an interesting one, with even a touch of “truth is stranger than fiction” to it. However, what I found so interesting in this book was the author’s drive to find her biological parents. She was an adult who was raised in a family where she was loved. She had a wonderful husband and family and an active life. But her sense of identity was tightly wound up in the fact that she was adopted at birth and even though she started the search for health reasons, she was not willing to stop even after she received medical histories, etc. It was important for her to find her actual birth parents and any possible half siblings; and she wasn’t going to stop before she did.

Also interesting to me was that, while her twin was invested in the process, this seemed to be truly Julie’s journey. It made me ponder the concept of identity and how we come to define who we are and those things that shape us. In one poignant moment she discovers through DNA testing that she is not Irish (at all) and yet for her whole life she has identified as Irish as her adoptive family was a large Irish family and she had physical features that appeared “Irish”. It does make one wonder how we come to develop who we are and what has the power to add or take away from that knowledge.

An interesting read! Thank you for sending me the audiobook, which was engaging during my drives!

Here’s some background on Julie:

JULIE RYAN McGUE is an author, a domestic adoptee and an identical twin. She writes extensively about finding out who you are, where you belong and making sense of it.

Julie’s debut memoir “Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging” (She Writes Press) comes out in May 2021. It’s the story of her five-year search for birth relatives. Her weekly blogs That Girl, This Life and her monthly column at The Beacher focus on identity, family and life’s quirky moments. 

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Julie received a BA from Indiana University in psychology. She earned a MM in Marketing from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business, Northwestern University. She has served multiple terms on the Board of the Midwest Adoption Center and is an active member of the American Adoption Congress.

Married for over 35 years, Julie and her husband split their time between Northwest Indiana and Sarasota, Florida. She’s the mother of four adult children and has three grandsons. If she’s not at her computer, she’s on the tennis court or out exploring with her Nikon. Julie is currently working on a collection of personal essays. For more information, visit her website, juliemcgueauthor.com

The Hollywood Spy – A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal

If you know me, you know I love the WWII era historical mystery series of Maggie Hope. Maggie is a super sharp code breaker and spy, working for the Allies during WWII. This installment took Maggie to Los Angeles to reunite and help an old flame solve a murder. Along the way, she faces prejudice and racism directed towards her friends and colleagues, all in the shadow of the golden days of Hollywood.

I love anything to do with the glory days of Hollywood, and I love reading about what life was like in those days. I had not known about the “Nazi groups” in the LA area during the war, nor the prevalence of the Klan (though I did know that the Klan was in Napa – my hometown – in the first part of the 20th century). I knew that Susan must have meticulously researched this, and of course she did. Interesting — and disturbing!

I love this series, and you will, too. Each book can be a stand alone but I like reading them in order. That said, each story is unique and you will never feel like it’s a “formula”.

Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!

Description

Maggie Hope is off to California to solve a crime that hits too close to home—and confront the very evil she thought she had left behind in Europe—as theacclaimed World War II mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal continues.

“A swift, vibrant novel that peels back the asbestos curtain on the complex history of Los Angeles, home to heroes and villains.”—Steph Cha, author of Your House Will Pay

Los Angeles, 1943. As the Allies beat back the Nazis in the Mediterranean and the United States military slowly closes in on Tokyo, Walt Disney cranks out wartime propaganda and the Cocoanut Grove is alive with jazz and swing every night. But behind this sunny façade lies a darker reality. Somewhere in the lush foothills of Hollywood, a woman floats lifeless in the pool of one of California’s trendiest hotels.

When American-born secret agent and British spy Maggie Hope learns that this woman was engaged to her former fiancée, John Sterling, and that he suspects her death was no accident, intuition tells her he’s right. Leaving London under siege is a lot to ask. But John was once the love of Maggie’s life . . . and she won’t say no.

Maggie struggles with seeing her lost love again, but what’s more shocking is that her own country is as divided and convulsed with hatred as Europe. The Zoot Suit Riots loom large in Los Angeles, and the Ku Klux Klan casts a long shadow everywhere. But there is little time to dwell on memories once she starts digging into the case. As she traces a web of deception from the infamous Garden of Allah to the iconic Carthay Circle Theater, she discovers things aren’t always the way things appear in the movies—and the political situation in America is more complicated, and dangerous, than the newsreels would have them all believe.

Harlequin Blog Tour for Susan Mallery’s THE STEP SISTERS

Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Susan Mallery’s latest novel: The Step Sisters. This was a great summer read, focusing on three step sisters who are not close (at all!) and who find that their lives’ circumstances bring them together. Daisy is dealing with a troubled marriage, Sage is going through a divorce, and Cassidy is recovering from an accident. Their time together is emotional, at times funny and at times heart-breaking.

Happy to be part of the tour and thank you for my Net Galley copy!

Here’s the scoop:

Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives―family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur.

Visit her at SusanMallery.com.

Harlequin Summer Historical Fiction Blog Tour: Kelly Rimmer’s The Warsaw Orphan

If you know me, you know I love historical fiction! WWII is my favorite, so I was excited to get this engaging and captivating story and be part of this tour. I’ve read one of Kelly Rimmer’s other novels, Truths I Never Told You, so I know that I would enjoy it! This story is based in fact and I had heard of Irena Sendler, but this story just sucked me in. The details were amazingly vivid and the story stayed with me long after I was done reading. I will say that some of it was hard to read, but I liked how the ending felt so hopeful.

Thank you for having me as part of the tour and for my e-galley!

Here’s the scoop:

The Warsaw Orphan : A WWII Novel
Kelly Rimmer
On Sale Date: June 1, 2021
9781525895999
Trade Paperback
$17.99 USD
Fiction / Historical / World War II
416 pages


ABOUT THE BOOK:

With the thrilling pace and historical drama of Pam Jenoff and Kristin Hannah, New York Times
bestselling author Kelly Rimmer’s newest novel is an epic WWII saga and love story, based on
the real-life efforts of two young people taking extraordinary risks to save their countrymen, as
they try to find their way back to each other and the life they once knew.


Following on the success of The Things We Cannot Say, this is Kelly Rimmer’s return to the
WWII category with a brand new novel inspired by Irena Sendler, the real-life Polish nurse who
used her access to the Warsaw ghetto to smuggle Jewish children and babies to safety.
Spanning the tumultuous years between 1942 and 1945 in Poland, The Warsaw Orphan follows
Emilia over the course of the war, her involvement with the Resistance, and her love for
Sergiusz, a young man imprisoned in the Jewish ghetto who’s passion leads him to fight in the
Warsaw Uprising. From the Warsaw ghetto to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, through
Nazi occupation to the threat of a communist regime, Kelly Rimmer has penned her most
meticulously researched and emotionally compelling novel to date.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kelly Rimmer is the worldwide, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Before I
Let You Go, The Things We Cannot Say,
and Truths I Never Told You. She lives in rural
Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her
novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. Please visit her at
https://www.kellyrimmer.com/

SOCIAL LINKS:
Author website: https://www.kellyrimmer.com/
Facebook: @Kellymrimmer
Twitter: @KelRimmerWrites
Instagram: @kelrimmerwrites

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