Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN by Jeanne Mackin with GIVEAWAY!

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The Beautiful American
by Jeanne Mackin

Publication Date: June 3, 2014
NAL/Penguin Group
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Audio
352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920’s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals, and break years of silence?

A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional woman.



“Will transport you to expat Paris.” – Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

“A brilliant, beautifully written literary masterpiece” – Sandra Dallas, author of Fallen Women

“Leaves its essence of love, loss, regret and hope long after the novel concludes.” – Erika Robuck, author of Fallen Beauty

“Achingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing…her vividly drawn characters…come heartbreakingly alive in their obsessions, tragedies and triumphs” – Jennifer Robson, author of Somewhere in France

“From Poughkeepsie to Paris, from the razzmatazz of the twenties to the turmoil of World War Two and the perfume factories of Grasse, Mackin draws you into the world of expatriate artists and photographers and tells a story of love, betrayal, survival and friendship…an engaging and unforgettable novel” – Renee Rosen, author Doll Face


Jeanne Mackin’s novel, The Beautiful American (New American Library), based on the life of photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller, received the 2014 CNY award for fiction. Her other novels include A Lady of Good Family, about gilded age personality Beatrix Farrand, The Sweet By and By, about nineteenth century spiritualist Maggie Fox, Dreams of Empire set in Napoleonic Egypt, The Queen’s War, about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and The Frenchwoman, set in revolutionary France and the Pennsylvania wilderness.

Jeanne Mackin is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Book of Love (W.W. Norton.) She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and a keynote speaker for The Dickens Fellowship. Her work in journalism won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and at Goddard College in Vermont.


02_The Beautiful American

Here I am!

I am really excited to be part of this blog tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received an audiobook CD version of this novel and listened to it during my new, lengthy commute. This was a somewhat sad story, but interesting. 1920’s was truly a heyday in Paris and I’ve always found the ex-pat lifestyle of that time quite fascinating and love to read about it. If you read me regularly, you know I love reading about the WWII era, and this book moved into the war and the characters’ experiences before and afterwards. I found Nora’s search for her daughter heart-wreching, and kept my fingers crossed for a happy ending!

These characters were based on real people, which made the storyline even more poignant. I had never heard of Lee Miller and her work in photography. The CD’s (ten of them) moved quickly and Mackin’s writing flows easily. Her words are read in a smooth, soothing style by Kate Reading.

This was a compelling story that would engage readers who like to read of this era. Thank you for my review CD’s!

But wait – there’s more!

You can enter to win a free copy of this novel — go to:

The Beautiful American

Review: BIRD’S EYE VIEW by Elinor Florence


Several weeks ago I got a friendly email asking if I’d like to review BIRD’S EYE VIEW, a novel about a Canadian young woman working as an aerial photo interpreter during WWII.  You all know my love of historical fiction, and especially that time period, and I didn’t know much about aerial photography during the war, so I said yes.

I have to say – I loved this book! To be honest, I never really thought about what Canada was doing during the war, and it was interesting to see the focus on supporting Britain. Rose Jolliffe is a strong female who wants to do her part for the war, and she ends up going to London to work. Rose is from the farmlands of Canada and she misses her family and her homeland terribly. She has a series of relationships (both friendships and romances) and each one is an opportunity for self-development and growth. She also is quite skilled at what she does and has several successes with the photos. I loved her character and I wanted her to end up safe and happy in the end.

Like the female code breakers of Bletchley Park (with whom I am a little obsessed), these aerial photography interpreters are a fascinating bunch and it was so interesting to read about how they tried to figure out what the Germans were doing, looked for evidence of rockets, studied troop movements, etc.

Here’s a link to a BBC site about the interpreters at Medmenham, where this story takes place:


I’d like to thank Elinor for her novel to review and give it a big thumb’s up!



pictures via google images and Elinor’s website

Litfuse Blog Tour for THROUGH WATERS DEEP by Sarah Sundin


I’m thrilled today to be part of the Litfuse blog tour for THROUGH WATERS DEEP by Sarah Sundin! This Christian historical fiction tells the story of Mary and Jim as they deal with sabotage at the shipyard in Boston as the US is about to enter WWII.

Here’s what the tour has to say:

Book info

About the book:

Through Waters Deep
(Revell, August 2015)It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war.Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges—and dangers—await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and romantic story.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:

Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, In Perfect Time, and the Wings of Glory series. In 2014,On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Awards from both AWSA and the Christian Authors Network. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Find Sarah online: website, Facebook, Twitter

I enjoyed Mary and Jim’s story – my parents were in their twenties during WWII and I always find stories of that era fascinating. Mary is an interesting character — in one regard she is shy and anxious almost to the point of being dysfunctional, and yet she is a capable and efficient admin, working far from family and living on her own. Early on in the story I wanted to give her a bit of a wake up call and tell her to stop being so worried about what others think about her. I’d like to think that she was a bit exaggerated, but I know someone exactly like her — so worried about what people will think and that she will be seen as “prideful” that she is almost paralyzed by social anxiety. Truly — not a fun way to live your life.

Anyhow, I liked their love story (though I found poor Jim rather pushed around by the women) and I liked the ending.

It looks like this is the start of a series – I look forward to the next one.

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

I also found this fun video on You Tube that shows the making of the cover —

You, too, can follow the tour for giveaways, reviews, and more:

Landing page:

Blog Tour Schedule:

Debra | 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too !
Jennifer | LIFE WITH 3 BOYS 1 GIRL
Tima | Book Reviews by Tima
Jalynn | A Simple Life, really?!
Marianne | reviewing Novels Online


Vicky | Deal Sharing Aunt
Veronica | Adventures of D and V
Megan | When life gets you down…read a book
Laura | Memawsstuff


Joan | Book Reviews from an Avid Reader


Dianna | Savings in Seconds
Hope | Finding Joy in Everyday
Amanda | Inklings and Notions
Carole | The Power of Words
Cara | Cara Putman
Kathleen | Reviews From The Heart
Margaret | The World As I See It
Julia | Avid Reader Reviews


Renee | Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot
Lisa | A Rup Life


Taylor | Taylor Reid Reads and Breathes
Linda | Mocha with Linda
Pam | Southern Gal Loves to Read
Crystal | Our Perfectly Imperfect Life
Sandra | Simple Harvest Reads
Lena | A Christian Writer’s World
Kristie | Moments
Sally | Proverbial Reads
Jennifer | Mother of Three
Brooke | i blog 4 books
Erin | For Him and My Family
Karen | Ting’s Mom Books
Kelly | Leafy Not Beefy


Raechel | God’s Peculiar Treasure Raechel
Erin | ReviewsByErin
Chelsey | Charming Chelsey’s
Jami | Jami’s Words


Britney | Buzzing About Books
Charity | aTransParentMom
Debra | Footprints in the Butter
Victor | Vic’s Media Room
Elle | Elle in organicshoes
Becky | Christian Chick’s Thoughts
Maureen | Maureen’s Musings
Suzanne | Cows and Lasers and Everything in Between
Alyssa | Sunrise Avenue


Marjolaine | Books, Beautiful Books
Kim | Window To My World
Rayleigh | Accelerate The Jesus Movement
Pamela | Daysong Reflections
Trish | View from the Birdhouse
Carrie | Reading Is My Superpower
Veronica | Veronica’s ‘Views
Hallie | Book by Book
Carla | Working Mommy Journal
Melinda | Living, Laughing, Loving

Tiffany | The Crafty Home
Lisa | Seeking With All Your Heart


Rebekah | Caffeinated Christian Raves – N – Reviews


Leticia | My Daily Trek
Laura | Lighthouse Academy
Tressa | Wishful Endings


Rachel | EmpowerMoms
Charity | Giveaway Lady


Brittany | Britt Reads Fiction
Alyssa | A Vintage Girl in the Modern World
Beth | Beth’s Book-Nook Blog


Abbi | Christian Novels
Melina | Melina’s Book Blog
Beth | For The Love of Books
Sara | Shoopette’s Book Reviews
Amber | Seasons of Humility
Beth-Anne | Book Reviews


April | Dixie n Dottie
Beckie | By The Book
Marissa | The Review Stew
Stephanie | Finding My Yellow
Becca | Manic Mama of 3
Kathy | MysteriesEtc


Emilie | Thinking Thoughts
Barbara | I’m hooked on Books
Cindy | All Things Are Possible


Melanie | Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Michelle | Our Little Corner of the World
Amanda | Amanda’s Pile of Books
Christy | welcome to our crazy world


Bethany | Perfect Beginnings
Amanda | LoveandaPrayer
Rebekah | Backing Books
Wendy | Life at Rossmont
Amanda | The Talbert Report
Brittanie | a book lover
Shirley | A Mom After God’s Own Heart

Review: THE NAZI OFFICER’S WIFE by Edith Hahn Beer with Susan Dworkin


While at BEA, I met Susan Dworkin and got a signed copy of her book. The subtitle to this novel is “How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust”. This was a fascinating story about how Edith, a young Jewish woman in Vienna, survived WWII through an incredible series of circumstances, including, at one point, being married to a German officer and being a “hausfrau”.

Edith was born in Vienna in 1914 into a well-to-do and educated Jewish family. She always wanted to study law and was doing so when she was denied her final exams and degree because she was Jewish. She and her family were sent to the ghetto and then she was sent to a labor camp, working first on a farm and then in a paper factory. She survived harsh conditions for months, then escaped as she was being sent “home” (she realized it was to a concentration camp). Edith hid for a while, then borrowed a brave friend’s identity papers and went to Germany, getting a job at the Red Cross and passing herself off as Christian. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi officer. He wanted to marry her, but Edith felt she must reveal her true self to him first. Vetter and she married and she lived as a housewife until the war was over. While this is much more a summary than I usually give, believe me, it’s only the tip of the iceberg in this book. The amount of scary circumstances, the coincidences, the heartfelt yearning she had for her mother, her life of living a lie – plus all the events post WWII, well it made for fascinating and inspiring reading.

The story reads as a memoir, with Edith’s voice strongly standing out. You can picture her telling her story to Ms. Dworkin as you read. It was published about 15 years ago, though I had never come across it. A documentary was also made on Edith’s life, but it looks like it only aired in the UK. Edith Hahn Beer died in 2009.

You can find this book at an Indie near you — I am an Indie Bound Affiliate. Read it and be inspired.

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Retro Review – THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Several of my friends have noted how everything I review is so new, it can be hard to come by, so I’ve added a feature to my blog of a “retro review” – rerunning an old review of a book I loved.

For today I’ve picked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as I not only loved it, but I’m currently reading Annie Barrows’ new novel which will release soon (The Truth According to Us). My trolling suggests that a movie of the novel is in the works but has had some production delays. Reading this review reminded me of “Border’s Bucks” — I forgot all about those!


(pic from google images)

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

ON JANUARY 8, 2009

A short while back, I had some “Border’s Bucks” to use, so I treated myself to a new book. I chose “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows as I had heard good things about it.

Then it sat next to my bed for two weeks.

For some strange reason, I just couldn’t start this book. And then I realized: trite as it may seem, the title was turning me off. What was the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? And for that matter, what was potato peel pie? It sounded awful. However, I could see the book was a series of letters and written communication, so I wrapped my mind around that, and dug in.

In this story, our main character, Juliet, is a writer living in London at the end of WWII. She receives correspondence from a gentleman who lives in Guernsey in the Channel Islands, learns of his “book group” there and their exploits during the German occupation, and is pulled into their lives. Just as Juliet is drawn in, so was I. Once I started this book and got through the first 30 or 40 pages I was hooked. I loved these characters and I loved this story – so much so, that I didn’t want it to end. If I could pick one word to describe this book, it would be “charming”.

Now, gentle reader, I must confess that I do love historical fiction, so this book was typical of the things I enjoy reading. However, I think this story does great credit to once again remind us of the fortitude and strength of the generation who survived WWII with all its indecencies. This is a story about ordinary people, who seem extraordinary by their virtue.

This is Mary Ann Shaffer’s first novel, and sadly it will be her only one as she has passed away. Anne Barrows, her niece, helped with co-authoring the book after Mary Ann had sold the manuscript but became ill.

I gave this book my coveted “5 Stars” – “I loved it so much, I need to own it!”

Litfuse Blog Tour Review: A SPARROW IN TEREZIN by Kristy Cambron and Giveaway!

I’m blogging today as part of the Litfuse Blog tour of Kristy Cambron’s new Christian fiction novel: A SPARROW IN TEREZIN, Book Two of the Hidden Masterpiece series.(Book One is THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN which I reviewed here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/review-the-butterfly-and-the-violin-by-kristy-cambron/

A SPARROW IN TEREZIN continues Sera and William’s story and focuses on a different WWII artifact: a gold necklace of a cross. When the story starts, Sera and William are getting married, however the wedding is more than marred by officials showing up and arresting William for some sort of shady/illegal/irregular dealings in the business. Sera is determined to prove his innocence, so she travels to Europe to find and speak to WIlliam’s long-lost father. Meanwhile, in the 1940’s, Kaja is sent by her parents out of Prague so that she will be safe during the war. She ends up working in England where she falls in love. Soon she heads back to Prague in an attempt to save her parents.

I have to say that while I enjoyed this book, I liked Kaja’s storyline more than Sera’s. I was a bit disappointed in Sera’s actions and the way she jumped to conclusions and hardly gave her husband a chance to explain himself and his decisions. I don’t want to give away too much, but her rashness both annoyed and disappointed me.

While you can read this novel as a stand alone, you might want to read “Butterfly” first so that you fully understand the backstory and characters. I am curious to see where this series is going next!

And wait – there’s more! Follow this link for a great giveaway basket!

Sparrow Terezin Kristy CambronBound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection in Kristy Cambron‘s new book, A Sparrow in Terezin. Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

Kristy is celebrating by giving away a basket filled with goodies inspired by her new book!

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One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A set of poppy notecards
  • A poppy pin
  • A copy of I Never Saw Another Butterfly
  • A copy of the Mrs. Miniver DVD
  • Literary tea bags
  • Tumbler
  • A copy of A Sparrow in Terezin
sparrow giveaway bastet

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 28th. Winner will be announced April 29th on Kristy’s blog.

sparrow terezin-enterbanner{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

Here’s a bit about Kristy:

About the author:

Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with the WWII era since hearing her grandfather’s stories of the war. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and received the Outstanding Art History Student Award. Kristy writes WWII and Regency era fiction and has placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and is a 2013 Laurie finalist. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.

Find Kristy online: website, Facebook, Twitter
See what other Litfuse Bloggers have to say:

Thank you for making me part of the blog tour and for my copy through Net Galley! I enjoy Kristy’s writing and the Christian focus of her books, and I look forward to the next novel in this series.


Spotlight on A CHANCE KILL by Paul Letters — Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour

Today I’m spotlighting A CHANCE KILL — a historical fiction WWII story by Paul Letters as part of the HFVBT tour!

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Publication Date: February 26, 2015
Silverwood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 300

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Can an individual shape a remarkable destiny, or is it all by chance?

Based upon true events, seventeen-year-old Polish catholic Dyta Zając finds herself forced away from wartime Warsaw due to her family’s shadowy connections. Dyta’s time on the run sets her on a path towards confronting the ultimate Nazi.

Half a continent away, an RAF crew embarks on Britain’s little-known first offensive of the war. In a story of fear versus hope, the unspoken limits of loyalty are exposed and the value of a compromised life is contested. Dyta’s destiny edges closer
to that of the RAF crew – and toward the Allies’ most brazen covert operation to strike at the Nazi elite.

Even more dangerous than the enemy, however, is the assumption that your enemy’s enemy is your friend…

About the Author

Author Paul Letters deals with a physical disability (which is twisted and transposed to a character in A Chance Kill). It prompted Paul to change his life and give up full-time teaching to write. He studied history, education, international affairs and literary journalism at the Universities of Cardiff, Oxford and Hong Kong.

Paul is from England and now lives in the jungled fringes of Hong Kong. He writes freelance journalism, most often for the South China Morning Post, and is currently working on a World War Two novel set in Hong Kong.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Review: AT THE WATER’S EDGE by Sara Gruen


I had never read a book by Sara Gruen, though I’ve certainly heard of “Water for Elephants”. I thought this one sounded intriguing, and I was able to get an ARC from Net Galley.

AT THE WATER’S EDGE starts with a young WWII war widow in Scotland losing her baby and then committing suicide by drowning herself in the lake. We then switch to the social scene in Philadelphia and young marrieds, Ellis and Maddie, and their best friend, Hank, whooping it up and causing a scene for New Year’s. Hank and Ellis are both unable to serve in the war due to physical reasons. The three are young, wealthy, immature, and irreverent. When Ellis’ family is angered by their behavior, Ellis decides they will redeem themselves by travelling to Scotland to locate and film the Loch Ness Monster – a task his father tried before him. Ellis is sure this will redeem him in his family’s eyes. Hank goes along with this plan and Maddie is dragged along against her will. Once in Scotland, however, they realize their fun is not appreciated and their attitude and behavior is pretty insensitive and inappropriate. As times passes, Maddie begins to see her husband in a new light (not a favorable one!) and starts to mature and change herself. However, things start to spiral out of control towards the end of the book as Ellis becomes determined to “find the monster” and to not let anyone stand in his way.

I could not put this book down. In other places I’ve seen it reviewed as a romance. While it does have a romantic component to it, I would not classify it as a romance, but as historical fiction. I loved the character of Maddie. I really had hope in the beginning that she would not be as self-centered and callous as her husband, and she lived up to my expectations! Ellis, on the other hand, I could not stand. It’s rare I have such a violent dislike for a character, but there is whole part of this book where Ellis tries to make Maddie think she is mentally frail and anxious and that she needs hospitalization (perhaps a lobotomy!), even though Maddie is fine. I have no sympathy for big manipulators who play mind games with their wives in order to do what they want.  On another note, I have seen some reviews that say “the monster in the lake symbolizes Hitler and Ellis, and that’s so obvious, blah blah blah”. However, I had a different take on it. (Ms. Gruen – if you ever do me the honor of reading my humble blog, please let me know if I’m right). I think the monster in the lake lives within all of us — we all have a monster within, and it’s what we do with it that shapes us. Do we become like Ellis — self-centered and self-serving to the point of harming others? Or like Maddie? Remember the “monster” saved Maddie at one point, too. And the vagueness at the end — how did Ellis end up where he ended up? Maybe the monster was seeking justice…

So, I like my “Lord of the Flies” take on the monster idea better than just monster = Ellis/Hitler – which of course can be seen as true as well.

Did you read this book? If so, what did you think? I loved it!

Thank you, Net Galley and Random House, for my copy.

Find it at an indie near you! (I’m an Indie Bound affiliate). It publishes 3/31/15.

Find it at an Indie!

Review: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron


While I received THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN through Net Galley, I was never able to access it as it had been archived, so I got a copy through my local library. This was a haunting read that goes back and forth between current day and WWII. This book is subtitled “A Hidden Masterpiece Novel” so I am assuming it is the start or part of a series.

THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN starts with modern-day Sera, an art dealer in New York, as she searches for a painting she saw when she was young: a beautiful girl playing the violin in Auschwitz.  Sera has spent years looking for the original and just when she thinks she is close to finding it, complications occur in the form of a young business man from San Francisco who is also seeking the portrait. The story switches to the past so we  can see how the painting came to be. Young Adele is “Austria’s sweetheart”, a violinist whose father is a high-ranking officer in the Third Reich. She is in love with a fellow musician and together they try to help Jewish families to hide or escape to safety. Adele is caught and sent to Auschwitz where she is put into the women’s orchestra, a group of musicians who provide daily music at the camp while prisoners are sent to work or are taken off the incoming trains. Much of Adele’s story is how she and the other women work to stay together and stay alive, even though they find their task gruesome and disturbing.  Sometimes the story has us in Auschwitz, sometimes back before Adele was arrested, and sometimes current day with Sera and William as they look for the portrait.

This book is listed as Christian Historical Fiction. There are strong messages in it about God’s gifts to us and using the gifts we have, along with finding God’s presence through embracing life.

If I could change one thing in this book it would be to make the “past parts” more in order chronologically. I found it somewhat jolting to go from past to present to past but four years earlier than the last time we were in the past to present, etc. I also was troubled by how easily Adele’s parents sent their only child, barely more than a teen, off to a concentration camp.

If you like WWII reads and enjoy strong Christian messages in your story, along with some romance, you should read this book! The historical note at the end talks about the real life women’s orchestras in camps at that time.

You can find it at an indie — I am an Indie Bound affiliate (or find it at the library, like I did!):

Find it at an Indie!

Review: THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah


Publishing on February 3 is a book that is destined to be one of my top picks for 2015. THE NIGHTINGALE is a story of two French sisters during WWII. Each sister does whatever she can to survive, and their story is both riveting and heart-breaking. I could not put this book down!

Without giving away the whole story line, this novel basically follows two sisters throughout the occupation of France in WWII. One sister, Viann, has a young daughter and her husband is sent to fight. She is determined to keep their family home going and to keep her daughter safe until her husband returns. The other sister, Isabelle, has always been the black sheep. She is young and impetuous, but she is also strong and courageous. She joins the Resistance and works to bring downed allied airmen over the Pyrenees into Spain. The sisters clash and fight and are so completely different, yet at the same time they love each other and want to help each other. Each faces the horrible reality of the war with her own way of coping.

I have to say that when I read this, I identified so strongly with Viann. When I was younger, I might have been more of an Isabelle, but Viann’s struggle to just get by and keep going and to protect her daughter at all costs — I could just imagine myself in her shoes. She was willing to suffer at great lengths as long as it meant that her daughter was safe. However, that doesn’t mean that she did nothing or just went along with the atrocities she was witnessing. One thing I loved about this book is that these characters were so multi-layered. There’s a whole back story involving their mother, which I won’t go in to, that had shaped them, as well as their relationship with their father in Paris. I truly loved these characters even though their story made me weep at times.

If you like WWII novels, and especially if you enjoy reading about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, pick up a copy of THE NIGHTINGALE. This was my first Kristin Hannah book, but it won’t be my last!

Thank you, Net Galley, for my ARC!