Review: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

cover45388-mediumBV

While I received THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN through Net Galley, I was never able to access it as it had been archived, so I got a copy through my local library.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: CITY OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT by Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen recently came out with a new Molly Murphy mystery. If you read me, you know I’ve read them all. I really enjoy historical cozies and Molly is one of my favorite female sleuths (though I have to admit to an even greater fondness for Georgie of Bowen’s Royal Spyness mysteries!).

In this installment, Molly is headed to Paris to stay with friends Sid and Gus after a horrible bombing of her home in New York by an Italian gang. She and Daniel and the baby weren’t hurt, but sadly their young maid was killed. Molly has barely gotten her feet on solid ground when she’s landed in to the middle of a murder mystery. Where are Gus and Sid and why did they leave so suddenly? Who murdered the painter Reynold Bryce? And will Molly ever find her friends or have to go back to NYC?

Once again, Ms. Bowen has written a lively and well-crafted mystery, this time in a unique location. Paris at the turn of the century was a vibrant and beautiful place (it still is, but you know what I mean!). The art culture is explored here, and I was delighted to see many well-known real characters brought to life: Picasso, Degas, Monet, Mary Cassatt, Gertrude Stein. Molly interacts with all parts of the city, but especially the Montmartre district in her quest to find and then help her friends. I did not guess the murderer (kudos to Ms. Bowen!) and enjoyed reading this right up to the last page. This might be my favorite Molly mystery yet.

Another home run for the Molly Murphy series!

I got mine on Amazon.

Review: THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jo Jo Moyes

Recently I received a copy of THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND as a gift. I had heard of Jo Jo Moyes, but never read her books before. This was a riveting and touching story, part current day/part historical fiction, centering around the portrait of a young woman from WWI.

In 1917 France, Sophie LeFevre is trying to keep her family’s inn going while the German occupation occurs. Her artist husband Edouard is gone to fight at the front, leaving Sophie, her sister, and her younger brother alone. Sophie and her sister must feed the German soldiers each night, and one evening the Commandant expresses an interest in the portrait of Sophie that her husband has painted. As time passes, Sophie becomes desperate to learn of her husband’s well-being, and risks everything she has to save him.

Meanwhile, in current day London, Liv Halston is now the owner of Sophie’s portrait. She is grieving the untimely death of her young husband, and the picture was a gift from him. However, the LeFevre family is looking for the portrait and want it returned. Classed as stolen during the war, they feel entitled to have it returned, while Liv is sure that not only did they obtained it legally, but that she has a connection to Sophie the others don’t. Thus begins a battle over the rightful ownership of the picture of “The Girl You Left Behind”. By the end, Sophie’s story is told and Liv’s story has unfolded and taken a new direction.

I really enjoyed this story! I love historical fiction, and having it interspersed with modern day was an effective way to tell the story. It has some mystery, some history, and some romance.

I’ve never read other books by Ms. Moyes, but I will look for more.

Giveaway!! (Oct. 1-4) A TASTE FOR INTENSITY by Dominique Perregaux

novel_Cov_1213

I’m excited today to be hosting another giveaway!!

Jennifer at Smith Publicity has offered a copy of A TASTE FOR INTENSITY to one lucky reader of my blog! Here’s some info on the book (thanks, Jennifer!):

A Taste for Intensity
by Dominique Perregaux
 
DISCOVERING RESILIENCE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY
–International art dealer explores life, love, and the depth of our inner strength in provocative new novel based on real events
 
         Life, it’s been said, is somewhat like a blank canvas waiting to be painted with the brushstrokes of experience, emotion, heartbreak, and love. In the end, each life is a piece of art that tells a unique story, and each has the potential to be a masterpiece. How we fill our blank canvas is entirely up to us and the choices we make.
         Sometimes it takes something extraordinary to get us painting.
         Such was the case with stockbroker turned international art dealer and gallery owner, Dominique Perregaux. After years of international study and travel, as well as a life-changing career switch, it took looking extreme adversity straight in the eye for Perregaux to discover one of the keys to life: resilience. In his captivating new novel based on real-life events, A Taste for Intensity, he explores this theme as he pulls us into one man’s transformational journey.
            When Swiss art dealer, Hector, meets American Midwestern Elizabeth Bennett in Hong Kong, he senses there is a unique emotional bond between them. The beginning of their relationship is intense and “Romanesque.” Yet, unbeknown to each other, behind the infatuation and anticipations, they are both holding secrets. The weight of these secrets and their high expectations are the grounds for a formidable adventure to the depth of the human soul. 
Readers follow Hector on a reminiscent and nostalgic trip through Europe. During this journey he opens up about his adolescence, about his passion for art, about his early professional achievements as a successful stockbroker and about opening the first international contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong. We then glimpse at Hector back in Hong Kong, three years after settling down in the city, as he shares the excitement and doubts he feels about building a relationship with Elizabeth while, at the same time, fighting the battle of his life. When havoc eventually strikes, Hector uncompromisingly immerses us into his inner-self and shares his battle for life and love.
         “Telling this story,” says Perregaux, “was my ‘real life’ solution for resilience and the best way to overcome an incredibly difficult and transformational time in my life. It is brutally honest and beautifully emotional, but at it’s core, it’s a story of optimism.” 
         In his riveting work of autobiographical fiction, Perregaux explores such themes as:
·  Resilience: when, why, and how it is discovered and its life-altering power
·  How optimism can help us through life’s toughest challenges
·  The difficulty and beauty of building a genuine and lasting relationship (and exploring the emotional differences between men and women)
·  What it means to be “Romanesque” and how one can provoke exciting experiences in their life
·  The insights and revelations that surviving near-death situations can bring
         In a universal story of loss, love, and life, Perregaux takes us on a global
adventure, uncovering deep secrets and exploring the intricacies of the human soul.    
 
Dominique Perregaux began his career as a stockbroker and was consistently ranked “best stockbroker” in the Asian Markets in Switzerland. After leaving finance, Perregaux relocated to Hong Kong and opened the first contemporary art gallery there, representing well-known international artists. Six years later, he opened another gallery branch in Tokyo.
 
Perregaux was inspired to write his first novel (which is largely based on events from his own life), A Taste for Intensity, after overcoming a difficult situation and having his eyes opened to some of the most important aspects of life. Studied and lived abroad for over ten years, Perregaux is currently based in Hong Kong.
 
 

Sounds interesting, yes?? While I haven’t read it, I am intrigued by the idea of autobiographical fiction.

Here are the rules:

1) You MUST be a follower of my blog to enter. You can follow my blog itself, or follow me on Twitter (@BethsBookBlog), or be one of my personal friends/family members who connect through Facebook.

2) Leave a comment and say “hey!” and tell me how you follow me (honor system here, folks!).

3) ONE entry per person.

4) Open to US and INT’L!!

5) I will use random.org to generate the winning entry number. I will post who the winner is by Sunday, October 6. You can contact me with your mailing info, which I will send in to the publicist for your copy.