The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

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Description (via Net Galley)

A Note From the Publisher

If you read me, you know I LOVE Rhys Bowen’s books — Molly Murphy Mysteries, Royal Spyness mysteries, Tuscan Child, In Farleigh Field, etc. etc. This novel is a stand alone, historical fiction piece, that reminded me a bit of In Farleigh Field, as it was a war story. I loved Emily’s character and found the historical piece so interesting — young women volunteering to work on farms in the British countryside as “land girls’. She is quite resourceful and plucky, though when she becomes pregnant she certainly has to make some decisions as to where her future will lie. There is a bit of mystery, too, as to the history of the cottage where she lives and its former inhabitant. All in all it was a great read and I hope Ms. Bowen continues to writes historical stand alones!
Thank you for my review e-copy!

Audiobook Pick: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris; Narrated by Richard Armitage

 

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I had heard a bit about this book, so I chose it with my Audible credit this month. What a story! First of all, it held my attention during my lengthy commute (no easy feat) and it was wonderfully narrated by Richard Armitage. The story was truly remarkable and at one point I thought that this could not possibly be true. Some of the things that happened seemed fantastic to the point of being too incredible to believe (SPOILER! for example, their finding each other after the war, or how Lale seemed to be able to get the things he needed to get by and to help others). Yet, this is a true story. While it is a story of the horrors of Auschwitz, it’s an amazing story of bravery and resistance and resiliency that makes you feel connected to these characters and wanting more of them. The last chapter and epilogue of the book could have been a whole other novel in itself. (Just a note, from a cursory glance online, most people seem to enjoy the audiobook more than the novel itself).

Here’s the overview:

This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov – an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for “tattooist”), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism – but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful recreation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

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I am so very excited that Kate Morton, an author whom I adore, has a new novel coming out in October. I had the opportunity to read it via Net Galley and I really enjoyed it!

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is wonderful historical fiction, and it follows the story of Birdie, a spirit who tells her own story within the story of a house and all the intertwining lives that play a role there over time. This story stretches from 1862 to present day, but eventually you come to see how all the lives are actually impacting each other through time and place, through love, murder, loss, and mystery. Though the story can sometimes be a bit confusing as the narrator changes, and the story does not move chronologically, I loved making the connections and guessing what would come next. It’s a bit of a sad story, but interesting, and with a cast of characters that is as memorable as it is unique.

Fans of Morton will love this treat, and new readers of her should not miss it!

Thank you for my review copy!

Description

And because you can find anything on the Internet, here’s a You Tube video of Kate Morton herself discussing the novel:
I watched this and just wished that I could shout out to her that I love her writing and I even have bangs, too!! We could be kindred spirits if she came to visit Boston!! 🙂

Tasty Book Tour for FALL OF POPPIES: STORIES OF LOVE AND THE GREAT WAR

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Today I’m part of the virtual book tour for a fantastic book: FALL OF POPPIES – Stories of Love and the Great War.

First I must admit that I had my eye on this title for a while since I saw that Heather Webb was a contributor. Ms. Webb wrote the recent RODIN’S LOVER and I heard her speak at The Concord Bookshop and I think she is fabulous, so I really wanted to read this. Added to that is the fact that while I read quite prolifically about WWII, I have read very little about WWI. Thus, I was quite excited to be part of this tour and to read these wonderfully crafted stories.

Here’s what the tour has to say:

About the Book

Top voices in historical fiction deliver an intensely moving collection of short stories about loss, longing, and hope in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

A squadron commander searches for meaning in the tattered photo of a girl he’s never met…

A Belgian rebel hides from the world, only to find herself nursing the enemy…

A young airman marries a stranger to save her honor—and prays to survive long enough to love her…The peace treaty signed on November 11, 1918, may herald the end of the Great War but for its survivors, the smoke is only beginning to clear. Picking up the pieces of shattered lives will take courage, resilience, and trust.

Within crumbled city walls and scarred souls, war’s echoes linger. But when the fighting ceases, renewal begins…and hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

356 Pgs. |Heat: 2 | Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo

Here’s all the info on the authors:

About The Authors

Jessica Brockmole is the author of the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, an epistolary love story spanning an ocean and two wars. Named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2013, Letters From Skye has been published in seventeen countries.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home and A Memory of Violets. She writes regularly for the national press, magazines and websites in Ireland and the UK.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Evangeline Holland is the founder and editor of Edwardian Promenade, the number one blog for lovers of World War I, the Gilded Age, and Belle Époque France with nearly forty thousand unique viewers a month. In addition, she blogs at Modern Belles of History. Her fiction includes An Ideal Duchess and its sequel, crafted in the tradition of Edith Warton.

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

Marci Jefferson is the author of Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart, which Publisher’s Weekly called “intoxicating.” Her second novel, The Enchantress of Paris, will release in Spring 2015 from Thomas Dunne Books.

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Kate Kerrigan is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ellis Island trilogy. In addition she has written for the Irish Tatler, a Dublin-based newspaper, as well as The Irish Mail and a RTE radio show, Sunday Miscellany.

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Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and international bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over. She holds a doctorate in Modern History from the University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. Jennifer lives in Toronto with her husband and young children.

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Heather Webb is an author, freelance editor, and blogger at award-winning writing sites WriterUnboxed.com and RomanceUniversity.org. Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and she may also be found teaching craft-based courses at a local college

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Beatriz Williams is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant and A Hundred Summers. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons. She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry. William Morrow will publish her forthcoming hardcover, A Certain Age, in the summer of 2016.

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Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

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I loved these stories. They were beautifully written and each was so different; yet each masterfully evoked the sense of that time. As I said above, I am not too well-read on the First World War, and I enjoyed these short stories, though some of the stories were rather sad (or at least poignant).

And there’s a Giveaway!!

THREE copies of this book will be given away by the publisher! US addresses only.

You can follow the link below to the giveaway and follow the instructions:

Link to Rafflecopter Page: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c8947/

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

 

 

Audiobook Review: ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS by Adriana Trigiani

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I recently had the chance to get ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS with my Audible credit for the month. I LOVE Adriana Trigiani’s books and I was quite excited to listen to her new one. This is a wonderful story, set in the golden age of Hollywood and involving familiar and beloved classic stars.

Gretchen Young took the screen name “Loretta Young” and spent her life as an actress. Witty and hardworking, Gretchen and her sisters all worked in the movies, supporting themselves and their mother, from early childhood into adulthood. In her early twenties and recently having her marriage annulled, she is coming off an infatuation with the already married Spencer Tracy, when Loretta finds herself drawn to the always irresistible Clark Gable (another married man). Her strict Catholic upbringing makes her unable to engage in an open affair, and she fights her attraction to him, all while they are filming The Call of the Wild together. However, weeks after filming Loretta discovers she is pregnant and has to decide how she will proceed in her life — both personally and professionally.

While I knew Loretta Young from the movies, I had no idea she had a child by Clark Gable (true). The whole story is something Hollywood-esque. (However, there are also stories that she later said she was date raped by Gable — decidedly not exciting/romantic/humorous/okay if that’s true). If you know me, you know I LOVE stories of classic Hollywood, and I love anything to do with movie stars and Hollywood, especially in the old days (I also love plays and theater and Broadway but that’s for another day).

Trigiani does her usual excellent job in evoking a sense of place and personality here — doubling challenging as she is taking on the personas of living legends. Even the minor characters are exciting — Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, etc. (and I want Myrna Loy for a friend!).

The audible version was read by Blair Brown and she does an amazing job in telling the story, pitching her voice with variety, and pulling the reader in. Truly, this was one of the best “aud-itions” of a novel that I’ve experienced.

While this book released recently, it is EVERYWHERE! Get yours pronto and let me know how you like it!

 

 

Review: A Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

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I absolutely loved this book.

When I was at BEA in the spring, I stood in a very long line (I was number 3 though!) to see Alice Hoffman and to get her new book, The Marriage of Opposites.

First, I must say that Ms. Hoffman is one of my fave authors. I think I’ve read everything she’s written. She is quite gracious in person and was a delight in our albeit very brief meeting (where I tried not to gush). I was later interviewed by Simon and Schuster for something on camera, gushing about how much I love her writing (thankfully I have never found that video clip online, as I’m sure I’d be horrified at my lack of composure and disheveled appearance, being interviewed on the fly during a huge event in NYC).

Anyway – I digress. This story is about the parents of Camille Pissarro, the great French painter. I have to say that I knew absolutely nothing about his background, and while I am sure that he is fascinating in his own right, Hoffman’s story focuses on his mother, Rachel, and her life as she grows up among a community of refugee European Jews, who are living in the Virgin Islands during the early 1800’s. Rachel is married off to an old widower while she is quite young, and she comes to love his children and to respect him. When he dies suddenly, his younger nephew arrives to take over the business. He and Rachel fall deeply in love – even though she is substantially older and their union is forbidden as they are seen as “family”. Out of their relationship comes Camille.

I loved this story — the characters, the setting, the writing. Rachel’s story was fascinating to me and I loved the subplots and “supporting characters” with their stories along the way.

Historical Fiction at its finest!

To get you in the mood, here’s a picture by Pissarro that I got via Google Images:

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Review: REVONTULI by Andrew Eddy

I received a kindle copy of REVONTULI by Andrew Eddy to review from my friends at Booktrope. It was sent to me because I had liked THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS by Chris Bohjalian last year (that was one of my fave books of 2013!).

In REVONTULI, it is WWII and the Germans are occupying the part of Scandinavia known as the Finnmark. The villagers are hardy folks, used to long winters and cold country, and are a blend of Sami and Norwegian culture (just a note- before this book, I had not heard of Sami culture. I looked it up and I have always seen it referred to as “Laplander” though apparently this is a negative term.) The Sami in this book are reindeer herders and semi-nomadic. As war touches the village, teenager Marit is caught between having sympathy for the Bosnian prisoners of war that are being held nearby and her burgeoning friendship with a young German officer, Hans, who boards at her house. The war continues, as does their friendship, and as Hans becomes like a member of Marit’s family, the lines between war and peace blur for her, and the story evolves to a life-changing climax for young Marit.

Throughout the book, the point of view toggles from current day Bavaria and Marit visiting there (she is quite elderly now) and her village growing up when she is seventeen. I really enjoyed this read! WWII is one of my favorite historical genres and this took place in an area that was new to me. Poor Marit was torn between her family’s culture, loyalty to her country, her friends, and her love for Hans. Her actions cause her to have to grow up quickly in a world that is rapidly changing.

Highly recommended to my readers who enjoy this genre! Thank you, friends at Booktrope for my copy! I will look for more forthcoming novels from Mr. Eddy.