The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff

As you can imagine, I have a LOT of books on my kindle. I actually burnt out my first Kindle by reading more than 400 pages a day (Amazon gave me a discount to replace it).

Right now I have over 125 pages of books in my “library”. With 6 on each page, that’s about 750+ books. Needless to say, I often have to go through them and see what I’ve missed in my TBR pile!

I was searching one day and came across this novel. I really enjoy Pam Jenoff’s historical fiction, and I had actually purchased this book for myself in 2019 as a birthday present. I guess I then forgot about it!

This is a touching and heartfelt story of WWII (you know I’m a big fan!), centering on a family of children that have been torn apart by the war. The two eldest sisters (twins) are trying to keep them all together. One of them, Helena, finds an injured pilot hiding nearby and takes care of him, and (of course) they fall in love.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Life is a constant struggle for the eighteen-year-old Nowak twins as they raise their three younger siblings in rural Poland under the shadow of the Nazi occupation. The constant threat of arrest has made everyone in their village a spy, and turned neighbor against neighbor. Though rugged, independent Helena and pretty, gentle Ruth couldn’t be more different, they are staunch allies in protecting their family from the threats the war brings closer to their doorstep with each passing day. 

Then Helena discovers an American paratrooper stranded outside their small mountain village, wounded, but alive. Risking the safety of herself and her family, she hides Sam—a Jew—but Helena’s concern for the American grows into something much deeper. Defying the perils that render a future together all but impossible, Sam and Helena make plans for the family to flee. But Helena is forced to contend with the jealousy her choices have sparked in Ruth, culminating in a singular act of betrayal that endangers them all—and setting in motion a chain of events that will reverberate across continents and decades. 

This was a very memorable story, and I see that it is the first in a series. If I had one honest complaint, it was that I felt the pacing was rather slow for the first 85% of the book – and that was the perfect fit for the dull winter season that the children were trying to get through. Then suddenly things sped up and happened and the rest of the story was told in a flashback. I guess the novel could have been 600 pages if it was all written out, but I would have loved to read through the happenings.

Maybe that’s in the series? I really don’t know. But I do know that if you like WWII genre and stories of resiliency, this is a good one!

No Exit by Taylor Adams

Am I the only person who loves to read about the dead of winter in the heat of summer?

I had come across this title on the blogosphere and it sounded soooo good: suspense, mystery, a young woman out to save a kidnapped child, an unknown perpetrator, all stuck at a rest stop during a blizzard! This story had many twists and turns and it kept me guessing until the last chapters.

I’ve never read a novel by Mr. Adams but he has several and they all look suspenseful! I enjoyed this one a lot and will look to read his others.

Highly recommended if you like this genre!

Here’s the overview from Amazon (where I purchased my kindle copy):

A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full of terrifying twists and hairpin turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless.

WILDWOOD by Elinor Florence

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I loved Elinor Florence’s Bird’s Eye View, so I was excited to see that she had a new book out: Wildwood. Wildwood tells the story of Molly Bannister, who leaves Arizona with her young daughter to go to northernmost Canada as she has inherited a farm from her great aunt. The conditions are: live on the farm for one year (no plumbing, no electricity) and then you can sell it. Molly needs money and the farm is prime land for oil fracking. She moves north (where it’s way colder than she’s ever experienced!) and slowly pioneers her way through the year, with four-year-old Bridget by her side. Finding her great aunt’s diary from her first year at Wildwood in the 20’s is an added bonus. Along the way, Molly begins to find that connecting with the land may be the best thing that has ever happened to her and her daughter.

I just loved this story – especially since I’m a big fan of a pioneer story and this one essentially had two in it: Molly’s and her great aunt’s. I loved how Molly was tough and self-sufficient, but also overwhelmed by the demands of living off the grid. Molly’s little girl, Bridget, is selective mute, something that is near and dear to me if you know me personally, and I loved the character of little Bridget. It was interesting to read about Canadian winter (I thought we had it bad in New England!) and the indigenous people of Canada as well.

Thank you so much for my review e-copy! I truly enjoyed it!!

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