Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Description (via NG)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The perfect Mother’s Day gift! The million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. Now Lost Roses, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline’s mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.

“Not only a brilliant historical tale, but a love song to all the ways our friendships carry us through the worst of times.”Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

It is 1914, and the world has been on the brink of war so often,many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia: the church with the interior covered in jeweled mosaics, the Rembrandts at the tsar’s Winter Palace, the famous ballet.

But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortune-teller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming, she fears the worst for her best friend. 

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and aristocratic countryside estates to the avenues of Paris where a society of fallen Russian émigrés live to the mansions of Long Island, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways. In her newest powerful tale told through female-driven perspectives, Martha Hall Kelly celebrates the unbreakable bonds of women’s friendship, especially during the darkest days of history.

Praise for Lost Roses

“A charming and vividly rendered historical novel . . . Based on true events, this prequel to Lilac Girls transports.”People

“Inspired by true events, just like its predecessor, and just as well-researched, Lost Roses is a remarkable story and another testament to female strength. This sweeping epic will thrill and delight fans of Lilac Girls and readers of historical fiction alike.”—PopSugar

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I was thrilled to receive this title from Net Galley, as I had loved reading Lilac Girls, for which this book is a prequel. To be honest, it took me a bit to get into it. I did better reading at a stretch because each chapter is the point of view of one of the three main characters, and it kept switching, so if I waited too long, I couldn’t remember what had been happening! However, I settled in and read it over the three day weekend (it is almost 450 pages).

I loved the characters in this book, especially tragic but resilient Sophya. While I feel familiar with the story of the Romanovs, I did not know how much Russian aristocracy (“white Russians”) suffered during WWI. Parts of this story were hard to read and disturbing (due to violence) but the overall historical facts made for really interesting reading (such as American society’s attempt to help displaced Russian women). I loved that this story feeds into the next generation story of Lilac Girls and has Caroline as a young girl. I read that the next prequel will focus on Eliza’s grandmother in the Civil War (and again – the Ferridays are real women!).

If you enjoy WWI stories and stories of strong women, pick up Lost Roses today!

Thank you again for my review e-copy!

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Publishing in March, 2019

If you know me, you know that I LOVE the novels of Lisa See and that I have read them all! Her writing is so evocative and beautiful, and her stories often focus on the power of family, love, and friendship. I also always learn something new! This novel was no different. I loved it and couldn’t put it down. From the interesting facts about the Korean women divers, to the tragedies that befell their families and villages, to the storyline of Mi-Ja and Young-Sook’s friendship, this novel was pure Lisa See goodness!

Description via Net Galley (thank you for my review copy!)

A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and family secrets on a small Korean island.

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.

Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story—one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them—The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.

But wait! There’s more! I get Lisa See’s newsletter and her website has wonderful resources, information, and in depth looks at the stories behind her novels. I highly recommend you check it out! Additionally, Lisa has information on tea you can serve at your book club and how to Skype with her, too. It’s all at http://www.lisasee.com

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

Description (via Net Galley)

In this spellbinding and suspenseful debut, a young woman haunted by the past returns home to care for her ailing mother and begins to dig deeper into her sister’s unsolved murder.

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we know the people we love most?

Well – I got this one a while ago via Net Galley (thank you!) and I started it right away and could not put it down! It was a suspenseful read and not easy to figure out. I really liked Sylvie’s character and I had my fingers crossed for a happy (or at least uplifting) ending with a sense of resolution and forgiveness. I was not disappointed! I read it in two evenings because I wanted the resolution.

BRIDGES by Maria Murnane

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A while ago I was contacted by the very pleasant author of this novel, Maria Murnane, to see if I’d like to read and review her novels – BRIDGES and WAITING FOR THE RAIN. I had a tbr list of 35 titles, but said yes and Ms. Murnane has been quite patient in awaiting my thoughts on her novels!

This appealing story covers a long weekend in NYC when three best friends from college get together for a girls’ weekend. Each woman has something on her mind and challenges she is facing. Here’s the overview from Amazon:

It’s a piece of news Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it.

Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path?

What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears.

And laughter. And love.

The fun-loving trio readers fell for in Wait for the Rain is together once more. Here’s to the power of friendship!

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The women in this story are all around 40 years old, and that really appealed to me, because personally I have trouble connecting with free-wheeling 20-somethings that often are peppered throughout books like this. These women’s challenges are familiar and their relationship is one that has gone through the test of time, reminding me of my own friends. While certainly problems exist, this is a light read, perfect for summer, with likable characters and an uplifting and positive ending. I really enjoyed it!

Here’s some info on Maria:

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Biography

The story of how Maria became an author is a little crazy. She used to work in high-tech PR but hated it, so she quit and ended up playing semi-pro soccer in Argentina for a year. While she was down there she decided to write a novel, which was something she’d always dreamed of doing. Fast forward a few years, and she’s now the bestselling author of the Waverly Bryson series (Perfect on Paper, It’s a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two, which garnered a starred review in Publishers Weekly), plus Katwalk, 2015 International Book Award winner Cassidy Lane, Wait for the Rain, and Bridges. And yes, she still plays a lot of soccer!

Learn more and sign up for her mailing list at http://www.mariamurnane.com

If you enjoy Maria’s books, please tweet @mariamurnane and “like” her fan page at http://www.facebook.com/mariamurnane.

To contact her via email, send a note to maria@mariamurnane.com. She loves hearing from readers and personally responds to every message!

THANK YOU so much for my review copy of BRIDGES! WAITING FOR THE RAIN (which has the same characters and actually comes before this title) is next!

THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn

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I had heard some chatter about this novel when it first came out earlier this summer, so I was excited to score a copy through Edelweiss. This was a compelling story about female Resistance members and spies in both WWI and WWII (which you rarely get in a novel!).

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the “queen of spies,” who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth . . . no matter where it leads.

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Oh my goodness — how I loved these characters, Charlie and Eve! Such strong women who could truly fight for a cause. I love it when the main characters are just so perfectly imperfect. You love them because they seem so real.

This was a solid story — at times sad, at times I laughed.

Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction!

Thank you for my review copy!!

DUTY TO THE CROWN by Aimie Runyan

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Via GoodReads:
Set amid the promise and challenge of the first Canadian colonies, Aimie K. Runyan’s vividly rendered novel provides a fascinating portrait of the women who would become the founding mothers of New France.

In 1667, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world…

Praise for Promised to the Crown
 
“A heart-wrenching and timeless tale of friendship, love and hope that skillfully blends history and romance to educate, entertain and inspire.” –Pam Jenoff, author of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach (less)

ebook, 352 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Kensington
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I absolutely love this historical fiction series about the young women who were “Daughters of the King” – sent to Canada as the “New Land” to marry and populate for the good of France in the 1600’s. This was Book 2 in the series, and it continues the story of the characters introduced in Book 1, with individuals growing older as the books go along. Three young girls from Book 1 are now young women, and they have many trials and tribulations to face as they tackle pioneer life in the 1600’s. I love how these books encompass the highs and lows of life — births, deaths, joys, and sorrows.
I can’t wait for Book 3!
Thank you to the author who sent me this copy as she knew how much I enjoyed Book 1!
BBC – what are you waiting for? Make a miniseries from these novels!!

FAITHFUL by Alice Hoffman

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I always love Alice Hoffman’s writing and this new novel was no exception.

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