Watching What I’m Reading . . .

It was Pete’s 65th birthday yesterday so we decided to have a day out. We had originally planned to go down to Awakino and Mokau, stopping at the Awakino pub for lunch. We have stopped there a few times recently and the food is great. But when we checked the road report there were a lot of roadworks and long delays. Pete has been carting concrete out to Raglan quite a bit recently so we decided to go there for the day. I haven’t been there for two years and it’s grown like crazy in that time. We drove around all the lovely little bays, then went for lunch at the Wharf Kitchen and Bar. The fish and chips were lovely, the Heineken cold and we had views out over the water.

It was a lovely day out culminating in calling in on Dustin and Luke on the way home.

We also bumped into Harley who used to chef for us. He has just started working back in the area so tomorrow we are going to lunch at his restaurant at Waitomo, as it’s a long weekend here. We have two in a row!

Currently I am readin House of Correction by Nikki French.

Over half way through. Compelling. Character driven. Totally hooked.

I am listening to The Silence by Susan Allott, an Australian mystery. Almost half way through and enjoying it, but have no idea what happened to Mandy. The husband? (Where is he, anyway?) The neighbour? The neighbours wife? Or is she simply somewhere else, living as someone else?

This week I am planning on reading Hadley and Grace by Susan Redfearn

Needing to escape her abusive marriage, Hadley flees with her two kids, knowing it might be her only chance. A woman who can’t even kill a spider, Hadley soon finds herself pushed to the limits as she fights to protect her family.

Grace, new mother of baby Miles, desperately wants to put her rough past behind her for good, but she finds it impossible when her path crosses with Hadley’s, and her quest for a new start quickly spirals out of control and turns into a terrifying flight for survival.

Stronger together than apart, the two find their fates inextricably entwined, and as the danger closes in, each must decide how much she is willing to risk for the other.

And The Lady in Residence by Alison Pittman.

Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.

In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?

I am also planning a Read/Listen of The Shadow Man by Helen Fields.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.
 
Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.
 
Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.
 
And he’s watching.

And oh, Susan, you are going to laugh at this. You know how I have been saying that I have been requesting books and a lot of them I have either heard nothing about, or they have gone to ‘wishlist’? Well I have had an absolute avalanche of approvals this week….seventeen!!!! So here they are:

The Reach by B. Michael Radburn (Taylor Bridges #3), Australian fiction

A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe

Lost Souls by Chris Merritt

In Her Tracks (Tracy Crosswhite #8) by Robert Dugoni

The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean

The Receptionist by Kate Myles

The Best of Friends by Alex Day

The Ocean in Winter by Elizabeth de Veer

The Girls from Alexandria by Carol Cooper

The Broken Ones (Detective Gina Harte #8) by Carla Kovach

One Perfect Grave (Nikki Hunt #2) by Stacy Green

The The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan

The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams

The Night Gate by Peter May

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

And the audiobook of The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

Stay safe, keep calm and read on! I will leave you with photos of Whale Bay and Manu Bay in Raglan, New Zealand.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Please note: this book is nothing to do with the Fifty series…

EXCERPT: They took me in my nightgown.

Thinking back, the signs were there – family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewellery into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work. My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions. I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs. Only later did I realise that Mother and Father intended we escape. We did not escape.

We were taken.

ABOUT ‘BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY’: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.

MY THOUGHTS: I had previously read Salt to the Sea by this author and really enjoyed it. Over Christmas I saw the movie based on this book, Ashes in the Snow, which I enjoyed, and did not know until the end that it was based on Between Shades of Gray. Although I enjoyed the movie, the book is much better. It is far more detailed and I felt more invested in the characters.

Ruta Sepetys writes simply and beautifully about one of the darkest periods in our history. The beautiful writing only serves to intensify the horror of the atrocities that happened, that she describes so clearly and dispassionately, that she brings to life with her prose.

It is impossible not to fall in love with her characters: Lina is a talented artist with a determination and strength of character that astounded me; she protected her younger brother Jonas with all the fierceness of a lioness protecting her cub, a trait I believe she inherited from her mother; Andrius is the boy/man whom Lina loves and another source of her strength.

This is a harrowing story of hardship, loss, torture and cruelty. Yet it is also a story of strength, love and compassion.

Don’t expect any resolution at the end. The book ends rather abruptly (as did the film) leaving the reader to decide their fate.

This is a story that needed to be told, a truth that needs to be heard, an atrocity that must never be repeated.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

“Was it harder to die, or harder to be the one who survived?”

THE AUTHOR: Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. The daughter of a refugee, Ruta is drawn to underrepresented stories of strength through struggle and hopes to give voice to those who weren’t able to tell their story.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, published by Penguin Books, from Waitomo District Library. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.com

All the Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White

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EXCERPT: I stopped, noticing an unusual postage stamp on one of the envelopes. It was a red US airmail eight-cent stamp showing a picture of aviatrix Amelia Earhart. My name and address had been scribbled in barely comprehensible letters on the front in bold, black ink. Definitely not a graduate of a British boarding school then, so perhaps not a school friend of Kit’s offering condolences.

I looked at the top left corner to read the return address. A. Bowdoin, Esq., Willig, Williams & White, 5 Wall Street, New York, NY. I assumed Bowdoin was either a funeral director or a lawyer, having never clearly understood the difference between the two when it came to death and taxes.

Climbing the stairs, I slid my finger under the flap and began tearing the envelope, not wanting to go through the bother of retrieving a letter opener. Tucking the rest of the post under one arm, I pulled out a piece of letterhead paper and began to read.

Dear Mrs. Langford,

My condolences on the death of your late husband, Christopher Langford. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but my father, Walter, was a huge admirer and shared with me many stories of your husband’s bravery and courage during the war.

We only recently became aware of your husband’s passing when an old war friend of my father’s mailed him the obituary from the Times. It took a while to find us, which is why it has taken me so long to contact you. I realise my letter might be a surprise and might even be an imposition at best. But I hope that you might bear with me so that I might explain myself and perhaps even enlist your assistance.

In the obituary, it mentioned your husband’s brave exploits in France as well as his involvement with the French Resistance fighter known only as La Fleur. As you may or may not be aware, she has reached nearly mythical proportions in French lore – to the point where some say she never even really existed.

My slow progress up the stairs halted, and I grabbed the banister, the other envelopes slipping from their hold under my arm before gently cascading down the steps. La Fleur.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The heiress . . .
The Resistance fighter . . .
The widow . . .
Three women whose fates are joined by one splendid hotel

France, 1914. As war breaks out, Aurelie becomes trapped on the wrong side of the front with her father, Comte Sigismund de Courcelles. When the Germans move into their family’s ancestral estate, using it as their headquarters, Aurelie discovers she knows the German Major’s aide de camp, Maximilian Von Sternburg. She and the dashing young officer first met during Aurelie’s debutante days in Paris. Despite their conflicting loyalties, Aurelie and Max’s friendship soon deepens into love, but betrayal will shatter them both, driving Aurelie back to Paris and the Ritz— the home of her estranged American heiress mother, with unexpected consequences.

France, 1942. Raised by her indomitable, free-spirited American grandmother in the glamorous Hotel Ritz, Marguerite “Daisy” Villon remains in Paris with her daughter and husband, a Nazi collaborator, after France falls to Hitler. At first reluctant to put herself and her family at risk to assist her grandmother’s Resistance efforts, Daisy agrees to act as a courier for a skilled English forger known only as Legrand, who creates identity papers for Resistance members and Jewish refugees. But as Daisy is drawn ever deeper into Legrand’s underground network, committing increasingly audacious acts of resistance for the sake of the country—and the man—she holds dear, she uncovers a devastating secret . . . one that will force her to commit the ultimate betrayal, and to confront at last the shocking circumstances of her own family history.

France, 1964. For Barbara “Babs” Langford, her husband, Kit, was the love of her life. Yet their marriage was haunted by a mysterious woman known only as La Fleur. On Kit’s death, American lawyer Andrew “Drew” Bowdoin appears at her door. Hired to find a Resistance fighter turned traitor known as “La Fleur,” the investigation has led to Kit Langford. Curious to know more about the enigmatic La Fleur, Babs joins Drew in his search, a journey of discovery that that takes them to Paris and the Ritz—and to unexpected places of the heart. . . .

MY THOUGHTS: What a splendid journey through three time periods, piecing together the mystery of the identity of La Fleur and her ‘talisman’.

All the Ways We Said Goodbye celebrates the strength of women who survived the war against impossible odds while fighting covertly against the Germans. Impeccably researched and beautifully written, this saga spans two world wars, and a period of discovery. Yes, it is greatly sanitised, and relies quite heavily on the romantic aspect, but the bones of the story are good and solid. While there are no great surprises, it is an interesting read, and I will continue to follow this wonderful collaboration of authors. (Is there a term for a group of authors, I wonder?)

I would love to know the story of how these three came to write together. Personally, I find it quite amazing that three different writers can write together to produce a piece of fiction that moves seamlessly from one narrator and timeline, to another, and another. I have seen less cohesion in books written by a single author! The plot is intricate but not confusing, the characters well depicted. There are multiple narrators on this audiobook, and all are superb.

If you like multi-generational family sagas, this is a good one for you.

****.4

THE AUTHORS: Beatriz Williams is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Golden Hour, The Summer Wives, A Hundred Summers, and The Wicked Redhead. A native of Seattle, she graduated from Stanford University and earned an MBA in finance from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels, including The Summer Country, The Ashford Affair, and The English Wife, as well as the RITA Award–winning Pink Carnation series. An alumna of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a JD from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City with her husband, kindergartner, toddler, and vast quantities of coffee.

Karen White is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-five novels, including Dreams of Falling and The Night the Lights Went Out. She currently writes what she refers to as “grit lit”—Southern women’s fiction—and has also expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. She is a graduate of the American School in London and has a BS in management from Tulane University. When not writing, she spends her time reading, singing, and avoiding cooking. She has two grown children and currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two spoiled Havanese dogs.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of All The Ways to Say Goodbye written by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White, narrated by Helen Sadler, Nicola Barber, Saskia Maarleveld, and published by Harper Audio. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on Sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Into the Darkest Day by Kate Hewitt

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EXCERPT: Hello, you don’t know me, but I know of you – at least a bit! My grandmother, Sophie Mather, died a few months ago, and she was in possession of your grandfather, Tom Reese’s, Purple Heart medal, awarded during his active service in the second world war. She told me she wanted it returned to ‘it’s proper owner.’

I’ve read on your website that your grandfather passed away some time ago, and I’m very sorry for your loss. I presume that the proper owner now would be you or your father. I’m coming to the United States this summer for an extended visit, and would love the opportunity to return the medal to your family.

Abby had read it all, her mind both blank and spinning. Sophie Mather? What medal? And a visit?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: 1944, London:
When Lily meets enigmatic GI Matthew in war-torn London, she doesn’t expect to fall in love. While her sister starts a reckless affair with another GI, Lily tries to hide her growing feelings for Matthew.

But Matthew has a devastating secret. One that could change their lives forever.

Present day, USA:
Abby lives a quiet life on an apple farm in Wisconsin. Tormented by survivor’s guilt after the tragic deaths of her mother and brother, Abby leaves the orchards as little as possible, keeping her life small, peaceful and safe… Until she is contacted by Englishman Simon Elliot, who arrives nursing a heartbreak of his own, and bearing a World War Two medal that he claims belonged to Abby’s grandfather.

Together they begin to piece together the heartbreaking story of their relatives’ war. But as the story brings Abby and Simon closer—tentatively beginning to lean on one another to heal—they uncover a dark secret from the past.

And like Lily and Matthew nearly eighty years before them, it will make Abby and Simon question whether you can ever truly trust someone, even when they have your heart…

MY THOUGHTS: I went into this book thinking that it was going to be a pleasant mystery/romance. And it was. But I have read enough of Kate Hewitt’s books by now that I should have known better. Anything she writes packs a punch, and Into the Darkest Day sure does that.

The story is written over dual timelines, the current day through the voices of Abby and Simon, and 1944/5 through the voices of Lily and Matthew.

Into the Darkest Day is rich in historical detail. The London blitz, with nights spent in cold and cramped Anderson shelters in the back garden while the skies buzz and scream and crackle under enemy attack, droning planes and thudding bombs, emerging after the all clear into air full of dust and the acrid smell of burning, the smell of destruction, to find a once familiar landscape cratered and littered with rubble and the scant remains of people’s personal possessions.

The Wobbelin internment camp where bodies were stacked like winter logs, one atop the other, waiting to be incinerated. Where the survivors are skeletons, with skin stretched over their bones, starved to the point where to give them food would kill them.

I had never before heard of the Ritchie Boys, German Jews who acted as interpreters and interrogators in the final stages of the war, men who returned to Germany to face and confront those who had once tormented and tortured them. Please make sure that you read Kate’s letter at the end of the book, AFTER you finish.

I have read a lot of books about the war, and the camps, but I don’t think I have ever read anything quite so graphically described in so few words.

The characters and their relationships are absolutely absorbing, as is the mystery surrounding the medals. Yes, there is more than one. Mystery, and medal.

I loved Into the Darkest Day, as I have everything I have read by this author. This book has only strengthened my resolve to read everything that Kate has ever written. Highly recommended.

❤❤❤❤.5

Dysfunctional families are ones with people in them.

THE AUTHOR: Kate is the USA Today-bsetselling author of many books of women’s fiction. Her latest releases are A Vicarage Homecoming and Not My Daughter. Under the name Katharine Swartz, she is the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell.

She likes to read women’s fiction, mystery and thrillers, as well as historical novels. She particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.

Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in a market town in Wales with her husband, five children, and two Golden Retrievers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Into the Darkest Day by Kate Hewitt for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3253819616

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

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EXCERPT: From Amelia Maugery to Juliet

8 February 1946

Dear Miss Ashton,

Dawsey Adams has just been to call on me. I have never seen him as pleased with anything as he is with your gift and letter. He was so busy convincing me to write to you by the next post that he forgot to be shy. I don’t believe he is aware of it, but Dawsey has a rare gift for persuasion – he never asks for anything for himself, so everyone is eager to do what he asks for others.

He told me of your proposed article and asked if I would write to you about the literary society we formed during – and because of – the German occupation. I will be happy to do so, but with a caveat.

A friend from England sent me a copy of ‘Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War.’ We had no news from the outside world for five years, so you can imagine how satisfying it was to learn how England endured those years herself. Your book was as informative as it was amusing and entertaining – but it is the amusing tone that I must quibble with.

I realise that our name, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, is an unusual one and could easily be subjected to ridicule. Would you assure me that you will not be tempted to do so? The society members are very dear to me, and I do not wish them to be perceived as objects of fun by your readers.

Would you be willing to tell me of your intentions for the article and also something of yourself? If you can appreciate the import of my questions, I should be glad to tell you about the Society. I hope I shall hear from you soon.

Yours sincerely,
Amelia Maugery.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It’s 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can’t think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a book that once belonged to her – and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it’s not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.

MY THOUGHTS: I hate to think how long I have had a copy (paperback)of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on my shelves. It’s one of those books that I look at frequently, thinking ‘I must read that,’ and then pick up something else to fill the hours my Kindle is on the charger. But this time, instead of passing it by, yet again, I pulled it off the shelf.

I didn’t think that I was going to enjoy it at first. For although some of the letters were amusing, particularly the one concerning the teapot incident, I don’t find reading a series of letters between different people to be a particularly effective plot device. I like to be there, in the thick of it, rather than reading about it. And this story is told entirely by letter and telegram.

But somewhere along the line, the people in these letters began to be very real, their personalities shining through and, believe me, there are some very strong, very quirky characters. The letters themselves are a mixed bag, from the very formal to informal notes, long and short, from and to a wide variety of characters. It is through these letters/telegrams that we gain a comprehensive picture of the ingenuity of these Island people, their grit and determination, their unwillingness to succumb to the German rule.

And running through this is two love stories, one of a local girl for a German during the war, the other taking place with Juliet. But this is not a romance novel. It is a story of strength, loyalty and friendship. It is absorbing, sad and joyous.

I believe that this has now been made into a movie. Dare I watch it? I am inevitably disappointed by the movie adaptations of books I have enjoyed. I think that, if I do, I shall wait some time, until my memories of the book have blurred and faded a little.

🤗😢❤😊

THE AUTHOR: Mary Ann Shaffer worked as an editor, a librarian, and in bookshops. Her life-long dream was to someday write her own book and publish it. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel. Unfortunately, she became very ill with cancer and so she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean, as well as The Magic Half, to help her finish the book. Mary Ann Shaffer died in February 2008, a few months before her first novel was published. (Goodreads.com)

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, written by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows, published by Dial Press. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1212614277

A View Across the Rooftops by Suzanne Kelman

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EXCERPT: As Held walked home that evening, he bought a bottle of wine with his groceries as he dwelled on his day. The loss was acute. He knew it was just a wireless, a thing, an object, but it was what it represented to him. Hadn’t the Nazis already taken so much? Their town, their way of life, their hope. Why was one more thing so important? They were already stripped and surrendered. What was the point of taking even more? And what would they do with his wireless? The sting of resentment coursed through him as he imagined it taking pride of place in some Nazi’s home or, worse, getting dusty on some German requisition shelf. What harm could come to Germany from a mathematics professor with a wireless tuned to a classical music station?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: 1941, Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. An unforgettable story of love, hope and betrayal, and a testament to the courage of humanity in history’s darkest days.

As Nazis occupy his beloved city, Professor Josef Held feels helpless. So when he discovers his former pupil Michael Blum is trying to escape the Gestapo, he offers Michael a place to hide in his attic.

In the quiet gloom of the secret room, Michael talks of his beautiful, fearless girlfriend, Elke. Michael insists that not even the Nazis will come between them. But Elke is a non-Jewish Dutch girl, and their relationship is strictly forbidden.

Josef sees the passionate determination in his young friend’s eyes. Furious with the rules of the cruel German soldiers and remembering his own heartbreak, Josef feels desperate to give Michael and Elke’s love a chance. But then tragedy strikes, and Josef is faced with an impossible choice.

In the dark days of war, with danger and betrayal at every turn, no-one can be trusted. If Michael is to survive and get back to the woman he loves, it will be down to Josef – to find the hero inside himself, and do whatever it takes to keep Michael alive.

Even if it means putting his own life in mortal danger.

MY THOUGHTS: A View Across the Rooftops never quite drew me in and enveloped me. I found it quite superficial, sanitised, rather than heart-wrenching. It makes oblique references to the atrocities that were inflicted on the Jewish population, but the closest it gets to the real thing is a brief description of the rounding up and trucking out of the Jews from the ghetto. And even that is dealt with rather gently.

This is a gentle book. A light, easy read that stirred no emotions in me whatsoever. And to be truthful, I began to lose interest in the middle. It picked up again at about 80% through, but at no point did I feel the raw emotion I have experienced with some other books dealing with the same subject.

More than a story of a man surviving German occupation and sheltering a Jew in his attic for most of the duration of the war, it is more a story of a man coming to terms with himself and his past, enabled by the war, and learning to live again.

My favourite quote from A View Across the Rooftops: ‘It’s hard for anyone to breathe in all of that, so much sadness in the air.’

#AViewAcrossThe Rooftops #NetGalley

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in the United Kingdom, Suzanne now resides in Washington State.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of A View Across the Rooftops by Suzanne Kelman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on my webpage sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Amazon, Twitter and my webpage
EXCERPT: As Held walked home that evening, he bought a bottle of wine with his groceries as he dwelled on his day. The loss was acute. He knew it was just a wireless, a thing, an object, but it was what it represented to him. Hadn’t the Nazis already taken so much? Their town, their way of life, their hope. Why was one more thing so important? They were already stripped and surrendered. What was the point of taking even more? And what would they do with his wireless? The sting of resentment coursed through him as he imagined it taking pride of place in some Nazi’s home or, worse, getting dusty on some German requisition shelf. What harm could come to Germany from a mathematics professor with a wireless tuned to a classical music station?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: 1941, Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. An unforgettable story of love, hope and betrayal, and a testament to the courage of humanity in history’s darkest days.

As Nazis occupy his beloved city, Professor Josef Held feels helpless. So when he discovers his former pupil Michael Blum is trying to escape the Gestapo, he offers Michael a place to hide in his attic.

In the quiet gloom of the secret room, Michael talks of his beautiful, fearless girlfriend, Elke. Michael insists that not even the Nazis will come between them. But Elke is a non-Jewish Dutch girl, and their relationship is strictly forbidden.

Josef sees the passionate determination in his young friend’s eyes. Furious with the rules of the cruel German soldiers and remembering his own heartbreak, Josef feels desperate to give Michael and Elke’s love a chance. But then tragedy strikes, and Josef is faced with an impossible choice.

In the dark days of war, with danger and betrayal at every turn, no-one can be trusted. If Michael is to survive and get back to the woman he loves, it will be down to Josef – to find the hero inside himself, and do whatever it takes to keep Michael alive.

Even if it means putting his own life in mortal danger.

MY THOUGHTS: A View Across the Rooftops never quite drew me in and enveloped me. I found it quite superficial, sanitised, rather than heart-wrenching. It makes oblique references to the atrocities that were inflicted on the Jewish population, but the closest it gets to the real thing is a brief description of the rounding up and trucking out of the Jews from the ghetto. And even that is dealt with rather gently.

This is a gentle book. A light, easy read that stirred no emotions in me whatsoever. And to be truthful, I began to lose interest in the middle. It picked up again at about 80% through, but at no point did I feel the raw emotion I have experienced with some other books dealing with the same subject.

More than a story of a man surviving German occupation and sheltering a Jew in his attic for most of the duration of the war, it is more a story of a man coming to terms with himself and his past, enabled by the war, and learning to live again.

My favourite quote from A View Across the Rooftops: ‘It’s hard for anyone to breathe in all of that, so much sadness in the air.’

#AViewAcrossThe Rooftops #NetGalley

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in the United Kingdom, Suzanne now resides in Washington State.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of A View Across the Rooftops by Suzanne Kelman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on my webpage sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Amazon, Twitter and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2969230465?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

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EXCERPT: Her father was a great rabbi, but she was the one who had a true talent. For the thousandth time she wished she were a boy. She had no interest in marriage or babies, only in the world of scholars, from which she was prohibited. She could taste the bitter dirt as they finished digging, and she nearly choked on it. It occurred to her that once she broke the rules of her family and her faith, there would be no going back. But on this morning, all she knew was that she wanted to live.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In 1941, during humanity’s darkest hour, three unforgettable young women must act with courage and love to survive, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites Alice Hoffman.

In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.

Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she’s destined to be.

What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never ending.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Once upon a time something happened that you never could have imagined, a spell was broken, a girl was saved, a rose grew out of a tooth buried deep in the ground, love was everywhere, and people who had been taken away continued to walk with you, in dreams and in the waking world.’

This is a book that can’t be buttonholed into one or even two categories. Historical, magical, fantasy, love, family drama doesn’t even begin to describe The World That We Knew.

The author’s introduction is one of the most moving that I have read. Please don’t skip it. It tells how this book was born. And the relationship between fairytales and real life. If you don’t think there is one, then you really do need to read it.

The magical aspects of Hoffman’s writing does nothing to dilute the horrors of the Holocaust; in fact, if anything, it heightens the inhumanity of man against man. She writes beautifully and lyrically about one of the darkest periods in the history of man, holding nothing back, but always there is hope that shines like a beacon.

I was a history student, and WWII was one of my pet subjects, but I have learned more from Hoffman’s writing than I ever did in school. It is far easier to relate to and has far greater significance when it is on a more personal level.

I finished The World That We Knew last night and I have written a dozen reviews in my head during the day, all of which were far more eloquent and reflective than this. I had highlighted dozens of passages in an effort to capture the essence of this book. But after reading and rereading them, I stayed with the first; the one that says ‘all she knew was that she wanted to live.’ There is no greater desire in life than to live and to keep your loved ones safe. ‘If you are loved, you never lose the person who loved you. You carry them with you all your life.’ And the reverse is true, that if you love someone, you can never lose that person. You carry them with you all your life. And that, to me, is the essence of The World That We Knew; the magic of love.

❤❤❤❤

THE AUTHOR: Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. Her most recent novel is The World That We Knew. She lives near Boston.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The World That We Knew for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile or the about page on my webpage sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2941683080?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

My Name is Eva by Suzanne Goldring

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EXCERPT: ‘What I’d like to do this time,’ says Inspector Williams on his second visit, is ask you a bit about your time in the forces. I believe you joined up after you lost your husband, when he was killed in action. In 1943, wasn’t it?’

‘Is that when it was? I can’t remember dates. Hugh wasn’t at all keen for me to join. He wanted me to wait for him, but I so wanted to do something useful.’ She looks across the room at Pat, who is sitting with her arms crossed looking irritated. ‘Can you remember, dear? When my poor Hugh was killed?’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: You can pay a terrible price for keeping a promise…

Evelyn Taylor-Clarke sits in her chair at Forest Lawns Care Home in the heart of the English countryside, surrounded by residents with minds not as sharp as hers. It would be easy to dismiss Evelyn as a muddled old woman, but her lipstick is applied perfectly, and her buttons done up correctly. Because Evelyn is a woman with secrets and Evelyn remembers everything. She can never forget the promise she made to the love of her life, to discover the truth about the mission that led to his death, no matter what it cost her…

When Evelyn’s niece Pat opens an old biscuit tin to find a photo of a small girl with a red ball entitled ‘Liese, 1951’ and a passport in another name, she has some questions for her aunt. And Evelyn is transported back to a place in Germany known as ‘The Forbidden Village,’ where a woman who called herself Eva went where no one else dared, amongst shivering prisoners, to find the man who gambled with her husband’s life…

MY THOUGHTS: Right off, I have to say that I loved the character of Evelyn. She is perceptive, clever and oh so manipulative! She runs rings around everyone else. I hope that if I make it into my nineties, I shall be as sharp as she is.

While I loved the story of Eva/Evie/Evelyn/Hildebrand, and applauded her and rooted for her throughout, I did have a few issues with the writing. I felt that the author repeated herself a little to often, and that the moving backwards and forwards between the war days and afterwards, and the present (2016) could have been handled a little better. It didn’t flow in parts and a few times I wondered when and where I was…. I felt that Evie’s letters to her husband added little to the plot, and were often a cause of the repetition.

But overall I enjoyed the story (enjoyed it enough to read it in one sitting) and plan to read more by this author.

****

THE AUTHOR: This is the debut novel for Suzanne Goldring, who has previously published Powerless – The Year the Lights Went Out.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture vis NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of My Name is Eva by Suzanne Goldring for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2891283725?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

I finished
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before I got out of bed this morning after starting it last night. My review will be posted tomorrow.

I am listening to 17187220
So if you saw someone walking to work Friday morning laughing…that was me. I love McKinty’s sense of humour.

This week I am planning on reading

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Behind every successful man is a strong woman… but in these stories, she might be about to plant a knife in his spine. The characters in this anthology are fed up – tired of being held back, held down, held accountable – by the misogyny of the system. They’re ready to resist by biting back in their own individual ways, be it through magic, murder, technology, teeth, pitfalls and even… potlucks. Join sixteen writers as they explore feminism in fantasy, science-fiction, fractured fairy-tales, historical settings, and the all-too-familiar chauvinist contemporary world.

(While most of the content is YA appropriate, please note the editors recommend this anthology for 16+.)

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In small towns, no one lets the facts get in the way of juicy gossip…

Terri Rayburn is a girl with a reputation. She doesn’t deserve it, but having grown up on the outskirts of Summer Hill, Virginia, she knows how small towns work. The only way to deal with vicious gossip is to ignore it. So she keeps to herself as she runs the summer resort on Lake Kissel.

When she returns home from a short trip to find a handsome stranger living in her house, she smells a rat. Someone is trying to fix her up, and she has to admit that Nate Taggert is just her type. However, Nate is engaged to the daughter of the mayor and strictly off-limits.

Nate and Terri form an unlikely friendship while he throws himself into life at the lake. As Nate starts to hear rumors about Terri he’s confused. Knowing how smart, beautiful and strong she is, he’s determined to discover the source of the gossip. Terri doesn’t want to revisit the past, but Nate won’t stop until he discovers the truth—even if the truth might be more than either of them can handle.

I had no new ARCs from Netgalley this week, but I have received two directly from authors.

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And Owen Mullen (I love this author) has sent me an ARC for Deadly Harm….sorry I don’t yet have any cover art, but as soon as I do, you will see it.

A short post today as I have been at work all day and I really need some dinner. So excuse me while I roast some potatoes and throw together a salad to have with our pork chops.

Happy reading my friends. ❤😍📚

The Hidden by Mary Chamberlain

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EXCERPT: She was propelled down the stairs, tumbling, dragged. Shoved into a car. She could sense the two Feldgendarmen following, sitting either side of her. She was aware of their arms, the hard metal badge on their chests, aware of them making gestures.

The car was driving fast, tyres squealing as they rounded the corners, hitting the kerb stones as they went, throwing (her) against the Feldgendarmen. The car came to a halt, the door opened.

‘Raus.’

They pulled her out. She could smell the sea, hear the breath of waves as they lapped against the stone. Gulls screeched above. She was still in town. Perhaps by the harbour, in the square in front of the Pomme d’Or. A Feldgendarmen grabbed her arm, marched her up the steps. The Pomme d’Or had no stairs. She caught the scent of jasmine through the mouldy hessian of her hood. Jasmine.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Dora, Joe, and Geoffrey are living out their retirement comfortably when their worlds are shattered by the arrival of Barbara Hummel, a young German anxious to track down the identity of a mysterious woman whose photograph she finds amongst her mother’s possessions.

As the truth of what happened under the
occupation begins to be revealed, the lives of Dora, a Jewish refugee, and Joe, a Catholic priest, begin to unravel in shocking and surprising ways. The consequences of the lives they lived under the Germans and the lies that followed
are as unexpected as they are devastating.

MY THOUGHTS: I was lulled into a false sense of security at the beginning of The Hidden. It was such a comfortable read that I wanted to move in with these people. Now? No thank you!

Mary Chamberlain has perfected the art of contrasting the everyday, the mundane, with the horrors of the war. She details great beauty and great cruelty with equal passion. She makes us fall in love with her main characters, both the 1940s versions, and the people that they become.

She has introduced me to aspects of the war of which I was previously unaware. The Hidden had me falling in love with Jersey, and crying at the atrocities that took place. I stayed up late last night, reading, and was late to work this morning because I lingered over this book. I read it at morning tea, taking myself off to a quiet corner, and finished it over lunch with tears trickling down my cheeks.

The Hidden is a book that I unreservedly recommend. It is written with a great depth of feeling and the subject has been well researched.

❤💜🧡💛

THE AUTHOR: Mary Chamberlain is a novelist and historian. Her book Fenwomen was the first book to be published by Virago Press in 1975. Since then, she has published six other works of history, and edited a further five. Her first novel, The Mighty Jester was published by Dr. Cicero Books in the US. Her British debut novel, The Dressmaker of Dachau was published by HarperCollins in the UK and, under the title The Dressmaker’s War, by Random House in the USA. In all, it sold to 19 countries and was an international best-seller. Her last novel, The Hidden, was published by OneWorld Publications in February 2019. The Sunday Times listed it as their MUST READ choice of the best recent books in February 2019.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to One World Publications via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Hidden by Mary Chamberlain for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2913837063