And They Called It Camelot: [Book Review]

May 15, 2020

And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton

And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton (cover) Image: Jack and Jackie Kennedy sit in a sailboat on a calm ocean

Genre/Categories: Biographical Historical Fiction, First Lady, U.S. History

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

And They Called it Camelot is an imagined and candid portrait of the life of first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) from the time of her engagement to (President) John F. Kennedy to after the death of Aristotle Onassis. In particular, it’s the story of a determined and dignified “Jackie O” picking up the pieces of her life and finding her voice over and over again.

My Thoughts:

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#throwbackthursday Refugee by Alan Gratz [Book Review]

May 7, 2020

Refugee by Alan Gratz
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a favorite MG/YA read, Refugee by Alan Gratz.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Refugee by Alan Gratz (cover) Image: a small child with back to camera in a small red rowboat on a stormy ocean

Genre/Categories: Middle Grade through Adult, Historical Fiction, Global Issues, Refugees

My Summary:

“Refugee is the relevant story of the refugee experience from three unique perspectives:

  • 12/13-year-old Josef and family are Jewish and attempt to escape Nazi Germany in 1938 aboard a ship bound for a country(Cuba) that will accept them.
  • 12-year-old Isabel and family are Cuban and flee riots and unrest in Cuba in 1994 on a homemade raft pointed toward safety in Miami, Florida.
  • 12-year-old Mahmoud and family are Syrian and seek to escape war-torn Aleppo in 2015 and relocate to Germany.

Even though these families are separated by continents and decades, their stories share certain similarities. Each journey is fraught with harrowing adventures, frustration, courage, resiliency, heartache, injustice, persecution, dangers, children assuming adult roles and responsibility, loss of childhood innocence and joy, and loss of family members. However, the families have hope that drives them forward. Amazon Rating (May): 4.8 Stars (This is a very high rating in which 85% of the stars are in the 5 star category.)”

“See us, he thought. Hear us. Help us.”

Continue reading my review of Refugee to see what I loved….

QOTD: Have you read Refugee or is it on your TBR?

Where the Lost Wander [Review]

April 28, 2020

 Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon (cover) Image: Two covered wagons crossing a prairie

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Historical Western Romance/Love Story, Oregon Trail (U.S.History)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks, #netgalley #lakeunionpublishing for providing a free e ARC of #wherethelostwander by Amy Harmon in response to my request. All opinions are my own.

In 1853, newly widowed Naomi May sets out for the West with her family.  On the Oregon Trail which is filled with hardship, danger, and loss, she meets John Lowry. As the journey progresses and becomes more harrowing, they grow closer but their relationship is tested in intense and emotional ways.

My Thoughts:

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Code Name Helene [Review]

April 24, 2020

Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhom (coveer)

Genre/Categories: Biographical Historical Fiction, World War 11, French Resistance Movement

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Real-life socialite spy, Nancy Wake….

Told in multiple timelines, Code Name Hélène is the thrilling and intense story of real-life socialite spy, Nancy Wake. Helene is only one of her four code names. When Nancy Wake first meets the love of her life, wealthy Henri Fiocca, in 1936, she is a freelance reporter and an Australian ex-pat living in Paris. As the Germans invade France, she begins her spy career by using her socialite status to smuggle documents and people across borders. Eventually, she is forced to escape France and leave Henri behind. At this time she is trained for Special Operations by the British and returns to France to work in the French Resistance Movement. Known for her innovative thinking and leadership, profanity, and red lipstick, she secures weapons from the allied forces for the French Resistance fighters. This is complicated because she is also a hunted woman with a bounty on her head.

My Thoughts:

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#throwbackthursday Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

April 23, 2020

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys as well as linking to two more reviews of her books.

Do you have a favorite auto-buy author? Ruta Sepetys is one of mine!
Have you read other books by Ruta Sepetys?
Salt to the Sea
Between Shades of Gray
The Fountains of Silence

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (cover) Image: a yellow camisole hangs on a padded hanger above an old brown suitcase

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

My Summary:

It’s 1950 in the French Quarter of New Orleans when we meet seventeen-year-old Josie. A high achiever with a great deal of grit and savvy, she is the daughter of an unreliable mother who is a prostitute, benefits from an unlikely mentoring relationship with a tough madam, and is trying to survive in The Big Easy. Although Josie has a plan to get out, she becomes tangled in an investigation that could change her dream of an elite eastern college and her future. Throughout the story, she is tried, tempted, and tested. How will her decisions shape her future?

Click here to continue reading my review of Out of the Easy (plus links to two more reviews of her other books)….

QOTD: Have you read a book by Ruta Sepetys? Have you read Out of the Easy or is it on your TBR?

As Bright As Heaven [Review] #flashbackfriday

April 17, 2020

Under lockdown orders due to COVID-19, I’ve thought many times of Susan Meissner’s book As Bright As Heaven which is about the 1918 Flu Pandemic. It’s amazing that what I read two years ago about a pandemic that happened one hundred years ago is relevant today!  I’ve also enjoyed The Secret Library’s Book Review Blog posts for #flashbackfriday. So even though it’s not the first Friday of the month, I’m joining Kerry @ Chat About Books to share my review of As Bright As Heaven that was first published in February of 2018. I hope I’ll be forgiven for joining the meme mid-month….I couldn’t wait until the first Friday of another month to bring your attention to this relevant read! Also….the Kindle version is $3.99 today!

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner (cover)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary:

Three events coincide in this story: the Bright family moves to Philadelphia in 1918 for a fresh start, many men go off to fight in the Great War, and the Flu spreads in America. As Pauline Bright and her husband pursue their dream of giving their three daughters a chance at a better life in the big city of Philadelphia, the Flu Pandemic and the Great War greatly impact their lives and rearrange their priorities. Told from four perspectives (mother and the three daughters), it’s a story of survival, making difficult choices, facing challenges, and finding hope. Amazon Rating (early reviews): 4.7 Stars

Meet Two Sisters, Evelyn and Maggie Bright

Historical fiction is my favorite genre because in the stories we find ordinary people doing extraordinary things under difficult circumstances. Not too different from the inspiring stories we hear today on the news involving COVID-19 heroes. We are living the historical fiction stories of the future.

Timely…memorable…uputdownable…

In As Bright As Heaven, Evelyn (Evie) and Maggie Bright are the two older sisters and they become memorable characters with unique personalities and different strengths and weaknesses. Fifteen and twelve when the story opens, Evie is the oldest sister, smart, inquisitive, and a reader, while Maggie is feisty, opinionated, good-hearted, fearless, and determined. As their father leaves to fulfill his war-time responsibilities and the Flu begins to ravage Philadelphia and affect their family, the girls are forced to take on adult-sized responsibilities and concerns. As Evie and Maggie experience love and loss, they are also resilient, courageous in the face of challenges, and make many difficult decisions and choices. Despite dire circumstances, the sisters value family and never lose their ability to love and care for each other. While Evie embraces her role as the eldest and assumes responsibility and leadership, Maggie is a wild card who stubbornly insists on accompanying her mother on errands of mercy to the poorest and most needy population of Philadelphia to deliver food and medicine, bravely seeks to work in the family mortuary business, and one day impulsively makes a heart-wrenching discovery that leads her to make a life-changing decision that will impact all their lives. Her actions will promote great book club discussions about taking risks to do the right thing and facing the consequences.

Readers will laugh and cry with these unforgettable characters as well as learn facts about the Spanish Flu and its impact on Philadelphia.

Recommended. As Bright As Heaven is wholeheartedly recommended for readers who love reading about strong independent women, for those who love historical fiction and against-the-odds stories, for those who are looking for a value-centered and inspiring read, and for book clubs. It’s a simply written and straight-forward story despite alternating between four perspectives. Its memorable characters and tragic circumstances make this a solid and unforgettable read. As Bright As Heaven and A Fall of Marigolds are my two favorite Meissner titles!

Trigger Warnings: death from flu, dire circumstances
Content Warning: the setting is a funeral home

My Rating: 4+ Stars.

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As Bright as Heaven

As Bright As Heaven Information Here

Meet the Author, Susan Meissner

Author, Susan Meissner (head shot, wearing a coral cardigan leaning against a wood slat wall)I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t driven to write. I attribute this passion to a creative God and to parents who love books and more particularly to a dad who majored in English and passed on a passion for writing.

I was born in 1961 in San Diego, California, and am the second of three daughters. I spent my very average childhood in just two houses. I attended Point Loma College in San Diego, majoring in education, but I would have been smarter to major in English with a concentration in writing. The advice I give now to anyone wondering what to major in is to follow your heart and choose a vocation you are already in love with.

I’m happy and humbled to say that I’ve had 17 books published in the last dozen years, including The Shape of Mercy, which was named one of the 100 Best Books in 2008 by Publishers Weekly, and the ECPA’s Fiction Book of the Year, a Carol Award winner, and a RITA finalist. I teach at writers’ conferences from time to time and I have a background in community journalism.

I’m also a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When I’m not at work on a new novel, I write small group curriculum for my San Diego church. Visit me at my website: http//:susanmeissner.com on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at http://www.facebook.com/susan.meissner



QOTD:

Have you read As Bright As Heaven? Have you read another book about a pandemic? (I know it was briefly mentioned in Last Christmas in Paris.) Do you think ABAH would be too difficult to read right now in light of COVID-19 or do you think it would be interesting?



ICYMI

National Poetry Month

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Lighter Reads During Stressful Times

Ten Signs That I’m a Book Lover

Ten  Favorite Books About Books

The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

 



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

 

 

1st Line/1st Paragraphs, Tuesday Intros: The Operator by Gretchen Berg

April 14, 2020

1st Line/1st Paragraphs, Tuesday Intros

I’m linking up this week with Socrates’ Book Reviews who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph (Tuesday Intros) of the book you are currently reading.

First Chapter, First Paagraph, Tuesday Intros (image: stack of books)

I’m pleased to share the first paragraph of The Operator by Gretchen Berg.

Is this on your TBR or have you read it?

Amazon Summary:

“In a small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business . . .

Nobody knows the people of Wooster, Ohio, better than switchboard operator Vivian Dalton, and she’d be the first to tell you that. She calls it intuition. Her teenage daughter, Charlotte, calls it eavesdropping.

Vivian and the other women who work at Bell on East Liberty Street connect lines and lives. They aren’t supposed to listen in on conversations, but they do, and they all have opinions on what they hear—especially Vivian. She knows that Mrs. Butler’s ungrateful daughter, Maxine, still hasn’t thanked her mother for the quilt she made, and that Ginny Frazier turned down yet another invitation to go to the A&W with Clyde Walsh.

Then, one cold December night, Vivian listens in on a call between that snob Betty Miller and someone whose voice she can’t quite place and hears something shocking. Betty Miller’s mystery friend has news that, if true, will shatter Vivian’s tidy life in Wooster, humiliating her and making her the laughingstock of the town.

Vivian may be mortified, but she isn’t going to take this lying down. She’s going to get to the bottom of that rumor—get into it, get under it, poke around in the corners. Find every last bit. Vivian wants the truth, no matter how painful it may be.

But as Vivian is about to be reminded, in a small town like Wooster, one secret usually leads to another. . . .”


The Operator by Gretchen Berg

The Operator by Gretchen Berg (cover) Image: an old fashioned rotary dial

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Genre/Categories: Women’s Historical Fiction, Light Mystery

1st Line/1st Paragraphs From Chapter One:

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1st Line/1st Paragraphs, Tuesday Intros: Code Name Helene

April 7, 2020

1st Line/1st Paragraphs, Tuesday Intros

I’m linking up this week with Socrates’ Book Reviews who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph (Tuesday Intros) of the book you are currently reading.

First Chapter, First Paagraph, Tuesday Intros (image: stack of books)

I’m pleased to share the first paragraph of Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon.

Is this on your TBR or have you read it?

Amazon Summary:
“Based on the thrilling real-life story of socialite spy Nancy Wake, comes the newest feat of historical fiction from the New York Times bestselling author of I Was Anastasia, featuring the astonishing woman who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII.

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.”


Code Name Hélène

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon (cover)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, World War 11, Espionage

1st Line/1st Paragraphs From Chapter One:

February 29, 1944
“I have gone by many names.
Some of them are real–I was given four at birth alone–but most are carefully constructed personas to get me through checkpoints and across borders. They are lies scribbled on forged travel documents. Typed neatly in government files. Splashed across wanted posters. My identity is an ever-shifting thing that adapts to the need at hand.
Tonight, I am Helene and I am going home.
It’s February 29, Leap Day. The irony to this is not lost on me because I am about to jump out of an aerophane for the first time. I’ve only just been lifted into the belly of the Liberator bomber like a clumsily wrapped package. Me in slacks, blouse, and silk stockings beneath my coveralls, tin hat, and British army boots. The camel-haired coat and parachute pack don’t do much to help the ensemble. But this isn’t a fashion show and I’m not here to make friends, so I don’t care that every man on this plane is looking at me as though I don’t belong. Besides, I’m hungover. And I think I might throw up. “

I’ve read several highly favorable reviews of Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon and I’m eager to dive in! Have you read it?



QOTD:

Is Code Name Hélène on your TBR?



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

#throwbackthursday America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

April 2, 2020

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie….a favorite histfic read. Enjoy!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

America's First Daughter by Staphanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (coveer)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, U.S. History, Biographical

My Summary:

Sacrifice … Devotion … Hardship … Privilege … Grit

A fast-paced read, this well-researched novel draws from thousands of letters and original sources as it tells the story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph. Patsy shares her father’s devotion to their country and becomes his partner, protector, and loyal companion after the death of her mother. As a young girl, she travels with him to Paris when he becomes the American minister to France, and it is here she eventually learns of his relationship with Sally Hemings, a slave girl about her own age. According to the authors, it’s during these Paris years that Patsy falls in love with William Short, her father’s assistant and protégé who is an abolitionist and aspiring diplomat. Patsy is torn between love, principles, and family loyalty, and she questions whether she can be married to William and remain devoted to her father. Filled with thoughtful themes, this is a story of sacrifice and grit as Patsy tirelessly protects her father’s reputation and supports him as he guides and leads the nation he helped found.

Click here to continue reading my review of America’s First Daughter….

QOTD: Have you read America’s First Daughter or is it on your TBR?

The Book of Lost Friends: A Review

March 27, 2020

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate (cover)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Post Civil War South, Women’s Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Searching for family…

“Lost Friends” advertisements appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War as freed slaves desperately tried to find loved ones who had been sold off. In 1875, three young girls from Louisiana set off on a perilous journey to Texas. Two of the girls are financially desperate and in search of their inheritance and the third is looking for her long lost family and helping others do the same. The present-day timeline takes place in Lousiana in 1987 as a young and inexperienced teacher lands her first job in a poor, rural community. Over the course of the year, she discovers the story of the three girls from 1875 and their connection to her current students.

My Thoughts:

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