The Last Train to London: A Review

March 13, 2020

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton (cover)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Nazi-Occupied Europe

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Rescuing children, her life’s work…

The Last Train to London shares the story of real-life hero Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance who risked her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany. (She was honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. )

The mission known as Kindertransport carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe. In addition to hearing about Tante Truus as she was known, the author imagines the lives of children such as Stephan (budding playwright), his younger brother. and Zofie-Helene (mathematics protegee).

Auntie Truus (headshot)

Tante Truus: Image Source: Wikipedia

 

Auntie Truus statue in Amsterdam

Tante Truus statue in Amsterdam: Image Source: Wikipedia

My Thoughts:

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The Winemaker’s Wife: A Review

February 26, 2020

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel (cover)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, France

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Told from multiple perspectives and in a past and present timeline, The Winemaker’s Wife is a story of secrets, survival, guilt, and love.

Through the perspectives of Inès and Céline, we experience the intrigue of their daily lives before and during the German invasion of France during WW11; we learn details of the champagne production at the (fictional) Maison Chauveau in northern France near the city of Reims; and we also hear a little about the French resistance (hiding munitions and Jews). An alternate present-day timeline shares the story of Liv who is mysteriously whisked away from her home in New York to France by her eccentric grandmother. There are secrets from the past to be revealed.

My Thoughts:

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Lady Clementine: A Review

January 10, 2020

 Lady Clementine: by Marie Benedict

Lady Clementine review

Genre/Categories: Biographical Historical Fiction, WW1 and WW11, England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thanks #netgalley #sourcebooks #sbkslandmark for a free e ARC of #ladyclementine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary:

Clementine Churchill is the devoted wife, partner, and best friend of Winston Churchill. Lady Clementine is brilliant, ambitious, innovative, and fascinating, and she devotes all her energy and loyalty to her husband and country.

My Thoughts:

An underappreciated woman in history….

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Bookish Themed Hanukkah: Seventh Candle: All Colors of the Rainbow #eightcandlebooktag

December 27, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: Seventh Candle–All Colors of the Rainbow

#eightcandlebooktag

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today with Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends.  #eightcandlebooktag  Join us! (find my first candle here, find my second candle here, third candle here, fourth here, fifth here, sixth candle here)

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!

8th-candle

 

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

Seventh Candle: All the Colors of the Rainbow

A book that just thinking about it makes you feel hopeful and happy, like seeing a rainbow after the rain.

Davida’s prompt today is difficult because I just realized that I read a great deal of sad and difficult books! (the hazards of historical fiction!) One reason I like to mix up my histic read with an occasional Middle-Grade read is that MG always has hopeful endings! The Vanderbeekers is probably the happiest Middle-Grade book I’ve read!

In adult fiction, though, it’s difficult for me to identify an overall happy book because my preferences lean toward histfic, complicated family drama, and memoirs. As I perused my Goodreads shelves, one book kept begging for my attention: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Simply seeing the title makes me feel like I’m greating an old friend and elicits a smile!

Guernsey

For today’s post, I’m choosing to highlight the delightful The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Amazon Summary:

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Author Annie Barrows in her own words.

My Thoughts:

I haven’t written a full review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so I’ll list some bullet points to share the reasons why I love this book:

  • Epistolary format: I love books written in this format because it helps me appreciate the beautiful and gentle art of old fashioned letter writing! Other books I love in epistolary format include The Last Christmas in Paris, 84 Charing Cross Road, Meet Me at the Museum, and The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.
  • Book Club and Books About Books: A heartwarming aspect of the story is the inadvertent formation of a book club and the resulting book talk! When caught out after curfew by the Germans, Elizabeth claims to have been at a book club meeting. So a book club was hastily organized to authenticate her cover story! The members are not typical book club members, and it’s quite charming how it all comes together.
  • Potato Peel Pie: Of course, an important consideration of a book club meeting is the snacks! Thus Potato Peel Pie was invented from their meager resources.
  • Characters: In this story, you will find unique, quirky, and lovable characters! Part of the charm is the close and loyal community they create.
  • Found Family: This story includes one of my favorite themes which is found family.
  • Multiple Perspectives: I love stories with multiple perspectives and this includes several! You might need to take notes at first to keep everyone straight. I did love hearing first hand from the cast of unique characters..
  • Dual Timelines: I enjoy a dual timeline if they are well written and they intersect smoothly.
  • Gentle and Charming: If you don’t read histfic, this might be an excellent book to nudge you into that genre!
  • Themes of Love: This does include a traditional love story thread (friends to lovers), but it’s also a story of a child loved by the community, and a story of how community members form a close bond.
  • Hopeful: One reason this story has stayed with me through the years is the good feelings that it provoked during and after reading. I love that in dire circumstances, people can still come together to form something lovely, meaningful, and life-sustaining. The members of the book club respect each other’s differences and support each other in every way.

Favorite Quote:

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”

Recommended!

With enthusiasm, I highly recommend Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for fans of epistolary novels, for readers who are looking for a light histic read, and for all those who appreciate charming and heartwarming stories. It’s on my lifetime favorites list, and it would make a terrific selection for a book club discussion. Plus, you can watch the excellent Netflix film adaptation together! Watch the trailer here.

My Rating: 5 stars

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Guernsey

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Information

Meet the Authors, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Mary Ann Shaffer (seated in foreground) passed away before she finished this novel, and her niece, Annie Barrows stepped in to finish the work and take it to publication.

mary-ann-shaffer-and-annie-barrows.jpg

Mary Ann Shaffer (seated in foreground) who passed away in February 2008, worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel.

Annie Barrows is the co-author, with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, published by the Dial Press in 2008. An international best-seller, translated into 38 languages, the novel was adapted into a feature film in 2018. Her best-selling second novel, The Truth According to Us, was published in 2015. Annie lives in Berkeley, California, with her family.

Author Annie Barrows in her own words.



QOTD!

Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society or is it on your TBR?



ICYMI

I have finished my Fall TBR!
(just in time to begin my Winter TBR!)

Winter 2019 TBR

My Nonfiction November Posts:
2019 Nonfiction Reads
Nonfiction and Racial Injustice
Nonfiction/Fiction Pairings
Favorite Nonfiction Books
2020 Nonfiction TBR
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“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

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



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***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.

The Things We Cannot Say: A Review

October 24, 2019

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

The Things We Cannot Say review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Poland, WW11, Love Story, Family Life

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

From the age of nine, Alina has been in love with her best friend Tomasz. At fifteen and engaged to Tomasz, Alina and her neighbors discount the rumors of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, and she spends her time dreaming of her wedding. Tomasz is in college in Warsaw when the Nazis occupy Poland. While Alina and Tomasz briefly lose touch, Alina and her family’s efforts are focused on survival. In the present-day timeline, Alina is in a convalescent home in the U. S. recovering from a stroke and convincing her granddaughter that she must make a trip to Poland in her place and visit certain sites. The granddaughter, Alice, is leading a stressful life with two special needs children and an unsatisfactory marriage, but she feels compelled to honor her grandmother’s request. In dual timelines, Alice visits her grandmother, makes plans to visit Poland, and actually makes the trip, while the WW11 timeline involving Alina and Tomasz progresses. Readers find out what eventually happens to Alina and Tomasz as Alice meets the Polish family and unravels Alina’s most closely guarded secrets.

Amazon Rating: 4.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

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The Medallion: A Review

October 3, 2019

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

“When all seems lost, God can make a way forward.”

The Medallion Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Holocaust, Jewish, Christian

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

1939 Warsaw is the setting for this harrowing, heartfelt, and inspirational WW11 tale of survival, courage, loss, hope, risk, and faith. Sophie works in the city library, and her husband, Janek, is deployed with the Polish Air Force. When the Germans invade Warsaw in 1939 and streets become a dangerous war zone, Sophie feels compelled to help friends and strangers. Rosa and Itzhak are pregnant with their first child when they seek shelter in the Jewish ghetto. When Itzhak leaves her to check on the safety of his family, Rosa faces the horrific possibility of sending their small child into hiding to save her life, but first Rosa cuts a medallion (the Jewish Tree of Life) in half and places half around her young daughter’s neck. She prays that this will be enough to reunite them after the war.

We follow the lives of these two memorable couples whose worlds are torn apart and, in post-war years, connected by a shared love for a young daughter.

Amazon Rating: 4.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

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Cilka’s Journey: A Review

September 27, 2019

 Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

Cilka's Journey Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Holocaust, Jewish

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks #netgalley #stmartinspress for the free e copy of #cilkasjourney by Heather Morris in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Cilka’s Journey is a companion read (or spin-off) of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and can be read as a stand-alone. Cilka was sent to Auschwitz when she was sixteen years old and because of her beauty, she was singled out to sleep with the Commandant. This assured her survival, but when she was liberated from Auschwitz, the Russians charged her with sleeping with the enemy and collaborating with them. Cilka tried explaining that she was forced into that impossible situation at sixteen and she certainly didn’t collaborate with them. Nevertheless, she was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor and sent to Siberia. Above all else, Cilka is a survivor and at the camp, she gains the attention of a female doctor who takes Cilka under her wing and teaches her nursing skills. Even though conditions are brutal, Cilka finds a way to survive and even discovers that there is room in her damaged and broken heart for love.

My Thoughts:

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The Huntress: A Review

August 23, 2019

Historical fiction with a generous serving of mystery, intrigue, suspense, and romance!

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

The Huntress Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction (post WW11), mystery, suspense, thriller, romance

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

An ex WW11 war correspondent, a former American soldier, and an extraordinary Russian woman pilot team up to hunt down a Nazi war criminal known as The Huntress. The duel timeline fills in the past and follows the present-day intrigue. The two timelines merge in a thrilling and suspenseful conclusion.

Early Amazon Rating (August): 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts:

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Resistance Women: A Review

June 28, 2019

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini

Resistance Women Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Pre WW11, WW11, Jewish, German

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Mildred Fish, an American College graduate, meets the love of her life, Arvid Harnack. After they fall in love, they marry and make their home in Arvid’s homeland of Germany. Mildred and Arvid thrive there, forming new friendships, and enjoying the intellectual and artistic offerings of 1930s Berlin. As Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party become more popular and powerful, Mildred and Arvid and their friends are compelled to resist. For years, Mildred and Arvid and their cohorts risk their lives to gather intelligence to bring down the Third Reich from within. Sadly, their sincere efforts don’t result in the help they desired or envisioned. This is a story of ordinary people who, while they should be enjoying their carefree youth, give their best efforts to fighting evil and saving their country.

My Thoughts:

Jennifer Chiaverini puts history back into historical fiction!

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Paper Hearts: A Review

May 21, 2019

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

Paper Hearts Review

Genre/Categories: WW11, Holocaust, Jewish, Young Adult, Poetry, Friendship, Survival

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

In Paper Hearts, two unforgettable girls find themselves tragically imprisoned at Auschwitz during the Holocaust and become friends. Through the bonds of friendship and a bit of defiance, Zlatka and Fania find bits of hope and a will to live. In this true story, Zlatka, along with the help of a few other girls, masterminds making a surprise birthday card for Fania. A secret project that would be a crime punishable by death if caught, each girl signed the paper hearts card with her hopes and wishes for happiness, love, and freedom. This heart is a symbol of defiance and is one of the few artifacts created in Auschwitz that has survived and can be seen today in the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre in Canada. (see an article link and image below)

My Thoughts:

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