Historical Fiction

#BookReview They Went Left by Monica Hesse @MonicaHesse @littlebrown @HBGCanada #TheyWentLeft

#BookReview They Went Left by Monica Hesse @MonicaHesse @littlebrown @HBGCanada #TheyWentLeft Title: They Went Left

Author: Monica Hesse

Published by: Little Brown and Company on Apr. 7, 2020

Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Pages: 384

Format: Hardcover

Source: HBG Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to eighteen-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal; her mind feels broken. And her life is completely shattered: Three years ago, she and her younger brother, Abek, were the only members of their family to be sent to the right, away from the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Everyone else–her parents, her grandmother, radiant Aunt Maja–they went left.

Zofia’s last words to her brother were a promise: Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet. Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany, and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past: Miriam, desperately searching for the twin she was separated from after they survived medical experimentation. Breine, a former heiress, who now longs only for a simple wedding with her new fiancé. And Josef, who guards his past behind a wall of secrets, and is beautiful and strange and magnetic all at once.

But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her–or help her rebuild her world.


Review:

Heartwrenching, haunting, and hopeful!

They Went Left is a poignant, compelling tale that sweeps you away to post-war Germany and into the life of Zofia Lederman, a young Jewish girl who after being liberated from a Nazi concentration camp and with a mind traumatized by cruelty and violence travels from her home town in Poland to the Foehrenwald Displaced Persons Camp to search for the one family member who may not be lost forever and that she swore to protect, her younger brother, Abek.

The prose is raw and tense. The characters are vulnerable, tortured, and resilient. And the plot is a moving tale about life, love, bravery, strength, loss, deception, hope, survival, and the enduring aftereffects of war.

Overall, They Went Left is a lovely blend of historical facts, realistic fiction, and palpable emotion that does a beautiful job of reminding us that even after suffering the most unimaginable cruelty and wickedness humanity still has an innate ability to want to love and be loved.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

Thank you to HBG Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Monica Hesse

Monica Hesse is the national bestselling author of the true crime love story American Fire, and the historical mystery novel Girl in the Blue Coat, which has been translated into a dozen languages and won the 2017 Edgar award in the Young Adult category. She is a feature writer for the Washington Post, where she has been a winner of the Society for Feature Journalism's Narrative Storytelling award, and a finalist for a Livingston Award and a James Beard Award. Monica lives in Maryland. with her husband and a brainiac dog.

Photography courtesy of Author's Website.

#BookReview The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan @AmySueNathan @AmazonPub @LUAuthors #TheLastBathingBeauty

#BookReview The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan @AmySueNathan @AmazonPub @LUAuthors #TheLastBathingBeauty Title: The Last Bathing Beauty

Author: Amy Sue Nathan

Published by: Lake Union Publishing on Apr. 1, 2020

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction, Historical Fiction

Pages: 304

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Amazon Publishing

Book Rating: 8/10

A former beauty queen faces the secrets of her past—for herself and the sake of her family’s future—in a heartfelt novel about fate, choices, and second chances.

Everything seemed possible in the summer of 1951. Back then Betty Stern was an eighteen-year-old knockout working at her grandparents’ lakeside resort. The “Catskills of the Midwest” was the perfect place for Betty to prepare for bigger things. She’d head to college in New York City. Her career as a fashion editor would flourish. But first, she’d enjoy a wondrous last summer at the beach falling deeply in love with an irresistible college boy and competing in the annual Miss South Haven pageant. On the precipice of a well-planned life, Betty’s future was limitless.

Decades later, the choices of that long-ago season still reverberate for Betty, now known as Boop. Especially when her granddaughter comes to her with a dilemma that echoes Boop’s memories of first love, broken hearts, and faraway dreams. It’s time to finally face the past—for the sake of her family and her own happiness. Maybe in reconciling the life she once imagined with the life she’s lived, Boop will discover it’s never too late for a second chance.


Review:

Tender, nostalgic, and sentimental!

The Last Bathing Beauty is an absorbing, heartwarming tale that takes us to the shores of South Haven, Michigan during 1951 when Jewish summer camps in the Catskills of the Midwest were the place to be, girls were excited for more than just marriage, and Betty Stern and her family would never be the same.

The writing is vivid and expressive. The characters are authentic, vivacious, and sympathetic. And the plot, using a past/present, back-and-forth style is a delightful mix of summer fun, friendship, family, coming-of-age, secrets, heartbreak, forbidden love, familial expectations, and second chances.

Overall, The Last Bathing Beauty is a heartfelt, beguiling, charming tale by Nathan that not only reminds us that everyone that enters our lives impacts, shapes, and defines it but that love is truly ageless.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

         

 

 

Thank you to Amazon Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Amy Sue Nathan

Writer of novels, lover of cats, morning coffee, dark chocolate, and bold lipstick. Former vegetarian, occasional crafter, adequate cook, loyal friend, proud mom to two awesome adults.

Photograph courtesy of Author's Goodreads Page.

#BlogTour #BookReview #Excerpt The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz @BrendaJanowitz @HarlequinBooks @BookClubbish #TheGraceKellyDress

#BlogTour #BookReview #Excerpt The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz @BrendaJanowitz @HarlequinBooks @BookClubbish #TheGraceKellyDress Title: The Grace Kelly Dress

Author: Brenda Janowitz

Published by: Graydon House Books on Mar. 3, 2020

Genres: Women's Fiction, Historical Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Harlequin Trade Publishing

Book Rating: 8.5/10

Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.


Review:

Sentimental, heartfelt, and enchanting!

The Grace Kelly Dress is a sweet, captivating tale that takes you on a journey into the lives of three main characters. Rose, a young Paris seamstress employed by the esteemed Madame Michel in the late 1950s to handcraft dresses fashioned after the one worn by Princess Grace; Joan, a college student at NYCU in the 1980s who is struggling with the loss of her sister and a new engagement; and Rocky, an independent, tech CEO whose modern-day, upcoming nuptials are marred by the pressure to wear the family’s heirloom gown.

The prose is well turned and intriguing. The characters are resolute, independent, and multilayered. And the plot, including all the subplots, intertwine and unravel into a charming tale of familial dynamics, drama, emotion, secrets, love, loss, duty, heartbreak, introspection, passion, and tradition.

Overall, The Grace Kelly Dress is a nostalgic, absorbing, uplifting tale by Janowitz that highlights the complex ties that bind us as a family and reminds us that happy-ever-afters come in all different forms but rarely resemble those found in fairytales.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                   

 

 

 

EXCERPT:

The mother of the bride, as a bride herself
Long Island, 1982

She loved the dress. She loved the veil that went with it, too, though she wasn’t sure if it could be salvaged. It was showing signs of age, its edges curling and tinged with brown. But that wouldn’t dull her excitement.

Today was the day she would be trying on her mother’s wedding dress. Even though Joanie had tried it on countless times as a child—it was a favorite rainy-day activity with her mother—today felt different. She was engaged, just like she’d dreamed about ever since she could remember. When she tried the dress on this time, it was for keeps. She was completely in love with the dress.

“Let me help you get it on,” Joanie’s mother said, her French accent coming through. It was always more pronounced when she was feeling emotional. With her American friends, Joanie noticed, her mother always tried to sound “American,” softening her accent and using American expressions. But when they were alone, she could be herself. Let her guard down. Joanie knew exactly who her mother was, and she loved her for it.

Her mother handed Joanie a pair of white cotton gloves and then put on her own set. The first step in trying the dress on, always, so that the oils in their hands wouldn’t defile the fabric. She laid the large box on her bed and nodded her head at her husband, her signal to give them privacy. The door closed to Joanie’s childhood bedroom, and she and her mother were alone.

The white cotton gloves were cool and smooth on her skin. Joanie opened the box slowly. So slowly. It was sealed with a special plastic that was supposed to keep it airtight so that the dress would not oxidize and turn yellow. She and her mother laughed as they struggled to set the dress free. The last time she tried the dress on was the summer before her sister died. It was after Michele’s death that her mother brought the dress into the city so that it might be cleaned properly and preserved for just this day. At the time, Joanie hadn’t understood the connection between her sister’s sudden death and her mother’s tight grip on family heirlooms, but now, a year into her psychology degree at NYC University, she understood. It was so hard to hold on to things that were important to you, things that mattered, and preserving her wedding dress, this memory, was her mother’s way of taking control of something. It was something she could save.

The dress was just as beautiful as she’d remembered. Crafted from rose point lace, the same lace used on Grace Kelly’s iconic wedding dress, it was delicate and classic and chic and a million other things Joanie couldn’t even articulate.

“Go on,” her mother said, holding the first part of the dress—the bodice with the attached underbodice, skirt support, and slip—out for her to take. As a child, it had thrilled Joanie to no end that the wedding dress her mother wore was actually made up of four separate pieces. It was like a secret that a bride could have on her special day, something that no one else knew.

“I couldn’t,” Joanie said, hands at her side. Knowing how carefully preserved the dress had been, what the dress had meant to her mother, it was hard for Joanie to touch it. She didn’t want to get it dirty, sully its memory. “It’s just so beautiful.”

“It’s yours now,” her mother said, smiling warmly. “The dress belongs to you. Put it on.”

Joanie kicked off her ballerina flats, and her mother helped her ease the bodice on. Joanie stood at attention as her mother snapped the skirt into place, and wrapped the cummerbund around her waist. Joanie held her hands high above her head, not wanting to get in the way of her mother’s expert hands, hands that knew exactly where to go, fingers that knew exactly what to do.

“You ready in there, Birdie?” her father yelled from the hallway, impatient, his French accent just as strong as the day he left France. Joanie always loved how her father had a special nickname for her mother. When they first married, he would call her mother GracieBird, a nickname of Grace Kelly’s, because of the Grace Kelly–inspired wedding gown she wore on their wedding day. Eventually, it was shortened to Bird, and then over time, it became Birdie. What would Joanie’s fiancé call her?

Joanie inspected her reflection in the mirror. Her shoulder-length blond hair, recently permed, looked messy. Her pink eye shadow, which had always seemed so grown-up on her sister, made her appear tired and puffy-eyed. But the dress? The dress was perfect.

Her mother opened the door slowly, and her father’s face came into view. His expression softened as he saw his daughter in the wedding dress. She walked out into the hallway, towards him, and she could see a tear forming in the corner of his eye.

She turned to her mother, about to tell her that Daddy was crying, when she saw that her mother, too, had teared up. Joanie couldn’t help it—seeing her mother and father cry, she began to cry as well. She could never keep a dry eye when someone else was crying, least of all her parents, ex-pats from Europe who hardly ever cried.

Michele’s presence floated in the air like a haze, but no one would say it. No one dared mention that she would have worn the dress first. Should have worn the dress first.

“And look at us,” her mother said, her hands reaching out and grabbing for her husband and daughter. “All of us crying like little babies.”

All three embraced—carefully, of course, so as not to ruin the dress.

Her father kissed the top of her head. “Give us a twirl.”

Joanie obliged. The dress moved gracefully as she spun. Joanie curtsied, and her father gently took her hand and kissed it.

“I know what you’re thinking,” her mother said, her voice a song.

“What?” Joanie asked absentmindedly, while staring at her reflection in the mirror. She knew the first thing she’d change—the sleeves. The dress needed big, voluminous sleeves, just like Princess Diana had worn on her wedding day.

“Or I should say who you’re thinking about,” her mother said, a gentle tease.

“Who?” Joanie asked, under her breath, twirling from side to side in front of the mirror, watching the dress move.

“Your fiancé,” her mother said, furrowing her brow. “Remember him?”

“For sure,” Joanie said, spinning around to face her mother. “My fiancé. Yes. I knew that. And, yes. I was.” But the truth was, she had completely forgotten.

 

Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Brenda Janowitz

Brenda Janowitz is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party and Recipe for a Happy Life. She is the Books Correspondent for PopSugar. Brenda's work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Salon, Redbook, and the New York Post. She lives in New York.

Photograph by Cristina Calvi.

#BookReview Lost Boy Found by Kirsten Alexander @kirstenalex @GrandCentralPub @HBGCanada #LostBoyFound

#BookReview Lost Boy Found by Kirsten Alexander @kirstenalex @GrandCentralPub @HBGCanada #LostBoyFound Title: Lost Boy Found

Author: Kirsten Alexander

Published by: Grand Central Publishing on Mar. 10, 2020

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 368

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: HBG Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

Perfect for fans of the NYT bestseller Sold on a Monday, this Southern historical novel based on the true story of a boy’s mysterious disappearance examines despair, loyalty, and the nature of truth. Originally published in Australia as Half Moon Lake.

In 1913, on a summer’s day at Half Moon Lake, Louisiana, four-year-old Sonny Davenport walks into the woods and never returns.

The boy’s mysterious disappearance from the family’s lake house makes front-page news in their home town of Opelousas. John Henry and Mary Davenport are wealthy and influential, and will do anything to find their son. For two years, the Davenports search across the South, offer increasingly large rewards and struggle not to give in to despair. Then, at the moment when all hope seems lost, the boy is found in the company of a tramp.

But is he truly Sonny Davenport? The circumstances of his discovery raise more questions than answers. And when Grace Mill, an unwed farm worker, travels from Alabama to lay claim to the child, newspapers, townsfolk, even the Davenports’ own friends, take sides.

As the tramp’s kidnapping trial begins, and two desperate mothers fight for ownership of the boy, the people of Opelousas discover that truth is more complicated than they’d ever dreamed.


Review:

Engaging, unsettling, and thought-provoking!

Lost Boy Found is a compelling story that sweeps you away to Louisana during the early 1900s and delves into the anxiety and terror experienced when a mother’s worst nightmare comes true and explores the physical, psychological and emotional extremes parents are willing to take in order to find their child and bring them home safely.

The writing is descriptive and didactic. The characters are despondent, anxious, and relentless. And the plot is a harrowing tale about life, loss, heartbreak, familial dynamics, hope, manipulation, corruption, prejudice, class division, ethics, and morality.

Overall, Lost Boy Found is a heart-sickening, twisty tale by Alexander that does a beautiful job of expressing the emotional devastation and shocking injustice that actually occurred in the real-life tragedy that inspired it.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

Thank you to HBG Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Kirsten Alexander

Kirsten Alexander is the author of two novels, Half Moon Lake (PRH, Australia & NZ, 2019; published as Lost Boy Found by Grand Central/Hachette, US & Canada 2020) and Riptides (PRH, 2020). She is writing her third novel.

She is also co-founder of short story site Storymart: www.storymart.com

Kirsten has worked as a nonfiction book editor, copywriter (inhouse four years for Aesop, also for Crumpler, M.L. Vintage, House + Universe), and occasional article writer (for the Age, the Daily Beast, Notebook, the Melbourne Weekly, Atticus Review and others). She’s worked as a reviewer for ABC Radio National’s The Book Show, a magazine section editor, and content manager for several websites.

She was co-founder and editor of three-volume digital journal Open Field.

Kirsten was born in San Francisco, raised in Brisbane, and lives in Melbourne with her partner and two sons.

Photograph courtesy of Author's Goodreads Page.

#BookReview This Terrible Beauty by Katrin Schumann @katrinschumann @AmazonPub @LUAuthors #ThisTerribleBeauty

#BookReview This Terrible Beauty by Katrin Schumann @katrinschumann @AmazonPub @LUAuthors #ThisTerribleBeauty Title: This Terrible Beauty

Author: Katrin Schumann

Published by: Lake Union Publishing on Mar. 1, 2020

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 382

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Amazon Publishing

Book Rating: 8.5/10

From the bestselling author of The Forgotten Hours comes an unforgettable story of one woman’s journey to reclaim what she lost in a country torn apart by the devastating legacy of WWII.

On the windswept shores of an East German island, Bettina Heilstrom struggles to build a life from the ashes. World War II has ended, and her country is torn apart. Longing for a family, she marries Werner, an older bureaucrat who adores her. But after joining the fledgling secret police, he is drawn deep into its dark mission and becomes a dangerous man.

When Bettina falls in love with an idealistic young renegade, Werner discovers her infidelity and forces her to make a terrible choice: spend her life in prison or leave her home forever. Either way she loses both her lover and child.

Ten years later, Bettina has reinvented herself as a celebrated photographer in Chicago, but she’s never stopped yearning for the baby she left behind. Surprised by an unexpected visitor from her past, she resolves to return to her ravaged homeland to reclaim her daughter and uncover her beloved’s fate, whatever the cost.


Review:

Captivating, pensive, and absorbing!

This Terrible Beauty is an intriguing, compelling tale that sweeps you away to East Germany following WWII when the country is still reeling with the aftermaths of war, and the new Soviet rule is causing repression, economic instability, political upheaval, social injustice, and lack of freedom.

The prose is evocative and vivid. The characters are lonely, complex, and vulnerable. And the plot using a past/present, back-and-forth style is a moving tale about war, loss, familial relationships, heartbreak, guilt, desperation, betrayal, resilience, courage, hope, forbidden love, and the importance of creative expression.

Overall, This Terrible Beauty is a beautifully written, poignant, nostalgic tale that is a lovely blend of historical facts, thought-provoking fiction, and intense emotion that reminds us of the enduring power of love and the self-sacrificing, unbreakable bonds between a mother and her child.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

             

 

 

Thank you to Amazon Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Katrin Schumann

Katrin is the Washington Post and Amazon Charts Bestselling author of "The Forgotten Hours." Her new novel, "This Terrible Beauty" is forthcoming on March 1, 2020. She studied languages at Oxford and journalism at Stanford, and is also the author of several nonfiction books. Katrin has been awarded fiction residencies from the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony, The Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Currently the Program Coordinator of the Key West Literary Seminar, she teaches writing at GrubStreet and was an instructor in PEN's Prison Writing program. She lives in Boston and Key West.

Photograph courtesy of Author's Goodreads Page.

#BookReview Hannah’s War by Jan Eliasberg @JanEliasberg @littlebrown @HBGCanada

#BookReview Hannah’s War by Jan Eliasberg @JanEliasberg @littlebrown @HBGCanada Title: Hannah's War

Author: Jan Eliasberg

Published by: Little Brown and Company on Mar. 3, 2020

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 320

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: HBG Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

A “mesmerizing” re-imagination of the final months of World War II (Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network), Hannah’s War is an unforgettable love story about an exceptional woman and the dangerous power of her greatest discovery.

Berlin, 1938. Groundbreaking physicist Dr. Hannah Weiss is on the verge of the greatest discovery of the 20th century: splitting the atom. She understands that the energy released by her discovery can power entire cities or destroy them. Hannah believes the weapon’s creation will secure an end to future wars, but as a Jewish woman living under the harsh rule of the Third Reich, her research is belittled, overlooked, and eventually stolen by her German colleagues. Faced with an impossible choice, Hannah must decide what she is willing to sacrifice in pursuit of science’s greatest achievement.

New Mexico, 1945. Returning wounded and battered from the liberation of Paris, Major Jack Delaney arrives in the New Mexican desert with a mission: to catch a spy. Someone in the top-secret nuclear lab at Los Alamos has been leaking encoded equations to Hitler’s scientists. Chief among Jack’s suspects is the brilliant and mysterious Hannah Weiss, an exiled physicist lending her talent to J. Robert Oppenheimer’s mission. All signs point to Hannah as the traitor, but over three days of interrogation that separate her lies from the truth, Jack will realize they have more in common than either one bargained for.


Hannah’s War is a thrilling wartime story of loyalty, truth, and the unforeseeable fallout of a single choice.


Review:

Fascinating, pacey, and engaging!

Hannah’s War is an intriguing story that sweeps you away to Los Alamos, New Mexico in the final days of WWII where a female Jewish physicist is on the cusp of making history in a field dominated by men, the race to develop the first nuclear weapon is well and truly underway, and the search and investigation of potential Nazi spies is top priority.

The prose is atmospheric and descriptive. The characters are intelligent, passionate, anxious, and driven. And the plot is an entertaining tale about life, love, friendship, survival, tragedy, war, romance, loyalty, subterfuge, and the development of nuclear fusion.

Overall, Hannah’s War is a well-written, compelling debut by Eliasberg that incorporates a nice mix of real-life historical figures, insightful information, and plausible fiction in a tale loosely based on the brilliant accomplishments of Dr. Lise Meitner.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

Thank you to HBG Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Jan Eliasberg

Jan Eliasberg is an award-winning writer/director. Her prolific directing career includes dramatic pilots for CBS, NBC, and ABC, such as Miami Vice and Wiseguy; countless episodes of television series, including Bull, Nashville, Parenthood, The Magicians, Blue Bloods, NCIS: Los Angeles, Supernatural, and dozens of others; as well as the feature film Past Midnight, starring Paul Giamatti, the late Natasha Richardson, and Rutger Hauer.

Eliasberg also has a storied career as a screenwriter, writing films driven by strong female leads, including Fly Girls about the Women Air Service Pilots in WWII for Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz at FOX 2000, among many others.

Photograph courtesy of hachettebookgroup.com

#BookReview The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham @GenGrahamAuthor @SimonSchusterCA #britishhomechildren #canadianhistory

#BookReview The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham @GenGrahamAuthor @SimonSchusterCA #britishhomechildren #canadianhistory Title: The Forgotten Home Child

Author: Genevieve Graham

Published by: Simon & Schuster Canada on Mar. 3, 2020

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 10/10

The Home for Unwanted Girls meets Orphan Train in this unforgettable novel about a young girl caught in a scheme to rid England’s streets of destitute children, and the lengths she will go to find her way home—based on the true story of the British Home Children.

2018

At ninety-seven years old, Winnifred Ellis knows she doesn’t have much time left, and it is almost a relief to realize that once she is gone, the truth about her shameful past will die with her. But when her great-grandson Jamie, the spitting image of her dear late husband, asks about his family tree, Winnifred can’t lie any longer, even if it means breaking a promise she made so long ago…

1936

Fifteen-year-old Winny has never known a real home. After running away from an abusive stepfather, she falls in with Mary, Jack, and their ragtag group of friends roaming the streets of Liverpool. When the children are caught stealing food, Winny and Mary are left in Dr. Barnardo’s Barkingside Home for Girls, a local home for orphans and forgotten children found in the city’s slums. At Barkingside, Winny learns she will soon join other boys and girls in a faraway place called Canada, where families and better lives await them.

But Winny’s hopes are dashed when she is separated from her friends and sent to live with a family that has no use for another daughter. Instead, they have paid for an indentured servant to work on their farm. Faced with this harsh new reality, Winny clings to the belief that she will someday find her friends again.

Inspired by true events, The Forgotten Home Child is a moving and heartbreaking novel about place, belonging, and family—the one we make for ourselves and its enduring power to draw us home.


Review:

Thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, and significant!

The Forgotten Home Child is a powerful, impactful tale that sweeps you away to the mid-1930s and into the lives of the British children who through the Dr. Barnardo’s homes were sent from England to Canada with the promise of a better life, which in reality was more likely to include forced labour, abuse, starvation, and violence.

The prose is immersive and heartfelt. The characters are vulnerable, scarred, and determined. And the plot is an authentic, pensive tale of friendship, heartbreak, loss, love, hardship, self-discovery, hope, courage, and survival.

Overall, The Forgotten Home Child is a beautiful blend of historical facts, alluring fiction, and palpable emotion that transports you to another time and place and immerses you so thoroughly into the personalities, feelings, and lives of the characters you never want it to end. It is a nostalgic, fascinating, affecting tale that highlights an important aspect of Canadian history that is unfortunately often unknown, forgotten or overlooked.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada & Genevieve Graham for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Genevieve Graham

Genevieve Graham is the bestselling author of Tides of Honour, Promises to Keep, and Come from Away. She is passionate about breathing life back into Canadian history through tales of love and adventure. She lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Photograph (c) Janice Bray

 

#BookReview The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo @AlyssInWnderlnd @StMartinsPress

#BookReview The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo @AlyssInWnderlnd @StMartinsPress Title: The Borgia Confessions

Author: Alyssa Palombo

Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on Feb. 11, 2020

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 432

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 9/10

During the sweltering Roman summer of 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has risen to power as pope. Rodrigo’s eldest son Cesare, forced to follow his father into the church and newly made the Archbishop of Valencia, chafes at his ecclesiastical role and fumes with jealousy and resentment at the way that his foolish brother has been chosen for the military greatness he desired.

Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. But now, employed as a servant in the Vatican Palace, she cannot help but be entranced by Cesare Borgia’s handsome face and manner and finds her faith and conviction crumbling in her want of him.

As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare’s lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets, and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition.

Alyssa Palombo’s captivating new novel, The Borgia Confessions, is a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy’s most infamous families–the Borgias.


Book Rating: 9/10

Rich, fascinating, and immersive!

The Borgia Confessions is a compelling, informative tale set in Rome from 1492 to 1498 that tells the story of Rodrigo Borgia’s children, primarily Cesare, the Archbishop of Valencia who entered the church to please his father against his own true passion for battle and desire to become a condottiere; as well as that of Maddalena, a pious, palace servant who was not only loyal and friendly but a temptation too strong to resist.

The prose is vivid and alluring. The characters are bold, ruthless, and driven. And the plot is a sweeping saga that gives an insightful view into the sacrifices, struggles, hopes, fears, treachery, and entangled relationships of one of the most powerful families of Renaissance Italy.

The Borgia Confessions is, ultimately, a story about life, loss, love, politics, power, war, corruption, greed, fervour, desires, and sacrifice. It’s a perceptive, absorbing, well-written tale by Palombo that does a beautiful job of highlighting her impressive research and considerable knowledge into the infamous House of Borgia and their undeniable influence on both the Vatican and Italian history.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Alyssa Palombo

ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, and The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her friends, traveling, or planning for next Halloween. She lives in Buffalo, New York.

Photograph by Jennifer Hark-Hameister.

#BookReview A Midwinter Promise by Lulu Taylor @MissLuluTaylor @PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview A Midwinter Promise by Lulu Taylor @MissLuluTaylor @PGCBooks @panmacmillan Title: A Midwinter Promise

Author: Lulu Taylor

Published by: Pan Macmillan on Jan. 14, 2020

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction

Pages: 560

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

A gripping and compelling gothic novel from Lulu Taylor, bestselling author of The Snow Rose and Her Frozen Heart.

One family across two generations.
A marriage marred by trauma and infidelity.
Lives marked by death, divorce and a shattered family. A dark secret at the heart of a tragedy.

Now the Pengelly family reunites around the sickbed of David, a beloved husband and father, to confront the emotions and the secrets that have divided them over the years.

Set around the beautiful wildness of Tawray, a house near the Cornish coast, A Midwinter Promise by bestselling author Lulu Taylor, is a dramatic story of loss, grief and the legacy of secrets. It is also a tale of reconciliation and renewal.


Review:

Disquieting, moving, and absorbing!

A Midwinter Promise is predominantly set in Cornwall during the 1980s and 90s, as well as present-day that takes you into the lives of Alex and Johnnie Pengelly, two middle-aged siblings who are struggling to come to grips with the complicated relationship they have with their dying father, the hostility between themselves and their stepmother, and the truth behind the life and loss of their mother, Julia when they were children.

The writing is captivating and vivid. The characters are genuine, distressed, and intriguing. And the plot, alternating between timelines, unravels and intertwines into a sweeping saga filled with life, loss, family, heartbreak, parenthood, mental illness, substance abuse, secrets, deception, and friendship.

Overall, A Midwinter Promise is another compelling, intelligent, heartwarming tale by Taylor that reminds us that life is short, psychological disorders are a very real concern with often devastating consequences, and people often do the wrong thing for the right reason.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or one of the following links.

          

 

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Lulu Taylor

Lulu Taylor moved around the world as a child before her family settled in the Oxfordshire countryside. She studied English at Oxford University and had a successful career in publishing before becoming a writer. Her first novel, Heiresses was published in 2007 and nominated for the RNA Readers' Choice award. It was followed by Midnight Girls, Beautiful Creatures, Outrageous Fortune, The Winter Folly, The Snow Angel, The Winter Children, and The Snow Rose. She lives in Dorset, England, with her husband and two children.

Photograph by Alicia Clarke.

#BookReview Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain @D_Chamberlain @StMartinsPress

#BookReview Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain @D_Chamberlain @StMartinsPress Title: Big Lies in a Small Town

Author: Diane Chamberlain

Published by: St. Martin's Press on Jan. 14, 2020

Genres: Women's Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 384

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 9/10

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small-town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?


Review:

Mysterious, engaging, and thoroughly absorbing!

Big Lies in a Small Town is a pensive, suspenseful tale that sweeps you away to Edenton, North Carolina during 1939, as well as 2018, and into the lives of Anna Dale and Morgan Christopher, two troubled, talented, young women whose strength, compassion, perseverance, and artistic abilities will be extremely tested by a small town with a history brimming with secrets, tension, prejudices, narrow-minded mentality, and violence.

The writing is seamless and descriptive. The characters are intelligent, multilayered, and creative. And the plot, alternating between timelines, unravels and intertwines into a sweeping saga of life, loss, family, self-discovery, expectations, friendship, heartbreak, addiction, mental illness, discrimination, jealousy, and the beautiful, intricate details involved in the process of creating and restoring artwork.

Overall, Big Lies in a Small Town is thought-provoking, alluring, and incredibly intriguing and with its rich characterization and impeccably detailed storyline, it’s another stunning example of why Diane Chamberlain is one of my all-time favourite authors.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

Thank you to St. Martins Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 25 novels published in more than twenty languages. Some of her most popular books include Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane's background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.

Diane received her bachelor's and master's degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel.
Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She's currently at work on her next novel.

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