The Books That I Read
I’m a big reader and by that I don’t mean that I plow through 1,000 books a year. No, I’m a slow reader–but I’m always reading something.
1945: RCAF Squadron Leader Jack Barton flies combat missions over occupied Europe. Major Günther Graf, a war-weary and disillusioned Luftwaffe pilot, is trapped in the unspeakable horrors of Nazi Germany. Their paths, so different yet so similar, are connected by a young victim of appalling cruelty.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
The Yellow Bird Sings
by jennifer Rosner
In Poland, as World War II rages, a mother hides with her young daughter, a musical prodigy whose slightest sound may cost them their lives.
As Nazi soldiers round up the Jews in their town, Róza and her 5-year-old daughter, Shira, flee, seeking shelter in a neighbor’s barn. Hidden in the hayloft day and night, Shira struggles to stay still and quiet, as music pulses through her and the farmyard outside beckons. To soothe her daughter and pass the time, Róza tells her a story about a girl in an enchanted garden:
The girl is forbidden from making a sound, so the yellow bird sings. He sings whatever the girl composes in her head: high-pitched trills of piccolo; low-throated growls of contrabassoon. Music helps the flowers bloom.
In this make-believe world, Róza can shield Shira from the horrors that surround them. But the day comes when their haven is no longer safe, and Róza must make an impossible choice: whether to keep Shira by her side or give her the chance to survive apart.
Inspired by the true stories of Jewish children hidden during World War II, Jennifer Rosner’s debut is a breathtaking novel about the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter. Beautiful and riveting, The Yellow Bird Sings is a testament to the triumph of hope―a whispered story, a bird’s song―in even the darkest of times.
The Book of Lost Names
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
The Vanishing Half
Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.
When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.
Soon after their training, they are dropped behind enemy lines and take up their false identities, isolated from one another except for a secret drop-box, but in close contact with the powerful Nazi elite who have Paris under siege.
Thus begins a dramatic and riveting cat-and-mouse game, as the young Americans seek to stay under the radar until a fatal misstep leads to the capture and the firing-squad execution of one of their team. But…is everything as it seems, or is this one more elaborate act of spycraft?
I Am the Messenger
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts
Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.
That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.
That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.
Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
When We Danced on Water
Daughter of the Reich
Realizing she is taking a huge risk—but unable to resist the intense attraction she has for Walter—she embarks on a secret love affair with him. Together, they dream about when the war will be over and plan for their future. But as the rising tide of anti-Semitism threatens to engulf them, Hetty and Walter will be forced to take extreme measures.
The Henna Artist
BY Alka Joshi
Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…
Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened.
The Song of the Jade Lily
1939: Two young girls meet in Shanghai, also known as the “Paris of the East”. Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as they slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart.
2016:Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. As fragments of her mother’s history finally become clear, Alexandra struggles with what she learns while more is also revealed about her grandmother’s own past in Shanghai.
After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. Peeling back the layers of their hidden lives, she is forced to question what she knows about her family—and herself.
A VIEW ACROSS THE ROOFTOPS
BY SUZANNE KELMAN
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.
A Bend in the Stars
In Russia, in the summer of 1914, as war with Germany looms and the Czar’s army tightens its grip on the local Jewish community, Miri Abramov and her brilliant physicist brother, Vanya, are facing an impossible decision. Since their parents drowned fleeing to America, Miri and Vanya have been raised by their babushka, a famous matchmaker who has taught them to protect themselves at all costs: to fight, to kill if necessary, and always to have an escape plan. Can they bear to leave the homeland that has given them so much?
Before they have time to make their choice, war is declared and Vanya goes missing, along with Miri’s fiancé. Miri braves the firing squad to go looking for them both. As the eclipse that will change history darkens skies across Russia, not only the safety of Miri’s own family but the future of science itself hangs in the balance.
My Name is Eva
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.
Song of a Captive Bird
“Remember the flight, for the bird is mortal.”—Forugh Farrokhzad
All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh is told that Iranian daughters should be quiet and modest. She is taught only to obey, but she always finds ways to rebel—gossiping with her sister among the fragrant roses of her mother’s walled garden, venturing to the forbidden rooftop to roughhouse with her three brothers, writing poems to impress her strict, disapproving father, and sneaking out to flirt with a teenage paramour over café glacé. It’s during the summer of 1950 that Forugh’s passion for poetry really takes flight—and that tradition seeks to clip her wings.
Forced into a suffocating marriage, Forugh runs away and falls into an affair that fuels her desire to write and to achieve freedom and independence. Forugh’s poems are considered both scandalous and brilliant; she is heralded by some as a national treasure, vilified by others as a demon influenced by the West. She perseveres, finding love with a notorious filmmaker and living by her own rules—at enormous cost. But the power of her writing grows only stronger amid the upheaval of the Iranian revolution.
Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews—and including original translations of her poems—Jasmin Darznik has written a haunting novel, using the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran—and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.
When All Is Said
If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?
This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, who, over the course of a Saturday night in June, orders five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel. With each he toasts a person vital to him: his doomed older brother, his troubled sister-in-law, his daughter of fifteen minutes, his son far off in America, and his late, lamented wife. And through these people, the ones who left him behind, he tells the story of his own life, with all its regrets and feuds, loves and triumphs.
The Secrets We Kept
At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak’s magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world–using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, and under Sally’s tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents.
The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story—the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who was sent to the Gulag and inspired Zhivago’s heroine, Lara—with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. From Pasternak’s country estate outside Moscow to the brutalities of the Gulag, from Washington, D.C. to Paris and Milan, The Secrets We Kept captures a watershed moment in the history of literature—told with soaring emotional intensity and captivating historical detail. And at the center of this unforgettable debut is the powerful belief that a piece of art can change the world.
The World That We Knew
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.
The Girl from Berlin
Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the Great War. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, she herself was a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.
What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.
A Fire Sparkling
by Julianne Maclean
After a crushing betrayal by the man she loves, Gillian Gibbons flees to her family home for a much-needed escape, but when she finds an old photograph of her grandmother in the arms of a Nazi officer, Gillian’s life gets even more complicated. Rattled by the discovery, Gillian attempts to unravel the truth behind the photos, setting her off on an epic journey through the past…
As Gillian learns more about her grandmother’s past, the old photo begins to make more sense. But for every question answered, a new one takes its place. Faced with a truth that is not at all what she expected, Gillian attempts to shine a light not only on the mysteries of her family’s past but also on her own future.
The Daughter’s Tale
BERLIN, 1939. The dreams that Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, had for their daughters are shattered when the Nazis descend on Berlin, burning down their beloved family bookshop and sending Julius to a concentration camp. Desperate to save her children, Amanda flees toward the south of France, where the widow of an old friend of her husband’s has agreed to take her in. Along the way, a refugee ship headed for Cuba offers another chance at escape and there, at the dock, Amanda is forced to make an impossible choice that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Once in Haute-Vienne, her brief respite is interrupted by the arrival of Nazi forces, and Amanda finds herself in a labor camp where she must once again make a heroic sacrifice.
NEW YORK, 2015. Eighty-year-old Elise Duval receives a call from a woman bearing messages from a time and country that she forced herself to forget. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise is shocked to discover that the letters were from her mother, written in German during the war. Despite Elise’s best efforts to stave off her past, seven decades of secrets begin to unravel.
The Things We Cannot Say
In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.
Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.
Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative that weaves together two women’s stories into a tapestry of perseverance, loyalty, love and honor. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.
The Winemaker’s Wife
Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they’ll be exposed, but for Céline, half-Jewish wife of Chauveau’s chef de cave, the risk is even greater—rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate.
When Céline recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Inès makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love—and the champagne house that ties them together.
New York, 2019: Liv Kent has just lost everything when her eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive—and a tragic, decades-old story to share. When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau.
When God Was a Rabbit
by Sarah Winman
Where the Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens
Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
The Woman in the White Kimono
by Ana Johns
Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage to the son of her father’s business associate would secure her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community, but Naoko has fallen for another man—an American sailor, a gaijin—and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.
America, present day. Tori Kovac, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation—one that calls into question everything she understood about him, her family and herself. Setting out to learn the truth behind the letter, Tori’s journey leads her halfway around the world to a remote seaside village in Japan, where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.
In breathtaking prose and inspired by true stories from a devastating and little-known era in Japanese and American history, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.
The Lost Girls Of Paris
by Pam Jenoff
1946, Manhattan. Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.
Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.
Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war, and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.
Karolina’s Twins is a tale of survival, love, and resilience in more ways than one. As Lena recounts her story, Catherine herself also recognizes the unwavering importance of family as she prepares herself for the arrival of her unborn child. Through this association and many more, both Lena and Catherine begin to cherish the dogged ties that bind not only families and children, but the entirety of mankind.
The Silent Patient
by Alex Michaelides
Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.
And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?
Jack Sommers was just an ordinary accountant from Chicago. That is, until his wife passed away, his young daughter was kidnapped, and he became the main suspect in an $88 million dollar embezzlement case. Now, Jack is on the run, hoping to avoid the feds long enough to rescue his daughter, Sophie, from her maternal grandfather, a suspected terrorist in Palestine.
With the help of the investigative team who first appeared in Once We Were Brothers, Liam and Catherine, and a new CIA operative, a secret mission is launched to not only rescue Sophie, but also to thwart a major terrorist attack in Hebron. But will being caught in the crossfires of the Palestine-Israeli conflict keep their team from accomplishing the task at hand, or can they overcome the odds and save countless lives, including their own?
Saving Sophie is the powerful story of the lengths a father will go through to protect his daughter, alongside the religious and political persecution of a nation caught in a civil war. This action-packed thriller will take you on an unforgettable journey of murder and deception, testing the bonds of family and love along the way.
Daisy Jones & The Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The Island of Sea Women
Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.
Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.
This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story—one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them—The Island of Sea Womenintroduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.
In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted…
Bold, reckless Nina Markova grows up on the icy edge of Soviet Russia, dreaming of flight and fearing nothing. When the tide of war sweeps over her homeland, she gambles everything to join the infamous Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on Hitler’s eastern front. But when she is downed behind enemy lines and thrown across the path of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, Nina must use all her wits to survive.
British war correspondent Ian Graham has witnessed the horrors of war from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials. He abandons journalism after the war to become a Nazi hunter, yet one target eludes him: the Huntress. Fierce, disciplined Ian must join forces with brazen, cocksure Nina, the only witness to escape the Huntress alive. But a shared secret could derail their mission, unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.
Seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride grows up in post WWII Boston, determined despite family opposition to become a photographer. At first delighted when her long-widowed father brings home a fiancée, Jordan grows increasingly disquieted by the soft-spoken German widow who seems to be hiding something. Armed only with her camera and her wits, Jordan delves into her new stepmother’s past and slowly realizes there are mysteries buried deep in her family. But Jordan’s search for the truth may threaten all she holds dear.
As Anton struggles to adapt to the roles of husband and father, he learns of the Red Orchestra, an underground network of resisters plotting to assassinate Hitler. Despite Elisabeth’s reservations, Anton joins this army of shadows. But when the SS discovers his schemes, Anton will embark on a final act of defiance that may cost him his life—even if it means saying goodbye to the family he has come to love more than he ever believed possible.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter
In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.
Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.
Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?
This book was dull and tedious. This was my third Kate Morton book, I really enjoyed the previous 2 so I had high expectations. My expectations were not met. This book had too many narrators over too many time periods. I gave up half way, there are to many good books out there for me to continue reading a book I wasn’t enjoying.
Ten Years Gone
(Adam Lapid Mysteries #1)
by Jonathan Dunsky
She gave up her son to save him.
Now she wants him back.
Germany, 1939 – Henrietta Ackerland, a Jewish mother in Nazi Germany, makes a heart-rending decision. She gives her baby boy, Willie, to a friend who is fleeing Germany to Israel.
Henrietta plans on following soon, but World War II breaks out, stranding her in Europe.
Israel, 1949 – Henrietta finally makes it to Israel but can’t find Willie. She hires private investigator and former Nazi hunter Adam Lapid to find him for her.
Adam Lapid knows it will take a miracle to find Willie Ackerland after ten long years. And Adam doesn’t believe in miracles. Not anymore. Not after losing his entire family in the Holocaust. Not after experiencing the horrors of Auschwitz.
But Henrietta is desperate so Adam agrees to take on the case. What Adam doesn’t realize is that this missing person’s case will soon land him in a heap of trouble. For what started as a hunt for Willie Ackerland will soon turn Adam into prey – and of more than one hunter.
You will love Ten Years Gone because it is an emotional mystery novel full of riveting characters, twists you won’t see coming, and heart-wrenching moments. Grab your copy now!
The Paris Seamstress
by Natasha Lester
How much will a young Parisian seamstress sacrifice to make her mark in the male-dominated world of 1940s New York fashion?
1940. Parisian seamstress Estella Bissette is forced to flee France as the Germans advance. She is bound for Manhattan with a few francs, one suitcase, her sewing machine, and a dream: to have her own atelier.
2015. Australian curator Fabienne Bissette journeys to the annual Met Gala for an exhibition of her beloved grandmother’s work – one of the world’s leading designers of ready-to-wear. But as Fabienne learns more about her grandmother’s past, she uncovers a story of tragedy, heartbreak and secrets – and the sacrifices made for love.
Crossing generations, society’s boundaries and international turmoil, The Paris Seamstress is the beguiling, transporting story of the special relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter as they attempt to heal the heartache of the past. (less)
The Weight of Ink
by Rachel Kadish
Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.
As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents’ scribe, the elusive “Aleph.”
Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order reconcile the life of the heart and mind.
by Arif Anwar
Inspired by the 1970 Bhola Cyclone, in which half a million people perished overnight, The Storm seamlessly interweaves five love stories that, together, chronicle sixty years of Bangladeshi history.
Shahryar, a recent Ph.D. graduate and father of nine-year-old Anna, must leave the US when his visa expires. As father and daughter spend their last remaining weeks together, Shahryar tells Anna the history of his country, beginning in a village on the Bay of Bengal, where a poor fisherman and his Hindu wife, who converted to Islam out of love for him, are preparing to face a storm of historic proportions. Their story intersects with those of a Japanese fighter pilot, a British female doctor stationed in Burma during World War II, a Buddhist monk originally from Austria, and a privileged couple in Calcutta who leave everything behind to move to East Pakistan following the Partition of India. The structure of this riveting novel mimics the storm itself – building to a series of revelatory and moving climaxes as it explores the many ways in which families love, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another.
The Ghost Keeper
by Natalie Morrill
Winner of the HarperCollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction, this powerful, sweeping novel set in Vienna during the 1930s and ’40s centres on a poignant love story and a friendship that ends in betrayal.
In the years between the two world wars, Josef Tobak builds a quiet life around his friendships, his beloved wife, Anna, and his devotion to the old Jewish cemeteries of Vienna. Then comes the Anschluss in 1938, and Josef’s world is uprooted. His health disintegrates. His wife and child are forced to flee to China. His closest gentile friend joins the Nazi Party—and yet helps Josef escape to America.
When the war ends, Josef returns to Vienna with his family and tries to make sense of what remains, including his former Nazi friend who, he discovers, protected Josef’s young female cousin throughout the war.
Back among his cemeteries in Austria’s war-shattered capital, Josef finds himself beset by secrets, darkness and outward righteousness marred by private cruelty. As the truth is unearthed, Josef’s care for the dead takes on new meaning while he confronts his own role in healing both his devastated community and his deepest wounds.
The Ghost Keeper is a story about the terrible choices we make to survive and the powerful connections to communities and friends that define us. Here is a finely accomplished novel that introduces an exciting new voice to our literary landscape.
White Rose, Black Forest
by Eoin Dempsey
December 1943. In the years before the rise of Hitler, the Gerber family’s summer cottage was filled with laughter. Now, as deep drifts of snow blanket the Black Forest, German dissenter Franka Gerber is alone and hopeless. Fervor and brutality have swept through her homeland, taking away both her father and her brother and leaving her with no reason to live.
That is, until she discovers an unconscious airman lying in the snow wearing a Luftwaffe uniform, his parachute flapping in the wind. Unwilling to let him die, Franka takes him to her family’s isolated cabin despite her hatred for the regime he represents. But when it turns out that he is not who he seems, Franka begins a race against time to unravel the mystery of the airman’s true identity. Their tenuous bond becomes as inseparable as it is dangerous. Hunted by the Gestapo, can they trust each other enough to join forces on a mission that could change the face of the war and their own lives forever?
Next Year in Havana
by Chanel Cleeton
After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity–and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…
Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest–until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…
Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.
Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.
by Mary Lynn Bracht
In the spirit of Lilac Girls, the heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life in this deeply moving and redemptive debut that follows two sisters separated by World War II.
Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo, a female diver of the sea, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is herself captured and transported to Manchuria. There she is forced to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength. She will find her way home.
South Korea, 2011. Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her sister made, but she must confront the past to discover peace. Seeing the healing of her children and her country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war to find forgiveness?
The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.
Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.
In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.
We Were the Lucky Ones
by Georgia Hunter
It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.
As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.
by Laurie Lico Albanese
From the dawn of the twentieth century to the devastation of World War II, this exhilarating novel of love, war, art, and family gives voice to two extraordinary women and brings to life the true story behind the creation and near destruction of Gustav Klimt’s most remarkable paintings.
In the dazzling glitter of 1903 Vienna, Adele Bloch-Bauer—young, beautiful, brilliant, and Jewish—meets painter Gustav Klimt. Wealthy in everything but freedom, Adele embraces Klimt’s renegade genius as the two awaken to the erotic possibilities on the canvas and beyond. Though they enjoy a life where sex and art are just beginning to break through the façade of conventional society, the city is also exhibiting a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism, as political hatred foments in the shadows of Adele’s coffee house afternoons and cultural salons.
Nearly forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazis invade Austria—and overnight, her beloved Vienna becomes a war zone. When her husband is arrested and her family is forced out of their home, Maria must summon the courage and resilience that is her aunt’s legacy if she is to survive and keep her family—and their history—alive.
Will Maria and her family escape the Nazis’ grip? And what will become of the paintings that her aunt nearly sacrificed everything for?
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
by Lisa See
Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.
In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.
After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations
by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.
So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.
The German Girl
In 1939 before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. Her family moved in Berlin’s highest social circles, admired by friends and neighbors. Eleven-year-old Hannah was often taken by her mother for an afternoon treat at the tea room of the beautiful Adlon Hotel, both dressed in their finest clothes. She spent her afternoons at the park with her best friend Leo Martin. But, in an instant, that sunlit world vanished. Now the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; their fine possessions are hauled away, and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. The two friends make a pact: come what may, they promise to have a future together.
As Hannah and Leo’s families desperately begin to search for a means of escape, a glimmer of hope appears when they discover the Saint Louis, a transatlantic liner that can give Jews safe passage to Cuba. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart from Hamburg on the luxurious passenger liner bound for Havana. Life aboard the ship is a welcome respite from the gloom of Berlin—filled with masquerade balls, dancing, and exquisite meals every night.
As the passengers gain renewed hope for a bright future ahead, love between Hannah and Leo blossoms. But soon reports from the outside world began to filter in, and dark news overshadows the celebratory atmosphere on the ship; the governments of Cuba, the United States, and Canada are denying the passengers of the St. Louis admittance to their countries, forcing them to return to Europe as it descends into the Second World War. The ship that had seemed their salvation seems likely to become their death sentence.
After four days anchored at bay, only a handful of passengers are allowed to disembark onto Cuban soil, and Hannah and Leo must face the grim reality that they could be torn apart. Their future is unknown, and their only choice will have an impact in generations to come.
Decades later in New York City on her eleventh birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious envelope from Hannah, a great-aunt she has never met but who raised her deceased father. In an attempt to piece together her father’s mysterious past, Anna and her mother travel to Havana to meet Hannah, who is turning eighty-seven years old. Hannah reveals old family ties, recounts her journey aboard the Saint Louis and, for the first time, reveals what happened to her father and Leo. Bringing together the pain of the past with the mysteries of the present, Hannah gives young Anna a sense of their shared histories, forever intertwining their lives, honoring those they loved and cruelly lost
The Rules of Magic
by Alice Hoffman
For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.
Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.
From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.
The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy
Thief of Glory
by Sigmund Brouwer
In the early 1940s, Jeremiah Prins was a 12-year-old living a content life as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). When Holland declared war on the Japanese in 1941, the situation changed swiftly. The Japanese army invaded, and Jeremiah and his family were placed in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp-a camp Jeremiah finally escapes and returns to Holland. Yet wartime complications force him to abandon a marriage engagement with Laura Jensen. The young man flees to California, where he struggles with the lingering anger and war stress he faced as a child.
Determined to find some kind of redemption, a now-elderly Jeremiah tries to make sense of his life by journaling of all that he does not want to reveal to his children about his past, intending to leave his writings as an apology after he is gone.
An online encounter puts Jeremiah in touch with his true love from the war years, Laura, and when they meet again, it triggers the time bomb of long-buried secrets. Even seventy years later, if uncovered, these secrets can harm everyone who matters to Jeremiah.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
The Alice Network
Two women, a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth …no matter where it leads
The One Man
by Andrew Gross
1944. Physics professor Alfred Mendl is separated from his family and sent to the men’s camp, where all of his belongings are tossed on a roaring fire. His books, his papers, his life’s work. The Nazis have no idea what they have just destroyed. And without that physical record, Alfred is one of only two people in the world with his particular knowledge. Knowledge that could start a war, or end it.
Nathan Blum works behind a desk at an intelligence office in Washington, DC, but he longs to contribute to the war effort in a more meaningful way, and he has a particular skill set the U.S. suddenly needs. Nathan is fluent in German and Polish, he is Semitic looking, and he proved his scrappiness at a young age when he escaped from the Polish ghetto. Now, the government wants him to take on the most dangerous assignment of his life: Nathan must sneak into Auschwitz, on a mission to find and escape with one man.
The One Man, a historical thriller from New York Times bestseller Andrew Gross, is a deeply affecting, unputdownable series of twists and turns through a landscape at times horrifyingly familiar but still completely compelling.
Best Book I have read this year.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky
by Mark T. Sullivan
Based on the true story of a forgotten hero during one of history’s darkest hours.
Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.
In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.
Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.
The Color of Our Sky
by Amita Trasi
A sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.
India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before.As time goes by, their bond grows to be as strong as that between sisters. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room.
Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family.
Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.
The Women in the Castle
Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding
Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resistor murdered in the failed July, 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.
First, Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naïve Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resistor’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.
As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.
From Sand and Ash
by Amy Harmon
Italy, 1943—Germany occupies much of the country, placing the Jewish population in grave danger during World War II.
As children, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love. But the church calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.
Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church.
But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial, choice after agonizing choice, until fate and fortune finally collide, leaving them with the most difficult decision of all.
by Alice Hoffman
Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.
Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.
The Little Paris Bookshop
by Nina George
“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.
The Painter from Shanghai
Jennifer Cody Epstein
Pan Yuliang was a girl with no dreams. Her parents were taken from her at a young age, then her uncle sold her into prostitution; it was enough for many years just to cope and survive. One day, fate places a kind gentleman
in her path, and she begins to discover the city outside the brothel
and the world beyond China’s borders. As a larger canvas of life emerges, Pan realizes that she has something of value to say — and a talent through which she can express herself. From Shanghai to Paris, Pan is challenged by the harsh realities in politics, art, and love, and must rely on her own strength to develop her talent. In so doing, she takes a relatively ordinary life and makes it extraordinary.
A work of fiction — but based on the life and work of a real artist.
Flip-Flops After 50: And Other Thoughts on Aging I Remembered to Write Down
by Cindy Eastman
Flip-flops After 50 will amuse, enlighten, and provoke readers to think about the topics that affect all of us. Who hasn’t dealt with the emotions from family events, stress from lousy jobs, or the bittersweet feelings when the kids leave home? Not to mention body image, high school reunions, and parenting. Eastman’s conversational style and easy humor tackle the sublime and the ridiculous, the sacred and the profane. After a certain age—and it’s no secret that it’s 50—Eastman argues that attitudes change for the better. Making decisions gets easier, although there’s no guarantee that life does. Even so, her writing allows us to take a look at our own issues with the reassuring handholding of a confidante
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce
Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old friend in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.
Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie–who is 600 miles away–because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die.
So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories–flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband.
Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband’s sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door
A House Without Windows
by Nadia Hashimi
For two decades, Zeba was a loving wife, a patient mother, and a peaceful villager. But her quiet life is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Nearly catatonic with shock, Zeba is unable to account for her whereabouts at the time of his death. Her children swear their mother could not have committed such a heinous act. Kamal’s family is sure she did, and demands justice. Barely escaping a vengeful mob, Zeba is arrested and jailed.
Awaiting trial, she meets a group of women whose own misfortunes have led them to these bleak cells: eighteen-year-old Nafisa, imprisoned to protect her from an “honor killing”; twenty-five-year-old Latifa, a teen runaway who stays because it is safe shelter; twenty-year-old Mezghan, pregnant and unmarried, waiting for a court order to force her lover’s hand. Is Zeba a cold-blooded killer, these young women wonder, or has she been imprisoned, like them, for breaking some social rule? For these women, the prison is both a haven and a punishment; removed from the harsh and unforgiving world outside, they form a lively and indelible sisterhood.
Into this closed world comes Yusuf, Zeba’s Afghan-born, American-raised lawyer whose commitment to human rights and desire to help his homeland have brought him back. With the fate this seemingly ordinary housewife in his hands, Yusuf discovers that, like the Afghanistan itself, his client may not be at all what he imagines.
A moving look at the lives of modern Afghan women.
The Light in the Ruins
by Chris Bohjalian
1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate’s gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis’ bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison.
1955: Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case—a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood—Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history.
I Let You Go
by Clare Mackintosh
In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.
Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating
The Japanese Lover
by Isabel Allende
In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family’s Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.
Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years
by Pat Conroy
The story of Jack McCall, an American expatriate in Rome, scarred by tragedy and betrayal. His desperate desire to find peace after his wife’s suicide draws him into a painful, intimate search for the one haunting secret in his family’s past that can heal his anguished heart.
Spanning three generations and two continents, from the contemporary ruins of the American South to the ancient ruins of Rome, from the unutterable horrors of the Holocaust to the lingering trauma of Vietnam, Beach Music sings with life’s pain and glory. It is another masterpiece in PAT CONROY’S legendary list of beloved novels.
The Time In Between
by Maria Duenas
Let me begin by…..This is one of the best books I have ever read. Duenas is a masterful storyteller. The plot is woven in such a way that I had to keep reading. (The book was written in Spanish and translated to English by Daniel Hahn.) The historical events that took place in Spain during this period were unknown to me, and the push and pull between German and British interests was intriguing. I have the feeling Duenas could write about ANYTHING and make a completely captivating story.
Suddenly left abandoned and penniless in Morocco by her lover, Sira Quiroga forges a new identity. Against all odds she becomes the most sought-after couture designer for the socialite wives of German Nazi officers. But she is soon embroiled in a dangerous political conspiracy as she passes information to the British Secret Service through a code stitched into the hems of her dresses.
The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust
by Edith Hahn Beer, Susan Dworkin
Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman studying law in Vienna when the Gestapo forced Edith and her mother into a ghetto, issuing them papers branded with a “J.” Soon, Edith was taken away to a labor camp, and though she convinced Nazi officials to spare her mother, when she returned home, her mother had been deported. Knowing she would become a hunted woman, Edith tore the yellow star from her clothing and went underground, scavenging for food and searching each night for a safe place to sleep. Her boyfriend, Pepi, proved too terrified to help her, but a Christian friend was not: With the woman’s identity papers in hand, Edith fled to Munich. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi party member who fell in love with her. And despite her protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity secret.
In vivid, wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells of German officials who casually questioned the lineage of her parents; of how, when giving birth to her daughter, she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal her past; and of how, after her husband was captured by the Russians and sent to Siberia, Edith was bombed out of her house and had to hide in a closet with her daughter while drunken Russians soldiers raped women on the street.
Yet despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith Hahn created a remarkable collective record of survival: She saved every set of real and falsified papers, letters she received from her lost love, Pepi, and photographs she managed to take inside labor camps.
On exhibit at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents form the fabric of an epic story – complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.
The Age of Reinvention by Karine Tuil,
It is not often book comes out that sweeps the reader away both by the story and the writing. “The Age of Reinvention” is such a book.
There are three principal characters in the book.
Samir Tahar a Tunisian immigrant is living in a run down area of Paris, France. He pulls himself out of squalor and earns a law degree. He finds himself unable to get a job and believes it is due to his ethnicity. Samir changes his name to Samuel and presents himself as a Jew. He not only finds work but is transferred to New York to head its firm in the Big Apple. He marries into a prominent Jewish family and the world is his oyster – until his life is ruined, primarily due to the false life he has invented for himself.
Samuel Baron is a roommate of Samir and has failed out of law school but has ambitions of being a novelist. He also, unfortunately, fails at being an author. His identity is used by Samir, but Samuel thinks little of it because, at the time, it has no bearing on his life. It is only after years later when he finally pens a best selling book and must come to Samir’s rescue that his identity comes into play.
Nina, who is irresistible to both men, chooses Samir over Samuel, but finds that even though Samir provides everything that she could possibly want, discovers that there is something her life is lacking.
A magnificent read that contains all the elements of a great book, deceit, romance, mystery, and great writing.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island. Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
by Martha Hall Kelly
Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.
New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.
Glory Over Everything
Beyond the Kitchen House
From the author of the New York Times bestseller and beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House, a novel of family and long-buried secrets along the treacherous Underground Railroad.
Jamie Pyke, son of both a slave and master of Tall Oakes, has a deadly secret that compels him to take a treacherous journey through the Underground Railroad.
White Dog Fell From The Sky
In apartheid South Africa in 1976, medical student Isaac Muthethe is forced to flee his country after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force. He is smuggled into Botswana, where he is hired as a gardener by a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who has abandoned her Ph.D. studies to follow her husband to Africa. When Isaac goes missing and Alice goes searching for him, what she finds will change her life and inextricably bind her to this sunburned, beautiful land.
The Boys In The Boat
Daniel James Brown
Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk
by Kelli Estes
Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt’s island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara’s life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core — and force her to make an impossible choice.
Nightfall over Shanghai
by Daniel Kalla
It’s 1944 and the Japanese are losing the war, but Shanghai is more dangerous than ever, particularly for the Adler family. After fleeing Nazi Europe, Dr. Franz Adler and his teenage daughter, Hannah, have adjusted to life in their strange adopted city, but they are now imprisoned in the Shanghai Ghetto for refugee Jews.
Franz is compelled to work as a surgeon for the hated Japanese military, while struggling to keep the city’s woefully undersupplied refugee hospital functioning. Meanwhile, his beloved Eurasian wife, fellow surgeon Sunny, delivers a baby boy born to a neighborhood teenager who wants nothing to do with the child; Sunny is determined to raise him as her own. When an enigmatic priest arrives at the hospital with an injured man who turns out be a downed American pilot, Sunny is recruited into a spy ring, providing crucial information to the Allies about the city’s port. Inadvertently, Hannah is drawn into the perilous operation, just as she becomes drawn to the controversial movement of Zionism and a Jewish homeland in Palestine. When the Japanese launch a major new offensive against the Chinese, Franz is forced to do the unthinkable: he is sent inland to work as a field doctor on the frontlines. There, he must contend with his tangled loyalties, aerial bombings overhead, and his uncertain feelings for a vulnerable Canadian nurse.
In 1945, American B-52s begin bombing Shanghai in strategic raids, putting thousands of Chinese citizens and refugees in grave danger. While the war seems to be winding down in the Far East, many questions remain unanswered for the Adlers. As the bombers circle ominously overhead, they must now struggle for more than simple safety. For the first time in many war-riven years, they now face the challenge of re-envisioning their lives, and the prospect of forging a hopeful path forward for the future—if they can first survive.
A satisfying conclusion to this excellent trilogy.
Lunch with Charlotte
by Leon Berger
Born in Vienna just after World War I, Charlotte survived the Nazi invasion, escaping on the Kindertransport to England and then to Canada.
Every Friday for the last 25 years of her life, I had lunch with Charlotte and each week she told me more of her extarordinary story. To all appearances, she was a strong and dignified survivor, with old-world courtesies, a twinkling sense of humor and a lilting Austrian syntax. Yet deep within, she’d been scarred by a profound personal trauma.
Finally, just before she died at the age of 91, she chose to entrust me with this dark secret and all at once I understood how it had affected her entire adult life. This is not just the true story of a remarkable woman and our extraordinary friendship but also an epic saga set against the backdrop of history.
A PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS FROM EACH SALE OF THIS BOOK WILL BE DONATED TO THE HOLOCAUST MUSEUM OF HOUSTON.
The Rent Collector
by Cameron Wright
While reading this book I Liked it, didn’t like it, hopeful, sad, depressing, uplifting, even funny at times. It starts off really good, then slowed a bit in the middle (why I dragged reading it) but then took a turn I didn’t see coming & I loved it again! I had never heard of Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in Cambodia, where people actually live. And that is the setting for this beautiful story between Sang Ly & the rent collector, Sopeap Sin. Imagine paying rent to live in a dump. Life is hard for Sang Ly & her husband & sick child. Without revealing too much, Sang Ly begins a journey with Sopeap when she finds a book in the dump that will change her life. This is a story about hope, redemption & second chances.
A Man Called Ove
This book had me laughing out loud one moment and crying the next and I LOVED LOVED LOVED it! And after reading A Man Called Ove, I am quite convinced that there is a little Ove in all of us.
In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Ove, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
A feel-good story, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.
The Golden Son
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Anil is the cherished son of a large family in rural India. As the eldest boy, he is expected to inherit the role of leader of his clan and arbiter of its disputes, dispensing wisdom and good advice. Leena is his closest companion, a fiercely brave girl who loves nothing more than the wild terrain they inhabit and her close-knit family. As childhood friends, they are inseparable—but as adulthood approaches, they grow apart.
Anil is the first person in his family to leave India, the first to attend college, the first to become a doctor. Half a world away in Dallas, Texas, he is caught up in his new life, experiencing all the freedoms and temptations of American culture: he tastes alcohol for the first time, falls in love, and learns firsthand about his adopted country’s alluring, dangerous contradictions. Though his work in a gritty urban hospital is grueling, Anil is determined to carve out his own life in America.
At home, Leena dreams of marriage, a strong and true love like the one shared by her parents, and leaves her beloved home to join her new husband’s family in a distant village.
Chateau of Secrets
by Melanie Dobson
A courageous young noblewoman risks her life to hide French resistance fighters; seventy years later, her granddaughter visits the family’s abandoned chateau and uncovers shocking secrets from the past. Gisèle Duchant guards a secret that could cost her life. Tunnels snake through the hill under her family’s medieval chateau in Normandy. Now, with Hitler’s army bearing down, her brother and several friends are hiding in the tunnels, resisting the German occupation of France.
But when German soldiers take over the family’s château, Gisèle is forced to host them as well—while harboring the resistance fighters right below their feet. Taking in a Jewish friend’s baby, she convinces the Nazis that it is her child, ultimately risking everything for the future of the child. When the German officers begin to suspect her deception, an unlikely hero rescues both her and the child.
A present day story weaves through the past one as Chloe Sauver, Gisèle’s granddaughter, arrives in Normandy. After calling off her engagement with a political candidate, Chloe pays a visit to the chateau to escape publicity and work with a documentary filmmaker, Riley, who has uncovered a fascinating story about Jews serving in Hitler’s army. Riley wants to research Chloe’s family history and the lives that were saved in the tunnels under their house in Normandy. Chloe is floored—her family isn’t Jewish, for one thing, and she doesn’t know anything about tunnels or the history of the house. But as she begins to explore the dark and winding passageways beneath the chateau, nothing can prepare her for the shock of what she and Riley discover…
The Girl in the Spider Web
David Lagercrantz continuing Steig Larsson’s Millennium Series
Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series books were intense, violent, and moving. Lisbeth Salander has such a complicated backstory which fully explains her bizarre behavior and gifts. While the original trilogy was complete in itself, there was one loose end: Salander’s sister. This book — written by David Lagercrantz — explores that loose end. Camille is just as talented and warped (tho’ in a different way) as Salander.
The story features a computer genius, his autistic savant son, the NSA, the Swedish security, and, of course, the Millenium staff. At the heart of it are the possibilities of technological sabotage and the rapid development in computer capabilities. The book is tense, but not as intense as the originals.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest
by J. Ryan Stradal
When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine—and a dashing sommelier—he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter—starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience.
This book was disappointing. it had so much potential and fell short for me. The book started out great but didn’t really have anything to do about cooking. Then each chapter was a different story…different characters and how they knew the main character. But then the chapter would end with no closure. You never found out what happened to these characters or how they influenced or shaped the main character’s life. The book got good again near the end – and the ending didn’t do it for me.
The Marriage of Opposites
by Alice Hoffman
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things: a forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro; the Father of Impressionism.
Growing up on idyllic St. Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris. Rachel’s mother, a pillar of their small refugee community of Jews who escaped the Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for being a difficult girl who refuses to live by the rules. Growing up, Rachel’s salvation is their maid Adelle’s belief in her strengths, and her deep, life-long friendship with Jestine, Adelle’s daughter. But Rachel’s life is not her own. She is married off to a widower with three children to save her father’s business. When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome, much younger nephew, Fréderick, arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes her own life story, beginning a defiant, passionate love affair that sparks a scandal that affects all of her family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.
Once forgotten to history, the marriage of Rachel and Fréderick is a story that is as unforgettable as it is remarkable.
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Depressing people, depressing lives, depressing relationships, lots of time shifts. The most creative aspect of this for me was the perspective from the train – imagining of people’s lives from this distant brief view and observing the minute changes day to day.
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain
Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal bestseller The Paris Wife, now returns with her keenly anticipated new novel, transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.
Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.
Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.
Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.
by Kristin Hannah
This is one of those books that hits pretty much every area I love: historical fiction set in World War II; two stories told side by side that both intertwine and inform in different ways; strong, brave, resilient, amazing women who act out of love for their families, their friends, and their country. There were a number of “grab a tissue quickly!” moments toward the end, and it is never easy to read about the atrocities endured by people during wartime, but I truly loved this book.
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
by Jeffrey Eugenides
Middlesex tells the story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal.
The book is slow. Slow to the point, where I didn’t really care what was happening to the characters. Cal, the protagonist, had no personality at all other than the fact he/she (depending on where you are in the book) is a hermaphrodite.
I Know This Much is True
The novel tells the story of Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, identical twins dealing with very fraternal problems, namely that Thomas is schizophrenic, and Dominick is almost his last remaining caregiver. The novel is about many things, but most of all, as told from Dominick’s perspective, it is about forgiveness, family, and of the past.
I couldn’t put this down! Don’t let the length scare you…I burned through the pages, just wanting to see what happened next! After a shocking stunt in public by his schizophrenic twin brother Thomas, Dominick realizes he needs to do more to help his brother. The struggle to keep Thomas protected, being his brother’s keeper leads Dominick on a journey thinking of his past and trying to learn from it, wondering why his marriage failed and his current relationship is unstable, learning about himself, learning how to love.
At The Water’s Edge
by Sara Gruen author of Water For Elephants.
After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.
When the Cypress Whispers
This novel is about Daphne, the daughter of Greek immigrants, who is returning to the Greek island of Erikousa to be married. Daphne’s parents moved to America with hopes of improving the chances for their daughter’s life and spent decades working in a diner. Although Daphne’s first husband died, she is now a successful chef and marrying a wealthy New Yorker. However, her fondest memories are of her childhood summers spent on the island with her Yia-yia. Returning makes Daphne question the path her life has taken.
The Septembers of Shiraz
by Dalia Sofer
In the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, rare-gem dealer Isaac Amin is arrested, wrongly accused of being a spy. Terrified by his disappearance, his family must reconcile a new world of cruelty and chaos with the collapse of everything they have known.
As Isaac navigates the tedium and terrors of prison, forging tenuous trusts, his wife feverishly searches for him, suspecting, all the while, that their once-trusted housekeeper has turned on them and is now acting as an informer. And as his daughter, in a childlike attempt to stop the wave of baseless arrests, engages in illicit activities, his son, sent to New York before the rise of the Ayatollahs, struggles to find happiness even as he realizes that his family may soon be forced to embark on a journey of incalculable danger.
Two sets of twins rush into womanhood in the 1920’s and 1930’s in Australia. All four enroll in a training program for nurses and encounter challenges that speed them to a new maturity and independence. They meet men from all walks of life which help them make the major decisions about their lives.
This book was so boring for me, I didn’t connect with the characters at all and didn’t care for the story, I expected so much more from Colleen Mccullough who wrote The Thorn Birds.
Be Careful What You Wish For
It is a extremely irritating, leaving the reader hanging for a year. I read the first three books, the first two were great, the third I found a bit boring and the forth… Yawn. . Now I wait another year for the fifth, I hope its the last.
This book was about Sebastian, and Jessica and a bunch of new characters whom you don’t fully get. What are they doing in the book? Harry gets not more than a couple of passing mentions and Giles, some. You tend to forget the back story of the characters from the previous books. Why is Don Pedro Martinez so bent on destroying the Barringttons? Who is Alex Fischer and why is he the bad guy? What’s Lady Virginia still doing in this book? And then you have to think hard to remember the Rodin statue and some war thing and a messy divorce that happened in one of those other three books. Everything is very superficial.
The Garden of Burning Sand
This was another good story by Corban Addison. I liked his first novel A Walk across the Sun better, this is a story of injustice.
A Down Syndrone child is brutally raped and left wandering the streets in an African city. When she is found the police and prosecutors try to piece together how and who is responsible for this despicable act.
If Today be Sweet
By Thrity Umrigar
I picked up this book and put it down, pick it up again and stopped after 100 pages. It just didn’t hold my interest. The story was about an Indian woman who was living in America with her son and his family. She has lost her beloved husband and not sure where she should live. America or India. I didn’t care enough about the characters. This was a boring book for me.
The Baker’s Daughter
The heart of the book is Elsie, the beautiful baker’s daughter who reaches womanhood in Germany just as WWII is coming to an end. She is pragmatic, self assured, and warm-hearted, traits that lead her to see the faults at the heart of Nazi ideology. One night, a young Jewish boy turns up on her doorstep, and she makes a split second decision to save him. Through her eyes we see the tragedies that beset her family, her efforts to save Tobias (the Jewish boy), and the things that she must do to survive after the war.
In the present day, we meet Reba, a reporter in El, Paso Texas. Reba is tasked with interviewing Elsie (now the owner of a local bakery) for a Christmas article. As Reba becomes close to Elsie and her daughter, we learn that the ghosts of Reba’s past are poisoning her happiness with Riki, a border patrol officer.
I saw quite an interesting variety covered within a relatively short book- mental health, suicide, family secrets, illegal Mexican immigration, Nazi Germany, true love, one’s purpose in life, etcetera etcetera.
I give this 3/5, good but not great.
Family Matters tells a story of one middle-class family in Mumbai (Bombay), India. The grandfather, Nariman, suffers from Parkinson’s disease. His two step-children, Coomy and Jal, live with him and are their caretakers. Roxana, Nariman’s real daughter, lives a happy life with her husband, Yezad, and her two children, Murad and Jehangir, in a small flat at Pleasant Villa. Coomy is blames Nariman for her mother’s death and tries to get out of taking care of Nariman. She pushes the care-taking duty onto Roxana, putting a lot of stresses onto her family who is living in already tight quarter.
The book started out slow and never really picked up the speed for me.
The Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd
I feel like I’ve missed something with this book, ratings have been 4 and 5, I liked it but just never felt drawn into it. It’s a good story with nice characters with a hopeful ending and I had a very hard time getting to the end.
On Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
Rising Sun, Falling Shadow
by Daniel Kalla
World War II Shanghai in Dan Kalla’s historical novel Rising Sun, Falling Shadow, the sequel to The Far Side of the Sky.
I struggled to get through this one,342 pages and it took me 3 weeks, It just didn’t have the same “hold” as the first in the series, but I will read the third which he is currently working on.
A Fine Balance
by Rohinton Mistry
This magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers–a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village–will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.
As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.
Absolutely the best book I have read in years, and I have read some excellent books.
An incredible journey about 4 very different people trying to survive in India’s corrupt society. The book focuses on how discriminating and unjust society and politicians in India are towards the lower caste people. A very sad but very real story – a captivating novel, I highly recommend this book.
You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair.” Brilliant. A book to be read again.
Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution. A powerful new novel–set in both India and America–that explores the price of idealism and a love that can last long past death.
Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead of them. It is the 1960s, and Udayan–charismatic and impulsive–finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty: he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother’s political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.
But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family’s home, he comes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind–including those seared in the heart of his brother’s wife.
A Perfect Heritage
I read Wicked Pleasures by Penny Vincenzi,and could not put it down, in the case of this book, it was put down more than it was read. I just found it quite tedious, with no real page turning moments. It was disappointing.
The House of Farrell – home of The Cream, an iconic face product that has seen women flocking to its bijoux flagship store in the Berkeley Arcade since 1953. At Farrell, you can rely on the personal touch. The legendary Athina Farrell remains the company’s figurehead and in her kingdom at the Berkeley Arcade, Florence Hamilton plies their cosmetics with the utmost discretion. She is sales advisor – and holder of secrets – extraordinaire. But of course the world of cosmetics is changing and the once glorious House of Farrell is now in decline, its customers tempted away by more fashionable brands. Enter Bianca Bailey, formidable business woman, mother of three, and someone who always gets her way. Athina and Bianca lock horns over the future of the House of Farrell but it is the past that tells its devastating tale of ambition and ego, passion and wonder. Here is a tale of survival … and a perfect heritage.
The Cellist of Sarajevo
by Steven Galloway
In a city under siege, four people whose lives have been upended are ultimately reminded of what it is to be human. From his window, a musician sees twenty-two of his friends and neighbors waiting in a breadline. Then, in a flash, they are killed by a mortar attack. In an act of defiance, the man picks up his cello and decides to play at the site of the shelling for twenty-two days, honoring their memory. Elsewhere, a young man leaves home to collect drinking water for his family and, in the face of danger, must weigh the value of generosity against selfish survivalism. A third man, older, sets off in search of bread and distraction and instead runs into a long-ago friend who reminds him of the city he thought he had lost, and the man he once was. As both men are drawn into the orbit of cello music, a fourth character- a young woman, a sniper- holds the fate of the cellist in her hands. As she protects him with her life, her own army prepares to challenge the kind of person she has become.
This book richly conveyed the terror, and uncertainty of living in Sarajevo during its siege in the mid-1990s and I especially enjoyed the powerful, honest, and flawed internal narratives of the main characters. However, I have mixed feelings about this book. Have you ever read a book and, when it ends, your first thought is “Was that the end?” This book had no clear plot, no conflict and resolution. It was more or less a description of a day in the life of people in Sarajevo.
City of Women
by David R Gillham
This was a fascinating look at Germany in WWII from the eyes of a German woman. In the beginning Sigrid sees herself as just the wife of a German soldier but that changes quickly. First she takes a Jewish lover. But what changes her is her relationship with Erika Cole, a young woman assigned a nanny in her building who works for the underground, getting Jews and others out of German. Sigrid is at first reluctant to get involved. Not because of the danger but for disinterest. But then she realizes that it is the wife and children of her lover that are in hiding and suddenly these people become real. Sigrid takes several lovers over the course of the novel and she feels deeply for each of them for different reasons. A very different take on the war.
In A Far Country
An Unputdownable read,
I belonged to India, and it to me…’ Bombay, 1880. In the cool of the day, standing by the sea, a woman remembers a journey. From a humble medical mission outside Lahore to the winding alleys and colourful bazaars of Peshawar; from respectable missionary’s daughter to prostitute; from child of tragedy and bloodshed to daughter of hope. An extraordinary woman, a remarkable journey, a once-in-a-lifetime read.
The Samurai’s Garden
by Gail Tsukiyama
A Beautifully written story about a young Chinese man who spends a year recuperating from tuberculosis at his family’s vacation home in a small fishing village in Japan. This story reveals the political relationships between China and Japan in 1937 & 1938, as well as the relationships between the young Chinese man and his Japanese friends in the small Japanese fishing village.
All The Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
One of the most beautifully written, touching stories I’ve read this year is “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr This is the story of a blind Parisian girl, Marie-Laure, and an orphaned German boy, Werner. It is set during World War 2,
in Germany and France
Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.
The Kill Switch
James Rollins & grant Blackwood
I loved this book. Tucker and Kane are such great characters!!! The story line was very exciting and kept my attention the whole way through. I can’t wait for the next Tucker and Kane adventure!!
The Last Chinese Chef
by Nicole Mones
When Maggie McElroy, a widowed American food writer, learns of a Chinese paternity claim against her late husband’s estate, she has to go immediately to Beijing. She asks her magazine for time off, but her editor counters with an assignment: to profile the rising culinary star Sam Liang.
by Donna Tartt
771 pages woohoo! finished
The Epic tale of a bird, a boy, and a bomb.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman is set in New York in the early 1900’s.
Coralie Sardie lives with her father, the Professor, in his Museum of Extraordinary Things on Coney Island. The museum is really a freak show where her father displays natural curiosities while taking advantage of his human marvels for his side shows. Due to her webbed hands, Coralie has been in training her whole life to be the mermaid in his show. The Professor is an abusive man who exerts absolute control over his daughter. If not for Maureen, the house keeper and her mother figure, Coralie would not be shown any love or attention.
Eddie (Ezekiel Cohen) has left his birth name, religion, and his father behind him to become a photographer. He felt that his father was a coward and weak. Eddie is distancing himself from his emotions as well as his past while he pursues his photography. But Eddie also has a reputation as someone who can find missing people which eventually leads him to meeting Coralie.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things is part mystery and part love story . The mystery comes into play when Eddie begins searching for a missing girl. And the love story is, obviously, when Coralie and Eddie are almost mysteriously drawn to each other through dreams.
City of Thieves
Lev Beniov is seventeen and on his own during the siege of Leningrad. Thrown into jail for trying to loot a dead German soldier, Lev meets Kolya, an alleged deserter from the Red Army. Expecting to be executed, Kolya and Lev are instead assigned by a high-ranking colonel to locate a dozen eggs for the colonel’s daughter’s wedding in the starving city of Leningrad. Kolya and Lev then undergo a series of harrowing adventures trying to locate the eggs and dodge the German soldiers.
This book has all the makings of a coming of age movie (makes sense, the author is also a screenwriter). I can actually picture the movie in my head. It’s something I would watch. It’s both funny yet certain parts remind me of the horrors of war still thriving within the city.
Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
A quick read, I definitely enjoyed A Dog’s Purpose more.
Enzo, the lovable mutt tells this story. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: most dogs love to chase cars, but Enzo longs to race them. He learns about racing and the world around him by watching TV and by listening to the words of his best friend, Denny, an up-and-coming race car driver, and his daughter, Zoë, his constant companion. Enzo finds that life is just like being on the racetrack—it isn’t simply about going fast. And, applying the rules of racing to his world, Enzo takes on his family’s challenges and emerges a hero. In the end, Enzo holds in his heart the dream that Denny will go on to be a racing champion with his daughter by his side. For theirs is an extraordinary friendship—one that reminds us all to celebrate the triumph of the human (and canine) spirit.
by Colum Mccann
Newfoundland, 1919. Two aviators—Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown—set course for Ireland as they attempt the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, placing their trust in a modified bomber to heal the wounds of the Great War.
Dublin, 1845 and ’46. On an international lecture tour in support of his subversive autobiography, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause—despite the fact that, as famine ravages the countryside, the poor suffer from hardships that are astonishing even to an American slave.
New York, 1998. Leaving behind a young wife and newborn child, Senator George Mitchell departs for Belfast, where it has fallen to him, the son of an Irish-American father and a Lebanese mother, to shepherd Northern Ireland’s notoriously bitter and volatile peace talks to an uncertain conclusion.
These three iconic crossings are connected by a series of remarkable women whose personal stories are caught up in the swells of history. Beginning with Irish housemaid Lily Duggan, who crosses paths with Frederick Douglass, the novel follows her daughter and granddaughter, Emily and Lottie, and culminates in the present-day story of Hannah Carson, in whom all the hopes and failures of previous generations live on.
Best Kept Secret
Jeffrey Archer is a wonderful storyteller. This is the third in a series known as The Clifton Chronicles. The first two were “Sins of the Father” and “Only Time Will Tell.” These books are a very entertaining saga of the Clifton and Barrington families from just before World War I through the late 1950s. I look forward to the fourth book in this series.
The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion
Don, a most engaging and delightful character, is a genetics professor at a Melbourne university. Brilliant, athletic and handsome, he follows a rigid schedule ruled by logic. He is into a timetable that allows him 94 minutes a week to clean his bathroom, and a “Standardized Meal System” that dictates what foods he eats on what nights and how long it takes to prepare them.
Living life according to unbendable rules written on whiteboards hasn’t helped Don, 39, find a woman to love him. He’s “tall, fit, and intelligent, with a relatively high status and above-average income,” but for some reason never makes it past the first date. He may look like a young Gregory Peck, but he knows “there is something about me that women find unappealing.”
Not one to give up, Don tosses Internet dating sites, speed dating and matchmaker-designed dinner parties into the dustbin of ineffective partner-seeking methods in favor of his very own “Wife Project.”
Hilarious! I laughed out loud 🙂
The Lion Seeker
by Kenneth Bonet
Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine–being immersed in another place and time. This journey through an immigrant Jewish community in South Africa in the 1940s was certainly revealing–and heart-wrenching as the protagonist is beaten down again and again. Family relationships are central to this sage. I stumbled over the large amount of Yiddish, Hebrew and Afrikaaner phrases through the dialogue–this made the pace very slow for me. The transition in Isaac’s life leading into the ending didn’t play out in detail like the rest of his story did, so I found myself losing interest toward the end.
The Mask Carver’s Son
by Alyson Richman
Set in turn of the century Japan in the world of the Noh theater, and in Paris during the heady days when French Impressionism was the avant-garde, this heartbreaking, beautifully written novel tells of a young Japanese artist who sacrifices everything: family, love and wealth for his art.
A Master Noh mask carver dedicates his life to his art, turning his back on love after a series of tragic events leaves him devastated. Kiyoki, his only son, defies his father and the demands of cultural tradition to follow his dream of becoming a painter in the western style. Kiyoki journeys to Paris, where he lives the life of an exile, unable to break the bonds of tradition, until he finds his heart leads him back to Japan, where he at last discovers himself as an artist.
Women Of The Silk
Women of the Silk tells the story of a young girl’s journey of self-discovery among a fellowship of the women silk workers. The novel is set in an industrial, rural China around the early twentieth century, leading up Japanese invasion of the country. Pei is full of life and radiates optimism and acts as the main protagonist. Unlike her stoic family, she is naturally affectionate and is always innocently asking them questions to feed her over-imaginative, curiosity but is seldom ever answered. With her sister Li, their father takes them to the village fortuneteller to see what is to become of them. Pei’s future is predicted that she will be loved by more than one with many difficulties along the way to face. Since Pei becomes designated as non-marrying, as her father assumes, he decides to sacrifice his daughter to the silk work.
At the tender age of eight, Pei is sent away to work at a silk factory in the Yung Kee village to raise money to support her family. After the shock and sadness of being left by her father subsides, she becomes enlightened by the silk work. The experience as a silk worker brings Pei and her friends independence and freedom that they could hardly dream of back in their own homes. Their idol is the goddess of mercy, Kuan Yin, who went against her family’s objections to become a nun. After observing two of her friends, Pei joins Lin in the hair dressing ceremony that will swear them off marriage. The belief that a woman is either dedicated to her work or to a marriage, but not both, was highly supported by their society.
The Far Side of the Sky
by Daniel Kalla
November 9, 1938—Kristallnacht—the Nazis unleash a night of terror for Jews all across Germany. Meanwhile, the Japanese Imperial Army rampages through China and tightens its stranglehold on Shanghai, a city that becomes the last haven for thousands of desperate European Jews.
Dr. Franz Adler, a renowned surgeon, is swept up in the wave of anti-Semitic violence and flees to Shanghai with his daughter. At a refugee hospital, Franz meets an enigmatic nurse, Soon Yi “Sunny” Mah. The chemistry between them is intense and immediate, but Sunny’s life is shattered when a drunken Japanese sailor murders her father.
The danger escalates for Shanghai’s Jews as the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Facing starvation and disease, Franz struggles to keep the refugee hospital open and protect his family from a terrible fate.
The Far Side of the Sky focuses on a short but extraordinary period of Chinese, Japanese, and Jewish history when cultures converged and heroic sacrifices were part of the everyday quest for survival.
Good historical fiction. The Jews in Austria who wanted to leave after Kristallnacht had no where to turn, as most nations had closed their borders to them. Only Shanghai had open doors. Many fled there and survived the war only because the Japanese held held them in high regard and protected them.
Could not put this book down. A doctor and his young daughter escape Vienna after realizing that they are not untouchable, no matter how unreligious, assimilated or lack of belief. Alternatives are few and they end up in Shanghai where their lives continue. Based on some true stories this is one of my top picks for this year!!!
Songs of Willow Frost
Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.
Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.
Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping book will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home
Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes
I smiled, I laughed and I cried.
Will Traynor lived a full adventurous life, until it was cut short one rainy London day. Will is a quadriplegic who needs round-the-clock care for his physical ailments, but for his emotional state-of-mind his mother has hired Louisa Clark to be a companion to Will.
Louisa is a simple girl who has lived her entire 26 years in the shadows of Stortfold Castle. She likes to wear colourful clothes and bumble bee tights. She just lost her job at a café; her family relies on Louisa for income so she accepts a job as Will’s care giver for a six month time period.
What happens in this six month time period is the heart of this story. It is about two families and how they deal with what life has dealt them. It is about choices and being allowed to choose. It is about awakening and discovering life and all there is to take from it and not be afraid to really love and live.
There are so many beautiful moments in this book, it was worth the tears!
Wicked Pleasures by Penny Vincenzi
This book follows one family and their unique twists of fate. A woman who has three children by different man, but in love with her husband, a man so obsessed with his title and home, that he will do anything to protect it….. Rich and privileged, but all haunted by some unhappiness. A really good, long book. I really enjoyed.
The Vision of Emma Blau
by Ursula Hegi
At the beginning of the twentieth century Stefan Blau flees Burgdorf, a small town in Germany, and comes to America in search of the vision that he has dreamed of every night. The novel closes nearly a century later with Stefan’s granddaughter, Emma, and the legacy of his dream; a once-grand house filled with the hidden truths of inhabitants both past and present.
July 2013 The Eye Of God
A sigma force novel
James Rollins has done it again!! Eight books ago I started the Sigma series, I found a group of unusually real and likable characters, edge if you seat action with technology and history.
The crash of a U.S. military research satellite in the remote wilds of Mongolia triggers an explosive search for the valuable cargo it holds: a code-black physics project connected to the study of dark energy, the energy connected to the birth of our universe. But the last blurry image from the falling satellite captures a chilling sight: a frightening look into the future, a view of a smoldering eastern seaboard of the United States in utter ruin.
At the Vatican, a mysterious package arrives for the head of Pontifical ancient studies, sent by a colleague who had vanished a decade earlier. It contains two strange artifacts: a skull scrawled with ancient Aramaic and a tome bound in human skin. DNA testing reveals both are from Genghis Khan—the long-dead Mongol king whose undiscovered tomb is rumored to hold the vast treasures and knowledge of a lost ancient empire.
Commander Gray Pierce, and Sigma—joined by a pair of Vatican historians—race to uncover a truth tied to the fall of the Roman Empire, to a mystery bound in the roots of Christianity’s origins, and to a weapon hidden for centuries that holds the fate of humanity
And The Mountain Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini
An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else.
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.
In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.
Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
I finished this book and I was Speechless,
Bitter sweet feeling
Craving for more time to spend with the characters
by Jodi Picoult
Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.
What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – is it murder, or justice?
The Hour I First Believed
by Wally Lamb
Who would think that with 750 pages you dont want it to end!
It has about 5 different story lines going on,each of them are intriguing. Gives you alot to think about. The Columbine story hooks you instantly, the mental illness, prescription drug dependance and family relations. A great read!
I am just blown away by the storytelling of Wally Lamb. He introduces us to a wide range of characters. What I like about the characters, especially Caelum, is they are just average people, trying to make sense of a world that is wrought with tragedy.
To me the theme throughout the book is that life isn’t easy and neat. Terrible things happen to people for unknown reasons. This story filled with tragedy portrays the strength of the characters to overcome the tragedies of their lives and find hope and purpose for in their lives. Don’t we all have tragedy in our lives at some level? It is all about our journey through the tragedy and who we are on the other side. One can only hope we continue to find hope in life after it is all said and done. It was heartbreaking and inspiring to follow Caelum, Maureen and Violet in their journey to hope after an imaginable amount of tragedy.
by Naomi Ragen
It is 2002 and pregnant Elise Margulies receives the news that her husband , Dr Jonathan Margulies , a cancer specialist at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, and their five year old daughter Illana have been kidnapped by Hamas who threatens to execute both of the hostages unless their insane demands are met.
When her ‘Bubbee’ Leah in Brooklyn , hears about this she gathers together three of her old friends , all survivors of Auschwitz , to fulfil an oath they made in the death camp, to always act as one.
The Covenant is a story of how the People of Israel love life -theirs and those of others (such as the many Arab patients treated by Dr Margulies) .
It is a story of reality.
It is a story of the strength of the Nation of Israel.
The Blood Gospel
James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell
I’m a fan of James Rollins’ Sigma Force books (scientists with guns), so I bought this book as soon as it was published. This story goes a long way beyond the science of the Sigma Force books and into the realm of vampires, werewolves, and the living dead. The action starts when an earthquake breaks open the mountain of Masada in Israel, releasing a mysterious gas that kills everyone but one teenaged boy. An archaeologist on a dig in Cesearea, and American ranger squad, and a Roman Catholic priest are airlifted onto the damaged Masada and the adventure begins. They are trying to find the Gospel said to have been written by Jesus himself in his own blood that was believed to have been entombed at Masada. The action is nonstop, but puzzling, and it is never clear what the American teenager Tommy, who survived the killing gas and was cured of melanoma by it, has to do with the story. The Roman Catholic priest is a member of the Order of the Sanguines, priests who have been bitten by vampires, but live on. They subsist on the consecrated wine of communion, and battle the forces of darkness believing that if they are killed in that holy battle their souls will be restored to them. I had a really hard time with this premise. It is clear when the book ends that the story has not ended, the The Blood Gospel is only the first in a series. Rollins usually ends his books with an afterword that explains what is scientific fact in the story. It’s one of the things I really like about his Sigma Force books, but it was missing here, so I would put this book in the realm of fantasy.
The Imposter Bride
I was excited to read this book. I love historical fiction but… the first 100 pages were good. I liked the writing style and it was well written. But as I continued to read I started to get a bit bored, The story seemed to drag on and on and on…… the last 100 pages made up for it.
When a young, woman arrives in post-war Montreal, it is immediately clear that she is not who she claims to be. Her attempt to live out her life as Lily Azerov shatters as she disappears, leaving a new husband and baby daughter, and a lot of unanswered questions. Who is she really and what happened to the young woman whose identity she has stolen? Why did she leave and where did she go? It is left to the daughter she abandoned to find the answers to these questions as she searches for the mother she may never find or really know.
I also read this book because it was shortlisted for the Giller prize,
There was so much I enjoyed about this book, but it somehow lacked the punch I would have expected from a prize finalist.
419: A Novel
by Will Ferguson
A car tumbles down a snowy ravine. Accident or suicide?
On the other side of the world, a young woman walks out of a sandstorm in sub-Saharan Africa. In the labyrinth of the Niger Delta, a young boy learns to survive by navigating through the gas flares and oil spills of a ruined landscape. In the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the internet looking for victims.
Lives intersect, worlds collide, a family falls apart. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir, I am the son of an exiled Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help …”
419 takes readers behind the scene of the world’s most insidious internet scam. When Laura’s father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father’s killer. What she finds there will change her life forever.
by Roberta Gately
In Geneva, Switzerland, Abby Monroe is being prepped for her work with the UN in Peshawar, Pakistan as a nurse. During an early morning run, she sees a woman fall to her death from a hotel balcony, and doesn’t know if she has witnessed a murder, a suicide, or an accident. She notices an unusual and elaborate bracelet made of precious stones on the dead woman’s wrist. When a man shouts at her from the balcony and rushes down to confront her, Abby fearfully hides from him and hurries away.
In Peshawar, Abby once again sees the unusual bracelet. Abby is puzzled by this and feels she is being observed and followed. She tries to see if she can recognize the man from the balcony.
During her work as a UN nurse, Abby also meets New York Times reporter Nick Sinclair, and they both try to discover who is behind a far reaching human trafficking ring that preys on women and girls from the villages. This provides further drama and explosive action in the novel.
I enjoyed the suspenseful plot surrounding the unusual bracelet. It was a good story and an excellent vehicle for the novel to describe human trafficking of women and girls taken or lured from their villages and then forced to work under demeaning conditions. The descriptions of women shelters and camps are realistic, even more convincing when I learned the author was a nurse and humanitarian aid worker in several war zones, from Afghanistan to Africa
A Hundred Flowers
by Gail Tsukiyama
A novel about an ordinary family facing extraordinary times at the start of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
China, 1957. Chairman Mao has declared a new openness in society: “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” Many intellectuals fear it is only a trick, and Kai Ying’s husband, Sheng, a teacher, has promised not to jeopardize their safety or that of their young son, Tao. But one July morning, just before his sixth birthday, Tao watches helplessly as Sheng is dragged away for writing a letter criticizing the Communist Party and sent to a labor camp for “reeducation.”
A year later, still missing his father desperately, Tao climbs to the top of the hundred-year-old kapok tree in front of their home, wanting to see the mountain peaks in the distance. But Tao slips and tumbles thirty feet to the courtyard below, badly breaking his leg.
As Kai Ying struggles to hold her small family together in the face of this shattering reminder of her husband’s absence, other members of the household must face their own guilty secrets and strive to find peace in a world where the old sense of order is falling. Once again, Tsukiyama brings us a powerfully moving story of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances with grace and courage.
The Secret Keeper
by Kate Morton
Moving between WWII and current day England, Morton delves into the lives of the Nicholson family. Laurel Nicholson, an accomplished actress, is haunted by a decades old memory of her mother,Dorothy, ruthlessly killing an unknown man who seemingly just wanders on to the Nicholson property. As Laurel’s mother is nearing death, Laurel realizes she must solve this mystery so her mother can die in peace. Morton skillfully weaves Laurel’s quest with the historical account of Dorothy Smithans and Vivien Jenkins, both of whom have lost their families under tragic circumstances. The way each child deals with loss is explored. Dorothy’s and Vivien’s lives are intertwined amidst the London blitz, which serves as an appropriate background for the turmoil that inhabits and surrounds each of the women.
I found the first half of the book slow, but I was really grabbed by the last quarter of the book. By then, there really was a mystery to be solved and I was actively thinking along. And close to the end, there is a shocking revelation, that changed my whole idea about the story (which is why I read some of the beginning again) and finally made me decide this was a good novel after all
This is an excellent story for those who like strong female characters and historical fiction.
The Headmaster’s Wager
Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam is a story of the father-and-son relationship as represented in the characters Chen Kai and Chen Pie Sou (or as he is better known by his English name in the novel, Percival Chen); and Percival Chen and Dai Jai.
An epic story of a Chinese man, the headmaster of an English school in Vietnam during the Vietnam war. A fascinating and horrifying story of the life of a civilian in those years of war and turmoil, a man who is himself an immigrant in a country occupied by Americans. A complex love story, a heart-rending family saga. Highly recommended.
The Light Between Oceans
The Light Between Oceans was a moving novel about what happens when good people make bad decisions. The story takes place in the town of Point Partageuse, Australia during the 1920s. The story begins when a light house keeper (Tom) and his wife (Isabel) find a life boat with a dead man and live baby in it on the beach and have to make tough decisions regarding the baby’s future.
Aug 7 2012
I could not put this book down, when you find an amazing, edge of your seat, suspense thriller, you have to finish it.
you are in for an action-packed roller coaster ride from the beginning. Trying not to give away too much, this novel blends a little DaVinci Code, National Treasure, Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible and a twisted bit of Science Fiction into this one, so if you have an interest in any of those, you will just LOVE this one.
The basis for this novel begins with the Knights Templar and ancient history involving a priceless icon that holds a mysterious and terrifying power that promises to change humankind forever. Here’s just a sample of what is going on:
“On February 21, 2011, the cover of Time magazine declared: 2045, The Year Man Becomes Immortal, that might seem a wild claim, but other scientists have made similar statements.
We are living in an exciting time when advances in medicine, genetics, technology, and a myriad of other disciplines are opening the newest frontier for mankind: eternity.
With the presidents daughter kidnapped, it’s only a matter of time before they discover who she really is, and what she is carrying within her that will make her one of the most valuable people in the entire world. If only SIGMA, a unique special operative groups, can locate her before her secret is uncovered, and she becomes a pawn in a shattering act of terrorism with dark repercussions and one that SIGMA may not even be prepared to deal with.
Aug 1 2012
by Jess Walter
This story spans a 50 year period and many love stories, including the famous, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and many fictional. With a huge cast of characters and interweaving story-lines, this is one of summer 2012’s great reads.
July 1 2012
A Dog’s Journey
another novel for humans
by W.Bruce Cameron
I thought A Dog’s Purpose (the first in this series) was much better. Was curious about the sequel & was an OK read, but didn’t have the same novelty & emotion as the first.
A Walk Across The Sun
by Corban Addison
An excellent story of tragedy, resolve, faith and triumph. A tsunami hits the coast of India and Ahalya and Sita find themselves as young orphaned girls. Thinking they are trusting a family friend to offer a ride to a church for sanctuary, they instead find themselves thrown into a sex trafficking scandal that focuses on the exploitation of minor children. Split apart, the girls maintain strength as they face their difficult life. A moving, story of amazing courage.
The Gift of Rain
by Tan Twan Eng
The Gift of Rain spans decades as it takes readers from the final days of the Chinese emperors to the dying era of the British Empire, and through the mystical temples, bustling cities,and forbidding rain forests of Malaya.” In 1939, sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton – the half-Chinese, half-English youngest child of the head of one of Penang’s great trading families – feels alienated from both the Chinese and British communities. He discovers a sense of belonging in his unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat who rents a nearby island from his father. Philip proudly shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo teaches him about Japanese language and culture and trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. As World War II rages in Europe, the Japanese savagely invade Malaya, and Philip realizes that his mentor and sensei – to whom he owes absolute loyalty – is a Japanese spy. Young Philip has been an unwitting traitor, and he is forced into collaborating with the Japanese to safeguard his family. He becomes the ultimate outsider, trusted by none and hated by many. Tormented by his part in the events, Philip risks everything by working in secret to save as many people as he can from the brutality he has helped bring upon them.
The Shoemakers Wife
The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.
Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.
From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.
The Invisible Bridge
by Julie Orringer
Although daunting (at almost 800 pages), Julie Orringer’s first novel is by far one of the most beautiful stories I read in 2012. Hopefull, naive, heart-wrenching, and disastorous at the same time, Orringer’s look into the life of Andras Levi leaves nothing to the imagination. Andras, a Hungarian Jew studying archticture in 1930’s Paris, stands at the center of this novel on love and loss. Diving deep into his mind and the lives of his loved ones, the reader grows attached to, and becomes one with, this young man. There is the omnipresent sense of doom for the reader, as the anti-Semetic laws slowly go into place and the far-away futuristic reader senses what is in store for this Eastern European Jew. But Orringer’s power is in her ability to stay focused on the individuals of the story, from Andras, to the love of his life, to his aging parents, and young brothers. While the most horrific acts of the 20th century take place in the setting, the reader still feels deeply connected to the story at hand. Orringer steers clear of the over-reaching horrors of the Holocaust, and stays focused on how it affected one small family. The beauty of her writing and character development make the book impossible to put down.
April 9 2012
The Midwife Of Venice
by Roberta Rich
This book is about Venice in the mid 1500’s, the Jewish ghettos and early midwifery. Hannah, the midwife is a very likable though I do wish there had been more midwifery and a little less drama. The plague is present as well and takes a horrific toll on the people of Venice. Fast-paced and interesting for a historical fiction.
April 2, 2012
Lost and Found
by Jacqueline Sheehan
A fast read. Rocky, the main character, has just lost her husband. Devastated, she takes a leave from her job, travels to Maine and finds a job as an animal control officer. One day she finds a dog who is seriously injured. Rocky is intent on finding out who hurt the dog while at the same time, falling in love with the animal. Without realizing it, the dog helps Rocky heal.
The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman
In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there’s an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers. Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory
I really loved this book, it is intense, romantic and beautifully written The book as it says on the cover begins at the end, at a wedding where 2 people recognize each other….the story then goes back though the decades to the beginning of WII where we meet Lenka and Josef in Prague and each of their stories unfold, stories of struggle and strength and heartbreak.
My friend Susen sent me this today by Neil Gaiman
“Don’t ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read… ”
Only Time Will Tell
I love his books and this was thoroughly entertaining. It’s the first in a trilogy about a family starting in the 1920’s in England. It centers around a young boy finding out that his father isn’t who he thinks he is. The story moves along and I was hooked from the beginning. It’s not heavy reading and I couldn’t put it down as I had to see what was going to happen to this young man. The novel ends at the beginning of WWII with England entering the war. Can’t wait for book 2.
by Kimberley Freeman
A compelling and poignant family saga that parallels the story of Beattie Blaxland, a Scottish girl who emigrates to Australia in 1929, with the story of her granddaughter, Emma Blaxland-Hunter. Linking the generations is the old house, Wildflower Hill, in Tasmania. A love story, and a story about making the best of what life throws at you, this is a book where the pages just seem to turn themselves.
by Sarah Jio
Twenty-one year old Anne who has trained as a nurse and is newly engaged, decides to spend a year as a nurse in Bora Bora during the war in 1942. She goes with her best friend Kitty and there she finds a new love, and a beach hut said to be haunted by the locals and once owned by the famous painter Paul Gauguin. What follows is a scandal and a murder that is never resolved until many years later when she is telling her story to her granddaughter and at last returns to Bora Bora to find closure.
by Alice Hoffman
Captivating tale of the dovekeepers of Masada. The characters, each special in her own way, tell their story of how they came to be in Masada and their days seeking freedom from the Romans.
I loved this book. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt such emotion for the characters and story. Thanks Alice Hoffman for giving Masada a voice.
One of the most thoughtful & well-written books I’ve ever read. Definitely one of my top 10 favorites of all time. I highly recommend it, I couldn’t put this one down.
Once We Were Brothers
by Ronald H. Balson
Balson takes the reader on an emotional ride, with some of Ben Solomon’s story very vivid and heart wrenching. This was a book I could not put down and finished in 3 days.
* From the back cover:
From Nazi-occupied Poland to a Chicago Courtroom.
The story is a tale of two boys and a family that struggles to survive in war torn Poland. It is also the story of a young lawyer who must face not only a powerful adversary, but her own self doubts.
Two lives, two worlds and sixty years all on course to collide in a fast paced legal thriller.
The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
I’m so disappointed in this book. I was expecting it to be one of those great experiences where you’re just sucked into the story and you never want to put it down. I actually had to push myself to get through it.
I never felt invested in the characters. I never particularly cared about what little plot there was. I kept waiting for something to grab my attention, but it never happened.
Celia and Marco had been groomed since youth by their mentors to be fierce competitors in a magical game where only one would be left standing. I thought I was going to read this amazing book that was going to build up to a great confrontation between two mysterious mystical magicians! And I kept reading…and waiting…and reading…and waiting… until the story was over and I’d been totally cheated out of time I could have spent reading an actual GOOD book. The story ended up dragging on and got to the point where I had to re-read several pages then wondered why I even bothered, sadly, this story about The Big Top ended up being a Big Let Down.
The Hundred-Foot Journey
by Richard C. Morais
This book caught my eye because it combined two loves, food and reading.
This was a Wonderful story of Family, Food, Friendship and Finding ones way. The only down side, I was hungry the entire time I was reading! and realized this story would be best read on a full stomach!
Island Beneath The Sea
The history of 1770- 1810 Haiti and Louisiana is told through the eyes of a mulatto house slave on a sugar plantation. The story follows the lives of her children and her master. Not my usual reading. Very interestering, very sad, but I am glad I read it. I am also glad I am finished it. It was Good but very long and very slow.
The Street Of A Thousand Blossoms
Gail Tsukiyama delivers a compelling read!
From back cover:
“Japan, 1939. Two orphaned brothers are growing up with the loving grandparents who inspire them to dream of a future firmly rooted in tradition. The older boy, Hiroshi, shows early signs of promise at the national obsession of sumo wrestling, while Kenji is fascinated by the art of Noh Theater masks. But as the ripples of war spread, the brothers must put their dreams on hold-and then forge their own paths in a new Japan.
Meanwhile, the two young daughters of a renowned sumo master find their lives increasingly intertwined with the rising fortunes of their father’s star pupil, Hiroshi.
In an exquisitely moving story that spans almost thirty years, Gail Tsukiyama draws us into an unforgettable world of tradition and change, loss and renewal, and the enduring strength of family ties in the face of war.”
The Holcroft Covenant
I love this book. The plot… actually simple: an ordinary man, named Noel Holcroft, whose job as an architect never dreamed that someday he would be face to face with the ultimate choices, the one that will altered his life forever. Starting with him receiving a letter from some authority in Swiss Bank who told him that his father, his bioligical father, the one he and his mother abandoned for almost 30 years left him a great sum of money a total of $780 million dollars to be inherited by him and two other strangers. The three of them are direct descendants of Nazi’s generals who back in 1945 tried and failed to to overthrown Hitler. And so these 3 generals thinking there might be away to redeem what the German have done to many of the Jews all over German by embezzled money from Treasury department and kept them in a bank in Swiss to be opened 30 years later by their descendants.
For Noel Holcroft turns out this to be not an easy job. Aside from tracking the other two descendant, Noel soon enmeshed in deadly trap spun by the Sonnenkinder – The Children of the Sun – who will stop at nothing to stop Noel, get the money and ressurrect The Fourth Reich.
The Devil Colony
by James Rollins
I love books by James Rollins. Specifically, I love the books in his Sigma Series. Having said that, I think that this book is one of the best in his Sigma Series. Over the course of the series, you are introduced to characters who have pretty much reappeared throughout every one of the seven books. What I especially love, is that no one character is the main focus of the novel where he/she single-handedly solves the worlds problems and holds off the evil foe. Each of the main character’s in this series has their specialty and individual talents and they use them to form one hell of a team.
James Rollins is the author of six thrillers in the bestselling Sigma Force series Sandstorm, Map of Bones, Black Order, The Judas Strain, The Last Oracle, and The Doomsday Key.
A Prisoner of Birth
by Jeffrey Archer
Danny Cartwright is doomed by circumstance. After 4 Cambridge friends decide to make him the patsy for a murder one of them had committed, illiterate Danny is tried, convicted, and sentenced to 22 years at Belmarsh Prison. Mind-tormenting incarceration gives him ample opportunity to polish his reading skills and plot his taste for revenge.
State of Wonder
by Ann Patchett
Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug, the development of which has already cost the company a fortune. Nothing about Marina’s assignment is easy: not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina’s research partner Anders Eckman, died before he could complete his mission. Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend’s death, the state of her company’s future, and her own past.
A Little Love Story: by Roland Merullo
A love story written from the man’s point of view. His new love interest has cystic fibrosis – an agonizing terminal disease. Even though the story is sad, Merullo has an odd sense of humor which I loved.
Janet Rossi is very smart and unusually attractive, an aide to the governor of Massachusetts, but she suffers from an illness that makes her, as she puts it, “not exactly a good long-term investment.” Jake Entwhistle is a few years older, a carpenter and portrait painter, smart and good-looking too, but with a shadow over his romantic history. After meeting by accident – literally – when Janet backs into Jake’s antique truck, they begin a love affair marked by courage, humor, a deep and erotic intimacy… and modern complications
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Amazing – simply amazing! I couldn’t put this down. I loved Henry, a Chinese-American boy during WWII, trying to figure if he’s Chinese or American, really being neither, and falling for a Japanese American girl. Beautifully written.
Let’s Take the Long Way Home:
A Memoir of Friendship
by Gail Caldwell
It started with this line “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.” This book grabbed my heart and I stayed up later than I should have to finish this beautiful telling of a friendship between two literary women (Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp, The friendship was intense, long-lasting, and built on shared interests including the very tender bonds that they have with their dogs, their past alcoholism, and their love of rowing. Grab your best friend and read the book together.
Fortune is a Woman by Elizabeth Adler
The three met in the aftermath of San Francisco’s devastating 1906 earthquake — the Mandarin Lai Tsin, a runaway American heiress, and a young Englishwoman. Against all odds they made their dreams come true, building one of the world’s largest trading companies and most luxurious hotels… They had only each other — and bloody secrets to bury even as they rose to dizzying heights.
A Dog’s Purpose by W.Bruce Cameron
This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, A Dog’s Purpose touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?
Green City In The Sun by Barbara Wood
Set in Kenya, in 1919, this book is of a British family, the Trevertons, who settle on an estate on the homeland of Kikuyu and the antagonism that develops between them and the tribe’s own medicine woman, whose powers they disregard
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Alice Howland – Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children. One day, Alice sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. It’s a route she has taken for years, but nothing looks familiar. She is utterly lost. Is her forgetfulness the result of menopausal symptoms? A ministroke? A neurological cancer? After a few doctors’ appointments and medical tests, Alice has her diagnosis, and it’s a shocker — she has early-onset Alzheimer’s diseasea.
The Forgotten Garden
by Kate Morton
I REALLY liked this novel on many levels. It was a sweeping epic, sweeping between continents and among generations. We start with a young girl, abandoned aboard a ship from England to Australia. Through the course of the book, we make our way back a generation and forward two; from Australia back to London and out to the Cornish coast. I found the jumping about disconcerting at first – you spend a chapter or two in 1907, then to 2005, then 1975, then back again.
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
This is an historical fiction novel set in Germany during World War II. Anna is an eighteen year old girl who falls in love with a Jewish doctor and finds the courage to finally stand up to her domineering father, a Nazi sympathizer and altogether unkind man, and hide her lover in her own home. When her father turns him over to the Gestapo, Anna leaves and lives and works with a woman who works with the Resistance Movement.
Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen
Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski’s ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own na…moreThough he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski’s ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.
by Sara Gruen
I loved WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and unfortunately can not say the same thing for this book. Although is was an entertaining read and obviously well researched, it did not have the character and flow of her previous book. there were too many topics in this book … animal research, animal rights, reality television, prostitution, pornography, meth labs, the “Hollywood experience” and one too many relationship issues.
Cutting For Stone
by Abraham Verghese
Marion and Shiva Stone are identical, formerly conjoined twins born in Ethiopia to an Indian nun who dies in childbirth and an English surgeon who abandons them. They are raised in the Ethiopian hospital where they were born by two doctors and a cadre of servants, nuns and priests. They grow up to become surgeons like their biological father and adoptive parents.
The Linnet Bird
by Linda Holeman
Linny Ingram seems the perfect society wife: pretty, gracious, subservient. But appearances can be deceptive. Linny Ingram was born Linny Gow, an orphan raised in the gray slums of Liverpool. Sold into prostitution by her stepfather when she was only eleven, Linny clung to the belief that she was meant for something more, something better, than life on the cold, dangerous streets.
A stroke of luck granted Linny the chance to re-create herself as a proper middle-class young lady, allowing her to join “the fishing fleet”—young women of good birth who sailed to India in search of husbands.
Let The Great World Spin
by Colum McCann
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.
The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls
is a memoir written by gossip columnist Jeanette Walls, which details her unconventional childhood growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to be mentally ill. Walls begins the book by explaining what has prompted her to write about her family: after she has “made it” and become a successful writer living in New York, she comes across her mother picking trash out of a dumpster and, in shame, slinks down in her taxi seat and pretends not to see or know her. Later, Walls confronts her mother, asking what she is supposed to tell people about her parents, and her mother replies, “Just tell the truth. That’s simple enough.”
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
was a charming and touching novel. The book is written in the form of letters by a colorful and likeable cast of characters. It was interesting to learn a little bit about life on the British Island of Guernsey during its German occupation of WWII.
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
by Kim Edwards
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is a story about a secret–a terrible, life-altering secret running central to the story and in the lives of the characters. In spite of spanning only twenty-five years, it has an epic feel. A lot happens. We first meet Norah and David Henry on the stormy night she gives birth to twins. The boy, Paul, is born healthy. The second, an unexpected daughter, is born with Down’s Syndrome. While his wife lay unconscious, David, a doctor who presides over the deliveries because their doctor is unable to get to them due to the snowstorm, makes the decision to tell his wife the second child died. Trying to spare his wife the pain and suffering of having a child who, in his mind would surely die an early death, hands the baby to his nurse, Caroline Gill. He instructs her to take the child to an institution. Caroline finds she cannot leave the baby in this place, moves away and raises “Phoebe” on her own. This sets the stage for the terrible secret David must live with and the consequences it has on his family.
Beat the Reaper
by Josh Bazell
Great mix of medical thriller and mob revenge tale. Main character is a foul-mouthed and very funny former hit man who’s hiding out as a doctor in a run-down hospital. If his former boss/mentor finds him, it means he’s probably dead. I was hooked immediately and especially liked his hilarious and ironic footnotes.
A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog
by Dean Koontz
Loved this book! I haven’t read any of Dean Koontz’s books, but was given this one from my son.
What a great story and he wrote this story so well. It made me laugh in so many places and I felt like I knew his furry daughter, Trixie. I think his insights to dogs and their intelligence (and everything) is really so incredible. I have been a dog lover and mom for most of my life and I share in many of his experiences with Trixie.
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
tells the story of two families—one black, one white
Boston.. at the end of the First World War, unflinchingly captures the political and social unrest of a nation caught at the crossroads between past and future.
The Disappeared by Kim Echlin
Although this story takes place against the backdrop of the devastating Pol Pot genocide in Cambodia, it is not so much a social commentary on that dark era as it is a beautiful, haunting, tragic love story. It’s a story of love and loss, reunion and separation, loyalty and betrayal, sacrifice, secrets and longing.
Roses by Leila Meacham
This is what I call a good old-fashioned read. Leila Meacham’s family saga, set in East Texas covering the years from 1914–1985, tells the story of Mary Toliver,a 16-year-old heiress, who is completely and wholly devoted to her family’s cotton plantation for her entire life. This book has been compared to a Texas “Gone with the Wind” and I must say that Mary could truly be compared to Scarlett.