Thursday, January 31, 2019

Review: The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

From the author of the runaway bestseller, The Orphan’s Tale comes a remarkable story of friendship and courage centered around three women and a ring of female spies during World War II.

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.

 Kindle Edition, 384 pages
 Published January 29th, 2019
 by Park Row
*** 1/2

The Lost Girls of Paris is a dual time story, featuring World War II in England/Paris and in New York after the war's ending. Told in three voices, two during the war and one later on.

 The plot for this was very interesting and I love how it took a part of history that I knew nothing about and played on that. The SOE (special operations executive) is an organization I have never heard of before, though I have read about female spies, this book gave another view of the recruitment, training and what happened in France.

Mysterious as to what was happening to the girls, suspenseful on the ground in France, sympathetic to the bravery of the resistance and heartbreaking for those heroes of the past.  The author has definitely done her homework here.  As usual, I was partial to the past POV,  though not really a fan of Grace’s it did bring closure to the past.

My copy of this book did not include Author Notes (which I love), hopefully, they appear in the final draft.  But if you are a follower of the author on Facebook, she has posted some wonderful links that I thoroughly enjoyed and complimented this book perfectly. 

 Purchase Links 

Connect with Pam 

Thank you to TLC Tours and Netgalley for a ARC of this book in exchange for honest review.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post to showcase upcoming releases that I am anxious to get my hands on.

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2019
by Berkley Books

From the #1 international bestselling author of The Lost Wife and The Velvet Hours comes an emotionally charged story about a mother's love, a teacher's promise, and a child's heart.....

Katya, a rising ballerina, and Sasha, a graduate student, are young and in love when an unexpected tragedy befalls their native Kiev. Years later, after the couple has safely emigrated to America the consequences of this incident cause their son, Yuri, to be born with a rare health condition that isolates him from other children. Maggie, a passionate and dedicated teacher agrees to tutor Yuri at his home, even though she is haunted by her own painful childhood memories. As the two forge a deep and soulful connection, Yuri's boundless curiosity and unique wisdom inspires Maggie to make difficult changes in her own life. And she'll never realize just how strong Yuri has made her — until she needs that strength the most......

A novel that will make readers examine what it means to live life with a full heart.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Audio Review: South Sea Adventure (Hal & Roger Hunt Adventures #2) by Willard Price

One of a series of adventures featuring Hal and Roger Hunt. The boys are searching for exotic sea-life and they have a mission to collect pearls from the oyster-beds of a secret lagoon. But do the crew and passengers of "Lively Lady" know more than they should? Can they be trusted?

 Paperback, 256 pages 
Published January 21st 1993 
by Red Fox (first published 1952)

This is book 2 in the Hal & Roger Hunt adventure series, the first one the Amazon Adventure was also an audio read for me with these two being the only ones available in that format.

Just like the Amazon Adventure, this is a book taking these two brothers on an adventure to exotic places with someone on their trail, and not in a good way.

It’s a great series for middle grade, not just boys but girls also would enjoy these, reminiscent of Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys. Written in the 40s and 50s there is no technology or modern conveniences.

I read (listened) to this as part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge.

Audio Review: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

A New York Times Bestseller

A decade after the publication of this hugely popular international bestseller, Picador releases the tenth-anniversary
edition of The Red Tent.

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons. Told in Dinah's voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.

Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's lives.

Paperback, 321 pages
Published August 21st 2007
by Picador (first published 1997)

One of my challenges for 2019 is to read books off my shelf. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant has been languishing on my shelf for a number of years and it was at the recommendation of my son, Matt that I dove into the audiobook.

Biblical historical fiction is a genre that interests me. I know who Dinah is, I know all about her brothers, her father Jacob and her mother. From the book of Genesis however, one of the things that you don’t get that vivid and descriptive sense of the times. What I mean by that is you don’t get the day to day lifestyle, what they go through on a daily basis, what the societies are like, how they interact with each other and how far advanced they are in the sense of the lifestyle. With The Red Tent the author has vividly described the time. There was so much that I learned through this book about the era with their beliefs, multiple wives and the role of women in the community - midwifery and their relationships with each other.

The Bible tells us very little about Dinah but focusses more on her brothers and while there were parts of the story that strayed from the Genesis story I’ve still found this to be a very interesting and educational listen.

This book was part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge (yes I have the book but opted for the audio).

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Review: Winnie's Great War by Lindsay Mattick, Josh Greenhut, Sophie Blackall (Illustrations)

A wartime adventure unfolds through the eyes of the world’s most beloved Bear. 

The story of the real bear that inspired Winnie-the-Pooh has been capturing readers’ imaginations since the publication of the Caldecott Medal award-winning picture book, Finding Winnie.

But there was so much left to be told – not just about Winnie, but about the great world events she witnessed. Now, the creative team behind the bestselling picture book has reunited to bring you Winnie’s Great War.

In a triumphant blending of deeply researched history and magnificent imagination, we follow our irrepressible Bear on her journey -- from her infancy in the woods of Ontario, to her unlikely friendship with Captain Harry Colebourn and her time as the mascot of the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade, to her experiences in wartime London before she met Christopher Robin Milne.

Told in beautifully crafted language and infused with Sophie Blackall’s irresistible renderings of an endearing bear, the book is also woven through with actual entries from Captain Harry Colebourn’s wartime diaries. The result is a one-of-kind exploration of the realities of war, the meaning of courage, and the indelible power of friendship, all told through the historic adventures of one extraordinary bear.

Hardcover, 244 pages
Published September 18th, 2018
by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Winnie’s Great War is the story of Winnie the Pooh told by the great great grandson of Lt Harry Colebourn, the man who found a lone bear cub.

In the middle of the Woods was a tree, and at the bottom of the tree was a hole, and out of the hole poked a big black pad of a nose, which sniffed the air to see whether anyone was around.

Beginning in Winnipeg, traveling across Canada to England this is an endearing story of the famous bear beloved by many. I’ll confess to not knowing his story - weird right!?

I loved the illustrations throughout this book as well as actual photos and other historical facts. Winnie had a voice here as well as other animals which were a nice touch, though a little confusing as to who was speaking at times, but not enough to ruin my enjoyment of this little gem. 

A great little book, perfect for bedtime storytime for all ages.

My copy from personal library and part of my ‘reading off my shelf challenge’

Friday, January 25, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post to showcase upcoming releases that I am anxious to get my hands on.

Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: March 5th, 2019
by Scribner

A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and family secrets on a small Korean island.

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 wetsuits 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 Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.

What are you waiting for?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Review: The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber

In the inhospitable lands of the Utah Territory, during the winter of 1888, thirty-seven-year-old Deborah Tyler waits for her husband, Samuel, to return home from his travels as a wheelwright. It is now the depths of winter, Samuel is weeks overdue, and Deborah is getting worried.

Deborah lives in Junction, a tiny town of seven Mormon families scattered along the floor of a canyon, and she earns her living by tending orchards and making work gloves. Isolated by the red-rock cliffs that surround the town, she and her neighbors live apart from the outside world, even regarded with suspicion by the Mormon faithful who question the depth of their belief.

When a desperate stranger who is pursued by a Federal Marshal shows up on her doorstep seeking refuge, it sets in motion a chain of events that will turn her life upside down. The man, a devout Mormon, is on the run from the US government, which has ruled the practice of polygamy to be a felony. Although Deborah is not devout and doesn’t subscribe to polygamy, she is distrustful of non-Mormons with their long tradition of persecuting believers of her wider faith.

But all is not what it seems, and when the Marshal is critically injured, Deborah and her husband’s best friend, Nels Anderson, are faced with life and death decisions that question their faith, humanity, and both of their futures.

Kindle, 312 pages
Expected publication: February 5th, 2019
by Skyhorse

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in WW II HF that I’ve ventured off to other eras and locations for the time being. Utah in the 1880’s is heavy with Mormons, the aftermath of the Mountain Massacre and killing of its leader, Joseph Smith, leaves a bitter taste for some. In a little place called Junction a late night caller sets in motion a series of events with everlasting consequences.

I will admit at the beginning wondering if this book was for me. First off I was excited when the first chapter featured a male POV, it's not common so when it happens I get excited. Of course, the whole book was divided between his (Nels) and Deborah’s story. Why was I a bit iffy you ask, well I found the first female chapter a little repetitive with the same feelings, emotions repeating itself.  I found myself casing judgment on Deborah's character before really getting to know her. As the story progressed those feelings quickly disappeared. It wasn’t just a story of what was happening in the now but memories resurfaced where I got to know both Deborah and Nels better. How they ended up in this little place with few neighbors and away from Mormon communities. The author wove those jumps in time seamlessly, with an ease that made this story flow at a nice pace.

The Glovemaker is a unique mystery, it’s a story of survival, hope, and faith. Ann Weisgarber is a new author to me with her previous books now gracing my tbr pile. Definitely a book I recommend, especially to those that like a good historical mystery off the beaten path.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for honest review.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: Everything She Didn't Say by Jane Kirkpatrick

In 1911, Carrie Strahorn wrote a memoir entitled Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage, which shared some of the most exciting events of 25 years of traveling and shaping the American West with her husband, Robert Strahorn, a railroad promoter, investor, and writer. That is all fact. Everything She Didn't Say imagines Carrie nearly ten years later as she decides to write down what was really on her mind during those adventurous nomadic years.

 Certain that her husband will not read it, and in fact that it will only be found after her death, Carrie is finally willing to explore the lessons she learned along the way, including the danger a woman faces of losing herself within a relationship with a strong-willed man and the courage it takes to accept her own God-given worth apart from him. Carrie discovers that wealth doesn't insulate a soul from pain and disappointment, family is essential, pioneering is a challenge, and western landscapes are both demanding and nourishing. Most of all, she discovers that home can be found, even in a rootless life.

With a deft hand, New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick draws out the emotions of living--the laughter and pain, the love and loss--to give readers a window not only into the past but into their own conflicted hearts. Based on a true story.

Paperback, 343 pages
Published September 4th, 2018
by Fleming H. Revell Company

 A life without a purpose is a story without an ending.

Based on a true story Everything She Didn’t Say is Carrie Strahorn’s story of her life traveling the American West. I enjoy reading about strong women of the past, especially ones I am unfamiliar with, such as the case here. Told from her point of view she tells her story of the struggles and hardships they encountered not just with the dangers of travel but within their marriage relationship, financial and the family Carrie left behind.

This is my first time reading Jane Kilpatrick, I was impressed with the research that went into this book, the endless traveling made me tired for Carrie. The chapter structure was something a little different with each one ending with a piece from Carrie's actual memoirs.

There wasn’t a lot of action to keep me glued to the pages and at times I felt things a little repetitive and slow. But I enjoyed learning of both Robert and Carrie Stratton and their lives from the past.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Review: The Way Lies North (Loyalist/Forging a Nation #1) by Jean Rae Baxter

This young adult historical novel focuses on Charlotte and her family, Loyalists who are forced to flee their home in the Mohawk Valley as a result of the violence of the 'Sons of Liberty' during the American Revolution.

At the beginning, fifteen-year-old Charlotte Hooper and her parents begin the long trek north to the safety of Fort Haldimand (near present-day Kingston). The novel portrays Charlotte's struggle on the difficult journey north, and the even more difficult task of making a new home in British Canada.

In the flight north, the Mohawk nation plays an important role, and Charlotte learns much about their customs and way of life, to the point where she is renamed 'Woman of Two Worlds.'

Later in the novel, she is able to repay her aboriginal friends when she plays an important part in helping the Oneidas to become once again members of the Iroquois confederacy under British protection. Strong and capable, Charlotte breaks the stereotype of the eighteenth-century woman, while revealing a positive relationship between the Loyalists and aboriginal peoples.

Paperback, 340 pages
Published September 1st, 2007
by Ronsdale Press

Canadian historical is a favorite of mine and a genre I plan to read more of this year. It was through a kid-lit writing course I took last year that I was introduced to Jean Rae Baxter. A Canadian author who has written a series of books taking place during the early year of this great nation.

Introduced to Charlotte, a 15-year-old Loyalist in 1777, who along with her parents flee to the north during the American Revolution. This book is geared for middle grade and up, it gives the young reader a look at what those loyal to the King endured in his name. It’s realistic, believable and appears to stay true to history. It’s a tough journey these three take, with many obstacles and setbacks along the way.  The role of the Mohawks and Oneida plays out nicely as well.

The author has penned 3 other books with other characters introduced here, ones I am looking forward to reading about.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge (1).

Waiting on Wednesday: The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post to showcase upcoming releases that I am anxious to get my hands on.

Hardcover, 305 pages 
Expected publication: February 12th 2019 
by Lake Union Publishing

From the bestselling author of The Tuscan Child comes a beautiful and heart-rending novel of a woman’s love and sacrifice during the First World War. 

As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong twenty-one-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage.

When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a “land girl,” tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It’s here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden. The journals inspire Emily, and in the wake of devastating news, they are her saving grace. Emily’s lover has not only died a hero but has left her terrified—and with child. Since no one knows that Emily was never married, she adopts the charade of a war widow.

As Emily learns more about the volatile power of healing with herbs, the found journals will bring her to the brink of disaster but may open a path to her destiny.

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Review: The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother--who is battling dementia--compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns--and with it, Heidi's fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

Paperback, 352 pages 
Published January 22nd, 2019 
by Bethany House Publishers

I first discovered Jaime Jo Wright with her debut, The House on Foster Hill and absolutely loved it.  So I wait in eager anticipation for her new releases.  The Curse of Misty Wayfair is her 3rd book and releases in a couple weeks. 

Thea and Heidi are 2 completely different characters and yet so similar, over a hundred years separate them but they are both searching for purpose, who they are and boy do they get more than they bargained for.

I LOVED this book!  It was mysterious, suspenseful and kept me on my toes.  It was beautifully written with authentic characters that battled issues relevant in both time periods but where society's views differed drastically. I loved that I didn't read the blurb and dove in blind, it added to the creepiness.

Dual time periods, yea my favorite, where it's the past storyline I usually love more, the historical part where I can learn more of the past.  And I loved that here, the stigma of mental illness and the treatment along with covering up scandal. Throw in a ghost or two, some weird characters and it's great.  But it was the current day plot I really enjoyed.  The author created some interesting characters, they were authentic, those who suffered from real human issues - whether it was the dysfunctional family dynamics, again mental illness, loneliness, trust issues and more. It was the searching with no idea what to look for... now I should stop before I start giving away too much of the story.

The ended was perfect and really that's about all I will say about it.  This is one of those books I want someone else to read so we can talk about it.

Suffice to say that my first read of 2019 was awesome!  The Curse of Misty Wayfair is Christian fiction at its finest.  This is definitely a book I highly recommend.

 My thanks to Bethany House for an ARC (via Netgalley).

click on cover to take you to my review

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Review: El Deafo by Cece Bell (Goodreads Author), David Lasky (Colorist )

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful--and very awkward--hearing aid.

The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear--sometimes things she shouldn't--but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become "El Deafo, Listener for All." And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for.

Paperback, 233 pages 
Published September 2nd 2014
 by Harry N. Abrams

Every year for Christmas this grandma buys each of the grandkids a book. I have lots of fun searching for the perfect book, which I will admit adds to my own tbr pile. My granddaughter Asha is 10 years old and loves graphic novels, that confused me because I don’t have much of a clue what’s good. The cover drew me to El Deafo and knowing she loved Wonder I thought this one would be a perfect fit. I watched her read this one Christmas Day and the next morning, then she gushed to her mom about how much she loved this book. What was I to do but grab the book, plunk myself down and read.

This is my first graphic novel, I’ve shied away from them because really how can a story be told with the depth that I love, will I be able to connect with the characters and get involved in the plot? Well I’m happy to report it can be done and it was done very nicely here. Also as far as I'm concerned this is a great way to get kids who might be intimidated with a regular book to read.

Cece is a likable character, she is funny at times but also struggling as she adjusts to her hearing loss. I will admit to not knowing anyone with hearing loss and reading this opened my eyes to the struggles, feeling of being different that Cece has to deal with.  Based on the author's own experiences it was a great read and something all ages could read.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Audio Review: Amazon Adventure (Hal & Roger Hunt Adventures #1) by Willard Price

Long Island teenagers Hal and Roger Hunt explore uncharted Amazon River with their father, expert naturalist John Hunt for his exotic animal collection. Someone sends an anonymous telegram, so John returns. Alone, the boys face hostile natives, dangerous rapids and wild animals, and a hunchback with bloodshot eyes.

Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 15th 1993
by Red Fox (first published 1949)

We purchased the Hal & Rogers Adventure Series book for our boys when they were younger and have shared them with many friends. I myself have never read them, this past weekend I discovered the audio version was available for the Amazon Adventure, it’s not long, just over 6 hours  - a perfect fit for our road trip.

Canadian born author Willard Price wrote this series of 14 books beginning in the late 1930s. It’s a series that my husband inhaled as a boy, he loved reading about the different adventures these brothers went on throughout the world - African Adventure, Whale Adventure, South Sea, Underwater (to name a few). Sometimes compared to The Hardy Boys these stories have the added outdoor adventures at the same time solving mysteries, getting out of tough jams and learning so much about nature and different critters.

I enjoyed my time listening to the Amazon Adventure, sometimes witty, others times educational -learning about different cultures.  Maybe a little dated but still a great adventure without technology getting in the way.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Year in Review

Happy New Years!!

It's that time of the year when the 'best of 2018' reads start appearing.  Last year I didn't post one because I was too busy reading and figured I'd get to it tomorrow, next thing I knew it was spring.  This year rather than putting it off, here is a summary of my reading from 2018.  

I managed to read 105 books - my goal was 75

Of those:
39 were audiobooks - 11 from Scribd (I only started using them in the fall)
                                 -  21 from Audible
                                 -  only 7 from Hoopla (via the library) - I am not really a fan of their formatting

Only 20 books were off my shelf (hope to do better this year)
I challenged myself to increase my NetGalley rating, starting the year with a 71% I did manage to finish with a 75%, hopefully, this year I will do better.

And most importantly I read 39 new to me authors - that's always fun!

So here we go in random order, my favorite books of the year, yes there are 18 of them.

clicking on the cover will take you to my review


I'd love to read your favorite books of 2018 or what you are looking forward to reading this year.