Stolen Beauty

Stolen BeautyStolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The novel is based on a worldwide famous painting “The Woman In Gold” by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt.

A young and impressionable Adele meets an older man, with whom she falls in love and their marriage bonds two wealthy and powerful families into one magnificent dynasty that rules Vienna. Adele’s love produces and lifetime friendship with Austrian famous painted Gustav Klimt, who had created a masterpiece, now known as “The Woman In Gold”.

Forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria is following her aunt’s footsteps, however, Hitler’s hatred of Jewish people not only ruins her family life but outcasts and sets them on a run from their home, country, religion, and past.

A lifetime apart, the two women fight for their husbands, family welfare and their dignity in the world. They are beautiful, determined, strong, and Jewish – a full package of an unstoppable female.

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My Perfect Wife

My Perfect WifeMy Perfect Wife by Clare Boyd

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Glamour, wealth and beauty surround the graceful Huxley family on the cover of the magazine.

Lucas has everything he ever wanted, beautiful wife, cheeky children, expensive house with a grand garden, obedient help. The last thing he longs for is a business deal that can make him rich as a Rockafeller. And to seal the deal – he needs a picture-perfect event. As people say – it’s easier said than done. The sabotage of the deal is in the works, and behind it stands a woman Lucas trusts the most. You would ask: what has his fellow done to deserve this pitiful treatment? Just remember – it always takes two to tango.

Great read, with multiple twists that make the reader question every story and every fact. I wish the ending was stronger and more detailed. Liked the characters, I think it would be great if Agatha’s character was one of the narrators as well. Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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As Bright As Heaven

As Bright as HeavenAs Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coincidentally the reading of this novel collided with the outbreak of the coronavirus in 2020.

Now, let’s travel back to 1918. The Bright family who is greaving the loss of the family member receives a chance to get a fresh start in a big city of Philadelphia. Upon their arrival, they meet and make lifelong friends. But no matter how far they try to run from their misfortune – it found the way to catch up with them.

As years passed, Brights kept standing strong and moving on with their lives, nonetheless keeping their individual secrets. I love each character and the way their life stories developed. It was great to be able to stay with the family for a long period of years and learn their final faith at the end of the book.

While reading “As Bright As Heaven” I’ve enjoyed the fiction story and the facts it presented based on the true event during the Spanish Flu outbreak. Wonderful plot, with multiple narrators, made the novel an enthralling read.

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The Girl You Gave Away

The Girl You Gave AwayThe Girl You Gave Away by Jess Ryder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is impossible to suffer without making someone pay for it; every complaint already contains revenge.

Fourteen-year-old Erin found herself in a very peculiar situation. Typical teen looking for parents attention gets involved with a sketchy crowd. As a result, Erin develops a drinking habit, and the biggest surprise of all – falls pregnant. Underaged teen is unable to keep the child, and without her parents’ moral and financial support is forced to place her daughter for adoption.

Twenty-six years later, Erin receives a birthday card, signed “the girl you gave away“. From that moment forward – her life is flipped upside down and very quickly fills with lies, betrayals, blackmail, and revenge.

“The Girl You Gave Away” is full of twists that make the reader glued to the pages, absorbing narrators, and entertaining and mysterious characters. Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for an advanced and free copy of the novel, and Jess Ryder for another phenomenal thriller.

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Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944

Chanel's Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944 by Anne de Courcy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Chanel’s Riviera is entertaining and easy to read with many captivating facts about Cรดte d’Azur and Paris during the 1930s through late 1944.

The novel is divided into two parts, the first half describes Coco’s life and rise to power, her powerful friends, affairs. In this part of the book, the reader is introduced to multiple high society figures that at one point or another were a big part of Chanel’s life. Not knowing much about Coco’s life in general, this book has shed lite on her business and love lives. It’s short, well detailed. I’ve learned many interesting facts about the days of the Chanel empire and the designer herself.

The second part of the novel discusses the life of Coco and her circle of friends during the war, their fall of power, and struggles. The novel covers many lives of famous and non-famous people, as a comparison between the social classes and roles it played in their survival.

The novel was well written, with many interesting facts. I found myself enjoying the life of Riviera prior to WWII as it had more new info for me rather than the years of the war. Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press publisher for a free and advanced copy of the book.

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The Other Mrs

The Other Mrs.The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Spine chilling and extremely captivating novel that has everything any thriller lover longs for: unreliable narrator, multiple twists, “what-in-the-world” moments.

Just a few weeks after Sadie and Will move their family from busy Chicago to quiet Maine a gruesome murder takes place in the neighboring house. Suddenly, Sadie evolves a big interest to the victim that she never got a chance to meet (or has she?). After a few chats with the police detective, she starts her own investigation, and the shocking facts she discovers – point to her family home. Shocker, I know! But this is only the beginning…

With “The Other Mrs” an author keeps the readers on their toes as she continually shocks and surprised them with the plot twists. Nothing is ever what meets the eye. Everything is interconnected in an elaborate way. Not one fact and story are wasted here in order to build atmosphere, everything is said with purpose and brought back up in due time. Thank you NetGalley and Park Row publisher for an advanced and free copy of the novel and Mary Kubica for a phenomenal story!

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The Words I Never Wrote

The Words I Never WroteThe Words I Never Wrote by Jane Thynne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read so many books that took place during WWII, it was a pleasure to read “The Words I Never Wrote” by Jane Thynne as the novel takes place and tells the reader a story of the years prior to the great war.

During a hot summer day, Juno Lambert, a photographer, and the occasional writer find herself in an antique shop where she comes across an old 1931 Underwood typewriter that once belonged to a journalist Cordelia Capel. To her amusement, the old typewriter came with a bonus, a manuscript/biography hidden in its case. The script has lured Juno into its pages with an appealing story of two sisters who fought the same great war, from the opposite sides.

Regrettably, the sisters’ relationship is torn apart by the horrific war. Newly married Irene joined her German husband in the heart of Germany – Berlin, at the same time as her younger sister Cordelia, a journalist in training was sent to France. During the years prior to WWII sisters often exchange letters that contain their political views and social life in pre-war Berlin and Paris. As the warning of the upcoming war becomes real, young Cordelia learns that Irene’s husband is a Nazi sympathizer and urged her sister to leave her husband’s side and return home before it’s too late. With no explanation, Irene chooses not to follow Cordelia’s pleas, and in result sisters’ communications stops, and their lives go into different directions.

The biography is cut short, leaving Juno yearning for more. After throw research, she finds very little on Irene and Cordelia’s lives during and after the war. Why Cordelia has not set her foot in Europe after 1945? Has Irene survived the war? Has Cordelia ever forgiven her sister for betraying their beliefs and home county? Juno packs her bags and boards the plane to the place that might hold answers to all her questions – Berlin.

I was immersed in the story of the triumph of the human spirit, and courage, as well as the strength and perseverance of strong women. Thank you NetGalley and Ballantine Books publishers for a free and advanced copy of this wonderful novel.

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The Perfect Mother

The Perfect MotherThe Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Caroline Mitchell returns with an outstanding psychological thriller novel “The Perfect Mother” and one of the best reads I have read so far this year!

Young, jobless and penniless Roz finds herself in a very peculiar situation. Her secret one-night stand left Roz with a “little bundle of joy” on the way. Unfortunately, the occasion was not at all joyful. Having grown up in a broken home with an unfit mother, Roz makes a decision to protect her daughter from childhood she has experienced. With this idea in mind, the expecting mother joins an elite adoption agency, and with the luck of the Irish, she is matched with a “diamond” couple. With hopefull wishes for her child’s grand future, Roz boards the plane in her small town in Ireland and traves to a big and shiny NYC.

Upon her arrival in NY and meeting the “diamond” couple Sheridan and Daniel, Roz signs an adoption agreement. And just like in Cinderella’s story, Roz’s is whipped off her feet, settled into a luxury basement apartment, with a personal maid, gourmet cooked meals with all the best vitamins for her unborn child, exercises, medical staff, and equipment. But it doesn’t take long for Roz to realize that she is kept captive like a bird in a golden cage. And as weeks go by, Roz learns more and more of the couple’s gruesome secrets.

The Perfect Mother” is great suspense that honestly pulled me in right from the start. The plot was great and I thought the story flowed well, it certainly had me guessing throughout trying to figure out how it would all end. Thank you, NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer publishers for a free and advanced copy of the book.

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The Whispers of War

The Whispers of WarThe Whispers of War by Julia Kelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the author of “The Light Over London” comes a new debut novel “The Whispers of War“.

Three childhood friends…
Two hostile nations…
One great war…

We’ll always be… just us three… A mantra the three girls have shared for ages since they have met at all-girls school. Years after the graduation, the three girls: German-born Marie, proud feminist, and homeowner Nora, and married matchmakers Hazel remained as close as sisters. When Germany invaded Poland, Marie’s relation to Nazi sympathizers put her life into great danger. While defending and standing by her friend’s side, Nora became dismissed from her job, but shortly after she has found a new calling by joining WREN. However, the biggest surprise came from Hazel, who decided to fight german discrimination and help fellow German-born individuals in her own way. The beginning of WWII has tested their friendship, taught each and one of them a greater life lesson, and changed their lives in different ways.

The novel covers the first year of the war (’39-’40), and it gives the reader a front-row view of London based British and german-born residents’ reaction to Hitler’s action and the beginning of the second great war. This is the time we see women starting to step up in their roles, voice and stand by their beliefs and opinions, and find their place in the world. A great story, a wonderful set of characters. Beautifully and tastefully written. Thank you NetGalley and Gallery Books publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel, and big thank you to Julia Kelly for a heartfelt story.

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Two Girls Down

Two Girls Down (Alice Vega #1)Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Louisa Luna’s novel “Two Girls Down” covers every mother worts nightmare – the abduction of the children.

When two young girls are taken from the busy mall parking lot – the family hires Alice Vega, the private investigator. Alice has successful eighteen cases behind her back and Jamie’s family put all their trust in her. In the first days of the investigation, Alice enlists a former police officer, Max Caplan, and with his connection to the local police to help resolve the case. Alice and Cap, determined to reunite missing girls with their mother, follow on every tip, interview multiple suspects, untangle every web of lies and finally fall on the right track of girls’ abductors.

I enjoyed this book, although at times I found it slow, and Jamie’s character to be flawed and unlikeable. And finally, my biggest peeve – too many characters that had not much to do with the story and suspects that kept Vega and Cap running around like hamsters in a spinning wheel. The ending was appalling and not at all expected.

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House on Endless Waters

House on Endless WatersHouse on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Flipping back and forth between the years of WWII and the present, this novel follows the lives of the Blum family and their hidden family secret.

Yoel Blum’s fame as an author brings him back to Amsterdam, his birthplace, despite the promise that he has made to his late mother – to never return to the place that caused his family a lot of sorrow. While in the city, Yoel and his wife decide to visit a Jewish Museum. During the tour, in one of the photos, Yoel recognizes his mother’s face. And the more he examines the photo – the more questions filled his mind.

In the spur of the moment, one photograph flipped Yoel’s life upside down. And just like that, piece by piece, with his sister’s and mother’s remaining friends’ memories and a little help of his own research, like a puzzle, Yoel builds a true picture of his past.

You have a mother, and you have a sister, and you have yourself. That’s it, nothing else matters.

The past and present timelines wove together so beautifully. The tragedy of Blum’s family left me devastated, however, their ability to forgive gives me hope in humanity. Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books publishers for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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The Tenant

The TenantThe Tenant by Katrine Engberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit when I started this book I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it. However, after the first chapter – I got sucked right into it.

The novel starts with the murder of a young girl, followed by another murder of her friend. Copenhagen detectives Korner and Werner were assigned to resolve the mystery of the double murder, and the more they looked into the past of the young girl – the more twisted it became: young pregnancy, affairs with older men, and more murders.

And the frightening (and in my opinion the best) part of it all – the murder was written a month before the victim’s death by her very own landlady. Shocker, I know! This little twist spiced up the storyline.

This book held my interest from beginning to end. I had a few issues along the way with the characters and plot, but none of those issues were enough to ruin the reading experience. Thank you, NetGalley and Gallery/Scout Press publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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