Sleeping With The Enemy

Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel, Nazi Agent by Hal Vaughan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coco Chanel is known as a fashion icon. She is respected for her vision, brilliance, and the way she changed the world of fashion. Nowadays, every woman in the world proudly owns or wishes to own a piece of the Chanel Collection. The famous CC logo is a sign of a classic style. But during the grim years of WWII, rumors were spread about her involvement with the Nazis. Was Coco “in bed with the enemy”? At last, Hal Vaughan reveals the truth.

Coco is best described as a cat. In her 87 years, she had lived an adventurous life. From a poor upbringing to building a fashion empire and making the world’s most powerful friends, Coco has faced life’s major ups and downs. She has left a grand mark in WWII history that no one talks about. Coco was a cold opportunist, and an amoral, ethically challenged survivor who had clawed her way to the top, but the world remembers and admires Coco for her exquisite fashion style.

Detailed biography that covers Chanel’s early years, but mainly focuses on her life during and after WWII. I wouldn’t say I’ve learned anything particularly new from this book, but it did bring clarity to her involvement with the Nazis including her long time german lover. Overall this book is a good look into the past.

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Summer by Edith Wharton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A young and naive Charity Royall meets a charming city boy Lucius Harney. As their romance strikes up rumors in town, her legal guardian is trying to save the girl’s reputation. But stubborn Charity follows her heart, and it leads her to a devastating ending of the summer romance.

Edith Wharton has written another beautifully heart-rending romance. The alluring setting of the novel, dashing characters, and melancholic ending touched my heart, and days after the read, the story is still on my mind. The novel is bittersweet, the writing is beautiful, and the story has a natural, easy flow. I am simply in love with the writing of Edith Wharton.

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Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Catherine, our young remarkably innocent heroine finds herself in the shoes of characters from her beloved novels. She meets her prince charming, falls in love, and gets her heart broken. And all of this is taking place in the grand and hunted Northanger Abbey.

I am kicking myself for not reading this novel sooner. First, it is a short and heartwarming book. Full of a dark and cold castle, locked rooms, mysterious deaths, and chilling stories. Jane Austen’s writing is impeccable, as always, and I’ve enjoyed that atmospheric suspense that she’s been made famous for.

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The Man In The Brown Suit

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Young Anne Beddingfeld has come to London in search of new advantage. And it didn’t take her a long time to find it, the opportunity literally fell in front of her on the train platform. A mystery man, dead on a platform, with a puzzling note that reads “17.1 22 Kilmorden Castle”. Our young lady wastes no time, with a collaboration with the local newspaper she begins an investigation that takes her on board a luxurious liner “Kilmorden Castle”, where she will discover decade long conspiracy.

My love for Mrs. Christie’s novels began over 20 years ago. I am having a hard time finding modern books that leave me with the same excitement as Mrs. Christie’s books. Her characters are witty, misleading, and very intriguing. It has been a while since I picked up Mrs. Christie’s novel, and I was happy to find myself in a midst of the 1920s diamond scheme. Although I enjoyed the novel, the plot was long and it took a long time to get to an interesting part. But once I got there, the twists and turns of the novel were worth the time spent on the book. Agatha Christie has the ability to involve her large cast of characters in the novel and give each and everyone a functional role.

The Man In The Brown Suit is an absorbing historical detective novel, full of fun and quick-witted personages and a fascinating diamond venture.

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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anything that works against you can also work for you once you understand the Principle of Reverse.

Maya and Bailey’s travel journey began with their first move to a small Southern town to live with their parental grandmother after their parents’ divorce. But as two siblings settled down in their new home, their parents made yet another decision of relocating their children. This time, Maya and Bailey moved into their mother’s hometown. While Bailey was beyond happy to be reunited with their mother, Maya felt a sting of loss. And when her mother’s admirer showed Maya a little affection, the little girl fell into the arms of a very malicious man. After the traumatic event, Maya and Bailey are moved to their grandmother’s house, where the young girl discovers her calling for studying. But the duo’s adventure is only beginning. The following move is back to their beloved mother. This time, Maya strikes a deep connection with her mother, whose support teaches her valuable life lessons.

The novel ends on a sweet note. But it left me with so many questions and a longing to know more of Maya’s story. From her rough upbringing, Maya brought into her adulthood love, self-worth, and strength to overcome any obstacles played on her road to this beautiful thing we call life. Such an inspiring novel. Throughout the book, reading about subjects such as rape and racism, I felt no notion of resentment. Maya’s novel bursts with joy for life, willingness for change, and longing for equality. She teaches the readers that it’s ok to go thru abuse, survive and be happy. You are not alone.

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Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ll try and be what he loves to call me, ‘a little woman,’ and not be rough and wild; but do my duty here instead of wanting to be somewhere else.

I do not know why it took me so long to read this novel, but I finally did it. And what a lovely read this was!

March sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, are bonded for life by the love of their close-knit family. The bond between the sisters is unbreakable. Although each sister is a completely opposite version of one another, with individual goals and plans for the future, one thing always keeps them together – their family. Although the March family is poor, the lack of money does not make nor break their future plans. The lives of four sisters are full of love, personal achievements, despair, grief, and hope. I was pleasantly surprised by their closeness, love for one another, lack of jealousy, and simple quality to love life as it is. Besides the close friendship, the sisters share a very unique bond with a boy next door, which has created a very close bond between the five characters.

A phenomenal read. The novel was written in a way that the reader is able to feel each emotion and relive each moment of the sister’s lives with them as they were right there in the middle of the novel living as a part of March’s family.

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Tender Is The Night

Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

He was so terrible that he was no longer terrible, only dehumanized.

Dick and Nicole’s marriage is not an ordinary one. Although he declares his love for his wife, there was one more reason for which they have tied the nuptials. Nicole has spent her young years in the asylum, from which she was passed on into the hands of a young and handsome doctor. Together with a gorgeous wife, Dick has inherited Nicole’s family fortune and her peculiar medical case that he spent years of studying.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Nicole’s character closely based on Scott’s own wife Zelda? Dick and Nicole’s relationship reflected the one Scott and Zelda had for years. Nevertheless, Dick’s character was well built. I loved to hate him, but at the same time felt sorry for the life he has wasted. He was not meant to be tight to one person, one place, one job. He is a free spirit that needed to be fully unleashed.

This is a beautiful work of fiction: the language, the story, the characters… Scott Fitzgerald’s novels tend to move me in a way not many authors do. I think of the characters past the final pages of the books, his stories stay with me for a long time.

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The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn’t expect to enjoy the novel as much as I did. At first, the read was slow, but once I began to get to know the characters – my interest has spiked.

Four families – four mothers and their daughters. Each generation was born on different continents and raised in a different culture. As an immigrant myself, I absolutely understood The Joy Luck Club mothers’ plans and dreams for their children. They came to the US in hope of giving their children the American Dream. Unfortunately, they have lost their kids in the transition. As their daughters naturally accept the American culture as their own, their mothers’ past, teachings, and wisdom seem foreign to the younger generation.

At first, what seems silly, makes a whole new meaning. Chinese culture is rich, full of great customs and traditions. The novel has opened my eyes to Chinese heritage and I’ve learned a lot of interesting information. This is a great read and comparison not only of culture but the generation.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

1984 by George Orwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nineteen Eighty-Four is social science fiction novel written in published in the late 1040s.

The novel takes place in the future, 1984. After years of wars and revolutions, the world is divided into three parts: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. Winston, our main character, lives in Oceania and works for one of four ministries that are in charge of their nation. His job is to rewrite history, and by learning of the past, Winston questions his present. In time, he develops hate for his party, and Big Brother, hence he decides to join the resistance, also known as a brotherhood. Unfortunately, this step leads him into captivity and re-education.

I will admit, I was terrified by the novel. A famous quote: “the big brother is watching you” came from this book, and I must say – I am glad the world didn’t turn out to be as George Orwell has described it in his novel. This book touches on subjects of perpetual war, government surveillance, totalitarianism, historical negationism, and propaganda. Basically, the life that was envisioned by Stalin and Hitler. Nevertheless, this was a great read.

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Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The novel takes place in the early 1900 and follows the lifelines social lights of Evelyn Nesbit, Harry Thaw, Stanford White, and many others. Although the three are not the main leads of the novel, they do take a large part in confectioning our main characters together.

While it took a while for the novel to make sense, I did enjoy the plot. The storyline moved fast, and each character’s life stories were different, fascinating, and took drastic changes throughout the novel.

I did admire Mother’s Younger Brother for taking the stand for justice and joining Coalhouse Walker in his revenge. And poor Jewish immigrant Tateh, who made a big name in the cinema industry in order to take his little family from poverty and give his little girl the life she deserved. And finally the Mother’s strength, protection, and love for a little orphan.

Good overall read. There were a few entertaining chapters. Not my favorite historical fiction, as it was hard to follow the plot at time. It did come together by the end of the book.

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The First Actress

The First ActressThe First Actress by C.W. Gortner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sarah Bernhardt – an actress, theater star, courtesan, humanitarian, single mother, sister, friend. She is one of a kind. A person who played so many different roles on and off the stage.

Sarah has lived a very full life. A daughter of a famous courtesan and wealthy french nobleman, Jewish by birth, Christian by choice. Her adamant and bold attitude lured me into the pages of her life story. From a very early age, young Sarah showed her strong willpower and determination, she set goals and achieved it, and stood up to her oppressors. Sarah was never afraid to take on serious responsibilities, help friends and family in need.

Sarah Bernard built her name using her talent and ambition. Sarah’s story is fascinating. A bastard who not only became a famous actress but was able to portray both male and female roles, started in theater proceeded into the film world, and became the highest paying actress of her time. I am very happy that I came across this wonderful novel, thank you NetGalley and Ballentine Books Publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel and an author for a wonderful life story of Sarah Bernard.


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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird, #1)To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I began reading “To Kill a Mockingbird“.

This classic is about the small 1960s Alabama family: widower and father Atticus and his two kids Jem and Jean Louise ‘Scout’. The main plot of the novel revolves around Atticus’ criminal case: he is defending a black man who has been accused of insulting a young white girl. Besides the big trial, the novel covers other main topics of the 60s – race, gender, and social class. Our young characters Jem and Scout are raised by an open-minded father who teaches them the differences between love vs hate, good vs bad, kindness vs inhumanity.

Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out of us.

Despite the unhappy outcome, the end of the novel brings closure and a lesson for the reader. It is sin to kill a Mockingbird, and sins do not remain unpunished for long.


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