The Red Cross Orphans

The Red Cross Orphans by Glynis Peters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kitty follows the steps of many women during WWII who wanted to give a hand in the fight against the enemy. After a long training period, she reaches one of her many goals – a nurse pin. During this period, alongside her nursing experience, she meets lifelong friends, enemies, and… love. Unfortunately, the war has other plans and the couple is obliged to put their dream of marital life on hold.

Red cross nurse and a Canadian doctor find love on the battlefield in a midst of WWII. Cute story but lacks anticipation. Since this is the very first book of the series, I am hoping the following books will produce more suspense. The build-up of the plot was strong. I enjoyed all the characters and am eager to know what will happen to them all in the future. Also, the part about the VIP patient was intriguing, although it ended abruptly, which makes me hope the character will make an appearance in future novels.

Overall it is a good, light read. Perfect for romance lovers with a little history.

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Midnight on the Marne

Midnight on the Marne by Sarah Adlakha

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you had a chance to go back in time and change one significant moment, would you do it? Keeping in mind, that your life may never be the same?

A parcel from America lands on Marcelle’s lap. A dairy that contains information she has never shared before, memories she does not remember but feels so close to her heart. Is old age playing tricks on her? Or has that occurred?

I am having a hard time expressing my feelings about this book. The first two halves are beautiful stories of survival, love, and courage. Such a strong set of characters, I cried when they cried, and my heart ached when their hearts were broken to pieces. I held my breath when they held to their lives by the strand of their hair… This novel was written in a manner that made me feel I was there, a part of their strange but loving circle. But let me tell you about the last part of the novel… the language and story were so intense, that I had full-body chills. I cried when George described his final moments with Philip.

“Midnight on the Marne” is beautiful work of fiction. It is different from many other WW novels due to its alternative timeline, which gives this novel a different direction. Thank you, NetGalley for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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The Painter’s Girl

The Painter’s Girl by Helen Fripp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mimi lives a life of poverty. But with loyal friends by her side and driven by the love of her daughter, she makes it her target to climb her way out of Paris slums. Mimi takes every opportunity that comes her way to make connections, which brings her a little closer to her goal… but life is a funny thing, and our sweet little heroine meets many obstacles on her way.

This book is filled with so many famous names, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Renoir… Reading this novel felt as if I traveled in time into the 1860s. Mimi’s story was despairing, but she has managed to pull thru, and just like a cat, lived thru numerous lives. Beautiful, encouraging, and simply heartwarming story. Perfect for a summer beach trip or a lazy evening on the comfy sofa with a glass of cold rose. Thank you, NetGalley for a free and advanced copy of the novel in exchange for my honest review.

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The Late Mr. Cary

THE LATE MR. CARY: A 1920s mystery by Michael Campeta

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story takes us to a snowy and cold Albany NY. Outside is 1928. Megan boards a train in NY, not knowing that this trip will change her life. On the train, she meets a queer woman who shares a shocking secret with her. Megan also meets a handsome man in a cafe cabin. After her arrival in Albany, our young librarian crosses paths with her new acquaintances and forms a close friendship. The shocking twist comes at the end when her new friends meet her family-in-law. The fatal encounter leads to a string of shocking events.

Loved the final plot twist. I did see it coming, but fully enjoyed the reveal presented by the author. It is a fun and easy read, slow at the beginning but picks up the pace towards the end. I also found the dialogue between the characters a bit peculiar, as it lacked the natural flow. But it’s easy to disregard taking into consideration the mystery part of the whole novel.

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The People’s Princess

The People’s Princess by Flora Harding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Diana’s tragic story as a princess of Wells is well known. And the more I read about her, the more I begin to understand the person behind the title. Said that – I am always happy to get my hands on any additional material evolving the People’s Princess.

Shortly after her engagement, in the hallways of the grand Buckingham Palace, Diana’s attention is caught by the portrait of a beautiful girl with a free spirit in her eyes. The portrait is of another princess of Wales, the Queen that never was. After developing an unusual interest in Princess Charlotte, Diana receives the best surprise of all, Charlotte’s diary full of all her secrets, domestic, love, and political affairs.

Although I’ve enjoyed this book, it was mainly focused on Princess Charlotte instead of Diana. I did learn numerous interesting historical details about the mysterious princess, whose premature death has changed the English monarchy.

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The Paris Apartment

The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My obsession with Paris began many years ago, and I’ve read multiple stories about abandoned apartments in Paris and the storylines of their owners. This book, like all others, was unique and full of war horrors and losses of the war.

After her adopted family has been taken away by the Nazis, Estelle joins the french resistance. For months she hides her fellow allies, collects and shares info picked up during her time at the Ritz, and thru this work, she meets the mysterious and fearless Sophie. The list of events that took place after the fateful meeting, divided Estelle’s life into before and after. And seventy years later, Estelle opens a door to an apartment that was vacated during the war and discover’s her grandmother’s past.

I absolutely loved Estelle and Sophia’s timeline. Both of their stories are filled with bravery. I was once again amused by the courage of the resistance, who risked their lives in order to protect the innocent. Unfortunately, the “present” part was a bit disappointing. I wish the story was told without Aurelia and Gabriel’s romance. Their story seemed tacky in comparison to the service their relatives provided during WWII.

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Last Call At The Nightingale

Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolutely captivating Jazz age mystery.

The Nightingale is more than an underground dance hall. People come here to lose themselves from ordinary everyday life. Release the pressure of playing roles that society is expecting them to be… The Nightingale is home to rebels. Vivian is one of these people. One night, she stumbles upon a body in an alley of the club. the accident can cause big problems for the club and many of its visitors may lose the only place they can truly be themselves. After some persuasion, Vivian decides to help her beloved club, in a long run making new acquaintances and building a new and bright future.

The beginning of the novel was very slow. My biggest pet peeve is the large number of characters in the novel. I was pleasantly surprised by the way the author navigated thru the characters, making them all useful and a part of one big picture. Overall it was a very enjoyable read. Thank you NetGalley and Minotaur Books publisher for a free copy of the novel.

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The House at Tyneford

The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Photographs are so strange; they are always in the present tense, everyone captured in a moment that will never come again.

In this intriguing historical novel, a young Jewish woman is sent from her glamorous upper-class life in Vienna to an English manor and placed in service. She finds herself in a place, where her kind no longer has a place in the world. As a human race, it is being erased. Not an enemy, but not an ally, young Elise tries to find her place in the new world. Her status at the Tyneford manor changes with time, and so is her character.

A devastating story of a lost life. But where there is sorrow, one can find hope to move forward, survive and live, and continue the circle we call life. A beautiful ending to a novel. Although Elise didn’t physically struggle with her escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, the despair to help her parents, the ability to stand up to the oppressor, and in a midst of grief to move forward make her an inspiring character.

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Shadows of Berlin

Shadows of Berlin by David R. Gillham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After the horrors of the War, Rachel found her happy ending. Her loving and supportive Jewish husband, safe and clean home, and most of all, freedom. While Rachel has her physical freedom, inside her head she is captivated by the past, and mostly by the price she had to pay for her survival.

One thing Rachel brought with her from her homeland – was her artistic talent. But when she tried to express herself on the canvas, she was met face to face with her hunting past. To pass the line between her past and her future, she needs to admit to her crimes. It takes a strong will to do so, but Rachel’s will has been weakened by her survival guilt.

A heartbreaking story of a young girl living in the land of freedom but captivated by her guilt that has taken place halfway across the world. Time passes, but it does not heal. Learning about Rachel’s past had explained her character as an adult as we met her on the pages of this novel. Guided by the darkness of her past, she is afraid to express herself thru her passion – art, afraid to show the world her true character. Great ending of the novel. Rachel was finally free and open to new life possibilities and the future. Human nature tends to forgive, but never forget. Although I did enjoy the novel and Rachel’s story, the novel itself was too long and at times it was stuck on the subjects that could have been avoided or shortened. Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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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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Last Dance on the Starlight Pier

Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I jumped into the world of Evie Grace Devlin without knowing what to expect. And what an engaging ride it was.

Working childhood, rough upbringing, loveless mother. Young Evie managed to get herself out of her mother’s grip and built a better life for herself. Her first stop turned out to be good, but it ended on a bumpy note, making young Evie turn back to the life she tried so hard to escape. However, before she managed to make a move, her life gave her another chance to start anew… And what a delightful life it was… until yet another consequence shattered her world.

Taking place during the great depression, we see the people of entertainment try to survive and stay afloat. Although the initial idea of the plot was compelling, I didn’t feel the “book spark”. I expected something BIG to happen, and when it did – I didn’t find it thrilling, mostly due to the novel being “busy”. There were too many details to keep track of too many characters (my biggest pet peeve), too many sub-stories, and too many relationships. Nevertheless, this novel prompted me to look more into the novels with great depression storylines in them.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for this ARC.

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The Honeybee Emeralds

The Honeybee Emeralds by Amy Tector

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every piece of jewelry tells a story

A Mysterious Honeybee Emerald neckless lived many lives before it landed in the hands of a young researcher of the Parisian oldest magazine “Bonjour Paris.” A group of very diverse characters formed a “fellowship” made it their goal to a) find the rightful owners of the mysterious neckless and b) save the drowning magazine from issuing its very last copy. During long but very thorough research, the group discovered a list of very exquisite owners of the neckless, but the biggest and most shocking secret of all was uncovered during the reading of the very unique letter left by a least expected individual.

I was pleasantly impressed by the plot. This novel is up to my alley – it has a great history and mystery, and it is based in a beautiful Paris. I was particularly pleased with the author’s pairing of the characters. I was very well matched and didn’t create the sappy love novel instead of focusing on the peculiar jewelry with its grand history. I enjoyed learning about its owners and the link that connected them all. This is a nice, easy read, with enough excitement to keep the reader glued to the pages of the book. Thank you, NetGalley and Keylight Books publisher, for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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