The Last Train to Key West

The Last Train to Key WestThe Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three strangers, three difficult dilemmas. Their paths cross in Key West.

After years of abuse, Helen finally makes a difficult decision. This time it is not about her, it’s about the child she is caring inside her. But will she be able to protect her unborn baby and give it a happy and carefree life?

To help her family survive – Mirta has to sacrifice her future and marry an American businessman. But will she be able to make a happy life with a man she knows nothing about, move to another country and leave her family behind?

After the Wall Street crash, Elizabeth’s life turned upside down. In order to provide care for her sick mother, she must marry a dangerous man. But will the marriage guarantee the safety net her remaining family needs?

While each young girl tries to beside their future, a big danger is approaching the sunny Key West.

I’ve heard many great reviews about Chanel Cleeton’s novel and was super excited to read her newly released novel. Loved the idea of the plot, great location. But the characters just didn’t fully catch my attention. The only personage I liked was Helen. Simple ad good-hearted girl. I wish Elizabeth and Mirta’s stories were more fascinating. Nevertheless, the story is perfect for a beach read this hot summer. Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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The Jane Austen Society

The Jane Austen SocietyThe Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!
~Jane Austen

1943 England

A small village Chawton has been home to well known Jane Austen. Decades later, at the end of the Second World War, a group of Chawton residents bonded by the love of England’s most talented and beloved novelist has gathered together for a very important mission – to preserve and restore Jane Austen’s home and continue her legacy.

The task, so simple at the beginning, demanded a lot of attention, resources, and conquest over numerous obstacles. But with the help of Jane Austen’s dedicated fans, the mission did not only become accomplished but also created new long-lasting friendships and a few happy endings.

The plot of the novel was great, yet very predictable. I found myself very distracted while reading the story. Nevertheless, I believe this book is a great dedication to a wonderful novelist. Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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The Paris Hours

The Paris HoursThe Paris Hours by Alex George

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twenty four hours, four strangers, one great city.

Alex George introduces the reader to four doleful stories. Maid Camille, who carries a distressing secret. A puppeteer Souren who tells the kids untraditional tails. An American journalist Jean-Paul who mourns the tragic death of his wife and struggling romantic painter Guillaume.

During one day, all four strangers chaise their past in a city of lights, and conclude their day in Le Chat Blanc, where they hope to get their closure.

A terrific novel, with the appearance of Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Beach, Marcel Proust, and Gertrude Stein. The author did an amazing job portraying four heart-rending stories, I found myself cheering for each character and hoped for them to get their well deserved happy ending.

Thank you Flatiron Books for an advanced and free copy of the novel.

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Three Hours in Paris

Three Hours in ParisThree Hours in Paris by Cara Black

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Three Hours in Paris” is an astonishing tale of an American young woman, in a heart of Paris, playing for the English team, with an order to execute German politician and leader of the Nazi Party, the Fuhrer himself. How did an American girl fell into the British spy army to fight against the world’s biggest bully?

Months prior to Sunday, June 23, 1940, Kate experienced the biggest loss of her life, the deaths of her husband, and newborn baby by the hands of the germans. Shortly after, she received an opportunity of a lifetime – to perform an act of revenge.

And finally, June 23, 1940, Kate is back in Paris, the city that once brought her happiness, loving husband, and hopes for a bright future. This time she is here on a mission of her lifetime. Unfortunately, Hitler’s assignation goes wrong, Kate is on a run. And shortly after the fatal morning, she realizes the horrific truth. His mission was never the main plan, she was being used as a decoy. Angry and betrayed, young American finds herself on the dangerous streets of once-beloved Paris, surrounded by an enemy. Kate’s desire to survive pushes her one step forward every time she meets new obstacles, and in the end, she concludes the mission her fellow agents were sent to do but failed in the process.

Yet another phenomenal story of strong women during the horrific days of WWII. I was on the edge of my seat while reading the book. I am fascinated by the bravery of all characters. Thank you, NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for an advanced copy of the novel, and Cara Black for a remarkable and gratifying novel.

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A Hundred Suns

A Hundred Suns: A NovelA Hundred Suns: A Novel by Karin Tanabe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I must admit I was quite surprised by the plot – both the storyline and history. It took me a while to understand who was a villain and who was a victim.

The novel has two narrators, American Jessie Lesage and French Marcelle de Fabry. Both women come from different backgrounds and social statuses. They have built themselves up and created a better future with successful marriages. There is one more thing Jessie and Marcelle have in common – Michelin family.

I’ve enjoyed the novel more than I ever expected it. The stories of both Jessie and Marcelle tell us about poverty, child abuse, drug abuse, infidelity, political wars, and revenge. I’ve learned so much about French Indochine during the 1930s. An author painted a sad, gruesome but real picture of the colonies and its natives’ lives before the fall of France during WWII.

“A Hundred Suns” is a wonderful historical fiction read. I enjoyed both Jessie and Marcelle’s storylines, admired their ambition, dedication, and strong will. Thank you, NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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The German Heiress

The German HeiressThe German Heiress by Anika Scott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The German Heiress” is a story of justice, loyalty, forgiveness, and trust.

After the end of the Great War, Germany’s “the Iron Fräulein” is hunted by English officers. All Clara wants is to locate her best friend and her son. As people say, be careful of what you wish for, you might get that. And what is waiting for Clara at the end of her search is a big shocking secret that has been kept from her by her closest family and friends.

While on the run and searching for her missing friend, Clara meets many people who are loyal to her family and help Clara on her mission. Clara’s path crosses with a war veteran Jakob, who becomes her ally during the hard times.

In a time of war, it took a strong person to break the rules, go against the political power to perform an act of human kindness, protect the innocent. During the great war, while the men were at the front lines protecting their countries – women were left behind to shield the people in need. Anika Scott gave as a perfect example of this effort in her new novel “The German Heiress”. Thank you NetGalley and William Morrow Paperbacks publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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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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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 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 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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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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Rebecca

RebeccaRebecca by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…

Young, timid and naïve companion to a rich American woman meets a dashing and charming widower on the holiday in Monte Carlo. Shortly after meeting wealthy Englishman, she accepts his surprise marriage proposal, and after tying the knot and marvelous honeymoon in Italy, Maxim de Winter brings the young wife back to his ominous and gothic estate of Manderley. The married life in Manderley is everything young Mrs. de Winter has ever dreamed of, however, the shadow of recently drowner wife of Maxim beginning to weight on the new marriage.

Rebecca de Winter – a famous beauty with miraculous taste in fashion, devoted and loving wife and perfect hostess… Our young Mrs. de Winter has large shoes to fit, however at every step and turn her efforts are desperately crashed.

Rebecca is one of the quintessential books I ever read. Deception, misery, revenge, unhealthy relationships – this novel has it all! My advice to you – take a trip to gothic Manderley, you will not be left disappointed.

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