My Father’s House

My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My Father’s House is the place that protects refugees that are running from the terror-hungry Gestapo. A group of friends unites to help the running escapees to flee the hands of the Nazis. The dangerous task has not escaped the eyes of the authorities and the group must decide between saving their own lives or the lives of the refugees.

A powerful and heartbreaking read. Out of my WWII novels, this is one of a few that takes place in nazi-occupied Rome. This book is inspiring in so many ways, and it is based on the true story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, who has played a significant role in the lives of thousands of Allied soldiers and Jews. Great read, I would recommend this to any history lover.

Thank you, NetGalley for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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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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The Girl With The Yellow Star

The Girl With the Yellow Star by Natalie Meg Evans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cornwall, England, 1943. Never in her wildest dream, Gwenna thought that she would be working alongside german POWs on her beloved family farm. But the circumstances led to the current status, and she had no choice but to accept the help. Besides the three working POWs at the far, Gwenna has another german visitor. Days prior to their arrival, a young Jewish refugee became Gwenna’s guest at the farmhouse. Gwenna is afraid of the conflict that can occur between the working german officers and the Jewish girl. But to her surprise, Lotti and Max develop a unique friendship. Living in a village that has tremendous resentment towards the German nation, the german visitors very quickly warm their way into Gwenna’s heart.

This novel takes on a different direction than all the resistance novels that I am so fond of. It came to my surprise the treatment of german POWs on the territory of England VS the opposite side. Nevertheless, it always warms my heart to read about human kindness no matter the nationality or religion. This novel shows us that love can overcome hate, new experiences would never replace memories and the world moves on.

Wonderful plot, favorable characters, and an overall uplifting novel. There are many heart-stopping situations, so naturally, the tension is palpable throughout, but it makes for a real page-turner. I recommend this novel to my fellow WWII readers as well as romance lovers. Thank you, NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the novel, and Natalie Meg Evans for a heartwarming story.

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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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Searching For My Daughter

Searching for My Daughter by Liz Trenow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story starts with Rosa. The young Jewess was abused by her wicked employer, a nazi officer. But she’s made a deal with the devil to save her beloved father, and paid a brutal price. When the opportunity arrived to escape the hell that she called life – Rosa jumped to it without further thought. Unfortunately, what she thought would be an escape to a better life placed her family into danger.

Horrific years of the war have passed, and there is peace in the world at last. Miriam is on her way to London to find her daughter. Her journey is rough, but she meets all the right people and her chances to find her daughter is very high.

A beautiful, heartwarming story of a family that has been torn apart by the war. Although I knew this book would have a happy ending, the actual finale of the story was better than I expected. I’ve enjoyed following Miriama and Rosa’s stories. After reading tens of WWII books, and revisiting each unique story, this novel gives yet another moving uplifting ending. Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for an advanced copy of this lovely 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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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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A Place To Call Home

A Place to Call Home by Lizzie Page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a while to get into the book. I’ve restarted it four times, and finally, the fourth time was the lucky break. Wonderful story of love and trust and fight and triumph, and long road of orphan children to building a family.

Sometimes it takes only one person to change someone’s life forever. For the children of the Shilling Grange Orphanage, it was Clara Newton. After the war, she has dedicated her time, life and heart to the children who lost everything during the war. And by everything I do not mean the material things, besides their beloved parents, they have lost hope, trust, and security.

Once Ms. Newton finally found her way to her children’s hearts, she received a piece of devastating news. Their home was up for sale, and kids were spread out thru multiple orphanage houses. With no time for grievance, Clara threw herself headfirst into a long fight for her children.

A beautiful and heartwarming story of a blended family. I was very happy I didn’t give up on the book at the beginning. Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture publisher for an amazing story.

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How Paris Became Paris

How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City by Joan DeJean

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I left my heart in Paris… ever since every time I visit this magnificent city – I fall in love with it over and over again.

The city of light represents more than an Eiffel tower and shops on the Champs-Élysées, it’s more than fresh croissant from the local boulangerie, or a love lock on pond des arts. Paris holds so much history, although it is not an “old” city. This book is a phenomenal historical guide on the raise of the city of lights. Paris was a city of many firsts – the sidewalks, street theaters/entertainments, shops, street lights… The book includes the history of Paris’ bridges, architecture, streets/boulevards, and most importantly the history of the city’s financial growth and new wealth. Do not get me started on fashion and romance.

The history Paris has to offer is overwhelming. And this wonderful book highlights the major changes that made Paris what we know it today.

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Until Leaves Fall in Paris

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful, heartwarming, and an aspirational novel about war, books, love, and survival.

At the beginning of WWII, an aspiring ballerina of the Palais Garnier buys an English bookshop from her dear Jewish friend. The provided funds buy the family a ticket to freedom. Just like people say – you save one jew – you save them all. And with that thought in mind and heart, Lucie leaves her beloved dream and begins a new journey as a bookstore owner. Thru the American/English-speaking customers, Lucie meets a widower Paul and his little girl. As sparks of mutual affection between Lucie and Paul grow, Lucie suddenly learns of Paul’s collaboration with the Nazi. But all is fair in love and war. And despite their differences, the two create a plan to escape the Nazi occupying country. Will their love survive the journey?

The fact this novel took place during WWII and in a bookshop was the reason I requested this novel. I loved everything about “The Green Leaf” shop: the coziness, books, and support of french resistance. American born but Franch raised young girl with no family throws herself into the most dangerous position, just proves her pure love for the country and its people. Lucie’s selfishness thru the war and her journey to America has inspired me. A beautiful novel, filled with joy, love, courage, and fearlessness. I would recommend this novel to any historical fiction lover like myself. Thank you NetGalley and Baker Publishing for a free and advanced copy of the book.

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