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 Côte 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 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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All The Flowers In Paris

All the Flowers in ParisAll the Flowers in Paris by Sarah Jio

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two women, two timelines, one apartment…

2019, sunny and warm Paris.
A terrible accident leaves Caroline without a memory. After returning from a hospital, she finds herself in a glamorous apartment in Paris… all alone. Between the flashbacks of her memory, Caroline rediscovers herself in today’s world. She uncovers the love for painting, delicious french cuisine… and french man. During one of the sleepless nights, Caroline explores her large flat only to stumble on old wartime letters hidden in one of the bedrooms.

1943, Nazi-occupied Paris.
Cecile’s world turns upside down when she sees a yellow star painted on the window of the flower shop owned by her father. To top that, she catches the eye of a tyrant German officer. There is only one way to avert the destiny that hovers over all jews in Paris – run. But her plans are discovered, and Cecile becomes a prisoner in the Nazi’s home.

All The Flowers In Paris is a bittersweet novel of two women that at some point in their lives share the same apartment on rue Cler. Their stories are heartbreaking and full of grief, but, in the end, it teaches a valuable lesson – the ability to forgive, love and be thankful for good times and bad.

Thank you NetGalley and Orion publisher for an advanced free copy of the novel, and Sarah Jio for a wonderful story.

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Mistress of the Ritz

Mistress of the RitzMistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While I really liked the entire book a lot, the beginning and the ending were outstanding.

The novel introduces us to Blanche and Claude Auzello, the Monsieur and Mistress of the Ritz. After returning from the line of war, the couple rushes to their beloved Ritz, just to find it occupied by Nazi. And like any other Parisian, the Auzellos do their best to follow the rules to avoid the opposite side of a German raffle. As the story unfolds, it seems that the Auzellos follow an old saying “keep your friends close, and your enemy closer”. But how long can they play this game? Joining the French resistance is not the only secret they must protect in order to survive, and stay alive.

I love books that pluck a piece of history and built an elaborate story around it. “Mistress of the Ritz” is a wonderful example of this. It is a fast-moving story filled with heroism, secrets, and a strong wish for survival. The author did a great job in the development of the characters. If you enjoy historical fiction, you do not want to miss this!

Thank you, Net Galley and Delacorte Press Publisher for a free ARC of this book.

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The Things We Cannot Say

The Things We Cannot SayThe Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Things We Cannot Say” is not a rare story that comes to us from the dark times of WWII. And no matter how many similar stories I read, I still find them disturbing, shocking and heart wrenching. People that lived thru that dark time never truly forget their stories and nor should we. These stories should be told, to remind us of the horrors of the past, for what we should never repeat.

In this particular novel, we come across one of the many victims of WWII. However, no matter how much time has passed, Alina was never able to admit her past to her loved ones alone with her road to survival. Alina’s story shows us courage and willingness to keep going forward, no matter how much one has lost in the past. I was glued to the pages of the book, it has many twists and turns and it is absolutely captivating.

This novel was one of love, loss, survival, and redemption. It’s well-written, absorbing, and an unforgettable story. Thank you NetGalley and Graydon House publisher for an advanced copy of the book, and Kelly Rimmer for a fascinating story.

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The Lost Girls Of Paris

The Lost Girls of ParisThe Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, therefore I was very interested in what this novel had to offer.

One summer morning, Grace stumbles upon a suitcase at Grand Central Station. Inside it, she finds twelve photographs of young women. Hours after the encounter with the suitcase, Grace learns that its owner, Eleanor Trigg, has been hit by the car hours earlier and died on the scene, right in front of Grand Central. But when Grace discovers another piece of information about the victim, she does unthinkable – she goes to Washington DC to investigate further into Eleanor’s case and photographs she has found in her suitcase.

Two years prior, Eleanor formed a group of female secret agents that were sent to France to help with the resistance. A few weeks into the new operation, Eleanor noticed discrepancies in communication with her girls, and shortly after – the agents started to disappear without the trace. Eleanor was released of her duties as soon as she brought her suspicions to the Director of an agency. Two years later, her questions about the lost girls were not answered and Eleonor finally received a chance to follow their steps to discover the truth.

This is a great story about friendship and survival. I enjoyed each character, their determination to keep moving forward has inspired me. Thank you, NetGalley and Park Row publisher for a free and advanced copy of this book, and huge thank you to Pam Jenoff for an incredible story.

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The Wartime Sisters

The Wartime SistersThe Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not sure was it the second or third chapter that I was reading when I first thought – this may be my very first 2019 five star book. And as usual, I was right. I loved everything about this book, a great set of characters, a phenomenal plot, and a great twist towards the end.

The book first introduces us to two sisters: Ruth, the smart and serious one, and Millie, the pretty one. As girls grow older we notice how their relationship start to change. And there were multiple reasons for it, starting with girls’ mother, who always seem to prefer her pretty daughter to a serious one. Ruth’s potential boyfriends preferred carefree and beautiful Millie to a nerdy Ruth. Friends and family enjoyed tender and sweet Millie to a “cold fish” Ruth. Therefore, after the passing of their parents, Ruth puts a very large distance (physically and morally) between herself and her sister. Years later, when Ruth learns of Millie’s misfortune, she finally lowers her guard down which results in sisters’ reunion.

There are secondary characters that are also very important and play a huge role in both Ruth and Millie’s lives. We have Lillian – firm and honorable wife of a commanding officer; Arietta – cheerful and companionable singing armory cook; Lenny – a sketchy delivery boy, turned husband, turned dangerous individual; and finally Arthur – loving, understanding and nerdy husband.

The story takes place in the early 30s thru mid-40s. One of my favorite parts of the book is a specific location an author decides to place the story – the Springfield Armory. I’ve first heard of this place when I read about the American Revolutionary War. And thanks to the author, I had a chance to learn a bit more about it, it’s function and workers lives there during WWII.

Thank you NetGalley and my favorite publisher St. Martin’s Press for a free copy of this wonderful novel, and another huge thank you to an amazing Lynda Cohen Loigman for a thrilling and fascinating story!

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The Light Over London

The Light Over LondonThe Light Over London by Julia Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Astonishing, charming and fascinating – are the words that come to my mind when I think of Julia Kelly’s new novel “The Light Over London”. I am a huge lover of historical fiction, and this book exceeded all my expectations.

After a not so pleasant divorce, antique dealer Cara throws herself in her work. Life after the divorce is hard, and Cara tries to pull herself together. But in order to “move on” one must sort out the past. And the only thing that bothers Cara about the past is a conversation she overheard between her Grandma and mother days before her parents died in a car crash. Unfortunately, Gran is one tough cookie to break.

One day at work, while clearing out an estate, Cara comes across a diary. And inside it, she also finds a photograph of a beautiful young girl in the uniform. Unable to stop her curiosity, Cara starts to read the diary and shares the story with her two new neighbors Liam and Rufus.

The story of nineteen-year-old Louise captivates the attention of two young people. After meeting and falling in love with a dashing RAF pilot, she runs away from her family home and joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. Unfortunately, diary ends unexpectedly, leaving Cara and Liam with many unanswered questions that they are eager to resolve.

While chasing Louise’s past, Cara also finds out the answers to hers. Delightful story, with a few plot twists that the reader would enjoy. Thank you, NetGalley, Julia Kelly and Gallery Books for a free and advanced copy of this marvelous novel.

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Abandoned In Berlin

ABANDONED IN BERLIN: A TRUE STORYABANDONED IN BERLIN: A TRUE STORY by John R. Cammidge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As you all already know, I am a little bit obsessed with WWII history. Therefore when I saw the title of the book – I knew I had to read it. The book is based on the true story.

The story itself is heartbreaking. As we already know the history, prior and during the WWII many Jewish owned businesses were eliminated by German laws. In this particular book, we are introduced to a wealthy family that eventually were forced to sell their business and home and run away to England, Japan, and the US to avoid Nazi concentration camps.

Unlike many others, Hilda’s family were able to survive and built better life outside of their homeland. And one fine day, Hilda uncovers the truth of why her mother and grandmother were forced to leave their family home. Will she be able to get back the property that legally belongs to her?

“Abandoned in Berline” is a short novel, great for a great any history lover. Thank you John Cammidge for a lovely read and NetGalley and Gatekeeper Press publisher for a free copy of the novel.

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The Girl They Left Behind

The Girl They Left BehindThe Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the past year or so, I’ve developed an insane interest about the time during and after WWII. Isn’t it interesting, that during those dreadful six years, all people wished was for the war to be over? However, no one ever thought of the consequences and how the aftermath of the war will affect their lives.

The story in the book revolves around little Jewish girl, Natalia, who was abandoned on the streets of Bucharest during 1941. The little girl was taken to an orphanage, but only for a short time. As the luck turned her way and she was adopted by a loving young couple. After the family has survived the war, they never expected to be caught behind the iron curtain and under Soviet Union occupation. Natalia’s and her parents’ lives very fast started to take a turn from glamorous to wretched. And family’s love, loyalty, and trust were tested.

As the end of the novel approached, it was hard to say goodbye to the characters. The book is based on a true story, however certain details were changed. Although the novel had a bittersweet ending, this is the kind of the ending that makes the reader wonder how the rest of Natalia’s story developed. I hope the wonderful Roxanne Veletzos will write a sequel.

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books publisher for a free copy of the novel. And thank you Roxanne Veletzos for sharing your mother’s story. The history of WWII was horrific, but the saddest part is that for people that were trapped behind the iron curtain the ending of the war marked the beginning of horrendous life, that didn’t end until the late 80s and beginning of the 90s. These stories must be shared, to remind (and in some cases to inform) the people of the gruesome past.

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