Review: The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham

Just when I think I’ve read every possible historical fiction angle on the WWII era, that there can’t possibly be another tale to tell, a new one comes along and knocks my socks off.

Labeled a traitor, young Anke has been placed in one of Nazi Germany’s camps. She uses her skills as a midwife to help women around her, providing what comfort she can. But when word of her skill reaches higher up, she finds herself being placed in a most unlikely situation. Her services are needed to serve the cause and the Fuhrer himself. You see, there’s a baby on the way. And this baby is very important to the Nazi future.

Of course she doesn’t want to do it, but her survival instincts kick in not only for herself but for her family back in the camps. And at the heart of it all, she’s a midwife. So this is what she does.

This book…is so many things. It’s historical and a love story and a story of friendship and hope and so much more. If you’re a fan of the genre, don’t pass this one up!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The German Midwife

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Review: Any Second by Kevin Emerson

Is it fate that brings Eli and Maya together? Or is it just luck? Either way, it’s life-changing for both of them. Each dealing with their own version of trauma, they’re thrown together under the most unlikely of circumstances.

Eli is truly a victim. Kidnapped at a young age, he’s currently on a mission from his abductor – walk into the mall with explosives strapped to his chest and get redemption from all who have done the world wrong.

Maya is a victim of another sort. She’s a victim of her own anxiety. Hair pulling, skin tearing, sinking deep within herself…this is how she deals. She’s also at the mall that day, keeping her dad company while he gets a new driver’s license to complement his new life.

When their paths cross, neither of their lives will ever be the same. You see, Maya’s the one who sees Eli. She’s the one who notices something amiss. And she’s the one who decides to save not only everyone around her but also Eli himself.

Fast forward several months…Eli is trying to get back to a normal life, whatever that is. And Maya is still dealing with her anxiety, made understandably worse with her close encounter with death. And they meet again, this time when Eli transfers to Maya’s school. They’re drawn to each other, understandably. Will Maya be able to save Eli a second time? And will Eli be able to save Maya as well?

This is a very intense book starting from the first page. Heartbreaking at times, uplifting and hopeful at others, it’s the story of what can happen when we open our doors and let others in.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Any Second

Review: The Paris Secret by Lily Graham

This is my absolute favorite kind of story. Historical fiction, a bit of mystery, and a sprinkling of romance all rolled into one. Bonus points to this one for being set in a bookstore.

When Valerie returns to Paris to take on a job at a bookstore, she has one goal in mind – find out the truth about what happened to her parents. You see, her grandfather Vincent owns the bookstore. Of course he has no idea he’s hiring his granddaughter. He does, however, take an immediate liking to Valerie despite his gruff demeanor.

Slowly but surely, she begins to put together the pieces of a puzzle. This puzzle will tell the story of her childhood and why she was sent away at such a young age. But it’s a painful story to tell with more secrets than she’s expecting to learn.

Such a great, great story. I adore historical fiction set in this era. And this one has such a heartbreaking family component to it that I just couldn’t put it down. A definite winner!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Paris Secret

Review: Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webbk

Sometimes you just need a good ghost story. Something slightly spooky without being over the top, something that’ll give you a touch of the goosebumps. This story by Wendy Webb does just that.

After her marriage ends badly, Kate returns home to recover. Peace and quiet, time to reflect, is just what she needs. Those thoughts are tossed aside when a body washes ashore near the family home. And it’s not just any body. Kate recognizes the woman. She knows her, not from real life but from her dreams. How does one explain this to the authorities, though? Especially since Kate herself is somewhat of a suspect.

With the help of her cousin, Simon, Kate begins to dig deeper into the mystery of the dead woman. As she uncovers more and more of her family’s past, she finds secrets she’s not prepared to confront. And some of these secrets are a danger to her.

This was a really good story, better than I expected it to be. Part murder mystery, part historical fiction, part ghost story, it has a bit of everything!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Daughters of the Lake

Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

** minor spoiler alert ** Oh boy…I almost stopped reading this book and didn’t get past my annoyance until about 35%. I’m thankful I stuck with it, but honestly, the parents and the way they were portrayed almost did my head in. I am still considering going back and forth each day and bumping my review back and forth from a 1 star to a 5 star. I just do not believe any person would act like these parents did. I can understand their lack of affection. Even how they seemed to not even want a child in the first place. I can even understand them being neglectful and seemingly uninterested. However, I still can’t believe that anyone would talk as they did (example – show up at a police station after your 14-year-old has just been part of a kidnapping, continually interrupting a police officer to correct him that it’s not your real child but an adopted child and then after doing that several times, interrupting him once again to explain how you wouldn’t mind “doing” a member of the royal family even if she was older than the normal type you liked, all the while never once showing any concern over the kidnapping). You have not only the father acting like this, but the mother as well.

I just found myself not finding these portrayals in any way true to life and it made me want to quit the entire book. I really don’t understand why they were portrayed as such. It would not have changed the book at all to have them as ‘normal’ disinterested, neglectful, self-centred people.

Once the story moved on from the parents (for the most part) I loved every word. I’ve read other novels that have tried to explain the sexual environments in the past to not be completely shocked by the horrors I read in this book. However, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t angry. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel for the characters in this book. I have to say that, unlike some others, I 100% felt that I saw the reasoning behind Cyril’s choices and the paths he decided to take.

But damn, I was so angry. Life is so fucking unfair (as quoted a few times in this novel).

I just don’t know. I didn’t cry at all during the reading of this novel, but I sure wanted to time and time again. For whatever reasons I was reminded time and time again of Patrick Gale’s ‘A Place Called Winter’. Two totally different stories, but both made me ache with loneliness and despair at the unfairness of so much…Both are books which I found almost poetic in the writing style and absolutely hauntingly beautiful in both word and story

There is so much of me that wishes I could say this book was just over the top with bad things happening. That one thing after another happened to Cyril and it was just too much to be believed. But I can’t. It all felt so genuine. Hence why my heart is broken when I read books like this…and I want to cry, not just for the characters, but for myself…and all of humanity…so many people just have to make other’s miserable no matter that it’s nothing to do with them… #loveislove

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Review: A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

So here’s the deal. I absolutely adore Jodi Picoult and will read anything she puts out. In all fairness, I always have unusually high expectations for her stories. Maybe that’s unrealistic because this book disappointed me. It started off well enough with an intriguing storyline. But then it became very disjointed, hard to follow, not compelling. I mean, it took me nine days to finish which is an unheard of amount of time with me for a book by a favorite author. And honestly, I probably would have abandoned it if it were by most other writers. But I stuck with it, hoping the pendulum would swing back. Sadly, it didn’t. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it is that threw me off. I will say, though, that the time reversal aspect of the storyline was a huge downside for me. By the time I got to the end, well actually the beginning, there was no element of intrigue. No suspense, no plot twist to bring it all home. Sure, there was one little moment. But that wasn’t enough to save the story in this case. My review is not meant to dissuade anyone from reading this one, as it won’t keep me from eagerly anticipating her next one. It just is what it is.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: A Spark of Light

Review: The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel

I love, love, love historical fiction. And I love Kristin Harmel. So what could be better than this one?

When Ruby moves to Paris with her new husband, she has no idea what’s in store for the both of them. Sure, war is knocking on the door. But things can’t get that bad, can they? After all, she’s an American so she’ll undoubtedly be safe. As she soon finds out, however, nobody is truly safe in these uncertain times.

She naturally assumes the worst when her husband begins to sneak around, to disappear for days at a time. She could never imagine, though, what he’s actually involved in. And soon she finds herself involved as well.

This was a very enjoyable story. It’s beautiful and epic and emotional and so many other things along with quite an ending!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Room on Rue Amélie