Review: Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

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Stories like this are the reason I continue to love historical fiction.  Skilled authors are able to take an event or era from the past and weave an intricately compelling story around it.  Granted, there’s no shortage of stories set in Nazi Germany, but this one is definitely a must-read if you’re a fan of the genre.

It’s the early 1970’s, and Hannah must come to terms with her mother’s recent death.  Not particularly close to her in life, she now is faced with the task of clearing out her mom’s house and possessions.  A job to be completed as quickly as possible so that she can get back to her life. Until she comes across some mysterious letters, that is.

And so  her quest takes her all the way to Germany where she meets a grandfather she had no idea even existed.  And she’s a surprise to him as well.  Hannah is as determined to find out her family secrets as her grandfather is determined to keep them forever hidden.  As she digs deeper, she finds out so much more than she bargained for.  And she discovers the person her mother truly was.

Much of the appeal of this story, as is the case with most historical fiction, is that it’s told from two perspectives spanning several decades.  What Hannah is feeling is entirely justified, but hearing her mother’s story puts a whole new spin on things.  An excellent story with the reminder that things aren’t always what they seem!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:   Secrets She Kept

Review: Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes

20131208-165741.jpgThis wonderful, touching story by Gina Holmes crosses boundaries and fits into so many categories. It’s a story about domestic abuse that also has a Christian theme running underneath. It’s a story about friendship and the support we get from others who care about us. It’s also a story of suspense that leaves you wondering what’s going to happen from one page to the next.

Penny is just barely 17 when she becomes smitten with Trent Taylor, a handsome and charismatic farmhand hired by her father. Being young and naive, Penny is easily swept off her feet. The abuse begins almost as soon as Penny leaves home with Trent. He’s both physically and emotionally abusive. The hitting is just a small part of the way he terrorizes Penny. Cut off from her family, Penny is dependent on Trent for everything and never knows when something is going to set him off. Like most abused women, Penny begins to believe that she deserves the abuse and her self-esteem is eroded more and more each day. Then an accident turns the tables and Trent is suddenly dependent on Penny. Is it possible that Trent has changed and is trying to be the husband she deserves? It’s at this point that Callie Mae and Fatima enter Penny’s life. Along with providing a friendship she didn’t know was possible, the women also challenge Penny to look within herself and examine the way she’s living. She’s also conflicted by her strong faith when she wrestles with the decision of whether she should leave Trent or “stand by her man”.

This is the second book I’ve read by Gina Holmes and I’ve loved both of them beyond belief. The author creates such strong, believable characters that you almost believe she’s writing about her own personal experiences. That’s not to say I had warm and fuzzy feelings for Penny. I found her infuriating and couldn’t believe she kept going back to Trent and falling for his lies. I just wanted to reach into the book and scream at her. How could she be so stupid? Couldn’t she see that this was bound to end badly? But the fact that I felt such strong emotions for the character just speaks volumes as to what a great story this is. This was one I couldn’t put down, and I couldn’t get this story out of my head even after I finished it. Anytime a story pulls me in that deeply it’s a must-read!

~Thalia

Buy it Now: Wings of Glass