Book Connections

Goodreads Choice 2020

Well it seems I am more out of sync than usual for the Goodreads Choice Awards. I have read even less of them this year. And usually I don’t vote unless I’ve read them. This year I broke that and voted for one I am currently reading and one that comes out late November.

Fiction

book coverI am reading this at present. I think it will hold up – it has a theme of all the choices unchosen in life and what would it look like if you had gone down that path. The heroine is depressed and with no felt sense of any purpose in her life decides to end it. Instead of ending up dead she lands in the in-between of a library that is going to enable her to examine the choices she didn’t make.

Historical Fiction

book cover I read this via audiobook and I think because I read it in this format that I fell for it. It really put me on a Jane Austen path – I loved the setting – the time … just at the end of WW2 and the various characters just took hold of my heart. The narration by Richard Armitage was superb. And that’s saying something because I am not that keen on a male narrator but he nailed it. I also voted for this one in the Debut section.

Romance

The Switch book coverI had also read Beach Read in this category but I liked The Switch a lot more. Again I think because I read it via audiobook and that aced it for me. It’s fun, interesting characters and was well narrated by two narrators. Had a great older character too.

Non Fiction

book coverWith wonderfully real examples Anne Bogel depicts the over thinking that many of us engage in (from time to time) and gives us tips to manage this little habit that robs us of energy and time. In one place it had me chuckling out loud. Anne doesn’t spare herself.

It’s a book I’ll dip into again, exploring some of her references as well.

Memoir/Autobiography

book cover Okay this is the one that I haven’t read but voted for anyway! I plan to read it and will most likely do via audiobook.

If it is as good as his wife’s book then it should be interesting, informative and most likely entertaining as well.

Have you read any of the Goodreads Choice books. Did you vote in the semi final round?

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Review

The Paris Library

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Published: Hachette Australia
Date: 2nd June 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is the unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together.

PARIS, 1939 Odile Souchet is obsessed with books, and working at The American Library in Paris for the formidable director Dorothy Reeder is all she has ever dreamed of. The Library and its thriving community of students, writers, diplomats and book lovers provide her with a safe haven. When war is declared, the Library is determined to remain open. But then the Nazis invade Paris, and everything changes. The Nazi ‘Library Protector’ changes the rules overnight, declaring a war on words and making the librarians risk their lives to do their jobs.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles presents us with the American Library in Paris in the months leading up to WW11 and during the war. Like all stories set in this era at times it is stark and heart breaking. The people suffer so much.

Yet within the confines of the library there are warm friendships among those who work there and those who come to read, write and borrow books. Odile is a wonderful character – she loves reading and books and she so wants to work at the library.

We meet Odile again in 1985 in Montana, USA. What is she doing there? Why does she live like she does.? Well, enter Lily the young girl next door determined to find out. Before long an important relationship is formed.

I am not going to mention plot again, this is a book you need to read and go into it without knowing what happens next! But… I think any reader who loves Paris, libraries, books, courageous people and people who make terrible mistakes will find much to reflect upon in this book.

Review

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

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Publisher: Graydon House – Harlequin
Date: 19th March 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

 

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In The Things I Cannot Say Kelly Rimmer as penned a very powerful dual time line story.

In one time space we are taken to Poland in the early times of Nazi occupation during WW2 and to the story of Alina and Tomasz and their families. Those times were horrific and yet the bravery of these people stand out as they dealt with the terror.

In the present we have Alice and Wade and their two children – one very intelligent and one who is on the autism spectrum. The stresses in the family are well depicted and felt very real. When Alice is asked by her grandmother to return to Poland to seek information about what happened back then and who is there now, it is a huge challenge for her.

The dual time lines worked well. While I am not a huge fan of dual time lines, I have to admit the way the details were spread throughout the story was very effective.  I was sucked into both stories – one shocking and so hard to read, one “easier” but with its own difficulties.  And always such love.

Its very emotional and tissues were needed! I came to love and admire all the characters and to be in awe of the story telling power of Kelly Rimmer.

Review

Sold on a Monday by Kristina Morris

Published: Sourcebooks
Date:  28th August 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Rating 4.5 stars
Goodreads callout

The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs, and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home.

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Sold on a Monday by Kristina Morris is the story of reporter Ellis, secretary to the Chief of a newspaper Lily, and the mother and children that Ellis takes a photo of and places in the newspaper for a story, not exactly on purpose. The title says “2 Children for Sale”. He didn’t intend it to happen like that but it has.

As a result two children are sold, a mother disappears and Ellis and Lily are left wondering.  Lily has a secret of her own, and a desire to be a writer if only she can break through the male barrier to that. And she is the persevering kind.

Ellis does make good from the story that goes with the photo, but… he is a man of conscience and so begins a journey that he and Lily undertake to ensure that the sold children are safe and thriving. What they find out disturbs them enough to have them undertake a sometimes quite dangerous mission to recover the children.

The story is one that kept me engaged the whole way through. It was both sad and heartwarming and I really liked both the setting and the characters. Very satisfying.Bitmoji
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Review

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

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Published: William Morrow
Date:  July 10th 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Rating 4.5 stars
Goodreads callout

In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island in Long Island Sound as a naive eighteen year old, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. Although a graduate of the exclusive Foxcroft Academy in Virginia, Miranda has always lived on the margins of high society.

When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda is catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.

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Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams was a read that I sank into and have to say really liked. It ranges over three time periods – 1930, 1951 and 1969.  It is told mostly from the viewpoint of Miranda, however their is also the story of Bianca.  We go from one time period to another – backwards and forwards.

That could be somewhat disconcerting, however if it is carefully read and characters and events tracked until the jigsaw comes together then it returns a rewarding read. As I kept notes I put what was happening together so there is no surprise much at the end, but the satisfaction of seeing how it all turns out.

It is set on an island where there are the local people – fishermen and then the summer people. The rich people, who eat, drink and make merry and don’t intermingle much or at all with the local people. Miranda comes to this island as a teen when her mother remarries on of the summer men. She finds she has a step sister Isabel. I did think it a little odd that she changed in a way I wouldn’t expect.

And her step father – what of him, well he has a lot to do with the characters in this story and just to say I didn’t like him.  So many lives intertwine on the island, and not least of all Joseph the young man we first meet saving a fisherman.

To discuss what happens would be to take away from the reader the opportunity to follow the twists and turns, the mystery, the way characters relate to each other.

The writing is beautiful, the issues sometimes sad, yet here is a tale of redemption and hope as well.

Review

The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester

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Published: Hachette Australia
Date:  27th March 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 448
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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Parisian seamstress Estella Bissette is forced to flee France as the Germans advance. She is bound for Manhattan with a few francs, one suitcase, her sewing machine and a dream: to have her own atelier.

Australian curator Fabienne Bissette journeys to the annual Met Gala for an exhibition of her beloved grandmother’s work – one of the world’s leading designers of ready-to-wear. But as Fabienne learns more about her grandmother’s past, she uncovers a story of tragedy, heartbreak and secrets – and the sacrifices made for love.

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The Paris Seamstress is a dual time line book, that ranges in setting from Paris to New York to Australia. One era is the war years – and the effects on France especially. The other era is one recent and modern. And through the years there is the mystery of family and friendships.  It tracks the endeavours of one woman – Estelle and her love of designing dresses and other clothing. When she finds herself in New York her journey begins.

The story is a huge roller coaster. There are highs and lows, at times it is quite dark and other times filled with hope and courage. It is an emotional read that documents the story of two women linked through family, and the people they are friends with and the people they deeply love.

While Estelle had many set backs, she continued on, at times she made mistakes and yet what a woman. I loved when she realises that a bully can have their ‘power’ taken from them. She is talented, far-sighted, loyal and loving.

Fabienne is hit with many surprises as she learns the story of her grandmother Estelle  through various revelations. Fabienne too is challenged to live life to the full, to develop her own talents and believe they can take her places. As well she comes to realise the power and passion of love, and can she grab it or let it flow out through her fingers.

If you like a book with women who have  a passion for what they do, you love clothing, enjoy dual time lines and can appreciate a book of highs and lows, secrets slowly revealed – some shocking, then this book is for you.

Review

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

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Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: 20th February 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 329
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley

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In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.

Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

 

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In the Tuscan Child Rhys Bowen has written a novel with a dual time line. One part is set in Tuscany during World War 11 time, where Hugo – an English pilot is forced to eject from his damaged plane. Badly injured he is helped by Sofia – a local young woman. She hides him in bombed monastery and carries food to him when she can.

As well we meet Joanna – Hugo’s daughter, in 1973 returning home to Langley Hall on the sudden death of her father. She finds some items amongst his things that lead her on a journey to Tuscany to find answers to her questions.  From her we receive a picture of Hugo as an old defeated man, out of touch with his daughter. Yet in the mid 1940’s we see a completely different Hugo.

Mystery surrounds what went on in that small village during the war, how did Hugo and Sofia not end up together?  The town has one story but is that correct? Joanna finds welcome from some in the village but not from others. Her hostess is lovely and soon has her sampling all kinds of wonderful Tuscany cooking. Yet there seems to be something not quite right going on, a bad force at work.

While Joanna finds the son of Sofia still alive – Renzo, it takes awhile for him to warm to her, however soon they are working together to find the answers Joanna is seeking about her father and his cryptic note he tried to send Sofia.

I enjoyed the Tuscany setting and the description of the food and people. Sofia was a warm, courageous young woman, Hugo a man changed by her, Joanna a daughter kept somewhat at arm’s length but still with a connection to her father, that makes her determined to find out what went on here in San Salvatore during the war.  And the day of reckoning for some is about to take place.