Book Connections

Recommended (or Not) Reads by Other Readers

My goal this year is to note who I got the recommendation from that interested me in a book. That is… most likely I read their review and fell for it.

book cover From Mary from Bookfan is where I heard of this book. Then as I marked I was reading it on Goodreads I looked down the list of readers I follow,  and so many of them had loved it. So into it I put my reader’s nose.

Really enjoyed this heart warming story of family and a small town. Some magical realism which was downright delicious. Loved the characters, didn’t want the story to end. Would read anything more that Heather Webber writes in this kind of genre – magical realism, southern fiction.

book coverCharlotte by Helen Moffett comes recommended by Shelleyrae from Book’d Out. It is a spin off from Pride and Prejudice and takes up Charlotte’s story as Mrs Collins.

It is very well written and stays reasonably true to Jane Austen’s world. However there are inclusions that maybe Jane would have left out! I liked how Charlotte’s story was developed, quite realistic and possible. 

book cover Wrong Alibi is by Christina Dodd and I picked it up because Susan Elizabeth Phillips recommended it. And it didn’t hurt that Elizabeth from Silvers Reviews liked it a lot as well.  It is suspense and a wrong accusation set in Alaska.

This was a good read, it hooked me in straight away. I loved the main character Petie who had so many challenges to face and who grew up fast. Some murder, a little surprise here and there and some family regrouping. Will certainly want to try the next one. This one published at end of 2020 so guess its a little way away!

book coverThis Side of Murder wasn’t exactly recommended but the second one in the series was loved by Katherine from I Wish I lived In a Library. To read that one I wanted to start with the first one in the series.  I have since read the second one and it was really very good.

Set in England in 1919 on an island a group of people meet for a celebration. Or is it! Verity Kent lost her husband in WW1 and she is among some of his fellow officers and soldiers. It is full of intrigue and murder. It was a little slow getting into it, but that could have been my tiredness rather than the book. It sure builds to a climax and we eventually find out who is behind treason and murder. A series to follow up on.

book cover The Four Winds is the most recent book by Kristin Hannah.  It’s set in the 1930’s and explores the Depression era in the Great Plains on a farm.

I thought this might be a bit too sad reading for myself but I did buy the audiobook for one of my sisters who reads much more challenging books than I.

However I was rather shattered by her verbal, might I suggest brutal review. It was not a book for her!  So now I think I’d better take it back and see for myself. She said

Rather Mills and Boonsy, and nothing happens and I just couldn’t go any further than Chapter 20. And I wouldn’t even listen to the end to see what happens to her because I just couldn’t care about her!

 I look non plussed at all the four and five star reviews on GR of people I follow. 55 users even tag it literary fiction.  So Mills and Boonsy ( = Harlequin) doesn’t seem to have any tags. So I am putting it back on my TBR although it will be down the track as have others in my line up.

Have you read it?

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The Nightingale. Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale.  Book Cover

The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Date: February 3rd 2015
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 448
Genre: General Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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In the quiet village of Carriveau, Viann Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Viann is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Viann’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

My thoughts banner
In The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah has written a powerful book mostly about women who worked behind the scenes of war in France and made a difference.  It is fitting that this book is published on the 70th memorial of the liberation from Auschwitz.
“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are”.  Two women certainly find out who they are as this story progresses through the invasion of France by the Germans.  One stays at home, one travels the country as part of a very daring and courageous Resistance team.  Both face tremendous hardship.  
Isabelle and Viann have a remote relationship with their father, damaged by his participation in the First World War.  Viann has married and has a daughter Sophie.  Isabelle who is outspoken and impulsive is sent from one school to another as she upsets the established regime.  When war breaks out Viann sees her husband Antoine go off to war and Isabelle has decided she is finished with school and wants to help out – and to make a difference.  Both sisters clash at times, yet at the root is deep love.
At the opening of the book we meet an unnamed woman, is she Isabelle or Viann? That question is not answered to the very end.  She is old and gathering things up as she is taken to a care facility by her son – a doctor.  As she goes she picks up a little identify card that says Juliette Gervaise.  She also has a special invitation to Paris for a celebration of the partisans of the Resistance.  As those questions are answered at the end, it is a very moving ending.  I sobbed through this part of book with the heartache of loss of these people and the courage shown by so many of them.  Some from that time are  alive, some have died. 
The portrayal of both the experience at home of Viann and of Isabelle and their father as they experience the invasion of their country is well written.  As a reader I was caught up into their lives. So much of it was horrific, yet what amazes me is that from all this the people who were so brutally treated speak of love. One character says “But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us”. As I listen to survivors of the Holocaust in recent days I hear them say similar words.
This book is a beautiful tribute to those brave, amazing people, women especially, who contributed to the gaining of freedom for their country and people during World War 11 in France. It is not easy reading, yet it is important reading. Kristin Hannah – thank you.
5 stars

Review

Home Front

Title:  Home Front
Author:  Kristin Hannah
Publisher:  Pan Books 2012
Format:  Paperback
Pages:  388
Genre: Women’s Contemporary Fiction
Source:  Own book

Summary from back of book:

From a distance, Michael and Jolene Zarkades seem to have it all: a solid dependable marriage, exciting careers and children they adore.  But after twelve years together, the couple have lost their way.  They are unhappy and edging towards divorce.  Then an unexpected deployment tears their already fragile family apart, sending one of them deep into harm’s way and leaving others at home, caring for the children and waiting for news.  When the worst happens, each must face their darkest fear and fight for the future of their family.

Kristin Hannah writes fabulous stories and this is one I became totally engrossed in.  The characters were real and spirited, the plot was insightful and gritty – and I wept buckets!

Jolene was a woman with a tough childhood – her parents were alcoholics.  She learned to be gritty and strong and not feel.  ” She chose not to think about the things that bothered her; that way they disappeared.”  Being in the army further cemented this in her.   She has an excellent friend in Tami, they know so much about each other, the really know and love each other.

Michael – Jolene’s husband is a very work and duty oriented lawyer.  For awhile I disliked him as he seemed to be distant from his family – however as the story progressed I warmed towards him as he began to open up to the challenges he met.  Their daughters Betsy and Lulu complete the family.  Betsy is at middle school and is going through that 12 -13 year old angst of friends no longer finding her ‘cool’.  She also thinks her mother is ‘not cool’ and is not proud of what Jolene does for a job.  Lulu the four year old is totally delightful and I loved some of her straightforward comments towards the end of the story.

This book gives some idea of what it was like for soldiers to go to war in Iraq and the horrors they encountered.  It gives insight into the rampant PTSD suffered by soldiers returning from war.  It helps the reader see what it is like for the families left behind and who then must cope with the family member returning from war, changed from the person they once were.

At the end of this book there is a very interesting interview with Kristin Hannah about the process of writing this book, I made sure I didn’t read it until the end as I wanted to experience the story first.  Loved her answers.

Love this book, it sat on my shelf for a long time, why did I leave it so long!

Review

Home Again

Home Again.  Kristin Hannah
Paperback 2006.
First published 1996.

Goodread’s Summary.
At the center of Home Again is Madelaine, a brilliant cardiologist, a loving mother, a tender friend, a woman full of self-doubt. It is the story of her daughter, Lina, a confused and angry rebel and of the two very different men Madelaine loves: Francis, a priest searching for his faith, and Angel, a talented, but cynical man. When tragedy brings them together again, they must learn to forgive the betrayals of the past and find the courage to love again.

Kristin Hannah certainly knows how to write and craft a moving story. I needed a box of tissues close by for this one.  There was the challenge that Madelaine experienced being a parent to Lina, with her own experience of losing her mother when she was young and a father who was remote and unbending. For Madelaine there was the fear of losing Lina, and so at times she had not set limits with Lina, until she reaches out for help ( a difficult thing for her) and in doing so finds her backbone in beginning to set limits with Lina.

Lina is a troubled teen, experiencing all the angst of a roller coaster of emotions she is not sure how to handle, and is taking the road of hanging out with others who are leading her to smoking, drinking and drugs.  She doesn’t know her father is and struggles with it.  Francis – a priest, is a rock for her mother and for Lina.  Francis himself has his own emotional challenges in the life he leads.

Finally there is Angel, who left town one day, and never came back. Leaving behind a pregnant Madelaine and Francis his brother.  The two boys had a difficult upbringing in a home where the mother drank and encouraged Angel to drink with her.  

The story takes place from the time Angel does come back to town, and all their lives begin to interact.  Fear, jealousy, loneliness, anger, are experienced and finally faced.  P. 285  “But he was beginning to understand that running didn’t always get you anywhere, that sometimes you ended up right where you’d started.”

The story has flawed and fragile characters, who are able to face some of those places in them that we like to keep hidden from others.  In facing them they find hope, love and redemption.  

Personal Challenge 2013.
TBR Challenge 2013.