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.


The Huntress. Kate Quinn

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Published: HarperCollins
Date: 2019
Source: Library


I first heard of The Huntress by Kate Quinn from the Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading Guide 2019. I wasn’t sure if it was for me, but I put in a reserve for it at the library and in due course it arrived. Would I read it? Do I want to know about all the bloodshed and evil of the WW2 time in yet another historical fiction book? I decided to read a few pages and see how I went.

After five pages – I was hooked. The writing and tone of the book just reeled me in. The story rotates around three characters’ points of view. There is Ian an Englishman who lost a brother in the war, he is a journalist, suffers from post war trauma from his time as a journalist during it. Now he is part of a small team hunting Nazis down and bringing them (hopefully) to justice. Along with him is Tony a European with Polish/Hungarian blood, younger than Ian but still a good foil to him and very useful as “the charming good guy”  of the pair.

Nina forms the third member of the team, she is Russian and grew up in harsh conditions, survived and became a pilot in the Russian army, in a women’s division known as the Night Witches. What a character she is. She Is hard bitten and tough, a razor wielding vixen. But look closer and just maybe there is a softer side to her. I have to say I came to adore her.

Jordan lives in America in Boston, hers is the third POV. She is young and loves to photograph people. She has a new stepmother and new little sister. She has a fiancé who while he seems right for her, perhaps isn’t. I found myself totally hooked into the relationship that Jordan and her stepmother form. I loved Jordan’s love for her little stepsister Ruth and her protection of her.

We toggle between a few time periods – during the war getting Nina’s back story and then after the war in 1950 Ian and Tony and Nina working together to find the woman who has eluded them but they are compelled to track down.  As well Jordan’s timeline tracks along at about the same time in Boston. It totally works.

I loved the tiny pieces of humour in the book that made me smile,( Ian’s reading material being one)  while every moment I had I was  picking  up the book to see what was going to happen next in the nail biting, yet slow, patient, tracking of The Huntress. Bring to this story your own experience of hiding from something or someone and if you are like me you’ll hate the crime but possibly feel for the hunted.

Extremely well written, informative and thought provoking. I highly recommend it.


The Land Girls Victoria Purman

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Published: Harlequin Australia
Date: 15th April 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley


Three women join the women’s land army in Australia during World War 2. The Land Girls introduces the reader to them and by the end of the book, each woman found a place in my heart and my very sincere admiration.

Flora is thirtyish and from Melbourne, she lives with her Dad, a brother who can’t go to war (Jack) and Frank who is fighting in the war overseas and they haven’t heard from him. A white feather given to her brother Jack on the street one day, decides Flora  to join the Land Girls – her first assignment  is picking grapes – hard work but she meets up with a delightful family. Slowly a relationship develops between Flora and Charles the owner of the farm but she is only there for a few weeks.

Lily is   18  from an Adelaide wealthy family, she has a sister a doctor working in the war overseas but Lily  hasn’t found her own niche. She finds it hard to even learn shorthand and typing. She is in love with David who is going off to war. Taking up her courage she too joins the land girls – unusual for some one from such a family. She is sent out to a place north of Adelaide to pick cherries

Betty is almost 18, friends all her life with Michael next door, she is an only child and she too decides to join Land Girls when Michael joins up in 1942 when he turns 18. She starts this life picking grapes in Mildura, many miles north of Melbourne, on the edge of the outback. She is among 20 other girls. It’s hard work and Betty is homesick. One Sunday she meets Flora who gives her words of encouragement, that really help.

I loved the Australian setting, the  realistic painting of what it was like to live in that time during war. The women who joined the land army worked hard, and it changed them in so many ways.  How worrying though for them for the loved ones who fought overseas and often when bad news came, so heart breaking.

Victoria Purman had me fully invested in each woman, each story so real. I loved the way the woman put their hands up and contributed. The way they supported each other and developed such important and memorable friendships.


Come From Away. Genevieve Graham

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Published: Audible Studios
Date: 5th March 2015
Narrator: Michelle Ferguson
Length: 8 hrs 2 min
Source: Author


Earlier in the year I enjoyed the audiobook Tides of Honour – a story about Danny and Audrey and WW1. When I started listening to this book Come From Away, I was delighted to find out that this one picks up the lives of their children and especially that of their daughter Grace. It’s a complete stand alone, however, seeing how life has moved on pleased this reader!

Grace works in a local store in Nova Scotia, while her three brothers are away at war – world war 2. Her parents Danny and Audrey are there with her and also other various family members live by.  One evening at a local dance some strangers come by, and Grace is attracted to one man who dances with her – then they are gone. Now off Nova Scotia there are German u-boats, so could these men have come from there?

Some weeks later this stranger wanders into Grace’s store – Rudi is his name. Supposedly a trapper but is he?  And so the story takes off. There is challenge and adventure, distrust and trust, and an evolving relationship with Rudi and the family and of course Grace.

I loved the story of the family in Nova Scotia, and what happened to them as the war progressed.  Depicted was the toll that war places on ordinary men, the demands made on them, and that underneath so many of them  are men of honour and care.

The story moves along at a good pace, the characters are ones that I could take into my heart and care about. The narrator was very good and brought this book alive.


Book Connections, Reading challenge

War and its Impact.

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War is something that affects many. If you are like me so far you are lucky to have escaped. The closest I have come to it is a Grandfather injured in WW1. Fortunately my father was deaf and never saw active duty although he did join the air force during WW2. But war does have an emotional, physical, psychological and social impact on many. These books are all connected because of their link to war and the way in which they highlight these things.

Book coverSuitcase of Dreams by Tania Blanchard tells the story of a German family who emigrate to Australia to find freedom and new opportunities. They do eventually find that but they still carry with them the tensions of their past rooted in WW11.

Also impinging upon them are the horrors of the Vietnam war, again they are haunted by what war can do and its dreadful waste.

Book CoverIn Tides of Honour we meet Danny Baker a World War 1 soldier badly wounded and sent home. The loss of a leg in those times was even more challenging than it would be today. And not only that, what he has witnessed – seeing his friends blown apart has to have placed upon him a heavy burden.

Audrey, the woman he meets in France turns out to be someone who loves him and helps him battle the inner demons… until those demons become very challenging. It turns out that another disaster is a turning point for them.

book cover The Spitfire Girls by Soraya M. Lane details for us the excellent contribution young women pilots in England and the USA made to WW2. They had to make their way among the world of men and public prejudice at time. But they worked on bravely in difficult conditions.


book coverThe Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen explores the upheaval of World War 1 and the far flung impact on the people in England. Hardly one family was left untouched by loss, and if not loss – men who return who are deeply scarred by the experience.  Class barriers begin to tone down, women take on new roles, in this case the role of land girls.

book cover In The Military Wife by Laura Trentham  we explore modern war and its repercussions through the eyes of SEALS and their challenges and struggles with injury and PTSD. We also see the effects and challenges for their wives and family.

In 2019 have you read a book that could fit into this book connect?


The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. Jennifer Ryan

Published: HarperCollins
Date: 23rd February 2017
Format: Audiobook

Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 11hrs 56 min
Source: Own book
5 starsAdd to Goodreads

The village of Chilbury in Kent is about to ring in some changes. The women of Chilbury village have taken umbrage at the Vicar’s closure of the choir now that its male singers are at war. But when spirited music professor Primrose Trent arrives, it prompts the creation of an all-female singing group. Resurrecting themselves as The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, the women use their song and unity to embolden the community as the war tears through their lives.

Dependable Mrs Tilling sees the choir as a chance to finally put herself first and a welcome distraction from thoughts of her son fighting on the front line. For Kitty Winthrop, the precocious youngest daughter of Chilbury Manor, singing is the only way to outshine her glamorous sister Venetia, who isn’t letting the war ruin her plan to make every bachelor in the county fall in love with her. Meanwhile, when midwife Edwina Paltry is presented with a dastardly job which she’s convinced will make her rich, she will have to misuse more than the trust of the choir’s women to carry out her scheme – and nothing is going to stop her.

Choral music sung by Mums N’ Roses, with musical direction by Craig Hudson.

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I was totally in love with this audiobook book. It is a debut novel by Jennifer Ryan – I can only say it was enthralling.  Set in southern England in a small village in 1940, it examines the life of the people as they start to face the reality of most of the men gone to war. 
Up until now there has been a choir, but now with the men gone the vicar has cancelled the choir. But… soon the women are rallying around Prim the choir mistress and they are setting up their own group. 
The story is told by four or five characters through letters and journals. However it is seamless and actually doesn’t feel like letters and diaries. Rather the story told from different points of view. That’s where the narrators come in, they do an amazing and outstanding work of bringing this book to life. By itself its a great story, with the narration absolutely brilliant. I see on Jennifer Ryan’s website that the book has had the TV rights optioned by the makers of the makers of Downton Abbey. I sure have my fingers crossed that this will go ahead.
The characters are really interesting, they feel like real people, some of them are rogues and worse, one of them rather precocious but delightful, others kind and compassionate  and already the war is changing many of them. The women are strong and resilient and were mostly a joy to follow, even the rogue amongst them.
Highly recommend this as an audiobook.  Thanks to Mary from Bookfan for bringing it to my attention, it will for sure be on my top books for 2017 as well.
Here Jennifer Ryan speaks about the book…

// the latest video at

Website: Jennifer Ryan

The Orphan’s Tale. Pam Jenoff

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Published: HQN (Australia) Mira
Date: 20th February 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 368
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source:Publisher via NetGalley
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Seventeen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier during the occupation of her native Holland. Heartbroken over the loss of the baby she was forced to give up for adoption, she lives above a small German rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep.

When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants, unknown children ripped from their parents and headed for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the baby that was taken from her. In a moment that will change the course of her life, she steals one of the babies and flees into the snowy night, where she is rescued by a German circus.

The circus owner offers to teach Noa the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their unlikely friendship is enough to save one another — or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

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The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff was a very moving read. Yes a little reminiscent of that powerful book The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, however very different in its own right.
The two women – Astrid a Jewish woman hiding and sheltered in a circus and Noa a younger woman who was cast out from her home in the Netherlands when she became pregnant. When Noa stumbles into the care of the circus the two women forge a special relationship. They were both very strong each in their own way and I really liked them both. While it took them some time to come to an understanding, once they did the bond, the loyalty and trust knew no bounds.
Life in the circus was fascinating. The courage of the circus to keep on going in such hard times, the hard work, the strong links to circus life that Astrid had and her love for and ability with the aerial work all drew me in. She lost her first husband and when she meets another in the circus, his choices certainly put them in danger.
The harsh life that these people lived in, never knowing when the Gestapo would haul them away, the shocking event of a boxcar full of children being transported by the Nazi is horrifying, and yet based on truth that needs to be shared and told.
The story opens with an old woman making her escape from a rest home in the USA and attending a celebration of the circus in Paris lays down the mystery. Who is she? Astrid or Noa? There are clues and false clues and one clue soon became apparent as to whom the person is. 
This was a book that once I started to read I couldn’t put down. Beautifully written, very emotional and well worth reading.
new to me authorheart breakingpage turnerthought provoking


The Book Thief. Markus Zusak

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The Book Thief
Mark Zusak
Published: Black Swan
Date: 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 553
Genre: Historical fiction.
Source: Own book
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1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel a nine year old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs began to fall.

It’s a small story, about:
a girl
an accordionist
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist fighter
 quite a lot of thievery. 
My thoughts banner
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – what can I say, it caught me up and made me carefully read every page. It was very strange in the beginning it was narrated by Death, I think now having read the whole book if I were to go back and read the beginning again, I would not find it so strange. Death is a voice of great compassion.

A story of the best of humanity and the worst. Set in Germany in WW11 it gives us a viewpoint from Himmel St, a poor street in a German town. It is to this street that Liesel is brought to be fostered by Hans Hubermann and his wife Rosa. They become her Papa and Mama. She has already seen and experienced more than anyone her age should, and as the war goes on, it only grows larger. What a Papa and Mama too. They were everything this young girl needed. They also showed her the largeness of their hearts and where they stood in this terrible time.

Liesel makes friends with a boy in the street – Rudy, and what a friendship. They have many adventures together, although remember it’s wartime, so not what you usually find in a friendship. They know hard times and their compassion and largeness of heart only grows. Rudy is all boy and he keeps asking Liesel for a kiss, but will she ever bestow it?

Max is another important character in this book and a strong bond grows between Liesel and himself. She brings him gifts when he is ill, he in turn goes to great lengths to create gifts for Liesel.

When Liesel arrives at the Hubermann’s house she cannot read or write, but she carries with her a book, the first book that she has taken. With Hans help, slowly and painstakingly she learns to read and write. In times of distress eventually her reading will bring others peace and help calm them. And she also becomes a book thief, aided and abetted by Rudy and another surprising woman.

Yes, I wept through the last sad pages, sad for the losses and admiring of the beauty in one young woman who both loved and hated words, recognising the power of the word.

I am pleased that finally I was able to take The Book Thief of my TBR shelf and read it where it took me to a place where I could recognise the beauty of humanity and along with it the evil power that could destroy so many lives.

5 stars
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