Julien Losier is a typical fifteen year old boy. He just wants to fit in. When Hitler invades Poland during World War II, his family moves from Paris...moreJulien Losier is a typical fifteen year old boy. He just wants to fit in. When Hitler invades Poland during World War II, his family moves from Paris to his father’s childhood home in Tanieux, in southern France, where they will be safer. The village boys call him names and won’t give him the time of day. Things get worse when Julien’s family takes in a German Jewish boy named Benjamin, who is Julien’s age. Any thoughts of Julien fitting in now are rapidly diminishing.
Concurrently, in Austria, Nina and Gustav are tending to their father on his death bed. In his final instructions, he tells them to burn their papers and leave Austria. If at all possible they should try to get to France. Their story is one of heartache and perseverance. The daily struggle just to survive is enormous. They face a battle at every turn, not knowing who can be trusted and uncertain of what their future will hold.
It’s no secret that I love historical fiction centered around World War II. This is the first novel that I’ve read that takes place in France during that time period. This is also only the second book I’ve read from the viewpoint of a teenager during this war. The other one being The Book Thief, a classic and in a category all its own.
This book was a bit slow to start for me. It wasn’t until 100 pages in that I really started getting into the story and once I hit page 130, I couldn’t put the book down. I think the back cover blurb/Amazon synopsis is a bit misleading. I kept waiting for Julien and Nina to meet. And it takes almost the entire book for this encounter to happen. I found Julien’s relationship with Benjamin to be more of a driving force in the story rather than the Julien/Nina storyline.
Don’t get me wrong. Both Julien’s and Nina’s stories are powerful and will give you a lot to think about. I was just expecting the two of them to meet much sooner than they did and for that relationship to be the driving force for the entire story. And that wasn’t how the story played out. So I was left feeling a little short-changed based on my assumption from the back cover of the book.
With that said, this book is well-written and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters are wonderfully drawn and you’ll find yourself really feeling for them as they struggle through this impossibly difficult time in their young lives. I especially loved Julien’s progression throughout the story, from a young boy who is mad at his parents for having to move at the beginning of the book, to a young man fighting for what he believes in by the end. Nina’s character arc is especially saddening, yet hopeful. A young girl, forced to leave her home, traveling on foot in unknown countries. It’s not something I can even imagine. I could feel her desperation, her helplessness, her hopelessness at times. She is a courageous, brave girl.
A strong component of this novel is each character’s faith journey, which I was not expecting, but added such depth to the story. The characters are searching, wondering if there really is a God amidst this horrific war. The faith components fit naturally within the context of the story and did not seem out of place to me. They added so much more to each character.
This is a fabulous novel that I recommend for people of all ages. There is something to be learned for everyone here. The most amazing thing about this book is that it is based on actual events. Tanieux is a fictional town, but it is based on the real village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. During the war, this small village of 3,000 people in central France saved the lives of more than 3,000 Jewish people. Amazing.(less)
This book is not your typical Patterson novel. If you look at my book information above, I actually partially noted this book as Historical Fiction. I...moreThis book is not your typical Patterson novel. If you look at my book information above, I actually partially noted this book as Historical Fiction. It takes place in the early 1900s in Mississippi during the time of heightened racial tensions. A note to Alex Cross fans - this is not an Alex Cross novel! He is mentioned in the first two pages of the book and never again! The book is told in his "voice", but he is not a character in the story. Even though Alex's presence is lacking in the story, I still really enjoyed this book, despite the serious nature of the subject matter.
Theodore Roosevelt, President of the U.S. in 1906, summons young attorney, Ben Corbett to the White House. "Teddy" instructs Ben to take a trip back to his hometown in Eudora, Mississippi, and investigate rumors that the Ku Klux Klan has resurfaced. Ben connects with Abraham Cross and his granddaughter, Moody, and they are taken on an intense and deadly journey through southern race relations.
This is a very difficult book to read. It is not the typical Patterson book that I can sit and read in one day. I needed more time with this one; to sit and absorb every word; to try and grasp all the events that were happening. The subject matter is tough; the lynching scenes are gruesome and stomach-turning; the treatment of members of the black community in Eudora is downright appalling. Even those characters, like Ben, who advocate for equal rights and treatment, are treated inhumanely. It's a harsh look at history and it's a book I won't soon forget.
Glorious is a captivating book that drew me in immediately. Right from the beginning, you are hit with a rape, a lynching, and an abortion. These scen...moreGlorious is a captivating book that drew me in immediately. Right from the beginning, you are hit with a rape, a lynching, and an abortion. These scenes were utterly appalling and left me in a state of disgust and pure sadness. I just wanted to DO something to help these characters; to somehow change their destinies. This book just took hold of me and didn't let ago until the final word was read.
The story is centered around the life of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a strong young woman who has suffered the loss of her mother and is trying to find out who she is and where she belongs. She ends up in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance where her writing ability is discovered. The reader is taken on a journey of Easter's life, from these early days in Harlem filled with happiness and ending in betrayal, through to her returning to her hometown and finding her redemption in the 1960s. This book is sad and will make you angry and appalled and disgusted. It will make you think and that's what I loved about it.
This book moves very quickly and it would be easy to finish in a day or less. I loved the character of Easter Bartlett and I found myself wanting more of her story. The book covers a very large timeframe in 235 pages (early 1900s through the 1960s) and I was left feeling that the book was just not long enough and that parts of it could have been fleshed out a bit more. I wanted to learn more about Easter's relationships with the various characters she comes into contact with. There were certain situations and events that were introduced, but were not expanded upon and I was BEGGING to know more. I really wanted to dig into the story even further than what was presented.
Overall, this a wonderful book that will take you on an emotional journey. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from this author.(less)
**spoiler alert** When I turned the last page of Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James, I was a bit sad. I really enjoyed the characters in this novel and...more**spoiler alert** When I turned the last page of Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James, I was a bit sad. I really enjoyed the characters in this novel and I wanted their stories to continue! Lilly Westbrook is a girl after my own heart. God has called her to be a writer. She has penned many dime novels under the pseudonym Fannie Cole as to not draw attention to herself. See, these novels are considered scandalous (even though the people who are claiming they are trashy have not read them – times have not changed much, have they?!). But, anyway… In order to protect her identity and her family’s good name, Lilly hides her writing from everyone close to her.
First and foremost, this is a sweet romance. So, of course, the relationship between Lilly and her beau, Jackson Grail, is what drives the story. The novel opens years in the past with Jackson and Lilly excited to announce their engagement to Lilly’s parents. Jackson, being the insecure boy that he is, overhears a conversation between Lilly’s parents as he is about to walk into the room to ask for their permission to marry their daughter. Of course, this completely changes his mind about the whole thing. So, does he confront them? Well, there wouldn’t really be a story if he did that! Nope, he cuts and runs. Jerk. Maybe I’m too hard on Jackson. He comes from meager stock and feels that he could never provide Lilly with what she deserves. I get it. But, come on! Man up! Lilly is, of course, crushed. But, she picks up and pieces and moves on.
The story picks up years later and we learn that a man of her same social stature, Harlan Santerre, has begun to court her and there is talk of an imminent marriage proposal. It becomes very obvious, very quickly, that these two aren’t a good match. Of course, things get a bit complicated when Jackson returns to the picture, having made his fortune. Things also get a bit hairy when he decides to purchase a publishing company called Jones & Jarman. Do you see where this is going? If you haven’t guessed already, this is Fannie Cole’s publishing company! How will Lilly be able to keep her secret writing life when Jackson is her new boss?
Overall, I enjoyed the story. I did have a couple of small quibbles with it. One is Jackson’s character. I wish he could not have made his fortune and then come back for Lilly. It really made it seem like money was driving his love for Lilly instead of his heart. I was hoping he would have failed and then come crawling back to her, begging for her forgiveness. His character did grow throughout the story and I did end up understanding him in the end, but the whole money thing just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe that is just how things were back in the late 1800s, but why couldn’t he have trusted in Lilly’s love? Why did he have to run away? It just really frustrated me!
Another small issue I had is that the story was wrapped up very oddly, in my opinion. It just didn’t quite connect with how the rest of the story was laid out. Lilly was consumed throughout the entire novel with revealing herself as Fannie Cole. Then, suddenly, her brother makes a stand in his life and she makes a seemingly quick decision that she is okay with outing herself as the infamous authoress? Sorry, that doesn’t jibe with me. There seemed to be no thought that went into the decision other than, “My brother made this huge decision, so I can, too!” Lilly presented herself as this strong, independent woman throughout the entire novel, so this snap decision just didn’t connect with me.
This is a very nice, sweet Christian historical romance that I really enjoyed overall. Other than a few minor annoyances, I would recommend this novel.(less)
Love on Assignment tells us the early 1900s love story between Charlotte Hale, a woman with a dream of becoming a journalist in a man's world, and Dan...moreLove on Assignment tells us the early 1900s love story between Charlotte Hale, a woman with a dream of becoming a journalist in a man's world, and Daniel Wilmont, a Bible professor and religious columnist for the Newport Gazette. Daniel's social reform columns have invoked fury among industrialists.
Charlotte is employed by the Rhode Island Reporter (the direct competitor to the Newport Gazette) as a secretary with dreams of becoming a reporter. When her boss comes to her with a choice assignment - to investigate Professor Wilmont - Charlotte feels that this is her big break. With mounting bills to pay due to her being the prime caretaker of her aging aunt and wheelchair-bound sister, she agrees to the clandestine mission, although niggling doubts creep into the edges of her mind. She goes undercover as the governess for Daniel's two children, Tim and Ruthie.
Daniel is immediately taken by his new governess. With his own secrets, years in the past, but not forgotten, Daniel is finally trying to put the past behind him and move forward with his life.
Charlotte secretly investigates Daniel and uncovers some information about him that makes her rethink everything. In the process she comes to understand the role that God plays in her life.
As these two unlikely characters forge a fragile relationship, built on lies, what will happen when everything comes crashing down around them?
This is a very nice, sweet story. I enjoyed the characters and the tension surrounding the plot kept me turning the pages, anxious to see what would happen next. However, the middle of the book just dragged on and on. Truly, at least 50 pages of it could have been cut out. There was scene after scene of Charlotte saying "I must tell you what I've been hiding!" and Daniel saying "Eh, don't worry about it. It's all good." Okay, so I used my own language there, but you get my drift. It drove me nuts after a while. I just wanted them to get it over with already! Then, the ending wrapped up way too quickly! I wished it was drawn out a bit more. I don't read a lot of romance, but when I do the money scenes are when the hero and heroine finally figure it all out and come together in the end. I just felt like all of the preceeding 300+ page build-up was a bit of a let-down.
What I loved about this book is Charlotte discovering her faith in God. I thought some of the scenes where she was reading the Bible and praying were very sweet. She seemed a bit hesitant, not sure what she should be doing, but hoping it would all work out. Isn't that how we all kind of feel at first? It was inspiring and these scenes were some of my favorites in the novel.
To sum up, this is a nice, tender Christian historical romance that I had a few issues with, but would recommend.
How do I, as a book blogger, review a book that is wrought with so much emotion and so much angst and turmoil that I w...moreMy Rating: 5 stars isn't enough!
How do I, as a book blogger, review a book that is wrought with so much emotion and so much angst and turmoil that I was sobbing by the end of the book? How can I adequately put into words how much of an impact this book had on me as a human being? I honestly don't know if it is possible to review this book effectively, but I'll give it my best shot!
I am a huge fan of historical fiction, especially of events in and around World War II. The Holocaust was an absolutely horrifying event in our world's history (and horrifying is putting it mildly), but I am, for whatever reason, drawn towards these types of fictional and non-fictional accounts of WWII. I don't know why. I break down crying every time I read a book about this time period, but I continue to seek out more of it. I wish I could explain it.
The Book Thief is a unique story in that it is narrated by Death. I was a bit leery at first because I wasn't sure how this type of narration would play out through the entire novel. I have to say that it worked wonderfully and I can't imagine the book told in any other way, without losing the power and overall feeling of the story. From the very first page, Death hooks the reader with His (Her?) account of his many visits to Germany during WWII. But, this story isn't just about Death, even though he was around quite a bit during that time. It is a story about a young German girl named Liesel Meminger, otherwise known as The Book Thief. It is a story about how books can help a person survive in a period of utter despair. It is a story of relationships; of love; of friendship; and of the power of the written word.
I've written and re-written this review many times. I've decided not to go into any details because I don't want to give away the magic of the novel. It is spellbinding, but heart-wrenching. It is a book that must be experienced first-hand. No review could possibly do it justice.
Maddie Kern is a budding violinist with dreams of attending Julliard. Her brother, TJ, has his own dreams of playing baseball. At the ope...moreFrom my blog.
Maddie Kern is a budding violinist with dreams of attending Julliard. Her brother, TJ, has his own dreams of playing baseball. At the opening of the novel, they are both still reeling from the loss of their mother in a car accident and the subsequent catatonic state of their father. TJ is very angry at his father as he feels he is to blame for the accident; however, Maddie continues to visit her dad in the nursing home, playing the violin for him with little to no reaction.
When she secretly marries her brother's best friend, Lane, the son of Japanese immigrants, life is changed forever. The morning after their wedding ceremony, Maddie and Lane wake to the news that Pearl Harbor has been bombed - and everyone of Japanese descent, including Lane and his family are now suspect. Forced to move into an internment camp, Lane, his mother, and his sister leave the American life they have grown accustomed to and begin a new life full of suspicion, fear, anger, and hate directed at them.
Maddie chooses to follow her husband, joining him and his family inside the camp. Maddie struggles to connect with her mother-in-law as Lane tries to cope with being ostracized from the country he was born into. He ends up joining the Army on the American side, willing to do anything to prove his allegiance to his country. TJ also steps up and joins the military, willing to risk his own life to serve and protect his country.
No words I can write could do adequate justice to the work of literary gold within the pages of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. This book captivated me from page one and did not let go until the final word, some 400 pages later. McMorris exquisitely captures the raw emotions - the angst, the pain, and the love - of each character in such a way that truly mesmerized me. The story is told from multiple viewpoints (Maddie, TJ, Lane), but the story never gets confusing or jumbled. The reader can feel each of the emotions that the characters are feeling, the sorrow and the joy, during their journeys. I was transported into another time and place and became so immersed with these characters that I did not want to leave them! I recommend this book without any reservation. McMorris is phenomenal - don't miss her first book, Letters from Home!(less)
I have mixed feelings about this book. It has languished on my TBR shelf for nearly 3 years. My mother and sister-...moreReview originally posted on my blog.
I have mixed feelings about this book. It has languished on my TBR shelf for nearly 3 years. My mother and sister-in-law read it before I did and raved about it. Many others in the blogging world have given this book high praise. So, when I started it, I expected to be blown away.
But I wasn’t.
I wish the book was told entirely from young Sarah’s perspective. To be honest, I didn’t care at all about Julia and her story. There was so much drama with her husband that it really took away from the full impact that this story could have had for me. The Vel’ d’Hiv story is tragic. Tragic is even a light word for it. It’s horrifying. Thousands of Jewish families rounded up by the French police and shipped off to the Auschwitz gas chambers . . . it makes me sick to my stomach.
We meet young Sarah as her family is being rounded up by those French policeman in the middle of the night. In order to save her brother, she locks him in their secret hiding place, a cupboard in their bedroom. She thinks she will be right back to let him out; however, things do not go the way Sarah thinks they will.
Julia Jarmond is a journalist who is covering the 60 year anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup. What she uncovers during her research will change her life forever. Her personal struggles with her husband are ever present throughout the novel and really detract from the powerful story that is Vel’ d’Hiv.
Told in alternating viewpoints, Sarah and Julia’s stories eventually merge into an unexpected conclusion.
This is a good story and tells of a time that is not well known in World War II history, so for that purpose, I would recommend it.(less)
I truly enjoyed this book. The author created this amazing character with a in-depth and detailed back story and she is only briefly ment...moreFrom my blog.
I truly enjoyed this book. The author created this amazing character with a in-depth and detailed back story and she is only briefly mentioned in the Bible! I have a few little quibbles about some things, which I’ll talk about in a minute, but overall this is a richly drawn story and one I would definitely recommended to anyone who enjoys historical/biblical fiction.
In the beginning we meet Kiya, a young girl whose village is overrun by rebels and her parents are killed. When she and her fellow villagers are later freed by Egyptian soldiers and taken to the city of Heliopolis to live, Kiya cannot believe her luck. She continues to miss her village, but over time she comes to accept where she is and actually likes it.
Soon, Kiya is adopted as a priestess-in-training and given the name Lady Asenath. She has many encounters with Joseph throughout her young life and is immediately drawn to his strength and to his God. I found these parts of the novel very sweet. To think that they were smitten with each other years before they actually got married and were star-crossed lovers, so to speak, was an interesting way to approach the character of Asenath.
I think the author took a bit of liberty with the story of Joseph and Potiphar. The Bible tells us that Potiphar “burned with anger” (Genesis 39:19, NIV) after hearing about Joseph supposedly taking advantage of his wife (even though she advanced on him and he ran from her), so he threw him in prison. In the fictional account of Asenath, Potiphar has a soft heart for Joseph and does what he can to help Asenath see Joseph in prison and to help Joseph however he can. I do not see his fondness for Joseph backed up by scripture, so I had a hard time believing it. Now, I do understand that this is fiction, but I think the main themes of the Bible should remain intact. If Potiphar “burned with anger”, I cannot see him softening toward Joseph and helping him while he was in prison. On the other hand, since we know literally nothing about Asenath, I had no problem with the back story that the author created. The Joseph/Potiphar relationship was my only quibble with the book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It is easy to read and I found myself anxious to get back into the story each night. It is a rather quick read, too, at less than 200 pages. I would definitely recommend it.(less)