I didn't really like this book. I thought I would. It's about a woman reporter trying to make it in a male-dominated field--not only reporting but rep...moreI didn't really like this book. I thought I would. It's about a woman reporter trying to make it in a male-dominated field--not only reporting but reporting the war. It's nearing the end of WWII and she wants to go to the front, but frankly, the same thing I admire about her--her desire to prove women can perform just fine as reporters at the front line, also irritated me. She was too excited about seeing war. She went so far as to heartlessly say things like, "I hope it isn't over before I get there!" Not a direct quote, but you know what I mean.
Kinda reminded me of the beginning of the recent Iraq war. They showed all these fresh-out-of-highschool girls about to go to war, and they were gushing with excitement. Um, this is war. People are going to die. This is not a fun trip to Paris where you can paint your toenails.
I also didn't care for the fact half of it's from a male POV, her mob lover, Johnny, even though his stuff was actually more interesting. (Maggie seems to just complain and have sex.) I don't doubt for a minute the U.S. gov't recruited mob men at some point in the war and gave them special covert assignments. Anything is possible. He gets into some nitty, gritty war escapades too.
I appreciate one thing for sure: how it showed us the end of the war may not have been all we thought it was, that perhaps there was some loss of control on our side. It's sad, but it happens. It's something to think about.
But Maggie...she never grew on me, just annoyed the heck out of me. At one point she even opens a gate to a concentration camp, struts inside, and just randomly kisses a man? Huh? That was told from the dude's POV and I feel like I totally missed something. Who was she diddling this time?
You see, Maggie doesn't make it by her brains or wits alone. She has to sleep with men or give hand jobs under tables. I'm all for women's liberation and sexual freedom but to just screw a handsome reporter you met not two minutes before? Seriously? Glad it worked out for them, but it was at this point...at 62% ,with the war over, and Maggie just jumping into bed with another man, that I just decided I'd had it.
Lately, I've been picking up a lot of books featuring women pilots and have found myself disappointed at the lack of aviation/flying. Though SS is abo...moreLately, I've been picking up a lot of books featuring women pilots and have found myself disappointed at the lack of aviation/flying. Though SS is about a woman pilot, inspired by Lydia Litvyak, the aviation scenes are few, but the story is not lacking in any way. There's never a dull moment and there is so much going on...and I have set this book down more knowledgeable about Russian history, about Stalin, about the arctic prisons, than ever before. And while there is more of this other stuff than actual aviation, the aviation is well done and exciting and I have no complaints.
Basically, it just worked.
We have not one, but two incredible heroines--actually three. We have the modern-day Lily who is recovering from a tragic loss and has this thing for saving stray cats. But what is really remarkable about her is her compassion for others. Despite the grief afflicting her, she has room in her heart and enough love in her soul to help an old lady, a perfect stranger. The historical story is about Natalia, how she grows up in Stalin's Russia and becomes a fighter pilot during the Great Patriotic War. (We call it WWII). Through her eyes we see what everyday life was like during this time--the fear, the arrests, the paranoia, the backstabbing, the subway tunnels, the brainwashing, the scarcity of supplies. This was probably my favorite thing and I learned so much from this story.
There's a lot of political corruption, a lot of lies, and we get to visit those arctic prisons I mentioned above, something that I've only heard about vaguely yet now know so much more about.
The third remarkable woman is Sveltana, Natalia's aircraft mechanic. She's loyal and wishes to atone for a sin. She goes above and beyond...
There's also a romance, but while it's passionate and paced wonderfully--not too fast, not too slow--it does not overshadow the importance of the issues within the story. We don't have a heroine here whose sole goal in life is just to find a man and fall in love. There is SO MUCH MORE. I can't stress that enough. (I want to thank my blogging partner Shomeret for coming up with that line in italics. It's something she said to me this last week regarding a different book altogether and the line stuck in my head.)
Now, the writing itself...it flows seamlessly from past to present to past, from POV to POV without issues. I had no difficulty telling who was who or even what time period I was in. The writing itself also transported me to another time and place. I couldn't even sleep while reading this book. I'd turn off my kindle and say, "Okay. Bed time," and twenty minutes later, I'd say, "Screw it. I'm gonna read some more."
I really liked the historical story in this. The daughter of a prominent member of the Third Reich, an Austrian violinist—so good that the orchestra,...moreI really liked the historical story in this. The daughter of a prominent member of the Third Reich, an Austrian violinist—so good that the orchestra, which doesn’t allow females, invites her to play with them—is caught smuggling Jews out of the city and as a result is thrown into a camp: Auschwitz. In there, the key to her survival is to play music for the Nazis, at their functions, while they send people to the crematoriums, where and whenever they will it. Can’t play? You die. Get sick. You die.
She’s also been torn from her partner in “crime” and the man she loves. Is he dead? Is he in a camp?
And every day as she plays for the enemy, as others go to their deaths, as the atrocities against Jews around her worse or continue, Adele dies a little more inside.
In the present day, an art collector wants a painting of Adele. A rich man holds the key, but if they find the owner of the painting, he means to sue… There’s supposed to be a romance here, but I didn’t find it as passionate or interesting as the historical one. I didn’t care either way. This heroine didn’t hold much interest for me either. She disappointed me, didn’t even find the painting or seem to do much in that respect. The man did it all.
To be honest, while this was a decent read, I must confess I didn’t garner anything from it. I’ve read about all the atrocities and life in Auschwitz before. I also knew they had the prisoners play music. The only thing new to me was the revolt. I think what saved this book for me is Omara. She’s a strong character and shows great bravery. She somewhat steals the show. I kept reading for her and to find out what happened to Adele, while I began skimming the present-day story, which was too predictable and mundane for my tastes. For some reason I never became engrossed or invested in the present-day heroine.
A decent read. Sometimes I like a quickie, something I can read in an hour, a break from that longer book that is taking a week.
What I appreciate the...moreA decent read. Sometimes I like a quickie, something I can read in an hour, a break from that longer book that is taking a week.
What I appreciate the most about this story is the look at flight operations during WWII. I'm just assuming the author did her research--even though I've never heard of a yoke called a wheel. Regardless, it's kinda neat to see what all could go wrong in the days before computers. Trying to safely get planes in the air in a timely manner during a war is no easy task. I also liked that we have a female control tower operator. Like I said, NOT an easy job.
Also appreciated the moral: It's better to have some happy memories, to have loved and lost, than to have nothing at all.
I felt the romance was awful quick and it didn't wow me. I got that they knew each other from before but it's not like that went well. But I expected that with the word count being what it is and I didn't pick it up for romance/sex anyway, but the war-time story.
It's well-written and edited as well. I believe there were only two typos in the entire tale. I've grown weary of small-press books and normally expect a hot mess, but this did not have those issues.
This novel somewhat reminds me of those British television dramas I’m so fond of. Lots of drama. It’s a good story full of (mostly) good people, peopl...moreThis novel somewhat reminds me of those British television dramas I’m so fond of. Lots of drama. It’s a good story full of (mostly) good people, people you come to care about as the story continues. The problem for me is it’s awful long and it’s nothing but drama and everyday life. Every story should have some of that, but I like a little something more in my books. I like to walk away with a good laugh or some new bit of knowledge. Though the story takes place during the war and the heroine works in a factory, there’s not a whole lot of detail about that stuff. Next to none, to be honest. Oh, they sit in shelters and they have rationing coupons, but I’m especially disappointed in the lack of factory life as that bit is what drew me to this story to begin with.
This is part of a series, but except for some references to Rosie and her problems, I never felt I was lost.
It’s a tad predictable. That has to be the second biggest downside, but it’s enjoyable enough that that’s not overly bothersome.
I was very easily able to get “lost” in the tale for four days. The heroines are Ruby and Peggy. Ruby is young and at first, I thought, “Oh no…a woman who lets herself get smacked around..ugh.” But she finds her backbone and then some. I think my favorite scene is when she stands up to Doris, but I digress. I appreciate Ruby’s story—battered wife trying to make it on her own, growing braver with each day, taking risks by up and moving from all she’s known and finding a job and a new home and opening up to people. Peggy is a strong older lady whose husband is off to war and has her own battles as her health declines and her home is bombed…but nothing…and I mean nothing stops this incredible woman from opening her home and her heart to other people, especially young girls in trouble, like Ruby.
Peggy is a fabulous role model.
We get brief looks at the other girls, such as Rita, who rides a motorbike and works as a firegirl, but you have to read their books to get their stories. This just offers teasers of sorts.
“Courage doesn’t mean you stop being afraid. It means you continue to fight, even when you’re terrified.”
This is a story that reminds us not to take p...more“Courage doesn’t mean you stop being afraid. It means you continue to fight, even when you’re terrified.”
This is a story that reminds us not to take people at face value. What you see on the surface is not always the same as what’s going on beneath. I was reminded of this as I read both the contemporary and the historical story. Each story line transported me to another place or time or place and time. From modern-day Virginia to WWII France…
I love the historical heroine in this. She’s so very brave and compassionate and her story made me ask myself, “What would I do?” There are so many instances in which she can’t win, really. And she’s faced with so many choices and each time, she makes a choice to benefit not herself, but those she cares for or wishes to help, such as children.
Every day they had to make choices. In order to survive, she and Josef and other like them had to choose the least of the evils to do the most good.
From the Jew in the German Army to the French translator in bed with German officers to a journalist who once loved to party to a lying politician wannabe, we are reminded about not being quick to judge. We not only don’t know the full story, but we often make the wrong assumptions.
While I preferred the historical story—a young woman in France hiding Resistance members and children right under her chateau while serving the Germans dinner in her dining room—I also like the modern story, though I didn’t care for the heroine quite as much. My only quibble, matter of fact, is the modern heroine’s story and issues were far too predictable. I saw it all coming from very early in the book. I'd also have liked Lisette's actions explained a bit better. I seriously doubted she did what she did just to get mascara...
I also learned some new things about how the French citizens behaved during their occupation and about the gendarmes.
Once upon a time there was a girl who loved to read. She grew up to become a book reviewer in her spare time. One very sad month in her life, every si...moreOnce upon a time there was a girl who loved to read. She grew up to become a book reviewer in her spare time. One very sad month in her life, every single book she picked up sucked. The woman seriously contemplated giving up reading forever and ever.
And then she picked up The Secret of Raven Point and she was riveted, and she learned things, and she laughed and cried.
Her faith in literature was restored.
That's my story and it's true.
I loved this book. It has so many incredible things going on: a girl growing up and growing comfortable with herself, developing confidence; a woman helping others at a great loss to herself (nobody is coming out of this war unscathed); a doctor trying desperately to help people understand battle fatigue; and most of all, it was about how war changes people, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
I felt as though I were there. I chuckled a few times in the first half of the tale. The heroine meets some awesome people who in a time of bleakness still manage to have a sense of humor (Glenda). I grew with Juliet and felt as though I was with her as she tended all this patients and shared these heart-wrenching stories with us. I sympathized with her as she grew a numb detachment.
There's a soldier facing court-marital for attempted suicide. That's considered desertion. But the story behind the WHY is shocking and sad. So much bad behavior on all sides in a war. There's a romance, or two, sorta, as much as one can have during a turbulent era such as this, when people are desperate for love, affection, a sign that humanity still exists. Does anything come of it? I won't say, but I will say this book doesn't have that cheesy HEA. It's not a romance. It's a story of life, of life during the second world war in Italy, of a nurse, a doctor, of soldiers.
All this time, through all these wartime struggles and losses, Juliet grows from a girl to a woman. Her priorities change. Her shallowness disappears. She matures and the book does this so subtlety you don't notice it at first. The author did a superb job with characterizations. The descriptions were excellent--not too much, not too little. The suspense def kept me on the edge of my seat. What happened to her brother? Is he dead? Is the patient going to die? Wake up? Escape? Is the doctor going to do something?
As I read, I picked up more little facts about WWII I didn't know before, such as how the gov't apparently wanted to sacrifice men instead of tanks due to the cost of the tanks. Lives were cheaper. Shocking little things kept popping up.
The story also gave me a deep moment of reflection or two, points to ponder...
Was there an obligation that came with living? With each adversity you suffered, with each disappointment, did you have to recognize that someone else hadn't even had the chance?
You look at this cover and you think it's about a woman flying and thus will have lots of flying scenes and such... In that aspect, this is a very dis...moreYou look at this cover and you think it's about a woman flying and thus will have lots of flying scenes and such... In that aspect, this is a very disappointing read. The heroine of the story only flies four times and each time it warrants a mere paragraph or two (except the last one). She doesn't join the ATA until the last 50 pages.
I thought perhaps her being a mechanic in WAAF would offer some interesting aviation stuff. No, it doesn't. There are no details about her training, testing, the planes, nothing mechanical whatsoever. What could have been incredibly interesting and insightful was just hardly mentioned. We know she's in training and did bad or good on some test or another...and that's it.
It's mostly just a girl coming of age during WWII in a small town, and then on the bases, meeting people, dealing with grief and friends dying, worrying about her brothers fighting overseas, falling in love--though you couldn't really tell--and just managing to free herself from a very clingy mother
It's about a town in England and how they get bombed constantly by the Germans on their way to London. Blackouts, fires, death. Rationing.
To be frank, there's nothing to distinguish this novel from any other WWII story out there, and I've read way more detailed novels about the ATA.
It's entertaining though and the heroine is likable, but the writing falls a tad flat. It's missing emotion. It's not a narrative that made me feel one with the characters--like I'm in their heads. I could get into the story and curious about what happened next, but I didn't think about the story or people in it when I set the book down. It doesn't stay with me.
There was also lots of odd parts where I think I was supposed to laugh, but I honestly didn't get the joke. Charlie and his daughter Charlie...Charlie says if he shouts, he won't know who's going to answer him??? HUH? If he and his daughter are both named Charlie and he shouts "Charlie", then she'd answer. Why would he answer himself? I'm sorry, but this went way over my head.
So... I think this is a good novel for anyone who wants to read about England during WWII and doesn't want to get bogged down in historical details. But it's more life on the homefront than what the ATA was like.
Funny moment I did understand and laugh at:
Heroine: "I can drive, and strip an engine and I've worked on an aeroplane." WAAF recruiter: "'An me and Princess Elizabeth went riding our 'orses at the weekend. Frightfully lovely it was, an' all."(less)
I have so many good things to say about this...I'm just going to skim over the plotline real quick...
Sookie is almost 60 years old, with the mother fr...moreI have so many good things to say about this...I'm just going to skim over the plotline real quick...
Sookie is almost 60 years old, with the mother from hell. While she wasn't physically abused, she was emotionally and mentally put down all her life. She's always been pressured into being the perfect Simmons, into going to this school, doing this or that, and now her life revolves around taking care of the old ungrateful hag.
And one day she finds out she was never a Simmons at all, so what was all that crap?
She goes on a quest to find the truth and in the process, find herself. Who is she really? And hey, it's never too late to find yourself, to throw off family and society shackles and be YOU.
The store goes back and forth between present-day Sookie and a World War II story surrounding Fransi, a Polish girl who not only runs an all-girls filling station for a while, but becomes a WASP, Women's Air Service Pilots. And I love my women in aviation in books!!! There's just enough about the WASP to educate anyone not familiar with them.
This book didn't disappoint. I laughed uproariously many times, shook my head at others, and even found myself dabbing my eyes at one point.
I think it's important for a book to either 1. Make me laugh. 2. Make me think hard about something or have a moral. or 3. Teach me something. Otherwise, why read it? You can have your fluff. I'll take something with a bit more substance, thank you.
LOL moment (one of many): The flight instructor who for reasons I won't reveal had to stay seated in the plane after landing until he was privately ensconced, place and all, in a hangar. OMG!!! Too funny!
Theme that spoke to me a deeper level: I'm just going to borrow a quote from the story 'cause it says it so much better than I can. "Being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have achieved, but by what you have overcome."
Something I learned: In the forties, Texaco had a White Patrol, a group of nurses who drove around in a white Chevrolet and inspected all the gas stations' bathrooms. A White Cross of Cleanliness was awarded to those worthy and clean enough. Phillip's followed with Highway Hostesses, the same thing, but in cream-colored vehicles with green fenders and 66 on the doors. I found these old tidbits fascinating.
Conclusion: A book well-worth your time. Loved every bit of it. (less)
First of all, I haven't read the first two books in this series. However, it wasn't hard to get up to date. I didn't feel lost as I read this. Granted...moreFirst of all, I haven't read the first two books in this series. However, it wasn't hard to get up to date. I didn't feel lost as I read this. Granted, I don't know all the back-story, but it's told in such a manner, you don't NEED to know every single person's history.
If you're wanting a romance, this isn't for you, but I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS STORY AND HEROINE.
The heroine is a widow now working in the OSS office, kinda like the CIA during WWII. She's an index card person who spends most of her time poring over suspicious material, such as the postcard in this book, but because she has special training, she gets to work with an FBI agent as they try to determine what the strange message on this card means.
The FBI agent is a jerk who introduces her as his assistant, treats her likes she's stupid, and oh, does this gal put him in his place! Probably my favorite part of the book, save for the ending, which just had me in utter heart-stopping suspense.
"You seem to have forgotten. I am not your assistant. I'm your colleague, your liaison with the Office of Strategic Services. It was our initial inquiry about a postcard from France mailed to Leroy Martin that brought us here. I am going with you to talk to the constable and everywhere else you intend to pursue this investigation. And if I feel it's necessary I'll ask my own questions."
The history in this is superb. The author has obviously done her homework. I really felt as though I were on the icy, crowded streets of an over-packed Washington, exhausted from the mandatory 48-hour work week, and dreading the bologna casserole rationing was going to force me to eat.
I also appreciated how the story took us to a more rural area where the citizens were angry about price control and tires and stuff. That's not something you read about often in WWII stories...and oh, the man and his dog. I did not know that dogs were drafted during the war, and I've read my share of stories of this time period. I love how these random facts were instilled into the story.
In a nutshell though: a postcard from France leads Louise to a small, hostile town where there's mysterious nighttime activity, murder, and a major breach of security. Louise's dilemmas throughout the story are 1. She's on the verge of a passionate affair with a foreign man, but if she follows her heart, she could lose her job. 2. She makes a mistake. Does she want to bring attention to it? Can she fix it in time?