In Another Time Review & Giveaway


In Another Time: A Novel (Paperback)


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I am someone who has the hardest time suspending disbelief, especially when reading or watching something contemporary. Then I got my hands on 11/22/63 by Stephen King and sped through all 849 pages at a pace I couldn’t believe. Last year I read The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain and thought it was her best book to date.

Cantor, like King, manages to create not only a love story involving time travel, but kept historically accurate by writing about real events, just using fictional characters. Readers, suspend your disbelief, because this is a book you too will end up loving.

Yes, it’s a love story between Max and Hanna. But it’s also a love story between Hanna and her violin. I can’t say classical music generally gets me giddy and excited but I felt the love for this instrument. It brought the characters peace and in one case, was the difference between life and death.

When I first read Margot by Cantor, I knew I’d be a huge fan of hers moving forward. She is able to be inventive while holding true to history, all of which can be said with her newest story.

If you like historical fiction, characters that come alive off the page, and books where the pages keep turning, you’ll want to make this your next read.

My thanks to Get Red PR for the review copy.

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The Beantown Girls Review


The Beantown Girls (Paperback)


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Usually with historical fiction, you have your story set in another place and time, and follow the events that happened. The story can be outstanding, as you are transported.

Jane Healey truly blew me away with this novel. Not only was it a new story attached to World War II, which is so hard to do these days, but it was filled with romance, adventure, laughter, and most importantly, a story of friendship.

She tells the history of the Clubmobile Girls, women who joined the Red Cross towards the end of the war, who showed up making doughnuts and coffee and provided a morale boost to those fighting on the front lines. Sometimes they were there to dance with them, and other times they brought them mail.

I’m not sure how close these girls got to the front lines necessarily, but in this fictionalized version, they sure did. I loved the connection between Fiona, Dottie, and Viv. I wanted to join their trio because they seemed like such a fun bunch. Fiona, the leader and level-headed one, whose intention to travel to Europe during the war really served a different purpose. Dottie, whose shyness worked well as a schoolteacher back home, but needs to find out how to fit in now. And Viv, ready to offer a dance or a smile to anyone who might need it. This courageous group’s strength and stamina were tested during the war.

You’d be surprised, but I often found myself smiling through this book. At times it was a difficult subject matter but Healey managed to make it a heartwarming read and teach me about these girls, a part of history I knew nothing about. I cannot wait to pick up her debut now.

My thanks to Get Red PR for the review copy.

The Lost Family Review

The Lost Family: A Novel (Hardcover)


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What a treasure this was.

Peter Rashkin survived Auschwitz but lost his wife and twin daughters.  Now he runs a successful restaurant dedicated to his wife’s memory.  When he meets the young and glamorous June, he quickly realizes she may be the woman he wants to start his life anew with.

I have a special place in my heart for a family saga, and this story definitely fit the bill.  I love how each section was told from a different character’s point of view.  But being told chronologically, the switch still propelled the story forward and gave us insight to each member of the Rashkin family.  They all struggled, yet for different reasons, and you’ll quickly learn not one was a good communicator.

I thought Blum did a tremendous job of writing these characters as three-dimensional.  The descriptions of people and places were top notch that is was so easy to picture them.  When this translates to film, the casting and costume department will have no trouble setting it up because of how well they were written.

‘This book is a page turner in the sense you want to see how everything plays out and what happens in the Rashkins’ lives, but it was so beautifully written that you want to savor every sentence.

I truly enjoyed The Stormchasers by this author and now need to go back and read Those Who Save Us since so many people said that was her best read.

My thanks to Wunderkind PR for the review copy.

About the author: JENNA BLUM is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels THOSE WHO SAVE US and THE STORMCHASERS and the novella “The Lucky One” in the postwar collection GRAND CENTRAL. Jenna is also one of Oprah’s Top 30 Women Writers.

Jenna’s debut novel THOSE WHO SAVE US was a New York Times bestseller; a Boston Globe bestseller; the winner of the 2005 Ribalow Prize, adjudged by Elie Wiesel; a BORDERS book club pick, a perennial book club favorite, and the # 1 bestselling novel in Holland. Jenna’s second novel, THE STORMCHASERS, is a Boston Globe bestseller, a Target Emerging Authors pick, and a bestseller in Holland and France. Jenna’s newest work, her novella “The Lucky One,” was published in anthology GRAND CENTRAL, published by Penguin in July 2014.

Jenna has been writing since she was 4 and professionally since she was 16, when she won Seventeen Magazine’s National Fiction Contest with her short story “The Legacy of Frank Finklestein.” Jenna is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A., English) and Boston University (M.A., Creative Writing); she taught creative writing and journalism for Boston University for five years, was editor of AGNI literary magazine, and has taught fiction for 20 years for Boston’s Grub Street Writers, where she currently teaches master novel workshops. Dividing her time between Boston and the Midwest, Jenna has written the screenplay for THOSE WHO SAVE US and is writing her fourth novel. Jenna loves to visit book clubs in person, by phone, and via Skype. Please contact her on Facebook (Jenna Blum), on Twitter (@jenna_blum) and on her website, www.jennablum.com.

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers Review & Giveaway

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers (Paperback)


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Not since Moloka’i have I been transported to Hawaii through a book.  The setting and descriptions were vivid and breathtaking.  Never having been there myself, I imagined I was on the beach as I was reading.  I loved the authentic language and settings and was definitely surprised by the amount of rain!

Sara Ackerman’s debut has something in it for everyone: a mystery, WWII history, romance, and unforgettable characters.  Violet is a schoolteacher who is reeling at the disappearance of her husband, the school principal.  Her daughter, Ella, hasn’t been the same since he’s been gone.  When Violet’s roommate, Jean, finds out her brother Zach is training for a secret mission along with other Marines, the women learn that friendship will get them through this trying time together.

Even though this tale takes place during the 1940s, many of its themes still ring true today.  Given the current events we’ve been faced with, I still need to hear “love is love,” and I was thrilled to come across it in the book.  Bits of this story, especially Violet’s infatuation, reminded me of Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris.  If you want an endearing story with a sprinkle of sugar, be sure to pick this book up.

I have to say one of my favorite characters was Roscoe.  I’d really love to learn the true story behind his appearance that the author mentions in her note at the end.  I promise you he is one surprise you’ve never come across before in fiction.

My thanks to the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Born and raised in Hawaii, Sara studied journalism and earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine. When she’s not writing or practicing acupuncture, you’ll find her in the mountains or in the ocean.

 

Thanks to the author, I have one SIGNED copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Trick Review & Giveaway

The Trick: A Novel (Hardcover)


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For those of you who enjoy circus stories, there is a large element of that in Bergmann’s debut.  Combine that with magic, WWII, and a present day story of a family in crisis, and you have The Trick.

The Great Zabbatini was best known for his illusions and spells.  He will be the first to tell you he wasn’t a magician, but rather a mentalist.  And that’s just the kind of magic Max Cohn needed to put his family back together.  When he sets out to find the man, they are both in for a rude awakening in trying to mesh their personalities.  If you remember what a curmudgeon Ove was in Fredrik Backman’s story, A Man Called Ove, you get the idea.

I loved reading the history of Zabbatini’s character, even though it was fictional.  It had the feeling of listening to the life story told by a relative.  So I can imagine this book would sound great on audio.  For Max’s modern day story, I felt the dialogue was a little basic and amateur.  I’m not sure if he did that because of the age of the character, but I didn’t think it was necessary.  That’s why I loved jumping back into the history.  And I always enjoy getting a new perspective on WWII, one I haven’t read before.

Surprisingly, a nice little twist wrapped this book up nicely.  If you’re looking for historical fiction with a light touch, try this one out.  No heavy duty angst and agony here.

Thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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The Boat Runner Review & Giveaway

The Boat Runner: A Novel (Paperback)


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Full disclosure: Devin is a friend of mine.  When I found out he was going to have his debut published, I was beyond excited for him.  He promised me an early copy, and I was thrilled to receive it.  I even got choked up reading the acknowledgements because most were such close friends.  But then I had a thought: What if I hated it?  How would I tell him?  So I left it to sit on my nightstand, where day in and day out I looked at it, afraid to pick it up.

But then my mom asked if she could read it.  And my husband.  So of course I had to read it before they did, so I finally started, and boy, am I glad I did.

I guarantee this is a WWII story you haven’t read before.  It introduces Jacob Koopman, a teenager living in a small Dutch town with his older brother, Edwin, and his parents.  His father owns a lightbulb factory and in an attempt to secure more business, he decides (without his wife’s permission) to send the boys to a German youth camp just as Hitler and the Nazis are coming into power.  Jacob’s story is followed through the war as he grapples with which side is doing the right thing and how far he will go to protect his loved ones.

It is obvious to see the amount of research that went into this book.  I quickly formed an emotional connection with Jacob and could sympathize with his plight.  It’s hard enough to be a teenager.  But just try to deal with that as war is breaking out.  I believe he tried to see the good in everyone, even those who we would now call “enemies” in our history books.

If you enjoy books like All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, Once We Were Brothers, and City of Thieves, be sure to give this one a read.

If you ever get the chance to meet Devin, at an event or book signing, please go.  Aside from the fact that he’s the nicest person ever, you’ll be fascinated by his family history and his past that all shaped this story.

Thanks to Devin, I have 2 signed copies to give away to lucky readers.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Dress in the Window

The Dress in the Window: A Novel (Paperback)


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From the Back Cover:
World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful colors—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing.

Jeanne Brink and her sister, Peggy, both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer: Jeanne without the fiancé she’d counted on, Peggy now a widowed mother, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town. But despite their gray pasts the sisters strive for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients, with the help of Peggy’s brilliant sketches.

Together they are able to create amazing fashions and a more prosperous life than they’d ever dreamed of before the war. But sisterly love can sometimes turn into sibling jealousy. Always playing second fiddle to her sister, Peggy yearns to make her own mark. But as Peggy and Jeanne soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.

Here’s an excerpt:

Jeanne

Nancy Cosgrove had seen the gown made up in taffeta in Vogue, and taffeta was what she had to have. Jeanne made a muslin first, at Nancy’s insistence, even though muslin could never stand in for the stiff, slippery hand of the real thing. The muslin’s skirt hung around Nancy’s lumpy hips like wet rags and Jeanne thought she’d finally come to her senses—but Nancy just went home to get her crinoline. It made only a slight improvement: the muslin spread out over the stiff underskirt like leaves floating on a pond. But Nancy took herself across the river to the city, where she found a bolt of emerald green moiré taffeta in a shop at the corner of Fourth and Fulton.
​When she brought it back, the bolt of fabric sitting in the passenger seat of her garish two-tone Packard Clipper like a visiting dignitary, it occurred to Jeanne that Nancy might still be trying to one-up her, even after everything that had happened. Never mind that Jeanne slept in the unfinished attic of the narrow row house that she shared with her sister and her niece and Thelma Holliman. She suspected that there was a part of Nancy that was stuck back at Mother of Mercy High School, where Jeanne had sailed like a swan through adolescence, winning top marks and courted by a steady stream of St. Xavier boys. By contrast, poor Nancy had been as awkward as a stump, beloved by no teacher, no suitors, and none of the other girls.
​Jeanne tried not to hold this belated vengefulness against Nancy: they badly needed her money. Still, Nancy had no head for sums, and there was not enough fabric on the bolt for the New Look dress she had hired Jeanne to sew for her. Unlike the wide bolt of unbleached muslin that Jeanne kept on a length of baling wire on Thelma’s back porch, the taffeta that Nancy brought back was only forty-eight inches wide—a scant forty-eight inches at that, the selvages taking up the better part of an inch on either side. Jeanne could barely cut a skirt panel from it—even with Nancy’s oddly short, bowed calves—and only by forgoing the deep hem she’d planned in favor of an understitched facing.
​Jeanne had been up the night before until nearly three in the morning, hand-tacking that facing with a single strand of superfine Zimmerman and a straw needle. When she finally went to bed, she had an unsettling dream. It had been months since she’d dreamed of Charles, but suddenly there he was, wearing a hat that had hung on a nail in the carriage house of his parents’ estate in Connecticut, a western style of hat that his father had brought back from a trip to Montana.
​But in the dream Charles frowned at her from beneath its broad brim, while he pressed his hands to his stomach, trying to stanch the blood pouring from the hole in his side, while all around him in the trenches of Cisterna, his fellow Rangers were felled by the German panzers. Only six of them came home, out of more than seven hundred—but
Jeanne didn’t care about any of them. She would have traded them all to have Charles back.
​War had made a monster of her, and there was nothing she could do about it—except to sew. A stitch, another, another. In this way the minutes and hours passed.

Peggy

It was well past time to turn out the light and get some sleep, but Peggy didn’t set the square black Conté crayon down. She took a dainty sip of the bitter, cold coffee left over from the morning—yesterday morning, to be accurate, since it was nearly one-thirty—and made a bold, broad stroke down a fresh piece of newsprint. The piece of wood she’d rigged as an easel—taken from a cabinet face from a building being torn down around the corner—shifted on the bolster on which Peggy had propped it. Too bad they didn’t know any carpenters who might make her a real easel, Peggy thought grimly. Too bad they didn’t know any useful men at all.
​On her little mattress not three feet away, Tommie shifted and rolled, her rosette lips pursed. She was a restless sleeper, as she had been a restless baby—she’d
come into the world uneasy, as though she knew already that she’d be denied a father, denied the perfect charmed life that Peggy had promised her many months earlier, when she’d first made her presence known on a prodigious wave of nausea, harbinger of the difficult pregnancy to come.
​No, nothing about Tommie was easy, and sharing a room with her—and yes, Peggy knew she was lucky to have a room at all, with her sister making up a bed each night in the freezing attic—was a daily torment.
​Another curving black stroke of the crayon, to meet the first. In those two lines were the suggestion of the back, the shoulders, the curve of the hip. Peggy glanced at the latest issue of Vogue, open to a spread titled “The New Blouse-and-Skirt Formula,” featuring full-circle skirts nipped in tight over balloon-sleeved blouses. The first wave of outrage over Dior’s new look seemed to have abated, silenced, perhaps, by the unstoppable tide of women hungry for a bit of glamour. Peggy could sympathize. The wartime fashions, made severe and scant by textile regulations dictated by the War Production Board—had looked all right on angular, thin women like her sister. But on curvy Peggy, they looked downright ridiculous.
​She sketched soft, feathery strokes to suggest a full skirt like the one in the Vogue layout. Underneath the skirt, there would be structured layers of tulle to give it shape, but her drawing would only show the fanciful outline, like a bell, with satin pumps peeping from the bottom. Peggy could wear such a skirt—if she had anywhere to go. She had retained her small waist even after Tommie’s birth, and her bosom remained high and generous. She was still making do with her corset from two years ago, but if she could afford one of the new French-waisted ones, with the tabs that could be cinched tightly . . .

About the author:

Called a “writing machine” by the New York Times and a “master storyteller” by the Midwest Book Review, Sofia Grant has written dozens of novels for adults and teens under the name Sophie Littlefield. She has won Anthony and RT Book Awards and been shortlisted for Edgar, Barry, Crimespree, Macavity, and Goodreads Choice Awards. Her latest novel, THE DRESS IN THE WINDOW (William Morrow, July 2017) explores the lives of three women who break into the fashion industry after the end of WWII. Visit www.sofiagrant.com for more information.

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The Alice Network Review & Giveaway

The Alice Network: A Novel (Paperback)


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While I love reading historical fiction, often to discover a piece of history I knew nothing about, it’s rare to find those same books action packed.  The Alice Network is an exception.  The quick pace starts on page 13 and doesn’t let up until we reach the stunning conclusion.

This story is told in duplicate timelines, one in 1947 and the other in 1913.  Charlie is 19 in 1947 and also pregnant out of wedlock.  She is determined to find out what happened to her missing cousin.  After a tip leads her to Eve Gardiner’s door hoping she can help her, the two take off in search of answers.  The 1913 story is Eve’s as we learn of her role during WWI and how it ties into Charlie’s missing cousin.

Love James Bond movies?  Pick up this book.  Any interest in history, especially women’s empowerment?  Pick up this book.  Need a read to keep you on the edge of your seat?  Pick up this book.  Even book clubs will find much to discuss and you can find some questions to get you started in the back.

I loved The Alice Network for its glimpse into the life of female spies as well as its ability to keep the story moving, hard to do at almost 500 pages.  I would love to see this one turned into a movie.

Some bloggers on tour were able to do a special video chat with Kate.  You can view it here.

 

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Kate Furek

About Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is a native of Southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.

Find out more about Kate at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Orphan’s Tale Review & Giveaway

The Orphan’s Tale: A Novel (Paperback)


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If The Nightingale and Water for Elephants had a baby…Welcome to the world, The Orphan’s Tale!  Exquisitely written and researched with unforgettable characters, this is the perfect read if you have any interest in WWII fiction or stories from the circus.  Combine those two and you have this story, one you won’t soon forget.

It tells the story of Noa, a young Dutch girl who in the first chapter does something heroic, rescues a baby from a train car heading to what we can only assume is a concentration camp.  She takes the baby and runs, and luckily she finds a quick home in a German circus.  But in order to stay, she is forced to learn the job of an aerialist (trapeze artist) and to perform.

Her trainer is Astrid, a Jew who also is hiding among the circus performers.  As the two women spend more time together, secrets from both pasts emerge, threatening their livelihood and their lives.

Even though this isn’t a thriller or mystery, its intriguing plot will have you flipping the pages to reach the conclusion.  And I promise you’ll walk away with an appreciation for the performers of the circus who lived during this time.  I gained a new understanding of the struggles of performing during this era of history.  As soon as I finished, I went and grabbed a copy of her book previous to this one, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach.

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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Land of Hidden Fires

Land of Hidden Fires (Paperback)


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From the back cover:

Occupied Norway, 1943. After seeing an allied plane go down over the mountains, headstrong fifteen year-old Kari Dahlstrøm sets out to locate the wreck. She soon finds the cocky American pilot Lance Mahurin and offers to take him to Sweden, pretending she’s a member of the resistance. While her widower father Erling and the disillusioned Nazi Oberleutnant Conrad Moltke hunt them down, Kari begins to fall for Lance, dreaming of a life with him in America. Over the course of the harrowing journey, though, Kari learns hard truths about those around her as well as discovering unforeseen depths within herself.

What reviewers are saying:

“Land of Hidden Fires is a compelling testament to the dangers, and necessity, of resistance. Kjeldsen writes about the quiet horrors of life in wartime with clear-eyed humanity and grace.”

— Colin Winnette, author of Haints Stay

“Despite the high drama and action-driven hunt, the story remains at its core a quiet one, focused on the well-developed, internal struggles of the characters and with the careful, evocative use of language… Kjeldsen’s writing benefits from a deep underlying knowledge, not only of World War II ranks and weaponry – though history buffs should appreciate the details – but also of farming techniques, the hazards of a winter trek through Scandinavian woods, and animal behavior… A quiet and introspective novel of wartime adventure.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“A fine wartime tale of survival and resistance, told with clean, compelling prose. The tough and resourceful Kari will linger in your memory, and the evocative setting will leave you shivering beneath the sheets.”
— Dan Fesperman, author of The Letter Writer

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