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The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life, but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.

In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.

Desperate for a larger life, Louise joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. As bombs fall on London, she and the other Gunner Girls relish in their duties to be exact in their calculations, and quick in their identification of enemy planes during air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side.

Illuminating the story of these two women separated by generations and experience, Julia Kelly transports us to World War II London in this heartbreakingly beautiful novel through forgotten antique treasures, remembered triumphs, and fierce family ties. (publisher)

Cara is an antique dealer who, after a recent divorce, is trying to rebuild her life. She finds an old diary from the time of WWII and is determined to find who the diary belongs to and wanting to return it. During the WWII Louise is a gunner girl for the British Army. She met and fell in love with a flight lieutenant who gets sent off into war. Soon after Louise runs away from home and her difficult relationship with her mother.

The book has a dual timeline: Cara in the present and Louise in the past. Usually, I’m more drawn to the past timeline but here I didn’t really have a preference. Bit by bit we learn what happened that led to Cara’s divorce. She’s close to her grandmother, Iris, who served in WWII herself. Iris has never talked about the war and changes the subject when it’s brought up and Cara is very curious to know more. Especially now that it seems there are some family secrets.

We follow Louise’s journey from home to the army and how she became one of the Ack-Ack girls. I wasn’t a fan of Louise’s fighter pilot Paul and knew from the start something was up. The plot was a little predictable at times, but I did enjoy the book.

This was was my first book from the author and I’m looking forward to reading more.

3,5/5

Published: Gallery Books (January 8, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Publisher

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Best books of 2019

Number Of Books You Read: 39
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Number of DNFs: 2

Cleopatra’s Shadows by Emily Holleman
The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley
Visions by Kelley Armstrong
Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier

reviews

Blog tour: A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel

A Bookshop in Berlin: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman’s Harrowing Escape from the Nazis by Françoise Frenkel

In 1921, Françoise Frenkel—a Jewish woman from Poland—fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin’s first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.

Françoise’s dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.

Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly sixty years later in an attic, A Bookshop in Berlin is a remarkable story of survival and resilience, of human cruelty and human spirit. In the tradition of Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, this book is the tale of a fearless woman whose lust for life and literature refuses to leave her, even in her darkest hours.convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences. (publisher)

In 1921 Françoise Frenkel, Polish-born Jew, opened the first French-language bookstore in Berlin. After Kristallnacht, she fled Berlin to France. She went to school in Paris and lived there before moving to Berlin so it must have felt like a safe place for her.

We see her difficulties with bureaucracy when starting her bookstore and the danger of being a Jew in Germany. Many advised her not to open a French-language bookstore in Germany in the aftermath of WWI.

What was strange, was her omission of her husband from the book. It is mentioned in the preface by Patrick Modiano that Françoise opened the bookstore together with her husband. In the book, it is never mentioned that she was married. Simon Raichenstein was born in Russia and died in Auschwitz. She writes about wanting to see her mother but not much about other relatives.

4/5

Published: Atria Books (December 3, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Publisher

reviews

This Son of York by Anne Easter Smith

This Son of York by Anne Easter Smith

“Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by This Son of York…” — William Shakespeare, Richard III

Richard III was Anne’s muse for her first five books, but, finally, in This Son of York he becomes her protagonist. The story of this English king is one of history’s most compelling, made even more fascinating through the discovery in 2012 of his bones buried under a car park in Leicester.

This new portrait of England’s most controversial king is meticulously researched and brings to vivid life the troubled, complex Richard of Gloucester, who ruled for two years over an England tired of war and civil strife. The loyal and dutiful youngest son of York, Richard lived most of his short life in the shadow of his brother, Edward IV, loyally supporting his sibling until the mantle of power was thrust unexpectedly on him.

Some of his actions and motives were misunderstood by his enemies to have been a deliberate usurpation of the throne, but throughout his life, Richard never demonstrated any loftier ambitions than to honorably discharge his duty to his family and his country.

In a gentler vein, despite the cruel onset of severe scoliosis in his teens, Richard did find love, first with a lover and then in his marriage to Anne Neville. Between these two devoted women in his life, he sired three and perhaps four children.

Bringing the Plantagenet dynasty to a violent end, Richard was the last king of England to die in battle. This Son of York is a faithful chronicle of this much maligned man.

The book is told from Richard’s point of view and covers his life from childhood to his death.

This was the first book I’ve read from the author, even though I own a couple. Overall, I liked the book, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the characterization of Richard. He just came off as whiny and without backbone and it grew old very soon. I like Richard III but too often he’s described either just too good or either very bad like a Disney character or something. I like something in the between.

Every chapter starts with a quote from Philippa Langley, who was present during the whole research process for Richard’s bones. I found those quotes unnecessary, but I seem to be in minority with this so…

All this being said, I did enjoy the book even if it may sound like I didn’t. It also made me realize that I haven’t read a book about Richard for so long.

3/5

Published: Bellastoria Press (November 10, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

Anne is the award-winning author of The King’s Grace and the best-selling A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, Queen By Right, and Royal Mistress. She is an expert on Richard III, having studied the king and his times for decades. Her sixth book, This Son of York, will be published soon. She grew up in England, Germany and Egypt, and has been a resident/citizen of the US since 1968. Anne was the Features Editor at a daily newspaper in northern New York State for ten years, and her writing has been published in several national magazines.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Sunday, November 10
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Monday, November 11
Excerpt at Words and Peace
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, November 12
Review at Passages to the Past
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, November 13
Review at Macsbooks
Interview at The Writing Desk

Thursday, November 14
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, November 15
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Saturday, November 16
Review at Curling up by the Fire
Review & Excerpt at Nursebookie
Review at Red Headed Book Lady
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Sunday, November 17
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings