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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

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

The Child of Auschwitz by Lily Graham

The Child of Auschwitz by Lily Graham

It is 1942 and Eva Adami has boarded a train to Auschwitz. Barely able to breathe due to the press of bodies and exhausted from standing up for two days, she can think only of her longed-for reunion with her husband Michal, who was sent there six months earlier.

But when Eva arrives at Auschwitz, there is no sign of Michal and the stark reality of the camp comes crashing down upon her. As she lies heartbroken and shivering on a thin mattress, her head shaved by rough hands, she hears a whisper. Her bunkmate, Sofie, is reaching out her hand…

As the days pass, the two women learn each other’s hopes and dreams – Eva’s is that she will find Michal alive in this terrible place, and Sofie’s is that she will be reunited with her son Tomas, over the border in an orphanage in Austria. Sofie sees the chance to engineer one last meeting between Eva and Michal and knows she must take it even if means befriending the enemy…

But when Eva realises she is pregnant she fears she has endangered both their lives. The women promise to protect each other’s children, should the worst occur. For they are determined to hold on to the last flower of hope in the shadows and degradation: their precious children, who they pray will live to tell their story when they no longer can. (publisher)

The book is about Eva and Sofie who first meet at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. They end up on the same train to Auschwitz, each with her own agenda. Eva wants to find her husband and Sofie wants to find her cousin who hid her son.

When Eva realizes that she is pregnant, everything changes. It’s not safe to be pregnant in a place like Auschwitz. Not the best start to life and I guess it’s down to a certain amount of luck too.
The friendship between Eva and Sofie was a great thing to see in a place like that.

The book has two timelines: the present which is 1942 and the past in 1938. The past chapters weren’t necessary in my opinion and skipped those a bit but otherwise, I really enjoyed the book and it’s well written.

3,5/5

Published: Bookouture (November 8, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

reviews

Girls on the Line by Aimie K. Runyan

Girls on the Line by Aimie K. Runyan

December 1917. As World War I rages in Europe, twenty-four-year-old Ruby Wagner, the jewel in a prominent Philadelphia family, prepares for her upcoming wedding to a society scion. Like her life so far, it’s all been carefully arranged. But when her beloved older brother is killed in combat, Ruby follows her heart and answers the Army Signal Corps’ call for women operators to help overseas.

As one of the trailblazing “Hello Girls” deployed to war-torn France, Ruby must find her place in the military strata, fight for authority and respect among the Allied soldiers, and work to secure a victory for the cause. But balancing service to country is complicated further by a burgeoning relationship with army medic Andrew Carrigan.

What begins as a friendship forged on the front lines soon blossoms into something more, forcing Ruby to choose between the conventions of a well-ordered life back home, and the risk of an unknown future. (publisher)

Ruby Wagner is Philadelphian socialite whose parents weren’t thrilled when she joins Bell Telephone Company in 1917 as a switchboard operator for the army. Her mother especially has all planned out for her; marriage to Nathaniel, from a prominent Philadelphian family, being a wife and hostess. After Ruby’s brother gets killed in a battle, the whole family is devastated. When Ruby learns that Army Signals Corps are recruiting women to serve as a switchboard operator in France, she enlists. Her parents are not happy when they learn about that.

While in France get meets army medic, Andrew. When their friendship deepens Ruby starts to question her future marriage with Nathaniel.

This was an interesting read. I hadn’t read about the “Hello Girls” before so that was new. And for a change, it is WWI book instead of WWII.

Ruby was a likeable character who was a strong and determined woman. I liked seeing how Ruby and Andrew’s friendship grows into something else slowly. It wasn’t insta-love so yey.

I don’t know why I waited so long to read it. I really enjoyed it and was a well-written book. I’ve liked her previous books that I’ve read so I guess it wasn’t a surprise I liked this too.

4/5

Published: Lake Union Publishing (November 6, 2018)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

reviews

Repentance by Andrew Lam

Repentance by Andrew Lam

France, October 1944. A Japanese American war hero has a secret.

A secret so awful he’d rather die than tell anyone–one so entwined with the brave act that made him a hero that he’s determined never to speak of the war. Ever.

Decades later his son, Daniel Tokunaga, a world-famous cardiac surgeon, is perplexed when the U.S. government comes calling, wanting to know about his father’s service with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during WWII. Something terrible happened while his father was fighting the Germans in France, and the Department of Defense won’t stop its investigation until it’s determined exactly who did what.

Wanting answers of his own, Daniel upends his life to find out what his father did on a small, obscure hilltop half a world away. As his quest for the truth unravels his family’s catastrophic past, the only thing for certain is that nothing–his life, career, and family–can ever be the same again.

Daniel Tokunaga is a successful cardiac surgeon of Japanese-American descent. He’s never given his father’s war service a second thought until Department of Defense makes contact wanting to know about his war efforts. Daniel has a difficult relationship with his estranged father who’s always been remote and strict.

The book follows Daniel in the present day and his father Ray in the past. Through tragedy, Daniel learns who his father really is and what he sacrificed for his family’s sake.

I knew there were Japanese internment camps in the USA but didn’t know anything more. I would have liked to know more about the camps and more about how the Japanese came to volunteer to fight despite their treatment.

The book is well written, but I would have liked to learn more about the camps and situation in the US at that time. I also found Daniel to be very judgmental and easy to find the worst about his father.

3/5

Published: Tiny Fox Press (May 1, 2019)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

Andrew Lam, M.D., is the award-winning author of Repentance, Two Sons of China, and Saving Sight. His writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Born in Philadelphia and raised in central Illinois, he graduated summa cum laude in history from Yale University, where he studied military history and U.S.-East Asian relations. He then attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by specialty training to become a retinal surgeon. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and resides in western Massachusetts with his wife and four children.

His newest book is Repentance, a historical novel and riveting family drama entwined with the history of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a group of Japanese American soldiers who fought valiantly in Europe during WWII while many of their families were incarcerated in camps like Manzanar at home. The 442nd became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history.

Learn more at Andrew Lam’s website. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, May 1
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, May 2
Review at Bookish Sarah

Friday, May 3
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, May 6
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, May 7
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, May 8
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Friday, May 10
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, May 13
Feature at RW Bookclub

Tuesday, May 14
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, May 15
Review at Bookramblings
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Review at Comet Readings
Review at Jorie Loves a Story