Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the category “Books”

My Reading List

Prior to the internet and my love of Goodreads, I tracked books I wanted to read on a written list that I slowly crossed things off as I read them. I was mostly reading books I owned or were lent to me from friends. I bought them from bargain racks at the big bookstores, from used book shops, and other spots. My favorite for many years was buying hardcovers for practically nothing at Building 19, a now-defunct New England chain that had a lot of books that had small issues like an inkblot on the title page or a binding that was just off by a bit. The prices were too good to pass up ( seriously, you could get a $25 brand new hardcover for like $3) and I often went with my parents, and going to Building 19 together is one of my favorite memories with them as an adult.

About 10-ish or so years ago, I stopped buying books completely and became strictly a reader from the library or my own shelf. This is mostly true today, though I’ll pick up a few a year that are used or written by an author I want to support.

via Risa Rodil

This book-buying history is important to note when it comes to my reading list, which as of this writing, stands at 445. If I did the math correctly, that would take me just about 8 1/2 years to finish reading if I read a book a week. Depending on time of year, length and type of book, I can sometimes do two books a week, but it might be a stretch.

This list though, is not the complete to- read list because awhile ago I decided to eliminate any book I owned. My thinking there is that I own it, so I won’t forget that I want to read it. Of course, the issue I seem to have is that even though I liked the book enough to buy it, I have some sort of block that prevents me from reading it as fast as a loaned book from a friend or the library. Maybe because I know it’s mine and will always have it, so it doesn’t feel urgent? I’m determined to really “read down” my owned shelf in 2018.

Of course, I’ll never reach the end of my to-read list and that’s the amazing/exciting thing about being a bookworm. About two or three times a year, usually on a night when Q has chosen a movie I have no interest in, I sit on the couch next to him with my Goodreads list, and try to cull it a bit. There isn’t a lot of method to my madness– I eliminate books that might be in a series so that the only one that appears on my to-read list is the first in the series. I try to take off books that I think I’d prefer on audio ( memoir and non-fiction mostly) and know I can get via Hoopla or Overdrive.  I do keep a “favorites” list on Hoopla for a lot of those titles too, which is about 65 as of right now.

Despite the size of the list, I love recommendations and as always, love to find new friends to follow on Goodreads!

From here

 

 

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Book Review: Start Without Me

Synopsis: The author of the critically acclaimed The Book of Jonah explores questions of love and choice, disappointment and hope in the lives of two strangers who meet by chance in this mesmerizing tale that unfolds over one Thanksgiving day

Adam is a former musician and recovering alcoholic who is home for Thanksgiving for the first time in many years. Surrounded by his parents and siblings, nieces and nephews—all who have seen him at his worst—he can’t shake the feeling that no matter how hard he tries, he’ll always be the one who can’t get it right.

Marissa is a flight attendant whose marriage is strained by simmering tensions over race, class and ambition. Heading to her in-laws for their picture-perfect holiday family dinner, her anxiety is intensified by the knowledge she is pregnant from an impulsive one-night-stand.

In an airport restaurant on Thanksgiving morning, Adam and Marissa meet. Over the course of this day fraught with emotion and expectation, these two strangers will form an unlikely bond as they reckon with their family ties, their pasts, and the choices that will determine their way forward.

My review: 3 stars.

I always enjoy reading novels that are about family dynamics because they are always so fascinating and layered with interesting characters. This book does not disappoint in that way. Both characters that we get to know in-depth, Marissa and Adam, are deeply flawed, but fascinating. They aren’t entirely likable, but they aren’t depicted as horrible human beings either.

Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I always wonder about these “strangers meeting” novels where two people’s lives come together from a happenstance meeting. I don’t think I could ever meet a person and connect with them so well in a few minutes that I’d invite them to my Thanksgiving with family.

A lot of the Thanksgiving family drama of this book reminded me of one of my favorite ( and one of the few) movies about Thanksgiving, Home for the Holidays. It’s a Holly Hunter movie from the 1990s where Hunter’s character goes to her family’s Thanksgiving in her hometown after many years away. It’s about love, family, and all the mess that comes on Thanksgiving.

Fun thing about reading this book was I took it with us on our Vermont long weekend getaway to Brattleboro, so imagine my surprise when it turns out that Marissa is on her way to in-laws’ Thanksgiving right outside of the same place!

Buy the book!

As part of the TLC Book Tour for this book, I was provided an advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Fire by Night

Synopsis:  A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight—a riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.

In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo singlehandedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.

Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can . . . and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.

When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place—and the hope of love—in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time.

My review: 3.5 stars.

Probably not a shocker that I read yet another piece of historical fiction about World War II. This was especially interesting to me because of the undergraduate research I did on nurses during the war, as well as an exhibit that centered on the experience and World War II uniforms, belongings, and ephemera of one Army nurse who was the great aunt of my then roommate.

There are a lot of novels centered on World War II because of how tumultuous and life changing the time period was- it’s full of interesting people and stories that should be told. Fire by Night is a different spin on the World War II story not only because it’s coming from the perspective of the nurses, but also because it’s very detailed and well-researched, without being boring or too much like a history lesson. Fire by Night  is told by Jo and Kay in alternating chapters, and even though they are separated during the war, their experiences as nurses is very similar. It’s a novel about their experiences, but also about their friendship.

It’s the first book by this author and the reading guide and author’s interview at the back of the novel was quite telling about her writing and research experience. She spent 7 years (!) researching this book, and it’s obvious that she invested a lot of time in getting the details and information correct, which I greatly appreciate. I would love to know more about some of the people she interviewed and how much of their stories are reflected in the final text.

The details of the war, on both fronts, is so well-done that my weak stomach could not take a lot of the descriptions of the various medical scenarios both nurses are involved with. This made me have to skim some of the book more than I’d like, but some of the descriptions were just too vivid for me ( there’s a scene with Jo in Germany during an operation to take out a soldier’s appendix that really made me feel gross). I wouldn’t say that’s a reason to skip the book entirely, as I enjoyed the characters and this new perspective on a unique experience during World War II, but just be warned that if descriptions of blood and injuries bother you, it’s not a book to read while eating a meal!

Buy the book!


As part of the TLC Book Tour for this book, I was provided an advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Way to London

Synopsis:

From the author of Secrets of Nanreath Hall comes this gripping, beautifully written historical fiction novel set during World War II—the unforgettable story of a young woman who must leave Singapore and forge a new life in England.

On the eve of Pearl Harbor, impetuous and overindulged, Lucy Stanhope, the granddaughter of an earl, is living a life of pampered luxury in Singapore until one reckless act will change her life forever.

Exiled to England to stay with an aunt she barely remembers, Lucy never dreamed that she would be one of the last people to escape Singapore before war engulfs the entire island, and that her parents would disappear in the devastating aftermath. Now grief stricken and all alone, she must cope with the realities of a grim, battle-weary England.

Then she meets Bill, a young evacuee sent to the country to escape the Blitz, and in a moment of weakness, Lucy agrees to help him find his mother in London. The unlikely runaways take off on a seemingly simple journey across the country, but her world becomes even more complicated when she is reunited with an invalided soldier she knew in Singapore.

Now Lucy will be forced to finally confront the choices she has made if she ever hopes to have the future she yearns for.

My review: 4 stars.

I really do read a lot of historical fiction from World War II it seems. It’s such a fascinating time period to me as so much happens, not just in terms of the war and its effects, but with social and cultural change, especially for women. The many creative stories of World War II do not get old for me.

The Way to London is a great traveling story where the journey is not so much about getting to a particular geographic destination as it is about the journey to learn more about the main character of Lucy and how she becomes to know who she truly is as a result. The plot moves along fairly quickly; in fact, in the first few chapters, Lucy’s character has a lot of action and happenings that are quite dramatic.

I found Lucy to be quite annoying and rude in the earlier part of the novel, which is clearly intentional by the author because as various roadblocks (both literal and metaphorical) come into the path of Lucy and her traveling companion, the orphan Bill, the reader can “see” Lucy’s slow realizations, watching her grow up emotionally and psychologically on the trip to London.

The relationship between Lucy and Bill was enjoyable and made me think a lot about the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks where the 3 siblings are evacuated to the country during the Blitz and end up with Angela Lansbury’s character, who over the course of the movie, becomes more charmed with the children. This is a bit different in that Lucy is aiding Billy to get back to his mother in London after being evacuated himself, but he’s definitely a handful for Lucy. It’s sort of perfect that Billy is such a little devilish prankster at times because I think it helps Lucy think more deeply about her own behavior and actions.

There is a small bit of a love story with Lucy and a character named Michael, who was in the war but sent home after contracting malaria. It was a light enough bit that helped move the story along and keep it interesting, but I disliked how part of Lucy’s awakening and becoming a better person was related to her wanting to measure up to the standards of Michael and wanting to impress him.

Overall, I definitely recommend if you’re looking for a quick read and enjoy the genre of World War II historical fiction with a strong female lead.

Buy the book!


As part of the TLC Book Tour for this book, I was provided an advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Cassidy Lane

A few months back I reviewed Maria Murnane’s novels Wait for the Rain  and Bridges, both of which I enjoyed, so when the author got in touch about reading another one of her titles, I jumped at the chance.

Here’s the book synopsis:

Best-selling author Cassidy Lane walks into her 20thhigh school reunion with several novels under her belt, but no date on her arm, and deep down she still feels like the smart girl no one asked to the prom.

Then handsome Brandon Forrester confesses his teenage crush, and soon Cassidy finds herself swept up in a modern-day fairytale romance not unlike the tales she spins for a living. While their relationship blossoms, however, the new book she’s writing isn’t going as well, and for the first time in her career she considers crafting an ending that doesn’t end with a proverbial walk into the sunset. Contemplating the simultaneous reversal of her own romantic fortune and that of her protagonist’s is daunting, but maybe it’s time for both her writing and her personal life to take a new path. Or is it?

My review: 4 stars.

If a book and its characters stay with you after you’ve turned the final page, I count that as a great reading experience. This book was the perfect, feel-good read for a weekend after a few personally stressful weeks.

While I wanted more love story and interaction between the main character Cassidy and her love interest Brandon, the book was an enjoyable read. I especially enjoyed the honest, realistic view not just of romance and dating in this modern age, but also that the book didn’t have the stereotypical happy ending. I think with many books where there is a love story of some sort that it can often be the easy way out in terms of story resolution to just make the two love interests get together, putting aside any issues or differences that made up the main plot of a novel. Murnane doesn’t fall into that trap and knows her readers are smarter than that.

Speaking of realistic depictions of life, there is a great scene towards the end of the book between Cassidy, her best friend Patti, and Patti’s friend Amy, where they are discussing the realities of love and marriage, expectations, and so on. I laughed out loud at a particular line that Patti says about how no one talks about the realities of marriage when someone has had an enormous burrito for dinner. Of course, Q didn’t think it was as funny when I told him why I was laughing.  Humor aside, that whole interaction between the three ladies was one of the most memorable and insightful ones in the entire novel, especially this quote which resonates so much with where I am in life right now:

” No one has everything. I know it hurts right now, and I’m not discounting your feelings. But when you look at the whole picture, romance is just one part of life. It may not be clicking the way you want it to right now, but don’t forget to appreciate the things that are clicking, because they’re just as important.”

Wise words that I needed to hear ( though in my case, it’s the romance that is clicking and the other part of life that are out of sync!)

Overall, I’d definitely recommend Murnane’s books and hope to read some of her other titles in the future, as she has a great combination of humor and heart.

Book Review: The Dress in the Window

Synopsis: A perfect debut novel is like a perfect dress—it’s a “must have” and when you “try it on” it fits perfectly. In this richly patterned story of sisterhood, ambition, and reinvention Sofia Grant has created a story just right for fans of Vintage and The Dress Shop of Dreams. 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 color—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—Peggy now a widowed mother, Jeanne without the fiancé she’d counted on, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town.  But despite their grey pasts they long for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients with the help of her sister Peggy’s brilliant sketches.

Together, they combine forces 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 they soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.

 

My review: 3.5 stars.

At face value, this book has many things I enjoy– historical fiction featuring women during post-World War II period and fashion. It is essentially the story of 3 women trying to make their way in the world after losing their husbands/boyfriends during World War II: Jeanne, Peggy, and Peggy’s mother-in-law Thelma ( and a tiny bit about Peggy’s daughter, Tommie).

It took me a bit to get into the story and to really care about the characters. I didn’t feel like a lot of the intrigue began until 150 or so pages in. There were some aspects of the story that I thought would be bigger plot points, but then nothing came of them. I found so much of the story to be sort of sad actually, especially as the relationship between the two sisters evolved and soured. I thought the ending was quite abrupt– even though there was an epilogue, I think the final details of the story could have been woven into the main book. I thought the prologue was entirely unnecessary, as well as a lot of aspects of Thelma’s story.

What I loved was all the references to fashion and the changing nature of clothing in America after World War II. This served as a great backdrop to the story lines of Jeanne and Peggy as it helped give some great context for their lives and changing roles as women too. Since fashion history is one of my interest areas and part of my day job, it was clear that the author did a lot of research into this time period of fashion history to get details correct, and really capture the moment when American fashion in the form of sportswear and off-the-rack/ready to wear clothes took off.

Get your own copy of the book here!


As part of the TLC Book Tour for this book, I was provided an advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Kiss Carlo

Synopsis: It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match.

Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father. Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.

Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.

My review:  4 stars

Adriana Trigiani is one of my favorite authors. The Shoemaker’s Wife is among my favorite books and I think she has a real talent for historical fiction and character development. This new book is no exception. It’s rich with detail, but not in a way that makes it feel dragged out or overly long.

I received this book to review in May in the middle of a month of celebrations, preparations for the conference I co-chaired (including running the silent auction which was a HUGE task), and so on. I started the book the weekend before the conference and brought it with me thinking I’d have all this down time at night to read which clearly is a sign of how little I knew about running a conference because I worked 14 hour days and was in bed about 830 every night. Then the past week have been overwhelming with Q’s brother-in-law’s death, so reading really has been the last thing on my mind ( which is saying a lot since it’s one of favorite things to do in life). But this past weekend we didn’t have a ton of things going on, so I powered through the book in no time- which is saying a lot considering it’s 544 pages!

The story really is more about Nicky than the Palazzini family, but what I love about Trigiani’s writing is how she weaves in the lives and details of other characters to create a whole universe that helps you to understand more about the main character and their decisions. She does this very well in this novel. I could easily see several of theses characters having their own spinoff books. I’d particularly be interested in reading more about that character of Hortense Mooney, the African American taxi dispatcher/Western Union telegram lady and Nicky’s guardian angel of sorts. I found her to be dynamic, funny, and heartwarming. I am glad she has a happy ending in Kiss Carlo, but I want to know more!

It’s a novel about love, family, and relationships. It takes place in 1949 Philadelphia and is rich with stories that depict how much change was in the air after World War II. If you enjoy family stories with great character development that really transport you back in time, this novel is for you. Even though it’s lengthy, I think it’s the perfect read for a rainy weekend or summer vacation.

The only negative of this book is that I received an advanced reader copy (ARC) which often are missing acknowledgements or author’s notes, which was the case here. In other Trigiani books, she often provides a rich backstory on what propelled her to write the novel, who some of the characters are inspired by, and so forth. I’ll definitely be looking for the book at the library or bookstore to read that as my curious writer’s mind always likes to know the story behind the story.

Kiss Carlo releases today!

As part of the TLC Book Tour for this book, I was provided an advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: White Fur

Synopsis:

A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City.

When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in public housing without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.

The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives.

White Fur follows these indelible characters on their wild race through Newport mansions and downtown NYC nightspots, SoHo bars and WASP-establishment yacht clubs, through bedrooms and hospital rooms, as they explore, love, play, and suffer. Jardine Libaire combines the electricity of Less Than Zero with the timeless intensity of Romeo and Juliet in this searing, gorgeously written novel that perfectly captures the ferocity of young love.

My review: 2.5 stars.

I’m not quite sure why I wasn’t a huge fan of the book. The writing was decent, though more of a literary prose than I often choose ( but it’s good to get out of the regular reading choices). Each chapter is essentially one month in the life of the couple and follows them over a period of just over a year.

I think my main issue was that I didn’t connect at all with any of the characters so found it difficult to relate or really care about them. I didn’t think about the characters or the book after putting it down. I didn’t find that I really understood them that well, and that could be because of the style of writing.

To be clear, it’s not a typical love story with happy endings and warm fuzzies. The relationship between Jamey and Elise was often difficult to read at times. I found a lot of the intimate scenes to be unnecessary and gritty. I wouldn’t consider myself conservative, but I found some of the sexual encounters to be more gratuitous for shock value than for moving the story forward or making me understand the relationship between Jamey and Elise better.

From the description, I thought there would be more vivid settings of New York City and Newport in the 1980s. Other than the copious amount of popular 80s drugs mentioned like cocaine and LSD, I thought the story could take place in almost any city of the 1980s. I would have liked to see more geographical/people/historical event references to really capture the feel of the overdone 80s. Overall, it was a quick read but not a story that will stay with me.

 

As part of the TLC Book Tour of this book, I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Close Enough to Touch

Synopsis: Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she’s allergic to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job. It’s there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son. Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can’t understand why she keeps him at arm’s length. So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year.

My review: 4 stars.

I started to read this book on the Sunday of the fire and it was a few days before I was able to pick it back up again, but I’m so glad I did. This was a wonderfully heartwarming story with some great character development of the main character Jubilee and a light love story.

The book is set into three parts and for most of the book, the chapters alternate between the two main characters of Jubilee and Eric. While there is a love connection between the two of them, I think the main course of the novel is more about their own personal self-development and self-awareness as they both struggle with their own issues. As Jubilee comes to terms with living independently and becoming herself despite her allergy, Eric grapples with issues with his children. Together, Eric and Jubilee’s friendship and chemistry between the two of them allows each to work through their own personal struggles and find some resolution.

My 4-star review is only because I found part three at the end of the book to not be as well-developed as the rest of the story. A few of the bits, particularly Eric’s story line with this 2 kids, seemed to be glossed over a bit. Likewise, Jubilee’s story is quickly wrapped up and then explained further in the epilogue. I definitely feel some aspects would have been better served with a more detailed approach. I really came to like Jubilee throughout the novel, so I felt like the ending didn’t have as much of her personal insight and personality as the rest of the book.

With a personally stressful week, it was the perfect thing to pick up each night to read that was light and enjoyable to read, but well-written with characters I cared about. I definitely recommend it and would have likely read in a weekend, if not for the other circumstances of life.

 

As part of the TLC Book Tour of this book, I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Goodnight from London

Synopsis:

From USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—author of Moonlight Over Paris and Somewhere in France—comes a lush historical novel that tells the fascinating story of Ruby Sutton, an ambitious American journalist who moves to London in 1940 to report on the Second World War, and to start a new life an ocean away from her past.

In the summer of 1940, ambitious young American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly news magazine in London. She jumps at the chance, for it’s an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Goodnight from London, inspired in part by the wartime experiences of the author’s own grandmother, is a captivating, heartfelt, and historically immersive story that readers are sure to embrace.

My review: 4 stars.

It’s probably no surprise that I liked another historical fiction novel about World War II. Give me some creative writing on actual historical events that is well-researched, with great characters and a little love story thrown in, and I’m usually a fan. This book was even more interesting to me because it is inspired from actual events from the author’s grandmother’s experiences during the war.

This was the kind of book that I looked forward to reading when I got home from work. I read it on one Thursday night and got so close to finishing, but did the adult thing and went to bed at a reasonable hour because, work. ( Though one of my favorite adulting things is staying up way too late reading because I can’t put something down. That and ice cream for dinner). I liked the main character Ruby, especially for her intelligence, strength/perseverance, and courage. When she describes the air raids night after night, the fatigue from lack of sleep, and the strength it took to make it through each day, I thought a lot about how I would have reacted in a similar situation (probably with tears and crankiness).

The first half of the book, before the United States gets involved in the war, was primarily focused on the Blitz and how England and its citizens were coping with being at war with Germany. The time period jumps forward every few chapters or so which I felt helped move the plot forward at a good pace. There is some conflict/drama with Ruby and her past that presents itself in the last part of the book that felt a little forced and unnecessary, though it does help her connect more deeply with Bennett, her love interest.

This is the first time I read anything by Jennifer Robson, but her other books have been on my to-read list for awhile (since 2014 according to my Goodreads list). I will definitely be going through her back list in the near future!

More info on the book and author here!

As part of the TLC Book Tour of this book, I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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