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MIni Reviews: The Historical Fiction Edition

 

It’s time for another roundup of the ARCs I read in January.  This time I want to focus on a couple of lovely historical fiction novels that I read, one set in WWII and the other set during WWI.

 

MIni Reviews: The Historical Fiction EditionThe Whispers of War Goodreads

Author: Julia Kelly

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

Publisher:  Gallery Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Julia Kelly’s The Whispers of War is an engaging work of historical fiction that focuses on three friends, Marie, Nora, and Hazel, and the challenges they face when World War II reaches the shores of England.  The author deftly uses a dual timeline to both ground her readers in the present and take us back in time. She begins in the present with Marie’s granddaughter, Samantha, who has travelled to London after Marie’s death to present Nora with a keepsake Marie wanted her dear friend to have.  Samantha has also been charged with writing a eulogy for her grandmother so she takes the opportunity of meeting Nora to pick her brain about Marie’s early life.  Although Nora is the gateway to the past, the author presents the WWII timeline from the perspectives of Nora, Marie, and their other good friend, Hazel.

As much as WWII historical fiction has always fascinated me, the friendship of these three women was what really sold me on this book.  Marie is German-born, and although she has lived in England nearly all of her life, the threat of war with the Nazis has her on edge, especially as rumors abound that those with German blood could be placed in internment camps.  Nora, on the other hand, is English by birth and actually works for the British government at the Home Office.  She takes advantage of her position to keep Marie apprised of what’s really going on with respect to possible internment camps.  In sharp contrast to both Nora and Marie is Hazel, who works for a matchmaking company. Ever the optimist and even in the face of war, she’s in the business of helping people find love.  These three women are such an unlikely trio, but the bond of friendship they share is just beautiful to see, especially when contrasted with the ugliness of war as more and more people turn on Marie because of her German background.

Using WWII and Marie’s experiences as its backdrop, The Whispers of War explores some pretty big themes – friendship, sisterhood, what happens when loyalties are tested, politics, women’s rights issues, and even a little romance.  Marie’s story is pretty incredible and I loved learning more about her alongside her granddaughter.  If you’re into WWII historical fiction and/or stories that feature strong female characters, you’ll want to check out The Whispers of War4 STARS

 

 

MIni Reviews: The Historical Fiction EditionThe Vineyards of Champagne Goodreads

Author: Juliet Blackwell

Publication Date: January 21, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Set in the beautiful Champagne region of France, Juliet Blackwell’s latest novel The Vineyards of Champagne follows Rosalyn, an American woman who is traveling to France to find new wines for her company to distribute in America.  Rosalyn, still reeling from the loss of her husband, isn’t excited about the trip but her boss thinks it will be good for her.  On the plane, Rosalyn meets Emma, an Australian woman with a larger-than-life personality and who is working on a project that piques Rosalyn’s interest.

Emma has a packet of letters that belonged to her grandmother, who was corresponding with a young French soldier named Emile LeGrand during WWI.  The letters were written by Emile, and Emma is heading to France in hopes of finding out more about the French soldier and hopefully finding her grandmother’s side of the correspondence.  Rosalyn is drawn in by Emma’s enthusiasm for the project, and so what started as a business trip for Rosalyn slowly becomes a trip about healing and moving forward, as she and Emma dive deeper into the letters and learn more about Emile and about what life was like in the Champagne region during WWI.

This was such an easy book to fall in love with.  I adored both Emma and Rosalyn from the moment they met.  I felt tremendous sympathy for Rosalyn because of her loss and how much she was struggling to cope but could tell right away that Emma was going to be good for her with that live-out-loud personality of hers.  I also loved the quaint little town that Rosalyn stays in while she’s there, as well as the array of wonderful secondary characters, especially Jerome, a champagne maker who catches Rosalyn’s eye.

The biggest draw for me in The Vineyards of Champagne though was what I learned about WWI.  The history that unfolded through the letters just made for such a fascinating read. I had no idea that the citizens of this region in France had taken shelter during the war in underground caves beneath the champagne houses. The women and children basically lived in underground cities, educated the children there, and periodically came up to harvest the grapes to keep champagne production going.  How amazing is that?

The Vineyards of Champagne is a story of love and loss, resilience and survival, and above all else, friendship and hope.  4 STARS

 

Weekly Recap # 6: Week of 6/18-6/24

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week.  Mine was interesting, mainly because my son was at his grandmother’s house all week and my husband was out of town for work, so I was home alone the entire week.  I thought for sure that meant I would get a ton of reading done, but somehow that didn’t happen. I finished The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, which I really enjoyed, and got a pretty good start on A Conjuring of Light, which is absolutely fantastic so far, but that was pretty much it.  I don’t even know where the rest of my week went, haha!  I did watch Moana on Netflix and finished Season 5 of Orange is the New Black, which I have very mixed feelings about.  Oh and I’ve been having issues with some people not being able to comment on my blog posts so I’ve been trying to resolve that.  It’s times like that when I wish I was a lot more computer savvy than I am.  I feel a little helpless right now waiting for someone else to help me.  A huge thanks though to those who have contacted me and let me know there was a problem.  Otherwise, I would have just assumed it was a light traffic week on the blog and been oblivious that there was a problem.

This week I’m hoping to finish A Conjuring of Light and then move on to a couple of ARCs that I need to review soon.  ACOL is over 600 pages long though so we’ll see how that goes.

Last week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic really got me thinking about how many series I’ve started but not yet completed, so my big goal for the summer is to finish up a couple of lingering series so that I can move on to the ones I’ve been meaning to read for ages.  Once I finish ACOL, which wraps up the Shades of Magic series, I plan to move on to A Court of Wings and Ruin to finish out that series, and then move on to The Illuminae Files.  Somewhere in there or maybe in August, I also need to finish up The Lunar Chronicles.  So yeah, probably ambitious goals for me but I feel pretty good about making them happen.

Well, that’s pretty much it for me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

    

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

      
 

 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

     

 

TOTALLY RANDOM

Weekly Recap # 5: Week of 6/11-6/17

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

First, let me take a minute to wish all of the Dads out there, mine included, a very Happy Father’s Day!  I took my dad out to lunch yesterday to celebrate and we had a lovely time.  Today I’ll be celebrating with my husband, son, and Father-in-Law so it has been a full weekend of Father’s Day festivities.

Off the blog, this week was all about my son.  This week he finished up the fourth grade so we were busy with awards ceremonies and other end-of-year activities.  He finished the year with straight A’s so that was definitely a proud mom moment for me.  I took him to the library yesterday to pick up a few books for summer reading. Right now he’s really into the Henry Huggins series from Beverly Cleary, which were some of my favorites growing up so it’s fun to watch him enjoy the same series I did.

Let’s see, on the blog I had a pretty good week, although I came down with a head cold on Thursday and so have had such a case of medicine head since then that I haven’t read much.  I did start The Inexplicable Logic of My Life and it’s fabulous. Great pick for Father’s Day weekend because it features a wonderful father/son relationship between the main character and his adoptive Dad.  As you’ll see from my Stacking The Shelves section below, I also had several books on reserve at the library that became available this week so I need to get moving on those and I also got approved for a couple more ARCS so I have plenty of books to keep me busy for a while. 🙂

That’s it for me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

 

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

   

 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

     

   

 

TOTALLY RANDOM