Book of the Week | The Traitor by V.S. Alexander

TITLE: The Traitor

AUTHOR: V.S. Alexander

RELEASE DATE: February 25, 2020

GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

Drawing on the true story of the White Rose—the resistance movement of young Germans against the Nazi regime—The Traitor tells of one woman who offers her life in the ultimate battle against tyranny, during one of history’s darkest hours.

In the summer of 1942, as war rages across Europe, a series of anonymous leaflets appears around the University of Munich, speaking out against escalating Nazi atrocities. The leaflets are hidden in public places, or mailed to addresses selected at random from the phone book. Natalya Petrovich, a student, knows who is behind the leaflets—a secret group called the White Rose, led by siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl and their friends.

As a volunteer nurse on the Russian front, Natalya witnessed the horrors of war first-hand. She willingly enters the White Rose’s circle, where every hushed conversation, every small act of dissent could mean imprisonment or death at the hands of an infuriated Gestapo. Natalya risks everything alongside her friends, hoping the power of words will encourage others to resist. But even among those she trusts most, there is no guarantee of safety—and when danger strikes, she must take an extraordinary gamble in her own personal struggle to survive. (Description from Goodreads

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Book Review | The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

BOOK REVIEW | THE LAST TRAIN TO LONDON

TITLE: The Last Train to London

AUTHOR: Meg Waite Clayton

PUBLISHER: Harper Collins

RELEASE DATE: September 10, 2019

GENRE: Historical Fiction

BUY LINKS: INDIEBOUND | B&N

The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exilesconjures her best novel yet, a pre-World War II-era story with the emotional resonance of Orphan Train and All the Light We Cannot See, centering on the Kindertransportsthat carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe—and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from Vienna’s streets to its intricate underground tunnels. Stephan’s best friend and companion is the brilliant Žofie-Helene, a Christian girl whose mother edits a progressive, anti-Nazi newspaper. But the two adolescents’ carefree innocence is shattered when the Nazis’ take control.

There is hope in the darkness, though. Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance, risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. It is a mission that becomes even more dangerous after the Anschluss—Hitler’s annexation of Austria—as, across Europe, countries close their borders to the growing number of refugees desperate to escape.

Tante Truus, as she is known, is determined to save as many children as she can. After Britain passes a measure to take in at-risk child refugees from the German Reich, she dares to approach Adolf Eichmann, the man who would later help devise the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” in a race against time to bring children like Stephan, his young brother Walter, and Žofie-Helene on a perilous journey to an uncertain future abroad. (Description from NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

There are so many stories to tell of WWII. Those of silent heroes, lives lost, and survivors.  The Last Train to London is part of my WWII historical fiction journey and I’m always astounded by how much I continue to learn about this terrible time in history. But then I’m grateful that there are these stories to tell and that there were brave people trying to do what was right when so much was against them.

Meg Waite Clayton tells a somewhat fictional story about the Kindertransport that saved so many children from the Nazi between 1938-1940. I say somewhat fictional because the book is based on a real effort and woman, Geertruida Wijsmuller-Meijer, who helped bring many children to safety transporting them by train to London. Without her, and the countless others that helped, who knows what would have happened to those children. More than likely they would not have survived.

The author told this story from several perspectives, Geetrudia (aka Tante Truus), Stephan Neuman, Zofie-Helene, and occasionally relatives of Stephan or Zofie. I believe it was a good mixture of perspectives. It enabled details of how it was for Jewish children, non-Jewish families, and those outside of Nazi invasion trying to help save as many lives as they could.

Vienna: Stephen is a teenage boy of a wealthy jewish family whose made their fortunate with their chocolate business. He lives with his family in an affluent home with his younger brother (Walter), father, and very ill mother. Zofie-Helene is a teenage girl whose a brilliant aspiring mathematician. She lives with her grandfather, younger sister, and mother who writes for an anti-Nazi newspaper.

Amsterdam: Truus is unable to have children of her own, but feels that because of this, it is her duty to save as many children she can. So she risks her life countless times for children she doesn’t know. To do this she must face and somewhat manipulate Nazi soldiers along the way.

Truus’s story is new to me and, by reading this book, I feel that I’ve kept her memory alive somehow. I would have liked more of the book to be about her journey and what she had to do to save the amount of children she did. But of what there was, I can tell that she was an extremely brave woman. Someone to be admired.

Stephen and Zofie’s journeys were very tough and I think Meg was able to capture what it would have been like for them. For Stephen to lose everything and Zofie risking her life for those she loved. I do feel that it needed more detail to give it that one last emotional punch it needed. I really only cried at the very end when Walter (Stephan’s younger brother) was being taken away by his adopted family.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and thought the characters were wonderfully written. I believe Meg did justice to Truus’s story even though I wanted more of it. I would highly recommend this book to those that read historical fiction.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Meg studied history and psychology at the University of Michigan, and is a graduate of its law school. She was  born in Washington D.C., and has since lived in or around Kansas City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Baltimore, Nashville, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco. She sets her novels in places she finds fascinating: The Last Train to London is set in Vienna, Amsterdam, and England; The Race for Paris in France; The Wednesday Daughtersin the English Lakes; The Four Ms. Bradwells in Ann Arbor and the Chesapeake; The Wednesday Sisters in her current hometown in the Silicon Valley; and The Language of Light in the Maryland horse country. For Beautiful Exiles the list is long but includes in Key West, Sun Valley, New York, and St. Louis, Cuba, Spain, China, France, England, Czechoslovakia, and Sweden.  She is at work on a new novel, also to be published by HarperCollins. (Bio found on Meg’s website)

Thank you to Harper Collins and NetGalley for a copy to this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book of the Week | To The Edge of Sorrow by Aharon Appelfeld

TITLE: To The Edge of Sorrow

AUTHOR: Aharon Appelfeld

RELEASE DATE: January 14, 2020

GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

From “fiction’s foremost chronicler of the Holocaust” (Philip Roth), a haunting novel about an unforgettable group of Jewish partisans fighting the Nazis during World War II.

Battling numbing cold, ever-present hunger, and German soldiers determined to hunt them down, four dozen resistance fighters–escapees from a nearby ghetto–hide in a Ukrainian forest, determined to survive the war, sabotage the German war effort, and rescue as many Jews as they can from the trains taking them to concentration camps.

Their leader is relentless in his efforts to turn his ragtag band of men and boys into a disciplined force that accomplishes its goals without losing its moral compass. And so when they’re not raiding peasants’ homes for food and supplies, or training with the weapons taken from the soldiers they have ambushed and killed, the partisans read books of faith and philosophy that they have rescued from abandoned Jewish homes, and they draw strength from the women, the elderly, and the remarkably resilient orphaned children they are protecting.

When they hear about the advances being made by the Soviet Army, the partisans prepare for what they know will be a furious attack on their compound by the retreating Germans. In the heartbreaking aftermath of the assault, the survivors emerge from the forest to bury their dead, care for their wounded, and grimly confront a world that is surprised by their existence–and profoundly unwelcoming.

Narrated by seventeen-year-old Edmund–a member of the group who maintains his own inner resolve with memories of his parents and their life before the war–this powerful story of Jews who fought back is suffused with the riveting detail that Aharon Appelfeld is uniquely able to bring to his award-winning novels. (Description from Goodreads

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Book Review | The Occupation Secret by Mario Reading

BOOK REVIEW | THE OCCUPATION SECRET

TITLE: The Occupation Secret

AUTHOR: Mario Reading

PUBLISHER: Canelo

RELEASE DATE: August 12, 2019

GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON

Relegated to an isolated provincial town in France after years spent fighting on the Eastern Front, German commander Maximilian von Aschau finds unexpected distraction in the form of beautiful and reserved Lucie Léré.

He’s seen every horror of the human experience. She’s never left her village. Opposites in every way, Max and Lucie manage to find common ground. But love is the most dangerous element of war. It makes you vulnerable… and careless.

With the Allied invasion imminent and tensions high, Max and Lucie will have to turn their backs on everything they’ve known and anyone they once trusted in order to protect their secret – and their lives.(Description from NetGalley.com) 

MY THOUGHTS

Unfortunately, I was several chapters in and couldn’t really get into the book. I thought it was going to have more romance based on the description and the cover. I was also waiting for the female character to be introduced and stopped reading because she never emerged. Of what I did read it seemed more about the politics and intensity of war than anything else.

Overall, this book may be more for those who want more about the gore and politics of war. Personally, I like to have more emotion and female perspective in historical fictions.

OVERALL RATING

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What’s your reading challenge for 2020?

I’ll be honest and say I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like these days. There’s so much do to and so little time in the day to do everything.

But I still make sure I give myself a reading goal every year and this year I’m aiming for 12. That’s one book per month. I feel like that’s doable. I was able to read 10 last year.

What’s your reading challenge for 2020? Set a goal on Goodreads like I did.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Book of the Week | You Have to Believe Me by Sunday Tomassetti

TITLE: You Have to Believe Me

AUTHOR: Sunday Tomassetti

RELEASE DATE: September 19, 2019

GENRE: Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Thriller

BUY LINKS: AMAZON

She has every reason to hate her ex … it doesn’t mean she wants him dead.

Every day on her way home from work, Dove Damiani drives past her ex-house, where her ex-husband lives with her ex-dog and her ex-yoga instructor, next to her ex-neighbors and the ex-life she once affectionately described as “frighteningly perfect.”

To outsiders, Dove is bitter and resentful. The divorce left her alone, with nothing but a set of car keys and 50% of a paltry savings account.

So when the lifeless body of her former husband is discovered in the birch grove outside Dove’s apartment on what would have been their fifth wedding anniversary, investigators waste no time making Dove a person of interest.

She swears she didn’t do it. She’s never so much as killed a spider in her thirty-four years.

But as evidence mounts against her, Dove finds herself questioning her memory, her sanity, and finally—her innocence. (Description from Goodreads

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