Book of the Week | Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly

cover87906-mediumTITLE: Between Sisters

AUTHOR: Cathy Kelly

PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing

RELEASE DATE: August 9, 2016

GENRE: Women’s Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

#1 International bestselling author, Cathy Kelly, returns with a heartwarming new novel
Meet the women of Delaney Gardens, a bustling suburban village in the outer reaches of Dublin. There’s Cassie, who’s spent her married life doing everything right for her children, husband, and mother-in-law, yet feels so exhausted that “wine o’clock” comes a littler earlier each afternoon. There’s her sister Coco, who runs a vintage dress shop, but has avoided the complications of romantic commitment. Watching over them is their grandmother Pearl, who, despite caring deeply for her family, is contending with a long-buried secret. And then there’s Elsa, the polished face of daytime TV, who’s triumphed over demons before, but is now facing her toughest battle yet. At every crossroad these women face, readers are taken deeper into the heart of what it means to be a family. (Description from NetGalley.com) 

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Book Review | The Book of Dreams by Nina George

BOOK REVIEW | THE BOOK OF DREAMS

AUTHOR: Nina George

PUBLISHER: Crown Publishing

RELEASE DATE: April 9, 2019

GENRE: General Fiction, Adult Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

Warm, wise, and magical—the latest novel by the bestselling author of THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP and THE LITTLE FRENCH BISTRO is an astonishing exploration of the thresholds between life and death

Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the first place.
 
After the accident, Sam—a thirteen-year old synesthete with an IQ of 144 and an appetite for science fiction—waits by his father’s bedside every day. There he meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman forced to confront her love for Henri after all these years, and twelve-year old Madelyn Zeidler, a coma patient like Henri and the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her family. As these four very different individuals fight—for hope, for patience, for life—they are bound together inextricably, facing the ravages of loss and first love side by side.
 
A revelatory, urgently human story that examines what we consider serious and painful alongside light and whimsy, THE BOOK OF DREAMS is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone. (Description from NetGalley)

MY THOUGHTS

****Warning May Contain Spoilers****

Thank you to Crown Publishing for providing a copy of this book for an honest review. Copy provided on NetGalley.com 

This book is told from the perspective of three people: Sam, Eddie, and Henri. As the book’s description mentions, Henri is Sam’s father and they have never met before. Eddie is someone who loves Henri dearly and Henri loves her too, but never told her and instead broke her heart years ago.

When Henri goes to meet his son for the first time an accident happens and Henri ends up in a coma. We bounce between what’s going on in Henri’s head to what’s going on in reality from Eddie and Sam’s perspective.

I believe Nina George does a great job giving the reader a sense of what it’s like for family members of coma patients, but also what could possibly be going through the minds of those in a coma. Nobody really knows what goes on in someone’s head while in a coma or where their minds could possibly be, but the way Nina George described what’s going on in Henri’s head made me believe that it could be what truly happens.

I did get a little confused in the middle when it would be from Henri’s perspective and then eventually it was revealed that his mind was going over events in his life in several different ways. It was to show all the possible scenarios that could have happened and only one of them was what really happened. So there were times I thought I was reading the same page over and over again, but really it was the same story with slightly different choices that led to different end results. Eventually I liked the idea, but in the moment I seriously thought I was going crazy (haha).

Another element of the book is Madelyn, another coma patient, who turns out to be the love interest of Sam. He sees this girl in the hospital and instantly has a connection with her. He’s determined to help her and his father come out of their comas. With this aspect of the book, Nina George creates an even deeper idea of a coma patient’s mind and that potentially it’s a place where all coma patients are. I don’t want to reveal too much, but Henri does encounter Madelyn in the world his mind is in.

Overall, I thought it was a good book. I really wanted to know what would happen so continued to read even during the confusing middle part of the book. I’m glad I kept reading because it got me thinking about how precious life is and how you should tell the people you love how much you love them…tell them all the time because you never know when you won’t be able to.

OVERALL RATING

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Book of the Week | Losing the Light by Andrea Dunlop

TITLE: Losing the Light

AUTHOR: Andrea Dunlop

PUBLISHER: Washington Square Press

RELEASE DATE: February 23, 2016

GENRE: Fiction, Adult Fiction, Contemporary

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

A smart, obsessive debut novel about a young woman studying abroad who becomes caught up in a seductive French world—and a complex web of love and lust.

When thirty-year-old Brooke Thompson unexpectedly runs into a man from her past, she’s plunged headlong into memories she’s long tried to forget about the year she spent in France following a disastrous affair with a professor.

As a newly arrived exchange student in the picturesque city of Nantes, young Brooke develops a deep and complicated friendship with Sophie, a fellow American and stunning blonde, whose golden girl façade hides a precarious emotional fragility. Sophie and Brooke soon become inseparable and find themselves intoxicated by their new surroundings—and each other.

But their lives are forever changed when they meet a sly, stylish French student, Veronique, and her impossibly sexy older cousin, Alex. The cousins draw Sophie and Brooke into an irresistible world of art, money, decadence, and ultimately, a disastrous love triangle that consumes them both. And of the two of them, only one will make it home. (Description from Goodreads) 

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Book Review | The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

BOOK REVIEW | THE WINEMAKER’S WIFE

TITLE: The Winemaker’s Wife

AUTHOR: Kristin Harmel

PUBLISHER: Gallery Books

RELEASE DATE: August 13, 2019

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON | INDIEBOUND | B&N

The author of the “engrossing” (People) international bestseller The Room on Rue Amélie returns with a moving story set amid the champagne vineyards of northern France during the darkest days of World War II, perfect for fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.

Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they’ll be exposed, but for Céline, half-Jewish wife of Chauveau’s chef de cave, the risk is even greater—rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate.

When Céline recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Inès makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love—and the champagne house that ties them together.

New York, 2019: Liv Kent has just lost everything when her eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive—and a tragic, decades-old story to share. When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau. (Description from NetGalley)

MY THOUGHTS

Yes…I finished another historical fiction book revolved around WWII. I’ve read several at this point and each one has a unique story to tell about this tragic war. Kristin Harmel’s, The Winemaker’s Wife focuses on two winemaking couples involved in the French resistance and how their lives impact a woman in present day.

The story is told from the perspective of three characters: Ines, Celine, and Liv

Liv’s story is set in present day. She’s just been divorced, her ex-husband has left her with nothing, and she’s feeling lost. So her grandmother Edith whisks her away to Paris to get her mind off of things, but her grandmother also has something important she needs to tell Liv. It’s something that will change Liv’s life forever.

Ines and Celine’s characters are set during the war. Ines is the wife of the owner of Maison Chauveau and Celine is the wife of the Chauveau’s chef de cave. Both women have many internal struggles with what’s going on with the war and the actions they are taking. Some of these actions are dangerous and hurt the ones they love.

I really enjoyed this book. It captured another facet of the war that I didn’t know much about and with each passing moment you can feel the danger increasing for Ines, Celine, and their husband’s. While there is a lot of danger, there’s still a lot of love within the book too. I don’t want to give anything away, but essentially love can grow in unexpected places even during the worst of times.

Everything comes together in Liv’s present day timeline. While the ending is sad to think about, I believe it was a perfect ending. It was emotional in so many ways. Towards the end I was thinking of all the different ways this book could have gone, but I’m happy with the way it turned out.

Overall, I would highly recommend The Winemaker’s Wife to those who like historical fiction and women’s fiction. A 5 star for me!

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Kristin Harmel is an international bestselling novelist whose books have been translated into numerous languages and are sold all over the world. A former reporter for People magazine, Kristin has also freelanced for many other publications, including American Baby, Men’s Health, Glamour, Woman’s Day, Travel + Leisure, and more.

Her latest novels — The Room on Rue Amélie, The Sweetness of Forgetting, The Life Intended, How to Save a Life, and When We Meet Again — are out now from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster. Her latest, The Winemaker’s Wife, a World War II tale of love, family, and betrayal set in the rolling vineyards of Champagne, France, is due out in August 2019 from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster.

Kristin grew up in Peabody, Mass.; Worthington, Ohio; and St. Petersburg, Fla., and she graduated with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida. After spending time living in Paris, she now lives in Orlando, Fla., with her husband and young son. (Bio from Author Website)

Thank you to Gallery Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Book of the Week | Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel

TITLE: Mercy Road

AUTHOR: Ann Howard Creel

PUBLISHER: Lake Union Publishing

RELEASE DATE: November 19, 2019

GENRE: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON

Inspired by the true story of the World War I American Women’s Hospital, Mercy Road is a novel about love, courage, and a female ambulance driver who risks everything.

In 1917, after Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground, taking her father with it, she must find a way to support her mother and younger brother. If she doesn’t succeed, they will all be impoverished. Job opportunities are scarce, but then a daring possibility arises: the American Women’s Hospital needs ambulance drivers to join a trailblazing, all-female team of doctors and nurses bound for war-torn France.

On the front lines, Arlene and her fellow ambulance drivers work day and night to aid injured soldiers and civilians. In between dangerous ambulance runs, Arlene reunites with a childhood friend, Jimmy Tucker, now a soldier, who opens her heart like no one before. But she has also caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a charismatic army captain who harbors a dark, treacherous secret.

To expose Brohammer means risking her family’s future and the promise of love. Arlene must make a choice: stay in the safety of silence or take the greatest chance of her life. (Description from NetGalley.com) 

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Book Review | All the Flowers in Paris by Sarah Jio

BOOK REVIEW | ALL THE FLOWERS IN PARIS

TITLE: All the Flowers in Paris

AUTHOR: Sarah Jio

PUBLISHER: Ballantine Books

RELEASE DATE: August 13, 2019

GENRE: Historical Fiction

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

Two women are connected across time by the city of Paris, a mysterious journal, and shocking secrets, sweeping from World War II to the present–for readers of Sarah’s Key.

When Caroline wakes up in a Paris hospital with no memory of her past, she’s confused to learn that she’s lived a sad, reclusive life for years in a sprawling apartment on the Seine. Slowly regaining vague memories of a man and young child, she vows to piece her life back together–though she can’t help but feel she may be in danger. A budding friendship with the chef of a charming nearby restaurant takes her mind off of her foggy past, as does a startling mystery from decades prior…

In Nazi-occupied Paris, young widow Celine lives a quiet life with her father, the local florist, and her daughter, Cosi. When a ruthless German officer discovers the family’s Jewish ancestry, he blackmails Celine, forcing her to become his mistress in exchange for the others’ safety. The trio plans an escape, but their mission goes horribly awry and Celine’s beloved father and daughter are sent away to a cruel fate. Initially distraught, Celine fears the worst. Yet she soon discovers that Cosi has snuck away and followed her into captivity. More motivated than ever, Celine must now fight to hide and protect the person she loves most.

Parallel timelines intersect when Caroline discovers Celine’s diary tucked away in a closet, and it is revealed that the walls of her apartment harbor dark secrets. With the help of a local student from the Sorbonne, she realizes that she may have more in common with Celine than she could ever imagine. (Description from Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

I’m happy to say I was not disappointed in All the Flowers in Paris during the historical fiction kick I’m on. Sarah Jio captured a heart breaking story that I’m certain could have truly taken place during the war. I cried several times as I followed the characters Celine and Caroline.

First, we follow the character Celine who is a single mother in occupied Paris and her father is part Jewish, so you can imagine the struggles this family faces. Celine suffered so much and did so while protecting her young daughter.

However, we get another perspective through the character Caroline, who’s story takes place decades later when she discovers letters that Celine had written to the man she loved. It is Celine’s story that helps Caroline through her own personal tragedy.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I’d like to know when this is going to become a movie, so I can cry my eyes out all over again!

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Sarah Jio is the New York Times bestselling author of ALWAYS, published by Random House (Ballantine), as well as seven other novels from Penguin Books, including, THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, THE BUNGALOW, BLACKBERRY WINTER, THE LAST CAMELLIA, MORNING GLORY, GOODNIGHT JUNE, and THE LOOK OF LOVE. Sarah is also a journalist who has contributed to The New York Times, Glamour, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Fitness, Marie Claire, and many others. She has appeared as a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition. Her novels are translated into more than 25 languages. Sarah lives in Seattle with her three young boys. (Bio from Goodreads)

Thank you to Ballantine Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Book of the Week | The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

TITLE: The Lovely Bones

AUTHOR: Alice Sebold

PUBLISHER: Little, Brown and Company

RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2006

GENRE: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder — a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family’s need for peace and closure.

The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.

Sebold creates a heaven that’s calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive — and then some. But Susie isn’t ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature. (Description from Goodreads) 

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