book review · books · Family · secrets · World War 2

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman {Review}

Blurb:

Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn and each burdened with her own shocking secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII. While one sister lives in relative ease on the bucolic Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” Resentment festers between the two, and secrets are shattered when a mysterious figure from the past reemerges in their lives.

Review:

The main setting of this story is at the Springfield Armory during WW2. This was a place that I had never heard of before and after reading this story I definitely want to learn more about it. I am thankful that the author chose this for her setting. Definitely something different for a WW2 novel.

Having read and enjoyed Loigman’s debut novel, The Two-Family House, I was very happy to see that she was about to publish her second novel AND it was a historical fiction!

This story mainly follows two sisters, Ruth and Millie. They are complete opposites of each other in all aspects of the word. As they grow up, their relationship becomes almost non existent. After the death of their parents, and Millie’s husband comes up missing, Ruth invites Millie to live with her and her family at the Springfield Armory. From there we are then introduced to Lillian and Arietta who both have experienced life changing events.

The experiences that each of the four women have dealt with bring them together in some form or fashion. But what is a good story without there being some type of secret? Omitting the truth about something is just as detrimental as telling a lie. This is observed in this story.

Loigman uses WW2 as a perfect backdrop for this story. Although these women aren’t fitting battles directly on the line, their every day lives during the war are constant battles. They are fighting their own pasts, secrets, and even some of the very people they love.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook

I am so thankful to St. Martins press for sending me an advanced copy of this book to read and review. I look forward to seeing what else Lynda Cohen Loigman is going to write.

book review · books · dedication · reading · secrets · World War 2

The Light Over London by Julia Kelly {ARC Review}

Blurb:

This poignant women’s fiction novel tells the present-day story of Cara, an antiques dealer who would rather bury herself in the past than confront the dilemmas of her present. So when she finds an World War II diary from 1941, she delves into the life of Louise Keene- a small town girl on the outskirts of the war, uninterested with the mundanity of her days.  Desperate from a larger life, Louise defied her parents and joined the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit.  As Cara, journeys through Louise’s life on the page and tries to figure out what happened to her, Cara just might uncover some truths about herself as well.

Review:

Historical fiction is probably one of my favorite types of genre so when I am able to get my hands on an advanced reader’s copy of historical fiction, I jump at the chance. This book is compared The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah(I read and loved) and Lilac Girls (I have not read but plan to do so soon). I did not allow those comparisons to build my expectations because I was afraid of being disappointed and I also wanted this book to make it’s own impression on my reading experience. I am so glad that I went into reading it with that mindset.

This story weaves Cara’s present day story with Louise’s past day story thru a diary that Cara finds while on a job assignment. Cara has gone thru some emotionally trying events in her life events in her life and all she has left on this earth in her loving, but strongly spirited grandmother who has a secret of her own. Cara’s devotion to finding the owner of the diary gives her the strength to ask her grandmother about her military past, but nevertheless, Iris shuts Cara out. Cara doesn’t allow this to deter her away from her mission.

Throughout the story, you see how Cara develops a more independent mindset and you see her confidence build. At the same time, thru diary entries and an alternate point of view, you see Louise’s growth as a woman during a time of war and during a time when women were expected to not have confidence or a mind of their own.

While reading the story, I began making my own assumptions about who the owner of the diary was and how it could possibly relate to whatever secret Iris was hiding from her granddaughter. Needless to say, my assumptions proved to be incorrect and I am okay with that.

Of course, what would this type of story be without a bit of romance? I appreciated how Julia Kelly intertwines the romance of the story into the plot without making it a hardcore historical romance novel. The romance in the story is not your run of the mill everyone lives happily ever after. The romance in both Louise’s and  Cara’s lives are the types that are seen every day and are relatable instead of far fetched.

What made this novel stand out for me is that I learned about a part of World War II that I was not familiar with. Learning about the women in the anti aircraft gun unit made me want to do more research about it.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, but you don’t want to read one that will completely weigh you down emotionally, I highly recommend checking this novel out.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

January 8, 2019 in hardcover, ebook and audio.

I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

book review · Family · World War 2

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams {ARC Review}

Blurb:

In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda’s catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister–all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion–is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.

But beneath the island’s patrician surface, there are really two clans: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel’s privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he’s determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph’s enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, Miranda’s caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the island for nearly two decades.

Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same–determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda’s stepfather eighteen years earlier. What’s more, Miranda herself is no longer a naive teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice for the man she once loved . . . even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.

My Review:

I am a big fan of historical fiction. I was surprised and happy to receive a copy of this book in the mail several months ago and am very upset with myself for taking so long to get to it.

I liked how the story moved between the past(1930 and 1951) and the present(1969) and was told from the point of views of Bianca and Miranda. Miranda wasn’t what you called a woman from money, she was one who was married into it since her mother’s second husband, Hugh, was one of the Island families. Miranda is thrown into this world of privilege, money and class. She does have her stepsister Isobel, who was born into this lifestyle to lead her along but she doesn’t always seem to have Miranda’s well being in mind. Or so it seems.

Everything in this story isn’t really what it seems. You think it is just a story about summer fun and young forbidden summer love but it is so much more than that.

You get to experience the summer from both classes in society (although years apart), see how they live together, survive together. You see the secrets that they have to keep. Secrets that make you wonder how far are you willing to go to protect “one of your own” even if they are guilty of sin or crime. How long do you keep these secrets?

This story flowed and was well plotted. I loved the pace. It’s main setting was the summer season but Beatriz weaves in other important and relevant information with ease. Miranda’s life after that fateful night during the summer of 1951. Bianca’s life after her summer of 1930.

I think what I liked most about this story is that it is set in a time after the war. You see how losing the lives of so many men affected the women left behind. Would Miranda have been in the same predicament if her father hadn’t died in the war? Would she have experienced her first love like she did that summer? She went to school with Isobel, but would they have ever been in that close of a circle?

This is my first novel from Beatriz Williams and I look forward to reading more of her novels. I definitely recommend this read for the summer, especially on the beach.

I received this copy from William Morrow in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook, and audio.

books · Family · World War 2

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan{Review}

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I have received a copy The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this honest review.

 

Book Blurb:

Told through letters and journals, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit — a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past — we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life. The novel is set during World War II.

 

Review:

This story is about a local choir who was at first being shut down because there were no men available to sing with the women until Miss Primrose Trent arrives and decides to make it an all women choir. The choir is brought together to be a positive outlet during a time of war. The ladies and girls in the choir come from various backgrounds but work wonderfully together. Thru the journal entries from each woman (nurse, midwife, sisters, and refugee), we learn secrets of love, devotion, and deceit. Not everyone is who they seem at first and there is tremendous growth in the ladies as they take on the challenge of being a woman only choir during a terrible time of war. They experience laughter, love, and tragedy. I enjoyed how the story was developed thru each of their views. I found that appealing because it makes you image how people really may have felt during that time period. There aren’t too many stories set during World War II that have a comedic type of appeal to them. I was able to more than just the feeling of dread. I was able to laugh with some of these ladies. Although the story is told thru the women, you do get a feel of how the men acted who weren’t at the front fighting and even those who came home to visit from the fighting. Some men were supportive, some were abusive, and there were those who were loving. Being in the choir gave strengths to each of the women that were needed to help them develop as people. Jennifer Ryan’s style of writing made this an enjoyable and easy read. I look forward to reading more from her.