Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

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Pages: 400

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: January 14, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Wow, what a story told by two main characters 78 years apart. I was so captivated that I read 60% of the book in one day. Every moment I could I was stealing time to read a few pages here and there until I could sit down with the book and read until the end.

As I read, I would forget that both Anna Dale and Morgan were only in their early twenties’ They both seemed so much older. They both experienced such tragedies at a young age that forever changed their futures. I don’t think I had that much bravery at their age.

Big Lies in a Small Town has a few triggers for sensitive readers. It deals with mental illness, alcoholism, rape, suicide, and foul language (the F word). Everything pertained to the story and made it the excellent book it is.

This book is available from your favorite retailer on January 14, 2020. I am already getting it for my mama to read.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small-town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

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Pages: 464

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I really wanted to give this book 5 stars but due to the fact that it took close to being 150 pages before I felt like I could not put it down, I have to give it only 4 stars.

There are a few dry chapters as they read like a history book but they are necessary to get the background of how the Kindertransport started in Austria. There are a lot of characters to keep track of in the beginning and at times I had to stop and think who and what their importance was to the story.

I will say, once I got around 150 pages I did not want to put the book down. I found the ending heartbreaking but I do understand that that time is history was full of heartbreak.

The Last Train to London is a worthy read for those readers who love to read about World War 2.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, HarperCollins, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley:

The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exiles conjures 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 Kindertransports that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe—and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi is 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 are 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.

Cilka’s Journey (The Tattooist of Auschwitz #2 by Heather Morris

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Pages: 349

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Best Book of 2019

My Review: Cilka’s Journey is a story that will change your life. I didn’t think I could be more astounded and moved than I was after I finished The Tattooist of Auschwitz but I was.

The horror and tragedy that Cilka faced daily for 15 years, starting at age 16, will tear you apart as you read. You will find yourself angry at humanity but then have your faith in humanity restored just as quickly.

Cilka’s Journey is book two but can be read as a standalone.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. Any and All opinions expressed above are entirely my own.

NetGalley: From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz comes a new novel based on a riveting true story of love and resilience.

Her beauty saved her — and condemned her.

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was sent to Auschwitz when she was still a child?

In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka’s journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit—and the will we have to survive.

Blessed by Sherry Robinson

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Pages: 256

Publisher: Shadelandhouse Modern Press

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

A STORY OF HOPE AND THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
Grayson Armstrong’s vision for a dying church has everyone in small-town Mercy, Kentucky, talking. The truth is everyone has been talking about Grayson ever since this dark-haired twenty-eight-year-old preacher with shoulder-length hair and an ill-fitting suit drove into town twelve years before in his silver convertible with his pretty wife and two rambunctious boys. It’s his untimely death, though, that has everyone trying to understand who they thought he was.

This vivid, poignant, and heartbreaking story is told by multiple characters whose paths intersect with Grayson: a homeless Vietnam veteran haunted by demons of war; the local diner’s young waitress grappling with her family’s dark history; aggrieved and supportive congregants and townspeople confronting change and the power of love and hate; and Grayson’s wife and his coming-of-age gay son, struggling to understand their own feelings about Grayson.

During a time when communities and countries are split apart, Robinson’s calming prose and timely story encourage us to put aside our fears, hate, and biases and to open our hearts and challenge our perceptions. Blessed is ultimately a story of hope and of the power of forgiveness.

My Review:

A deeply moving novel that makes you look into your soul and analyze your beliefs. You will be forced to think about how you treat others, not just those close around you but everyone you come in contact within your life. You will be forced to ask yourself, “Are you following God’s word?” and “Would God be proud of you?”

I expect this book will be with me for a long time and will jump into my thoughts when I least expect it. The question you need to ask yourself is, “What do you think being BLESSED means?”

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher, Shadelandhouse Modern Press. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

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Pages: 320

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS/Landmark

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

My Review: Wow, what a learning experience while reading Cussy’s story. When a book teaches me something I enjoy it even more. I knew about Pack Horse Librarians but never thought about the dangers they faced daily or the extreme weather conditions they traveled through to reach their customers. Dedication at its best.

Cussy will find a way into your heart. It’s hard to imagine what she and other “blue” people experienced. Discrimination on all points is wrong no matter who you are.

There are a few semi-violent scenes but they add feeling to the story and show what was happening at the time. Faith is strong throughout the story. A book I would share with my older, mature teenagers. The perfect book for book clubs.

I received a complimentary copy from Sourcebooks through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.