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.

All the Flowers in Paris: A Novel by Sarah Jio

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Pages: 291

Publisher: Random House Publishing

Published: August 13, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Two women are connected across time by the city of Paris, a mysterious stack of love letters, and shocking secrets sweeping from World War II to the present—for readers of Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale.

When Caroline wakes up in a Paris hospital with no memory of her past, she’s confused to learn that for years she’s lived a sad, reclusive life in a sprawling apartment on the rue Cler. Slowly regaining vague memories of a man and a 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 her foggy past, as does a startling mystery from decades prior.

In Nazi-occupied Paris, a young widow named Céline is trying to build a new life for her daughter while working in her father’s flower shop and hoping to find love again. Then a ruthless German officer discovers her Jewish ancestry and Céline is forced to play a dangerous game to secure the safety of her loved ones. When her worst fears come true, she must fight back in order to save the person she loves most: her daughter.

When Caroline discovers Céline’s letters tucked away in a closet, she realizes that her apartment harbors dark secrets—and that she may have more in common with Céline than she could have ever imagined.

All the Flowers in Paris is an emotionally captivating novel rooted in the resiliency and strength of the human spirit, the steadfastness of a mother’s love, and the many complex layers of the heart—especially its capacity to forgive.

My Review:

I was captivated by Celine’s story. My heart filled with pain and anguish every time I would read her story. The fear she had to face and the decisions she had to live with was heart-wrenching. No matter how many WWII stories I read I never get immune to the pain they suffered. I learn something new every single time. I cannot even begin to comprehend what our ancestors experienced. I pray a time like that never occurs again.

Caroline’s story is equally filled with raw emotion. To wake up one day and not know who you are? Terrifying to say the least. I would probably die of a panic attack. She is a brave woman to trust those around her to find herself again.

Be prepared: have a full box of tissues at your side and don’t have any plans. You will not want to put this book down. It is a powerfully, moving story that will captivate you from beginning to end.

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

Love and Ruin by Paula McClain

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Pages: 401/Audiobook

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: May 1, 2018

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. It’s her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. There she also finds herself unexpectedly—and unwillingly—falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.

On the eve of World War II, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must forge a path as her own woman and writer.

My Review: Hemingway was one of the first classic writers I can remember reading and enjoying. I was thrilled last year to be approved for this book. Quickly disappointment set in. I tried several times to read it and could not get interested. This year I opted to listen to the audiobook. I did finish it but again a disappointment.

The story base is very interesting but details seemed to overshadow and drag the story on longer than needed. The most interesting fact for me came towards the end when learning Martha was the only female at Normandy. I would have loved to have learned more about her experiences there.

I am happy I stuck with this book but do not think I will read again.

I received a complimentary copy from Random House Publishing House- Ballantine Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own. The audiobook I received from my local library.

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

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Pages: 240

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: October 30, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Linden is in Paris to celebrate his father’s birthday with just the family. Unfortunately, Paris is flooding at a rapid rate due to neverending rain and both parents get sick. As Linden tries to care for his father at the hospital he starts realizing he may not have much time left to bond with his father.

My feelings have run from I did not like the book at all (2 stars) to wow, what a powerful message (4 stars). After sitting here a couple of hours after finishing I have decided on a four-star review. I started this book thinking it was mainly about the flood and how it would bring the family together but it is about so much more. The moral I got out of the book is tragedy makes you see things you gloss over in life or refuse to see due to your own shortsightedness. Instead of assuming what others think or see about you, ask them. It is much better than letting the wrong thoughts fester for years. You may lose out on something remarkable being shortsighted.

There are no steamy sex scenes but there is a gay storyline. I don’t remember a lot of obscene language so if there is any it must be minimal and feel right for the story. Of course, tons of Paris landmarks are mentioned so allow yourself time to look them up if you are not familiar with them.

This was my first book by Tatiana de Rosnay and I have already bought Sarah’s Key to read soon.

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

The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable

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Pages: 544 (eBook)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: May 29, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A historical fiction account of a love affair between JFK and Alicia Corning Clark which may have resulted in a love child.

Alicia is a Polish refugee who arrives in Hyannisport via Oklahoma to work as a maid for the Kennedys. Jack (a young JFK) becomes dazzled by her beauty and starts a romance that leads to an engagement. Jack’s father, Joe, has other ideas of who Jack should marry and it is not a maid from Poland. Over the years Alicia and Jack continue to see each other on the side but they each marry other people.

Alicia tries to become someone important but winds up rich in money but poor in family and friends as her life comes to a close.

I found this book fascinating as I have always enjoyed reading about JFK. This book sure has me rethinking what a great guy he was as he is portrayed as a playboy, slob and rude person his entire life. I believe I had my head buried in the sand as to his true character.

I felt sorry for Alicia as I cannot imagine being separated from my parents to go into hiding and then learning my father was killed in a concentration camp and my mother was only a shell of herself. I thought she was a strong person to leave her mother to try and get them a better life. She did the best she could. Money to her was important and that is how she saw a way to get her mom what she needed and later in life she used the money to make herself happy in the moment. She did one of the most selfless acts in letting someone else raise her baby as their own. She thought she was protecting the baby.

Does Alicia’s story have truth? I believe it does.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel through NetGalley from St. Martin’s Press. Any opinions expressed in the review are entirely my own.