Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

This book review is on the Books & Broads Book Club August book choice: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  I must start off with the disclosure I have told you many times before, Dear Bloggites, I dislike reading war books, no matter the subject of the book, if it involves war, I can almost guarantee I won’t care for it (7 out of 10 times).  With that being said, (or written), here goes.

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyThe Lilac Girls follow three different women during the invasion of Germany and into WWII.  The three ladies are: Caroline Ferriday, an America socialite living in New York; Kasia Kuzmerick, A Polish teenager; and Herta Oberheuser, a young German doctor.  Caroline is a New York socialite who becomes involved with a French actor that is married.  Kasia lives a standard teenage life in Poland hanging out with her friends.  Herta is an up-and-coming female doctor trying to make her way in the world of only male doctors.  Once Germany invades Poland, the three lives are thrown into a whirlwind of fate that will ultimately cause their lives to cross in the most unexpected way.

Premise sounds really good, right?  You would think this was an exciting book to read and delve into, yes?  NO! NO! NO!  I was so beat down by this book and the war, yet again, as it went along.  Martha Hall Kelly writes the book from each point of view alternating chapters and it is written in first person (don’t get me started).  Now, the first person, I get (begrudgingly) because it allows the reader to fully engage in each woman’s personal life and thoughts on the world around them.

The downfall of the alternating points of view is that the author lost her rotation and you went from reading one woman, to the next woman, then the third balancing the alternation to reading one woman, to reading the next woman, then the next woman again, then finally the third.  This messed up alternation of chapters can confuse and break the reader’s engagement in the storyline.

The author did a good job in really ensuring her historical facts were correct and did give a disclosure on what was true events versus her freedom of imagination in the book.  I did appreciate that disclosure because so many times people will take great freedom with the facts of a historical work they are writing, that the reader, if unfamiliar with the time period, may actually believe all the events in the book are real.

If you are a historical fiction fan or a WWII fan or are fascinated with Hitler’s reign, this book is for you, but if not, I do not recommend you reading it.

I give The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly 2 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading! 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: What She Inherits by Diane V. Mulligan-Revisited

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  While I am in the process of reading all the book club books to catch myself up to the current month, I have to revisit a previous blog post I wrote on July’s Books & Broads Book Club book choice.  The July book choice was a recommendation by yours truly-Me!

What She Inherits by Diane V. MulliganThe July book club book was What She Inherits by Diane V. Mulligan.  I was first introduced to this book back in February of this year (2017).  Diane V. Mulligan emailed me requesting a book reading and review from me and I gladly agreed because I am all about supporting writers of all kinds.

This story follows the lives of two women who are unaware of each other but are tied in such a close way that it changes the lives of them both as the story moves along.  I was going to rewrite another book review on this book, but I covered this story line and my thoughts on this book so well in the initial book review you can click here and read it in its entirety.

I will state that this book makes you think about your life and all you know as “truth” in it and how, if, that “truth” proves to be false leaving you not knowing who you are or where you came from, it may make you realize the people you thought you knew are total strangers in regard to your knowledge of who they are. 😉

I give What She Inherits by Diane V. Mulligan 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Go check out my initial review and then go get yourself a copy and enjoy the ride.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Death By A Honey Bee by Abigail Keam

Here it is, June’s Books & Broads Book Club choice, Death By A Honey Bee by Abigail Keam.  Getting closer to this month, eh, Dear Bloggites?

Death By A Honey Bee by Abigail KeamDeath by a Honey Bee (A Josiah Reynolds Mystery) by Abigail Keam was a fun read.  The author wrote the book in an easy to follow flow with fun, quirky characters.  The story is about a beekeeper, Josiah Reynolds, who finds her rival dead with his head stuck in one of her bee hives on her property.  While the man died of a heart attack, the cops felt there was foul play afoot and their primary suspect was Josiah.

To clear her name, Josiah partners with her assistant, Matt, and begins her own investigation into the death of her rival.  All the characters in the novel were written with fun individual personalities and Josiah’s dry sense of humor and no-nonsense attitude kept the reading interesting.  This novel is the first in a series and the first mystery novel written by Abigail Keam.  Unlike many series novels, Death by a Honey Bee can be read as a stand-alone book which I like.

The only two minor issues I have (well one minor and one pet peeve of mine) with this novel is the ending was predictable as to whodunit and it was written in the first person (I hate that).  I know, some novels are better in the first person and I will one day write a novel in the first person and have to eat crow, but it is an annoyance of mine.  I don’t like being in the mind of each character so intimately that I cannot utilize my own imagination when reading a book in the third person.

Okay, off my high horse before I fall and break a toe, overall, I really did enjoy this book and how the author wrote it.  I was immediately interested in the novel as soon as I started reading because of the quirkiness of the main character.  I will probably go and get the rest of the novels in this series because of my OCD and not being able to just stop when I KNOW there are other books to this series, but also because I did enjoy this storyline and the author’s way of writing.

I give Death By A Honey Bee by Abigail Keam 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  If you are looking for an easy, fun read with a little mystery, I recommend you go get this book.  Smooches!

~4-Ever, P

 

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Hello, Dear Bloggites!  I am back!  This book review is over the Books & Broads Book Club choice for May.  I am getting closer to the current month and I hope to finish June-October in the next five days.  I know, big challenge, but I am up for it now that I got my reading groove back on. 🙂

The Secret Wife by Gill PaulMay’s Book Club choice was The Secret Wife by Gill Paul.  I was dreading this one because it was once again a historical fiction novel set in the years 1914-2016.  Now, not all the years were touched like that last novel we read, but most of them were a chapter in the book.  Gill Paul wrote this book in a toggle effect between past and present which I am not a big fan of, but it was in the third person so that softened the blow.

The Secret Wife is about a love found, lost, and found again between Grand Duchess, Tatiana Romanov, and a Calvary Officer, Dmitri Malama, as well as, about a woman, Kitty Fisher, who has left her husband after he cheated on her and caused her to go to America and start to uncover the true story of her Great Grandfather, Dmitri.

The backdrop of the story is the war between Russia and Germany and the unrest of the citizens under the Romanov rule.  Dmitri and Tatiana first became acquainted when he was wounded in battle and she was assisting all the nurses to care for the soldiers who were brought in from the battlefield.  As the book toggles back to present day, you follow Kitty and her struggle to come to terms with her husband’s infidelity while finding out more secrets as she renovates her Great Grandfather’s cabin.

Gill Paul did a great job at creating complex characters which pulled at the reader’s emotions.  You rooted for true love to win out for Tatiana and Dmitri while rooting for Kitty to come to terms with what she actually wants to do with her life.  The imagery was well written for the readers and Gill Paul stayed true to what was known from historical documents while taking liberties with the “What if?” questions of the people you were reading about.

I enjoyed reading this novel and am always enthralled with the history of the world as I read these types of novels.  I may not be a hardcore Historical Fiction lover, but I think I am growing a crush on it. 🙂

I give The Secret Wife by Gill Paul 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  It’s Me, again!  I just finished April’s Books & Broads Book Club book, The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg.  I know, I am still a few months behind but plan on making up for it within the next week by reading all the books I did not read.

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie FlaggI love Fannie Flagg.  Her writing is very entertaining and easy.  This book is no exception.  The Whole Town’s Talking is about several generations spread out from 1889 to 2020 and all the decades in between.  The story follows a group of settlers and their legacy through the generations in a small town in America.

The characters are very complex and each one has their own fun, quirky side unique to that person.  The novel is an easy read with short chapters.  When I was reading it, I felt as if I was sitting down with a good friend listening to them tell me a fun story.  The author wrote in the third person (which I love) but it was a conversational third person, thus the feeling of being told a story by a friend.

The only big fault in this novel is that by the middle of the book, I found myself becoming bored due to the repeated cadence of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol.  Most stories build up to a climax and then it brings you on the adventure but this story really had no plot or climax, just reading about people and their lives, much like an old-time gossiper of a small town where everyone knows everyone and most are related in some way or another.  By the middle, I was wanting the book to be over.  I did enjoy the story, but it felt like a conversation that went well past its designated end time.

Fannie Flagg is an exceptional author and very entertaining.  You can tell her intent in this book was just to give people entertainment while delving into a little historical nostalgia of a time way back when.  If you are looking for something to read that is entertaining but does not require a lot of thought and focus, this is the perfect book to read.

I give The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Hey, Dear Bloggites, two posts in a row, Woo Hooo, Go, P (that’s Me!)!  Since I did my book review on February’s book club book, this one is on March’s book club book.  The Books & Broads Book Club chose Faithful by Alice Hoffman for March.

I was unsure of this book, and a bit leery, to be honest after not being able to read February’s book for soooo long.  Be wary, that was not a happy review. 🙂  Enough about that review, we are on this one, Alice Hoffman’s book, Faithful.

Faithful by Alice HoffmanI liked this book, which was such a relief, and I was intrigued by the concept of the story line about how in one instant, a life was turned upside down for one and non-existent for another.  The story follows Shelby Richmond a young lady whose life was changed after a car accident destroyed her best friend, Helene’s, life leaving her paralyzed and catapulted Shelby’s life walking with a burden of guilt.

Throughout the story, Shelby is driven by a series of postcards she felt was left by an angel (possibly Helene since miraculous occurrences happened to people who went to visit her at her parent’s home).  Each postcard had a phrase on it that subconsciously drove the direction Shelby led her life.

The story was a good story line but the characters were not as developed as I would have like to see and they were not very likable, I mean, how can you love someone who lives their life in a self-absorbed world and was very selfish with a “feel sorry for me” attitude?  It is hard, Dear Bloggites.

I loved the postcard concept but I did not like how the author inserted herself in the story.  Many of you have read those novels that you feel you are being directed to feel or think a certain way and those novels are the ones that the author did not remove themselves from the story line to allow you to create your own judgements.

Alice Hoffman did write the story in the third person but it was ruined by her inserting herself in the story guiding my feelings and thoughts about the characters and book.  It was a nice relief to have an enjoyable, albeit dark and moody, novel to read.  I might read another of the author’s books, if the book club picked it, but on my own, I do not think I would pick one of her books simple for the fact that, while I did not hate this book, it did not leave a strong memorable mark on my memory.

I give Faithful by Alice Hoffman 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  I leave you, Dear Bloggites, to choose to pick it up and read. 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: A Change In Altitude by Anita Shreve

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  This book review has been 7 months and 16 days in the making because that is how long it took me to finally finish FEBRUARY’S Book Club book choice!  FEBRUARY!  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve

The February Books & Broads Book Club book was A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve.  Now, I understand the author has written 14 novels (if not more now, there were 14 at the time of release for this book), but MAN, I will never read another book by her.  This was a brutal beating for me!

The novel is about a newlywed couple who moved to Africa for the husband’s job.  They rented a cottage that belonged to an older couple (well older than them in the book, they were in their 20s and the older couple were in their 30s).  The premise is for a group of them to climb Mount Kenya.

Now, the book starts as if you are in the middle of a conversation between the newlyweds, Margaret and Patrick.  It felt as if I had turned on a movie I had never seen before right in the middle and was trying to make sense of it.  It was apparent this newlywed couple had obvious issues based on how distant they were to each other in their conversation.

Anita Shreve did create complex characters, but none you really like.  The imagery was the best part of the book when Anita Shreve was writing about Africa, I could truly envision the country in my mind as if I was right there, however, I was highly disappointed in the characters and the way she wrote the book.  The planned trek up the mountain involved Margaret and Patrick, the older couple, Diana and Arthur, and a third couple, Saartje and Willem.

The group dynamic was tense and the reader did not really know why until near the end of the trek when an accident happened.  The accident caused an even deeper rift between Margaret and Patrick after the returned home and changed the way their life would play out.  Pretty good sounding story, eh, Dear Bloggite?  It had its opportunity to be a great book but I feel the author missed her mark.

There was an apparent error in the story line about how Margaret and Patrick met and I do not know if that was on the editors of the book, the author who had an intended reason behind it and forgot about it, or just plain lack of review when writing, but it bothered me.  I do not like things to go amiss in a story unless there is something down the line in the story that validates the reasons for it.

I do give the author props on her ability with imagery but that was the only thing I found likable, heck, the story ended just about as bad as it began, with no closure and the author leading us to the final assumption that she wanted.

I give A Change In Altitude by Anita Shreve 2 out of 5 Bookmarks.  I do not recommend this book unless you are a die-hard Anita Shreve fan.

~4-Ever, P