(Review) Secrets Of The Island by Linda Hughes

04_Secrets of the Island_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

02_Secrets of the Island

Publisher and Publication Date: Deeds. May 15, 2018.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 268.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review. The review copy is paperback and provided from Linda Hughes. This review is apart of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour.
Rating: Good.

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About the Author:
03_Linda Hughes

As a native Michigander, award-winning author Linda Hughes has been visiting Mackinac Island since she was a kid. She’s spent countless hours riding a bike around the shoreline, and perusing the library and church records to learn about island history. She’s built many a cairn, witnessed the Northern Lights on several occasions, and eaten more than her fair share of chocolate fudge. She’s a world traveler, having worked in thirteen countries and visited a couple dozen more, but Mackinac Island remains one of her favorite places.
Her writing honors come from the National Writers Association, Writer’s Digest, the American Screenwriters Association, Ippy (Independent Publishers), and Indie Book of the Day.
For more information, please visit Linda Hughes’ website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Summary: Provided.
Do you think you know your heritage? Think again. Dark secrets lurk below the surface of every family tree, as the Sullivan clan discovers in this story about living in the aftermath of generations of deceit.
When Red Cross nurse Harriet escapes the trauma of World War II and sequesters herself in her grandfather’s cottage on Mackinac Island, she has no inkling about her heritage. But as one shocking clue after another surface – disclosing lies, corruption, madness, and murder – she realizes her family isn’t what, or who, it seems. She’s not the first to hold unspeakable secrets in her soul.
Can she conquer her trials and tribulations, like some of them did? Or will she be defeated by life, like others?
Secrets of the Island, the second book in the Secrets trilogy, is a tale of romantic suspense that begs the question: what secrets are buried within your family tree?

My Thoughts:
Overall I liked this story. One problem early in the book did not feel right, it was too put together for the benefit of a storyline. A brother and sister and husband just happen to be placed together during World War II. It’s a dangerous and tragic encounter. But without this storyline another element of the story wouldn’t happen. However, it just didn’t feel real, but pasted. I kept reading past this event and enjoyed reading the rest of the book.
Harriet is a main character. She was a Red Cross nurse during World War II. I like her personality, courage, determination, independence, fearlessness, and strength.
Harriet’s twin is Harry. He is in the army. The two are close.
Bill Beaumont is Harriet’s husband who is also in the army. They are newlyweds.
Back at home in Michigan. Harriet uncovers the real story of her parents and ancestry. I loved reading about her work to reveal the truth of her family. This plot is a favorite of mine in the book.




(Review) Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness by Craig Nelson



Publisher and Publication Date: Scribner. September 20, 2016.
Genre: Nonfiction, history, World War II, Pearl Harbor attack.
Pages: 544.
Source: Library.
Rating: Excellent.

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. Their primary focus was at Pearl Harbor; however, they attacked other airfields on the island, and they even attacked civilians who were in their path. There were two attack waves of planes. The attack lasted about two hours. The planes caring torpedoes inflicted heavy damage to the ships. Several ships were tied to each other and at dry dock. The Japanese had wanted to attack and destroy the aircraft carriers, but they were out at sea. There were 96 ships at Pearl Harbor during the attack. This is a list of the ships and what happened to them: List of United States Navy present at Pearl Harbor. Another valuable source is a fact sheet from the government: Pearl Harbor Fact Sheet.
Pearl Harbor is a detailed history of the attack, Imperial Japan, the building up of the Great Pacific War/World War II, America’s response before and after the attack, and eyewitness stories.

The death count was 2,403. Most of the deaths were aboard the Arizona.
The names of 669 deaths are unknown to this day, and this is an estimate.

My Thoughts:
I have many thoughts, and most of them are emotions without adequate words.
I love this book, and several reasons are listed below.
To begin with, there are two strong points about this book.
1. Craig Nelson lets the history and eyewitness stories support the book.
2. It is a strong testament to the courageous American military men.
Pearl Harbor gives a close-up examination of Imperial Japan. Their mindset, aggressive actions against other countries, and preparations for the Pearl Harbor attack. The rape and murderous rampage in China is shocking to me. They were swept up in a frenzy of evil. One of the Japanese men remarked, “It was almost like being addicted to murder.”
How Americans perceived the Japanese, as well as how the Japanese perceived Americans are shared.
The island of Oahu, Hawaii. It was a peaceful, relaxed type atmosphere. On the day of the attack, it was a beautiful day. It was believed to be a safe paradise.
The process of the attacks on the island are carefully and chronologically shown. Beginning at Wheeler Field, Schofield Barracks, and followed by Naval Air Station Kaneohe, Bellows Field, Ewa Field, Hickam Air Force Base, Ford Island, and the Pearl Harbor U.S. Naval Base.
Pearl Harbor is filled with eyewitness stories from men and women (military and civilian), including those who were children during the attack, both Americans and Japanese.
A nurse remarked she was at the new Hickam Field Hospital. It had been open three weeks. There were six nurses. They did not have all the mattresses yet to cover the beds. They gave the wounded morphine, not much else could be done in many cases.
Craig Nelson organizes the ships according to the events of their attack, damage, loss of life, and those that were wounded.
How President Roosevelt handled hearing the news. His words and behavior are given.
After the attack, the Doolittle Raid; and in brief, the Pacific War and the Japanese surrender.
The book ends with the historical figures involved. What happened to these men during and after the war.
When I finished the book it was the day after Memorial Day. Books like Pearl Harbor are a vivid reminder of the true meaning of Memorial Day. I’ve read quotes on Facebook pertaining to the holiday-to remember why we have this special day. Pearl Harbor is a testament of the men (and women) who gave courageously and sacrificed for America.

Additional links on the Pearl Harbor attack:
Pearl Harbor Warbirds


World War II is a favorite genre for me, because my dad was in the army during World War II. Today is the anniversary of D-Day, Normandy, France. My dad was one of the soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944. The photograph below is my dad receiving the Bronze Star.
dad getting Bronze Star

(Review) The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

Publisher and Publication Date: Crown Publishing Group. February 14, 2017.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Pages: 371.
Source: Library.
Rating: Good.


Chilbury, England is the setting for a fictional village of people during World War II. At first, the village choir was going to end. Later, the choir continued on as a ladies’ choir only. Most of the men are away, or about to leave to fight in the war. Five females are the main characters. The story is told through journals and letters.
The female characters are Mrs. Tilling (nurse), Kitty Winthrop (age 13), Venetia Winthrop (age 18), Silvie (10 year old Czechoslovakian evacuee), and Miss Edwina Paltry (midwife). Other women are included in the book, but are secondary characters.

My Thoughts:
Mrs. Winthrop who is the mother of Venetia and Kitty, would have been a wonderful main character. I wanted more of “her” story to be told. She had a cruel husband, an arrogant son, two teenage daughters, and a baby on the way. I was curious about Mrs. Winthrop all through the novel. I wanted more input from her than some of the main characters and I was disappointed by this.
The scheming midwife and her plan is not feasible. I do not believe it is realistic. However, it is a main plot for the book.
Venetia is a tart. I did not like her as a person until later in the story. I’m glad she developed and matured in her character.
My favorite character is Mrs. Tilling. She worked tirelessly to unravel and understand a plot.
The time period is World War II. The war is talked about in regards to its affect of turmoil, fear, and sadness for the village. The loss of life is a present threat.
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is a book that’s had strong media coverage. Although I liked the book, it is not a strong like. The main reason is it did not pull at my heart strings, because the story is told through letters and journals. These are written in brief, just a few pages. I didn’t have time to become apart of a character before another character began speaking. The book does not jump back and forth in time like so many fiction books seem to do. However, there are several voices in the book shown in brief chapters all vying for my attention.


(Review) The Women In The Castle by Jessica Shattuck

The Women in the Castle

Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow, HarperCollins Publishers. March 28, 2017.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II.
Pages: 356.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Very good.


The synopsis on the back cover of the book states the book is “set at the end of World War II.” The Women in the Castle shifts back and forth in time in the story. The time periods are as far back as 1923, and as recent as 1991. Most of the story is 1945 and 1950.
Marianne von Lingenfels’s husband is Albrecht. They have three children. Albrecht is a resister of Hitler and Nazi Germany. A failed plot to kill Hitler places her husband in the hands of his enemies and subsequent death. Marianne accepts the responsibility to care for the wives and children of the other resistors who perished. A castle belonging to Albrecht’s family is the fortress for the women and children.

My Thoughts:
The three women in the story are Marianne, Benita, and Ania. The three women are vastly different from each other. It’s possible the three women represent varying aspects of German women during World War II. And, the women contribute three unique stories.
Marianne is mature. She is a devoted wife and mother. She is faithful and responsible. She is trustworthy. She sees past emotion and fear, and can think clearly and rationally.
Benita is a young woman. She is a beautiful girl and enjoys her feminine charms. The war and post war took away her husband, youth, nationalism and pride.
Ania’s had limited contact with the Jewish population; and problems in the home take her eyes away from the murderous atrocities happening to the Jews. Her thrust is to survive for the sake of her children.
The aspect I liked best about the story is the sharp comparison between Marianne and Benita. They are at war because of their strong differences. Each one trying to understand and control the other.
A second aspect I liked is through Ania’s eyes I had a perspective of a German woman’s views during World War II and post war: the Holocaust, the Jews, the early years of the Nazi Party, feelings about Hitler, the wife of a German soldier, and survival amid the chaos of 1945.
It was difficult for me to like Benita. I have empathy for her but did not understand her feelings and choices. I did not want to throw darts at her but she placed a heavy weight on the “being in love and adored.” I believe it is possible this was a source of escape.
I loved the conclusion. I did not want The Women in the Castle to be a novel that did not have closure. It is not neat and tidy but the story has a solid rest.

(Review) Irena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children From The Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Irena's Children

Publisher and Publication Date: Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books paperback. 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction, Poland, World War II, Holocaust.
Pages: 352.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.

I’d first heard of Irena Sendler after watching a film titled, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler.

There is a project and film about Irena’s life: Life in a Jar


Preface: Page xii. But while Irena Sendler was undeniably a heroine-a woman of immense, almost unfathomable moral and physical courage-she was not a saint either. To make her a saint in the telling of her story is, in the end, to do a kind of dishonor to the true complexity and difficulty of her very human choices…She was at once a heroine-although she disdained that word, too-and a flawed and average person.

All humans are “flawed and average.” A hero is someone who is ordinary in every way yet rises to the challenges set before them. The challenges set before Irena were immense. She was given an opportunity, and because of her career, to make a difference in the lives of children. Some people would have said no. Irena said yes.

Irena Sendler was age 29 when Nazi Germany attacked Poland in 1939. She was married and had a boyfriend. Irena was not Jewish. She had grown up with Jewish friends and neighbors. Most of her friends were not religious. They were educated leftist thinkers. She was a social worker. During the war she became involved in the underground network of helping Jews survive. Irena specifically worked to help Jewish children escape and survive the Holocaust.

My Thoughts:
One of the few things I disliked about the book was Mazzeo’s direct quote I gave. I don’t believe it was necessary to state Irena was a “flawed and average person.” However, I believe this was stated to show one of the elements of the book: Irena was a normal person who became a heroine by rescuing Jewish children during the Holocaust. I believe the story itself showed me the kind of person and character of Irena.
What I loved about the book:
1. I was given a broad and detailed view of the city of Warsaw-it’s people specifically.
2. The book gave me a view of the Jewish people I’d not seen before in other stories. For example, the Jews are not a 1 type people. They are as varied as any other people group. Some Jews are orthodox, some are educated, some had businesses, some were intellectuals; and some had Jewish blood in their ancestry but did not consider their religion to be Jewish. Some of the Jewish people were not religious at all, and were leftist thinkers leaning towards communism.
3. The events leading up to and during the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany.
4. The network system of getting children out of the Warsaw Ghetto.
5. The individual stories of those children Irena helped.
6. Irena’s story showed me the immense task, suffering, brutality, fear, and betrayal of what she endured, as well as the other people who worked to save the Jews.
7. The after affects of surviving the Holocaust is looked at in brief. The two stories shared gave a great impact on this aspect.