(Review) The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

Light Over London

Publisher and Publication Date: Gallery Books. January 8, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Mystery.
Pages: 336.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Very good.
Audience: Readers of World War II time period.

Amazon

 

 

 

Julia Kelly
About the author:
Julia Kelly is the award-winning author of books about ordinary women and their extra ordinary stories. In addition to writing, she’s been an Emmy-nominated producer, journalist, marketing professional, and (for one summer) a tea waitress. Julia called Los Angeles, Iowa, and New York City home before settling in London. Readers can visit JuliaKellyWrites.com to learn more about all of her books and sign up for her newsletter so they never miss a new release.
Additional points of contact for Julia Kelly:
Facebook group
Twitter

Summary:
The Light Over London covers two time periods, 1941 and 2017.
In 1941, Louise Keene is age 19. She works as a bookkeeper for a grocer. She lives at home with her parents. They live in Cornwall, England. Louise is coaxed by her cousin to attend a dance. Louise meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton at the dance. He is the first young man to really notice her and they have a whirlwind romance. Louise’s mother is controlling and has already chosen Louise’s future life. Louise wants more in life than to settle.
In 2017, Cara Hargraves is a recent divorcee. She lives in Barlow, Gloucestershire, England. She works as a dealer of antiques. While sorting through antiques from an estate, Cara finds a journal from the early 1940s. Cara reads through the journal entries and begins to search for the mystery author.

My Thoughts:
I read The Light Over London in 2 days! I’m not a fan of dual time periods, because this has been done too much. I am a fan of World War II books. Adding other elements to the story: antiques, a granddaughter/grandmother bond, and a mystery to solve about the author of the journal. All of these reasons kept me glued to the book.
I think it’s fascinating Kelly weaved in to the story a common problem men and women have when they seek out a romantic partner. The attraction and involvement with a person similar to a parent. Another words, if a parent is controlling a child will often (but not always) become involved with a person who is controlling.
There is two mysteries in the book. The second mystery becomes apparent at the end of the book along with the reveal. This surprised me. I didn’t necessarily expect a happily ever after conclusion, but the ending was a surprise.
Both Cara and Louise are not strong-leap off the page type characters. They are average people who survive hard life struggles. This makes them believable. It makes the main characters easy to identify with.

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(Review) Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

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Publisher and Publication Date: Bethany House. April 2019.
Genre: Christian fiction.
Pages: 368.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers who love family saga, World War II, and dual time period stories.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link

 

 

For more information: Bethany House. At this link you can read an excerpt!

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About the author:
Amanda Dykes (www.amandadykes.com) is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. Give her a rainy day, a candle to read by, an obscure corner of history to dig in, and she’ll be happy for hours. She’s a former English teacher, and her novella, Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, was met with critical acclaim from Publishers Weekly, Readers’ Favorite, and more. She is also the author of a novella in The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection. Whose Waves These Are is her debut novel.

Summary:
In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Its message? Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss’s humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the harbor village on the coast of Maine, and he sets his callused hands to work.
Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when GrandBob, the man who gave her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is the one in need of help. But what greets her is a mystery: a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Memories of stone ruins on a nearby island ignite a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.
Together with the handsome and enigmatic town postman, Annie uncovers the story layer by layer, yearning to resurrect the hope GrandBob once held so dear and to know the truth behind the chasm in her family’s past. But mending what has been broken for so long may require more of her and those she loves than they are prepared to give.

My Thoughts:
I love the front cover! And, I love the title!
Bethany House is a Christian publishing company. They have some of the best front covers in the publishing industry.

Dual time periods are a popular way of telling stories. I’m tired of it. It is being done way too often in fiction books. It’s time to take a break from this.

What I like about this book (very good rating.)
•The bond of twins. Twin brothers are the main characters in the book. Their twin brother bond never changes no matter what happens in life.
•The setting is Maine. I love books with a setting close to the ocean.
•A moral story. Integrity. To do the right thing no matter how afraid or what the cost will be.
•Scene descriptions are wonderful. Maine is vivid and real.
•For the modern time period the main character discovers her family history.
•The love stories are inspirational. There is a depth to them. The love stories are not focused on the erotic, but on a lasting dedicated love.
•There are layers of stories not just the main story.
Whose Waves These Are is a well-written story to curl up with in your favorite chair.

(Review) No Woman’s Land: A Holocaust Novel by Ellie Midwood

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Publisher and Publication Date: Independent. May 15, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II. Holocaust.
Pages: 314.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author, but was not required to give a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Holocaust, and historical fiction.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon
The Kindle Unlimited copy is free for members.

“It was very dangerous for him, and he knew it. But his love for me was stronger than fear.” – Ilse Stein

Summary:
This novel is based on the inspiring and moving love story of Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain in the Minsk ghetto, who risked his life to save the one he loved the most.
When the last of the Jews’ rights are stripped in 1941, Ilse’s family is deported to a Minsk ghetto. Confined to a Sonderghetto and unable to speak the locals’ language, Ilse struggles to support the surviving members of her family. Befriended by a local underground member Rivka, Ilse partakes in small acts of resistance and sabotage to help her fellow Jews escape to the partisans.
A few months later, after losing almost his entire brigade of workers to one of the bloodiest massacres conducted by the SS, a local administrative officer Willy Schultz summons the survivors to form a new brigade. Ilse’s good looks immediately catch his eye, and he makes her a leader of the new unit and later, an office worker. Soon, an unlikely romance blossoms amid death and gore, moving a Nazi officer to go to great risks to protect not only Ilse but as many others as possible and allowing a Jewish girl to open her heart to the former enemy. Knowing that the ghetto would soon be liquidated, Willy Schultz swears to save Ilse, even if the cost would be his own life.
“We live together, or we die together,” – an ultimate oath of love in the most harrowing setting.
Dark, haunting, but full of hope, No Woman’s Land is a testament to the love that is stronger than fear and death itself.

My Thoughts:
I love this story!

Reasons why I gave No Woman’s Land an excellent review:
•Chapter One begins in 1940. World War II is going on, but for Ilse Stein and her family in Frankfurt they do not see the effects of war. The Stein family has experienced the restrictions of Jews in Germany, but Ilse is still able to work. She is still able to rebel a bit. In the first chapter, I’m given a glimpse at the strong and resilient personality of Ilse. She is a teenage girl, but has the heart of a lion. She is a great character. I see her strengths and also see what is going on around her. I feel an investment in her outcome. She is a character that keeps me reading.
•Descriptions are significant to setting the scene and atmosphere of a story. I felt, Midwood did an excellent job at creating the dark despair of the time period.
•An interesting element is shown in the Jewish Ghetto Ilse is sent to. It is how the Soviet and German Jews view one another. This is not something I’d thought of before and I’m glad Midwood brought this to the story.
No Woman’s Land is fiction, but the story is based on fact. The main characters and their stories are true. Many of the things about the story is true or based on fact. I wonder why Midwood chose to write a fiction book and not a biography? The story is wonderful, but I feel if it had been all factual information it would also be wonderful. Either way it is an unusual love story in harrowing surroundings.

About the Author:
Ellie Midwood is a best-selling, award-winning historical fiction writer. She’s a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, a neat freak, an adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew and a doggie mama.
Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.
Readers’ Favorite – winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) – “The Girl from Berlin: Standartenfuhrer’s Wife
Readers’ Favorite – winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) – “The Austrian” (honorable mention)
New Apple – 2016 Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing – “The Austrian” (official selection)
For more information on Ellie and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.

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I do not host giveaways. This link will take you to the giveaway link: https://gleam.io/Tiz79/no-womans-land

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(Review) My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love by Amanda Barratt

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Publisher and Publication Date: Kregel. June 9, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II. Germany.
Pages: 360.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Kregel, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II history. Readers who want to understand civilian life in Germany during World War II. Bonhoeffer readers.
Rating: Good.

Amazon

The edition I reviewed is an ebook copy through NetGalley.

It’s important to note this book is based on the historical research on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This book is a work of fiction. It is not a biography. The thoughts and dialogue of Bonhoeffer is what the author has fictionalized.

Summary:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Protestant theologian, pastor, and writer. He was born in 1906 and died in 1945.
My Dearest Dietrich focuses on the period of time Dietrich was involved in an action against Hitler. As the war progressed, and as the brutalities against the Jews escalated, and Dietrich was silenced by the Nazi regime, Dietrich became apart of a plot against Hitler. During this period of involvement against Hitler, Bonhoeffer became romantically involved with a young woman named Maria von Wedemeyer.

Further links of interest:
Britannica
Biography Online
Holocaust Encyclopedia
“Bonhoeffer in Love”/Christianity Today.
In the above article from Christianity Today, they allow a snippet to be read (they want subscribers only.)

List of books by or about Bonhoeffer on Amazon.
For a biography of Bonhoeffer, please read Eric Metaxas’s book. It is 608 pages. Link for book at Amazon.

My Thoughts:
•I have read several books about people who no longer live that have been fictionalized. No one but that person knows what they think and feel unless they communicate these things and someone writes them down verbatim as acknowledged truth. Private conversations between lovers are rarely passed on to other people because they are of a private nature. I state all of this to address the first point I have on this book. It is an educated guess as to what Bonhoeffer and Wedemeyer spoke about and felt. A huge help is from the book, Love Letters from Cell 92. I have not read this book, but it is the correspondence between them. These letters give a glimpse of their feelings and relationship, but do not give the totality. People may read My Dearest Dietrich and forget it is historical fiction.
•From what I’ve read about Dietrich, he was a reserved and private man. My Dearest Dietrich gives a solid view of those personality qualities. Maria was similar in temperament. When both of the main characters are reserved type people the book can be humdrum. Their personalities compliment one another and go together well, but to read about their relationship it is not as interesting.
•What I enjoyed reading is Bonhoeffer’s commitment, perseverance, and sacrifice to stop Hitler at all cost. This is the passion that is big in the book. Yes, I believe he loved Maria and was committed to her. The big story is his involvement in the plot and sacrifices made to thwart the Nazi regime.

(Review) Once a Midwife: A Hope River Novel by Patricia Harman

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Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow. 2018.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 512.
Source: Library.
Rating: Okay.
Audience: I’m not sure. World War II readers are not going to be attracted to this book. People who’ve read the other books in this series will be drawn to reading this book.

Amazon link

This is the only book I’ve read by this author. So, I have cannot compare this book to the other books written in the series.

It is November 1941. Liberty, West Virginia. Patience Hester is a midwife. She is a wife and mother. Her husband is a veterinarian, Dr. Daniel Hester. They have four children. He is a veteran of World War I. He has made the decision to never participate in another war because of his combat experience. He is a pacifist. She does not agree with him. She’s concerned about his stance and what it will mean for their family.
The book begins days before the Pearl Harbor attack. The book ends in early 1943.

I was drawn to this book because of the midwife theme. The rest of the book was extra fluff.

Patience keeps a journal, mainly detailing the midwifery events. This journal is the background for the book.

I’ve given this book an okay rating. It’s not that I don’t like it. I did read it quickly. It just didn’t sweep me up in the people or story. It is a book that didn’t effect me either way. Daniel’s pacifism-I do not care. Hester’s response to Daniel’s pacifism-I do not care. Why do I not care? Because the book didn’t convince me. Daniel comes across as stubborn. Patience comes across as compliant.
Patricia Harman’s husband was a pacifist during Vietnam. She has the knowledge and ability to create a story about a couple going through this type of experience.

And, it is difficult for me to read a story like this and not have an opinion.
My paternal grandfather was a soldier during World War I. My dad was a soldier during World War II. My son was a soldier during the Operation Enduring Freedom. I have several other relatives who have served in different military branches.
I’ve not met a person who is a pacifist. I don’t understand them, but they are entitled to their opinion.
If the military aspect of the book was removed, Patience still came across as milky-toast. Is she just tired? That’s a possible reason this book is not a hit with me.