Friday 26 August 2011

Review: The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

What would happen if someone did the unthinkable-and didn't deliver a letter? Filled with stunning parallels to today, The Postmistress is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 9th 2010 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published December 24th 2009) 
Terri's Review

5 Stars for the part about the war in Europe and 2 stars for the last 3 chapters.  Ruined a great book

Kristine's Follow (My Book Blog) Friday

To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
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Q. In books like the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish would come out of the closet, for real?


  This is a tough one. I'd have to say any one of the mythical creatures in the Book of Fairy Tales from the book The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  The book plays a small but important role in the story and all of the stories within this book have characters and creatures that hold a moral and ethical value to them. In a society where this is so easily forgotten I think it would be great to have a few of them amongst us!

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Review: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Paperback, 645 pages
Published June 6th 2008 by Pan Books (first published January 1st 2008)

Primary language:  English
Original title:  The Forgotten Garden

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra's life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace - the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century - Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself. 

Kristine's Review
I have to thank Terri for finding this book. She has been bugging me to read it for a little while so I thought I'd better pick it up and give it a go. I'm not sure where to begin or if it is even possible to put into words how I felt about this book. Here goes nothing...
  This book is about two woman who are trying to uncover their family's past. There is Nell, who on her twenty first birthday, found out that she is not who she thought she was and then Cassandra, her grandaughter, who knows nothing of  Nell's secret until after she passes away. The book jumps back and forth through time periods of each woman in their quest to find out the truth. Not only does it tell their story from different decades, it goes back to before either of their time to the Mountrachet family where it all begins. This is where we are introduced to Eliza and Rose.

  I must say that I found it a little confusing when I first started the book. Each chapter would leap between different time periods and characters and I had to keep looking back to remember who I was reading about. It wasn't until I got deeper into the book that I thought that it was brilliant the way Kate Morton began the story. By the time the story was well underway and I was captivated, the characters from every timeline were so well developed that I felt like I knew them. I cared about them and could not wait to read more about them. With each chapter little pieces of the puzzle were uncovered and I loved trying to figure out how it would all tie together in the end. I was right about some, and wrong about others. I was completely hooked up until the very last page. Morton brilliantly tied the pieces between past and present to tell this story of Nell's family past.

  This is the first Kate Morton book that I have read. The House at Riverton is on my bookshelf and after reading The Forgotten Garden I am sure I will be picking it up in the very near future. I will also be borrowing her latest from Terri the next time I see her. I loved this book. If I had to describe it in one word I would have to say STUNNING!

Kristine's rating

Terri's Review

I am so glad that Kristine has finally read this book!  I read this several months ago hence the reason I waited for her to submit her review as my recollection is not as fresh.  I fell in love with this book from the very beginning.  I love the way there were several stories in one weaving from 1900 to present day in order to bring the reader to the conclusion of one mystery.

I was swept away on a journey with the character's and I did not and could not put the book down.  Morton has an uncanny knack of taking me away to a different frame of mind.  I found myself thinking about this book and what would happen whenever I had put it down, I was dreaming about it and the I could not shake the "zone" it put me in while reading it and well after finishing it.  In fact, Morton has managed to do this with all three of her books.  I am still trying to shake the indescribable feeling her most recent book has given me.

As with Kristine, there were some parts that I guessed (we will chat about it this weekend!) and others that I did not know until they unfolded.  This book is probably at the top of my list of favorites barring some classics that I read many years ago.  I urge anyone who has been considering this book to stop considering and start reading!  For those who were never considering it, it is about time you do


Terri's Rating

Review: The Distant Hours By Kate Morton

A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WWII. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling.

Hardcover, 562 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Atria
Primary Language: English
Original Title: The Distant HoursLiterary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2010)
Terri's Review
I did not discover this book by accident, quite the opposite.  I was anxiously awaiting it to come out in soft cover so that I could go out and purchase it.  Seriously, with the way I have been reading lately, who wants to pay hardcover prices?  I did however discover Kate Morton by accident when I read the Forgotten Garden. I have not posted a review as it has been a few months since I have read it however I am anxiously awaiting Kristine to finish it and post her review so that I can add my two cents.  My suspicions are that she will finish it today.  After reading it, I then read The House at Riverton, again will have to wait for Kris' review and promised myself I will by all future books written by this author.

After reading a few pages (100 to be exact) I was sadly disappointed.  I found it slow to get in to and way too descriptive to the point of losing my attention.  Luckily for me I always finish a book once started and after page 100 I was hooked.  As is typical with all of Morton's books, I got swept away in the mystery and could not wait to turn the next page to find out what would happen next.  The story is told in the present day (1992) and in 1941 giving life to the character in both generations.  This is what has drawn me to Morton is the fact that she tells story over multiple generations and always delivers the story from the viewpoint of each principle character in each generation.  Once the story got rolling and we started learning more about the characters, I was lost to her words and where they were taking me.  Nothing else existed for me, my husband was ignored, work was annoying for taking me away from the book and the television did not get turned on.

I am not going to get in to any details of the book.  I feel that they need to be discovered while reading and giving anything away would be too much.  I will say that I was only able to guess correctly certain parts of the mystery as it unfolded and much less than I normally do (and less than The Forgotten Garden which has to be in my top 5 novels this past year).  It is hard to describe the feeling now that I have completed the novel.  It has been about five hours since I read the last word and the book is still with me.  It is a haunting story and has left me feeling haunted still as I type these words.  That's the closest I can describe however I don't think it is accurate to how I am feeling.  I'm not sure if I like this feeling however like it or not, it is how I can gauge how lost and involved I am in a storyline.

All in all, I would recommend this book.  I am only giving it a 4 star rating due to the first 100 pages that I found difficult to get through.  It would be higher if I were to rate it from page 101 on.  I also highly recommend both of her other titles and I cannot wait for Kristine to read them all so that I can discuss them with her.  As I said previously, I will own and read all of Kate Morton's works as she has managed to get me lost in her words three consecutive times.

Terri's Rating

Saturday 20 August 2011

Review: The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Mira (first published April 13th 2011)

Dear Anna,What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I'm so sorry…
The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle—her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family—described a woman who embraced life.
Yet there was so much they didn't know.
With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle's friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives—and the life of a desperate stranger—with love and betrayal, compassion and deceit.

Kristine's review

My relationship with Diane Chamberlain's books:

  I am a huge fan of Diane Chamberlain's books. I started by borrowing a couple of books from friends and was hooked. After a trip to the bookstore, I ended up buying every title I could find. Now here is where my relationship with her books takes a strange twist. At the same time that I purchased her books I went on a health kick determined to lose a little weight. I decided that I was only going to read the books while I was on my elliptical, recumbent bike or treadmill. I figured this would motivate me to get on my equipment every day. Was I right! I found that all of her books pulled me in right away and I couldn't wait to workout so that I could read a little more. When I would look down at the time on my equipment I was shocked that I had been on them for over an hour each! That's over three hours of working out a day just so I could finish the books. I was actually finishing the books faster and I lost fifteen pound in the process! I secretly call it the "Diane Chamberlain" diet. I have never let anyone in on my weight loss secret until now.
  I also have a real soft spot for Diane Chamberlain as a person because of my daughter, Sierra. She started a blog when she was eleven called The Reading Chic ( and she reviewed one of her books. She then asked her for an author interview and she gave it to her. It meant so much to Sierra and showed so much character that Diane Chamberlain would give some of her time to someone who was eleven years old at the time.

About the book:
  I absolutely loved The Midwife's Confession. Each chapter is told through the eyes of a different character in typical Chamberlain style. This is part of the appeal for me. You get to know each of the characters so well that you feel you have always known them. This is also what makes her books so easy to read.
  At the beginning Noelle commits suicide and the whole book revolves around Tara and Emerson, her two best friends, trying to figure out why she did it. They discover that Noelle had secrets that turn their lives upside down. Just when you think you have it figured out, something else happens. The characters are wonderfully written and the story flows flawlessly. This story tests the boundaries of friendship, love, family and relationships and keeps you guessing with every turn of the page.
  If you haven't read The Midwife's Confession I suggest you do. If you haven't read a Diane Chamberlain book then you are really missing out. There is not one of her books that I haven't enjoyed. I can't wait for the next one!

Kristine's rating


Friday 19 August 2011

Kristine's Follow (My Book Blog) Friday

To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
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  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
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Q. If you could write yourself a part in a book, what book would it be and what role would you play in that book?

   I would write myself a part in the book The Help as a friend and supporter of Skeeter's. She had no people in her life that supported the way she thought and what she was doing except for the help themselves. I would be the one friend in her life that did not abandon her in her efforts to make a difference.

That was my Follow Friday, put yours in the comments below

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Review: The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Paperback, 478 pages
Published May 11th 2011 by Allison & Busby (first published April 15th 2011)

Primary language: English
Original title: The Rose Garden
Historical Fiction/ Romance
When Eva's film star sister Katrina dies, she leaves California and returns to Cornwall, where they spent their childhood summers, to scatter Katrina's ashes and in doing so return her to the place where she belongs. But Eva must also confront the ghosts from her own past, as well as those from a time long before her own. For the house where she so often stayed as a child is home not only to her old friends the Halletts, but also to the people who had lived there in the eighteenth century. When Eva finally accepts that she is able to slip between centuries and see and talk to the inhabitants from hundreds of years ago, she soon finds herself falling for Daniel Butler, a man who lived - and died - long before she herself was born. Eva begins to question her place in the present, and in laying her sister to rest, comes to realise that she too must decide where she really belongs, choosing between the life she knows and the past she feels so drawn towards.
Kristine's Review
  This is the fourth book by Susanna Kearsley that I have read. Terri and I came across her books during one of our trips to the book store when searching for different books and authors. We didn't have anything in mind and we were randomly searching the rows of books for something that caught our eye and interest. I can't remember who, but one of us picked up one of her books, read the back, and thought it sounded interesting. We decided to give it a try. After both enjoying it, we were both excited that we had found a new author to enjoy. After reading Mariana, Every Secret Thing and The Winter Sea I decided to read The Rose Garden which is her latest release. I wasn't disappointed.

  Let me start off by saying that this is a book about time travel. It is not for someone lacking imagination. It ever so slightly reminded me of the Outlander series with a hint of The Time Traveler's Wife but in a more condensed and less detailed way. Eva finds herself slipping back to the 18th century where she finds Daniel and falls in love. Daniel is a Jacobite with strong loyalties to his kinsman. This is where it is similar in a way to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Unfortunately, I found that Kearsley's characters and story lacked the amount of chemistry and adventure of Gabaldon's. I was drawn to characters and their unique hardships but was hoping for more. Having read a few books about the Jacobite period and the uprising I was able to understand the story taking place in the 18th century but someone who has not may find it a little confusing. The details of that period were better written in her book The Winter Sea which is probably my favorite book of hers. I would suggest reading that one first.

  Having said all that, I did really enjoy the book. It was a quick and easy book to get through. I finished it in a day and a half. The complications of traveling back and forth through time were interesting to say the least. Anyone who likes a good love story with a little bit of historical value to it would really enjoy this book. Susanna Kearsley is a "new to me" author who's books I'm happy to have discovered.
Kristine's rating

Terri's Review

I read this some time ago so I figured I would let Kristine post her review when it was fresh in her mind and I would add my two cents in.  As she mentioned, this author was a surprise find of ours when we first discovered the book Mariana while browsing.  Upon reading it, I knew I wanted to read her other books.  I too have read four of her books (in order of preference) Winter Sea, Mariana, The Rose Garden and Shadowy Horses.  The book Every Secret thing is sitting on my to be read shelf at the moment.  Until a few moments ago, I thought these were all of Kearsley's novels however research has turned up some more titles.

Unlike Kristine, I have not read any of the Outlander series so I cannot draw upon any comparisons.  What I can say is that I really got lost in this book as I have most of the others.   I really enjoy when a book has a plot set in the present day as well as one set in the past (a common theme in Kearsley's novels) and tend to seek out these type of story-lines.  In this case it is about time travel.  While this would be considered part of the historical fiction genre, I more-so enjoyed the romantic side of the story as it did not fall in to the cheesy category that so many romantic themes can find themselves victim of.  I found the characters were well developed and that the story flowed well.  

Overall I would give this novel a solid 4 out of 5 and would recommend this book and any of her others for those looking for a good easy read that will help you escape for a few hours.  If you were to read only one or two, I would however recommend The Winter Sea first followed closely by Mariana.

Terri's Rating

Monday 15 August 2011

Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Hardcover, 451 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (first published January 28th 2009)

Primary language:  English
Original title:  The Help
Setting:  Jackson, Mississippi, 1962 (United States)
Literary awards:  Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction (2009), Indies Choice Book Award for Adult Debut (2010), Puddly Award for Fiction (2011), Southern Independent Booksellers Association's Book of the Year for Fiction (2010)
Adult/ Historical fiction

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

Kristine's Review 

  I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. It is such a unique book told from an even more unique perspective. It is genious! The racial divide in Mississippi in 1962 was enormous and something we all know a little about but what this book does is show (so flawlessly) the perspective from both sides in a very unique story. You can feel the inner conflict and turmoil in each of the characters. I laughed, I cried and was even tempted to throw the book across the room a few times. Hearing the stories of these maids ( although fictional) can give you a little understanding of what it was like during that period for them. I also loved how the character Skeeter was written. She understood and knew that what was going on was wrong but was so powerless to the views of her society to speak up without dire consequences. Without giving anything away I want to quickly mention Hilly Holbrook. Although I hated this character there is something very familiar about her. We all know one. The person that knows everything, is right about everything and nobody ever goes against. The one that will have you alienated from everyone if you dare go against her. The one that can't see any farther than her own head. In the book it is her racism and views on segregation that make it impossible for the characters in the book. I truly hated her.
  This book was made into a movie that was released just this week. I intend to go see it although I can't see how it could possibly portray the emotion as well as the book. I strongly encourage everyone to pick this book up and read it. You will not regret it. I could go into much further detail about this book but will refrain as I don't want to give anything away!

Kristine's rating
Terri's Review

I just picked this book up yesterday & finished it today.  I was thinking about what I wanted to say in my review and then I read Kristine's review.  Sometimes this twin thing is a bit creepy because she covered everything I wanted to say!

I have to second what she said, there was a little something about all of the characters that we can relate to people we know today.  If I want to get deep for a moment, it goes to show that although the times have changed and the issues may be different today, people really never change.  Some people will always be close minded and judgmental and some will always take that extra step to do something they believe in while everyone in between just plays lip-service.  I do not think that there is a single person out there who could not identify with these characters in one way or another.

I will keep this short but will say that this was an amazing book.  I will also add that Minny was my favorite character. I couldn't get enough of her sassyness.

Terri's Rating

Review: between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart

Hardcover, 344 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Philomel Books

Primary language: English
Original title:  Between Shades of Gray
Genre:  Historical Fiction,  Young Adult, War, Cultural/Russia, History WII

Terri's Review 
When I was in school, I took a class titled American Cultural History.  I took this class not because I wanted to, but because the courses that I did want to take were full.  This ended up being my favorite class because instead of textbooks I was assigned 15+ novels to read.  What does that have to do with this book?  Nothing really if you look at it literally; this novel takes place in Lithuania and details the plight of the Lithuanian people during WII while the course I took revolved around America.  The reason why this course popped in to my mind as I sat down to review this book is that both peaked my interest in historical events through written literature.  While textbooks can be dry and boring, history told through the eyes of a character living a story makes you feel closer to what happened and more importantly, makes you want to learn more.

I will be honest and say that I did not know a whole lot about what occurred in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the 1940's.  My interest in WII up to this point has mainly focused on events surrounding the Jewish people and the holocaust.  This book taught me about Stalin and his regime beyond the standard chapter in a history book that we are taught in school and has made me want to learn more about what occurred in the Baltic region during this time. 

I found this novel to be very easy to read despite the heavy content and was able to read it in one day.  The characters were all strongly written and their journey eloquently detailed.  I was able to smell the smells, feel the pain and suffering and celebrate the happy moments along with Lina.  This was a story of strength and love in a time of hatred and oppression.  The story was told through the eyes of a 15 year old girl who you are rooting for from the very beginning. 

I really enjoyed this book and I have a feeling that this will just be the first of many on this topic.  As it is written in the author's notes at the back of the book...."Please research it.  Tell someone".  I think I will.....

Saturday 13 August 2011

Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Hardcover, 218 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by David Fickling Books

Original title:  The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Setting: Germany, 1943
Literary awards:  Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader's Choice Award for Intermediate (2009), Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award for John Murray Show Listeners' Choice Award (2007)
Berlin 1942
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

Terri's Review

I borrowed this book from my niece Sierra ( after discussing my interest in novels about the holocaust with her.  I will start by saying that this book falls under the young adult genre and is written for a younger audience than myself.  That being said,  I found that this book had many subtle messages within that may not be clear to a younger reader or one that is not educated on the holocaust and Auschwitz in particular.  In my view, the fact that this was written through the eyes of an innocent and naive nine year old boy who was ignorant to what was occurring behind the fence was genius as it symbolized the greater ignorance of a nation during this tumultuous time.  At one point the boy asks the question to himself of who decides who gets to wear the striped pajama's and who wears the uniform.  This is a question that can spark much debate still today.  This is just one example of why I enjoyed this book I found that it really made me think and would make a great readers club selection (and most likely has been).  Lastly, without discussing the outcome, I feel that how the author chose to close this story was exactly how it should have been.  Ultimately, I would recommend this book to the young adult audience however add that I also think that it is a great tool to have adults read it as well in order to initiate conversation to bridge the generational gap (and maybe explain some facts to those less knowledgeable on the subject) on this important and tragic part of our world history.

 Terri's Rating

Friday 12 August 2011

Review: Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

Paperback, 293 pages
Published June 12th 2007 by St. Martin's Press

Original title: Sarah's Key
Setting: France
Historical fiction

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

Terri's Review 

Let me start by saying that this book was selected randomly while browsing the aisles at the book store.  The book description captured my attention as I have a keen interest in books that take place during war time, particularly relating to the holocaust.  At the time I had never heard of it and was unaware of its popularity.  This book was purchased to motivate me to work out as I was only allowing myself to read it while on the treadmill.  Needless to say I that I couldn't put the book down and therefore burned a lot of calories as I finished the book in one day!  I absolutely loved this book, although I say that with some hesitation considering the subject matter of this novel.  I liked how the book alternated between the present day with Julia's story and blended it with Sarah's journey in 1942.  I also enjoyed that it used a real historical event to use as the basis for Sarah's story.  This was an easy read despite it's subject matter and it brought me to tears at moments which to me is a sign of a good story and let's be honest, a little therapeutic.  Since reading this, the book has made the rounds in my family, traveling to my mother, sister and even my 12 year old niece.  I hear that this has been made in to a movie that will be released later this year.  I'm still debating if I will go see it as the movie rarely ever lives up to the book.  I can't think of one......

Terri's rating

Kristine's review

  Terri gave me this book to read after she finished and loved it. Unlike her, I curled up in a chair at the lake to begin reading it. I try to convince myself that I burnt just as many calories as her but who am I kidding! I found it to be a very quick read and finished it in no time. Terri called me and asked me what I thought of it and I told her I hated it! Having said that I had to explain that I thoroughly enjoyed it but hated the events that happened in it. The only thing I can say that best describes how I felt was that I loved and hated it at the same time. This is a book that you have to read to fully understand. I couldn't agree more with Terri's review above.

Kristine's rating

Review: The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Paperback, 758 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (first published 2010)

Primary language: English
Original title: The Invisible Bridge
Literary awards:  Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2010)
Historical fiction

Paris, 1937. Andras Lévi, a Hungarian Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern on the rue de Sévigné. As he becomes involved with the letter’s recipient, his elder brother takes up medical studies in Modena, their younger brother leaves school for the stage—and Europe’s unfolding tragedy sends each of their lives into terrifying uncertainty. From the Hungarian village of Konyár to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the lonely chill of Andras’s garret to the enduring passion he discovers on the rue de Sévigné, from the despair of a Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in forced labor camps and beyond, The Invisible Bridge tells the unforgettable story of brothers bound by history and love, of a marriage tested by disaster, of a Jewish family’s struggle against annihilation, and of the dangerous power of art in a time of war.

This book is not for the light at heart. If you are looking for a quick and easy read I do not suggest you pick this one up. With over 750 pages this book deals with love, heartbreak, tragedy, war and the efforts to survive in the most primal and unthinkable circumstances. I found it started a little slow but once I got into it I found I couldn't put it down. I have always been a fan of historical fiction and this one did not let me down. The characters in this book endure an unthinkable amount of challenges and I found myself needing to know what would happen to each of them. Just  when I thought I was nearing the end of the book so much happens that it is just astounding. The best way to describe this book would be haunting. It stayed with me long after the last page was turned.
           Kristine's rating

Review: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 15th 2010 by William Morrow

primary language: English
Original title: Secret Daughter
Literary awards:  Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction, Debut Author (2010)
Adult fiction

On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter's life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.
Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.
Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families-one Indian, one American-and the child that indelibly connects them.

Let me just start out by saying that I absolutely loved this book and it had me from the first page. The chapters are short and weave between the lives of Kavita, Somer and Asha. The story was so profound that I found myself not able to put it down, finishing it the same day that I started. I loved how it moved between each character and so flawlessly told the heartwrenching story of each woman. This is a book that I would highly recommend and encourage everyone to read.

Kristine's rating