#BookReview: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

793D7907-DB63-450A-8360-57FA9F2310F6Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: July 21st, 2020

Summary:

Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the international bestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (Alyson Noel, #1 New York Times bestselling author) The Winemaker’s Wife.

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.

 

 

Review:

I was left weeping and celebrating all at the same time! “The Book of Lost Names” pulled out emotions in me that were so intense I felt a true desire to do better, be better….Like Eva!!

When such raw beauty & awe resonates from the pages of a novel, it is because authors like Kristin Harmel can take a character like Eva and make her feel so real to us that we want to reach out and hug her in gratitude!

With the most tender kind of writing for a time in our history where the suffering was intensely exquisite, Kristin Hormel writes with delicacy and in such a warm way that this entire story leaves you breathless, closing the book grateful for knowing this part of history.

I am very grateful for all that I learned! Not only about history, but humanity and it’s desire to rise above darkness and truly be a bright light!

Eva and “The Book of Lost Names” is forever imprinted upon my heart. Like a tattoo!  As I am sure the true forgers had imprinted themselves on the hearts of so many children.

Bravo, Kristin Harmel! You took a cold, dark time and made it feel warm because of the hope of the people!

Any Child with a Lost Name would be proud to read this novel and keep it close!

I received a copy of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

I’ve added Kristin Harmel to my favorite author’s list!

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Author Bio:

Kristin Harmel is the #1 international bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES, THE WINEMAKER’S WIFE, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into numerous languages and sold all over the world.

A former reporter for PEOPLE magazine, Kristin has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she began her career as a sportswriter, covering Major League Baseball and NHL hockey for a local magazine in Tampa Bay, Florida in the late 1990s. After stints covering health and lifestyle for American Baby, Men’s Health, and Woman’s Day, she became a reporter for PEOPLE and spent more than a decade working for the publication, covering everything from the Super Bowl to high-profile murders to celebrity interviews with the likes of Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, OutKast, Justin Timberlake, and Patrick Dempsey. Her favorite stories at PEOPLE, however, were the “Heroes Among Us” features—tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. One of those features—the story of Holocaust-survivor-turned-philanthropist Henri Landwirth (whom both Walter Cronkite and John Glenn told Kristin was the most amazing person they’d ever known)—partially inspired Kristin’s 2012 novel, The Sweetness of Forgetting, which was a bestseller all over the world.

In addition to a long magazine writing career (which also included articles published in Travel + Leisure, Glamour, Ladies’ Home Journal, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and more), Kristin was also a frequent contributor to the national television morning show The Daily Buzz—where her assignments included flying to London three times to interview the cast of the Harry Potter films. She has appeared on Good Morning America and numerous local television morning shows–and even stumbled into a role as an extra in the 2003 American Idol movie while awaiting an interview with Kelly Clarkson.

Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts and spent her childhood there, as well as in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She travels frequently to France for book research (and—let’s be honest—for the pastries and wine) and writes a book a year for Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster.

Live Interview:

Order Today from Kristin’s Favorite Independent Book Store…There are a limited number of autographed copies!

Writers Block Book Store

Orlando, Fl.

https://www.writersblockbookstore.com/book/9781982131890

#BookReview & #NewRelease: A Summer of Surprises by Judith Keim

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: June 23, 2020

Summary:

Jill Conroy is tricked by her sister into becoming the housekeeper and cook for the summer at Seashell Cottage where Greg Campbell and his nephew, Brody, have been hired to do maintenance projects on the house. Annoyed at first, Jill soon realizes how wonderful it is to be away from her home in New York and the memories of her deceased, emotionally abusive husband. Soon the magic of the beach heals Jill enough for her to decide to move to Florida permanently to make a new life for herself. Her part-time work at a summer camp and the promise of a new job as a third-grade teacher in the fall make it seem as if her future is set. But a visit from her sister, followed by her mother, reveals secrets that surprise them all. Jill learns to accept the idea of love not only from Brody but from his daughter, Kacy, as the summer brings even more surprises.

 

Review:

“A Summer of Surprises” is a poignant novel in the “Seashell Cottage Series” that tells us all about Jill starting her life over and starting fresh on many levels.

Judith Keim has given us a charming, whimsical & emotional romance. I found myself teary-eyed a few different times while reading.

My heart broke for Jill during some of these difficult decisions that she had to make.

This was my first book in the Series and can be read as standalone.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

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Author Bio:

Judith Keim enjoyed her childhood and young-adult years in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and their two dachshunds, Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.

While growing up, she was drawn to the idea of writing stories from a young age. Books were always present, being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. All in her family shared information from the books in general conversation, giving them a wealth of knowledge and vivid imaginations.

A hybrid author who both has a publisher and self-publishes, Ms. Keim writes heart-warming novels about women who face unexpected challenges, meet them with strength, and find love and happiness along the way. Her best-selling books are based, in part, on many of the places she’s lived or visited and on the interesting people she’s met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many loyal readers love. Ms. Keim loves to hear from her readers and appreciates their enthusiasm for her stories.

*Please Come Join Us at The Write Review when Judith Visits on July 15th at 7PM EST*

#BookReview: The Weight of the Heart by Susana Aikin (Goodreads Author)

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: March 26, 2020

Summary:

Set in contemporary Spain, Susana Aikin’s latest novel is a colorful, beautifully written examination of memory, romance, and the intricacies of family duty.

On a sweltering August day in Madrid, Anna, Julia, and Marion return to their childhood home. The once grand mansion, furnished with exotic objects and art that reflected the cultures of their English father and Spanish mother, once bustled with visitors. But since their father’s death, all three sisters have been reluctant to go back, still feeling the weight of his domineering influence. Julia believes that before the house can sell, it needs to be cleared of negative energy, and she has planned a limpieza, or cleaning ritual.

Marion, the oldest, fears what the ceremony might unleash. Anna, the youngest and most capable and ambitious of the trio, is skeptical of the Cuban santera hired by Julia. Still, she is wary of antagonizing her siblings, or of stirring up old resentment.

But as the ceremony progresses, guilt and recrimination become impossible to ignore. And if there’s a chance of bringing their house and their lives out of the shadows, it rests in the sisterhood, strength, and indomitable love that remains when the ghosts of the past surrender at last.

Review:

An intriguing novel about complicated family relationships and how they dealt with so many unexpected situations is what Susana Ailkin has given us. She provides many situations that are thought-provoking to the point you want to hug the sisters.

The characters were well developed and the three sisters Anna, Julia and Marion were well developed. Delia and Constantine were very memorable with their “limpieza” of the house.

“The Weight of The Heart” is an emotional and intense story with many complex situations throughout that kept me turning the pages.

 

I finished this tale of sisterhood in one evening.

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for fair and honest review.

4 Stars.

#BookReview: The Ruby of the Sea by Peggy Lampman

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Book Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: February 5, 2020

Summary:

From the award-winning author of The Promise Kitchen comes a riveting new story of twin sisters caught in their mother’s crosshairs on what to do about their disturbed younger sister.

Lush with devastating secrets, lies, romance and psychological drama…”You tell me about a family without a certain amount of dysfunction, and I’ll tell you that family is lying.”

After aimlessly traveling the country for fifteen years, Linnea Chandler returns to her hometown of Key West, Florida keeping the genesis of a life-altering phobia to herself—not a good idea, as she comes to find out. The 19th Century lighthouse that she, her parents and two sisters call home also has a troubled past, carrying the frightening myth that eerily mirrors the mystery of her younger sister today. Should Linnea run while she can?

The women must decide to what extremes they are willing to go to protect their secrets. Ignore the brutality behind the retrieval of spoils from a fatal shipwreck in 1857? Defy a 2017 hurricane threatening to pummel their town? And when their world is upended, do the women have the strength to move forward?

Review:

Every once in a while I read a story that hits home for me in a lot of ways! “The Ruby of the Sea” is that story!

Peggy Lampman wrote a remarkable novel full of soul-stirring and poignant moments that touched my heart, bringing every emotion to the surface. I literally felt every sentiment pulling from my soul. My senses were heightened! There was no holding back!

Peggy Lampman wrote about family, and all of its fabrications with an evocative insightfulness. Happiness was almost enchanting! Feral Chickens. History, Magical! A gorgeous 19th century lighthouse. Even each crack was written about beautifully! Mental illness and it’s acceptance. Each word leading to the next; like a poem, a love letter. A perfectly planned execution, like a lyrical dance!

There was a piece of me in each character. Between that and Peggy Lampman’s writing, I was left with a sense of awe and appreciation when I closed the book.

Staring at it’s beautiful cover, knowing the Chandler family had left their mark and I was left better for knowing their story! and, no review I write can express my love for this book and my gratitude!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

#BookReview: The Lucky Ones by Kiersten Modglin

E47319DC-5D19-4EBE-A387-AAD51C53464DReviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: January 17, 2020

The Lucky Ones is FREE with Kindle Unlimited!
Get your copy of The Lucky Ones today: https://amzn.to/2QIhS30
Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2sFjqCB

Summary:

They were supposed to die.

Five years ago, the residents of the Gerbera subdivision in the small town of Fallen Oaks were brutally murdered in their beds. The only survivors, now called The Fallen Oaks Five, were children—practically strangers at the time, forever connected by the weight of all they witnessed.

Now grown, the anniversary of their families’ deaths approaches and the Fallen Oaks Five receive letters of warning: the killers are still out there and they aren’t finished with them.

In a race against time and murderers who remain both faceless and nameless, the Five must return to their old homes in order to piece together the events of a night they’d all rather forget. Their old town is riddled with secrets, and every person they come into contact with is a suspect. With everything at stake, can the Five solve the mystery and finally learn the truth about the night that cost them everything? Or will they find themselves victims of a fate they should’ve succumbed to years ago?

 

Review:

Kiersten Modglin has done it again!!!

The twists and turns in “The Lucky Ones” had me shaking my head and going “Are you kidding me?”

I was enthralled with this novel from the moment I picked it up. Kiersten Modglin has away of grabbing you and keeping hold until you read the shocking ending.

It was emotional yet complicated and exhilarating at the same time!!!

If you are looking for action packed thrillers, you must read “The Lucky Ones”, and all of her other books, too….You cannot go wrong and you will not regret it!!!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

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#newreleases #suspense #newbooks #books2read #psychologicalthriller #darkreads #newreleasebooks #bookworm #books #ebooks #bookrecs #bookrecommendations #fivestarreads

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#BookReview: Lenses, Lust, and Murder (Crystal Coast Cases #2) by A.M. Ialacci

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Reviewers: Serena Soape

Date of Release: January 6, 2020

Summary:

When Allie Fox became a private investigator, she envisioned herself solving crimes and keeping her hometown of Carteret County a safe place. Instead, to her great regret, she’s found herself trailing cheating husbands and tracking check kiters. All that changes when her autistic brother, Ryan, discovers a body near the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Now, Allie is diving headfirst into the investigation.

Everyone in town loved the victim, or so they’re saying. Yet Allie soon discovers many at the Cape have shocking secrets they would kill to keep hidden. As she closes in on the truth, a frightening attempt is made on her life. Can she unravel the clues to reveal the murderer’s identity before becoming their next victim?

Review by Serena Soape:

A.M. Ialacci has written a captivating mystery that had me wondering all the way to the end – whodunit….. and yes I was totally surprised when I found out who the culprit was!

“Lenses, Lust and Murder” was a well written novel with easy-to-like characters.

The main character, Allie does a phenomenal job working hard to crack the case of the murder at Cape Lookout Lighthouse.

Allies’s brother Ryan was one of my favorite characters. They had a very special relationship that was a key factor in solving the murder.

I have read all of A.M. Ialacci’s books and have enjoyed them all. These are definitely action-packed, unexpected and will keep you turning the pages.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

4.5 Stars.

#BookReview: The Vanishing (Fogg Lake #1) by Jayne Ann Krentz

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: January 7, 2020

Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz comes a new gripping romantic suspense trilogy fraught with danger and enigma.

Forty years ago in the small town of Fogg Lake, “The Incident” occurred: an explosion in the cave system that released unknown gases, causing peculiar effects on its residents, such as strange visions and ominous voices. Not wanting the government to get involved, they chalked it up to the hallucinogenic effects of mushrooms. Little did they know these effects would linger through the generations….

Residents Catalina Lark and Olivia Dayton have been best friends for years and own an investigation firm together, using what they call the “other sight” to help with their business. When Olivia goes missing, Cat frantically begins the search for her alone when the town does nothing about it. When scientist Slate Trevelyan shows up, she has no choice but to accept his help even though there’s something about him she just can’t trust. The duo discovers someone is hunting the two witnesses of a murder in Fogg Lake fourteen years ago—the very one Cat and Olivia witnessed as teens, one that they couldn’t prove happened. Cat and Slate’s search for Olivia takes them down a rabbit hole that is far more dangerous and mysterious than they ever expected, and with a killer in their midst, neither of them can foresee who will come out alive.

Review:

Wow !!!! You will be saying the same thing after you read this novel!!

Jayne Ann Krentz has me on the edge of my seat from the beginning all the way to the unpredictable ending.

I started this novel tonight and couldn’t put it down. I finished it in less than 3 hours!

Fogg Lake and the mysteries surrounding this town were exhilarating and mystical. The characters were exciting and captivating.

I was truly entranced with “The Vanishing”.

This is a must read, you do not want to miss this one !!! I am anxiously waiting for the next book in this trilogy.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

#BookReview: Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: December 31, 2019

Summary:

In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts one woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

Review:

“Love Lettering” has a little bit of mystery weaved into a heartwarming romance. The romance between Meg and Reid was difficult and emotional at times but the way they worked through situations was always profound and thought-provoking. I often found myself asking if I would have done the same things.

It did have a bit of a slow start for me but I was turning pages soon enough once it grabbed me and never put it down after that.

I felt like I learned a lot about The “Lettering” profession, which I knew nothing of prior. It has definitely left a mark with me as I catch myself looking around at signs and writing.

This was my first Kate Clayborn novel and I am excited to read future works.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for fair and honest review.

4 Stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: August 28, 2018

Summary:

An accused killer insists she’s innocent of a heinous murder.

A grieving journalist surfaces from the wreckage of her shattered life.

Their unlikely alliance leads to a dangerous cat and mouse game that will leave you breathless.

Who can you trust when you can’t trust yourself?

Trust Me is the chilling standalone novel of psychological suspense and manipulation that award-winning author and renowned investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan was born to write.

Review:

Hank Phillippi Ryan did it again with “Trust Me”! She had me completely spinning, and questioning everything and everyone! It was Fabulous!

Ryan has definitely cornered the market on twists and turns with these court room dramas. She is a genius!

I was so attached to Mercer Hennessey, who was just counting time since losing her husband and young daughter. So, her boss offers her the opportunity to write a true crime novel based on the Ashlyn Bryant Murder case.

This case involves the murder of a baby girl, so it hits a little too close too home for Mercer. Regardless, she still takes the job. You knew this was going to be extraordinary!!

This is a huge case in Boston and everyone is watching! The day the verdict is announced Mercer’s life is in an uproar!! and that is just the beginning….

This is where you truly start to read the book with your Eyes Wide Open!!

I could not believe the trip that Ryan has taken us on! Total Roller Coaster! Belly flipping!

Thinking about what is Trust? What is truth? This novel can leave you and your friends talking for days! Book Club going into overtime! Or your mind racing with thoughts!

Bravo!

Also! This cover! Turn it sideways! Brilliant!

I waited to write this review so it could be my last review of this decade. That is how much I admired this story and Hank Ryan Phillipi’s work! I look forward to more!

5 Stars.

#BookReview: Lesson for Two(Maple Glen, #5) by Christina Butrum

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: December 13, 2019

Summary:

As a dance teacher, Cassie Mitchell lives her dream every day.
Grant Weber’s dream was shattered the day he lost his wife.

When Grant and his daughter move to Maple Glen, Cassie is all too excited about the possibility of a new student in her class. What she didn’t count on was her instant attraction to the charming widower.

Cassie didn’t expect Grant and his beautiful daughter, Alex, to fit so well into her life and they didn’t plan on welcoming someone new into theirs.

As Cassie and Grant grow closer, challenging and pushing each other in every way, it turns out the lessons they’ll be learning won’t only be for dance, but for the heart.

Review:

I was excited to be back in Maple Glen with Christina Butrum’s “Lesson for Two”. The characters in this novel are so very sweet and like-able that you just want to hug them….

There were some emotional ups and downs that left me wondering how the story would end.

The Maple Glen Series is heartwarming and I would most definitely recommend “Lesson for Two”, as well as, the other books in the series.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4 Stars.