The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris – #BookReview – #historicalfiction – @SourcebooksLandmark

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Sold On A Monday—over a million copies sold!—comes a sweeping World War II tale of an illusionist whose recruitment by British intelligence sets her on a perilous, heartrending path.

The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorrisAs a little girl raised amid the hardships of Michigan’s Copper Country, Fenna Vos learned to focus on her own survival. That ability sustains her even now as the Second World War rages in faraway countries. Though she performs onstage as the assistant to an unruly escape artist, behind the curtain she’s the mastermind of their act. Ultimately, controlling her surroundings and eluding traps of every kind helps her keep a lingering trauma at bay.

Yet for all her planning, Fenna doesn’t foresee being called upon by British military intelligence. Tasked with designing escape aids to thwart the Germans, MI9 seeks those with specialized skills for a war nearing its breaking point. Fenna reluctantly joins the unconventional team as an inventor. But when a test of her loyalty draws her deep into the fray, she discovers no mission is more treacherous than escaping one’s past. 

Inspired by stunning true accounts, The Ways We Hide is a gripping story of love and loss, the wars we fight—on the battlefields and within ourselves—and the courage found in unexpected places.

His Review:

Fenna Vos bore a striking resemblance to Hedy Lamarr. Both women were in entertainment. Fenna is an associate of a stage magician. She works to develop escape acts and other performance mysteries. Misdirection is the standard fare for these well-trained escape artists, people able to get out of impossible situations. Fenna is one of the best.

The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorrisWorld War II finds Fenna working in a clandestine group called MI9. Their objective is to provide ways to help allied prisoners escape Nazi prisoner of war camps. Small hacksaw blades and cutting chains are inserted into such everyday games as Monopoly. The trick is to make the games transparent. The enemy allows such games to come into prison camps to help the detainees pass the time.

Fenna has a second asset to offer. In addition to her escape artist’s abilities; she can speak Dutch, as this was her mother’s native tongue.  She is working on a number of top-secret projects to enable prisoners of war to escape captivity. One very vital tool is the maps to help downed airmen find their way back to friendly territory.

She is inserted into Nazi-controlled Holland to assist the underground. She meets an old flame and finds the family of a very good friend. The friend has a child and the underground works to find a way to get mother and daughter back to allied territory. Regretfully the mother is killed in a Gestapo raid and her child is adopted by a childless German family. This situation is untenable to Fenna and the group in Holland. They work to help extract the young girl and spirit her to England.

This book is based upon some facts recently made public after World War II. Ms. McMorris has pulled together information regarding the female operatives during World War II in a most engaging novel. The success of this lady in a male-dominated world is nothing less than spectacular. The resultant book is a great tribute to the millions of women who worked unheralded and unrecognized during the second world war. 5 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

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Book Details:

Genre: British & Irish Literary Fiction, Historical World War II Fiction, World War II Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ASIN: B09NCNP1KG
Print Length: 573 pages
Publication Date: September 6, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Ways We Hide [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

 

Kristina McMorris - authorThe Author: KRISTINA MCMORRIS is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of two novellas and six historical novels, including the million-copy bestseller SOLD ON A MONDAY. The recipient of more than twenty national literary awards, she previously hosted weekly TV shows for Warner Bros. and an ABC affiliate, beginning at age nine with an Emmy Award-winning program, and owned a wedding-and-event-planning company until she had far surpassed her limit of “Y.M.C.A.” and chicken dances. Kristina lives near Portland, Oregon, where she somehow manages to be fully deficient of a green thumb and not own a single umbrella. For more, visit KristinaMcMorris.com.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Enjoy Your Sunday

Rosepoint Reviews – August Recap—Woohoo, it’s September!

I mentioned last month the fun with new gardening possibilities and while the sauerkraut was a bust, the carrots did pretty well. The rest of the veggies in the gallon fermenter got too soft. Now, I have ripe cherry tomatoes coming out of my ears and already dried the first batch. A bit too much pepper on some, but otherwise, they are like little tomato-flavored candies.

Okay, admittedly, that has little to do with books, although an excellent reason I’m slow to read this month. Thank heaven for audiobooks and the CE!

us back in 62
We don’t have any wedding pics, but I think this is in 1962.

Speaking of the CE…we will be celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary on the 2nd (cue the horns!). Hoping to do a couple things; still there are issues with gas and Covid. Because I am writing this ahead of those last three review posts, the links will be to Amazon rather than my review which I will edit upon return to my computer. (Sadly, I don’t know how to get a link to a review scheduled, not yet posted. Yes, I know—don’t say it.)

Together we did read or listen to nineteen books in August, most from NetGalley as I’m still working on the 500 badge; as I’m writing this, now up to a count of 494. So close!

The Wedding Plot by Paula Munier Holy Chow by David Rosenfelt The Last Sentinel by Simon Gervais The Final Hunt by Audrey J Cole Such a Beautiful Family by T R Ragan Lie Down with Dogs by Liz Milliron The Girl Who Escaped by Mark Nolan Overkill by Sandra Brown Out of Patients by Sandra Cavello Miller Christmas Scarf Murder by Carlene O’Connor, Maddie Day, and Peggy Ehrhart Bad Axe County by John Galligan Dark Rivers to Cross by Lynne Reeves Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip Margolin Lies She Told by Cate Holahan The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks A Sliver of Darkness by C J Tudor Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner The Double Agent by William Christie The Italian Daughter by Soraya Lane

  1. The Wedding Plot by Paula Munier
  2. Holy Chow by David Rosenfelt (audiobook)
  3. The Last Sentinel by Simon Gervais (a CE review)
  4. The Final Hunt by Audrey J Cole (a CE review)
  5. Such a Beautiful Family by T R Ragan
  6. Lie Down with Dogs by Liz Milliron (a CE review)
  7. The Girl Who Escaped by Mark Nolan (a CE 5* review)
  8. Overkill by Sandra Brown (a CE review)
  9. Christmas Scarf Murder by Carlene O’Connor, Maddie Day, and Peggy Ehrhart
  10. Bad Axe County by John Gallagan (audiobook)
  11. Out of Patients by Sandra Cavallo Miller (a CE review)
  12. Dark Rivers to Cross by Lynne Reeves (a CE review)
  13. Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip Margolin (a CE review)
  14. Lies She Told by Cate Holahan (audiobook)
  15. Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner (my 5*)
  16. The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks (a CE 5* review)
  17.  A Sliver of Darkness by C J Tudor (scheduled—link to Amazon) (CE review)
  18. The Double Agent by William Christie (scheduled—link to Amazon) (CE review)
  19. The Italian Daughter by Soraya Lane (scheduled—link to Amazon) (CE review)

Reading Challenges

My challenges—promises, promises, promises. Yes, I caught it up! Not once, but twice as I lost all my input the first time. My challenges for 2022 are all listed and linked in the widget column on the right. You can always check out the progress of my challenges, if you are so inclined, by clicking the Reading Challenges page. I’m now at 73% of the Goodreads Challenge of 180 books at 132 and achieved my Audiobook Challenge of 30 and the Historical Reading Challenge of 25. I also achieved the yearly goal of 75 for Netgalley and Edelweiss, although of course, those books are all from NG.

Having to do over the Reading Challenges page taught me one thing: I’m not keeping up with it well. Not updating, nor reporting to the challenge hosts. My apologies. I think going forward I will undertake fewer challenges and not try to list individual entries to the challenge. Makes the page unwieldy and for what purpose? Tell me, honestly…have you ever looked at it?

Where the Crawdads Sing (my review of the book here by Delia Owens) starring Daisy Edgar-Jones—was excellent. Did you get a chance to view it? I’ll be doing a critical review discussing both shortly. I’d love to hear what you thought, too! Did you read the book?

We here in the upper Midwest had a beautiful August—I can’t complain—with pleasant temps during the day and cool in the evening perfect for sleeping. Did you get the kiddies off to school? We’ve been informed we are expecting our second great-grandchild. Too early to know boy or girl. In the meantime, the boy is trying to walk. He’s nine months. The fun begins…Happy old woman

Welcome to my new followers and as always I appreciate those who continue to read, like, share, and comment. Please let me know if you saw something above that got your interest.

©2022 V Williams

Granny graphic attribute: wdrfree.com

Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner – #BookReview – Women’s Literary Fiction

Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Have you ever dreamed of running away?

Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate BoernerLife hasn’t always been easy for Bernice, but she is reasonably content at the ripe age of eighty-one. She has raised two children, buried both her husband and son, and is doing okay despite a few minor health issues. When Bernice’s daughter, Sarah, insists the time has come for Bernice to forfeit her independence and move into her backyard carriage house, Bernice refuses.

“I have a perfectly good house in Arkansas. Why on earth would I move to Atlanta?”

Despite Bernice’s protestations, Sarah moves forward with death cleaning and estate sale planning as though Bernice has no say in the matter.

Bernice has plenty to say about a variety of things.

With Miss Fiona packed stem to stern with only those things that spark joy (thank you, Marie Kondo) and inspired by an old black-and-white photograph of her first true love, Bernice leaves her cozy home in Savage Crossing without a glance in the rearview mirror. And without a word to her family.

Once Bernice decides to run away, there is no telling what might happen next.

A charming story of second chances and the transcendent power of love, Bernice Runs Away clears away life’s clutter and gets to the truth of what is essential in life.

My Review:

The cover is cute, eye-catching, and compelling. But don’t let it fool you–this is prose-perfect literary fiction. If the cover didn’t get you, this beautiful narrative of Bernice will. Don’t worry about the age thing—this is an easily identifiable theme of family, relationships, and an inspirational story that is trans-generational.

Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate BoernerWhat teenager, tired of parental guidance hasn’t thought to run away and rule their own lives? Independence, it seems, is hard won at any age and caregivers often become unwilling recipients.

Bernice’s daughter Sarah, worried about her mother aging in Savage Crossing alone in her old stone cottage, has gifted her with a book on “death cleaning” and if that is not enough, announced plans to move Bernice to the backyard bungalow in Atlanta being built for her—so she can be close.

Watched over.

Managed.

Bernice, like any independent adult rebels and begins plotting her escape. In the head of this octogenarian, the reader follows Bernice as she goes about her business dutifully clearing and cleaning (keeping only those things that “spark joy”), no way will she move to Atlanta. Her heart is in this home where she spent decades with her husband, now gone. She’s had a succession of cats, the current kitty being Dolly Parton—not as gregarious as her namesake—but still, she’s there.

What a poignant story, at times light-hearted or scary, riding with Bernice as she makes her way to Lake Norfolk, a special place in her heart, so many good memories! The little cabin that she booked with Jason, the owner of Cooper’s Bluff is perfect and the book becomes atmospheric with her efforts to prevail, do-overs and make-overs (old Bernice, new Bernice). Bernice is old school, old morality, and she is immensely empathetic. You can’t help but love her or the others in this character-driven novel.

As Bernice shares her memories and desires for tomorrow, the reader gleans that while age does not change desires of the heart and mind, some can be resolved.

So many quotables, including this, one of my favorites:

“Inhale. Exhale. Inhale bewilderment. Exhale disillusionment.”

Told in an easy pace (not to be confused with slow—as this is always engaging), the author has a wise sense of the decade, paints a casual kaleidoscope of visions as the story unfolds to a pleasing, satisfying conclusion. A lovely tale of adventure from a storyteller I’ll revisit with enthusiastic expectations.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Women’s Literary Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction
Publisher: One Mississippi Press LLC
ASIN: B0B919LW6X
Print Length: 403 pages
Publication Date: October 1, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Bernice Runs Away [Amazon]

 

Talya Tate Boerner
Talya Tate Boerner – author

The Author: Here are a few things about what makes me tick, and why we should be friends. I’m not afraid to drink from a regular garden hose or eat raw cookie dough. Unless I’m buying books or plants, I don’t like to shop. I love freshly ground coffee and logo t-shirts. I know how to make mud pies and snow cream and play dough from scratch. Yes, I’m a farmer’s daughter who really was raised in a barn.

I love interesting writing, some poetry, old movies, and hardback novels, especially southern classics. I have a degree in economics from Baylor University, and once upon a time worked for the previous owner of the Dallas Cowboys. My two grown children are the best people I know. I hope to be like them someday.

Clutter and incessant chatter make me crazy. I’m an extroverted introvert and need my quiet time. I’m inspired by music and nature. I have a butterfly garden in the backyard; milkweed is my favorite plant. I am an Arkansas Master Gardener and an Arkansas Master Naturalist.

I believe most any meal can be improved with a side of collard greens.

I live in Fayetteville, Arkansas with my husband and two schnauzers, Lucy and Annabelle (who rule the house). I think the Ozark Mountains are as gorgeous as any place on Earth.

Follow Talya at Grace, Grits and Gardening.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint Recommended-5 Stars

The Secret Keeper by Siobhan Curham – #BookReview – #historicalfrenchfiction

The Secret Keeper by Siobhan Curham

A gripping and emotional World War 2 novel, inspired by true events

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars 

Book Blurb:

Nazi-occupied Paris, 1942. “I want to create a world where we are free to be together, to be in love,” he whispered. I gulp down the sobs building in my throat. “I want that too. I’ll come back to you. I swear I’ll come back.”

The Secret Keeper by Siobham DurhamElena Garcia knows that the mission she has been tasked with is her most dangerous yet. With a tearful goodbye to the man she has grown to love, the dark-eyed and warm-hearted Santiago Lozano, she hurries to catch the train to the drop-off point, the coded maps she is delivering for the resistance concealed in a pack of playing cards in her purse.

As she leaves the underground meeting, she hears heavy footsteps closing in behind her. Her heart pounds, and a dark figure comes into her line of sight. Expertly fighting off her attacker, Elena races back to the station, barely making it onto the train. She is forced to confront the worst: her cover is blown and now nowhere will be safe. Somebody close to her is a traitor, but when you live in the shadows, how do you know who you can really trust?

To stay alive, Elena must flee the country – and that means leaving Santiago behind. But she refuses to abandon her mission while Europe is still in the clutches of the enemy, and she will not leave Santiago to face the wrath of the Gestapo alone.

But when Elena uncovers that the love of her life has been having meetings with high-ranking government officials and hears German officials greeting him by name in the street, it’s clear that Santiago has his own secrets.

Elena must now ask herself: should she risk everything to save Santiago… or was he the one who betrayed her to the enemy? And now, with millions of innocent lives across Europe at stake, how can she know what is the right choice?

An epic, gripping and emotional wartime novel based on the true stories of the female spies sent into occupied Europe. Fans of The Alice Network, Soraya M. Lane and Pam Jenoff will be totally hooked.

His Review:

Elena has grown up in the Los Angeles area but loves the letters from her Grand-mere Rose. After Pearl Harbor, Elena is approached by the Office of Strategic Services to become an operative. Her beloved grandmother had moved back to France and is now encased in a Nazi-controlled country. Because Elena speaks three languages fluently, she is a perfect candidate to become a spy.

The Secret Keeper by Siobhan CurhamHer training in a camp in Maryland is extensive and rigorous. She is taught many things including how to disarm or kill a man in close physical combat. Her training includes ciphers and other coding techniques. She knows that if she is caught, she will be tortured by the enemy for information and secrets and then killed.

She wants to be an actress and has been training to become one. Her persona is a Spanish actress working in a play in Madrid. She has a minor role in the production. Madrid is lousy with German operatives who are trying to catch allied personnel who are trying to get back to England! Her primary role is to infiltrate the German high command and thereby help the pilots elude capture.

CE WilliamsThe author has written a believable saga of a young girl in occupied Europe. The amount of danger and efforts to stay alive bring credibility to this character. Knowing the result of not staying vigilant will result in a slow and painful death. Danger moves with her every step of the way. I could not put the book down. Read and enjoy the efforts of this masterful storyteller. 5 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical French Fiction, Women’s Religious Fiction, Women’s Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B0B12NDDTD
Print Length: 426 pages
Publication Date: July 27, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Secret Keeper [Amazon]
 

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Siobhan Curham - author
Siobhan Curham – author

The Author: Thank you for visiting my Amazon author page! It still blows my mind to be able to say that I’m an award-winning, best-selling author of over 40 books for adults, young adults and children, because I’m also a former council estate kid and university drop-out who gave up on my writing dream because I didn’t think I was from the right (aka posh enough) background. So I really am proof that miracles can happen!

It’s safe to say that my books cover very wide ranging subjects, from spirituality, love and friendship to World War 2, the refugee crisis and talking animals! One theme remains constant however, my desire to leave my readers feeling uplifted and inspired.

My first historical novel, An American in Paris, was published in 2021 and became an Amazon best-seller in the US and UK, which I was over the moon about, as it turns out I have a real passion for writing historical fiction. I love unearthing the lesser known facts and details from World War 2 and presenting them to readers in stories that will resonate today. My other World War 2 novels are Beyond This Broken Sky, The Paris Network, and the yet to be titled ‘Book 4’ – which will be published by Bookouture in August 2022.

I’m also currently writing two more books for my Moonlight Dreamers series for young adults.

Because my path to writing success has been such a bumpy one, I love nothing more than helping other people achieve their writing dreams via my online community, THE WRITING ADVENTURE (you can find us on Facebook).

You can find out more about my writing and sign up to my newsletter, GRIT, GRACE & GRATITUDE, at http://www.siobhancurham.com

And you can connect with me on social media here…

Facebook: Siobhan Curham Author

Instagram: @SiobhanCurham

Twitter: @SiobhanCurham

Thanks so much to everyone who has read my books and taken the time to leave a review here on Amazon, it really helps so I very much appreciate it.

Siobhan

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

My fairy garden

Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel by Bonnie Garmus – #Audiobook Review – Humorous Literary Fiction

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Amazon Charts#20 this week

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF NPR’s BEST BOOKS OF 2022

A must-read debut! Meet Elizabeth Zott: a one-of-a-kind scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).

“It’s the world versus Elizabeth Zott, an extraordinary woman determined to live on her own terms, and I had no trouble choosing a side…. A page-turning and highly satisfying tale: zippy, zesty, and Zotty.” —Maggie Shipstead, best-selling author of Great Circle

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

My Review:

In the kitchen, bare foot and pregnant—oft repeated back then.

Neither my cousin nor I were considered for any kind of serious college education because back then women were—in the kitchen, ironing, cooking, cleaning, and having babies (see point 1). You don’t need an education to be just a housewife. Right…

chemistry beakerAnd here is Elizabeth Zott, brainiac and early 1960s chemist, fending off unwanted advances at Hastings Research Institute. 

Mz. Zott is fired when she gets pregnant, unwed. She met and fell in love with Calvin Evans, her intellect equal, brilliant, a Nobel-prize winner. But she refused to marry him and become background to Mr. Calvin Evans. He’s as socially stunted as she. They click beautifully—there is real chemistry here—but his unexpected death finds her with child and without a job.

In the meantime, the author racks up some amazing characters, most well drawn sufficient to draw conclusions as to whether or not they are likable or loathsome. A few were the latter—admittedly men—but not all of them. Six-thirty, the dog, is amazing and actually has his own POV. Yes, it dips heavily into anthropomorphism but works well.

woman with chemistry beakerWhen she finds herself a single mother with an extremely precocious four-year-old who is being taken advantage of at school, she demands to talk to the father and comes away with a new job; too broke to say no to being host of a cooking show on TV. Called “Supper at Six” she has very simple ideas on how to handle it–chemically. The station’s managers want her to dump the lab coat for a sexy dress. Not going to happen. It’s not a kitchen–it’s a lab. And the demographic loves it.

Yes, there is blatant sexism (that’s the way it was then), atheism, the glass ceiling, and possibly a few liberties using more recent scenarios in the atmosphere of the 60s decade. Sorry it fell back to Elizabeth being beautiful–couldn’t she have been just an average-looking woman?

Not uncommon then for a woman to downplay their own intelligence in a male-dominated world, but she does not. There are subtle bits of humor and the audible chuckle kind and I suspect there are probably more women forty and over who can laugh the loudest, identify the most, connect more strongly than the younger women.

Lessons in chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local very well-stocked library—this being a prime example and I thoroughly enjoyed the narrators. Thought to be the barn-burner for 2022, there were also some critical thoughts on it—but you can’t say it isn’t engaging. Highly entertaining, intelligent, fast-paced maybe.

There’s real chemistry here. How did you feel about it?

Book Details:

Genre: Humorous Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, General Humorous Fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B09BBK79VB
Listening Length: 11 hrs 55 mins
Narrators: Bonnie GarmusMiranda RaisonPandora Sykes
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Links: Lessons in Chemistry [Amazon]
Lessons in Chemistry [Amazon.uk] Amazon Charts #11 this week
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

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Bonnie Garmus - authorThe Author: Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked for a wide range of clients, in the US and abroad, focusing primarily on technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint Publishing

Before We Were Yours: A Novel by Lisa Wingate – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Goodreads Choice Award Winner

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge – until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents – but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals – in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country – Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong. 

My Review:

Taken from headlines back in Memphis, Tennessee 1939, this audiobook gripped me quickly and never let go. Yes, I’m probably the last to see this title, but so glad I did. My mother ended up in an orphanage in the late 20s when my grandmother and grandfather split; the Depression, the crushing poverty, and no way to care for two young daughters. So, while my mother didn’t have this horrendous experience, her’s was not pleasant either.

The storyline narration splits between 1939 and present-day Aiken, South Carolina.

It is essentially the true account of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage and Georgia Tann, who in today’s dollars, made a ton of money selling children from the facility. Not just orphans, however, as some were literally stolen from their parents for the bounty they would bring.

Babies were a hot commodity and Tann found a market with well-to-do couples unable to have their own. Then she found further avenues of income by squeezing them further for various trumped-up charges and fees.

The cruel life the children lead in the orphanage is heart-stopping. Tann apparently had cultivated major connections, including judges, politicians, and police who literally turned a blind eye to what was happening.

Historical POV is told through twelve-year-old Rill Foss, the oldest of five children from a family living on the Mississippi River in a shanty, a river houseboat. They are taken from the boat following a nighttime emergency trip to the hospital by their mother and father. Rill’s story is poignant, riveting, heartbreaking, and suspenseful.

In present day Aiken, Avery Stafford is caught up in the family drama of an elderly woman and makes a shocking discovery.

I definitely preferred the voice of Rill—her story captivating—her strength, resolve admiral. She had loving parents and had been well taught but was far too trusting. Avery is more difficult to warm up to—rich, her narrow scope of view rested on the well-to-do, educated, classed gentry. Once she got into the investigation; would not let it go.

There were a few things I didn’t quite understand (the adult sisters hanging onto their secret) and the conclusion that managed a touch of romance (obvious which way it was going), and really—he’s a nice guy and all but wondered how long the nice guy part would last over her kind of privileged background.

Yes, I got the audiobook from my lovely library and thought the narrators did an outstanding job. My heart rose and sank throughout, hanging on every word, until I was emotionally exhausted. I kept thinking of my mother—and understood again—why she was so paranoid about losing my brother and I when our dad left. Thank you, mom.

Book Details:

Genre: Fiction Sagas, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B06Y1MGNL9
Listening Length: 14 hrs 29 mins
Narrator:  Emily RankinCatherine Taber
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Before We Were Yours [Amazon]

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The Author: Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the bestselling author of more than twenty novels. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. Wingate lives in the Ouachita Mountains of southwest Arkansas.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

No Strangers Here by Carlene O’Connor – #BookReview – #mystery

No Strangers Here (A County Kerry Novel Book 1) by Carlene O’Connor

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

No Strangers Here by Carlene O'ConnorIn the powerful tradition of Ann Cleeves and Louise Penny, USA Today bestselling author Carlene O’Connor’s new series set in Ireland brings together complex characters and a fascinating setting, focusing on a female vet who returns home to the village where she grew up and must reckon with her past while untangling mysteries in the present.

On a rocky beach in the southwest of Ireland, the body of Jimmy O’Reilly, sixty-nine years old and dressed in a suit and his dancing shoes, is propped on a boulder, staring sightlessly out to sea. A cryptic message is spelled out next to the body with sixty-nine polished black stones and a discarded vial of deadly veterinarian medication lies nearby. Jimmy was a wealthy racehorse owner, known far and wide as The Dancing Man. In a town like Dingle, everyone knows a little something about everyone else. But dig a bit deeper, and there’s always much more to find. And when Detective Inspector Cormac O’Brien is dispatched out of Killarney to lead the murder inquiry, he’s determined to unearth every last buried secret.

Dimpna Wilde hasn’t been home in years. As picturesque as Dingle may be for tourists in search of their roots and the perfect jumper, to her it means family drama and personal complications. In fairness, Dublin hasn’t worked out quite as she hoped either. Faced with a triple bombshell—her mother rumored to be in a relationship with Jimmy, her father’s dementia is escalating, and her brother is avoiding her calls—Dimpna moves back to clear her family of suspicion.

Despite plenty of other suspects, the guards are crawling over the Wildes. But the horse business can be a brutal one, and as Dimpna becomes more involved with her old acquaintances and haunts, the depth of lingering grudges becomes clear. Theft, extortion, jealousy and greed. As Dimpna takes over the family practice, she’s in a race with the detective inspector to uncover the dark, twisting truth, no matter how close to home it strikes . . .

His Review:

Dingle is a peninsula in Ireland where the wealthy, like all cream, rise to the top and the O’Reilly family was the cream. They owned a good part of the peninsula and had many of the residents working for them. The patriarch of the family was Jimmy O’Reilly. Well dressed, he is found wearing a tie, dragged up on a beach from the ocean and very dead!

Cormac O’Brien is assigned to the case. The tie around Jimmy’s neck is tied correctly and looks almost new. He is in a very well-designed suit that does not look like it came out of the sound! The well-connected Mr. O’Reilly’s death must be solved and as quickly as possible.

A tarot card and vial of a strong sedative is found on the body indicating a veterinarian may be involved. Why would one of the wealthiest men in Dingle wind up on the shores of the sound murdered?

The local veterinarian is Dr. Wilde. He is well known throughout the community and everyone is concerned because he exhibits signs of advancing dementia, which has left him befuddled and confused.  His practice is suffering and his daughter, Dr. Dimpna Wilde, also a very good veterinarian, decides to return to her hometown to help her father.

It has been 27 years since Dimpna left Dingle for college and founded her own veterinary practice. Since the death of Mr. O’Reilly was presumed to be by someone with access to veterinary medications, the suspicion fell on the Wilde family.

CE WilliamsThe author weaves a very fascinating tale of duplicity, jealousy, and avarice. I found myself glued to the dialogue which shifted around identifying many suspects. But could the vet have been the perpetrator? 5 stars – CE Williams

[I’ve read many books by this author following the Irish Village Mystery series, including Murder on an Irish Farm, Murder in Connemara, and Murder in an Irish Cottage, all delightful 4.5 star reads. I thought the CE would enjoy starting this one. He did!]

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book. Currently on pre-order.

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery & Crime, Murder
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B09RGG842R
Print Length: 320 pages
Publication Date: October 25, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Links: No Strangers Here [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
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Carlene O'Connor - authorThe Author: Carlene O’Connor comes from a long line of Irish storytellers. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland to America during the Troubles, and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places across the pond she’s wandered, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork. Carlene currently divides her time between New York and the Emerald Isle.

http://www.carleneoconnor.com

©2022 – CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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