Book Review: An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham

A very Happy Publication Day to author Siobhan Curham for the release of An American In Paris today, 04.01.2021

About the Book:

An American in Paris

Walking through Montmartre that morning was like the eerie calm right before a storm. The roads were deserted. We carried on, arm in arm, and then finally, we saw them. Columns and columns of soldiers, spreading through the streets like a toxic grey vapour. ‘You must write about this,’ he whispered to me. ‘You must write about the day freedom left Paris.’

1937: Florence has dreamed her whole life of coming to Paris. She arrives on a sweltering summer day and, lost on the steep streets of Montmartre, asks for directions from Otto, a young artist with paint-spattered clothes and the most beautiful smile she has ever seen.

Otto becomes her guide to Paris, taking her to visit paintings in the Louvre and bookshops by the Seine. And when Otto returns home to finish his studies, they vow to reunite on the same spot they met, one year to the day.

Still dreaming of their parting kiss, Florence starts writing for an American newspaper and throws herself into becoming truly Parisian. All too soon, heady days of parties and champagne are replaced by rumours of war. When Otto finally returns to her, it is as an exile, fleeing Nazi persecution.

Soon, not even Paris is safe. Florence’s articles now document life under occupation and hide coded messages from the Resistance. But with the man she loves in terrible danger, her words feel hollow and powerless. If Florence risks everything by accepting a dangerous mission, can she rescue their dreams from that sunny day before the war?

A sweeping wartime story that will capture your heart and never let it go. Fans of The Alice NetworkThe Lost Girls of Paris and My Name is Eva will be absolutely gripped from the very first page.

My Thoughts:

Note: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

An American in Paris is a sweeping tale of love and loss, the impacts of WWII on people and the resilience of some to take a stand. The book is written from two perspectives, following dual timelines, on set in the time from 1937 – 1945 and the other in the present day which in the book is the year 2018.

In the present day part we are introduced to Sage who is on an emotional spiral and messes up her public persona while trying to deal with the grief of her mother’s passing. As she tries to deal with the aftermath of her scandalous viral videos, she receives an email that may just change her life and give her the answers that her mother may have once searched for.

As the story progresses, the reader is also introduced to Florence, an American dancer who comes to Paris in 1937. The author treats us to two different stories, one of Florence who finds love and laughter, a purpose in life until the war begins and starts to affect France, and that of Sage who embarks on a journey of discovery.

Though Sage is featured in the book, I feel that her character and that of Sam were just to provide perspective and a connection to the past. The main focus is on Florence and her story. It is one of strength, bravery and the will to fight back as well as of enduing love and faith. It is both heart warming and heart-breaking to read, but will draw the reader in completely until the very end. The author does a wonderful job in painting a picture of war torn France, the impact it had on the people and how they were treated. A lot of research has definitely gone into the historical facts as many of them could be verified as well.

The plot flows well starting from the beginning and going on until the end of the war and the aftermath. The characters are relatable and their experiences harrowing to say the least. Since I have visited Paris many times, it was wonderful for me to read about Florence’s emotions while discovering Montmartre and Musée du Louvre as well as my personal favourite, the bookstore Shakespeare and Company.

Be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster and a story that will cause the reader to pause and think. This book is well worth the read and I highly recommend it!

Round-up 2020 – Books with a lasting impact!

Hey guys!

As you might have observed, I have been doing round-up posts with a focus on genres read this year.

However, in this post, I wanted to focus on books that left an impact on me that lasted well after finishing the book. This year, I discovered a lot of new books spread across various genres, but a few were just amazing! These books gave me something to think about, brought out a lot of emotions or just sent me on a wonderful adventure filled with fun and learning!

Click on the book image to read my review of the book

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Historical Fiction

The Violinist of Auschwitz The Lost Village

Fantasy Fiction

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (The Cursebreaker Series) Finale (Caraval, #3) A ​Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes, #4)

Middle Grade Fiction

 Sol Invictus (The Eye of Ra, #2)

General/Contemporary Fiction

337

 

Do share your thoughts in case you have read the above books. If you have recommendations for such reads, please leave a comment so that I can add the book to my ever growing TBR pile!

Book Review: The Lost Village by Daniela Sacerdoti

About the Book:

The Lost Village

1945: Two sisters give birth to two little girls on the same night, huddled under blankets, deep in the black woods that surround their village. They hold their babies close as footsteps approach. If they make even the slightest sound, the German soldiers will find them…

2006: Luce Nardini clutches a plane ticket to Italy in her trembling hands. Since her only child left home, and with her estranged husband more distant than ever, she’s been overwhelmed with loneliness. She never knew her father, or the reason why her mother cut all contact with her family in the little village of Bosconero. Lost and unravelling fast, uncovering her roots feels like Luce’s last and only hope.

As Luce searches the maze of cobbled streets, a house with a faded blue door draped in perfect white roses stops her in her tracks. Inside is the grandmother she never knew, who – with a longing look at an ornate wooden box on her nightstand – begins to tell the heart-wrenching story of a little village ravaged by war, and why Luce’s mother fled home and swore never to return.

Surrounded by new friends and faded frescoes of saints, Luce is just starting to feel like she belongs when the unthinkable happens: an earth-shattering disaster that shakes the little village of Bosconero to its core. Could it be that the secrets of Luce’s past have been buried forever?

Frightened, hopeless and feeling more alone than ever before, will the surprise arrival of the husband she thought she’d lost help sew Luce’s family back together, or tear it apart for good? One thing is certain: she must find the little wooden box amongst the rubble of the village and return it to her grandmother. But nothing will have prepared Luce for the devastating betrayal she finds inside…

An unputdownable historical romance about the secrets we keep to protect the ones we love by the author of million-copy Amazon No 1. bestseller, Watch Over Me. Perfect for anyone who loves Fiona Valpy, Lily Graham or The Letter by Kathryn Hughes.

My Thoughts:

I received a copy of the book via NetGalley and am truly happy that I found it!

The Lost Village by Daniela Sacerdoti is a brilliant tale of love, loss, betrayal and the effect of secrets. Set in today’s world, we meet Luce Nardini who travels to Italy to find out more about her mother’s side of the family. Her mother refused to talk about her family and hints at secrets buried deep.

The author weaves a classic tale that is unputdownlable and gripping until the very end. Modern day is interspersed with the narration of times past. Luce’s grandmother talks of her life during WWII and the impact it had on their lives, on Italy and the people. She talks of finding love, marriage, children, her love and hate for her sister Nora and more. As secrets once buried come to the surface, Luce has the choice to stop or hear it all as she tries to find her place and bring her family together.

Dealing with her own problems, Luce seeks to immerse herself in finding out the truth behind her family and as the story unravels, the reader feels all the emotions along with the various characters. I loved reading about Luce’s cousin and her fiancé, Luce’s relationship with her son and the bonds she forms with the people she meets in Italy.

This story is mind-blowing and so well-written that all incidents that happen seem to be happening to the reader as well. There is not one moment when you will feel like stopping as the story flows seamlessly merging past with present and so on.

I truly loved this book and recommend this to all fans of historical fiction. This story is not just about the war, it is about the people who experienced it and the things they did to survive. But, secrets have a way of coming out in the end and the impacts are tremendous as can be seen from this book.

Book Review: Midnight Train to Prague by Carol Windley

About the Book:

Midnight Train to Prague

An unforgettable tale of what we owe to those we love, and those we have left behind

In 1927, as Natalia Faber travels from Berlin to Prague with her mother, their train is delayed in Saxon Switzerland. In the brief time the train is idle, Natalia learns the truth about her father and meets a remarkable woman named Dr. Magdalena Schaefferová, whose family will become a significant part of her future.

Shaken by these events, Natalia arrives at a spa on the shore of Lake Hevíz in Hungary. Here, she meets the journalist and writer Miklós Count Andorján. In time, they will marry, and Natalia will devote herself to life on a rural estate in Hungary.

When war breaks out in Europe, Natalia loses contact with Miklós. She believes they are to meet in Prague, a city under Nazi occupation. She sets up shop as a fortune teller with a pack of Tarot cards. In this guise, she meets Magdalena Schaefferová’s young daughter, Anna. Accused by the Nazis of spying, Natalia is sent to a concentration camp. In April 1945, Natalia and Anna are reunited, and with courage and determination, find the strength to begin again in a changed world.

My Thoughts:

I found this book on NetGalley and am grateful to have been approved a copy. I know that my review is quite late considering that the book was released in April, but then again, better late than never.

Starting with the title, the book intrigued me and I was curious to know what happens. The synopsis also added to growing interest I had in the book. Set in the times before, during and after the WWII, the story follows Natalia as she first travels with her mother to Prague and then later as she navigates life under the Nazi rule. The first half of the story focuses on her, her family and the people they meet on the way including Miklós. The second half of the story introduces us to Anna, the daughter of Magdalena Schaefferová, a doctor whom Natalia had very briefly met many years ago. As the story progresses, their stories intertwine and diverge based on the situations they end up in.

The historical aspect of the story is spot on and I enjoyed reading about how Europe changed. The author also touches upon the horrors during WWII, families being torn apart and the loss that people dealt with. This was quite sad but very well portrayed. At some points the story became confusing for me as it jumped from location to location and character to character.

Also, I read this in many reviews and I agree that it was odd how most of the dialogues were maintained in passive voice. Though it did not bother me as much, it was a new style of writing which I had not encountered much before. In retrospect, I feel that this worked for the way the book was written and still conveyed the points across. I was also not able to correlate the title of the book with the story completely as the focus was on the lives of the people and their experiences during the war.

The characters went through a lot in this story dealing with love, loss, friendship, empathy and so many other things. The author does a good job in pulling the reader into the narrative. This book is a good read for the historical depictions with a focus on Eastern Europe and the enduring nature of the characters in the book!

Round-up 2020 – Historical Fiction!

Having read a whole lot of books this year, I have decided to do a sum up of the different genres and list my favorite books among those read in 2020!

These posts will help me with the final round-up of favorite books read in 2020 at the end of the year (in another 15 days! :D)

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In this post, I am summarizing the list of historical fiction that I read and enjoyed this year! They are not listed in any particular order and I truly enjoyed all of them. I have started to read more books in this genre and I am thoroughly enjoying them. I have a huge line-up of books to finish this year and to start off 2021 with a bang.

A huge thank you to NetGalley and the publishers listed for approving some of the books I have requested.

This post will be divided into two sections: one for the books read and reviewed already with excerpts from my review and a link to the full review (title is a hyperlink); and one for the books that I am yet to read and are now a part of my ever growing TBR list (book synopsis provided from Goodreads or NetGalley).

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Books read and reviewed in 2020 so far…..

The Violinist of Auschwitz by Ellie Midwood

The Violinist of Auschwitz

The Violinist of Auschwitz is based on the real life story of Alma Rosé, an esteemed violinist before her world came crashing down as she was brought to the camp at Auschwitz. Alma was indeed a very strong woman, who made it her mission to save as many lives as she could while building an orchestra in the midst of all the sorrow.

Ellie Midwood is a brilliant story teller and she brings Alma’s story to life just like Alma brought music to life. This story is spell-binding, heart-wrenching, filled with so much hatred and even love, that it will remain with the reader even after finishing the book.

 

 

 

Wedding Bells on Victory Street (The Bryant Sisters #2) by Pam Howes

Wedding Bells on Victory Street (The Bryant Sisters #2)

The story follows the Bryant Sisters as they travel the country during WWII, providing entertainment for the troops. I directly read this book without having read the first one, but it did affect the story for me. I was able to easily connect with the main characters and follow their journey in this book.

This is a love story set in the time of WWII and it brings to us a feeling of hope for the characters and a feeling of joy in spite of all the sadness. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would recommend it to everyone!

 

 

 

Keep Forever by Alexa Kingaard

Keep Forever is a story that will take the rider on a roller coaster of emotions. It follows the lives of Paul and Sam as they navigate their way through being Marines and their short experience with War in Vietnam. We also follow Elizabeth, Sam’s sister as she tries to hold on to her emotions and childhood while dealing with the loss of her parents and the responsibility of her younger siblings.

A very well-written story, Keep Forever will pull the reader in and make up experience everything along with the main characters. The happiness, the turmoil, the heart-wrenching sadness and the flicker of hope.

This story is a must read for everyone, a way to try and understand the nightmares of war and how it affects us human beings!

 

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Books currently being read and on the TBR list….

Midnight Train to Prague by Carol Windley (Released in 2020)
Midnight Train to Prague
About the Book:

An unforgettable tale of what we owe to those we love, and those we have left behind

In 1927, as Natalia Faber travels from Berlin to Prague with her mother, their train is delayed in Saxon Switzerland. In the brief time the train is idle, Natalia learns the truth about her father and meets a remarkable woman named Dr. Magdalena Schaefferová, whose family will become a significant part of her future.

Shaken by these events, Natalia arrives at a spa on the shore of Lake Hevíz in Hungary. Here, she meets the journalist and writer Miklós Count Andorján. In time, they will marry, and Natalia will devote herself to life on a rural estate in Hungary.

When war breaks out in Europe, Natalia loses contact with Miklós. She believes they are to meet in Prague, a city under Nazi occupation. She sets up shop as a fortune teller with a pack of Tarot cards. In this guise, she meets Magdalena Schaefferová’s young daughter, Anna. Accused by the Nazis of spying, Natalia is sent to a concentration camp. In April 1945, Natalia and Anna are reunited, and with courage and determination, find the strength to begin again in a changed world.

The Lost VillageAbout the Book:

1945: Two sisters give birth to two little girls on the same night, huddled under blankets, deep in the black woods that surround their village. They hold their babies close as footsteps approach. If they make even the slightest sound, the German soldiers will find them…

2006: Luce Nardini clutches a plane ticket to Italy in her trembling hands. Since her only child left home, and with her estranged husband more distant than ever, she’s been overwhelmed with loneliness. She never knew her father, or the reason why her mother cut all contact with her family in the little village of Bosconero. Lost and unravelling fast, uncovering her roots feels like Luce’s last and only hope.

As Luce searches the maze of cobbled streets, a house with a faded blue door draped in perfect white roses stops her in her tracks. Inside is the grandmother she never knew, who – with a longing look at an ornate wooden box on her nightstand – begins to tell the heart-wrenching story of a little village ravaged by war, and why Luce’s mother fled home and swore never to return.

Surrounded by new friends and faded frescoes of saints, Luce is just starting to feel like she belongs when the unthinkable happens: an earth-shattering disaster that shakes the little village of Bosconero to its core. Could it be that the secrets of Luce’s past have been buried forever?

Frightened, hopeless and feeling more alone than ever before, will the surprise arrival of the husband she thought she’d lost help sew Luce’s family back together, or tear it apart for good? One thing is certain: she must find the little wooden box amongst the rubble of the village and return it to her grandmother. But nothing will have prepared Luce for the devastating betrayal she finds inside…

An unputdownable historical romance about the secrets we keep to protect the ones we love by the author of million-copy Amazon No 1. bestseller, Watch Over Me. Perfect for anyone who loves Fiona Valpy, Lily Graham or The Letter by Kathryn Hughes.

 

An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham (Publication Date: 4th Jan 2021)

An American in ParisAbout the Book:

Walking through Montmartre that morning was like the eerie calm right before a storm. The roads were deserted. We carried on, arm in arm, and then finally, we saw them. Columns and columns of soldiers, spreading through the streets like a toxic grey vapour. ‘You must write about this,’ he whispered to me. ‘You must write about the day freedom left Paris.’

1937: Florence has dreamed her whole life of coming to Paris. She arrives on a sweltering summer day and, lost on the steep streets of Montmartre, asks for directions from Otto, a young artist with paint-spattered clothes and the most beautiful smile she has ever seen.

Otto becomes her guide to Paris, taking her to visit paintings in the Louvre and bookshops by the Seine. And when Otto returns home to finish his studies, they vow to reunite on the same spot they met, one year to the day.

Still dreaming of their parting kiss, Florence starts writing for an American newspaper and throws herself into becoming truly Parisian. All too soon, heady days of parties and champagne are replaced by rumours of war. When Otto finally returns to her, it is as an exile, fleeing Nazi persecution.

Soon, not even Paris is safe. Florence’s articles now document life under occupation and hide coded messages from the Resistance. But with the man she loves in terrible danger, her words feel hollow and powerless. If Florence risks everything by accepting a dangerous mission, can she rescue their dreams from that sunny day before the war?

A sweeping wartime story that will capture your heart and never let it go. Fans of The Alice NetworkThe Lost Girls of Paris and My Name is Eva will be absolutely gripped from the very first page.

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There are many many more to this list and I hope to talk about the books soon! In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on the books in this post and share recommendations! I am open to suggestions!

Thank you in advance for stopping by!

Book Review: Forever Your Duke (12 Dukes of Christmas #12) by Erica Ridley

About the Book:

Forever Your Duke (12 Dukes of Christmas,#12)

This year, the Duke of Nottingvale’s Christmastide house party doubles as a bride hunt. The handsome duke seeks a blue-blooded debutante as respectable as he is, and his parlor is brimming with paragons of propriety.

Inveterate spinster and unapologetic hoyden Miss Cynthia Louise Finch does not fit the mold. Any mold. Her younger cousin is perfect for the duke! By matchmaking the two, Cynthia will save her favorite cousin from a horrific fate. The only problem? Cynthia has always held a tendre for the duke. And for the first time, she seems to have caught his attention…

The Duke of Nottingvale knows his responsibilities: Duty and decorum above all else. A respectable lord would never sneak away for stolen moments with a fearless, audacious minx he cannot make his duchess. He definitely wouldn’t kiss her. Or fall in love…

My Thoughts:

The final book in the 12 Dukes of Christmas Series, Forever Your Duke is short and simply gorgeous! The basic theme of the story is to follow your heart inspite of Duty. This is a quick read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Set in a time when women have to be proper and behave a certain way, Miss Cynthia Louise Finch is exactly the opposite. Now declared a spinster according to the general public, she has chosen to be the way she chooses and to ignore the expected conventions. Charged with trying to pair her cousin with the Duke of Nottingvale, she ends up in even more trouble than she expected having caught his attention. all hell breaks lose as the story progresses, with Cynthia Louise attending the parties at the Duke’s house as well as all the events the village has to offer.

Cynthia is a ray of sunshine and a ball of energy. I like how she interacts with her cousin with love and tenderness and they share a mutual respect. The story is on point, focusing on how Cynthia and the Duke navigate their way around each other, where Cynthia even gets a chance to push the Duke out of his comfort zone and spend some time with her in the village. All things considered, this definitely has the makings of a scandal!

A Christmas time romance read, this book is wonderful for a quick break from a busy day with a nice mug of coffee or hot chocolate!

Book Review: Wedding Bells on Victory Street (The Bryant Sisters #2) by Pam Howes

About the Book:

Wedding Bells on Victory Street (The Bryant Sisters #2)

From Amazon bestseller Pam Howes comes a heartbreaking World War Two novel about a young woman trying to make the best of history’s darkest hour. Is a happy ever after impossible?

Liverpool, 1943. For Bella Rogers, life is looking up. She loves performing with The Bryant Sisters, the singing trio who have become the country’s sweethearts, putting a smile on the faces of the brave boys fighting the Nazis. But then tragedy strikes when a telegram arrives: Bella’s beloved father has been killed in France.

Unlike her poor Mam, Bella has someone to share her grief with. Her childhood love Bobby is home from the war. He lost a leg but she counts her blessings every day that he’s alive when so many young men haven’t made it back. Bella longs to give her heart to Bobby but she is hiding a secret that may change their lives forever. Will he still love her if she reveals the truth?

But when bombs screech down on Victory Street in the middle of the night, blowing houses apart, Bella may lose both the home she loves and the family who mean everything to her. With so much loss around her, will Bella be brave enough to snatch her chance of happiness? And when the war is finally over, will wedding bells ring out on Victory Street again?

An utterly unputdownable, heart-wrenching historical novel that will have you completely hooked from page one. You’ll lose yourself in this gorgeous wartime story of love, loss and family secrets. Perfect for fans of Wives of War, Nadine Dorries and Nancy Revell.

My Thoughts:

Wedding Bells on Victory Street is Book 2 in The Bryant Sisters series. I am glad that I was approved a copy of the book via NetGalley.

The story follows the Bryant Sisters as they travel the country during WWII, providing entertainment for the troops. I directly read this book without having read the first one, but it did affect the story for me. I was able to easily connect with the main characters and follow their journey in this book. The story revolves primarily around Bella and her family, her relationships with the other girls who form the Bryant Sisters as well as Bobby, her childhood love. The story is well-written and flows so well that I finished the book in one sitting.

The setting of the story is heart-wrenching with death and uncertainty looming over all the characters. I loved how Bella’s Mother and sister stepped up to help her and how the entire community who lived in and around Victory Street band together to support each other. As the war progresses, the characters learn to rely on themselves and one another to move forward. The author has done a great job with the story, the settings and the characters are adorable.

This is a love story set in the time of WWII and it brings to us a feeling of hope for the characters and a feeling of joy in spite of all the sadness. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would recommend it to everyone!

Book Review: The Violinist of Auschwitz by Ellie Midwood

About the Book:

The Violinist of Auschwitz

Auschwitz, 1943: In the depths of hell, can hope rise? And can love triumph over hatred?

Based on the unforgettable true story of Alma Rosé, The Violinist of Auschwitz brings to life one of history’s most fearless, inspiring and courageous heroines. Alma’s bravery saved countless lives, bringing hope to those who had forgotten its meaning…

In Auschwitz, every day is a fight for survival. Alma is inmate 50381, the number tattooed on her skin in pale blue ink. She is cooped up with thousands of others, torn from loved ones, trapped in a maze of barbed wire. Every day people disappear, never to be seen again.

This tragic reality couldn’t be further from Alma’s previous life. An esteemed violinist, her performances left her audiences spellbound. But when the Nazis descend on Europe, none of that can save her…

When the head of the women’s camp appoints Alma as the conductor of the orchestra, performing for prisoners trudging to work as well as the highest-ranking Nazis, Alma refuses: “they can kill me but they won’t make me play”. Yet she soon realizes the power this position offers: she can provide starving girls with extra rations and save many from the clutches of death.

This is how Alma meets Miklos, a talented pianist. Surrounded by despair, they find happiness in joint rehearsals, secret notes, and concerts they give side by side––all the while praying that this will one day end. But in Auschwitz, the very air is tainted with loss, and tragedy is the only certainty… In such a hopeless place, can their love survive?

This devastatingly heartbreaking yet beautifully hopeful tale proves that even in the darkest of days, love can prevail––and give you something to live for. Fans of The Choice, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Orphan Train will lose their hearts to this magnificent tale.

My Thoughts:

The Violinist of Auschwitz is based on the real life story of Alma Rosé, an esteemed violinist before her world came crashing down as she was brought to the camp at Auschwitz. Alma was indeed a very strong woman, who made it her mission to save as many lives as she could while building an orchestra in the midst of all the sorrow. Bringing even a small amount of joy or hope to the people around her made her happier. Learning to navigate the camp, Alma uses her talent to gain favour with the camp officials, cementing a place for her girls and ensuring their safety.

In addition to finding people around her, she finds love in Miklos, a talented pianist thus finding some happiness in the midst of it all. Alma’s music, described as spell-binding and known to make even the most rigid person emote, made her indispensable in the heart of the camp. Alma’s legacy continues on through her story, her music and love and all the girls she saved.

This story is a highly emotional read, the reality of the concentration camp and the people both in it and who ran it was difficult to read about. However, the author has done a wonderful job detailing the Auschwitz concentration camp and she doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is, right from the experiments run on the people to the gas chambers themselves. Ellie Midwood is a brilliant story teller and she brings Alma’s story to life just like Alma brought music to life. This story is spell-binding, heart-wrenching, filled with so much hatred and even love, that it will remain with the reader even after finishing the book.

Book Review: The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1) by Kiersten White

I would like to stress that the below review reflects my honest opinion.

 

About the Book:

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a new fantasy series reimagining the Arthurian legend, set in the magical world of Camelot.

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

*THE FIRST BOOK IN THE CAMELOT RISING TRILOGY*

My Thoughts:

The Guinevere Deception, Book 1 in the Camelot Rising series, is a re-telling of the famous King Arthur story from Guinevere’s point of view. However, this is a story with a twist. Here, the focus is on the heroine, but the story is placed at a time when all magic has been driven out of Camelot and Merlin is no longer present. Arthur sits on the throne, but needs to wed and produce an heir to ensure that his line continues. In this version of the story, Guinevere is not who she claims to be, but is sent to Camelot under the guise to protect Arthur.

The story is rife with attempts on Arthur’s life and we get a glimpse into the his past and a little of the actual legend behind his sword, Excaliber. There is a lot going on, but the character of Guinevere did not grow on me. In fact she quite annoyed me sometimes with the way she thinks and whines. She is not as strong as I expected and not very charismatic. In fact she seems to cause more problems than prevent them. The bond between the principal characters is good, but could have been developed more. Even though the plot is deep, it always seems to be missing something and there are moments when the reader is just spending time wondering where the story is going.

I particularly enjoyed the jousts and the mystery surrounding Lancelot. Though the mystery was unnecessarily dragged on, it was quite interesting to read about the author’s idea of the characters and her versions of them. On the whole the re-telling was interesting, it cannot be right or wrong as it is a point of view, but it seemed to drag on and I am not sure where this will take us in the books to come. I did enjoy some parts of it and I would recommend this book for those who want to try out a re-telling.

Book Review: The Photograph by Debbie Rix

A special shout-out to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with this copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Italy, 1958: Rachael is a young widow with a small child. After a lifetime of running for survival, of not knowing who to trust and where to call home, she finds herself in a place of safety. On a sun-drenched Italian island for one carefree summer the troubles of her past fade away and she falls in love. But will Rachael’s new-found happiness bring her further heartache?

England, 2017: Sophie has a handsome husband, a gorgeous house in the English countryside and a successful career as an anthropologist. But the one thing she longs for is a baby of her own. As she struggles to conceive, cracks begin to appear in her marriage. So Sophie throws herself into her work and tries to seek comfort in childhood memories of her beloved grandmother Rachael.

One afternoon, Sophie finds a forgotten letter and an exquisite silk bracelet hidden in Rachael’s old writing desk. Intrigued, she begins to unravel the extraordinary story of her grandmother’s past – and a secret that has the power to change everything…

The Photograph is an utterly beautiful and compelling story of love, loss and a family secret spanning generations.

My Thoughts:

The Photograph is the spell-binding journey of two women, generations apart, and their stories of love, loss and life. The story alternates between Sophie’s life and experiences in the current day, and those of Rachael, almost 60 years ago.

Sophie is dealing with the struggle to conceive, yearning so much for a child that she does not pay much attention to how the people around her are dealing with things. She is a wonderful person at heart, but fails to see how her obsession affects her husband. At the brink of losing her marriage entirely, the husband and wife duo are confronted with a lot of decisions and forced to deal with their emotions. The best part of Sophie’s story is her family, who is her support system, but who also act as voices of reason when required.

More than 60 years ago, Rachael, Sophie’s grandmother loses her own mother, her husband and is forced to flee her home with her father so as not to get caught. In the midst of all this, she finds herself pregnant. As the father-daughter duo’s journey continues west, they end up in England where her father takes up teaching anthropology at the university.

Rachael fills her time and also builds bonds with the owner of the house they are staying at. As time passes, they move to Italy for almost a year so that her father can lead a dig and document the findings. What follows is a life of sun, some laughter and a passionate love that Rachael develops for a local of the island. However, the main part of her story comes from not being able to pursue this relationship and moving back home.

Rachael’s life is filled with a lot of loss and tragedy, but through all this emerges a strong willed woman who raises two children by herself and lives to see her grandchildren grow up. A quiet but dependable presence in their lives, no-one knows that she harbors a strong secret about her life and her son’s.

Sophie, in a bid to connect with her grandmother, while moving her writing desk from the attic to the living room, discovers a false back. This leads to the discovery of a photograph, the very photograph that the title refers to! What follows is a family holiday to Italy where Sophie sets out to discover the truth behind the photograph. This leads Sophie to uncover a deeply hidden truth that would change her mother and uncle’s lives forever.

The story is gripping and will keep the reader hooked until the very end. Set against some amazing backdrops, the authors ensures to describe each place with great detail, it feels as though you are also there. The emotions are many and the reader will experience them all along with the characters. The author brings out the repercussions of keeping secrets but at the same time she shows us the reasoning behind it and how it might have been necessary. Times change, the world changes and so does people’s perception of things. A compelling story, The Photograph is a must read!