Book Review: The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore

About the Book:

57034524The glamorous world of a silent film star’s wife abruptly crumbles when she’s forcibly quarantined at the Carville Lepers Home in this page-turning story of courage, resilience, and reinvention set in 1920s Louisiana and Los Angeles. Based on little-known history, this timely book will strike a chord with readers of Fiona Davis, Tracey Lange, and Marie Benedict.

Based on the true story of America’s only leper colony, The Second Life of Mirielle West brings vividly to life the Louisiana institution known as Carville, where thousands of people were stripped of their civil rights, branded as lepers, and forcibly quarantined throughout the entire 20th century.

For Mirielle West, a 1920’s socialite married to a silent film star, the isolation and powerlessness of the Louisiana Leper Home is an unimaginable fall from her intoxicatingly chic life of bootlegged champagne and the star-studded parties of Hollywood’s Golden Age. When a doctor notices a pale patch of skin on her hand, she’s immediately branded a leper and carted hundreds of miles from home to Carville, taking a new name to spare her family and famous husband the shame that accompanies the disease.

At first she hopes her exile will be brief, but those sent to Carville are more prisoners than patients and their disease has no cure. Instead she must find community and purpose within its walls, struggling to redefine her self-worth while fighting an unchosen fate.

As a registered nurse, Amanda Skenandore’s medical background adds layers of detail and authenticity to the experiences of patients and medical professionals at Carville – the isolation, stigma, experimental treatments, and disparate community. A tale of repulsion, resilience, and the Roaring ‘20s, The Second Life of Mirielle West is also the story of a health crisis in America’s past, made all the more poignant by the author’s experiences during another, all-too-recent crisis.

My Thoughts:

The Second Life of Mirielle West is a historical fiction set in the time of the 1920s. Mirielle West is a socialite who only knows the world of comfort, glamor and parties. When a chance diagnosis by her doctor forces her to go away, everything as she knows it changes. The author delicately weaves a story around the Louisiana Leper Home known as Carville which housed so many people who were forcibly quarantined there. 

Mirielle doesn’t know what to expect and is under the impression that she can go home as soon as the misunderstanding is cleared. With each test and a confirmed diagnosis, she has to reconcile herself to her new surroundings and find a place among the people there. This is truly a book of second chances and new beginnings as we follow Mirielle who grows from a spoiled high and mighty socialite to a caring woman who takes up new responsibilities and tries to bring joy to those around her. She is separated from her family, her children and is still dealing with the grief of losing one child. All this has also led to distance with her husband and adds to her emotional turmoil.

Being separated from one’s family is not easy and being isolated is even worse when your family does not want to see you. This was the fate of so many of the people who lived here due to the disease which had no cure. The author has painted a vivid picture bringing to us a well woven story based on so many true accounts. It is heart-breaking to read about the circumstances of the people but the best part is the bonds that are formed. The love, compassion and kinship that arises from shared circumstances leads to found family and a new kind of acceptance in life.

Mirielle and all the other characters in the book are brilliant and worth knowing. This is a story with characters that will stay with you even after finishing the book. The experiences and life of the people, the difficulties they faced and how they were treated is eye opening. Though difficult to read about at times and quite emotional, it is worth the read!

Book Review: The Orphans of Mersea House by Marty Wingate

About the Book:


In the tradition of Kristin Harmel and Elise Hooper, USA Today bestseller Marty Wingate transports us to postwar England’s Suffolk coast in a rich historical drama about love lost—and promise found.

England, 1957. Olive Kersey’s only love never returned from World War II, and now, she’s alone and penniless. Then, the last person she ever expected to see again returns to Southwold. Olive’s childhood friend, Margery Paxton, arrives to claim her inheritance: Mersea House, a stately old home she plans to turn into the town’s only lodging. Olive’s life takes a sunny turn when Margery hires her to run the establishment. But Mersea House holds its own mysteries—and its own dangers.

First, rumors begin to fly when two enigmatic lodgers move in: Hugh Hodson, manager of the town cinema, and Mrs. Abigail Claypool, a recluse and war widow. And then, the completely unexpected: Margery is informed she has a new ward, eleven-year-old Juniper Wyckes, the orphaned daughter of Margery’s first love. Mrs. Lucie Pagett, Children’s Officer at the local authority, informs Margery that Juniper was severely stricken with polio as a child, and makes clear that she could be taken away if her welfare is in jeopardy.

Olive fears Juniper is being bullied at school because of her disability, even as the girl begins to thrive at home. But the past is never far behind for the inhabitants of Mersea House, and looming secrets may destroy these friendships they’ve created.

My Thoughts:

The Orphans of Mersea House follows the lives of Olive, Margery and Juniper, an eleven year old, as they all come together at the Mersea House. Olive and Margery grew up together for a time and lost touch when Margery went to London. Olive has dealt with her fair share of love, loss and choices made in life.

Set in the time post World War II, we come across people who have lost loved ones and who are trying to move on with their lives. The author gives us a glimpse into the lives of the people but with a slightly less focus on the historical aspect. The story is purely one of friendship, love and honoring promises. It’s of strong bonds and family that is made among friends who learn to accept one another for who they really are.

The book has a diverse set of characters, each as different from the other but bringing so much to the table. I adore Hugh and Mrs C. I also liked reading about Billy and the impact he has on Juniper’s life. More than anything, I love how the author has handled a character dealing with the after effects of polio with delicacy providing enough information to us as a reader. In addition, the author has shown us that having polio does not make one any different from the rest, the person/people can lead normal lives just like anyone else (while taking into account the constraints).

I enjoyed reading about Olive and Margery’s friendship and their antics when they were children. Perhaps the best part of the book is the bond that forms between Olive and Juniper (even though she is officially Margery’s ward). Juniper is a delightful child who ends up bringing out the best in everyone around her at Mersea House while carving a place for herself. As secrets have a way of coming out people have a choice with respect to how they react to them and this is also portrayed in this story.

This is a beautifully written story that reminds us what it means to have friends and family, the importance of friendship, acceptance and the joy of being in love. A truly remarkable and enjoyable read, I would recommend this book to everyone!

WWW Wednesday – 05/01/2022

img_1384-0

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

——————————————————————————————————————

Currently Reading

52578297

59616365._SY475_

Recently finished reading

59650332

Read the review here.

Reading Next (hopefully! :))

56162498._SY475_

54435003._SY475_

——————————————————————————————————————

Do share your thoughts on the books, leave a link to your review if you have read them or just share your blog post links for the meme!

Book Review: An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse

About the Book:

54443692._SY475_

From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a tale of love, loss—and one last extraordinary dance.

Christmas Eve, 2019. Ninety-four-year-old Molly lies in her hospital bed. A stroke and a fall may have broken her body—but her mind is alive with memories.

London, 1940s. Molly is a bright young woman, determined to help the war effort and keep her head up despite it all. Life becomes brighter when she meets and falls in love with a man who makes her forget everything with one dance. But then war forces her to make an unforgettable sacrifice, and when she’s brought to her knees by a daring undercover mission with the French Resistance, only her sister knows the secret weighing heavily on Molly’s heart.

Now, lying in her hospital bed, Molly can’t escape the memories of what she lost all those years ago. But she is not as alone as she thinks.

Will she be able to find peace—and finally understand that what seemed to be an ordinary life was anything but?

My Thoughts:

Amanda Prowse brings to us yet another powerful story of first love, loss, war and the endurance of a woman through all of this. This is a story that brings out all the emotions and one of the few books that made me shed a few tears.

Molly’s story starts off in the 1940s in London and goes on until 2019, as she lies in the hospital thinking back to her life. We follow her as she experiences her first love, the loss of her love, her efforts to contribute to the war effort, her experiences with different people and in the midst of the war. In all this, she gives birth to a wonderful baby boy, born out of wedlock and shunned by her mother. With no other choice, Molly requests her sister and brother-in-law to care for her baby while she earns enough money to support herself.

As time passes, Molly becomes a wonderful aunt to her son, who never learns of the truth, but loves her as much as any child could love a mother. Carrying the weight of her decisions, the separation from her son and the horrors of the war, Molly, a very very strong woman faces a life filled with so many secrets. She perseveres on, working for a living whether it is playing her part in the war efforts or supporting herself after the war ends.

The bond Molly shares with her sister is a strong one and something that is great to read about. The strength, support and even jealousy all come together showing us a glimpse into each of their thoughts and in the end how they are there for each other. This is a wonderful example of what family is all about and the bonds that siblings share. The author brings to us the irony of the whole situation under the guise of the character having lived “an ordinary life”!

Amanda Prowse’s writing is powerful and will draw the reader in from page one. There is no stopping until the reader gets to the bottom of it all, finds out all the secrets and how the story ends. This book will stay with me for a long time and I highly recommend it to all fiction lovers out there. The book cannot be put into any one genre, it encompasses so many and in the end is just worth it!

Book Review: The Girl from Venice by Siobhan Daiko

About the Book:

58013905._SY475_

Lidia De Angelis has kept a low profile since Mussolini’s racial laws wrenched her from her childhood sweetheart. But when the Germans occupy Venice in 1943, she must flee the city to save her life.

Lidia joins the partisans in the Venetian mountains, where she meets David, an English soldier fighting for the same cause. As she grows closer to him, harsh Nazi reprisals and Lidia’s own ardent anti-fascist activities threaten to tear them apart.

Decades later in London, while sorting through her grandmother’s belongings after her death, Charlotte discovers a Jewish prayer book, unopened letters written in Italian, and a fading photograph of a group of young people in front of the Doge’s Palace.

Intrigued by her grandmother’s refusal to talk about her life in Italy before and during the war, Charlotte travels to Venice in search of her roots. There, she learns not only the devastating truth about her grandmother’s past, but also some surprising truths about herself.

A heart-breaking page-turner, based on actual events in Italy during World War II.

My Thoughts:

This is a riveting read that takes the reader into Italy during World War II. This is the first book in the historical fiction genre that I have read that focuses on Italy and the events that unfolded here. The book talks about the war, the people, the impact it had on their lives and the secrets kept to move on in life.

We are introduced to Lidia and her granddaughter Charlotte, two strong and unique women, so different and yet similar in all the ways that matter. When Lidia passes away, Charlotte embarks on a trip to figure out who her grandmother was and what secrets she was hiding while living in London.

The story is told from each of their perspectives, giving us an insight into the present day world as Charlotte explores Italy and the events in Lidia’s life as she is careful not to be caught, but is helping out the partisans. Betrayed by some of the people she trusted and forced to endure a lot, Lidia shuts down after the war and moves away, adapting her new identity and never going back to her roots. Charlotte discovers a whole lot of things and along the way meets the people who saved her grandmother and made a difference to her life. She also ends up finding her place, love and a purpose so different than what she started out with.

This is a heart-breaking story that brings to us a reality we cannot imagine and talks about family in a way that makes us appreciate those around us. Lidia’s story enumerates that of so many others whose voices are not heard! A brilliant and well-written story, this is a must read!

Book Review: Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery by Julia Golding

About the Book:

56933218._SY475_

Jane Austen turns detective in this spooky historical adventure by award-winning author Julia Golding!

It’s 1789 and a young Jane Austen turns detective as she seeks to solve the mysterious happenings at Southmoor Abbey. When a carriage accident forces a change of plans, 13-year-old Jane is sent to be a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week as the household prepares to celebrate the eldest son’s coming-of-age party. While there, Jane vows to solve the mystery of the ghostly monk in the Abbey grounds – for she does not believe in such stories!

But this is not the only strange occurrence for the adventurous young Jane to investigate. There are shivery night-time investigations, an Indian girl with secret talents, a library fire, two prize horses in danger, and friends to save from false accusations.

With notebook in hand and her faithful dog Grandison by her side, will Jane overcome the continuous obstacles and find out the truth?

My Thoughts:

Note: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. The below review reflects my honest opinion!

This is a delightful book for young readers and fans of mystery and adventure! The reader meets a young and spunky Jane Austen who is thirteen years old. She is sent to Southmoor Abbey as a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week in place of her sister. Jane is drawn to the mystery surrounding the Abbey and the so called ghost who haunts the place. On a dare from one of her brother’s she decides to investigate and find out the truth since she does not believe that ghosts exist.

The story introduces us to a myriad of characters, including a father-daughter duo from India and Jane’s “lap” dog Grandison. There are many secrets and mysteries to be solved that eventually end up being connected. I enjoyed reading about Jane’s thoughts and experiences which the author described quite well. We are able to see some of the famous author in this young girl with her strong imagination and opinions. We also see how supportive her family is of her, encouraging her to write and share her thoughts and stories. Jane’s letters to her sister were a delight to read about and some of them had me in splits.

Though the focus moved away from the mystery of the ghost in between, the overall plot is well done and will ensure that the target audience of middle graders (as well as adults) will be hooked. The story and main character remind me of Nancy Drew and other such heroines who seek out and solve mysteries. The author has done a great job in bringing a young Jane Austen to life and I am indeed looking forward to join them on further adventures along with all the friends Jane (and enemies) Jane makes along the way! I do hope you all join the adventure too.

Book Review: The Lost Girl of Berlin by Ella Carey

About the Book:

cover227023-medium

The truck stopped for a moment in the freezing, bombed-out street and Kate caught sight of a little girl in a ragged dress on the steps of a once-beautiful mansion. The child’s eyes were startling blue, a pair of endless pools, drawing Kate towards her…

1946, Berlin. War correspondent Kate Mancini is in Germany, reporting on the aftermath of the devastating war. For her readers back home in New York, she tells the stories of innocent families, trying to rebuild the wreckage of their lives now the soldiers have left at last. But in the Russian-held sector of Berlin on an icy winter’s day, Kate breaks all the rules, rescuing Mia Stein, a silent orphan who she fears will otherwise perish.

Together with her fellow journalist, handsome Rick Shearer, Kate manages to find a safe house for Mia before she returns to America and vows to keep in touch. Back home, the reality of post-war life for women is stark. Whilst Rick walks into his dream job, no newspaper will hire a woman. The editors laugh her out of their offices, telling her to get married and raise a family. Rick does all he can to support her, as she takes her first steps towards the new medium of television news, and their friendship deepens into something more.

Then tragedy strikes: Rick is falsely named as a communist sympathizer. He is arrested, blacklisted and faces prison.

Kate knows she must do all she can to free the man she loves. But that means returning to Germany, to seek out the little orphan girl who is her only chance at salvation. Kate and Rick saved Mia—will she help them both now? And even if Kate succeeds, freedom might never be hers when she returns home…

My Thoughts:

I requested for and received a copy of this book via NetGalley. A huge thank you to Bookouture and the author. The below review reflects my honest opinion.

The Lost Girl of Berlin is a very well-written novel that is gripping and heart-wrenching. Set in the time post WWII, we are introduced to Kate, a journalist whose interests lie in all things post war and politics. She is dedicated and a great journalist, in a man’s world, fighting to make a place for herself. The book leads us to post was Berlin where we are introduced to various other journalists from America as well as a little girl sitting on the steps of a home that is now destroyed.

As Kate sets out to save this girl and find her truth, we are also introduced to Rick, a fellow journalist who steps in to help her out. Little do they know that this small good deed will go a very long way. The author gives us a glimpse into how the war affected the countries, people and their way of life. We also get a glimpse into the mind of the average American and the impacts on their lives. With a focus on the two main characters and glimpses into their families, this story is one of resilience and strength in one o the most difficult times.

I have read a lot of stories set during the WWII, but this is the first one that focuses on the world post war. This was refreshing and enlightening. It is heart breaking to read about everything that happened, but the most is little Mia’s story. The author brings in an unexpected twist towards the end that I honestly did not see coming, but one which brings this entire story together in the end.

I think the author has done a great job in portraying the lives of women and the expectations from them in society. Kate was indeed the first woman to present her pieces on radio and later on television. It was difficult to land a steady contract and no-one wanted a woman involved in writing or talking about political things. Taking all this in stride, Kate works hard to fight for her chance, she makes tough choices and along the way finds love, family and peace of some kind.

This is a wonderful story, but one that is based on so many truths and it is definitely an emotional read! I strongly recommend this for all fans of historical fiction and history as such!

Wrap-Up: Books Read in April 2021

Hey guys! 

Here’s my wrap-up post for the Month of April!

I read 5 books in the month. This is low compared to my usual number, but I have been quite busy and was not able to spend a lot of time reading! But I am happy that my reading streak has not stopped.

I thoroughly enjoyed the below books and as you can see, I read a little more romance in the month when compared to other genres! I guess I just needed some light reading 🙂

   ——————-x———————————-x——————–

   ——————-x———————————-x——————–

Once again, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or book recommendations! You can also just stop by to chat, I’m almost always around! 🙂

Book Review: The Viscount’s Heir (Heirs of Cornwall #2) by Veronica Crowe

About the Book:

The Viscount's Heir (Heirs of Cornwall, #2)

The Viscount’s Heir: Book 2 of the Heirs of Cornwall Series tells the tale of two stubborn personalities determined to escape the matrimonial trap.

Allayne Carlyle, the only son and heir of Viscount Rose, is in a conundrum. All his friends are happily married, and his mother has decided it is time for him to do the same deed. But Allayne has no intentions of entering the parson’s mousetrap. He is wealthy, handsome, and free. The world is at his fingertips. He is not done sowing his wild oats, and frankly, he wants to keep sowing said oats for the next decade. Or two. Why would he want to get leg-shackled, when there are too many alluring widows to bed, and even more beautiful actresses to pursue?

Lady Alexandra Davenport, the only daughter of the Earl of Weston, is in a similar predicament. She has been cleverly avoiding the matrimonial trap, but now that her twenty-fifth birthday has come around, her father has finally put his foot down. He had threatened to confiscate her most treasured possessions: her horse and her pistols if she does not come around and accept one of her many suitors. But Alexandra is in no haste to get betrothed. She would rather spend her days participating in her charities, practicing her shooting and fencing skills, and if truth be told, she could not bear to leave her father and live elsewhere with a husband she doesn’t truly adore. Why would she want to marry some wretched man who would take her money, when she is happy and content where she is at?

Unbeknownst to our hero and heroine, their parents have been scheming. What will happen when these two stubborn personalities collide? Will they chase each other with a hatchet, or will the sparks fly?

Join Allayne and Alexandra, as they conquer the mystery of that little word, they have been trying their best to avoid: Love.

My Thoughts:

This is a quick and quite a fun read! The Viscount’s Heir is the second book in the series and follows Alexandra and Allayne through a series of adventures, misadventures, misunderstandings, heartbreak and finally second chances. Confused? Let me explain. Without knowing, Allayne and Alexandra are brought together, but of their own accord they do not reveal to each other who they are. They fall in love but assuming that the other is a servant, each of them leave and finally not knowing who they are, they move on with their live, quite heartbroken.

Alexandra is later forced to take decisions for herself that will help her situation. As time goes by, the two end up in the same place and realize who they are. Though a lot has changed, they realize that their love for one another is still as strong as ever. Perhaps this is their second chance at a life together.

The characters are well thought out and quite entertaining. They bring the story to life and the author has kept it quite realistic. I truly enjoyed reading this book even though the sad parts and I am impressed with the resilience shown by Alexandra. She is truly a motivation and a pillar of strength given her circumstances.

I recommend this book to all those who love romance and would like a quick but emotional read!

Note: I received a copy of the book from NetGalley and am grateful for the opportunity to have read this book!

Books to Read (TBR list) – February 2021

Hello All,

In this post, I have made a tentative list of books that I plan to read in February. This is just an initial list, I am not sure how many more I might end up reading!

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts, feedback or recommendations!


  • The Sigil by Shakail Kanish

The Sigil: A Novel - Part I

 

Genre: LGBTQ+ Dark Urban Fantasy

Release date: 4th March 2021

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I was intrigued by the concept of the book and am looking forward to reading it!

 

 

  • Pawns Gambit by Rob J. Hayes

Pawn's Gambit (A Mortal Techniques novel)

 

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Release date: 26th Jan 2021

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

  • Chaturanga (Baahubali before the beginning #2) by Anand Neelakantan

Chaturanga (Baahubali: Before the Beginning Book 2)

 

 

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

Being a huge fan of the Baahubali movie franchise and having read book 1 in this series, I have finally got around to buying Book 2. I am looking forward to it!

 

 

 

  • Beautiful Façade by Kathryn S Rose

Beautiful Facade

 

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse

An Ordinary Life

 

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

I requested for and received a copy of the book via NetGalley. I have read a few books by the author and have enjoyed them so far! This book sounds interesting and I would love to see what I think.

 

 

 

  • The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

The Paris Dressmaker

 

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

I have been reading a lot of books in this genre and am enjoying the reads and discovering new authors! I am excited to read this book!