Book Review: The Watchmaker of Dachau by Carly Schabowski

About the Book:

The Watchmaker of Dachau

An unforgettable novel of human kindness, inspired by an incredible true story.

Snow falls and a woman prepares for a funeral she has long expected, yet hoped would never come. As she pats her hair and straightens her skirt, she tells herself this isn’t the first time she’s lost someone. Lifting a delicate, battered wristwatch from a little box on her dresser, she presses it to her cheek. Suddenly, she’s lost in memory…

January 1945. Dachau, Germany. As the train rattles through the bright, snowy Bavarian countryside, the still beauty outside the window hides the terrible scenes inside the train, where men and women are packed together, cold and terrified. Jewish watchmaker Isaac Schüller can’t understand how he came to be here, and is certain he won’t be leaving alive.

When the prisoners arrive at Dachau concentration camp, Isaac is unexpectedly pulled from the crowd and installed in the nearby household of Senior Officer Becher and his young, pretty, spoiled wife. With his talent for watchmaking, Isaac can be of use to Becher, but he knows his life is only worth something here as long as Becher needs his skills.

Anna Reznick waits table and washes linens for the Bechers, who dine and socialise and carry on as if they don’t constantly have death all around them. When she meets Isaac she knows she’s found a true friend, and maybe more. But Dachau is a dangerous place where you can never take love for granted, and when Isaac discovers a heartbreaking secret hidden in the depths of Becher’s workshop, it will put Anna and Issac in terrible danger…

 

My Thoughts:

The Watchmaker of Dachau is another WWII based novel that adds to my love for Historical Fiction. I requested for a copy of this book from NetGalley and I am ever grateful to the publisher and author for getting approved to read it!

The story is told from different points of view but caries on from where the previous chapter leaves off. Initially, we are introduced to Isaac, a Jewish watchmaker who has been taken to the concentration camp at Dachau. Having arrived without any belongings, he immediately surprises the Officers who are checking the prisoners. The only things he has with him are his tiny tools for fixing and making watches. This creates an interest in him that leads to his working for Senior Officer Becher at his house a little way off from the camp. Through this, we meet Anna, who is brought from the camp everyday to work at the house as a maid. Thirdly, we meet the Becher’s ever curious eleven year old son who does not understand why he was pulled away from school to come home and live in a confined manner.

With the ever growing horrors of the camp, Isaac and Anna try to find ways to cling to hope. The author focuses on the different perspectives to give us glimpses into how these characters think and react to their situations and surroundings. We observe the stark contrast between life in the camp and then at Officer Becher’s house just outside. Isaac forms a few bonds with people around him but also with Anna and Friedrich. Anna on the other hand meets Nina, her constant companion and support at the camp. Having to constantly fix things, Isaac works diligently in the shed in the garden, trying to keep his head down and not be thrown out. Through this, we follow him as he discovers letters from someone detailing their life before and during their time in the concentration camp. This is a story of love for another, love for family and of hope.

The beauty of this story lies in the hope of being saved and finding love in the midst of all the sadness and death. The story is heart wrenching and at times difficult to read, but it is definitely worth the read. The bonds formed and those which endure are amazing and borne out of shared experiences. These kinds of bonds do not break easily and in the end, the reader will be satisfied with the story. All the smaller story lines in the book come together in the end like a thread woven through fabric forming a tapestry of horrors lived and left behind. This is indeed a well-written tear-jerker of a book based on a true story that must be known to all! I highly recommend this read!

WWW WEDNESDAY – 17/02/2021

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!

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

What are you currently reading?

The Watchmaker of Dachau

What did you recently finish reading?

  We're Moving Where?!

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Adventure

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Far Away Girl       Enchantée

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

Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: Meet Me in Bombay by Jenny Ashcroft

About the Book:

Meet Me in Bombay

United by love. Separated by war. Will they find their way back to each other? Find out in Jenny Ashcroft’s historical romance Meet Me in Bombay

Meet Me in Bombay is a powerful, poignant and deeply emotional tale of love, mystery, loss and joy.” –Kate Furnivall, New York Times bestselling author

It’s New Year’s Eve in Bombay, 1913, and Madeline Bright, new to the sweltering heat of colonial India, is yearning for all she has left behind in England. Then, at the stroke of midnight, Maddy meets Luke Devereaux, and as the year changes so do both their lives.

Bold and charismatic, Luke opens her eyes to the wonders of Bombay, while Maddy’s beauty and vivacity captures his heart. Only her mother disapproves, preferring the devoted Guy Bowen as a match for her daughter.

But while Maddy and Luke are falling in love, the world is falling apart. World War I is on the horizon, and Luke will be given no choice but to fight. They will be continents apart, separated by danger and devastating loss, but bound by Luke’s promise that they will meet again in Bombay. His only wish is to return to her–but first he must remember who she is . . .

My Thoughts:

Meet Me in Bombay is a beautifully written story of love and loss in the time of WWI. Mostly set in Bombay, we are introduced to Maddy as she comes to visit her parents in Bombay after many years in England. We follow her as she discovers the sights and explores the city. The author has done a wonderful job in bringing the city to life and in describing it, making the reader yearn to visit.

This is a story poignant tale love so strong, it spans distance and time and still holds strong. The author describes the joys of falling in love, precious time spent and the heart break of the war and loss. The characters are well crafted and bring this story and the places to life. The war is described in detail and will bring tears to the eyes of the reader. Mixed with fiction and facts, this story is deeply emotional and will pull the reader in from the beginning. The friendships and relationships between the characters whether with friends, parents, partners is amazing and well portrayed. Even with secrets and scandal, nothing comes above love.

I thoroughly enjoyed this emotional rollercoaster and I highly recommend this book to everyone!

Book Review: The Newlyweds by Arianne Richmonde

About the Book:

The Newlyweds

One marriage. One lie. Two sides to the story.

The moment Vivien meets Ashton, she knows she will be his wife and absolutely nothing will stop her.

Powerful, rich and from a good family, Ashton is everything Vivien is not. So, she molds herself into Ashton’s perfect soulmate.

Pouring his favorite vintage wine, whispering ‘I love you’ over dinner in front of friends and biting her tongue when she disagrees with him are simple sacrifices for the perfect marriage she has always craved.

When people begin to notice the bruises on her cheek, she holds their stares. There is no cry for help from Vivien. She simply keeps her mouth shut and lets the gossip continue.

If you saw Vivien nursing a black eye, you might be forgiven for thinking what everyone else does – that she is the victim in her marriage, but you’d be wrong. Vivien and Ashton’s life together is much more complicated than that. You will never guess the true story behind Vivien’s undying devotion to her husband. Nor could you possibly predict what she does next…

Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Behind Closed Doors and The Perfect Couple. If you enjoy reading twisted psychological thrillers with bags of suspense, then you’ll love The Newlyweds from USA TODAY bestselling author Arianne Richmonde.

My Thoughts:

The Newlyweds is a psychological thriller that follows the life of Vivien and Ashton as they transition into life as a newly married couple. Vivien is seen trying to fit into society and uphold her name as the perfect wife to Ashton. As the story progresses, we get pulled into the narration assuming that Ashton is abusive in the marriage. But no way! After building this narrative, the author starts to pull apart the plot and reveals so much more that is happening underneath.

As the real story emerges, the reader is in for a roller coaster ride filled with lies and deception. Noone is as they seem and everything we learn is a lie. The author has done an amazing job with the plot line and narration, making us like some characters, dislike some and then completely change our minds about the entire set of characters. For every plan, there is a master plan and then another one.

Though some parts of the plot line didn’t make sense or fully fit in, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and was truly shocked by some of the revelations. I would never have guessed at anything that happened. This is the beauty of the story telling and I highly recommend this book for fans of psychological thrillers!

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!

Book Review – My Name is Anton: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

My Name is Anton: A Novel

New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde returns with a hopeful novel of sacrifice, two lost souls, and enduring love.

It’s 1965, and life has taken a turn for eighteen-year-old Anton Addison-Rice. Nearly a year after his brother died in a tragic accident, Anton is still wounded—physically and emotionally. Alone for the holidays, he catches a glimpse of his neighbor Edith across the street one evening and realizes that she’s in danger.

Anton is determined to help Edith leave her abusive marriage. Frightened and fifteen years Anton’s senior, Edith is slow to trust. But when she needs a safe place to stay, she lets down her guard, and over the course of ten days an unlikely friendship grows. As Anton falls hopelessly and selflessly in love, Edith fears both her husband finding her and Anton getting hurt. She must disappear without telling anyone where she’s going—even Anton.

If keeping Edith safe means letting her go, Anton will say goodbye forever. Or so he believes. What would happen, though, if one day their paths should cross again?

My Thoughts:

Catherine Ryan Hyde’s books always have a theme and a message and they are delivered so beautifully, it is impossible to miss her books! I have read many books by her and I am left amazed every single time. Even though a lot of the themes focus on loss, life, unconditional love, memories, relationships, bonds and so many more, each book is different from the other.

My Name is Anton is the story of a seventeen year old boy named Anton, who is trying to figure out his identity as well as reconcile the death of his grandfather, his brother and the partial loss of his right hand. Anton is both physically and mentally wounded and in the midst of the emotional conflicts, he happens upon Edith. Edith is in an abusive marriage and after one incident is witnessed by Anton, by chance, he makes it his mission to help her get away!

This book is a romance novel, which in itself is a different book for the author. It talks of unconditional love that lets go, the kind of love where a person learns to be unselfish and sacrifice all for the safety and happiness of the other person. Anton let’s Edith go one time and as fate brings them back many years later, it remains to be seen whether such love endures and how it affects people.

I love the characters of Grand-uncle Gregor and Grandma Marion. They bring light into Anton’s life and support him when he needed it the most with compassion and understanding. The circumstances behind the death of Anton’s brother are extremely sad and the author touches upon Mental Health and discusses it in a very delicate manner. The fact that it is important to acknowledge and deal with is brought out in a subtle yet straight forward manner through the experiences of the characters.

Overall this story starts of a little slowly, first focusing on the growing friendship between Anton and Edith and later focusing on how Anton learns to cope with life, his disability and grows into a more confident individual all things considered. The reader is in for an emotional rollercoaster that will make you sad at times, empathize with the characters and finally laugh with them as they find the light and joy!

I highly recommend this book just as I do with all of the books by the author!

Note: I was approved a copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

Book Review: Murder in the Snow (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #4) by Verity Bright

This is going to be my last book review for year 2020! WOW! It has been a  wonderful year with respect to books and reading for me!

About the Book:

Murder in the Snow (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #4)

An English Christmas has mince pies, cheerful carols, a twinkling tree… and a murder? Thank goodness Lady Swift is on the scene!

Winter, 1920. Amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor Swift is feeling festive. She is playing host to the entire village at Henley Hall for gifts, games and gingerbread. She’s also purchased perfect presents for each of her household – not forgetting the biggest bone in the butcher’s shop for her partner in crime, Gladstone the bulldog – and is looking forward to celebrating her first English country Christmas.

As snowflakes fall, Eleanor is cheering on contestants in the traditional Christmas fun run in the grounds of the Hall. But tragedy strikes when one of the runners drops dead at the finish line. Dashing Detective Seldon is convinced it’s just a heart attack, but Eleanor isn’t so sure. When she finds a rather distinctive key where the man fell, Eleanor knows she’ll never rest until she finds out the truth about what happened in her own home.

Next the vicar is taken ill with what looks like poison and Eleanor starts to wonder if the two cases are linked. When someone tries to frame her by planting poisoned berries in her own kitchen, she knows speed is of the essence. But the entire village was at Henley Hall for the festivities and Eleanor has enough suspects to stuff a town full of turkeys. Can she nail the true killer and clear her name in time for Christmas?

Christmas won’t be complete without it! A festive treat for fans of Agatha Christie, TE Kinsey and Lee Strauss.

My Thoughts:

I requested for and was approved a copy of this book on NetGalley thanks to the publisher Bookouture!

Murder in the Snow is the fourth book in the Eleanor Swift mystery series and thankfully can be read as a standalone. The story, set in the winter of 1920, follows Eleanor as she plays host to the entire village, bringing everyone together for Christmas celebrations. What she does not expect is for one of the contestants to collapse and be declared dead from a possible heart-attack. As her investigative instincts kick in, Eleanor starts to figure the whole thing out when her butler agrees that it seems suspicious.

There are minimal references to her adventures and previous mysteries solved, but these do not take away from the story, nor do they create any confusion for the reader! With a lot happening in the book, the reader is in for unexpected surprises as Eleanor proceeds with her investigation, many times in the most unladylike manner for the 1920s. However, this just adds to her endearing character and makes the reader fall in love with her. The other characters in the book are charming and the best is Mr. Clifford! I adore how he handled the house and supported Eleanor in spite of just being her butler. His connection to her late uncle seems to add some intrigue to his character.

The story is very well-written and mixed in with festive cheer. I enjoyed reading about how the people amused themselves in this rather picturesque setting. This murder mystery is definitely worth the read and I look forward to reading more about Eleanor’s adventures!

2021 Reading Challenge: Netgalley and Edelweiss

I am excited to be participating in the 2021 Netgalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge hosted by Socrates Book Reviews (sign up here).

Challenge guidelines…

  • The challenge runs from January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021. There is no deadline to sign up.
  • Everyone is welcome to participate – you do not need to have a blog.
  • Any genre, release date, length, etc. counts – it just needs to be a book from NetGalley or Edelweiss.
  • Books can count for more than one challenge that you are participating in.
  • The first day of each month I will post a monthly “link-up” for you to link your reviews. If you forget one month, no worries, just catch up the next month.

My Goal: 25 Books from NetGalley

Books read with links to their reviews:

  1. My Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde
  2. An American In Paris by Siobhan Curham
  3. Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy by Nancy Naigle

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!