First line: If great talent can arise from adversity, mine must have been forged in the cauldron of my childhood.
Summary: The most famous actress of her time, Sarah Bernhardt, rose from obscurity to stardom in France. She was the daughter of a high-class courtesan. She is raised in a convent until her mother decides to start her in the family trade even though Sarah has hopes of being an actress. With the help of influential men like Alexandre Dumas she gets her chance to shine of on the stage and become a worldwide superstar. But even with stardom comes tragedy too.
My Thoughts: Before reading this I had never heard of Sarah Bernhardt but after finishing it I want to know even more. Her life had so many ups and downs. She achieved so much in a time when women still had very little power. She used her skills and strong will to rise. She may have had help but she knew who she was and what she wanted and took it. And she used her influence to help others like during the Franco-Prussian War, another event that I knew very little about.
Unfortunately, most of Sarah’s work was on the stage and before motion pictures and sound but there are a few examples from early recordings that can be found on Youtube. Even though her acting would be out of date in the present at the time it was revolutionary. She changed the way actors spoke to the audience and portrayed the characters on stage. We are lucky to have any piece of her and her skills available for us to see.
Gortner is a phenomenal historical fiction author. He really makes the story gripping. He brings the women he writes about to life. I learn more about the time period then I have ever known while being entertained by the story.
FYI: I highly recommend Gortner’s last book, The Romanov Empress, about the mother of Czar Nicholas II of Russia.
Summary: Born with a clubfoot nine-year-old Ada Smith suffers not only the frustration and pain to the physical condition but the sting of her mother’s abuse and shame as well.
This book is about a young girl and her brother who live with their mother. The mother is abusive and ashamed of her daughter due to a club foot. The book starts before the war where we get a glimpse at the horrible life that Ada and Jamie are living. Ada being born with a clubfoot has received her mother’s shame for her whole life sitting at a window to see the world and not allowed to leave the apartment, which is where they live.
As the story goes on Ada and her brother, Jamie, see other young children their age going to the country where they will be safe from bombs. Ada and her brother sneak out one night and go to live in the country. Life in the country was good, almost perfect until their mother arrived.
My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book not only because it was historically accurate, but because it brought the story to real life. When reading this book I felt that I knew Ada and Jamie personally, I think the author did an excellent job relating to the characters in the story. I think this book would be a good book for the whole family because it is friendly and there is no profanity or gruesome scenes.
This story really brought the life of children during the war to life. The story shows the struggles of children and the struggles of parents during these hard times. Ada had to leave her home and even though she really wanted to go out and see the world once she was in the country she really missed being home. Overall this story is a great story for all ages, and it can really help children and parents understand life during World War II.
First line: Sienna Scott nearly tripped over the body.
Sienna Scott finds the body of a young woman while walking home in a
snowstorm from a study session. As she looks at the victim she realizes
that the girl has a resemblance to her. Was she the intended victim? Or
is she seeing things that are not there, like her mother? Her father
decides to send her away to London to get her away from her mother’s
delusions and the aftermath of the murder.
When she returns home
she finds that life in Tranquility Bluffs has changed since she last
lived here. But she is more shocked by the state her mother is in. With
Sienna’s return her mother spirals as she worries that with her being
home “they” will come for her. It does not help that the police have
reopened the case of the murder that Sienna stumbled upon. Then strange
calls and white unidentified vans driving by lead Sienna to believe that
the killer is back and try to finish what they started years earlier.
I enjoyed Spindler’s newest thriller. It has several twists that throw
the reader off but also hint at the ending. I had several different
theories as I read but nothing that I was absolutely sure about. I liked
Sienna’s mother. Having a character with paranoia is a good tool to
change the reader’s perceptions as the story progresses. It definitely
did affect mine.
This is not an overly complicated book or
something mind blowing but it was just a lot of fun! I have recommended
Spindler to readers who enjoy thrillers and mysteries. They do not
disappoint and make for a fast read.
First line: Those months, the months before she disappeared, were the best months.
Fifteen year old Ellie is the golden child. Then one day she disappears
without a trace. Ten years later her mother, Laurel meets a man in a
coffee shop. He is charming and appears to be the perfect man. As her
relationship with Floyd progresses she meets his daughter who bears a
striking resemblance to her missing daughter, Ellie. What happened to
Ellie? After all the years of wondering Laurel is determined to find
My Thoughts: Lisa Jewell is a new discovery for me. I recently read her latest book, Watching You, on the recommendation of Dawn (who writes our Lit Pairings blog posts). I was hooked immediately. Her novels are fast paced filled with lots of twists and turns. I was pretty sure I had everything figured out early on in the novel. However, I was wrong. Things continued to get more twisted as I read.
The book was divided into different parts
with different narrators. As the story progressed we got different looks
at the events of then and now. I was very shocked and little saddened
by the ending. If you read it you may understand. There were lots of
pieces that are very hard to read. But Jewell is an amazing writer. Even
if the story had been less intriguing her writing would have saved it. I
will definitely be on the hold list for any more of her upcoming
FYI: This is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena.
*This is book 2 in a series! May contain spoilers. Check out my review of Caravalon our blog as well.*
First line: While some rooms on the estate had monsters hiding beneath the beds, Tella swore her mother’s suite concealed enchantment.
Summary: At the end of Caraval it appears that Scarlett and Tella are now safe from their evil father. But this is far from the truth. Tella is entangled in a bargain with a mysterious friend. This friend plans to help Tella find her mother, who disappeared years before, but it comes at a price. Tella must find out the Legend’s real name. However, the truth could bring about the end of Caraval and Legend himself.
Highlights: Once again I cannot help but rave about the beautiful cover! But the language and story make it even more wonderful. I was a little weary about reading Tella’s story when in the previous novel she was a minor character that caused much of Scarlett’s troubles. However, I was surprised by how much more I enjoyed this book than the first one. Tella is a tough girl who does not think that love is anything she is destined to experience. This is quite a change from many YA novels where the girl only wants to find love. She is smart and tricky. She is not scared to get her hands dirty.
I loved the Fates! So creepy and detailed. I was truly terrified of the Undead Queen and her Handmaidens but not more than the Prince of Hearts. Everything about him makes my skin crawl. The addition of these supernatural beings expands and makes the story even more elaborate than Caraval.
That ending! Throughout the story, we follow Tella as she tries to figure out what is real and what is not. I felt like I was slowly going mad along with her trying to piece together all the clues. As we reached the last few pages, I kept wondering if we were going to get another book and we certainly will! I wonder if it will follow Tella some more or expand on another minor character. Either way I am in!
Lowlights: That I have to wait a year for the next book!