Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France... but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can... completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Vianne and Isabelle are two sisters living in France during World War II. The Nightingale is the story about the decisions each made to survive this very terrible time period.

Kristin Hannah has a unique ability of being able to take an achingly sad story and still write it with some beauty and hope. The characters felt so real and my heart broke for both of them. So much of what they experienced and saw was devastating - the cruel behavior of the Nazis, the loss of friends and family members, starvation and brutality. Yet each sister persevered and chose living over surrender.

I must say, there were times when I cried over this story. But because of the way it was written, it was very powerful. This is one of those stories I reflect on, even days after I finished it. So typical of Ms. Hannah’s writing.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, via netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Rebecca Scherm

On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, re-sets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she’s from California, and slips back to a rented room at night. Regularly, furtively, she checks the hometown paper on the Internet. Home is Garland, Tennessee, and there, two young men have just been paroled. One, she married; the other, she’s in love with. Both were jailed for a crime that Grace herself planned in exacting detail. The heist went badbut not before she was on a plane to Prague with a stolen canvas rolled in her bag. And so, in Paris, begins a cat-and-mouse waiting game as Grace’s web of deception and lies unravelsand she becomes another young woman entirely.

Unbecoming is an intricately plotted and psychologically nuanced heist novel that turns on suspense and slippery identity. With echoes of Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith, Rebecca Scherm’s mesmerizing debut is sure to entrance fans of Gillian Flynn, Marisha Pessl, and Donna Tartt. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

When we first meet Grace, she is living in Paris under the alias of Julie. Unbecoming is the story of her current life and how she got to be there.

I like the way the author wove Grace’s past with her present. I found the part about her life prior to being exiled oversees to be the most interesting. Yet her current life was important to understand, as eventually Grace’s past collides with her present in a very interesting way.

The author presents us with some very interesting characters. This is part mystery and part love triangle. Most of the story is quite captivating. I did feel that the ending fell a bit flat. There was this great build up of suspense and I think I was expecting something different at the end.

This was well worth reading. I thought it was an outstanding debut and I would be very interested in reading future stories from Ms. Scherm.

My thanks to Penguin Group Viking, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


The Great Zoo of China
Matthew Reilly

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world. Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed. A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles. The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong. Of course it can’t…(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

CJ Cameron and her brother have been invited to see the Grat Zoo of China. She is aa expert on reptiles and he is a photographer. The Chinese are ready to overcome the USA for having what they are selling as the world’s best amusement site, housing a creature with a mythical past. Their biggest goal is to become better than Disney! What exactly do the Chines have that is so outstanding?

The action starts from the beginning and is relentless until the very end. If CJ and her group didn’t have bad luck, they would have had no luck at all. As things in the zoo rapidly fall apart, the group must fight for survival. Fortunately, CJ is one smart cookie who is able to keep her wits about her and think with a level head.

No one was more thrilled than me when this book turned out to have some similarities to Jurassic Park - one of my most favorite movies. I loved the premise, the setting and the characters. Mr. Reilly really know how to write a thriller - my heart was frequently racing. This my first book to read from this author. I now who to turn to when I am looking for a story that will keep me on the edge of my seat.

My thanks to Gallery Threshold Pocket Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.