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The Lost Girl of Berlin by Ella Carey

Reviewed for the Historical Novels Review Magazine, November 1, 2021 Issue

Ella was born in Adelaide, Australia, and was educated at the University of Adelaide, completing a music degree in classical piano at the Elder Conservatorium, and an arts degree with a double major in History and English Literature.

Ella lives in Melbourne, Australia with her family. Ella’s house is run by two very elderly and special Italian Greyhounds, and one puppy called Sassy who thinks she is the boss! And Ella’s garden is managed by four chickens, Miss Pertelote, Annie, Harriet and Fox’s Dinner.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Kate Mancini is the only woman in the group of war correspondents in Berlin, 1946. Wanting to tell the balanced truth in the aftermath, she is thwarted at every turn. Kate has been told that Americans want to hear their news from a “man” and only want to get back to “normal.” Kate gets her lucky break when she is sent to report on the trials in Nuremburg. While in Berlin, handsome reporter Rick Shearer, assists her in rescuing an orphaned girl from the ruins. Carey’s character development of Rick’s gentle approach to the speechless, scared blue eyed girl, will endear readers to the dashing reporter. After ten months of traveling Europe together, Kate is conflicted. She has no room in her life for husband and family-only the goal of landing a contract with a major news agency. After returning to New York City, readers will be enthralled with their blossoming romance and the iconic sites of the city. Ellen Carey gives readers hope when Kate lands a broadcasting job at WNYR and Rick’s career takes off with his own radio show. Meanwhile, Rick’s wealthy, powerful father, Willard, devoted but fearful wife Frances and Kate’s starry-eyed sister, Bianca, add immersing threads of betrayal, blackmail, and bullying. Readers remain on edge and incensed but hopeful that goodness will win overall. The fear and suspicion of Communism and McCarthyism has infiltrated American society, and no one is off limits; not even popular broadcaster, Rick Shearer. Carey’s exacting research makes this novel an eye-opening history lesson and her words evoke deep emotion in the heartwarming love story of the orphan girl who fights her way back home. In The Lost Girl of Berlin readers will be frustrated and fascinated, but in the end, fulfilled.

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The Wish Book Christmas by Lynn Austin

Happy Publication Day-September 7, 2021-Reviewed for Historical Novels Review, November 1, 2021 Issue

If I Were You is inspirational historical fiction set in London WWll and post-war America. It is a prequel, although The Wish Book Christmas may be read as a stand alone novel.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 27 novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We’re Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek(2011). She was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. 

From the bestselling author of If I Were You comes a nostalgic and endearing holiday story that reminds us that sometimes the most meaningful gifts are the ones we least expect and don’t deserve.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Christy Award winning author Lynn Austin shows readers that “it’s better to give than to receive.” The Wish Book Christmas is a “wiseman’s” gift to readers as Austin unwraps the true meaning of Christmas through this follow-up to characters in her World War ll novel, If I Were You. In December 1951, Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are sharing a house with their five-year-old sons in postwar America. Harry and Bobby discover the Sears Christmas Wish Book and become obsessed, wishing for toys from every page. How will two single moms provide toys but also lessons on giving from the heart? In this stand-alone novel Austin expertly provides the background of Audrey and Eve’s earlier lives that led to feelings of unworthiness, insecurities, and self-doubt in 1951.  She lovingly weaves one “unexpected, undeserved, unbelievable” gift from over 2000 years ago with another gift that will change the hearts and lives of Audrey and Eve. This is a “curl up by a crackling fire with a cup of cocoa” book; a reminder of postwar America in the 1950’s and “the reason for the season.”

This is the 1950 version of the Sears Wish Book!

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A Darker Reality by Anne Perry

Publication: September 21, 2021-Reviewed for Historical Novels Review Magazine, November 2021 Issue

Book #3 in the Ella Standish Series: A personal trip turns perilous for Elena Standish after the murder of a British spy forces her to face dark family secrets in this exciting 1930s mystery by bestselling author Anne Perry.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/651819/a-darker-reality-by-anne-perry/

Book #2: On her first mission for MI6, the daring young photographer at the heart of this thrilling new mystery series by bestselling author Anne Perry travels to Mussolini’s Italy to rescue the lover who betrayed her.

Book #1: In the start of an all-new mystery series set in pre–World War II Europe, an intrepid young photographer carries her dead lover’s final, world-shattering message into the heart of Berlin as Hitler ascends to power.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Third in the Elena Standish Series, A Darker Reality, opens in the spring of 1934, as Elena, an M16 agent, has made the long journey from London to Washington D.C to celebrate the sixtieth wedding anniversary of her maternal grandparents Wyatt and Dorothy Baylor; a couple known to be of great wealth with political and influential connections. As a photographer, Elena is interested in capturing elegant guests such as scientist, Harmon Worth and Austrian wife, Lila, President Franklin Roosevelt, and Eleanor- and others of “high society, politicians, the rich and ambitious.” Anne Perry’s lush description of the magnificent home and luxurious setting helps settle readers into a comfortable niche to observe and listen in on Elena’s conversations with the well connected, distinguished guests that lead her to question her grandparents’ political beliefs.  Elena’s background and involvement in M16, the British secret service, as well as extensive descriptions of the radical, political leanings of the Baylor’s and their guests are seamlessly woven into dialogue. These details become immensely important as a chauffeur interrupts the lavish party to announce Lila Worth has been run over in the driveway! Chaos and mystery ensue; police are summoned, guests questioned.

Anne Perry leads readers on a steady march; keenly analyzing suspects, subjecting readers to palm sweating confrontations with Agent Elena in disguise, and deep, emotional delving into grief. Through quiet conversations characters’ conscious and innermost feelings develop as Perry explores the close relationship of Elena and Grandfather Lucas, former head of M16, and casts suspicion on fellow agent James Allenby. Political intrigue or a domestic issue? Elena and Allenby concur; the killer is among the guests!  A “tangled web of distrust” leads readers through this maze to an appalling and ghastly conclusion. What’s next for Elena Standish?

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The London House by Katherine Reay

Publication Day: November 2, 2021

Uncovering a dark family secret sends one woman through the history of Britain’s World War II spy network and glamorous 1930s Paris to save her family’s reputation.

Katherine Reay is the national bestselling and award-winning author of several novels and one full length non-fiction work. Her upcoming novel, THE LONDON HOUSE, will release 11/02/2021.

Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, rehabbing runner, former marketer, and avid chocolate consumer. She lives outside Chicago, IL.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,” Scottish poet and novelist, Walter Scott.

Katherine Reay weaves an intriguing, poignant ‘tangled web’ in her dual timeline novel, The London House. The web begins in 1934, England when twin sisters, Caroline and Margaret Waite are separated for the first time. Caroline leaves for school in Switzerland then on to work at the House of Schiaparelli in Paris. Coming of age during the interwar years, “Caro” becomes involved in a life of espionage; revealing tiny bits about her love life, secrets, and spy-craft through letters to Margaret. “Margo” stays home, recovering from scarlet fever, coveting Caro’s letters, and recording her own thoughts in a diary named Beatrice. The Waite family believes reports that Caro is a traitor who ran away with her Nazi lover but have convinced next generations that she died of polio in childhood. Was she an informant, a traitor?

The ‘tangled web’ continues in present day Boston when Mat Hammond, writing for the Atlantic, calls on Caroline Payne, asking her to comment on the article he’s writing about her namesake, great-aunt Caroline Waite. Mat’s perspective is that “humans are resilient…and that hope emerges from tragedy.” Thus begins the ‘untangling’ of letters and diaries to find proof whether as Mat believes, Caro is a traitor or as Caroline wants to believe, she is a hero.

Katherine Reay’s characters develop very eloquently and with empathy through letters, diary entries, and dialogue; showing how “grief, fear, guilt and pain can transform you.” The stories of grief and misunderstanding are mirrored in both timelines: Caroline’s revelations about her 9-year-old sister Amelia’s death, and Caro and Margo’s separation and secrets with the ensuing years of family distrust. Readers find as Katherine Reay so aptly describes, “Banishment can take many forms.” Thanks to Mat and Caroline’s many hours of grueling research and cross checking of letters and diaries, readers will finally know if Caro is a traitor or a hero!

Publishing November 2, 2021
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Christmas with the Cornish Girls by Betty Walker

Publishing November 25, 2021

A heartwarming tale of sisterhood in wartimeIt’s 1941, and Christmas is approaching in St. Ives…

To Pre-Order: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/christmas-with-the-cornish-girls-the-cornish-girls-series-betty-walker?variant=39649409368098

Betty Walker lives in Cornwall with her large family, where she enjoys gardening and coastal walks. She loves discovering curious historical facts, and devotes much time to investigating her family tree.

She also writes under other names! She writes thrillers as Jane Holland, romance as Beth Good, and YA fantasy as Victoria Lamb. (Goodreads)

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Christmas is coming to Cornwall, England, no matter the war and air raids. Betty Walker continues The Cornish Girls Series with an attentive, warm-hearted glimpse into the lives and struggling relationships of Lily and Eva as they move from the top-secret listening post in Porthcurno up the coast to Symmonds Hall in St. Ives. Walker creates excellent backstory of the personalities and past of each character, so readers feel connected without reading Book #1, Wartime with the Cornish Girls. (Though a great read and highly recommended!)

Symmonds Hall is staffed by two doctors and several rule abiding nurses. Next door is an orphanage run by the Treverricks, whose “parenting” techniques are highly questionable. A love triangle, the orphanage, and the children in the Treverrick’s care become a personal challenge for Nurse Rose. Betty Walker’s focus deftly shifts back and forth from developing adult relationships to the orphans’ tenuous situation.

With December 1941 approaching, Lily is tasked with organizing the annual Christmas party! Lily’s and Eva’s days are filled with a wheelchair bound patient, a burn victim, a pregnant visitor, and orphan rescue missions! Meanwhile, it’s an emotional relief to be involved in Lily’s party preparations-dicey at best, with paper chains and rationing.

Christmas with the Cornish Girls reminds readers “that when things are at their darkest, love comes along to light the way.”

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Happy Publication Day! The Riviera House by Natasha Lester

“ONE UNFORGETTABLE SUMMER . . . When Remy discovers she’s mysteriously inherited a house on the French Riviera she drops everything to go there…”

Available August 31, 2021

Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive for L’Oréal, managing the Maybelline brand, before returning to university to study creative writing. She completed a Master of Creative Arts and has written several novels including A Kiss From Mr. Fitzgerald, Her Mother’s Secret, The Paris Seamstress, The French Photographer, and The Paris Secret.

In her spare time Natasha loves to teach writing, is a sought after public speaker and can often be found playing dress-up with her three children. She lives in Perth.

For all the latest news from Natasha visit:
http://www.natashalester.com.au
Twitter: @Natasha_Lester
Instagram: natashalester
Facebook: NatashaLesterAuthor

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

An envelope with money, a key, and the title to a villa on the French Riviera.

Natasha Lester’s The Riviera House is the tale of daring women protecting famous artworks since the Nazis are coming for France! It’s 1939, and the Louvre is closing for three days for “essential repair work.” Main character, Eliane Dufort, a student of art history, goes to school and works at the Louvre. Eliane, becomes involved in protecting the art by adding codes on crates of artwork being sent to another smaller museum, the Jeu de Paume, for cataloging and eventually transit. Her brother, Luc, an aspiring artist, and his friend Xavier, also become involved in the plot to save the famous artworks. Natasha Lester provides an excellent character study of brother and sister, and the wealthy friend, Xavier Laurent, whose father owns art galleries in Paris, London, and New York City. According to Xavier, Hitler is “not just seizing nations, he’s destroying their art and culture, too.” Readers learn to distrust both Luc and Xavier, for different reasons. Eliane and the reader fall for Xavier as Natasha Lester, in a time of such fear, gives a very calming and tender description of Xavier’s love for Eliane. Later Xavier appears with Reichsmarshall Goring as a guide at the Louvre and readers are filled with extreme doubt! Who can Eliane trust?

In a dual timeline, Natasha Lester whisks the reader to the grand vistas of the French Riviera, to a breathtaking villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. (See below!) At the urging of her best friend Antoinette, Remy Lang has come from Sydney, Australia, to spend three months in France to recover and reassemble her life. In 2015, Remy is a widow of two years, and owner/curator of a vintage fashion business.  Remy is in a “coma of agony.” Natasha Lester has a way with the language that speaks to the soul. As Remy navigates her journey of grief NL injects doubt and questioning, so   readers are urged to examine their own conscience and come to conclusions.  The villa is part of Remy’s inheritance, and her quandary is “How do I have in my possession a painting that Herman Goring stole seventy years ago?” That answer is filled with art history, mystery, and “Wait. What?” moments.

As Xavier says, “Art is all we have when words fail us, mankind fails us, and we fail each other.” Join the throng of Natasha Lester fans, to discover the treasures and uncover the mysteries hidden in The Riviera House.

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A Most Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton

A thrilling tale of love, loyalty, and espionage, based on the incredible true story of Elizabeth Bentley, a Cold War double agent spying for the Russians and the United States, from USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Marie Thornton.

Publishing September 14, 2021

Stephanie Marie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with women from history since she was twelve. She is the author of seven novels and lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska. https://www.stephaniethorntonauthor.com/

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In A Most Clever Girl, based on the true story of Elizabeth Bentley, a World War ll spy and Cold War informer, Stephanie Thornton teaches readers tricks of the spy trade along with life lessons. Catherine Gray, a journalism major and an intern at the White House, is in shock after the death of her mother, discovery of an unsettling letter, and the assassination of President Kennedy. Catherine has concluded that Elizabeth Bentley is the reason her life has been a complete lie and wanting an explanation, has tracked down Elizabeth and given her one hour to explain the lies before she pulls the trigger. So, at the end of her life, on the clock and at gunpoint, Elizabeth Bentley, through flashbacks, recounts her life of espionage to explain how life as a spy was really one of loneliness, love, and sacrifice, along with courage. Readers will sneak through the bar scenes, while keeping up with disguises, code names, and ‘honey traps’ and take Elizabeth’s advice to stay one move ahead, as she compares spy strategies to a chess board and “A Queen’s Gambit.” Political heavy weights such as J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy, and Richard Nixon are mingled with Meet the Press, NBC, and the New York Times. Encrypted codes, and double-speak are woven into life lessons on people as puzzles, figuring out motivations, and the study of human behaviors. Stephanie Thornton’s A Most Clever Girl peeks into the Golden Age of Spying and post-World War ll America, while jerking back the curtain on Communism. The last question for readers: After court cases, prison sentences, and informants sent to the electric chair, was Elizabeth Bentley telling the truth?

Publishes September 14, 2021
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In Royal Service to the Queen by Tessa Arlen

The revealing story of Queen Elizabeth II’s beloved governess, Marion Crawford, who spent more than sixteen years of her life in loyal service to the royal family and was later shunned by those she has loved and served.

is the author of the Woman of World War II Mysteries and the novel In Royal Service to the Queen. Born in Singapore, the daughter of a British diplomat, she has lived in Egypt, Germany, the Persian Gulf, China, and India. She now lives with her husband in historic Santa Fe, where she gardens in summer and writes in winter.

https://www.tessaarlen.com/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In Royal Service to the Queen is an insider’s view of the British royal family through the eyes and heart of Marion Crawford, selfless governess to Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret for 16 years. The twenty-two-year-old “Crawfie,” as she was lovingly named, began her service as governess in the summer of 1931. Tessa Arlen’s extensive research of British history and the Monarchy seen through Crawfie’s lens takes the reader on the rocky road of recovery through the Great Depression, the abdication of King Edward VIII, World War II, and economic recovery. During Marion Crawford’s service she traveled between Balmoral in Scotland, Windsor, and Buckingham Palace. She endured five years at Windsor with the princesses during the war then navigated “Lilibets” coming of age and her wedding to Phillip. The peek into the daily life is extremely compelling and so intriguing with all the publicity-positive or negative- on the royal family in the last decades. Those who have been called to serve, as teachers are, will struggle along with Marion as she continues to sacrifice her own chance at love, marriage, and a family. Tessa Arlen creates the perfect tension between Marion’s aging mother, her love interest, George Buthlay, and her royal commitment to the princesses. At the end of her service to the royal family Crawfie is faced with a life altering financial decision that will leave readers in a quandary. As Tessa Arlen inquires of readers in her revealing, detailed author’s note, “Was Crawfie guilty of disloyalty or disobedience?” Read In Royal Service to the Queen to make your own wise and regal decision.

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The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

Libraries are being ransacked. France is torn apart by war. A French librarian is determined to resist. Told through smuggled letters to an author, an ordinary librarian describes the brutal Nazi occupation of her small coastal village and the extraordinary measures she takes to fight back.” Goodreads

Mario Escobar Golderos has a degree in History, with an advanced studies diploma in Modern History. He has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. Of many previous titles: Auschwitz Lullaby and Children of the Stars

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“The Librarian of Saint-Malo tells the story of Jocelyn and Antoine Ferrec, a life full of love and literature.” Author, Mario Escobar, sweeps readers from Jocelyn and Antoine’s glorious wedding at the Cathedral of Saint-Vincent to the German invasion of Poland – both on September1, 1939. The enthralling accounts of survival and passive resistance are told through Jocelyn’s letters to author, Marcel Zola, who she is hoping will someday tell the story of how the citizens of Saint-Malo fought to defend and protect their beloved city and treasured books in the library. The German colonel in charge, Andreas von Aulock, ordered the “purge of the city’s bookstores and libraries to get rid of subversive writings as outlined in the famous Liste Otto.” As the librarian, Jocelyn also encounters Lt. Baumann and Hermann Von Choltiz, specialist in Medieval French literature.  Hermann has been sent to protect France’s cultural heritage by classifying the books in the Saint-Malo library.  Readers, be wary of the relationships that Jocelyn develops with these Germans. Mario Escobar weaves alarming comments and stunning descriptions of actual, true events with enough subtle hope to create suspense as to the German officers’ intentions.  Jocelyn’s quest also leads her to Yvonne Oddon and the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. Fans of Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will delight in the Bouquinistes, booksellers along the Seine, and the book club Jocelyn creates with the 7 requisite members, including a Count! Anthony Doer’s All the Light We Cannot See is another perfect pairing as this setting is before the bombing of Saint-Malo.

From the invasion of Saint-Malo by Germans in 1939 to the Allied forces’ arrival in 1944, Mario Escobar creates captivating descriptions of not only the beauty but also the magnitude of destruction to the “Little Jewel” on the coast of French Brittany. He deftly takes readers from doom and despair at the burned heaps of rubble and complete ruins to hope at the heart stopping, satisfying climax.

“The city had been collecting books for centuries. We were the soul and memory of Saint-Malo. I had to protect the library’s holdings…”  Readers everywhere are ever grateful for librarians such as Jocelyn and for Mario Escobar’s The Librarian of Saint-Malo.

Saint-Malo Cathedral Inside the Walled City-Site of Jocelyn’s Wedding

The Saint-Malo Cathedral or more precisely St Vincent of Saragosse Cathedral  (Cathédrale Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse de Saint-Malo ) was at one time a Benedictine Abbey. Built in Romanesque style at the turn of the 12th century, the church’s choir then underwent changes in the 13th century making it gothic style. Transformations from Romanesque to Gothic to High Gothic and even Renaissance styles can be found here. In 1944 during a battle for the city, the cathedral was bombed and the choir section collapsed. It took over 20 years to make the repairs.

The Musee de l’Homme in Paris. Jocelyn visited Yvonne Oddon, one of France’s leading librarians, connected to the Resistance.

The Musée de l’Homme librarian and a pioneer of the French Resistance, Yvonne Oddon and her colleagues Boris Vildé and Anatole Lewitsky launched the French Resistance group that would come to be known as the Musée de l’Homme resistance network, and helped choose the name of the underground newspaper Resistance. https://www.museedelhomme.fr/en/yvonne-oddon-1902-1982-3923

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The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

The New York Times bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (PeopleThe Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.” Publishing July6, 2021

Photograph by Phil Art Studio, Reims, France Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling author of a dozen novels including The Book of Lost NamesThe Winemaker’s WifeThe Room on Rue Amélie, and The Sweetness of Forgetting. She is also the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series, Friends and Fiction. She lives in Orlando, Florida.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Forest of Vanishing Stars shines a blinding light on a baby with a birthmark on her wrist in the shape of a dove and an old woman whose mother told her that knowing impossible things was a gift of God passed down through the blood of only the most fortunate Jewish women. Twenty years later 1942, Poland is being bombed and books are being burned in Berlin, so the old woman, Jerusza, leads baby “Yona”, now 22, deep into the forest of Nalibocka. Words of warning are to never venture outside the forest. A compelling struggle for survival takes the reader farther and farther into the forest, to underground zemliankas, through murky swamps and even onto an island with Resistance groups living day to day on survival skills learned in the cruelest situations. Through Yona’s frightening and eye-opening encounters, feelings of confusion, realization, and hope lead to a turning point in her struggle for survival. “After a lifetime of being told what to do, how to feel; of a stolen childhood, of a life of loneliness she hadn’t asked for,” Yona finally has a choice. Readers will empathize with Yona as she learns expressions of human love: the comfort of another’s touch and experiencing the joy of others. As Yona “comes of age” in this dangerous, strange world she must decide if one has to let go of the old life to have a new one? Words of wisdom to Yona and the reader: “In the times of greatest darkness, the light always shines through, because there are people who stand up to do brave, decent things…it doesn’t matter what you were born to be. It matters what you choose to become.” Choose to read The Forest of Vanishing Stars and like Yona, be changed.