adult fiction, Blog tour, Book Excerpt, book review, historical fiction

BLOG TOUR} The Woman with the Blue Star by. Pam Jenoff | ARC Review | Chapter Excerpt

Welcome to the blog tour for The Woman with the Blue Star by. Pam Jenoff!

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: The Woman with the Blue Star

Author: Pam Jenoff

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 5/4/21

Publisher: Park Row

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound | Libro.fm | Books-A-Million | Target | Walmart | Indigo | Kobo | AppleBooks | GooglePlay

Categories: WWII, Historical Fiction, Jewish

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris comes a riveting tale of courage and unlikely friendship during World War II.


1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents in the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous tunnels beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.


Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.


Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by incredible true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an unforgettable testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive.

  • I thought the focus on Sadie Gault who hid in the sewers while German Nazis occupied Poland was a fascinating story. I find most WWII to be the same at times, mostly with them concentrating on the war front. I found this different and I learned something new. The harrowing events that take place from their escape to the sewer and life there is tightly woven. This was a quick read from the start.
  • The dual perspectives of Sadie and Ella, a Polish girl living relatively free in Krakow shows how much the Jewish people were subjected to many evils under the Nazis. Ella is trying to survive in her own way since food rations are low, she’s living with her stepmother, and her love life is in shambles. Her relationship problems are light compared to Sadie who is living in a sewer and hoping one day she will have a future. But their unlikely friendship grows steadily through a sewer grate for the most part, and they become a lifeline for one another.
  • Sadie’s life in the sewers is horrible and yet compared to being in a death camp, this was the safest and best place for them to be. They live in filth, barely have food and her mother is pregnant! Life and death is happening in Sadie’s life in the sewers and my heart ached for her situation many times over.
  • I was afraid for Sadie and Ella being caught by Nazis or Polish Police officers. Every time they had a chance to interact I prayed they would not be caught because I can only imagine worse horrors for Sadie and Ella if they were.
  • Really great twist in the end but I thought I had misread something and had to pause for a moment to realize what the author was doing.
  • Triggers: Death, claustrophobia
  • Abrupt ending but it is explained in the epilogue, for a moment I was confused.

I really enjoyed this historical fiction story about two girls, one Jewish and one Polish, who befriend each other in the most unexpected circumstances. I loved the focus on their friendship and their survival journey in Nazis occupied Poland. Sadie has lost her freedom and her family yet living in the sewers is the best thing to do. Ella has lost family too, her love, and yet she still has more freedom to go about life because she is Polish. I was engaged in this story. I learned something and I felt for Sadie. In the end I was grateful for the random strangers that helped her survive a horrible period in time and her strength to hold on to hope to live and keep going.

📚~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Pam Jenoff is the author of several books of historical fiction, including the NYT bestseller The Orphan’s Tale. She holds a degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her JD from UPenn. Her novels are inspired by her experiences working at the Pentagon and as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and 3 children near Philadelphia, where she teaches law.

https://www.pamjenoff.com/ 

Links: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Mailing List

Chapter 1 Excerpt:

Sadie

Kraków, PolandMarch 1942

Everything changed the day they came for the children.

I was supposed to have been in the attic crawl space of the three-story building we shared with a dozen other families in the ghetto. Mama helped me hide there each morning before she set out to join the factory work detail, leaving me with a fresh bucket as a toilet and a stern admonishment not to leave. But I grew cold and restless alone in the tiny, frigid space where I couldn’t run or move or even stand straight. The minutes stretched silently, broken only by a scratching—unseen children, years younger than me, stowed on the other side of the wall. They were kept separate from one another without space to run and play. They sent each other messages by tapping and scratching, though, like a kind of improvised Morse code. Sometimes, in my boredom, I joined in, too.

“Freedom is where you find it,” my father often said when I complained. Papa had a way of seeing the world exactly as he wanted. “The greatest prison is in our mind.” It was easy for him to say. Though he manual ghetto labor was a far cry from his professional work as an accountant before the war, at least he was out and about each day, seeing other people. Not cooped up like me. I had scarcely left our apartment building since we were forced to move six months earlier from our apartment in the Jewish Quarter near the city center to the Podgórze neighborhood where the ghetto had been established on the southern bank of the river. I wanted a normal life, my life, free to run beyond the walls of the ghetto to all of the places I had once known and taken for granted. I imagined taking the tram to the shops on the Rynek or to the kino to see a film, exploring the ancient grassy mounds on the outskirts of the city. I wished that at least my best friend, Stefania, was one of the others hidden nearby. Instead, she lived in a separate apartment on the other side of the ghetto designated for the families of the Jewish police.

It wasn’t boredom or loneliness that had driven me from my hiding place this time, though, but hunger. I had always had a big appetite and this morning’s breakfast ration had been a half slice of bread, even less than usual. Mama had offered me her portion, but I knew she needed her strength for the long day ahead on the labor detail.

As the morning wore on in my hiding place, my empty belly had begun to ache. Visions pushed into my mind uninvited of the foods we ate before the war: rich mushroom soup and savory borscht, and pierogi, the plump, rich dumplings my grandmother used to make. By midmorning, I felt so weak from hunger that I had ventured out of my hiding place and down to the shared kitchen on the ground floor, which was really nothing more than a lone working stove burner and a sink that dripped tepid brown water. I didn’t go to take food—even if there had been any, I would never steal. Rather, I wanted to see if there were any crumbs left in the cupboard and to fill my stomach with a glass of water.

I stayed in the kitchen longer than I should, reading the dog-eared copy of the book I’d brought with me. The thing I detested most about my hiding place in the attic was the fact that it was too dark for reading. I had always loved to read and Papa had carried as many books as he could from our apartment to the ghetto, over the protests of my mother, who said we needed the space in our bags for clothes and food. It was my father who had nurtured my love of learning and encouraged my dream of studying medicine at Jagiellonian University before the German laws made that impossible, first by banning Jews and later by closing the university altogether. Even in the ghetto at the end of his long, hard days of labor, Papa loved to teach and discuss ideas with me. He had somehow found me a new book a few days earlier, too, The Count of Monte Cristo. But the hiding place in the attic was too dark for me to read and there was scarcely any time in the evening before curfew and lights-out. Just a bit longer, I told myself, turning the page in the kitchen. A few minutes wouldn’t matter at all.

I had just finished licking the dirty bread knife when I heard heavy tires screeching, followed by barking voices. I froze, nearly dropping my book. The SS and Gestapo were outside, flanked by the vile Jüdischer Ordnungsdienst, Jewish Ghetto Police, who did their bidding. It was an aktion, the sudden unannounced arrest of large groups of Jews to be taken from the ghetto to camps. The very reason I was meant to be hiding in the first place. I raced from the kitchen, across the hall and up the stairs. From below came a great crash as the front door to the apartment building splintered and the police burst through. There was no way I could make it back to the attic in time.

Instead, I raced to our third-floor apartment. My heart pounded as I looked around desperately, wishing for an armoire or other cabinet suitable for hiding in the tiny room, which was nearly bare except for a dresser and bed. There were other places, I knew, like the fake plaster wall one of the other families had constructed in the adjacent building not a week earlier. That was too far away now, impossible to reach. My eyes focused on the large steamer trunk stowed at the foot of my parents’ bed. Mama had shown me how to hide there once shortly after we first moved to the ghetto. We practiced it like a game, Mama opening the trunk so that I could climb in before she closed the lid.

The trunk was a terrible hiding place, exposed and in the middle of the room. But there was simply nowhere else. I had to try. I raced over to the bed and climbed into the trunk, then closed the lid with effort. I thanked heavens that I was tiny like Mama. I had always hated being so petite, which made me look a solid two years younger than I actually was. Now it seemed a blessing, as did the sad fact that the months of meager ghetto rations had made me thinner. I still fit in the trunk.

When we had rehearsed, we had envisioned Mama putting a blanket or some clothes over the top of the trunk. Of course, I couldn’t do that myself. So the trunk sat unmasked for anyone who walked into the room to see and open. I curled into a tiny ball and wrapped my arms around myself, feeling the white armband with the blue star on my sleeve that all Jews were required to wear.

There came a great crashing from the next building, the sound of plaster being hewn by a hammer or ax. The police had found the hiding place behind the wall, given away by the too-fresh paint. An unfamiliar cry rang out as a child was found and dragged from his hiding place. If I had gone there, I would have been caught as well.

Someone neared the door to the apartment and flung it open. My heart seized. I could hear breathing, feel eyes searching the room. I’m sorry, Mama, I thought, feeling her reproach for having left the attic. I braced myself for discovery. Would they go easier on me if I came out and gave myself up? The footsteps grew fainter as the German continued down the hall, stopping before each door, searching.

The war had come to Kraków one warm fall day two and a half years earlier when the air-raid sirens rang out for the first time and sent the playing children scurrying from the street. Life got hard before it got bad. Food disappeared and we waited in long lines for the most basic supplies. Once there was no bread for a whole week.

Then about a year ago, upon orders from the General Government, Jews teemed into Kraków by the thousands from the small towns and villages, dazed and carrying their belongings on their backs. At first I wondered how they would all find places to stay in Kazimierz, the already cramped Jewish Quarter of the city. But the new arrivals were forced to live by decree in a crowded section of the industrial Podgórze district on the far side of the river that had been cordoned off with a high wall. Mama worked with the Gmina, the local Jewish community organization, to help them resettle, and we often had friends of friends over for a meal when they first arrived, before they went to the ghetto for good. They told stories from their hometowns too awful to believe and Mama shooed me from the room so I would not hear.

Several months after the ghetto was created, we were ordered to move there as well. When Papa told me, I couldn’t believe it. We were not refugees, but residents of Kraków; we had lived in our apartment on Meiselsa Street my entire life. It was the perfect location: on the edge of the Jewish Quarter but easy walking distance to the sights and sounds of the city center and close enough to Papa’s office on Stradomska Street that he could come home for lunch. Our apartment was above an adjacent café where a pianist played every evening. Sometimes the music spilled over and Papa would whirl Mama around the kitchen to the faint strains. But according to the orders, Jews were Jews. One day. One suitcase each. And the world I had known my entire life disappeared forever.

I peered out of the thin slit opening of the trunk, trying to see across the tiny room I shared with my parents. We were lucky, I knew, to have a whole room to ourselves, a privilege we had been given because my father was a labor foreman. Others were forced to share an apartment, often two or three families together. Still, the space felt cramped compared to our real home. We were ever on top of one another, the sights and sounds and smells of daily living magnified.

“Kinder, raus!” the police called over and over again now as they patrolled the halls. Children, out. It was not the first time the Germans had come for children during the day, knowing that their parents would be at work.

But I was no longer a child. I was eighteen and might have joined the work details like others my age and some several years younger. I could see them lining up for roll call each morning before trudging to one of the factories. And I wanted to work, even though I could tell from the slow, painful way my father now walked, stooped like an old man, and how Mama’s hands were split and bleeding that it was hard and awful. Work meant a chance to get out and see and talk to people. My hiding was a subject of much debate between my parents. Papa thought I should work. Labor cards were highly prized in the ghetto. Workers were valued and less likely to be deported to one of the camps. But Mama, who seldom fought my father on anything, had forbidden it. “She doesn’t look her age. The work is too hard. She is safest out of sight.” I wondered as I hid now, about to be discovered at any second, if she would still think she was right.

The building finally went silent, the last of the awful footsteps receding. Still I didn’t move. That was one of the ways they trapped people who were hiding, by pretending to go away and lying in wait when they came out. I remained motionless, not daring to leave my hiding place. My limbs ached, then went numb. I had no idea how much time had passed. Through the slit, I could see that the room had grown dimmer, as if the sun had lowered a bit.

Sometime later, there were footsteps again, this time a shuffling sound as the laborers trudged back silent and exhausted from their day. I tried to uncurl myself from the trunk. But my muscles were stiff and sore and my movements slow. Before I could get out, the door to our apartment flung open and someone ran into the room with steps light and fluttering. “Sadie!” It was Mama, sounding hysterical.

“Jestem tutaj,” I called. I am here. Now that she was home, she could help me untangle myself and get out. But my voice was muffled by the trunk. When I tried to undo the latch, it stuck.

Mama raced from the room back into the corridor. I could hear her open the door to the attic, then run up the stairs, still searching for me. “Sadie!” she called. Then, “My child, my child,” over and over again as she searched but did not find me, her voice rising to a shriek. She thought I was gone.

“Mama!” I yelled. She was too far away to hear me, though, and her own cries were too loud. Desperately, I struggled once more to free myself from the trunk without success. Mama raced back into the room, still wailing. I heard the scraping sound of a window opening and felt a whoosh of cold air. At last I threw myself against the lid of the trunk, slamming my shoulder so hard it throbbed. The latch sprang open.

I broke free and stood up quickly. “Mama?” She was standing in the oddest position, with one foot on the window ledge, her willowy frame silhouetted against the frigid twilight sky. “What are you doing?” For a second, I thought she was looking for me outside. But her face was twisted with grief and pain. I knew then why Mama was on the window ledge. She assumed I had been taken along with the other children. And she didn’t want to live. If I hadn’t freed myself from the trunk in time, Mama would have jumped. I was her only child, her whole world. She was prepared to kill herself before she would go on without me.

A chill ran through me as I sprinted toward her. “I’m here, I’m here.” She wobbled unsteadily on the window ledge and I grabbed her arm to stop her from falling. Remorse ripped through me. I always wanted to please her, to bring that hard-won smile to her beautiful face. Now I had caused her so much pain she’d almost done the unthinkable.

“I was so worried,” she said after I’d helped her down and closed the window. As if that explained everything. “You weren’t in the attic.”

“But, Mama, I hid where you told me to.” I gestured to the trunk. “The other place, remember? Why didn’t you look for me there?”

Mama looked puzzled. “I didn’t think you would fit anymore.” There was a pause and then we both began laughing, the sound scratchy and out of place in the pitiful room. For a few seconds, it was like we were back in our old apartment on Meiselsa Street and none of this had happened at all. If we could still laugh, surely things would be all right. I clung to this last improbable thought like a life preserver at sea.

But a cry echoed through the building, then another, silencing our laughter. It was the mothers of the other children who had been taken by the police. There came a thud outside. I started for the window, but my mother blocked me. “Look away,” she ordered. It was too late. I glimpsed Helga Kolberg, who lived down the hall, lying motionless in the coal-tinged snow on the pavement below, her limbs cast at odd angles and skirt splayed around her like a fan. She had realized her children were gone and, like Mama, she didn’t want to live without them. I wondered whether jumping was a shared instinct, or if they had discussed it, a kind of suicide pact in case their worst nightmares came true.

My father raced into the room then. Neither Mama nor I said a word, but I could tell from his unusually grim expression that he already knew about the aktion and what had happened to the other families. He simply walked over and wrapped his enormous arms around both of us, hugging us tighter than usual.

As we sat, silent and still, I looked up at my parents. Mama was a striking beauty—thin and graceful, with white-blond hair the color of a Nordic princess’. She looked nothing like the other Jewish women and I had heard whispers more than once that she didn’t come from here. She might have walked away from the ghetto and lived as a non-Jew if it wasn’t for us. But I was built like Papa, with the dark, curly hair and olive skin that made the fact that we were Jews undeniable. My father looked like the laborer the Germans had made him in the ghetto, broad-shouldered and ready to lift great pipes or slabs of concrete. In fact, he was an accountant—or had been until it became illegal for his firm to employ him anymore. I always wanted to please Mama, but it was Papa who was my ally, keeper of secrets and weaver of dreams, who stayed up too late whispering secrets in the dark and had roamed the city with me, hunting for treasure. I moved closer now, trying to lose myself in the safety of his embrace.

Still, Papa’s arms could offer little shelter from the fact that everything was changing. The ghetto, despite its awful conditions, had once seemed relatively safe. We were living among Jews and the Germans had even appointed a Jewish council, the Judenrat, to run our daily affairs. Perhaps if we laid low and did as we were told, Papa said more than once, the Germans would leave us alone inside these walls until the war was over. That had been the hope. But after today, I wasn’t so sure. I looked around the apartment, seized with equal parts disgust and fear. In the beginning, I had not wanted to be here; now I was terrified we would be forced to leave.

“We have to do something,” Mama burst out, her voice a pitch higher than usual as it echoed my unspoken thoughts.

“I’ll take her tomorrow and register her for a work permit,” Papa said. This time Mama did not argue. Before the war, being a child had been a good thing. But now being useful and able to work was the only thing that might save us.

Mama was talking about more than a work visa, though. “They are going to come again and next time we won’t be so lucky.” She did not bother to hold back her words for my benefit now. I nodded in silent agreement. Things were changing, a voice inside me said. We could not stay here forever.

“It will be okay, kochana,” Papa soothed. How could he possibly say that? But Mama laid her head on his shoulder, seeming to trust him as she always had. I wanted to believe it, too. “I will think of something. At least,” Papa added as we huddled close, “we are all still together.” The words echoed through the room, equal parts promise and prayer.

Excerpted from The Woman With the Blue Star @ 2021 by Pam Jenoff, used with permission by Park Row Books.

adult fiction, Blog tour, book review, historical fiction, netgalley, romance

BLOG TOUR } The Last Bookshop in London by. Madeline Martin | ARC Review

Welcome to the blog tour for The Last Bookshop in London!

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: The Last Bookshop in London

Author: Madeline Martin

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 4/6/21

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Buy Here: Amazon | B & N | Bookshop | IndieBound | Libro.fm | Books-A-Million | Target | Kobo | AppleBooks | Google Play | Audible

Categories: Historical Fiction, WWII, London, Romance, Friendship, War, Bookshop

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Inspired by the true World War II history of the few bookshops to survive the Blitz, The Last Bookshop in London is a timeless story of wartime loss, love and the enduring power of literature.

August 1939: London prepares for war as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace Bennett has always dreamed of moving to the city, but the bunkers and blackout curtains that she finds on her arrival were not what she expected. And she certainly never imagined she’d wind up working at Primrose Hill, a dusty old bookshop nestled in the heart of London.

Through blackouts and air raids as the Blitz intensifies, Grace discovers the power of storytelling to unite her community in ways she never dreamed—a force that triumphs over even the darkest nights of the war.

  • How can I not enjoy a story about a bookshop? This one is even more inspirational because it’s about a bookshop in London during the Blitz in World War II. London was being bombed and yet this bookshop was there to keep people’s spirits up, keep them hoping, or keep their mind off what was happening.
  • Almost all the characters are wholesome, especially Grace who is a nice girl just wanting to get some work experience in London. She helps turn a bookshop around but other than that she is a very caring person ~ you can see it with the way she is with her friends and the new people she meets in London.
  • There is a minor romance in this story and what is a war story without a love story? Thankfully this one isn’t tragic, but sweet and hopeful. It’s always nice to remember when once upon a time, people did fall for each other through letter writing! It was all about patience back in the day.
  • I learned a lot of historical information from the book. I got a glimpse of all the organization people could volunteer for to help in the war. I thought that moment Grace and Viv go out on the town while bombs were dropping was pretty surreal! Also I enjoyed all of the St. Paul’s Cathedral history because it was one of my favorite places to visit when I did go to London few years ago. London really did survive!

Triggers: war, death, bombing

  • This was a super fast read, almost like the story glossed over the many things about war. I expected depth but it felt like a light historical fiction story. There was death and such but the story never felt heavy, unless I just never connected to the characters to feel their grief. Despite lacking depth, I think it held on to the message of Grace and the bookshop being an inspiration, a candle in the dark to so many suffering in the city during that time.

If you want to read a World War II story about books and hope, you will enjoy this one. Although it lacked the heaviness and depth of typical stories set during war time, I think the message about friendship, and community is a beautiful thing.

📚 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Madeline Martin is a USA TODAY bestselling author of historical romance novels filled with twists and turns, adventure, steamy romance, empowered heroines and the men who are strong enough to love them.

Website: http://www.madelinemartin.com/ 

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

book review, fantasy, netgalley, romance, Young Adult

Southern Sun, Northern Star | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Southern Sun, Northern Star (Glass Alliance, #3)

Author: Joanna Hathaway

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 432

Publication Date: 4/20/21

Publisher: Tor Teen

Categories: Historical Fantasy, Romance, War

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Battles, revolution, and romance collide in Joanna Hathaway’s stunning, World Wars-inspired Southern Sun, Northern Star

Reeling from the tragedy that beset her family, Princess Aurelia has joined the resistance in Havenspur, spying on the Northern leaders who were once her allies and determined to stop her uncle’s machinations for war. Meanwhile, her beloved pilot Athan leads his squadron into battle as the Safire wage a losing war abroad and combat growing unrest back home.

When Athan is sent on leave to Havenspur following the death of a comrade, the pair reunite and rekindle their romance until Aurelia uncovers one of Athan’s secrets, a secret that could save countless lives. But exposing it to the right people will cost her Athan’s trust, and this time, their shared memories of love might not be enough to stop the fateful path of destruction that threatens all they’ve fought to defend.

As history unfolds around them, every move they make drives them one step closer to either recreating their parents’ shadowed past or redeeming the alliance that could bring peace.

The breathtaking finale to a legendary series. Part war drama, part romance, Southern Sun, Northern Star is the epic conclusion to the Glass Alliance series.

  • War is horrible and it affects everyone on both sides or every side, in awful ways. This book is the culmination of the war Safire is waging, the precipice where we find out which way the ending will unfold. And it comes with fire, death, and the sheer will to keep going, fighting and surviving. We are at the front lines, we are in the trenches with these characters and it’s grueling.
  • We see Aurelia make the most drastic change of all the characters, she becomes the thing she never thought she could be. The reason I love this series is in most fantasies where a girl turns into a killing machine, there is an evil she is fighting. In this series, it is not so black and white ~ there is so much gray and the killing here is realistic. It is people killing people, not people killing fantastical creatures/people. So Aurelia changing from a sheltered Princess into a killer, saddened me. I was hoping someone would keep their innocence in this war but that’s what war does – it robs the young of their innocence.
  • Athan’s change comes with being a fighter pilot for way too many campaigns. He has killed, shot planes down, it’s become automatic but something has got to give. What gives is his family breaking apart. Athan’s childhood and young adult life has been tragic, but in this final book it takes his tragedy to a new level. Athan could have broken so many times…but he stays strong as best he can, it’s all he can do.
  • All the loose ends are tied up nicely in this conclusion. Secrets are revealed and very hard choices are made. The writing is beautiful consistent from the start to the finish of this trilogy.

Triggers: death, violence, war, PTSD

  • Arrin was the one who I wanted to know more about as the books went on and we do find out more about him which I’m happy for but his story is sad. Everyone’s story broke my heart but I was hoping something could turn around for Arrin.
  • I’m not sure if it was just me, but there were some spots I had to reread because I felt like I missed something, for example, the General’s secret being revealed. It took me awhile to realize how Athan found out, but minor things like that where I should have been paying more close attention, I think it was because I was so emotionally exhausted (the war scenes are gritty), I just missed a few things because I was trying to look for a happy moment and in this book it is rarely there.

This book is the perfect conclusion to the whole Glass Alliance series. What could I expect of a story of two families mired in war? Heartbreak. Despair. But it was so realistic, I was always hoping so hard for the war in the story to end. I love how this series delves into the changes that happen to the characters and shows how war affects everyone involved in it from the front lines, the masterminds and the people bothering not getting their hands dirty. From start to finish this series was written beautifully. It’s definitely a must read if you are into historical fantasy.

✈︎ ~ Yolanda

adult fiction, book review, contemporary, historical fiction, netgalley

BLOG TOUR } The Lost Apothecary by. Sarah Penner | ARC Review

Welcome to the blog tour for The Lost Apothecary by. Sarah Penner!

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: The Lost Apothecary

Author: Sarah Penner

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 3/2/21

Buy Here: Bookshop.org | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Books-A-Million | Target | Libro.fm

Categories: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

  • The story is told through three perspectives, the past with Nella and Eliza and then present time with Caroline.
  • Caroline is going through some marriage trouble but I love how her curiosity to find out about an old apothecary bottle leads her to learning a lot of things about herself and the choices she made in life. I could relate to Caroline a lot.
  • Nella and Eliza’s story were fascinating ~ especially because that apothecary was one used by women to do harm. Was it okay for them to do that? In those times women had no resources to help them against men causing them harm so I can see why they resorted to poison. I felt for both Nella and Eliza and what happened to them.
  • The history about the apothecary is fascinating and I love how at the end of the book the author included recipes, non-harmful ones, of course!
  • There were moments I was more interested in Caroline’s life than Nella and Eliza’s but I think there was a good balance of both.
  • The twist in the end definitely tied in the women’s stories together.

I found the historical aspects of this story quite fascinating since I’ve always been drawn to stories about apothecaries and healing. It’s so interesting to learn about how people survived without modern medicine but in this case, how women survived some very bad situations they were trapped in. Caroline is the modern woman trying to get out of a situation she’s found herself in and researching Nella’s apothecary helps her find the strength to do the right thing.

📖 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Sarah Penner is the debut author of The Lost Apothecary, to be translated in eleven languages worldwide. She works full-time in finance and is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida, with their miniature dachshund, Zoe. To learn more, visit slpenner.com.

https://www.sarahpenner.com/ | Facebook: @SarahPennerAuthor | Instagram: @sarah_penner_author | Twitter: @sl_penner

book review, E-book, fantasy, historical fiction, magic, Young Adult

Book Review | The Kingdom of Back

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Kingdom of Back

Author: Marie Lu

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 336

Categories: Magical Realism, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart. 

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

I did not know what to expect when I borrowed this book. I wasn’t loving the title and this was going to be something new as the author had not written historical fiction before. I only read one series from her and that was Warcross.

But I was pleasantly surprised by this book! Nannerl Mozart is Wolfgang’s older sister, the one we never hear about since Mozart basically equals Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But he had an older sister and one who was accomplished at playing the clavier as well!

This story delves into her life but takes on a fantastical and magical twist. Nannerl wants to be seen too, she wants to be acknowledged as an accomplished talent as much as her brother is, but in a world dominated by men, she is second place. Then she makes a bargain with a magical being who promises he can make her immortal. Will all her dreams come true if she bargains with this stranger? Or will she lose herself and her brother?

  • I was skeptical of the magical realism in this book but hello…Marie Lu’s writing sucked me into this story so bad! It’s written like a fairy tale and it was so lush. The author’s love of Mozart and the music comes through into the writing as well. As someone who took piano lessons and was a big fan of Beethoven, I get her obsession with Mozart. These musicians made music that have lasted throughout time and it is magical.
  • The world building is wonderful especially since we get to travel with the Mozart family all over Europe. Today a popular musician would make millions and travel in style, but back then the Mozarts were just trying to make ends meet as their father’s ambition grew. It’s kind of a sad story.
  • It’s a story about a woman’s place in society, hundreds of years ago but it resonates in our time as well. Nannerl is talented but she’s a girl, which means she’s expected to listen, obey, be demure and marry at eighteen. She knows she will have to put away all her talent for composing after she is married.
  • Nannerl and her relationship with Wolferl is a beautiful yet complicated sibling relationship. They both are so talented and want to impress the world with their music. They also want the affection of their father who treats them like work horses to pay the family’s rent. 😒
  • Hyacinth – the liar. He did well playing both sides and it is revealed in the end of the story what he was truly after but yeah…he was a charmer wasn’t he? But I didn’t fall for it! Hyacinth’s world was well built and I enjoyed the tasks that he had Nannerl undertake. It just made me think of the Grimm fairytales or like Rumplestiltskin and stories in that vein.
  • The title explanation! After reading the book, now I love the title – it’s perfect!
  • At times I was so into the realistic side of Nannerl’s life, I almost wished it was pure historical fiction. But I think the author did such a great job blending the two worlds.
  • During reading this, I had flashbacks to the book Wintersong! 😱 You know, music and bargains with a certain Goblin King. And it seemed reminiscent because I was thinking wow, this Kingdom of Back reminds me of the movie, Labyrinth and it turn my thoughts took me to Wintersong.
  • There is no romance in this book which was awesome because the love between Nannerl and music was enough! ❤️

I am enchanted with this book. It really felt like something magical as I read it and it transported me into Nannerl’s world of music. It was almost like I was being transported to Narnia or The Never Ending Story because the writing is so lyrical. You can tell the author put her heart and soul into it because I felt it! I absolutely enjoyed this story and I’m glad I decided to read it.

book review, historical fiction, netgalley

ARC Review | The Lost Orphan

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Lost Orphan

Author: Stacey Halls

Format: ebook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Categories: Historical Fiction, Motherhood

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A mother’s love knows no bounds…

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her newborn, Clara, at London’s Foundling Hospital, young Bess Bright returns to reclaim the illegitimate daughter she has never really known. Dreading the worst—that Clara has died in care—the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl—and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in a quiet town house, a wealthy widow barely ventures outside. When her close friend—an ambitious doctor at the Foundling Hospital—persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her—and will soon tear her carefully constructed world apart.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, The Lost Orphan explores families and secrets, class and power, and how the pull of motherhood cuts across them all.

Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

This is not a title I would have requested on my own but I was sent a link to it by the publisher’s rep and I’m so glad I decided to read it.

Bess Bright is a girl who has a hard life selling shrimp in London. It’s a tough life she leads in one of London’s poor communities and she finds herself pregnant. There is no question about giving up the child to the London’s Foundling Hospital but she has plans of coming back for her baby girl when she has made enough money to get her back.

When she does earn money, it’s not enough and not only that her daughter is missing. Will Bess be able to find her daughter again?

  • The writing is so descriptive that I felt myself transported to 1754, London. Life for Bess is hard and she hawks cooked shrimp with her dad, Abe. Just the description of how the shrimp are cooked and the hot water dripping down Bess’s neck introduced me to Bess’s hardships in life. London is hard for those with no means and power. But everything about the book was well written and I could imagine life for Bess and Alexandra in London.
  • The author included diversity in this book which was wonderful. Bess’s best friend is Keziah, a free black woman in London. We get a very small glimpse of her life as well.
  • The alternating points of view between Bess and Alexandra paints a distinct portrait of two women, two different stations in life, tied together by a child. I loved how we get to know each woman, none of them perfect by any means, each having to live out some trauma in their life.
  • It’s a happy ending, thank goodness. I was a bit emotional by the end of this book. I was happy for everyone!
  • It has a happy ending and I loved it but I wondered how realistic that would be? It did involve child kidnapping on both sides. But I guess that’s why it’s fiction!
  • At times I would questions both Alexandra and Bess – they both wanted the best for Charlotte, but it made me wonder which situation kept the child safer. We saw both sides but in the end it worked out. As much as Alexandra’s wealth provided a well cared for life for Charlotte, that child was a prisoner! And yet if she lived with Bess, poverty could imprison Charlotte in a way as well. 😞
  • Triggers: abuse, kidnapping

This was a very enjoyable book and a quick read at that. Every time I read historical fiction, it reminds me I should read more of it! I was very drawn to both Alexandra and Bess, their different lives and how they both laid claims to Charlotte. In the end, Charlotte chose who she wanted to live with and thank goodness it was a happy ending, which made me want to shed a tear. If you like historical fiction, you may enjoy this one!

book review, historical fiction, Young Adult

Book Review | The Downstairs Girl

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Downstairs Girl

Author: Stacey Lee

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 374

Categories: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Racial Themes, American Southern History, Suffragists

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. 

While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. 

This book sort of got me out of my reading slump, so hooray! Maybe it’s because I just needed a break from YA Fantasy. 🤷🏻‍♀️

The Downstairs Girl packs a lot into 374 pages. It is a story about a Chinese girl named Jo Kuan, who was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. The story takes place somewhere during the late 1800’s so there is a lot going on and for a city that is divided between the color lines of black or white, Jo being Chinese, always falls somewhere in the middle. We get a little education about the Chinese that were brought in to the plantations in the South after the Civil War. There is also mention of the Suffragist movement, the growing popularity of safeties (bicycles), racial divide between blacks and whites in Atlanta, Jo’s search for her biological parents, horse-racing and a Miss Sweetie advice column in a newspaper that added humor to this story.

  • I love Jo who isn’t timid in her thoughts and opinions. Actually her opinions gets her in trouble with a job she’s really good at. Jo is talented with her hands and her words. She goes from being a milliner, then a maid, and she rides a horse with skill. She is also the anonymous Miss Sweetie in the newspaper the Focus. What can’t she do? But her life isn’t perfect – she was raised by Old Gin, an older Chinese man who said he found her on his doorstep. She doesn’t know her real parents, they live as secret squatters and if found out could be kicked out or worse. Because they are Chinese, they experience prejudices and work menial jobs where they can find it and try to stay “out of the way” but with more change coming in Atlanta, it’s hard to just stand by, especially for Jo who was a lot to say.
  • I love the writing and wonder why I’ve never read a book by this author before! I really enjoyed the focus on the power and love of words, with the newspaper and the Miss Sweetie column. Jo is so witty and funny as Miss Sweetie giving her advice to subscribers of the Focus. But I also loved the Chinese parables that Old Gin uses to teach Jo about life lessons. It’s so beautiful and there were so many things I wanted to highlight in this book but I couldn’t because it’s a library copy.
  • I did not know about the history of the Chinese in the American South. So this book opened my eyes to a lot of things, including race relations in Atlanta around the 1890’s, which I knew of through history class but not about the Chinese that immigrated there. The author added in the Suffragist movement as well, and she showed how even in that movement, racism played a big part. There is a hierarchy in who’s cause took precedence and freedom for blacks always took last place, most notably, black women’s issues was last place. 😔
  • The horse race in the end, well who would’ve thought it could be so exciting to read! And I almost cried at the end, I just felt so pumped up for Jo, I was cheering her on!
  • There is a revelation in this book near the end and it was heart wrenching mostly because of the relationships between Jo and Old Gin (her caretaker). And then her usually tense relationship with Caroline her employer, changes in a way unexpected that just made me want to cry.
  • I enjoyed the other characters in this book like Old Gin who is so wise, and Noemi and Roddy who are her friends. I’m glad Jo had a little support group even though it was so small.
  • There was a little romance in this story. But I think this book would have been good without it. It didn’t make me like the book less though because I always love a little romance. It’s a very slow burn though.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I was immersed in Jo’s thoughts, her wit, worries, dreams and strong opinions. I love how the author gave us a glimpse of what it was like in Atlanta, Georgia for a Chinese girl in a time when tension was brewing between race and gender. I will definitely be reading more of her work. So many events are taking place in Jo’s life but I think her story ends victoriously. ☺️ Jo handles her search for her true self with courage and later with appreciation for the people who helped her realize her true voice. It touched my heart in ways unexpected.

adult fiction, book review

ARC Review | Cilka’s Journey

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Cilka’s Journey

Author: Heather Morris

Format: Paperback

Pages: 352

Publication Date: October 1, 2019

Categories: Historical Fiction, Holocaust, Gulag, Rape, Survival Story

Disclaimer: I won a copy of this ARC from Bookishfirst for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, in 1942. The Commandant at Birkenau, Schwarzhuber, notices her long beautiful hair, and forces her separation from the other women prisoners. Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly given, equals survival.

After liberation, Cilka is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to Siberia. But what choice did she have? And where did the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was sent to Auschwitz when still a child? 

In a Siberian prison camp, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she makes an impression on a woman doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing. Cilka begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Cilka finds endless resources within herself as she daily confronts death and faces terror. And when she nurses a man called Ivan, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Bookishfirst for giving me a chance to win an arc of this book, Cilka’s Journey.

I did not read The Tattooist of Auschwitz but it is on my TBR list. I had a chance to win an arc of Cilka’s Journey and was pleasantly surprise to see I did win a copy. I knew right away this would be a difficult read. My husband is Jewish through his father’s side, and from what I’ve learned, his ancestors from that side of his family came from Russia. So this is a part of my kids history now…but anyway…I knew this would be a hard subject to read.

We follow Cilka out of Auschwitz, and being someone who didn’t read the first book, I believe I followed pretty well because this book has flashbacks of Cilka’s time in the concentration camp. All of it is horrible. Everything she went through, what she had to do to survive, what it does to her psyche, and how she stays strong to keep on living. But she leaves Auschwitz and ends up a prisoner (accused of sleeping with the enemy-Nazis) and ends up going to the Gulag in Siberia. Like how much worse can things get for Cilka?! I wanted to scream at the heavens for this woman.

She’s not at a concentration camp but she is at a prison labor camp, where she is still raped by strange men, still fighting for survival in the hierarchies that are formed within the places she tries to survive, whether it’s in the hut she’s condemned to live it, or the place she’s sent to work at. This is not an easy journey for Cilka. And I kept wondering as I read, will it get better?

This book is an engrossing and quick read but I read it in three days because I needed a break from the horror. I would stare at my kids while they slept, wondering what part of them someone could hate…😢💔. There were many moments my heart hurt so bad reading this book.

What makes this story incredible is how she survives, because I don’t think I could have. Her will to survive and search for hope is beyond admirable. And though she questions herself quite often, she finds a way to keep going. Did her looks save her? Her curse and her luck was her beauty. But I love how smart she is, she is a survivor, works hard, cares for others even when most people would have given up or been past caring.

She survived Auschwitz. And the Soviet Gulag in Siberia. After the story there are also notes in the back of the book that I continued reading. There is more information about the Gulag which I was interested in reading because it’s a part of history we don’t hear a lot about.

Stories like Cilka’s Journey are vital. It reminds us of a horrible time in history, reminds us so we hopefully never end up there again. Now I have to read The Tattooist of Auschwitz because Cilka’s life starts there but I really felt like Cilka’s Journey is pretty complete as a standalone.

This a story of hope and the human spirit’s will to survive the very darkest of times.

adult fiction, book review

ARC Review | Ghost Fire

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Ghost Fire

Author: Wilbur Smith with Tom Harper

Format: Paperback (owned)

Pages: 432

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Categories: War, Military, Sex, Historical Fiction, Adult Fiction

Disclaimer: I won a copy of this ARC from Bookishfirst.com – all opinions and thoughts are my own.

1754. Inseparable since birth and growing up in India, Theo and Connie Courtney are torn apart by the tragic death of their parents.

Theo, wracked with guilt, strikes a solitary path through life. Haunted by the spirits of lovers and family members, he is determined to atone for his mistakes. He seeks salvation in combat and conflict, joining the British in the war against the French and Indian army.

Believing herself abandoned by her brother, and abused and brutalised by a series of corrupt guardians, Connie vows never to let any man own her. Instead, she uses her beauty to manipulate her way to France, where she is welcomed into high society. But Connie once again finds herself at the mercy of vicious men, whose appetite for war and glory lead her to the frontlines of the French battlefield in North America.

As the siblings find their destinies converging once more, they realise that the vengeance and redemption they both desperately seek could cost them their lives . . .

An epic story of tragedy, loss, betrayal and courage that brings the reader deep into the seething heart of the French Indian War.

Thank you to Bookishfirst for giving me an opportunity to win this book.

I didn’t realize this book was part of an extensive series until after I completed the book. With that said, I surprisingly read this book in a few hours! It is a historical fiction novel spanning many locations across the globe like India, France and America. It follows two characters, siblings Theo and Constance Courtney, who’s father was once part of the East India Trading Company.

The writing is sharp and blunt as the the story navigates from one event to another, tearing our characters, violently apart. The story takes you on a journey through exotic locales. I felt the muggy air of India in my lungs as I was reading it and could only imagine what it was like being caught in a war there in the late 1700’s. I could envision the stealth of the Abenaki Indians as they hunted down their enemies in the woods of North America. But I almost had to skim the parts of the scalping.

The story is gruesome at times, but war is never pretty. Theo’s story arc is quite involved and epic and I definitely cheered him on, hoping he would be okay in the end. I gravitated to his story more because he seemed to have nine lives! He went from being a scrawny red head young man to a stealthy, brave, strategic fighter and leader. My other favorite character in this book is Moses, an Abenaki Indian who befriends Theo.

As for Constance, I had a big issue with her character. She came off selfish even before their lives go horribly wrong. But why was the one main female character in this book made to take such awful abuse from men in this book? At first I didn’t like her because she seemed to not give a care after her parents die. I felt Theo’s anguish, but where was hers? I understand the time period wasn’t kind to women back then, but I felt like every woman that Theo met or any of the men Constance encountered back then sexualized females constantly in this story. Was Constance really just there to take the abuse from men? I did not enjoy that part of the book at all.

This book has lots of action, lots of fighting and military strategy. I especially enjoyed Theo’s time with the Abenaki Indians where he finally gets to meet a woman and truly get to know her. But the writing is so brisk that it doesn’t spend much time with the characters growing relationships. Like the relationship between Theo and Connie felt one sided, all from Theo’s side. At times I felt Connie could care less about her brother. The best relationship in this book is between Theo and Moses, because we see their friendship grow.

I don’t usually read this type of book, I used to years ago, but lately I’ve stuck to romance and young adult. For me the locations and historical aspects of this book were my favorite parts. The female characterization, I did not enjoy as much.

If you are already a fan of the other books in this series, then I’m sure you will enjoy this one. This is the first book of Wilbur Smith’s that I have read, and it read pretty good just by itself.

Get it here: Amazon

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!


book review, E-book, netgalley

Book Review: The Orphan’s Song

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Author: Lauren Kate

Format: eBook

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Pages: 336

Categories: Romance, Historical, Adult Fiction

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Book Blurb:

A song brought them together.
A secret will tear them apart.

Venice, 1736. When fate brings Violetta and Mino together on the roof of the Hospital of the Incurables, they form a connection that will change their lives forever. Both are orphans at the Incurables, dreaming of escape. But when the resident Maestro notices Violetta’s voice, she is selected for the Incurables’ world famous coro, and must sign an oath never to sing beyond its church doors.

After a declaration of love ends in heartbreak, Mino flees the Incurables in search of his family. Known as the “city of masks,” Venice is full of secrets, and Mino is certain one will lead to his long-lost mother. Without him, the walls close in on Violetta and she begins a dangerous and forbidden nightlife, hoping her voice can secure her freedom. But neither finds what they are looking for, until a haunting memory Violetta has suppressed since childhood leads them to a shocking confrontation.

Vibrant with the glamour and beauty of Venice at its zenith, The Orphan’s Songtakes us on a breathtaking journey of passion, heartbreak, and betrayal before it crescendos to an unforgettable ending, a celebration of the enduring nature and transformative power of love.

MY REVIEW

Thank you to Penguin Group PUTNAM and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this eArc.

I requested this book because it takes place in Venice during the 1700’s. I fell in love with Venice when my husband and I visited the city briefly on a European tour. My time there was short but so memorable. It is a place oozing with mystery and character.

Violetta and Mino are orphans of the Hospital of the Incurables, which was a place for treatment of those suffering from syphillis. The hospital also had an orphanage attached to it. The children that grow up there are given some opportunities as they age. The girls can sing in the church coro (choir) and the boys are given apprenticeships.

Violetta wants to be a singer in the coro with all her heart. Mino plays the violin and they befriend each other, sharing moments in their secret place, the rooftop of the orphanage. There is love between them, but Violetta doesn’t see any hope for them. As a child, Violetta witnessed Mino’s mother dropping him at the orphanage and since that moment she vowed never to become a mother.

Violetta’s rejection devastates Mino. It was heartbreaking watching him lose his way, trying to find the mother that left him, and moving on from the girl that broke him. The two of them take on separate journeys and they only meet again in the later half of the book. All throughout the story it’s evident their lives are intertwined by what seems to be fate or love. I just felt awful for Mino though.

The only thing that didn’t quite work out for me was the secret of Mino’s father. When that was revealed, I thought, really? It had to be him of all people? Poor Mino, hasn’t he been through enough?

I read this book in one night. I kept rooting for Mino and Violetta, because their love was so beautiful in the beginning. I was hoping they would eventually find their way to one another. It’s a rough journey for them but I enjoyed this love story and being whisked away to the “city of masks” was a plus.

Get it here: Amazon

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost for you. Thanks!