Blog Tour Book Review: The Beach at Painter’s Cove by Shelley Noble

About The Beach at Painter’s Cove

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 13, 2017)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Whisper Beach comes another heartwarming story of four generations of women who reunite in their crumbling family mansion by the sea for a dramatic summer filled with love, family, secrets and sisterhood.

The Whitaker family’s Connecticut mansion, Muses by the Sea, has always been a haven for artists, a hotbed of creativity, extravagances, and the occasional scandal. Art patrons for generations, the Whitakers supported strangers but drained the life out of each other. Now, after being estranged for years, four generations of Whitaker women find themselves once again at The Muses.

Leo, the Whitaker matriarch, lives in the rambling mansion crammed with artwork and junk. She plans to stay there until she joins her husband Wes on the knoll overlooking the cove and meadow where they first met. Her sister-in-law Fae, the town eccentric, is desperate to keep a secret she has been hiding for years.

Jillian, is a jet setting actress, down on her luck, and has run out of men to support her. She thinks selling The Muses will make life easier for her mother, Leo, and Fae by moving them into assisted living. The sale will also bring her the funds to get herself back on top.

Issy, Jillian’s daughter, has a successful life as a museum exhibit designer that takes her around the world. But the Muses and her grandmother are the only family she’s known and when her sister leaves her own children with Leo, Issy knows she has to step in to help.

Steph, is only twelve-years-old and desperately needs someone to fire her imagination and bring her out of her shell. What she begins to discover at the Muses could change the course of her future.

As Issy martials the family together to restore the mansion and catalogue the massive art collection, a surprising thing happens. Despite storms and moonlight dancing, diva attacks and cat fights, trips to the beach and flights of fancy, these four generations of erratic, dramatic women may just find a way to save the Muses and reunite their family.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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 Happy Thursday and welcome to my stop in the blog tour for The Beach at Painter’s Cove by Shelley Noble. I recover a copy from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it.

The Beach at Painter’s Cove is a contemporary fiction novel about the Whitaker family. It is very much a family drama centered around the Whitaker women and the estate that has been in their family for generations. Drama and betrayal ensues and the family must figure how to survive and save the home that is so dear to them. 

At first glance this book looks like a perfect beach read and while it was that for me, it definitely was a lot more. It is filled with family drama, healing, self discovery, loss, betrayal, happiness and even some romance. I did not expect all of that to be wrapped up in this book but I was so happy that it was. 

I really loved many of the characters. Our main character Issy was my favorite, I loved her and the way she dealt with things and the way she cared about her family. I loved Fae and her quirkiness and I also really loved Steph’s storyline of self discovery. I also enjoyed exploring the character relationships.

Family dramas are not usually my favorite books to read but I could not put this one down. It was a really fast read, it felt like a light read even though it did deal with a lot of drama and some tough situations/emotions. It’s not a super complicated book but it’s not simple either, it’s a great balance of both and the language and setting make it perfect for a summer read. I think some of it was a little predictable but for me that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story at all. My absolute favorite thing about this book was probably the setting, I loved learning about The Muses and it’s history and it was just interesting how this place played such a huge part in the characters lives. 

This is my first Shelley Noble book and since I really enjoyed it I would gladly read another book written by her. This book sort of reminds me of reading a Susan Wiggs book which typically have some sort of drama with family and some romance and self discovery. Really enjoyed this one! 

If you love family drama, beachy settings or self discovery/homecoming themes, this one is for you. Four stars! 

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About Shelley Noble

Shelley Noble is a former professional dancer and choreographer and has worked on a number of films. She lives at the Jersey shore where she loves to visit lighthouses and vintage carousels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America.

Find out more about Shelley at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Blog Tour Book Review: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

About The Essex Serpent

• Hardcover: 432 pages
• Publisher: Custom House (June 6, 2017)

Costa Book Award Finalist, Waterstones Book of the Year, winner of the British Book Awards Fiction Book of the Year and overall Book of the Year

“[T]he most deeply satisfying fiction you will read this year.”

Waterstones Book of the Year

An exquisitely talented young British author makes her American debut with this rapturously acclaimed historical novel, set in late nineteenth-century England, about an intellectually minded young widow, a pious vicar, and a rumored mythical serpent that explores questions about science and religion, skepticism, and faith, independence and love.

When Cora Seaborne’s brilliant, domineering husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one. Wed at nineteen, this woman of exceptional intelligence and curiosity was ill-suited for the role of society wife. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space in the wake of the funeral, Cora leaves London for a visit to coastal Essex, accompanied by her inquisitive and obsessive eleven-year old son, Francis, and the boy’s nanny, Martha, her fiercely protective friend.

While admiring the sites, Cora learns of an intriguing rumor that has arisen further up the estuary, of a fearsome creature said to roam the marshes claiming human lives. After nearly 300 years, the mythical Essex Serpent is said to have returned, taking the life of a young man on New Year’s Eve. A keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, Cora is immediately enthralled, and certain that what the local people think is a magical sea beast may be a previously undiscovered species. Eager to investigate, she is introduced to local vicar William Ransome. Will, too, is suspicious of the rumors. But unlike Cora, this man of faith is convinced the rumors are caused by moral panic, a flight from true belief.

These seeming opposites who agree on nothing soon find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart—an intense relationship that will change both of their lives in ways entirely unexpected.

Hailed by Sarah Waters as “a work of great intelligence and charm, by a hugely talented author,” The Essex Serpent is “irresistible . . . you can feel the influences of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Hilary Mantel channeled by Perry in some sort of Victorian séance. This is the best new novel I’ve read in years” (Daily Telegraph, London).

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Hello all! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review of it.

The Essex Serpent is a historical fiction novel set in the Victorian era. We follow a recently widowed Cora who having gained her independence from an abusive husband travels to Essex. Rumors of a fabled sea serpent rising from the depths of the sea as a result of an earthquake draws her attention, as well as an unlikely friendship with the local vicar who is struggling to assuage the fear from the townspeople on the basis of faith.

I knew next to nothing going into my reading of this book and I am really glad. For some reason I thought it was purely a romance book but when I started reading it I was pleasantly surprised. I have been missing a book like this in my life for awhile.

The Essex Serpent is gothic-esque in its atmosphere and feel. It reminded me of the books that made me fall in love with English Literature in college like works written by Wilkie Collins. The language and writing was just beautiful and I found myself deeply absorbed in the story from the get go because the whole Victorian era, gothic vibe was just beautifully done in this book.

There are a slew of interesting themes to take away from this book but the one that drew me the most was the relationship between religion and science, which we see embodied in two of our main characters.

This was a super interesting, super absorbing book. It was dark, beautiful and creepy at times. It’s not a super fast paced read as most classics aren’t (and this book was so similar to a classic in writing style) but if you love the style of Victorian literature and gothic literature you will love this book! I can’t wait to see more from this author!

Also, isn’t this cover just gorgeous?!

Photo by Jamie Drew

About Sarah Perry

Sarah Perry was born in Essex in 1979. Her first novel, After Me Comes the Flood, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Folio Prize. She lives in Norwich. The Essex Serpent is her American debut.

Find out more about Sarah at her website, and connect with her on Twitter.

Blog Tour Book Review: The Wisdom of Moms/Amazing Dads by Bridget E. Hamilton

About The Wisdom of Moms

• Hardcover: 96 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (March 28, 2017)

There is so much we can learn about motherhood from the animal kingdom. We can learn how to be the strong role model a child needs, like the snow leopard that teaches her children to survive and thrive on dangerous mountain slopes; to be as resilient as the hardworking sea otter mom; and to serve our communities like the pika, a rabbit-like animal native to northern climates. This is a beautiful tribute to mothers, full of adorable animal photographs and touching anecdotes that show your appreciation for all the wisdom and care that Mom provides.

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About Amazing Dads

• Hardcover: 96 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (May 2, 2017)

This fun, lighthearted book is a great way to show Dad how much he means to you. Page after page of stunning animal photographs and heartwarming stories of fatherhood in the animal kingdom showcases the bond between dads and their loved ones. This package is the best way to share words of gratitude and appreciation and express your love for the dad, grandpa, uncle, or stepfather in your life.

Stories of remarkable animal dads include:

  • Golden lion tamarins that mash bananas into a mush to hand-feed their babies

  • Wolves that enjoy playful roughhousing with youngsters of the pack

  • Foxes that bury food near the den to teach pups to hunt

  • Rheas, South American birds that not only incubate eggs solo but also serve as single parents

  • Seahorses that carry eggs in their own brood pouch

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Friday!!

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Wisdom of Moms and Amazing Dads. I received both of these book for free from the publisher National Geographic through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of them.

The Wisdom of Moms is a book of photographs of animal moms and their babies. Not only is it filled with beautiful photographs, but it also includes inspirational quotes and facts about animals…some familiar and some that were really suprising and fun to learn. This book is a really cute appreciation of moms of all kinds and how they show their love and protection for their kids. (5 stars)

Amazing Dads is also a book of photgaprahs, quotes and facts but this time it is an appreciation for animal Dads and how they care for their young. This one was a bit different from The Wisdom of Moms as this one also showed photos of baby animals on their own which I didn’t expect. There weren’t many like that but there were maybe 1 or 2. I did learn a few things going through this book as I had no clue about some of things the animals Dads did for their young especially the ones who serve as the primary caregiver. Super interesting.(4.5 Stars)

Overall, as an animal lover I really enjoyed these books. I thought the photographs were beautiful and moving. I didn’t know I needed these photographs in my life until I held these books in my hand. One thing I will say is that I feel like the animal facts should have been the dominant feature on the page with the quote and the fact but that wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s still the same content it just would have made more sense to me that way. I also urge you to take your time going through this book and the photos therein, take the time to fully appreciate every one because they are so beautiful. I think the release of these two small books is timely with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up. They might serve as a cute gift whether to a parent, an animal lover or even a child. I also think these are beautiful coffee table books that people will want to look through.

Blog Tour Book Review: The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

About The Color of Our Sky

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 18, 2017)

In the spirit of Khaled Hosseini, Nadia Hashimi and Shilpi Somaya Gowda comes this powerful debut from a talented new voice—a sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends in Mumbai, India, whose lives converge only to change forever one fateful night.

India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old village girl from the lower caste Yellama cult has come of age and must fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute, as her mother and grandmother did before her. In an attempt to escape her fate, Mukta is sent to be a house girl for an upper-middle class family in Mumbai. There she discovers a friend in the daughter of the family, high spirited eight-year-old Tara, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to an entirely different world—one of ice cream, reading, and a friendship that soon becomes a sisterhood.

But one night in 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s family home and disappears. Shortly thereafter, Tara and her father move to America. A new life in Los Angeles awaits them but Tara never recovers from the loss of her best friend, or stops wondering if she was somehow responsible for Mukta’s abduction.

Eleven years later, Tara, now an adult, returns to India determined to find Mukta. As her search takes her into the brutal underground world of human trafficking, Tara begins to uncover long-buried secrets in her own family that might explain what happened to Mukta—and why she came to live with Tara’s family in the first place.

Moving from a traditional Indian village to the bustling modern metropolis of Mumbai, to Los Angeles and back again, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and, ultimately, redemption.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Monday! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi. I received a free copy of this book (ARC) from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it.

The Color of Our Sky is a contemporary fiction novel set in India following two women Tara and Mukta who met and became friends when they were younger when Tara’s father rescued Mukta from her village. Back in her village, Mukta was born into a line of women who were prostitutes in the name of the Goddess. A friendship blooms between these two girls until one night Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room. Eleven years later Tara, who lives with the guilt of Mukta’s kidnapping returns to India to retrace history’s footsteps and endeavor to find Mukta.

When I read the synopsis for The Color of Our Sky, I immediately knew that this book was going to be a story that I wouldn’t want to miss. Unsurprisingly, I was correct in that assumption.

First of all, Amita Trasi’s writing is beautiful and descriptive. I am a huge fan of writing that has a poetic, descriptive feel and the writing in this book definitely fed that obsession for me. The writing completely drew me in from the first sentence and gripped me until the very end. I loved that the narrative takes place both from Tara’s point of view and from Mukta’s, alternating between the past and the present. It was a unique and ultimately satisfying way to deliver the story to the reader.

The topics that are explored in this book were completely gripping to me. I could not put this book down for the life of me. It was a really great combination of the beautiful writing and the harrowing events of the story. I just had to know what happened to Mukta and whether these two women would be able to reunite and find a way to put their past and secrets behind them.

Although beautiful, this book was at times difficult to read because this is actually the reality of the world that we live in. It’s hard to realize that somewhere in the world something similar is happening to little girls and women. I think that’s the magic of books like this, they tell the stories that, although hard for us to think about, are SO important for us to learn about so that we can be informed and maybe start doing something to create change.

I highly recommend picking this book up. It will hurt you but it will also give you hope. There were alot of themes at play in this book that combined together delivered a beautiful, tragic narrative about friendship, pain, hope, love and the danger of tradition. 5 stars! Beautiful read, one of my favorites of the year so far.

Photo by Sameer Rao

About Amita Trasi

Amita Trasi was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has an MBA in human resource management, and currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two cats.

Find out more about Amita at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Blog Tour Book Review: Red Leaves by Paullina Simons

About Red Leaves

• Paperback: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reissue edition (April 11, 2017)

In the tradition of Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History comes a suspenseful thriller from the international bestselling author of The Bronze Horseman—an utterly captivating story about four Ivy League students whose bizarre friendship leads to a twisted maze of secrets, lies, betrayal, and murder.

As the star player of Dartmouth College’s women’s basketball team, Kristina Kim is beautiful, intelligent, and fearless. But though she’s just 21, Kristina has already had her share of heartache, loss, and dark secrets that haunt her. She’s best friends with Conni, Albert, and Jim, but the only one who seems to really know her is Albert. With long dark hair, tattoos, and a rebellious streak, Albert doesn’t fit in with the rest of the clean-cut Ivy Leaguers. Like Kristina, he has his share of secrets—secrets that are beginning to unravel this intimate circle of friends.

One wintry Thanksgiving weekend tragedy strikes…

When Detective Spencer O’Malley goes to investigate something suspicious at the foot of a steep hill on Dartmouth’s campus, he doesn’t expect that the frozen, naked body found in deep snow would belong to Kristina Kim—the remarkable young woman he met recently who entranced him. Now Spencer will never know if the chemistry he had with her was real. All he can do is find her killer.

Spencer is pulled into the strange, complex web of the surviving friends. Many important questions about Kristina’s murder cannot be answered, such as: why did none of them report her missing for nine days before her body was discovered? The more Spencer digs, the more clear it becomes that each of the three has a motive for killing Kristina. And as Spencer, seeking justice for a dead girl, is led down a labyrinth of deceit, every new revelation proves more shocking than the last….and more dangerous.

“Simons handles her characters and setting with a certain skill, creating mystery from the ordinary, protected lives of these Ivy League kids, slowly peeling away their deceptions to reveal denial, cowardice, and chilling indifference…an engrossing story.”—Publishers Weekly

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review of it.

In Red Leaves we meet Kristina Kim – star basketball player, dog owner, long time girlfriend and best friend. Beneath the surface of Kristina and her group of friends are betrayal, forbidden love and a mountain of secrets. When a students body is found on campus, all the secrets are brought to light.

Red Leaves is my second read written by Paulina Simons, although both were in two different genres. I find it fascinating when an author can successfully write in multiple genres like Paulina can.

That being said, Red Leaves drew me in with the Prologue but lost me somewhere in the beginning of Part One. For the first 100 and so pages, I was tempted to DNF it but I’m a completionist and I like to give books chances. Part One was definitely lost to me, it was slow and not much really happened, although after finishing and being able look back at the story and how it unfolded I can see why Part One was included as it provides background and knowledge about the characters and their relationships that really does serve to make us think certain ways as the mystery of the “whodunnit” unravels. 

The story definitely picks up in Part Two and finally caught my interest a little more and I was glad to be experiencing the story from a fresh perspective,  once that happened the rest of the book went by quickly and I actually ended up liking it after all. One thing I really enjoyed about thus book was that I always doubted my guesses about “whodunnit”. Always. It was never predictable for me.

Overall, I gave this book three stars, it may not have been exactly  for me but I did find some enjoyment in it. If you like a slow paced mystery you may want to give this book a read but if you are into fast paced thrillers, this may not be your taste. Paullina Simons writing in this book was just as good as I remember in the last book of hers I read, I hear people discuss a few of her books and I am still planning on reading some more of her work. 

Happy reading everyone!

Photo by Renaissance Studio

About Paullina Simons

Paullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.

Find out more about Paullina at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.

Blog Tour Book Review: A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

About A Simple Favor

• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Harper (March 21, 2017)

“Riveting and brilliantly structured, A Simple Favor is an edge-of-your seat domestic thriller about a missing wife and mother that relies on a rotating cast of unreliable narrators to ingeniously examine the cost of competitive mom-friends, the toll of ordinary marital discontent and the fallacy of the picture-perfect, suburban family.”—Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author

She’s your best friend.

She knows all your secrets.

That’s why she’s so dangerous.

A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

A Simple Favor is a remarkable tale of psychological suspense—a clever and twisting free-fall of a ride filled with betrayals and reversals, twists and turns, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge. Darcey Bell masterfully ratchets up the tension in a taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing story that holds you in its grip until the final page.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Simple Favor by Darvey Bell. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it. 

A Simple Favor is a domestic thriller that centers around the disappearance of Emily. It s a psychological thriller, which is something that I have had a taste for in the past few years (much like the rest of the world with the success of novels like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train). While I try my hardest not to make comparisons between these specific books, I do believe that this one definitely shares the same genre.

I love that in this book, we are immediately thrust into the thick of the story where we find out that Stephanie’s best friend Emmy is missing. I had a love/hate relationship with Stephanie and her blog. I’m not into mommy blogs because I’m not a mother but I’m sure if I was I might be interested in them. That being said, I do like the inclusion of a different format within the book, for me including some other type of format rather than traditional narrative is super creative and just draws me into a story that much faster. It also makes it seem like a much faster read and essentially makes it like candy for me. I just literally soak up the pages until an hour later I’m sitting in my chair with a finished book. That happened to me with this book. I love a book with alot of character introspection, secrets and surprising reveals – definitely got that with this book.

Immediately I could pick out little things that just felt wrong in Stephanie’s blog posts so that was SUPER interesting and made me want to keep reading. It’s always interesting, I think, to view a main character through the eyes of the rest of the characters in our story and that very much happens in this one as we receive the story from a couple of different perspectives. This was an entertaining story that absolutely captured my attention. Though I wasn’t wild for any of the characters in particular, I did love following them and the myriad events that unfold throughout. Very intriguing plot that I definitely think would work well on the big screen as it has been acquired by Fox 2000 which is something to look forward to.

This is a debut novel so I anticipate what the author may have in store for us next. Although not completely comparable, I do think fans of unreliable narrators like in Girl on the Train, would enjoy this story!  4 stars!

About Darcey Bell

Darcey Bell was born in 1981 and raised on a dairy farm in western Iowa. She is a preschool teacher in Chicago. A Simple Favor is her first novel.

Follow Darcey on Twitter.

Blog Tour Book Review: The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

About The Women in the Castle

• Hardcover: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (March 28, 2017)

Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope your week has been wonderful thus far! I have had a crazy busy week with work and school (even though I had most of Monday off this week! The good news: I’m not sick anymore! Also good news: I am having a wonderful time reading some really great books.

This week I had the pleasure of reading The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck. I received an ARC from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it.

The Women in the Castle is a historical fiction novel set in the period around and during World War II. It is told in the alternating perspectives of multiple characters in the story, men and women but really centers around a group of women who find themselves raising their children together in a castle, their husbands dead and just trying to survive and build a life. That is all I will say about the events of the book as I do not want to give spoilers!

So I ended up giving this book a 4.5 out of 5 star rating. I enjoyed reading it although it definitely was hard for me to read it at times as most stories that take place in this time period are just because they tend to have some really heartbreaking but important content. This book was no different in that respect, there was definitely some heartbreaking and terribly tragic events that transpired but it was also interesting, suspenseful and at times hopeful.

This was the first book I have read that shows the events of WWII through the eyes of German citizens who were staunchly against Hitler’s ideals and regime from the start. It also showcased the perspectives of people who were very pro Hitler from the beginning which evolved into them realizing too late what they were actually supporting.   It was just a very interesting and affecting story. WWII stories for me are always glimpses of the absolute worst of humanity with pockets of goodness shining through like the people who opposed such cruelty and tried against all odds to save lives. I think the author treated really difficult themes really well.

The only thing I had a little bit of a hard time with was the timeline. I love stories with multiple perspectives but this one also had an alternating timeline where it wasn’t told in a straight line type of narrative but rather, it jumped around and back and forth through time. It wasn’t super difficult for me to follow but I can see how it might be difficult for some readers. It did help that the dates are provided but I found myself having to back track and connect the years and months to create a picture of the timeline in my mind to make sure I was getting events in the right order.

I loved the writing and I empathized with all of the characters and felt especially connected to Benita and Martin – what they go through and where they end up. There were alot of pieces of this story that were gut wrenching for me, I didn’t need to put the book down which is something I find myself doing every now and then with WWII books that include descriptions of human cruelty to the Jews but I did have to close my eyes, take a deep breath and move forward. Things that also affected me in this story were the sexual slavery of women in wartime, cruelty to children and some things I consider examples of animal cruelty.

I love reading books in this style that show the affects of WWII on the lives of so many and the evolution of their life and beliefs throughout. I definitely recommend this book to readers that love historical fiction or are interested in reading more historical fiction based in WWII.

Photo by Lesley Unruh

About Jessica Shattuck

Jessica Shattuck is the award-winning author of The Hazards of Good Breeding, which was a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, and Perfect Life. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New Yorker, Glamour, Mother Jones, Wired, and The Believer, among other publications. A graduate of Harvard University, she received her MFA from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and three children in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Find out more about Jessica at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

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