THE GIRL IN THE STRIPED DRESS by Ellie Midwood

Auschwitz, 1942: This unforgettable novel, based on a true story, brings to life history’s most powerful tale of forbidden love. Set within the barbed wire of Auschwitz, a man and a woman fall in love against unimaginable odds. What happens next will restore your faith in humanity, and make you believe in hope even where hope should not exist.

“I won’t let anything happen to you,” he whispered, pressing a note into her hand. Her entire body trembled when she read it: I am in love with you.

Helena steps off the cattle train onto the frozen grounds of Auschwitz. She has twenty-four hours to live. Scheduled to be killed tomorrow, she is not even tattooed with a prison number. As the snow falls around her, she shivers, knowing that she has been sentenced to death for a crime she didn’t commit.

When a gray-clad officer marches towards Helena and pulls her away, she fears the worst. Instead, he tells her that it’s one of the guard’s birthdays and orders her to serenade him.

Inside the SS barracks the air is warm, thick with cigarette smoke and boisterous conversation. After she sings to the guard, Franz, he presses a piece of cake into her hands––the first thing she has eaten in days. On the spot, he orders her life to be saved, forever changing the course of her fate.

What follows is a love story that was forbidden, that should have been impossible, and yet saved both of their lives––and hundreds of others––in more ways than one.

Fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzThe Choice, and The Orphan Train will be utterly entranced by this unputdownable page-turner. This completely heartbreaking yet beautifully hopeful novel shows that love can survive anything and grow anywhere.

This book was previously published as Auschwitz Syndrome.

MY THOUGHTS:

Ellie Midwood has written another chilling and realistic book. One that is based on a true story of love and compassion. One done with extensive research. Read the author’s notes at the end and get the whole story.

Two quotes from this book that I want to share:
1) Someone said that Auschwitz was such a terrible place that God himself decided not to go there. To be honest, I couldn’t agree more with that statement.
2) If, in the future, you see a teenager shout a racial slur at someone, stop him, pull him to one side and explain to him where you served and how such slurs led to the slaughter of millions. If you see a newspaper article denying the Nazi crimes, write one countering it and tell the people exactly what you’ve witnessed. The hatred, the racism, the xenophobia didn’t miraculously disappear with Hitler. They’re all still very much alive and kicking and it’s up to us to do something to fight them. (this is very profound, very spot on)

This is the story of a young woman, just a girl actually, who was sent to Auschwitz to be gassed. Her and her family were to die. It was just by a miracle that she was saved. By her singing a song to a young SS officer, a kid, that saved her. Both of the main characters in this book are so very young. They should have been enjoying their young lives. Living, going to school, out on dates. Living. Not surviving. Not one being in charge of lives. Not one being a victim of such hatred.

This story is very touching and very emotional. When Helena is saved from the gas chamber by Franz she has no idea what is in store for her. All the things that will happen. All the horrors she will see. The deaths. The cremations. The abuse. It’s beyond belief. Yet it happened. All around her every day. She was spared death but lived a horrible life in a prison camp. The only thing that saved her was the love of a young man. And it was love. At least from him. Not sure if she was in love or a victim of Stockholm syndrome. Either way it saved her. He treated her as a human being. He learned to treat all of the prisoners as humans.

Franz was I’m sure taught from a very young age to hate. He was groomed to be a SS officer and do the things that he was told. He could be cruel yes. He could be kind also. He learned that kindness was better. Love taught him that I’m sure. It’s very sad that these young people were groomed this way. Even today it happens. That is the sad part. Franz did things that he was sorry for. He paid a price. He also fell in love with Helena. A young lady who was suppose to die.

This is their story. It’s not all glam and shiny. It’s brutal. It’s sad. It’s filled with scenes that you will see. You will feel. You will cringe. You will most certainly weep. Hearing Helena’s story hurts. It breaks your heart. Also hearing what Franz has to say will break you. I felt very bad for him and just could not help it. I think there are good people at times forced to do bad things and this is certainly the case here. Though he did show that he cared. He had a conscience. He took no part in having people gassed. He saved a few and that is commendable in my opinion. I had relatives who were Polish and I’m sure back then they would have felt differently. Possibly.

This is a very heartfelt story. Well written and well researched. I have to say this author does a great job of writing historical fiction. She gives it her all. So much feeling went into this book. You will feel it too. The hatred. The pain. The screams. And yes possibly the love between a boy and a girl.
I had to put it down a few times and walk away to compose myself and so I could see the words. It’s very emotional. Especially towards the ending.

Thank you #NetGalley, #EllieMidwood, #Bookouture for this ARC. This is my own true feelings about this book.

5/5 stars and I do recommend it. Have plenty of tissues handy.

Mailbox Monday!

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists!!Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia @ A Girl and Her Books, has a permanent home now at Mailbox Monday

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Here’s a shout out to the administrators:
Leslie @ Under My Apple Tree 
Serena @ Savvy Verse And Wit
Martha @ Reviews By Martha’s Bookshelf Velvet @ vvb32reads

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THANKS to everyone for keeping Mailbox Monday alive. 

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I hope you had a good mailbox.
I had a great mailbox!

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1:  THE MAGNIFICENT LIVES OF MARJORIE POST by Allison Pataki
courtesy of Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine via NetGalley 
2:  A LITTLE BIRD by Wendy James 
courtesy of Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley
3:  THE SUMMER WE BURIED by Jody Gehrman
courtesy of Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley
4:  THE GOLDEN COUPLE by Greer Hendricks; Sarah Pekkanen
courtesy of St Martin’s Press via NetGalley

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I hope you had a great reading week.

********************

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at BOOKDATE
Post the books completed, the books you are currently reading, and the books you hope to finish at some point.

********************

WHAT I READ/REVIEWED: 

1:   
THE LIGHT OF LUNA PARk by Addison Armstrong
reviewed 7/20
2: 
THE STRANGER IN THE MIRROR by Live Constantine 
reviewed 7/22
3: THE GIRL IN THE STRIPED DRESS by Ellie Midwood
reviewed 7/25

WILL BE READING: 

1:
   
LIE BESIDE ME by Gytha Lodge
2: 
THREE WORDS FOR GOODBYE
  by Hazel Gaynor; Heather Webb
3: 
THE WOMAN AT THE GATES by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger  
4: 
THE FAMILY PLOT by Megan Collins
WHERE THE TRUTH LIES by Anna Bailey
GONE FOR GOOD by Joanna Schaffhausen 
HER PERFECT LIFE by Hank Phillippi Ryan
THE GUILT TRIP by Sandy Jones
THE INHERITANCE by JoAnn Ross
THE PLOT by Jean Hanff Korelitz
 LITTLE BONES by Patricia Gibney
 
THE NECKLACE by Matt Witten
WHERE I LEFT HER by Amber Garza
NEVER SAW ME COMING by Vera Kurian 
OTHER PEOPLE’S THINGS by Kerry Anne King
THE MISSING HOURS by Julia Dahl
THE LIVING AND THE LOST by Ellen Feldman
IN ANOTHER LIGHT by A. J. Banner
WE ARE THE BRENNANS by Tracey Lange
THE KEEPER OF HAPPY ENDINGS by Barbara Davis
THREE SISTERS by Heather Morris

THE STRANGER IN THE MIRROR by Liv Constantine

A diabolically twisty, psychologically unsettling novel about a woman with no recollection of her past from the authors of the Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Wife Stalker.

“Jaw-dropping twists with an unsettling edge that you’ll need a few days at the beach to recover.” —Reese’s Book Club

Addison’s about to get married, but she’s not looking forward to the big day. It’s not her fiancé; he’s a wonderful man. It’s because Addison doesn’t know who she really is. A few years ago, a kind driver found her bleeding next to a New Jersey highway and rescued her. While her physical wounds healed, Addison’s memory never returned. She doesn’t know her real name. Or how she ended up injured on the side of a road. Or why she can’t shake the notion that she may have done something very, very bad . . .

In a posh home in the Boston suburbs, Julian tries to figure out what happened to his loving, caring wife, Cassandra, who disappeared without a trace two years ago. She would never have left him and their seven-year-old daughter Valentina of her own free will—or would she? 

As these two lives intersect, The Stranger in the Mirror hooks readers with riveting drama, told with Liv Constantine’s hallmark blend of glamour, tense psychological thrills, and jaw-dropping twists.

MY THOUGHTS:

This is another great book by an author that I really enjoy. I think she/they really outdid themselves this time. This book was a page turner.

This is a very complex story that will keep you turning pages. It will have you wondering what is going on. You will like most of the characters, even one that you will most likely end up despising. At first I liked that one but quickly learned I was being fooled. Taken for a ride. Being lied too if you will. What happened to Cassandra? Where could she have possibly gone? Is she dead or did something awful happen to her? This book answers all of that and much more. Even though you know right from the start almost that Addie and Cassandra are one and the same it will come as a shock what happened that caused all of the turmoil in their life. Caused her to run.

This book is so very good. It makes you feel like you are in the town with the characters. In their homes. Sitting at their table and laughing along with them. I really liked Gabriel. I really liked his family. I was a bit aggravated at his mother at first but begin to see her point too. Who wouldn’t in this case. I loved Ed and Gigi. They were the best. They took Addie in and helped her. They stood by her.

What could possibly have happened in Cassandra’s life to cause her so much pain. The nightmares. The almost memories. Did she do something so horrific that she lost her whole life. Her memories of everything. As bits and pieces start to emerge she wants to remember. She’s also very afraid to remember. She has no idea where she came from or what she may have done. But she’s about to find out everything.

Thank you to #NetGalley, #LivConstantine, #Harper for this ARC. This is my own true feelings about this book. I loved it!

5/5 big stars. I recommend you read this one. It will give you all the feels too. All of them.

THE LIGHT OF LUNA PARK by Addison Armstrong

In the spirit of The Orphan Train and Before We Were Yours, a historical debut about a nurse who chooses to save a baby’s life, and risks her own in the process, exploring the ties of motherhood and the little-known history of Coney Island and America’s first incubators.

A nurse’s choice. A daughter’s search for answers.

New York City, 1926. Nurse Althea Anderson’s heart is near breaking when she witnesses another premature baby die at Bellevue Hospital. So when she reads an article detailing the amazing survival rates of babies treated in incubators in an exhibit at Luna Park, Coney Island, it feels like the miracle she has been searching for. But the doctors at Bellevue dismiss Althea and this unconventional medicine, forcing her to make a choice between a baby’s life and the doctors’ wishes that will change everything.

Twenty-five years later, Stella Wright is falling apart. Her mother has just passed, she quit a job she loves, and her marriage is struggling. Then she discovers a letter that brings into question everything she knew about her mother, and everything she knows about herself.

The Light of Luna Park is a tale of courage and an ode to the sacrificial love of mothers.

MY THOUGHTS:

NOT TO BE MISSED!

This is a debut novel that will turn you into a weeping pile of mush. It’s beautifully-heartbreaking. It’s a subject that I have never read about. At least in part. I never knew about the incubators in Luna Park. I never knew they had been around for such a long time. What I did know is how awful women were treated in these times. Whether from being a nurse, teacher or pregnant mother. How dare you show yourself if it’s obvious you are expecting. That just turns my stomach. How can women think they want to go back to the times before they had rights. Before they were allowed to have minds of their own. To be treated like second class humans. As nurses they had to keep their mouths shut and do what the male doctor told them.

This book is told from two different time periods and two different women. It is done in a way that you will wonder who the two will eventually intersect. How they are related. I did guess as you may too. Not a big secret but I won’t tell.

In 1926, Althea Anderson was a young nurse in training. Only twenty four years old and working hard at getting her nursing degree. She was alone and making her way in the world. Both of her parents were deceased. Her mom during childbirth. Her dad just a few years before. The things Althea sees and does will make you love her. She’s a strong young woman who only wants to do what is right. What is best for a very tiny early preterm baby. From there her life will never be the same.

In 1950, Stella Wright, is a young school teacher. Only twenty four years old and teaching children with special needs. It had been written in law that all children deserved an education no matter what and she takes this very serious. She’s married and loves her husband more than anything. While he wants children Stella is not quite ready yet. She’s still mourning the loss of her beloved mother just three months earlier. Her husband, Jack, is a wonderful man who she adores. He has nightmares and episodes from his time in the war. He doesn’t want to talk about it and she feels he should.

This story will take you places. It will touch your heart in ways you will not be ready for. It’s a historical and a romance all in one. It’s a learning read too. At least for me it was. I got so angry at how the women were treated. Not only in the early twenties but also in the fifties. How dare they pretend to have a mind of their own. How dare they voice an opinion. Now I do have to say that Jack was not a pretentious pig like most of the men. And you will meet Charlie who is not either. Two men who value a woman’s opinion. For that time period they were jewels for sure.

This book was great. This author took me in and didn’t let go. I read this book until very late and I rarely do that. I didn’t want to put it down. I hate that it ended but loved the ending too. This story made me laugh a few times but made me cry those big ugly tears too. The ones that make your eyes feel raw. The good kind.

Thank you #NetGalley, #AddisonArmstrong, #PenguinGroupPutnam for this ARC. This is my own true feelings about this book.

5/5 huge stars and it would be more if possible. I highly recommend this one to you.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I hope you had a great reading week.

********************

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at BOOKDATE
Post the books completed, the books you are currently reading, and the books you hope to finish at some point.

********************

WHAT I READ/REVIEWED: 

1: THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT by Marianne Cronin
reviewed 7/14

2:  THE SCHOLAR by Tess Thompson
reviewed 7/17 

CURRENTLY READING: 

1:   DID I SAY YOU COULD GO by Melanie Gideon

WILL BE READING: 

1:   
THE LIGHT OF LUNA PARk by Addison Armstrong
2:    
 
HER PERFECT LIFE by Hank Phillippi Ryan
3:  
 
THE GIRL IN THE STRIPED DRESS by Ellie Midwood
4:  THE WOMAN AT THE GATES by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger  
5: 
  WHAT’S LEFT UNSAID by Emily Bleeker
6:  
   
THE FAMILY PLOT by Megan Collins
7:  
   
WHERE THE TRUTH LIES by Anna Bailey
8:  
  
GONE FOR GOOD by Joanna Schaffhausen 
9:  
 
THE STRANGER IN THE MIRROR by Live Constantine 
10:  
    
THREE WORDS FOR GOODBYE
  by Hazel Gaynor; Heather Webb
11:  
   
THE GUILT TRIP by Sandy Jones
12:  
    
THE INHERITANCE by JoAnn Ross
13: 
    
LIE BESIDE ME by Gytha Lodge
14: 
   LITTLE BONES by Patricia Gibney
15: 
    
THE NECKLACE by Matt Witten
16:  WHERE I LEFT HER by Amber Garza
17:   NEVER SAW ME COMING by Vera Kurian 
18:  OTHER PEOPLE’S THINGS by Kerry Anne King
19: THE MISSING HOURS by Julia Dahl
20:  THE LIVING AND THE LOST by Ellen Feldman
21:  IN ANOTHER LIGHT by A. J. Banner
22:   WE ARE THE BRENNANS by Tracey Lange
23:  THE KEEPER OF HAPPY ENDINGS by Barbara Davis
24:  THREE SISTERS by Heather Morris

Mailbox Monday!

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists!!Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia @ A Girl and Her Books, has a permanent home now at Mailbox Monday

************

Here’s a shout out to the administrators:
Leslie @ Under My Apple Tree 
Serena @ Savvy Verse And Wit
Martha @ Reviews By Martha’s Bookshelf Velvet @ vvb32reads

THANKS to everyone for keeping Mailbox Monday alive. 

************
I hope you had a good mailbox.
I had a great mailbox!

************

1:  THE GIRL IN THE STRIPED DRESS by Ellie Midwood
courtesy of Bookouture via NetGalley
2:  COUNT OF THREE by T.R. Ragan
courtesy of Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley
3:  LITANI by Jess Lourey
courtesy of Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley
4: THE WOMAN AT THE GATES by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger
courtesy of Bookouture via NetGalley

Weekly reading!

READ/REVIEWED:

1: THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT by Marianne Cronin
reviewed 7/14
2: THE PATRON by Tess Thompson
reviewed 7/17

CURRENTLY READING:

1: DID I SAY YOU COULD GO by Melanie Gideon
review will be 7/21

WILL BE READING:

1: THE LIGHT IN LUNA PARK by Addison Armstrong
review will be 2/24
2: HER PERFECT LIFE by Hank Phillippi Ryan
review will be 7/27

THE SCHOLAR by Tess Thompson

They’ve both been wounded by the past. Can their marriage of convenience bring the healing they need?

Theo Barnes has been in love with Louisa Keller since they were kids. However, she’s in love with his twin brother, Flynn. Sadly for Louisa, Flynn is in love with another woman and has no interest in her. When tragedy strikes Louisa’s family and she’s left penniless, she’s forced to consider Theo’s offer of marriage. They agree to a marriage of convenience with no bedroom privileges. He secretly hopes she’ll change her mind once they’re married but the marriage gets off to a rocky start.

The Scholar is the third book in the heartwarming Emerson Pass historical romance series. If you like staunch heroines, emotional backdrops, and sweeping family sagas, then you’ll adore Tess Thompson’s wholesome tale.

MY THOUGHTS:

I am here, as luminous as the sun. My light shines. No one can snuff me out. Not again. I am the sun and the moon and the stars and the dew on the grasses. I am Louisa.
This quote sums it all up. This book is about Louisa and Theo. Louisa’s survival and all that she endured in her young life. How the Barnes family helped her. How her adoptive parents saved her and gave her the love of a good family. How one man made her his. How she managed to learn to love and be loved despite all the trauma she endured at a very young age. This book does need a trigger warning though. It contains child abuse and rape. But it’s a sweet story and one that will keep you turning the pages.

This is Theo’s story. This is Louisa’s story. How they came to be together after a lifetime of being broken. Can they fix each other? Can Theo make Louisa feel whole again. Can they both learn to love and accept love? This book has so much good in it. So much love. It’s a historical and a historical romance. A tender story of love and acceptance. Of learning to forgive one’s self even when there is no need for forgiveness. A child is innocent. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to understand that. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to realize it isn’t your fault. That there are mean cruel people in the world who will hurt you. But there are also the ones that will love you up. Love you unconditionally and wholeheartedly. Who will help you heal.

This book is a very tender story of a love that was always meant to be. A young man and young woman who found each other and just fit. The tender kisses and feelings of that beginning love. It’s told in a beautiful way that will keep you rooting for them to hurry up. For them to be together no matter what anyone else says.

The setting in this book is great. The descriptions are done so realistically. The lake the Barnes children swim in. The dance hall below the restaurant. The music, the laughter and the tears. You feel it all. I sure shed a lot of tears reading this one. It hit me right square in the heart. I felt Louisa’s pain so deeply. So realistically. I felt for her. I was so happy when she found life. Real happiness. She and Theo both deserve it.

Thank you Tess Thompson for this wonderful ARC. This is my own true feelings about this book.
5/5 huge stars and the highest recommendation.

THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT by Marianne Cronin

“A beautiful debut, funny, tender, and animated by a willingness to confront life’s obstacles and find a way to survive. . . . It celebrates friendship, finds meaning in difficulty and lets the reader explore dark places while always allowing for the possibility of light. Lenni and Margot are fine companions for all our springtime journeys.”—Harper’s Bazaar, UK 

A charming, fiercely alive and disarmingly funny debut novel in the vein of John Green, Rachel Joyce, and Jojo Moyes—a brave testament to the power of living each day to the fullest, a tribute to the stories that we live, and a reminder of our unlimited capacity for friendship and love.

An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories. 

Seventeen-year-old Lenni Pettersson lives on the Terminal Ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. Though the teenager has been told she’s dying, she still has plenty of living to do. Joining the hospital’s arts and crafts class, she meets the magnificent Margot, an 83-year-old, purple-pajama-wearing, fruitcake-eating rebel, who transforms Lenni in ways she never imagined.

As their friendship blooms, a world of stories opens for these unlikely companions who, between them, have been alive for one hundred years. Though their days are dwindling, both are determined to leave their mark on the world. With the help of Lenni’s doting palliative care nurse and Father Arthur, the hospital’s patient chaplain, Lenni and Margot devise a plan to create one hundred paintings showcasing the stories of the century they have lived—stories of love and loss, of courage and kindness, of unexpected tenderness and pure joy.

Though the end is near, life isn’t quite done with these unforgettable women just yet.

Delightfully funny and bittersweet, heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot reminds us of the preciousness of life as it considers the legacy we choose to leave, how we influence the lives of others even after we’re gone, and the wonder of a friendship that transcends time.

MY THOUGHTS:

This is Marianne Cronin’s debut novel and it’s a good one. Though I was set to give it only three stars because of all the sadness and tears somehow I just couldn’t. It was well written and very emotional. There were a few chuckles thrown in for good measure but overall it’s very sad. I mean it will give you the big ugly snot tears. Where you can’t see the words on the page. Pardon my grossness there but it’s the truth. And you won’t want to put this book down. You’ll grab a box of two of kleenex and hang on for the ride.

Lenni is only seventeen and has a terminal illness. Do not be fooled into thinking she’s going to be ok. She’s not. But her story is one that will worm it’s way into your heart and squeeze tightly. It will leave you breathing so hard and weeping so bad. She’s such a determined young girl and a bit ornery too. But in a good way. She has so much life it is hard to believe she is dying.

Margot is eighty three and she’s also dying. Her’s is a heart problem. With all she’s been through I can certainly understand why too. This poor woman has seen enough death and heartache for several people. She’s a very strong woman though and a true friend. She’s one that you will love also. Together her and Lenni are a pair. A pair of the best of friends. They needed each other and they pair so well. They take on a mission and see it to its end.

Father Arthur is another one that I really loved. When he meets Lenni it is a wonder he didn’t hang up his robes and turn in his faith. She certainly put him to the test. Together they were great. He loved her as only a Father can. She loved him right back. She was good for him. He was good for her also but in this case it was more of the fact that she was good for him. I loved reading their parts of this story.

The part I didn’t understand and that made me maddest was Lenni’s dad. How could he. How dare he. What daddy would ever think about leaving. Then there was The Temp. I liked her also. She went through a few things in this book but she ended up ok. There are a few other characters you will meet. Some you will love and some you probably won’t like at all.

This whole story takes place in a hospital. The stories inside this story are from Lenni and Margot’s pasts. They are of course outside of the hospital. They each tell things that happened throughout their lives then drew or painted a picture of that time. Some of this book is truly so touching and at the same time so sad. Actually most of it is. There are great parts where you do feel the air. See the stars. Feel the love. Other parts are just tear worthy. You will feel the pain and loss.

This author really did a good job of bringing out the tears. This book is good. It’s well written and has that feeling you look for in a book. The feeling that you are there. That you are a part of it. That you are involved in these two people’s lives. You will feel it. I certainly did.

Thank you to #netgally, #mariannecronin, #harpercollinspublishers for this ARC. This is my own true feelings about this book.

5/5 stars and I do recommend it. Just be sure and have plenty of tissues handy.

Addison Armstrong

Author of Historical Fiction

jhohadli

Antiguan and Barbudan Writer Joanne C. Hillhouse

Allie Reynolds

author of SHIVER

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