THE GIRL WITH THE BLUE STAR by Pam Jenoff

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

1942
. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents amid the horrors of 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 sewers 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. Scorned by her friends and longing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war, Ella wanders Kraków restlessly. 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 harrowing true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an emotional testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive.

MY THOUGHTS:

This was read as part of a blog tour.

I’ve read a lot of historical fiction books about WWII and how the Jewish people survived. This is one that I never would have imagined. Never! It’s beyond belief what one race is capable of doing to another. It’s amazing what a person can endure to survive. This book gives us a look at one of the worst I have read about yet. The conditions are horrendous. How they endured it is beyond belief. Yet it was based on an actual account. This happened. Though this book is a work of fiction.

This story is told from Ella and Sadie’s POVs. Each has a story to share. How they intersect is quite a touching and sad story indeed. But it’s a story of a strong friendship found in a short period of time. These two girls barely knew each other yet would do anything for the other. Including put their own life in jeopardy for the other. Give up their life for the other. A deep and true friendship of the most unlikely kind.

It amazes me how the German’s were so filled with hate. How they thought that a person who was different was not worth anything. How anyone that is Jewish did not deserve to live. How they were less valued than anything or anyone. Or as Ella noticed, The paintings were being rescued, yet we were being left behind to face whatever fate awaited us under the Germans. How can a human life be less value than any painting? Who does this? What makes a person so cold and cruel?

This book starts out in 2016 with one woman watching for another. Planning to meet her. Then it goes back to 1943 and tells the story of what happened back then. At the end all comes together in a way that will make you hold your breath. Make you take a shaky breath for sure. I was shocked. I was not prepared for who the woman was meeting. But it’s a great ending to a well written and much researched story. A story of such sadness. Such heartache. Such loss.

This book will pull you in from the very beginning and it won’t let go. Knowing what is happening to these people and what happened to so many who were not even this fortunate. Not even fortunate enough to have a sewer to survive in. The characters are so likable, most of them. The setting is so sad. The conditions so horrible. You will feel the filth and stench of the sewer. The pain that these families go through. The loss they feel. The sadness at losing family. Giving up the only life they had ever known. The kindness of the girl that helped as much as she could.

Thank you to #NetGalley, #PamJenoff, #Harlequin for the ARC.. This is my own true feelings about this book.

5/5 stars and the highest recommendation. Grab this one.

WHEN I LAST SAW YOU by Bette Lee Crosby

From USA Today Bestselling Author Bette Lee Crosby comes a powerful southern saga based on a true story… Betrayal and secrets tore her family apart decades ago, now a lonely widow must search for the pieces of her broken childhood.

WHEN I LAST SAW YOU

Georgia, 1968 – Margaret Rose McCutcheon has just buried her husband and must now name a beneficiary for their estate in case of her demise. She is hard-pressed to do so because there is no one. No children. No family. At least none to speak of. At one time, she had two sisters and six brothers, but the lot of them were scattered to the four winds, with no one knowing where the others went. In the hope of finding at least one of her siblings, Margaret hires a detective and sets off on a journey to uncover the truth of why the family broke apart as it did.

West Virginia, 1901 – When Eliza Hobbs gives birth to her sixth child, her husband is not there to welcome his daughter into the world. No surprise, because Martin is seldom there. He works in Charleston and returns to Coal Creek only when he has a mind to. Yes, he sends money on occasion, but seldom enough to make ends meet. Although Eliza believes each new child a blessing, he sees them as yet another responsibility on his already overloaded shoulders. When he discovers another child is on the way, he demands she get rid of it. he stops returning home and there is no more money.

Left with the children, a mountainside patch of land, and a house in sorry need of repair, Eliza seeks help and turns to someone powerful enough to hold sway over Martin and force him into providing for his family. Pushed to the brink, Martin does something unforgivable and the family is forever torn apart.

Now, after all these years, will Margaret be the one to find the pieces of her broken family?

MY THOUGHTS:

Bette Lee Crosby has outdone herself with this one. It’s the most beautiful, heartbreakingly, wonderful, sad, endearingly, written book to date. So full of raw emotion and tenderness. Yet very brutally sad and painful too.

Margaret Rose’s husband of over fifty years dies and she is at a loss as to what to do with her life. He had always dominated their life. He was the love of her life and the source of her happiness. So she thought. While he was a good husband and great provider he also didn’t give her the thing she wanted most in life, a family. Children to love and cherish.

Eliza was a humble young lady who fell in love with Martin and all his promises. He worked as an electrician and told her many stories of how much he would have one day. He promised her so much. Eliza was a good woman. She was not loud or outgoing. She didn’t ask for much. As the children started to arrive Martin started changing. He was a bit of a self-centered, arrogant, want things his way kind of man. He didn’t care for children and wanted Eliza to stop having them. Of course that was a bit impossible with the demands he made on her.

Margaret Rose set out to find her siblings after finding out her late husband hired a PI many years earlier. She finally after much trying got in touch with Tom, the PI, and talked him into helping her. They went on the trip of her life. So many disappointments and false leads later she found hope.

This book is full of so much. A family who lived so poor yet seemed so happy. A woman who lost her husband only to find her family and possible love again. What these people went through it is amazing how strong and resourceful they were. How well each child turned out. How they never gave up hope. Eliza was a great mother. One who did what she had to to save her children. To give them a life that would give each a chance.

I loved the characters in this book. Except Martin. I utterly and completely despised him. But he was part of the story so I had to tolerate him. Eliza was in my opinion the best mother I’ve ever read about. She was strong even though she thought herself weak. She was so loving, forgiving, and caring. She put up with so much in her life but never ever wavered in her love for her nine beautiful children.

This is one book you have to read. It’s a very emotional one that will pull you in and not let go. You will love most of the people and despise a few. But through it all you will root for love, happiness, and togetherness.

Thank you Bette Lee Crosby for this awesome book. This is my own true feelings about this beautiful book.

5/5 stars and even more if it was possible. I highly recommend reading this. Best book ever!

MAY’S READING LIST!

May’s reading list:

1: WHEN I LAST SAW YOU by Bette Lee Crosby
2: THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR by Pam Jenoff
3: THE RISE OF LIGHT by Olivia Hawker
4: A DARK AND SECRET PLACE by Jen Williams
5: SIX WEEKS TO LIVE by Catherine McKenzie
6: LOCAL WOMAN MISSING by Mary Kubica
7: IT HAD TO BE YOU by Georgia Clark
8: YOU WILL REMEMBER ME by Hannah Mary McKinnon
9: THE PLOT by Jean Hanff Korelitz
10: ALL THE CHILDREN ARE HOME by Patry Francis
11: THE WARSAW ORPHAN by Kelly Rimmer

WHAT I READ IN APRIL!

1: THE DROWNING KIND by Jennifer McMahon
reviewed 4/3
2: THE CHILDREN’S BLIZZARD by Melanie Benjamin
reviewed 4/16
3: THE PERFECT DAUGHTER by D.J. Palmer
reviewed 4/10
4: THE GOOD SISTER by Sally Hepworth
reviewed 4/12
5: HER LAST CHANCE by Alizon Ragsdale
reviewed 4/15
6: JUST MY LUCK by Adele Parks
reviewed 4/26
7: THE RESTARTING POINT by Marci Bolden
reviewed 4/18
8: WHEN THE STARS GO DARK by Paula McLain
reviewed 4/21
9: THE WITNESS by Terry Lynn Thomas
reviewed 4/23
10: THE NOTH THROUGH THE WIRE by Doug Gold
reviewed 4/28

THE NOTE THROUGH THE WIRE by Doug Gold

Praised as an “unforgettable love story” by Heather Morris, New York Times bestselling author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, this is the real-life, unlikely romance between a resistance fighter and prisoner of war set in World War II Europe.

In this true love story that defies all odds, Josefine Lobnik, a Yugoslav partisan heroine, and Bruce Murray, a New Zealand soldier, discover love in the midst of a brutal war.

In the heart of Nazi-occupied Europe, two people meet fleetingly in a chance encounter. One an underground resistance fighter, a bold young woman determined to vanquish the enemy occupiers; the other a prisoner of war, a man longing to escape the confines of the camp so he can battle again. A crumpled note passes between these two strangers, slipped through the wire of the compound, and sets them on a course that will change their lives forever.

Woven through their tales of great bravery, daring escapes, betrayal, torture, and retaliation is their remarkable love story that survived against all odds. This is an extraordinary account of two ordinary people who found love during the unimaginable hardships of Hitler’s barbaric regime as told by their son-in-law Doug Gold, who decided to tell their story from the moment he heard about their remarkable tale of bravery, resilience, and resistance.

MY THOUGHTS:

This was different from what I thought it was going to be. It’s not my typical historical fiction story but it is very good. It held my attention and made me want to keep reading. It was very realistic and heartbreaking in many places. It was a love story but much more.

This is the story of Bruce and Josefine. Two people in very different places in life. One a POW and the other a Parisian. One a soldier and the other a daughter, sister, friend, fighter.

This story starts out with a man seeing an old woman outside the fence of the prison camp he is assigned too. She’s trying to tell him something but neither understand the other. She slips a note through the wire and runs off, promising to return the following Sunday. Then it goes to Bruce’s life and all he does and goes through to end up in the prison camp. Also Josefine’s life as she lives daily. All the things a girl her age does and hopes for in life. When the war breaks out each story takes a different turn than I thought. I thought this was just going to be a love story of a man and woman during the war in a POW camp. It’s so much more than that.

Alternating between these two characters as the months go by and telling what leads up to their first meeting you will learn so much about them. The terrors of war. Of losing your friends. Seeing then die on the battlefield. Going over such horrid things and making you feel the pain and desperation of a soldier. Helping prisoners during a horrific war to escape and feel safe again. Feeding and hiding them. Both of these characters had a job to do and they did it well.

This book truly does make you feel like you are watching a war movie. Seeing bombs drop or bullets flying. Seeing a person killed. A town ravaged. Destruction all around. What a person goes through and then expected to just pick up and live like nothing happened. Trying to get back to the person you love most in the world and finding how hard it is. When that moment finally happens and the feeling of happiness felt. This book does give you many feelings.

The author’s note at the end is worth reading too. You will learn a lot about this book and the research put into it. The part About the Author at the end is well worth reading also. Doug Gold is the son in law of Bruce and Josefine. How awesome is that.

Thank you to #NetGalley, #DougGold, #williammorrowandcustomhouse for this ARC.. This is my own true feelings about this book.

4/5 stars. I recommend it if you like a very descriptive story of war, love, loss, finding your way.

JUST MY LUCK by Adele Parks

SYNOPSIS: 

Over 4 million Adele Parks books sold worldwide including LIES, LIES, LIES and I INVITED HER IN!  

“Utterly engrossing and brilliant”
 Lucy Foley New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List

It was supposed to be the lottery win they’d always dreamed of…


For fifteen years, Lexi and Jake have played the same six numbers with their friends. Over drinks, dinner parties and summer barbecues, the three couples have discussed the important stuff—kids, marriages, careers—and they’ve laughed off their disappointment when they failed to win anything.

But then the unthinkable happens. There’s a rift in the group. Someone is caught in a lie. And soon after, six numbers come up that change everything forever.

Lexi and Jake have a ticket worth millions. And their friends are determined to claim a share.

#1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks returns with a riveting look at the dark side of wealth in this gripping tale of friendship, money, betrayal and good luck gone bad…

MY THOUGHTS:

WOW!! Just wow! Adele Parks has truly written a page turner here. Lots of surprises to be had too.

I think most people have dreamed of winning the lotto. I know my hubby and I have. Though I honestly have always said that we are not rich for a reason. I believe it would have made us so different if we had been rich or won. I’m afraid of what it would have done to our lives. Would it have torn us apart. Made our love and respect for each other weak and usless? I believe we are meant to be right where we are. After reading this book I am even more sure of that… We may not be rich but we are happy. We have each other!

“You never know your luck, our numbers might come up next week, and then all our lives will changed forever.” How true these words are. Little did the three couples know exactly how true.

Lexi and Jake have been friends with Patrick, Carla, and Fred, Jennifer, have been friends for over fifteen years. They get together at one’s home each week to eat, drink and socialize. Also to play the lottery. They dream of what they will do with the money should they ever win….

When the numbers come up and they do win things take a huge turn. The three couples lives will never be the same. Greed, hate, selfishness, and kindness take over each person’s life. Jake is to me the worse person in this whole story. From the minute he and Lexi win it seems like he changed. He became a very self centered man. It was all about me me me.. Lexi didn’t wish for big things. She started wanting to help other right from the start. But they did cut out their best friends. When you read this you will understand why.

This is a story that will make you have deep feelings about a few things. It’s two stories that run together. At the beginning you meet Toma, who lost his wife and child. He lost everything after that. He gave up on life. You will find out all that happened and who was at fault. Who helped him and was truly his friend. This book is deep in my opinion. It shows what extent people will go too for money. I think the children did exactly as a child would. No matter how good a parent you are if you come into lots of money the child is going to want things. Expensive things. That is just being a child. They want what other kids have. Human nature possibly at it’s worse but it’s there.

A lot happens to Lexi and her family after they win the lottery. Some things will leave you breathless. A few shocks thrown in to make it even more intense. At least for me it was. When I read one sentence my breath literally hitched. I was not expecting it. Not all of it anyway.

The ending brings all answers. Closes great. You won’t be left with any questions. The characters are mostly unlikable with the exception of Lexi and Toma. I loved them both. The children of course. You have to love them. They are just children who do stupid things sometimes and end up regretting…

Thank you #NetGalley, #AdeleParks, #Harlequin, for this ARC. This is my own true thoughts about this book.

I gave it 5/5 stars. I was going to go with 4/5 but when all was revealed I had to go with that extra star. It was in my humble opinion brilliantly done. I do highly recommend this one.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I hope you had a great reading week.

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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.

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Reviewed:
1: WHEN THE STARS GO DARK by Paula McLain
Reviewed 4/21

2: THE WITNESS by Terry Lynn Thomas
Reviewed 4/23

3: JUST MY LUCK by Adele Parks
Review will be tonight 4/25

Will be reading:
1: THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR by Pam Jenoff

2: WHEN I LAST SAW YOU by Bette Lee Crosby

3: THE NOTE THROUGH THE WIRE by Doug Gold

4: A DARK AND SECRET PLACE by Jen Williams

5: SIX WEEKS TO LIVE by Catherine McKenzie

6: LOCAL WOMAN MISSING by Mary Kubica

7: IT HAD TO BE YOU by Georgia Clark

8: YOU WILL REMEMBER ME by Hannah Mary McKinnon

9: THE PHOTOGRAPHER by Mary Dixie Carter

10: THE WARSAW ORPHAN by Kelly Rimmer

11: THE PLOT by Jean Hanff Korelitz

12: ALL THE CHILDREN ARE HOME by Patry Francis

13: KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS by David Bell

14: THE HIVE by Gregg Olsen

15: WAITING TO BEGIN by Amanda Prowse

16: CUL-DE-SAC by Joy Fielding

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 

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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: CUL-DE-SAC by Joy Fielding
Courtesy of Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine

BOOK MAIL:

I won this and received it last week.

1: NEVER LET GO by Pamela Nowak 

THE WITNESS by Terry Lynn Thomas

SYNOPSIS:

From the USA Today bestselling author, comes the second explosive thriller about attorney Olivia Sinclair who must solve a cold-case murder to clear an innocent man’s name…

HE SAW WHAT YOU DID…

Teenager Ebby Engstrom witnesses a murder – and then passes out. The next morning, he wakes in his bed with no memory of how he got there, and is told his mother was stabbed to death the previous night.

Thirty years later, the case has gone cold, with numerous suspects but no new clues – until Ebby starts having uncontrollable flashbacks to that night. As repressed memories surface, he questions his own role in the murder, leading to a dramatic confession and Ebby’s arrest.

Family friend and attorney Olivia Sinclair is convinced of Ebby’s innocence, but the only way to clear his name is to find the real killer herself. And it seems almost everyone connected to the Engstrom family had a reason to want Cynthia dead…

An unputdownable thriller full of suspense, perfect for fans of Gillian McAllister, Alafair Burke and The Good Fight.

MY THOUGHTS:

Another spine tingling thriller by Terry Lynn Thomas. The second in the Olivia Sinclair series and I certainly hope not the last.

This one takes off with a bang. Who killed Cynthia Engstrom. It’s been many years since her murder and her youngest son has been living with suppressed memories of that horrible night. Did he do it? Or was it someone else. Someone he loved? What caused his many years of amnesia? Ebby was only thirteen when it happened and he does not remember a thing except he heard arguing. He saw something but can’t seem to make it come to light.

Could Ebby have murdered his own mother. This book is so full of twists and turns you won’t know who did it until you read it. I was taken by surprise and that does not happen often. I tend to figure these things out. Not this time.

This is like reading two stories in one. Olivia and Brian’s story continues as does Olivia’s search for justice for Ebby. Ebby hires Olivia to help him when he thinks he may have committed the murder. Olivia and Brian work hard to find the truth. There is also another somewhat minor story of sexual harassment and a touch about a rape going on. This book truly has a lot going on and it’s an excellent second addition to the Olivia Sinclair story.

The characters are all, most all, very likable. Realistic and endearing. The aunts, Ebby, another family member, they are all ones you will root for. While there are always a couple of characters to dislike in most books they are there for a reason. To make you dislike them and you will. I didn’t like Ebby’s older brother and I didn’t like Brian’s “girlfriend” at all. So that makes another story going on during this book. It’s a lot of good stories all in one and will keep you turning the pages. It’s a very intense story of family. Love and loss. Truths coming out and lives being turned upside down. You don’t want to miss this one.

Thank you to #netgally, #hqdigital and #terrylynnthomas for this ARC. This is my own true review.

I gave it 5/5 stars and a high recommendation. It published today!!

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