Book Review

Book Review: Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical Fiction
Length: 464 pages
Author: Ariel Lawhon
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Release Date: March 31st. 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

This book is based on the life of Nancy Wake, an Australian expat who worked as a reporter for Hearst in Paris just before WWII and later as a spy for the British. Lawhon throws readers into the middle of the action, as Nancy, under the alias Hélène, prepares to parachute from an RAF plane into France to help the Resistance in 1944, carrying in her head memorized lists of vital data, including bridges targeted for destruction and safe house addresses. After she lands, the story flashes back eight years, as Nancy struggles for respect and recognition as a journalist; despite her firsthand observations of Nazi brutality in 1930s Vienna, her editor is reluctant to publish a story about what she’s seen. Frequent jumps in time draw out the arc of Wake’s remarkable life; despite her statement early on that women’s weapons of warfare were limited to “silk stockings and red lipstick,” by the end she’s proven herself skillful at physical combat as well.

I’M CRYING.

Oh, I have found another book to make me cry and hug it to my chest upon closing. I loved this one that much.

Nancy Wake is a flippin’ bada**. I loved the way she was portrayed in this historical fiction version of her life. It was magnificent. Her ability to stay brave and courageous in the face of such horrid evil.

I love the converging timelines and how this kept me on my toes. It’s some tiny word/big page writing, and yet I never felt like it dragged. Ever. The absolutely beautiful writing combined Nancy’s story with dialogue and descriptions of the French countryside. It was truly a new tale for historical fiction in the World War 2 sub-genre. I know it’s often said that there are too many WW2 books, but this one proved that all wrong.

Nancy’s romance with Henri was, EVERYTHING. Oh my goodness I love him so much. I was smitten with his love and devotion to Nancy (and hers with him). I love a beautiful portrayal of marriage. They never gave up on each other and I couldn’t help but cry at the ending of the war.

This is without a doubt one of my new favorites in historical fiction. I loved getting to read the author’s note at the ending about the real Nancy Wake and I want to learn more about her and her missions. What a powerful woman.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical Fiction [WW2]
  • Language: some strong throughout (often in French)
  • Romance: kisses; one fade out closed door scene
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: this is a book about war; a lot of violence and murder; mentions of rape, horrendous war crimes (descriptive and intense)

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Book Review

Book Review: Intertwine (House of Oak #1) by Nichole Van

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance / Time Traveling
Length: 300 pages
Author: Nichole Van
Publisher: Florenza Publishing
Release Date: February 27th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Time is not a river. It is a vast cosmic sea. Where each life exists as rippling circles on its surface, past and future being eternally present. And occasionally, one expanding ring intertwines with that of another, weaving the lives of two people together…

In 2012, Emme Wilde can’t find the right guy. She wants to feel that swept-off-your-feet dizziness of true love. But so far, her dating life has come up short. Star Trek geek? Nice but too serious. Hippy artist? Cute but too vulnerable. Instead, Emme obsesses over the portrait of an unknown man in an old locket. Granted, a seriously dreamy guy with delicious, wind-swept hair she just itches to run her fingers through. But still. Dead men may be great listeners, but they are not exactly boyfriend material. Emme travels to England, determined to uncover his history and conquer the strong connection she feels.

In 1812, James Knight has given up finding the right woman. All he wants is someone to share his love of adventure. Instead, his life has become a Shakespearean drama. His brother languishes in a tragic star-crossed romance. His beloved sister clings to life, slowly dying of consumption. But then he finds a beautiful mystery woman, dripping wet and half-dead, beneath a tree on his estate. Now if he can uncover her history, perhaps adventure—and romance—will find him at last.

MOSTLY CHARMING.

This has been sitting on my TBR for YEARS. I can’t even remember who recommended it and why, but there it sat until I was reminded that it was there. I wasn’t wholly disappointed, so that’s fine.

The very first thought I had was this is like Outlander. We have a time-traveling woman fall in love with a man from 200 years prior. I couldn’t help but compare the two. There were some different aspects to the story though, which allowed me to enjoy this for what it was.

I thought the romance was cute, and I was enjoying the development of it. They had some charming banter, and even in insta-love world it wasn’t bad. What frustrated me was the amount of time skipping that happened. Weeks would go by between each chapter and apparently the couple was more in love! Yes, that does make sense, but I wanted to see those interactions!!?

It kind of cracked me up how easily James accepted Emme’s time traveling ways. He was a charming character though and I thought he was precious. The ending was cute and everything I thought it needed. I wish I had known prior that this is a STANDALONE that’s part of a series (different main character for each book). I know this would have helped me accept the timeline a lot more smoothly.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance + time traveling
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 870 pages
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Delta
Release Date: December 1st, 1993
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her… and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.

Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her…the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland… and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.

BEST ONE [YET].

Ahhhhhh.

It’s official.

I’m involved.

Like, REAL involved in Claire and Jamie.

It’s fine. I’m fine. BUT CAN WE JUST GET SOME HAPPY MOMENTS FOR THEM? Goodness, my heart is in my throat every chapter wondering who’s jumping out next with a knife and a gun. Okay okay, I do admit there’s plenty of good moments too, but wow, do they live a life of danger.

I just loved how this story unfolded. I hated waiting for that reunion, but FLIPPIN’ LOVED how it went down. That’s how you reunite lost loves. Claire and Jamie treat each other with such love, respect, and fire. FIRE. I appreciate that there’s nothing held back. They have their conversations out there in the open, and come what may, they continue to love each other body and soul.

Not to mention that Jame purely angered MY soul with his shenanigans. Yes yes, explained away well, doesn’t mean I can’t have my feelings over it. I thought it was a good twist and definitely amped up the story as a whole. Also my sweet babe Fergus, all grown up! He’s one of my favorite side characters. Which makes me think that his ending is going to be make me sob, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen. I’ve got quite a few books to go.

With 870 pages, you’d think I’d have A LOOOOT to say. And I do, but I don’t. It’s one of those big books you sink into. Reading it takes as long as it does, but you’re not even noticing because the story has you wrapped up. That’s one of my favorite things about big sagas. I’m allowed to wholly immerse myself in the world and characters and feel the depth of the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a few love scenes ranging in detail from little to quite a bit
  • Violence: poison, swords, pirate attacks, ship wrecks, physical, murder, knives
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault on a minor; sexual assault; intense depictions of slavery (specifically in the West Indies)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction + romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: June 16th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel.

Everyone journeys to Key West searching for something. For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.

The Cuban Revolution of 1933 left Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position. After an arranged wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to the stranger she’s married, her new husband’s illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.

Elizabeth Preston’s trip from New York to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles as a result of the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.

Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

FOREVER A CLEETON FAN.

This is the third historical fiction book I’ve read of Cleeton’s and I am HOOKED. I love the story set-up and strength of the women in her books. It’s all captivating and I have a hard time putting them down.

I initially wasn’t sure where this book was going with the length + three different women’s stories together. While I still felt like a direct plot was missing, the three women’s stories moved me each in their own way.

What’s incredible impressive to me is how easy I fall for the romance plot lines in Cleeton’s works. Her writing makes the love story seem magical and real all together. This book literally happens over 3 days (with some increased time differences towards the end) and I was shipping every single couple with all that I was worth. I wanted their happiness, and their choices to matter. I wanted Helen, Mirta and Elizabeth to get the ending they wanted and it was delivered.

I love the way each women’s story also had connections between them. It’s an interesting thought to consider how small interactions with those around us may influence and effect our entire lives. I was also smitten with the men of this book too. How could I not mention them? I just love how each character stood out. I was never confused as to what chapter I was reading and who was speaking. Everything flowed and wove together beautifully and I will sit here and impatiently wait for Cleeton’s next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, some closed door scenes with little detail
  • Violence: guns, murder, hurricane, physical
  • Trigger warnings: a physically abusive husband, an incredibly destructive hurricane, attempted assault and robbery, brief mentions of a characters two family members committing suicide

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