Review: What the Wind Knows (Amy Harmon)

What the Wind Knows
Author: Amy Harmon
Publication Date: February 1, 2019 (Hardback), March 1, 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?


I feel the need to come clean a bit before I get into my review because I think my thoughts will help some readers decide if What the Wind Knows is for them. I’m a big fan of Amy Harmon’s writing, but I was on the fence about reading this book. I am not a huge historical fiction or fantasy fan. I read both only occasionally. I might not have read it if I hadn’t received an ARC. In a way, that forced me to read What the Wind Knows and I’m extremely glad it did.

What the Wind Knows had my attention from the very beginning. I thought it might take me a bit to get into the story, but it didn’t at all. I became addicted from the first chapter. I loved Anne’s connection with her grandfather, Eion, and how the story was built around the things he shared with her. I was actually more drawn to this relationship than to the love story. There was just something so sweet and pure about their relationship and the closeness they shared. I treasured the moments they had together.

Not that I didn’t enjoy the love story. Anne and Thomas’ connection literally transcended time. I loved how their relationship took time to develop and for their love to blossom. Normally, a time travel relationship would leave me with all sorts of questions. This one did that as well, but not so much that I fixated on them or couldn’t believe in their love. Anne and Thomas’ love story was epic for sure.

Besides the relationships in What the Wind Knows, there were so many fascinating historical gems. I know Amy Harmon took liberty with some things, but I still felt like I learnt a great deal. I really had no idea of what Ireland had gone through in the early 1900s. It was fascinating. I did get a tad bogged down with some of the details, but they all fit so well into this story.

Oh! I really, really need to stop and applaud Amy Harmon for a moment. Not only did she add historical events, she took on some every day activities in the past and showed Anne’s wonderment of them. These little things are always the things I am intrigued by. Or rather I should say they are the things that make me happy I live in the present day. I loved that those little mundane things were talked about.

Overall, What the Wind Knows is a fascinating read. Amy Harmon has once again convinced me that she can write any genre and I will want to read it.

Purchase links:

Available Now:

➜ Hardcover: https://amzn.to/2QoYmYi

Pre-order Now:

➜ Kindle: https://amzn.to/2NyJsQq
➜ Paperback: https://amzn.to/2CCbA0I
➜ Audio: https://amzn.to/2N2SfuG

About the author:

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street JournalUSA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in eighteen different languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Amy Harmon has written thirteen novels – the USA Today Bestsellers The Smallest Part, The Bird and The Sword, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as the #1 Amazon bestselling historical From Sand and Ash, The Queen and The Cure, The Law of Moses, The Song of David, Infinity + One, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her novels The Bird and the Sword and From Sand and Ash were Goodreads Best Books of 2016 and 2017 finalists.

Find Amy online:

Website: www.authoramyharmon.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoramyharmon
Facebook fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/amyharmon
Twitter: https://twitter.com/aharmon_author
Instagram: https://instagram.com/amy.harmon2/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Harmon/e/B007V3HXUY
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5829056.Amy_Harmon
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amy-harmon
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/P5AJP
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authoramyharmon/

Review: Once Upon a River (Diane Setterfield)

Once Upon a River
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Historical
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.


Once Upon a River is not the typical book I would read. It’s a historical fantasy that’s highly character driven. The reason I picked it up is because of my love for Diane Setterfield’s first book, The Thirteenth Tale. While this book didn’t quite reach my love for that book, I still found it an interesting and engaging read.

Once Upon a River feels like reading a folktale. It’s set along the Thames river, and revolves around the mystery of a girl who is plucked from the river. At first, she seems to be dead. Then, she is alive. More than one person claims she is theirs. No one really knows what to make of it all. It’s a giant mystery that slowly unravels through multiple points of view over time.

To be honest, it took me a few chapters to really get into this book and it’s story. There is a lot of detail and many characters to follow. Once I was invested in the story and the mystery of the little girl, I was hooked. I wanted to know what happened to her and what part all of the people played. I won’t go into the plot more because I don’t want to give anything away, but I was impressed by the outcome and the revelations. I had some ideas of what had happened, but very few of them were true. Once Upon a River ended up surprising me and I loved that!

I feel like I need to point out that this is a story that builds gradually over many pages. At 480 pages long, Once Upon a River is not a short book. It’s slower paced and takes a while to build momentum. While some might shy away from reading it for those reasons, I actually found myself liking how it built and the time it took to tie everything together. That’s not something I normally say, as I like faster paced reading experiences. Overall, Once Upon a River was a well written and plotted book.

Release Day Review: Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Dreams of Falling
Author: Karen White
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Historical
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Karen White crafts evocative relationships in this new contemporary women’s fiction novel about best friends who share a devastating secret, set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

It’s been nine years since Larkin fled Georgetown, South Carolina, vowing never to go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she knows she has no choice but to return to the place that she both loves and dreads–and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home. Ivy, Larkin’s mother, is discovered in the burned out wreckage of her family’s ancestral rice plantation, badly injured and unconscious. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly 50 years. Secrets that lead back to the past, to the friendship between three girls on the brink of womanhood who swore that they would be friends forever, but who found that vow tested in heartbreaking ways.


Karen White is one of my auto-buy authors. I love the way she writes. I’m always pulled into her books from the first few words on the page. Her stories take a while to unfold, but I know the pay off is going to be worth the wait. It was for Dreams of Falling.

Dreams of Falling is a multi-generational tale about the relationship between mothers and daughters. It stars three women: a grandmother, a daughter, and a granddaughter. Larkin, the granddaughter and main narrator, is a woman who ran from her past. She lives in New York, but is summoned back to South Carolina when her mother is injured. Returning home opens up old wounds for Larkin, and she’s forced to confront her them while her mother is fighting for her life. Ivy, the daughter, is an unexpected narrator. She’s in limbo between life and death, reflecting upon the choices she made and the truths she uncovered before her accident. The final point of view is Ceecee. Ceecee is Ivy’s step-mother who raised her for most of her life and helped raise Larkin. Ceecee was one of Ivy’s mother’s best friends. Her chapters switch between the present and the past, helping unravel the mystery of what happened on the night Ivy’s mother died.

Dreams of Falling was spellbinding. There was this dream like feel to the story. Even when things were taking place in the characters’ present, there was a sleepy quality to the writing. I loved it. The whole tone of the book went with the story being told. It was really cool.

I adored the Georgetown, South Carolina setting. The small town feel helped connect the past to the present and the characters to each other. The mystery brought a darkness to the story, but this amazing setting brought the light. I liked the contrast.

The characters in this book were frustrating — but only because of the way they avoided asking the tough questions of themselves and each other. I understood Larkin’s reasons for trying to become someone different, but I wish she would have been more open to the advice of the people who loved her. Ceecee was way too involved in everyone’s lives. It took me a long time to understand why. There wasn’t enough of Ivy, in my opinion. I really, really wanted to know more about her life growing up. I can’t complain too much about these frustrations, though, because they’re what made Dreams of Falling a captivating story.

I loved the mystery of what happened on the night Ivy’s mother died. The way it unfolded and was revealed to the reader was great. There were some things I guessed, but many that I was surprised by. I loved finding out how one event that happened years ago shaped the lives of three generations of women.

Overall, I loved reading this book. It was exactly what I’ve come to expect from Karen White. If you enjoy multi-generational stories about family, friendship, and love, Dreams of Falling might just be the book for you. Heck, any book by Karen White would be for you.

Mini Reviews: Salt to the Sea & More Than Word

Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Narrators: Jorgeana Marie, Will Damron, Cassandra Morris, Michael Crouch
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war’s most devastating yet unknown tragedies.

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view, and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning , Erik Larson’s critically acclaimed #1 New York Times bestseller Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein’s Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff–the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray,, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.

Review:

Salt to the Sea is my first Ruta Sepetys novel. I was so very impressed by it. It was such a heartbreaking, beautiful story. I loved the way it switched back and forth between the characters. The way their sad stories intertwined was special. I truly loved listening to the way the narrators brought life to the story. Whether you read or listen to this book, you’re in for an amazing book.


More Than Words
Author: Mia Sheridan
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

The moment she met Callen Hayes, eleven-year-old Jessica Creswell knew he was a broken prince. Her prince. They became each other’s refuge, a safe and magical place far from their troubled lives. Until the day Callen kissed herJessica’s first real, dreamy kiss—and then disappeared from her life without a word.

Years later, everyone knows who Callen Hayes is. Famous composer. Infamous bad boy. What no one knows is that Callen’s music is now locked deep inside, trapped behind his own inner demons. It’s only when he withdraws to France to drink his way through the darkness that Callen stumbles into the one person who makes the music return. Jessica. His Jessie. And she still tastes of fresh, sweet innocence . . . even as she sets his blood on fire.

But they don’t belong in each other’s worlds anymore. There are too many mistakes. Too many secrets. Too many lies. All they have is that instinctive longing, that need—and something that looks dangerously like love.

Review:

Years ago, I read Archer’s Voice. That book broke me. I have several other of Mia Sheridan’s books, but have yet to read them. I guess I’ve been scared of the emotional impact. I decided to brave her writing again with More Than Words. There were several things I loved about this book. That initial connection between Jessie and Callie was so sweet. I loved that fate brought them back together, and that they got more than one chance to be together. I also loved how Jessie’s job and her interpretations paralleled with her relationship with Callen. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was Callen’s womanizing and drinking. I guess I’m just over that in romances right now. It made it harder for me to emotionally connect to Jessie and Callen’s relationship. Other than, I enjoyed reading More Than Words.

Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Alaska, 1974. Untamed. Unpredictable. A story of a family in crisis struggling to survive at the edge of the world, it is also a story of young and enduring love.

Cora Allbright and her husband Ernt, a recently-returned Vietnam veteran scarred by the war, uproot their thirteen-year-old daughter Leni to start a new life in Alaska. Utterly unprepared for the weather and the isolation, but welcomed by the close-knit community, they fight to build a home in this harsh, beautiful wilderness.

At once an epic story of human survival and love, and an intimate portrait of a family tested beyond endurance, The Great Alone offers a glimpse into a vanishing way of life in America. With her trademark combination of elegant prose and deeply drawn characters, Kristin Hannah has delivered an enormously powerful story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the remarkable and enduring strength of women. About the highest stakes a family can face and the bonds that can tear a community apart, this is a novel as spectacular and powerful as Alaska itself. It is the finest example of Kristin Hannah’s ability to weave together the deeply personal with the universal.


The Great Alone was wonderfully written and captivating book. The Alaskan setting was both beautiful and brutal. Leni was a fantastic narrator. She, along with her parents and the other characters, were well-developed and had important stories to tell. Everything about The Great Alone was pretty much perfect — except that it was torturous to read at times.

There were just so many tragic moments. It hurt to read about Leni’s life. There was just so much heartbreak. I had to take little breaks to get through much of it. I never felt like I could relax and just enjoy it.

In a way, that’s a compliment to Kristin Hannah’s writing. She really did touch my heart with The Great Alone. She depicted a life that was tough, but never let me give up hope for a brighter tomorrow for Leni. Even though The Great Alone wasn’t a comfortable read, it was a great one. It shared an important story in a fascinating landscape.

Review: A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

A Secret History of Witches
Author: Louisa Morgan
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

An ancient and dangerous power is being handed down from mother to daughter through some of the most consequential historic events of the last two centuries.

After Grandmére Ursule gives her life to save her tribe, her magic seems to die with her. Even so, her family keeps the Old Faith, practicing the spells and rites that have been handed from mother to daughter for generations. Until one day, Ursule’s young granddaughter steps into the circle, and magic flows anew.

From early 19th century Brittany to London during the Second World War, five generations of witches fight the battles of their time, deciding how far they are willing to go to protect their family, their heritage, and ultimately, all of our futures.


A Secret History of Witches is a multi-generational tale of witchcraft being passed down in a family throughout the ages through the female bloodline. Normally, I like multi-generational stories, but this one fell a little flat for me.

This book started off very strong. I was very interested in the characters and how their gift had an effect on their lives in the early times. I loved the beginning of the book and then Nanette’s section. After that, I started to get bored. The story became a bit stale as it passed through generations. There were new characters added, but none of them stood out. All seemed to go through the same crisis, and basically used their magic when it came to obtaining a mate. There wasn’t enough action for me. I wanted to see magic used in other circumstances like it was in the beginning of the story.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some other characters who were interesting. Irène especially. She was such a horrible person that she at least stood out. And Veronica. I liked how her gift was tied into the war. I just didn’t like how her story seemed to abruptly ended, and along with it the book.

Overall, Louisa Morgan’s writing and intent were good. For a début novel, it was pretty strong. I just think A Secret History of Witches needed a little more spark and a lot less repetition. I can only imagine Morgan’s writing will grow and flourish with future releases.

Review: A Taste of Honey by Rose Lerner

A Taste of Honey
Series: Lively St. Lemeston, #3.5
Author: Rose Lerner
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Fire and ice cream…

Robert Moon risked everything, including his father’s hardwon legacy, to open his beloved Honey Moon Confectionery on the busiest street in Lively St. Lemeston. Now he’s facing bankruptcy and debtor’s prison.

When a huge catering order comes in, he agrees to close the sweet-shop for a week to fill it. There’s only one problem: his apprentice is out of town, so his beautiful shop-girl Betsy Piper must help Robert in the kitchen.

Betsy’s spent the last year trying to make her single-minded boss look up from his pastries and notice that she would be the perfect wife. Now the two of them are alone in a kitchen full of sweet things. With just one week to get him to fall in love with her, she’d better get this seduction started…

She soon discovers that Robert brings the same meticulous, eager-to-please attitude to lovemaking that he does to baking, but can kisses—no matter how sweet—compete with the Honey Moon in his heart?


Historical romance isn’t a sub genre I normally reach for when I pick out a book. Those books tend to take longer to catch my attention than contemporary romances. This is not so with Rose Lerner’s books. Her characters immediately pull me into their stories. I enjoy getting to know them, and their historical lives are always so interesting. I was excited to get the chance to read another one of her books. A Taste of Honey was a very fun, romantic novel.

I’ve read books about baker’s before, but never a book quite like A Taste of Honey. That’s probably because I’ve never read about a historical baker before. I loved reading about the different sweets Robert and Betsy made and the processes they had to go through. Not only did I get to have fun reading their love story, but I learned some new information.

As for Robert and Betsy’s romance, it was so good! Robert and Betsy were in love with each other, but neither knew the other was interested. Both characters had hang ups that kept them from showing interest in each other. With prompting from her friend, Betsy decides to take the first step to seducing Robert and showing him she’s perfect for him. I loved the way the two of them threw their concerns away, and gave everything to each other. It so romantic!

If you’re a fan of historical romance or looking to start reading it, I highly recommend picking up one of Rose Lerner’s books. In fact, this novella would be the perfect place to start!

Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

See What I Have Done
Author: Sarah Schmidt
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, True Crime

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Haunting, gripping and gorgeously written, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE by Sarah Schmidt is a re-imagining of the unsolved American true crime case of the Lizzie Borden murders, for fans of BURIAL RITES and MAKING A MURDERER.

When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty-two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable début makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.


Lizzie Borden was a name I had heard before, but her story wasn’t one I was familiar with. When my friend picked See What I Have Done as our next book club pick, I wasn’t sure what to think. Was this book going to be gory? Was it going to be thriller suspenseful? I didn’t know how to prepare myself for it. Luckily, for my sake, See What I Have Done wasn’t a gory or stressful read.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lizzie Borden like I was, I’ll give you a little history. Lizzie was an adult woman who lived at home with her father, step-mother, older sister and maid, Bridget. While her sister, Emma, was spending time out-of-town at a friend’s, their parents were murdered. The weapon was an ax. Lizzie and the maid were both home at the time of the murders. Lizzie was tried and acquitted of the crime, but many still suspect that she was the murderer. (I had to look all of this up after reading the book to find out what was fact and what was fiction.)

See What I Have Done tells the story of the murder of Andrew and Abby Borden through the eyes of four narrators: Lizzie, Emma, Bridget and Benjamin. The story mostly takes place over the day before the murder and the day of. The events of those days are set up by each character. Together, their point of views craft a look at what might have happened and who might have been the killer.

If this was a true account of the crime, I could understand why Lizzie was charged with murder. Lizzie was a little off and I wasn’t quite sure what to think of her. Listening to her thoughts made her seem like the most likely murderer. I completely understood why Emma felt the way she did about Lizzie. Lizzie was pretty horrid to her. That made me question some of Emma’s later devotion to Lizzie, though. I understood their relationship, but it was really weird.

Another thing that was really weird were the parents. Andrew Borden was made out to be a horrible man. Abby wasn’t made out to be much better. The dynamic in the household between the parents and the daughters was odd. The fact that Lizzie and Emma were grown women made it even weirder. I kept wondering if this is really how people saw the Bordens in real life?

The character I felt most sorry for was Bridget. I’m surprised she wasn’t the killer. (Maybe she was???) The Bordens were horrible to her. She waited on them hand and foot, and they took complete advantage of her. I liked her thoughts on the murder and the suspects. I have to admit that I was happy the murder let her escape the horrible household.

As for Benjamin, I wasn’t sure what to think of the addition of his character. He’s not in any of the official accounts of the murder. I guess he was a “What if?” situation to show what might have happened if someone other than Lizzie was possibly involved.

As you can probably guess, this book had me a little confused! In real life, the case was never solved. In See What I Have Done, there is only speculation. I wish I could find out the truth! Too bad the people who could answer the tough questions are long gone.

Overall, See What I Have Done was a fun read. It took an unsolved crime and gave it new life. I liked the author’s writing and the way she brought the characters to life. I was impressed that this is her début novel. It’s a book a would recommend to those who like true crime or historical fiction. It had me looking up the history behind the story the moment I finished reading it.

Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.
 
New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.


Lilac Girls is one of those books I’ve been seeing around since its release but didn’t really know much about. It wasn’t until a friend picked it for our next book club read that I became aware it was based on a true story from World War II.

The history recapped in Lilac Girls was new to me. Or at least it felt that way. I’ve read several other books set in the same time period, but this was the first I’ve read that included the “rabbits”. I knew the Nazis experimented at concentration camps, but I’ve never experienced it quite the way I did in this book. Nor have I read a book that included the perspective of someone involved in the operation of a concentration camp. Those things made Lilac Girls stand out to me in the World War II historical fiction genre.

Novels revolving around World War II are always tough reads. They evoke so many negative emotions from me. Anger. Sadness. Frustration. Relief. I felt all of those things while reading Lilac Girls. It’s tough realities stuck with me evening when I wasn’t reading it. I woke at four in the morning thinking about this book. It’s hard to imagine such a horrible time. If it wasn’t based on a horrible truth, it would be hard to believe.

I can’t say I loved reading Lilac Girls because it made me incredibly sad, and it took me a bit to get into. I can say that it was well written and informative. It made me want to know more about the real story behind several characters in this book. I will be headed to Google to search them once I finish this review. Historical fiction readers or anyone who has an interest in World War II would enjoy this book.

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction; Romance; LGBT+
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From Taylor Jenkins Reid, “a genius when it comes to stories about life and love” (Redbook), comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid’s signature talent for “creating complex, likable characters” (Real Simple), this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.


Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author I’ve always wanted to read a book by but hadn’t yet. I was very excited to get to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and experience her writing. I had heard such great things about her books.

I was a little nervous about reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because a couple of my trusted blogger friends were not impressed by it. After reading it, I can understand why this book may not be for some readers. It’s filled with uncomfortable situations and moments. Evelyn was unabashedly candid in the telling of her life story. She was unapologetic about the people she hurt or wronged. Some, if not all, of her decisions will disgust some readers. Evelyn was simply unlikable.

I wasn’t a fan of Evelyn’s, but I did appreciate her story. The methods she used to get what she wanted were brash, but she acknowledged that. Everything she did, right or wrong, made for an interesting tale. I wasn’t put off by most of her actions. I liked how they led to and explained her seven husbands. I truly enjoyed the journey through Evelyn’s life and loves.

Monique wasn’t much of a character at first. Her story loosely wove around Evelyn’s, and I also found it hard to like her. I don’t know that I ever ended up liking her, but I did end up respecting her. The things she learned about Evelyn and from Evelyn were profound. I loved that she put to use what she learned.

From the book blurb, the reader knows going into the story that Evelyn and Monique’s lives intertwine in some way. I never could have guessed how. It was definitely a twist I didn’t see coming. It was perfect and I really like what it did to the story line. It made the ending all that more perfect.

I may not have fallen in love with the characters of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but I was mesmerized by the story. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer capable of weaving a multifaceted tale. I loved her writing style, and I am looking forward to reading her other books.