The Girls in the Attic by Marius Gabriel

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Maggie’s father dies and friends and family of her mother encourage her to ask her mother about her past. When she does, Maggie learns of the struggles her mother (Lola) faced as a Jewish woman in Nazi-era Germany and the extreme odds she faced of survival when the Nazi’s literally came to the door in the form of the son of the woman hiding Lola and her sister, Heidi, in her attic.

 

If you look at the Amazon description of The Girls in the Attic, its the story of Max Wolffe. Max’s father was a minister who spoke out against Hitler and was taken away when Max was young. The official story is that his father died in prison and Max’s devotion to the protection of the motherland and master race came at the hands of a Nazi who took the boy under his wing when he was tortured everyday as a result of what he believed was his father’s treason. When Max returns home after having suffered a head injury at the Russian front for what he thinks will be a recovery break, he finds that his mother has concealed two young Jewish women in his home. The only thing keeping Max from going to local authorities to turn the women in is that he knows that his mother will also be taken into custody. 

Once you get a sense of the setting, The Girls in the Attic is actually goes exactly where readers will expect it to go. As Max gets to know the women they open his eyes to the atrocity of the War and their confidence that the Allies are coming moves his belief in the dominance of the Reich. Max starts to question his staunch views about Jewish people and his blind faith in the military expertise of Hitler. There are several navel gazing epiphanies from Max and Lola. 

As much as the book is billed as the story of Max, it’s really the story of Lola Rosenstein. Lola starts out, despite having been moved from home to home with her sister for their protection, a little recklessly angry. She hates Max and everything he stands for. Heidi is her voice of reason but the young woman is just angry. As time goes on, she becomes circumspect and once they start to move through war-torn Germany, a bit world weary. The idea of death as a rest is something we hear from many survivors and rang very true. That it is Lola telling the story, the omniscient look into Max’s thought process and private conversations between Heidi and Max’s mother, Magda, are a choice. While Max’s thought process and transitions may play as an excuse for the relationship that develops between Max and Lola (not a spoiler. ANYONE reading this book will expect it), it’s not something our narrator would know and that bothers me more than it should especially as she slips into first person in the epilogue. From Lola the epiphanies tend to be regarding the hearts of man and the lack of control in her own life. From Max, they are grand gestures toward a changing attitude toward people and generally the enemies of existence that serve to romanticize him. Considering that we’re seeing him from the memory of an old woman, it makes sense that she would remember him as he should have been.

Though quite predictable, the story is interesting and the characters engaging. As odd as it may sound, Lola starts as a bit of a reckless young woman. She was protected by her parents and then protected by Heidi and ultimately protected by Max. She has suffered living in the slums and she knows what her sister went through to keep her safe but as she grows in the sense of the novel, she becomes more circumspect understanding how lucky she’s been to survive.

I enjoyed The Girls in the Attic. I have seen the reviews that cite errors. There were errors but I did not find them distracting. The story was not of the quality that I’ll seek out other books by Gabriel but it was a good, solid read and one that makes some very good points. Pick it up and let me know what you think.

 

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The Ethics of Silence by C. J. Nash

Publication Date: June 24, 2021

Mason Turner is sent from Earth to the Mars Colony to investigate a murder. What Mason finds is a community entrenched in its secrets and a people divided and information a commodity that is in short supply. With everyone and time working against him will Mason uncover the secrets of the red planet?

I was given this book by the author, C. J. Nash, in exchange for an honest review.

 

Let me begin by saying that the plotline of this story is a great idea. One of my former coworkers always said “Everyone hates the new guy” and that is the first thing that Mason learns when he gets off of the space craft and meets his guide, Janet. The Mars colony wants to be left alone. They have faced obstacles that their early counterparts cannot imagine and the murder is perceived to be family business of a sort of Mason is an interloper. No one likes him, no one wants him there (even the guy who requested him) and if he’s not careful he may go the way of his long dead investigative subject.

Continue reading The Ethics of Silence by C. J. Nash

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Laura Lyons is a housewife in 1913 living with her family in an apartment in the New York Public Library where her husband is the superintendent. She enrolls in Columbia Journalism School and finds a new world outside of the library walls and her where women have their own identiy. When someone starts stealing rare books and her lifestyle is at risk, she has to make a choice.

Eighty years later, Laura’s granddaughter, Sadie, is hired as a curator at the New York Public Library. When rare books from an exhibit Sadie is setting up starts to go missing, Sadie starts to dig into the past and may not like what she finds.

 

Readers of my blog will know that I love historical fiction. I full expected to be fangirling in this review when starting the books. The mystery, varied timelines, New York Public Library tie, it sounds fascinating on paper. The paper on which it is fascinating is not the pages of this book. The Lions of Fifth Avenue is not the worst book I’ve ever read. It felt self-indulgent on the part of the author. Davis wanted this setting and timeline tie but the story and characters never really seemed to come together. This is the only book I’ve read by Fiona Davis so the rest of her books might be brilliant. Am I likely to find out? No. 

Continue reading The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

A Little Birdie Told Me by Sharley Scott

Publication Date: January 25, 2021

It’s 1988 and Belinda is working in a nursing home after having had quite the career driven fall.  Her new job is boring and a bit frustrating but the light at the end of that tunnel is her co-worker, Joe for whom she harbors a secret attraction though her insecurity stands in the way of hope. When thefts and worse start to happen at the nursing home, she turns to Joe. When she discovers something disturbing, she has to decide if she’ll go along to get along or if she’ll stand up for what is right and protect her residents.

I received this book for review from the Book Club Reviewer Facebook group.

 

A Little Birdie Told Me is a snapshot of the 80s. Scott puts great care into the narrative place in time. I graduated high school and started college in 1988. Scott winks at her readers through topical jokes that, given the popularity with young folk of the 80s, will unlikely become dated but could evade a certain audience but then the genre of women’s fiction itself can sometimes be a bit specific. Scott’s humor will have broad appeal. Despite the attention to background detail, A Little Birdie Told Me is a quick read that flows really well. Continue reading A Little Birdie Told Me by Sharley Scott

Highland Lioness: A Highland Romance of Tudor Scotland (The Highland Ballad Series Book 4) by Kristin Gleeson

Publication Date: January 15, 2021

Morag McGregor is sent to Scottish Court by her father in hopes that she will make a match or, at least, dampen her desire to get revenge on her neighbour, the Campbells. In a setting tense with religious and political strife will Morag sate her desire for revenge and return to her secret love who is waiting at home?

I received this book for review from the Book Club Reviewer Facebook group.

Highland Lioness is the fourth book in the Highland Ballad Series

 

I have not read any of the previous three books in the Highland Ballad Series and believe that this is the first book I’ve read by Kristin Gleeson and to be quite honest, I did not have high hopes for Highland Lioness in meeting Morag and she and her co-conspirators were lying in wait to sabotage the Campbell’s cattle. First impression was that she was going to be one of these borderline compulsive characters that would careen brainlessly from scrape to scrape until someone “tamed” her completely discounting the historical context of how dangerous a spirited woman might be Continue reading Highland Lioness: A Highland Romance of Tudor Scotland (The Highland Ballad Series Book 4) by Kristin Gleeson

Serious Moonlight (How to be Dead) by Dave Turner

CORRECTION: I said in an earlier version of this review that this book was last in the series. I am overjoyed to learn that it’s not.

 

Publication Date: December 31, 2018

 

Dave Marwood and his girlfriend, Melanie, are due for a bit of a break in the country after saving the City of London from destruction. It’s a bit of a worry that Death, the last standing Horseman of the Apocalypse and Dave’s employer, is having a bit of an existential crisis and Dave has been acting as his flip-flopped toy scythed stand-in, but a relationship needs tending. The break, however; is not the peaceful time away the couple anticipates when they find themselves beset by ghosts and the people seeking them.

Serious Moonlight by Dave Turner is the fifth book in the How to be Dead series.

 

Part of my life’s work is finding books that give me the feeling I got when I first read the works of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Jasper Fforde. The beautiful humor and massive creativity of the aforementioned authors are qualities shared by the great Dave Turner. Continue reading Serious Moonlight (How to be Dead) by Dave Turner

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

 

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. SayersWhose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers is the first novel of the Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey series. Lord Peter is financially independent and has a special hobby; he solves murder cases. When an unknown dead body is found in Mr. Thipps’s bathtub, he is on the case. With the help of his butler-friend Bunter, a talented forensic and semi-professional photographer and his friend Charles Parker, who works for Scotland Yard, he sets out to solve this mystery.

Whose Body? was released in 1928 and, like many first novels of a series, the reader is introduced to a number of characters that reappear as the series continues. The protagonist, Lord Peter was born in 1890 and is a World War I veteran. In the series, he ages in real-time making him 28 years old at the time the first book was released.

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers is a procedural-police meets private-inspector investigation story that is told by Lord Peter and Scotland Yard inspector Parker. Therefore, readers have a great overview of all on-going investigations and can solve the crime along the way. Continue reading Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers

Song of Nümenstar by A.J. Feagin

Publication Date: August  25, 2019

 

In the Song of Nümenstar by A.J. Feagin, a group of Daejic students disappears. Commander Karawn Kross and the female Mystik Ka’myla Ad’uar embark on a mission to find them. What they find instead while searching the catacombs beneath the highly secure city of Soaleste can change everything.

 

A lot of authors attempt to boost their writing credibility by saying that their stories are like those of popular or bestselling authors and seldom can the similarity been seen by the reader. And, when it is, it comes off as a poor copy. This is not the case in Song of Nümenstar by A.J. Feagin. The Amazon entry likens Song of Nümenstar to Dune and Star Wars and I can see the likeness. The similarity falls in the incredible work Frank Herbert did in building the world of Aarkis. It’s in the pageantry and diversity of Star Wars. Continue reading Song of Nümenstar by A.J. Feagin

Reviving the Commander by Nadine Keels

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

 

Reviving the Commander by Nadine C. KeelsIn Reviving the Commander by Nadine C. Keels, Opal, to the outside world, seems to be happy, carefree and content with her spinsterhood. When she meets the Commander Exemplar of Diachona’s Army, a man who longs for his late wife, she feels an undeniable and yet hopeless attraction. The Exemplar is the first man she’s felt a pull within a long time, but he’s the father of the king. Opal has a dark secret. Is she destined to live her life alone?

Continue reading Reviving the Commander by Nadine Keels

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Publication Date: May 1, 2009

 

In The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, it’s 1985 in the fictional world that is parallel to our own. Someone is kidnapping literary characters. It’s the job of Thursday Next, the occupant of our world but the detective in the Literary Detective Division, to find the culprit and stop them before it’s too late.

 

Every book claims to be like the work of a bestselling author. They’ll up the ante saying that the work is by an author who is the modern version of the author to whom they’re likened. Usually, they could not be less like the author whose name they use to promote themselves. In the case of Fforde, it would be in no way inaccurate to liken him to Douglas Adams. It would also not be inaccurate to say that they are nothing alike. Fforde and Adams share a well-defined imagination with a lightness of being. Their worlds are intricate. Fforde is extremely well-read. The characters created by others in his story are wholly within character. The description of the fictional world is beautiful and complete. Continue reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde