“Daughters of War” by Lizzie Page

“Daughters of War” by Lizzie Page is a very interesting historical novel in that the heroine May was determined to go to the front lines during the war even though she was married and the mother of two girls.  Her husband was more of a prison warden, vicious when angry and vindictive.  She met him in America when he literally fell in her lap.  They saw each other for a few months and then married quickly and returned to his home in England.  When war broke out, George conveniently was declared 4F, unfit for duty.  He shipped the girls off to boarding school, which left May alone and lonely.  George had other “interests” which May was very suspicious of.  She decided that she would enlist as a nurse to be sent to France.

George was extremely angry and hostile.  She had to get away from him and for a time was able to get leave to see her girls.  George eventually spirited the girls away to another location that was impossible for May to find.  She met a lieutenant in France and developed a romantic relationship with him.  All the while she and her fellow nurses worked round the clock taking care of those unfortunate soldiers injured at the front.  It was a very emotional job and they never got used to the young men who died and their horrible injuries.

Eventually, the war ended and May returned to England to find her girls.  George divorced her and at that time this was a disgraceful thing for a woman to be divorced.  George was adamant that she would never see her children again.

I found this novel to be quite depressing, although I can readily see how this sort of thing could happen.  If her husband had paid more attention to and taken care of May, she may not have been in the situation she found herself in.  I found this novel to be a look inside the more bitter life that some women find themselves in and only pluck and determination can see them out of their dreary life.

I was granted a download of this novel by NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.

“When the Heart Sings” by Liz Tolsma

Liz Tolsma is one of my favorite WW II fiction writers.  And so, when I see another book that she has written offered, I snatch it up.  I have enjoyed two of her Music of Hope series, “Melody of the Soul” and the one I’m reviewing here, “When the Heart Sings”.  I intend to read all the books in the Music of Hope series.

This second novel in the series tells the story of Natia and Teodor, a farming couple living in Poland.  They are forced out of the home by the invasion of the Nazis.  Teodor and Natia are being forced to work for the Nazi government in factories.  However, at the train station where they are waiting to be crowded into cattle cars, Natia raises such a commotion at having to leave Teodor that the factory commandant’s wife snatches her up to be her maid.  Teodor is bound for factory work and Natia is surprisingly billeted in the home of the Nazi commandant.

During one of her excursions to the market, she happens upon a poor Jewish woman and her infant.  She sneaks them food when she can and eventually finds this dying woman on the commandant’s doorstep.  She decides that she will care for the infant and under the Nazi’s and his wife Elfriede’s noses, tends to the little Jewish lad in their home.  Neither realizes that this child is not Arayn.  When the secret comes out, Natia and Elfriede, who has come to love the child as her own, along with Teodor, who has escaped the factory, run for their lives.

This is another remarkably poignant novel by Ms. Tolsma.   You won’t be disappointed.

“The Orphan’s Tale” by Pam Jenoff

I have resisted reading “The Orphan’s Tale” by Pam Jenoff even though she is one of my favorite authors.  The idea of a circus performing in German-occupied France during WW II was inconceivable to me.  However, I was worn down by the constant references to this book.  I am very grateful for that.

I found this book to be as interesting and addicting as all of her other novels that I have read.  The premise of this book is, in fact, part of history.  There actually were circuses around Europe playing around the continent.  Some Jewish circuses, of course, did not survive the occupation, but in this case, a German circus hid Jews during their tours.

This novel is written about that very idea.  Also involved was a train boxcar filled with dead and dying Jewish infants probably taken from their mothers’ arms and destined for death themselves. This was a book filled with harrowing experiences of the circus performers or non-performers who had to learn to perform on the trapeze or high wire or other circus acts in order to hide them from the Gestapo.  As always, Ms. Jenoff can leave the reader breathless and begging for more.  I will never again resist a Jenoff book because of a misconception.

“Far Side of the Sea” by Kate Breslin

“Far Side of the Sea” by Kate Breslin, who is one of my favorite authors, kept me interested all the way through the novel.  I was skeptical of this book because of the subject of carrier pigeons being used as messengers during WW I.  Although I knew they were a means of communication, I was unaware of the means of their service.  It was more involved than I previously thought.

This novel includes the interaction of an injured MI8 soldier, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, working in the decoding office for the British government and a girl, Jewel Reyer, he met behind the lines in German-held France, who helped him by nursing his injuries until he could rejoin his regiment.  He has been contacted supposedly by her for help to escape being in the custody of a German officer.  Whether or not this German is a double agent or not is yet to be seen.   The girl he meets is not the one he knows, but her sister, Johanna.  She is trying to find Jewel and knows about Colin from Jewel’s diary.

This may seem to be a straightforward missing person’s investigation, but there are so many “bends in the road” that it was hard to keep up.  That is what I like about Ms. Breslin’s novels – she keeps the reader on his toes and interested with each page turn.  Very good book for readers of historical fiction and historical romance novels.

“His Mysterious Silent Bride” by Chloe Carly

“His Mysterious Silent Bride” by Chloe Carly is an interesting Christian romance.  It begins with Jem McClary sending his son, Jeremey, off to San Francisco by train to bring back a couple of prize bulls for the ranch.  Everything goes smoothly until a terrible accident derails the train and most of the passenger cars, except for Jeremy’s car, which is teetering on the brink of a cliff.  He has time to rescue the passengers before the car goes over the edge.  The next thing he knows, he is bound on a ship.  He has been shanghaied.

Sophia Annikova has dreams that are more like visions.  In these, the Lord seems to be calling her to do things.  Living in St. Petersburg, Russia at this time is very dangerous.  Her father is trying to get his daughter away to America before the worst happens.  Sophia feels she has to follow the messages she sees in her dreams and her actions cause her father and her to leave St. Petersburg as soon as possible.  They end up on a small island off the coast of California.  Sophia’s father is certain that the Russian secret police will eventually find and kill them.

The story of how this all meshes together is very unique.  Ms. Carly has a great imagination.  I had a question in the back of my mind while reading this book, the title truly did not seem to match the narrative.  We start out in Colorado, then to Russia, then to California and all this seems to make sense.  One of my concerns with the novel is that the ending comes suddenly and surprisingly.  The characters all ending up at the same place at the same time had to be divine intervention or a quick ending to the story.

“Never Let Go” by Elizabeth Goddard

“Never Let Go” by Elizabeth Goddard is an intriguing and fast-paced novel.  A forensic genealogist takes up the case her late grandfather was working on.  Most of the cases she and he worked on were to find persons in family trees, or do DNA testing to determine family history.  In this last case her grandfather was pursuing, twenty-one years ago, a newly born baby was stolen from the mother, who was thought to be dying from cancer.

This case is causing certain unexplained occurrences.  Willow Anderson’s grandfather was supposedly in a hit and run accident while riding his bicycle.  Later information shows that he was intentionally run down.  Willow and former FBI investigator, and an ex-boyfriend of Willow team up to solve the mystery of the whereabouts of this young woman.  The closer they get to answers, the more trouble they stir up.

This novel was one of those that has to be read at a fast pace.  One cannot put the novel down for very long before snatching it up again to find out what happens next.  I enjoyed this book and recommend it for those enjoying mystery and thrillers.

“The Forgiving Jar” by Wanda Brunstetter

Wanda Brunstetter is a prolific writer of Amish stories.  She is writing a series called The Prayer Jars.  I have read the first two books in the series.  I am reviewing the second book, “The Forgiving Jar”.  In the first book, a homeless young woman, Michelle,  was able to pretend to be the long-lost granddaughter of  Willis and Mary Ruth Lapp.  She connives to stay with this older couple as their granddaughter and finds herself loving them as grandparents.

However, the real granddaughter, Sara, finally comes to Lancaster County only to find that her grandparents are skeptical of her.  Michelle, meanwhile decides to come back to the Lapps to apologize and return the money she “borrowed” from them so that she could leave when she knew the real Sara was on her way.  The two girls meet, and although Michelle is penitent and tries to make amends, Sara is having a hard time forgiving her.  This is where the “forgiving jar” comes in.  Both girls have come across old canning jars full of inspirational notes that pertain to their position in life.  The girls come to realize what is really important.

This is Ms. Brunstetter at her best.  Her Amish novels are all about living a simple life with forgiveness and love in your heart…very uplifting.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.