Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

Can you trust the people you used to trust?  Can your life be normal?  That question was asked every single day of Lucien's life and every single day of any French citizen living in Paris during the Nazi occupation.

Life definitely was not the same as before.  You had to watch everything you said and did.  Lucien had to make a decision about doing something he knew was very dangerous.  Lucien was an architect and was asked to design hiding places for  Jewish friends of Auguste Manet, a well-known businessman in Paris. 

Lucien feared for his life but couldn't pass up this offer.  Lucien agreed only because he had no money, and because he would be paid a large sum.

You will feel Lucien's fear as he is doing something he loves, but also considering whether it is worth the cost of his life if he gets caught. You will grow to love Lucien as his truly caring side comes out in the uncaring society of this era.

You will become immersed in Paris's new way of life that had to be endured, and you will share the fear of the citizens as they waited for the dreaded knock on the door looking for Jewish residents or for a French citizen who was hiding a Jewish citizen. 

The horrors of occupation will be with you as you read as well as become involved with the authentic characters and marvelous writing style.  The characters were perfectly portrayed from the deviousness and cruelty of the Gestapo to the cowering citizens.  The author has an easy style and draws you right into the story.

THE PARIS ARCHITECT is another WWII tale but with a different twist and one where the tension builds and your fear for Lucien increases as you rapidly turn the pages.

This is an excellent historical fiction book with some graphic scenes that depict the atrocities of WWII, but will hold your interest until the last word because of the characters and their stories. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

Poignant, heartbreaking, and unfortunately true.

THE WEDDING GIFT is beautiful in the sense of how the story is told in the author's marvelous prose and flowing style, but ugly in the harshness, cruelty, and reality of the events.

The characters will pull at your heart strings as you follow Emmeline, Belle, Sarah, and Theodora Allen through their day. The plantation owner's wife, Theodora Allen, is held under his thumb and must obey all his commands and put up with his physical and verbal abuse. 

All these women are very strong characters in their own right, but have no rights in this era.  This era seems to "own" the women whether they are free or enslaved.  Another character who is one of the main characters, Clarissa Allen, Sarah's half sister and Clarissa's maid, is a spoiled brat but a good person underneath it all.

You will hate Mr. Cornelius Allen as well as most of the male characters for their cruelty and their shallow, arrogant thinking.

THE WEDDING GIFT is beautifully written and brings to light the way of life on a plantation and how it is run both inside and outside of the main house. 

The book is told through Sarah and Theodora's voices.  THE WEDDING GIFT talks about women and how they bond as well as how they endure the suffering at the hands of males whether it be verbal abuse, physical abuse, or infidelity.  Infidelity on a plantation by the owner seemed to be something quite common. 

I didn't want to put the book down.  It was relayed so well and so smoothly that you felt as though you were there with all the characters crying with them and also helping them deal with what they had to endure whether they were the plantation's slaves or the owner's own family. 

Don't miss out on this just have to read it.  You as a woman will want to share these experiences whether pleasant or unpleasant.  You will also learn a great deal about history which more often than not is an unpleasant story as well as learning about the horrors of slavery and its impact on society.

A positive lesson though is to never give up, follow your dreams, and work hard. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Marvelous, incredible, beautifully told.

A murderess who must be housed at a farm because there is a financial problem with the prisons? How would you feel about being forced to live with someone who committed murder? Would you feel safe? Would you protest?

Agnes Magnusdóttir was brought to Margret and Jon's home until her execution date.  Agnes is required to work as a farmhand in a town that embellishes her murderous deeds more and more each time the tale is told. 
BURIAL RITES is based on an actual historical event in Iceland.

In alternating voices and flashbacks the author masterfully lets the reader in on the secrets and the story of the murders and of Agnes' life before her conviction and in her current position in the chosen household.

The author also has you questioning if Agnes has been wrongfully accused. Her flashbacks describe the actual murder, her relationship with the deceased, and her earlier life. A life lived in this same town holding her captive.

The writing and prose is exceptional.  The book flows beautifully as it describes the harsh life in Iceland and the bitter weather.  There is no lull in the narration.

The book's descriptions are amazing.  Every minute detail is described beautifully.  Even the dreary, tedious life of each character is described so well you see it clearly and are right there sharing their misery. The living conditions were described as on the poverty level but the families had servants....that was a bit confusing.

Everyone was poised to not like Agnes, but as the story unfolded the family became fond of her simply because she was a good person and a good worker.  The only person who didn't like her was Lauga, the daughter of Margret and Jon.  Margret became comfortable with Agnes and enjoyed having her around.  Each of the characters connected well and are marvelously authentic and believable.

BURIAL RITES is a book that you do not want to miss.  The book's situation and setting, the writing, and the characters are all phenomenal and come alive through the author's exquisite skill.   5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation at the BEA by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Question of Honor by Charles Todd

Bess Crawford is back and as always being a nurse definitely is a dangerous job for her because she is the curious little investigator.  Every place Bess visits and asks questions about a murder has repercussions and seems to be the cause of deaths of those she comes in contact with.  Who could have known she was visiting these people and why were they being murdered ?

As Bess looks for the murder she asks:   Could it be the officer who seems so gentle and kind? Could it really be the officer that compassionately accompanied a grieving mother to England whose daughter died?  Could it be one of the children that a family had taken in as charges and children that the family treated cruelly?

Bess is her headstrong self as always much to the unhappiness of Simon.   Good old Simon is always there for Bess.

A QUESTION OF HONOR is a typical Bess Crawford mystery with a lot of military goings on, but Mr. Todd always makes the murderer a surprise. :)  The military information got a bit tedious, the storyline  was ok, and the characters and scenes were described well, but A QUESTION OF HONOR wasn't my favorite Charles Todd book.  It dragged on a bit.  3/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.