Friday, February 22, 2019

The Girl from Berlin by Ronald H.Balson

5 Star

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten…

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the war. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, and herself a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.

Kathryn - 5 Star

I have enjoyed many novels now by Ronald H. Balson partly due to the historical twists and partly because I enjoy the relationship of Catherine and Liam.  

They are this time in Italy trying to help a friend's aunt trace the ownership of the land she's been living on for most of her life.  Someone is claiming title which would have her evicted and she's sure the land is hers.  The study weaves through the history of the original owner via her daughter's diary of sorts and explores the land grab traits of the nazi party all accross Europe during the second world war.   Through the diaries the thread of ownership is eventually explained though I was constantly trying out my own theories.  (,I find this happens to be a lot reading these novels.).  
I cannot give away the ending so I will say that the author is very good at creating suspense, empathy and intrigue in a readable fashion.  He also includes aspects of history that may not be well known but paint more depth to history we are already aware of.  I'm sure to keep reading these.

Thank you to St.Martin's Press for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Ronald H.Balson:
Website     Facebook      Twitter     Goodreads

Friday, February 15, 2019

Stranded on a desert island with Stephen Evans

Please welcome Stephen Evans, author of  The Island of Always, as he tackles our Desert Island Interview!

About Stephen:

Stephen Evans is a playwright and the author of several books, including The Marriage of True MindsA Transcendental Journey, Painting Sunsets (available 12/2018) and The Island of Always (available 1/2019).

Connect with Stephen:

Stephen Evans-  Stranded on a Desert Island

If you could only have one book with you, what would it be?

My father used to read Swiss Family Robinson every year. That might be handy.

What one luxury item would you want to be stranded with?

A really comfortable chair.
What is the one practical item you would want to have with you to use?

“A towel has immense psychological value.” 

Would you enjoy the solitude, even briefly, or would it drive you crazy?

It would drive me crazy after a few decades.

If you could be stranded with one other person, who would you want it to be?

Katniss Everdeen.

What modern technology would you miss the most?

My laptop. Though writing in sand may not be less permanent. 

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

“Many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese -toasted, mostly”.

How many days do you think you would cope without rescue?

How many do I have?

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Depends on who rescued me.

What would be your first Tweet or Facebook update upon your return?

Vacation photos.

The Island of Always

Minneapolis environmental atttorneys Nick Ward and Lena Grant are no longer partners in law and marriage. But neither Lena's heart nor Nick's imagination can seem to accept that fact. As Nick pursues ever-wilder animal rescue schemes, Lena continues to rescue him. But who will rescue her?

Available at:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Kobo Nook 

Friday, February 8, 2019

A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

4 Star

Christmas has never been Katie Seddon’s favourite time of year. Whilst everyone else shares memories of families coming together and festive number ones, the soundtrack to Katie’s childhood wasn’t quite so merry.

But since she moved to the village of Budbury on the gorgeous Dorset coast, Katie and her baby son have found a new family. A family who have been brought together by life’s unexpected roads and the healing magic of a slice of cake and a cupful of kindess at the Comfort Food CafĂ©.

This year, Katie’s new friends are determined to give her a Christmas to remember, and with a gorgeous newcomer in town, Katie’s Christmas wish for a happy home for her son might just come true.

Kathryn- 4 Star

Took me a bit of time to get used to the first person narrative and oddly it was also a bit longer before I felt the character of Katie.  I suspect it's because we started off with her voice describing her past and then quickly jumped to the present.  I found the leap a bit brusque.  However I loved Katie so much that this was quickly forgotten as I embraced her loving nature as well as her vacillation.

It's no wonder at all that she has a hard time letting people in and she's trying to protect her little boy from the chaos she grew up in. She's in full mama bear mode which only served to show that you can make your life what you wish, despite how you were raised.   Saul is adorably three and his enthusiasm would many anyone's heart open up.  The lovely lovely people in the village and cafe are also warmers of the soul and made my spirit happy.  There's also the very appealing Van who sends Katie into confusion- he was ideal and perfectly appropriate also.  

There isn't really a character out of place in this novel- except Katie's parents.   Much as I wanted to accept them the way they were I just couldn't make myself see their side.  Especially on Christmas Eve.  That entire scenario made me really angry.  I admired that Katie was a bigger person than I am.

Overall this novel will spark your hope in humanity and the triumph of the human spirit.  

Thank you to Harper Impulse for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Debbie Johnson:

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads


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