Monday, August 26, 2013

The Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy


The Next Always
The Last Boyfriend
The Perfect Hope

Nora Roberts

The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1)  The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #2)  The Perfect Hope (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy, #3)

Genre:  Romance

Summary (from Goodreads): 
The Next Always: The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look . . . at the building and the man behind it.

With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett’s happy to give Clare a private tour - one room at a time. It’s no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something new - and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next ...  


The Last Boyfriend: Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family’s construction business with an iron fist—and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers bust on his compulsive list-making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn’t plan for was Avery McTavish...

Avery’s popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation—and a newfound appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery’s thoughts. But the attraction she’s feeling for him now is far from innocent. As Avery and Owen cautiously take their relationship to another level, the opening of the inn gives the whole town of Boonsboro a reason to celebrate. But Owen’s hard work has only begun. Getting Avery to let down her guard is going to take longer than he expected—and so will getting her to realize that her first boyfriend is going to be her last…


The Perfect Hope: 
The Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother are breathing new life into the town of Boonsboro, Maryland, by restoring its historic hotel. And they’re finding their own lives revamped by love. This is Ryder’s story... Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out — with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except apparently Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro. And though the Inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope’s experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome — and embarrassing — appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder’s emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him...

Review: This is not my favorite Nora Roberts' romance series; I much prefer the Chesapeake Bay
or the Garden trilogies.  I enjoyed the story of the B&B construction, and the other building improvements, and I liked seeing the relationships between all the characters develop throughout the books.  But the idea of researching a ghost was completely copied from the Garden Trilogy, and both the ghost and her story were less interesting in this trilogy than in the previous one.  Also, and more importantly, there was too much emphasis on the secondary characters in these novels.  While I liked learning about how Clare and Beckett were getting along in the second story, I felt like this story should have focused much more strongly on Avery and Owen, and only referenced Clare and Beckett in small ways.  It definitely took away from the romance between the main characters.  This also happened in the third story, and I found myself much more interested in Clare than in the main characters.  A quick and entertaining beach read, but only ok.

Rating: 3 stars (4 stars for book #1, 2 stars for book #2, and 3 stars for book #3)


Crush

Crush
Alan Jacobson

Crush (Karen Vail #2)

Genre: Thriller

Summary (from Goodreads):  Fresh off the most challenging case of her career, The 7th Victim heroine and renowned FBI profiler Karen Vail returns in an explosive thriller set against the backdrop of California’s wine country.Hoping to find solace from the demons that haunt her, Vail makes her first trip to the Napa Valley. But shortly after arriving, a victim is found in the deepest reaches of an exclusive wine cave, the work of an extraordinarily unpredictable serial killer. From the outset, Vail is frustrated by her inability to profile the offender—until she realizes why: the Behavioral Analysis Unit has not previously encountered a killer like him.

As Vail and the task force work around the clock to identify and locate him, they’re caught in a web knotted with secretive organizations, a decades-long feud between prominent wine families, and widespread corruption that leads Vail to wonder whom, if anyone, she can trust. Meanwhile, as the victim count rises, Vail can't shake the gnawing sense that something isn't right.

With the killer’s actions threatening the Napa Valley’s multi-billion dollar industry, the stakes have never been greater, and the race to find the killer never more urgent.

And through it all, a surprise lurks…one that Karen Vail never sees coming.

Meticulously researched during years of work with the FBI profiling unit and extensive interviews with wine industry professionals, bestselling author Alan Jacobson delivers a high-velocity thriller featuring the kind of edge-of-your-seat ending that inspired Nelson DeMille to call him "a hell of a writer."


Review:  The premise of this book sounded interesting - a female FBI profiler searching for a serial killer in the Napa wine country.  But, oh, it was such a painful read!  I am always a little leery of male authors who write female main characters, as I think they generally have a hard time getting into a woman's head.  The two main characters in this book were very different women, and neither one came across as particularly believable as real women, especially Karen, whose personality could best be described as obsessive, argumentative, judgmental and bitchy.  (Not that women can't be like that, of course, but generally they have some redeeming qualities.)  Her lack of interest in and care for her boyfriend and son were appalling.  Secondly, I found the details around wine tasting and wine making tedious and boring, perhaps because I'm not very interested in wine, but also because they were generally delivered as monologues by potential suspects.  Thirdly, it seemed like just about everyone in the novel acted suspiciously or evasively at one point, leading the reader to believe that anyone could be the killer.  But the biggest problem was the ending, which was nonexistent.  This was clearly part one in a two part series about this killer, and at the end of the book when the author has revealed that the mystery will not be solved, he invites everyone to purchase his next book.  Shameless.  I would give this only one star, except the mystery part was actually very interesting.

Rating: 2 stars

Fever

Fever
Mary Beth Keane

Fever

Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads):  Mary Beth Keane, named one of the 5 Under 35 by the National Book Foundation, has written a spectacularly bold and intriguing novel about the woman known as Typhoid Mary, the first person in America identified as a healthy carrier of Typhoid Fever.

On the eve of the twentieth century, Mary Mallon emigrated from Ireland at age fifteen to make her way in New York City. Brave, headstrong, and dreaming of being a cook, she fought to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic-service ladder.

Canny and enterprising, she worked her way to the kitchen, and discovered in herself the true talent of a chef. Sought after by New York aristocracy, and with an independence rare for a woman of the time, she seemed to have achieved the life she aimed for when she arrived in Castle Garden.

Then one determined medical engineer noticed that she left a trail of disease wherever she cooked, and identified her as an asymptomatic carrier of Typhoid Fever. With this seemingly preposterous theory, he made Mallon a hunted woman.

The Department of Health sent Mallon to North Brother Island, where she was kept in isolation from 1907 to 1910, then released under the condition that she never work as a cook again. Yet for Mary proud of her former status and passionate about cooking the alternatives were abhorrent. She defied the edict.

Bringing early-twentieth-century New York alive the neighborhoods, the bars, the park carved out of upper Manhattan, the boat traffic, the mansions and sweatshops and emerging skyscrapers Fever is an ambitious retelling of a forgotten life. In the imagination of Mary Beth Keane, Mary Mallon becomes a fiercely compelling, dramatic, vexing, sympathetic, uncompromising, and unforgettable heroine.


Review: An interesting read about life in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, including such events as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the sinking of the Titanic.  Mary Mallon comes across as a sympathetic character, one whom emerging doctors and scientists treated very badly indeed.  But while I felt sorry for her, her character was so stubborn and bad-tempered that she was hard to like.  Her feelings of affection for her drug and alcohol addicted boyfriend were inexplicable, and not in keeping with her overall independent personality.  I would like to have seen more of the "science" behind her diagnosis as a typhoid fever carrier.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Monday, August 19, 2013

Orphan Train

Orphan Train
by Christina Baker Kline


Genre: Historical Fiction

SynopsisOrphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.
Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...
As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

Review: This was such a fast, easy, interesting read. I really enjoyed reading about the two main characters but I was more interested in the life of Vivian and what happened to her on the orphan train and after.  The story jumps in time from present day to the 1920s chapter to chapter and i wanted to hurry up the present day parts.  The stories of what happened to these orphans was so sad but unfortunately true (this is a work of fiction but it is based on true happenings).  Luckily there is more to the story than that so it's not an incredibly sad and tragic book.  I really like how Vivian is able to be a friend to Molly and give her some positivity in her life. I do wish that I could have seen more development in Molly's character. I also didn't like how the ending didn't get wrapped up neatly but overall I really liked this book.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

The House Girl

The House Girl
by Tara Conklin



Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: Two remarkable women, separated by more than a century, whose lives unexpectedly intertwine . . .
2004: Lina Sparrow is an ambitious young lawyer working on a historic class-action lawsuit seeking reparations for the descendants of American slaves.
1852: Josephine is a seventeen-year-old house slave who tends to the mistress of a Virginia tobacco farm—an aspiring artist named Lu Anne Bell.
It is through her father, renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers a controversy rocking the art world: art historians now suspect that the revered paintings of Lu Anne Bell, an antebellum artist known for her humanizing portraits of the slaves who worked her Virginia tobacco farm, were actually the work of her house slave, Josephine.
A descendant of Josephine's would be the per-fect face for the lawsuit—if Lina can find one. But nothing is known about Josephine's fate following Lu Anne Bell's death in 1852. In piecing together Josephine's story, Lina embarks on a journey that will lead her to question her own life, including the full story of her mother's mysterious death twenty years before.
Alternating between antebellum Virginia and modern-day New York, this searing tale of art and history, love and secrets explores what it means to repair a wrong, and asks whether truth can be more important than justice.
From the publisher

Review: I really liked this book. It takes place in two time periods and I really enjoyed reading about the women in both time periods. The story of Josephine was so compelling and as I was reading, I couldn't wait to find out more of her story.  Luckily, we find out a lot about Josephine from Lina, the modern day woman who is a lawyer working on a slavery reparations case. This book made me think about why there hasn't been a major slavery reparations case or if there has been one that I'm not familiar with.  There were parts of the story that I thought were superfluous, i.e., the story about Lina's mother and the possible romance between Lina and another character. I know the author was trying to give Lina more depth but I didn't think those parts added to story.  There were also parts about Lina's father's art and Lina's emotional reactions to them that seemed out of character and there were times I didn't understand why Lina reacted the way she did. I primarily read this book for the story of Josephine and how Lina tracked down her history.  Overall, this was a good, fast read. 

Rating:  4 stars

One Breath Away

 One Breath Away
by Heather Gudenkauf



Genre: Fiction

Synopsis:  In her most emotionally charged novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenfauk explores the unspoken events that shape a community, the ties between parents and their children and how the fragile normalcy of our everyday life is so easily shattered.

In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom.  Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.

Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town's children in her hands.  Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again.  Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care.  And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.

As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.
From the book jacket

Review: This was my second time reading this book and it wasn't quite engaging the second time around.  The first time I read it, I raved about it to everyone and told them they must read the book.  I even picked it for 2 different book clubs!  I think it wasn't as entertaining this second time because I knew what happened in the book.  The story is somewhat of a mystery as the gunman is unknown but you can try to figure it out as you are reading.  The book also is quite suspenseful as you have no idea whether the gunman will start shooting or not and what will happen to the students in Evelyn Oliver's classroom.  Other than those two issues this time around, the book is still amazing as it focuses on the various relationships between characters in the story and how the relationships developed and how they have changed.  I had to assure various book club members that this is NOT a school shooting book.  It is a story about a hostage situation in a school but it is more about the relationships between the characters and their feelings during this stressful time.

Rating: 5 stars (based on my first reading)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Tale for the Time Being


A Tale for the Time Being
Ruth Ozeki

A Tale for the Time Being

Genre: Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads):  A brilliant, unforgettable, and long-awaited novel from bestselling author Ruth Ozeki

“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.


Review: I really enjoyed this complicated and unusual novel, although I don't think it's a book that everyone would like.  My favorite chapters were those written by Nao in her journal, although it took a while to get used to the teenage girl writing style.  Her life in Japan was very depressing, but she managed to write about bullying, suicide, neglect and prostitution with a marked lack of self-pity and at times a comic attitude.  It was fascinating to learn about Japanese pop culture through Nao's eyes.  Her communications with Jiko, her feminist Zen Buddhist priest great-grandmother, were my favorite parts of the book.  Ruth's life, on the other hand, was much more ordinary and full of common everyday details, although the glimpses of life on a tiny and wild Canadian island were also interesting.  I particularly enjoyed (but was confused by) how these two characters' dramatically different lives were tied together towards the end of the novel.  All in all, a fascinating novel, but not an easy read.

Rating: 4 stars

Invisible


Invisible
Carla Buckley

Invisible

Genre: Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads):  Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Carla Buckley’s Invisible is a stunning novel of redemption, regret, and the complex ties of familial love.

Growing up, Dana Carlson and her older sister, Julie, are inseparable—Dana the impulsive one, Julie calmer and more nurturing. But then a devastating secret compels Dana to flee from home, not to see or speak to her sister for sixteen years.

When she receives the news that Julie is seriously ill, Dana knows that she must return to their hometown of Black Bear, Minnesota, to try and save her sister. Yet she arrives too late, only to discover that Black Bear has changed, and so have the people in it.

Julie has left behind a shattered teenage daughter, Peyton, and a mystery—what killed Julie may be killing others, too. Why is no one talking about it? Dana struggles to uncover the truth, but no one wants to hear it, including Peyton, who can’t forgive her aunt’s years-long absence. Dana had left to protect her own secrets, but Black Bear has a secret of its own—one that could tear apart Dana’s life, her family, and the whole town.


Review: This was an interesting family drama with overtones of Erin Brokovich, but I didn't find either the characters or the story compelling enough to rate it highly.  The biggest problem I had was that all the "surprises" were completely predictable - was the author too good at foreshadowing, or was the story just too trite?  And I couldn't understand how two sisters who had been so close could possibly sever all ties for so long, even given the poor choices that each sister makes.  Finally, the science behind the cause of Julie's illness was a little lacking - too alarmist, not enough facts.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Benediction


Benediction
Kent Haruf

Benediction

Genre: Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads):  When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife must work together, along with their daughter, to make his final days as comfortable as possible, despite the bitter absence of their estranged son. Next door, a young girl moves in with her grandmother and contends with the memories that Dad’s condition stirs up of her own mother’s death. A newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and son, and soon faces the disdain of his congregation when he offers more than they are used to getting on Sunday mornings. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do all they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.

Review: Haruf's novel Plainsong is one of my favorite books, so I was excited to pick up his newest novel at the library.  While this book is written in the same spare, simplistic style and deals with everyday life in the same touching way, I found this book too bleak to really enjoy.  I knew the main story would focus on the death of Dad Lewis from cancer, but it was the stories of the secondary characters, particularly Pastor Lyle, his son John Wesley, and Frank that I found so depressing and lacking in hope.

Rating: 2 stars

Requiem

Requiem
Lauren Oliver

Requiem (Delirium, #3)

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads):  They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.


Review: I might have rated this book higher if I'd written the review in the middle of the book, instead of waiting until I'd finished it.  Having Hana's perspective of life as a cured was an interesting twist to the story, and I enjoyed hearing about Lena's life in the wilds and the start of the rebellion.  The love triangle was too forced; I didn't think Lena deserved either guy, but I also didn't think Alex deserved Lena.  An honest conversation would have helped everyone out immensely, and it drove me nuts that everyone kept pretending.  But the ending.  THE ENDING!  It was not an ending at all.  The only explanation that makes sense for the lack-of-an-ending is that the author is planning a surprise fourth novel to finish up the series. 

To read my review on Pandemonium, the second book in the series, click here.
To read Becky's review on Delirium, the first book in the series, click here.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blue Asylum

Blue Asylum
by Kathy Hepinstall


Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis:  Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness. It is the only reasonable explanation the court can see for her willful behavior, so she is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good, compliant woman. Iris knows, though, that her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing with him on notions of justice, cruelty, and property. 

On this remote Florida island, cut off by swamps and seas and military blockades, Iris meets a wonderful collection of residents--some seemingly sane, some wrongly convinced they are crazy, some charmingly odd, some dangerously unstable. Which of these is Ambrose Weller, the war-haunted Confederate soldier whose memories terrorize him into wild fits that can only be calmed by the color blue, but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris. 

The institution calls itself modern, but Iris is skeptical of its methods, particularly the dreaded "water treatment." She must escape, but she has found new hope and love with Ambrose. Can she take him with her? If they make it out, will the war have left anything for them to make a life from, back home?

 Blue Asylum is a vibrant, beautifully-imagined, absorbing story of the lines we all cross between sanity and madness. It is also the tale of a spirited woman, a wounded soldier, their impossible love, and the undeniable call of freedom.
From the author's website

Review:  This book was strange.  It sounded so good from the synopsis but there were quite a few scenes that seemed unnecessary and just so bizarre.  As I was reading I was hoping it was going to get better so I kept reading but it didn't.  I felt really bad for Iris because no one believed the truth.  Everyone thought she was crazy because the judge ruled her crazy but no one listened to her because she was a woman and clearly men know better. That made me a little mad.  I think the book would have been better if it would have gone deeper into Iris' and Ambrose's lives and into their relationship.  I think there was too much story about other characters and it didn't seem relevant to the rest of the story.

Rating: 2 stars

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Afterwards

Afterwards
by Rosamund Lupton



Genre: Mystery

Synopsis:  There is a fire and they are in there. They are in there...

Black smoke stains a summer blue sky. A school is on fire. And one mother, Grace, sees the smoke and rush. She knows her teenage daughter Jenny is inside. She runs into the burning building to rescue her.

Afterwards Grace must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her children from the person who's still intent on destroying them. Afterwards, she must fight the limits of her physical strength and discover the limitlessness of love.

Review:  Rosamund Lupton does it again.  She has written such a captivating book that you can't put the book down!  This book is about what happens after there was a fire in Grace's children's school and the search for the arsonist.  It's also about the relationship between Grace and her daughter Jenny.  Both Grace and Jenny are injured in the fire and they are spirits throughout the book (no, they did not die but their bodies are hurt).  The story moves quickly as Grace and Jenny are trying to discover what exactly happened and who did it while Sarah, Jenny's aunt is trying to figure out who did it as well.  But this is more than a mystery.  It really is a beautiful story about love between a mother and daughter, a mother and son and a husband and wife.  This story makes you feel deeply for the characters and the struggles they are going through.  You definitely may need some tissues throughout the story.

Rating: 4 stars

Friday, August 2, 2013

My Enemy's Cradle

My Enemy's Cradle
by Sara Young



Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: Cyrla's neighbros have begun to whisper.  Her cousin, Anneke, is pregnant and has passed the rigorous exams for admission to the Lebensborn, a maternity home for girls carrying German babies.  But Anneke's soldier has disappeared, and the Nazis confiscate fatherless children.  A note is left under the mat.  The neighbors know that Cyrla, sent from Poland for safekeeping with her Dutch relatives, is Jewish.  The Nazis are imposing more and more restrictions; she won't be safe there for long.

And then in the space of an afternoon, life falls apart.  Cyrla must choose between certain discovery in her cousin's home and taking Anneke's place in the Lebensborn-Cyrla and Anneke are nearly identical.  If she takes refuge in the enemy's lair, can Cyrla fool the doctors, nurses, guards, and other mothers-to-be?  Can she escape before they discover she is not who she claims?

Mining a lost piece of history, Sara Young takes us deep into the lives of women living in the worst of times.  Part love story and part elegy for the terrible choices we must often make to survive, My Enemy's Cradle keens for what we lose in war and sings for the hope we sometimes find.
From the book jacket

Becky's Review: This World War II historical fiction tells the story of a little known piece of the German's plan to dominate.  The Germans founded a program called the Lebensborn where women could go and "donate" babies (but only ones with good lineage-Aryan blood) to Germany.  According to the Nazis it was the German women's duty to have many children for the Reich no matter if their were married or not.   Women who weren't German but were carrying German soldier's babies and had good bloodlines could also come to this home.  Once they delivered their baby was taken away and adopted by a German family or adopted by the father.  The women were treated well at the homes and had plenty of food to eat.  The author tells us in the afterward that after the war these babies were often forgotten about due to the stigma of their birth.  There were no records kept (or if there were, they were destroyed) so after the war, mothers could not find their children.  What a sad part of history.

Now onto what I thought about the story.  To be honest, the beginning was quite slow and in my opinion not well written. I felt like I was constantly out of the know.  The characters would all of a sudden know something based on the look in someone's eye but I didn't know what was going on and I was supposed to be making inferences based on not enough information!  But once I got past the first 60 pages, at which point life falls apart (as mentioned in the synopsis) the book picked up and was better written.  Without giving away too much information (because the synopsis really hints at a lot without telling you anything) the book follows Cyrla after she makes her decision to either flee or take Anneke's place.

I was quite intrigued by the story and the girls that Cyrla met.  I did find Cyrla to be quite naive.  I don't think she understood the gravity of the war and her being Jewish.  When she was told (before life fell apart) that she could be given papers to flee the Netherlands, she didn't think it was necessary and she continued to think it wasn't necessary.   I think at some point she figured out just how dangerous the Nazis were but it took her a while!  Other than the two things I mentioned I thought the book was very good and quite the love story which I did not expect.

Marcie's Review: The setting of the story - Nazi occupied Holland and a Lebensborn home in Munich - was unique, and intriguing enough that I kept reading longer than I otherwise would have.  I wanted to love this book, but the naivete of Cyrla's character, as well as the lack of emotion expressed by the main characters were too unrealistic to be believable.  (For example, why did the main characters love each other?  Why did Cyrla make the decisions she made?)  The writing style also left something to be desired; the author was technically proficient, but didn't have a knack for making the characters seem like real people.  Still, the story was interesting and I couldn't help feeling sorry for the situations the characters found themselves in.

Becky's Rating: 4 stars

Marcie's Rating: 3 stars