Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Summer of Roses by Luanne Rice

Title: Summer of Roses
Author: Luanne Rice
Narrated By: Karen Ziemba
Published: May, 2007
Published By: Simon and Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Format Read: Audio Book
Genre: Contemporary, Women's Fiction
Date Read: March 31, 2016
Rating: 3.5/5

Summer of Roses is a continuation of the characters in Luanne Rice’s Summer’s Child. Upon hearing that her grandmother had fallen ill, Lilly comes out of hiding risking the chance of potentially encountering her abusive ex-husband. The man she ran away from without a trace all those years before. The same man she hid their daughter from, taking refuge in an ocean side Nova Scotia town. Meanwhile another abused ex-wife of the same man, is hiding out with her young daughter in the same town.

I picked up the audio version of Summer of Roses from my local library, not realizing that it was a continuation of another story. Had I known this I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. Thankfully the author included some background information on the characters previous situations, so I was able to get an idea of what I missed.

It took me quite some time to get into this story especially that of Lilly’s storyline. I felt like the characters were so overloaded with personal trauma that it didn’t feel believable. I didn’t particularly connect with Lilly, although leaving her abusive husband was the right decision.

The secondary storyline which involved Marissa and her daughter was far more interesting to me. Not only was the location of Nova Scotia captivating, but the excitement around the Celtic music festival really kept my attention. These parts of Summer of Roses are what kept me listening until the end.

I thought that Karen Ziemba did a good job narrating this book and was glad to hear that she didn’t try to overdo the distinctive character voices.

Although I lacked connection with Lilly, I found Luanne Rice’s descriptions of the settings and the season to be quite beautiful. I also thought that the physical descriptions of the characters really helped set the tone of the story.

I look forward to reading more from this author in the future and hope that I have a better connection with some of her other characters. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy contemporary women’s fiction.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Munich Girl: A Novel of Legacies that Outlast the War by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Title: The Munich Girl: A Novel of Legacies that Outlast the War
Author: Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Published: January 7, 2016
Published By: Whole Sky Books
Format Read: Kindle for PC
Genre: Historical Fiction
Date Read: April 23, 2015
Rating: 5/5

I was sent a copy of The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Anna grew up with a portrait hanging in her family’s dining room of Adolf Hitler’s famous mistress (and eventual wife) Eva Braun. She always believed that her father had brought it back as World War II loot. After the death of her mother Peggy, Anna uncovers information about her guarded past, most specifically her life in Germany during the war. She would also uncover a connection between the two women (Peggy and Eva) that will take Anna on a journey of discovery.

When I first read the synopsis for The Munich Girl, I knew I had to read this book. As a lover of historical fiction, I have read from a variety of different perspectives of World War II, however this was the first time I had read about German citizens who lived “freely” in the presence of the Third Reich. I use the word “freely” loosely as regular German citizens were far from free during Hitler’s reign. 

Phyllis Edgerly Ring did a wonderful job of portraying Eva Braun’s life through the eyes of Peggy and as a result of Anna’s tireless research. She got straight to the point of the story without dragging on an introduction and the plot line moved steadily throughout. Although I read this in Kindle format, this book was nicely put together. Each section began with a photo and each chapter was marked with Eva Bruan’s initials in a Kleeblatt.   

I found it interesting how the author created similarities between Anna’s relationship with her husband Lowell and that of Eva and Hitler. It was clever in that it allows readers to build compassion about the situations both women were in. Eva was portrayed not in a cruel anti-Semitic way, but as a woman who was caring, absolutely devoted and very intelligent.

 I was pleased that this book wasn’t centered around, or bogged down with the politics of World War II. Instead it was more of a tale about friendship, sacrifices and legacies. 

The Munich Girl is a heartbreaking story with revelations from start to finish. I would highly recommend it to lovers of historical fiction. This would be especially of interest of those who enjoy reading about different perspectives during World War II.