While My Heart Beats by Erin McKenzie

When the book begins we meet Ellie Winthrop an aristocrat with dreams of being more than some man’s wife. Ellie, a feminist, has aspirations of helping the world and zero interest in gossiping over tea with the other ladies. Her mother wants nothing more than for the 22-year-old to pick a husband and begin her own family, but with World War One sweeping across Europe, Ellie has different ideas and new opportunities arise. When Ellie’s twin cousins die in battle, Ellie disobeys her mother’s wishes and enlists as in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) to support in the medical care of wounded soldiers.

Ellie is assigned her duties and arrives at a general care hospital on the northern coast of France in the winter of 1915. There she meets nurse, Johanna Lennox. Lennox suffers no fools and is hard on the VAD’s, as she expects they are more interested in adventure than really facilitating care of the war-ravaged soldiers. To Johnna’s dismay, Ellie proves repeatedly she is capable, intelligent and kind. Respect grows into friendship, and friendship grows into love.

This book gives you so much. Erin McKenzie does an excellent job of evoking the emotions of the reader. You feel the terror and fatigue that the characters experience, you revel in their joy of finding true love, and you despair over the sacrifices they have to much in such a perilous time. You yearn for these characters just to find peace and happiness.

This is a great read. If you love amazing female protagonists and a good love story this is the book for you. You cannot go wrong with this one.

4 out of 5 stars https://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/books/while-my-heart-beats-by-erin-mckenzie-3251-b

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

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Berlin Hungers by Justine Saracen

When you pick up a Justine Saracen novel you know that you will undoubtedly finish the book with a respect for her historical detailedness and more knowledge than you had before. I love that her stories are so intricate and well, smart.

The Berlin Hunger takes us to the direct chaos that directly followed World War II. The horrors that took place in “peacetime” are tragic and hard to stomach. There is blatant brutality and at times it is hard to read.

Gillian Somerville was a pilot for the Air Transport Axillary during the war. She loved flying for her country but when the war ends Gillian suddenly finds herself with no work as a pilot. The women are not needed for that duty anymore. Unable to just go home, her whole family has passed, she decides to join the WAAF to become an air traffic controller.

Erika Brandt was a musician before the war. Now as the Russians have control of Berlin, she is scavaging for food to keep from starving to death. The Russians men portrayed in this book are animals and Erika faces unspeakable horrors to survive in this desperate time.

Erika and Gillian meet by chance a couple of times in the book and strike up a friendship born out of kindness. As the book progresses more feelings develop. This is a star-crossed lover romance though. These two have a lot going on and cannot see each other often for a multitude of reasons. So a lot of longing from afar.

Overall, I loved the historical aspect of the book. I felt as if Saracen dropped my in Berlin post-war and I was right there with the characters. The romance wasn’t my favorite. I loved the characters don’t get me wrong, and I was absolutely rooting for their happiness. I just felt like it dragged a bit. This is more historical fiction than your hot burning romance. Still a very good read!

3 out of 5 stars


The Sniper’s Kiss by Justine Saracen

Justine Saracen writing is very in-depth. You know going into them they are superbly well researched and you most likely will be a bit smarter by the time you finish. Saracen’s attention to detail and an inclusion of historical facts in her novels, help make the stories and characters riveting.

Mia Kramer immigrated to the United States as a young girl. Mia, 29, comes into the story with a lot of baggage. She was raised by an emotionally abusive father, upon his highly questionable death, (was it murder or suicide), Mia takes control over her life and flees her father’s home to work for the government to support the war effort. Her vast knowledge the Russian language and culture ends her a prime job as an accountant for the Lend-Lease program under Harry Hopkins and right inside the Whitehouse.

The other main player in the book is Alexia Vassilievna Mazarova. A former teacher, Alexia enlists in the Red Army to help her country anyway she can. Striking good looks leads her to a plush assignment guarding the Kremlin and or course, Joseph Stalin. This is how she meets the Mia, and they strike up an unlikely friendship.

This book is a fascinating tale of history and friendship’s born out of horrifying circumstances. A historical fiction with just a hint of romance, while at times a bit unrealistic, overall this was a fantastic read.

4 out of 5 stars



Juliana: Volume 1: 1941-1944 by Vanda

Juliana by Vanda is an interesting book that follows the lives of a handful of men and women who live in New York city in the early 1940s. The characters are alluring and the tale is poignant. You definitely don’t want to miss this one.

The main character is the story is Alice “Al” Huffman. Al leaves her small town family home and moves to NYC. She is accompanied by her childhood best friends, Aggie, Danny & Dickie. They plan to take Broadway by storm and fulfill the dreams they have had since grade school. Al is naive, she is thoughtful, and she is kind. Her evolution into her true self is amazing to read. She is a wonderful character, who is by no means perfect, and makes many missteps throughout the book, she a compelling main character.

Al and her gang meet Maxwell P. Harlington the Third on one of their first nights in the city. Upon meeting Max, life for the three, especially Al, changes forever. Max is a magnetic character. He promises to open doors for the young friends, which Aggie and Danny jump right on. Al is a skeptic, and she has no qualms putting her concerns of Max’s abilities right back in his face. Max and Al’s relationship continues through the book, growing as time goes on. At times they are harsh, contentious, and very critical of one another, but they have a mutual respect that continues as life and new characters weave their way into the book.

Juliana is another character who is a main player in this book. She is an absolutely fascinating woman. Juliana is a singer, a great one who has not reached the peak of her stardom. She plays in well-known dives throughout the city but has not reached the main stages. She is rich, she is upper-class, she is married, and Al is hooked on her from the very first moment she hears Juliana sing. Their relationship is a push-pull force that neither can deny but is not always wanted.

Meeting Max and Juliana changes Al forever. She is introduced to a world of people that she never knew existed. One she cannot deny knowing matter how many times she says she is not a lesbian.

This is a great read, and I was hooked right from the start. Vanda does a wonderful job of pulling the reader right in and holding you in the story. I highly recommended this book, you will not be disappointed. I cannot wait for the sequel!

4.5 out of 5 stars

  • Publisher:  vandawriter.com

Juliana: Volume 1: 1941-1944
by Vanda
Link: http://a.co/dZVFBOP

The Lavender List by Meg Harrington

The Lavender List is set in 1946, just a year after the Nazi regime has defeated and the Americans have left Europe. This was a time of economic prosperity for many Americans after years of tumultuous foreign affairs and finally fully recovering from the Great Depression. You also have the beginning of the Cold War and the undeniable fear of the Communist regime. Why the history lesson, cause welcome to a book that is going to tackle it all while wrapped up in a delicious story filled with spies and Hollywood beauties.

Amelia Maldonado is a starving actress working at a local diner to pay her bills. She spends her days wiping down tables, pouring coffee and waiting for her crush, Laura Wright, to walk through the door. Her dream is to finally make it on Broadway. This Brooklyn girl has spunk in spades. She knows what she wants, who she wants and has dogged perseverance of making it as an actress. Amelia also has an another side to her, a rough and tumble girl, who’s past involves robbing banks and driving the getaway car. This Brooklynn girl knows the local mob boss, well because he is her uncle. This character is one to cherish, she’s multifaceted, she has depth and she is no one’s damsel in distress. She’s pretty easy to love!

Laura Wright is an undercover spy for the CIA. Laura spent her youth in the war, fighting Nazi’s and doing whatever it takes to win the war. She’s intelligent, she gorgeous, she is literally James Bond in a skirt (minus the British accent of course). While Laura is emotionally distant, Amelia is the one person that can crack her ultra-tough exterior. Amelia can see who she really is, and notices just the slightest of changes in her demeanor that cue her into to how Laura truly feels. She sees past the character she often plays and often calls her out on it often. My perspective is that Amelia is the one person who is Laura sees as her equal.

As serious as the issues of war, McCarthyism and a litany of others the book at is core is not really about that. As serious as those issues were the book has a lighter tone. The book is more a fun action packed adventure with two leads that have serious chemistry. This story is unique in so many ways. The best part though is it grabs your attention and your heartstrings, it doesn’t get much better than that. 5 stars

**I have been borderline obsessed with the presidential election for months. Needless to say, my mind was blown and my heart was broken when I realized that Mr. Trump would be our 45th president. My emotions have been all over the place, and still are, to be honest. I picked up this book as a way to escape the turmoil. So if you read this review, Meg Harrington, I just wanted to thank you for giving me a great book to escape into during really shitty week.

5 out of 5 stars

  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
  • www.ylva-publishing.com

The Lavender List by Meg Harrington

Shaken to the Core by Jae

I am a huge fan of Jae’s work. I wholeheartedly believe she is one of the best at creating well rounded stories and interesting characters. Her newest novel is no exception. Set in San Francisco under the backdrop of the California earthquake of April 18, 1906. This earthquake ranks as one of the most significant earthquakes of all time, and thus caused ninety percent of San Francisco to catch fire. The historical aspects of this novel are riveting, but what really makes this story jump off the pages is the characters of Giuliana Russo and Kate Winthrop. Their interactions, their story, their adventures just felt real, they grabbed your heart and just would not let go.

Giuliana Russo is a migrant of Sicily. Giuliana and her older brother left their homeland to seek a better life. They didn’t dream of coming to California to become rich or famous, no they just want to provide enough money to send home so their mother and young siblings have enough food to eat. Work a few years in America, save up and then head back to their homeland. Her older brother, Turi, works the boat and Giuliana helps him sell his catch. Unfortunately their plan for a better life and a chance to return home is destroyed when Turi become deathly ill and suddenly passes away. Giuliana is now alone, and forced to find any work she can, and that is where she will meet Kate and becomes the maid to the Winthrop family.

Kate Winthrop is seriously wealthy. Her family owns a large shipping company and Kate has never wanted for anything that money can buy. She does however want her freedom. Kate is not happy buying fancy dresses, or entertaining the fancies of a suitor. No, this independent, spirited woman wants to make her own mark on the world. Photography is her passion, and she is dead set on working for a newspaper. Her photographs will speak for themselves no matter her gender.

Kate and Guliana become fast friends and allies. Both women are struggling to find their place in the world and they see that in each other. They also see beyond the veneer of poor immigrant and rich socialite. As their friendship takes off, so does the raging fire. These two women are thrown into perilous situations and adventures that are heart-pounding and quite frankly scary as hell. Their relationship is breathtakingly beautiful, timid but also very brave.

You cannot go wrong reading this one. This book is amazing! The historical aspect, the adventure and the romance are all done marvelously. Jae hits it out of the park with this one! For what its worth, Jae if you read this humble review, please write a book about Dr. Lucy Hamilton!

I was given this book by Ylva in return for an honest review.

5 out of 5 stars

Shaken to the Core
by Jae
Link: https://amzn.com/B01GEWY5XA


In the Company of Women by Kate Christie

In the Company of Women by Kate Christie is both a work of historical fiction as well as a romance. The romance is well developed and had great chemistry, what made the book so very good though is the historical accuracy that went along with it. How many times can you learn about such an important part of history all the while getting a great story too?

The book first introduces us to Caroline “CJ” Jamieson a private in the Women’s Army Corps in 1943. CJ a Michigan native was scheduled to be stationed in California, but right at the last minute she gets rerouted to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.  CJ is an airplane engine mechanic that recently graduated from University of Michigan, but delayed graduate school to do her part for the war effort.

Upon arriving at Fort Bliss, CJ literally runs into Brady Buchanan. Brady is the public relations section of WAC and hosts the radio program as well as writing for the base newspaper.  Their chance meeting sparks an instant friendship and these two become almost inseparable.

Brady and CJ have a wonderful chemistry and it builds nicely. I wanted them together as much as possible, but this book is also full of historical facts of the time, so you have a give and take between the romance and history lesson. I found myself really enjoying this. I thought the information was written in a way that was interesting and engaging. I felt as if I was right there at Fort Bliss. Christie obviously put a lot of research into this novel and to me it paid off in spades. If you are a history buff this is your book, you will not be disappointed.  If you have never read Kate Christie’s work I will tell you she is one hell of a writer, her books are always great!

4.25 out of 5 stars

In the Company of Women
by Kate Christie
Link: http://amzn.com/B0125LSH6K

Fragile Wings by Rebecca S. Buck

Fragile Wings by Rebecca S. Buck takes us back to the roaring 1920’s via London. This is the story of a country girl who moves to big city to find herself and experience new opportunities. The book is descriptive, picturesque and overall a nicely written novel.

The Great War has come to an end and the young people of that time are bound and determined to live life to the fullest. Dancing, drinking, and carousing with other rebel rousers is the name of the game.

Evelyn Hopkins is a small town girl from West Coombe. Evelyn has always wanted more from life. She wanted to be educated, but her parents pulled her from school at the age of 14. Her closet friend is her older brother Edward, but he returned from the war shell shocked, badly wounded, and no longer able to communicate. Evie has lost her beloved Eddie even though he was one of the soldiers that made it home. She has an almost desperate need to fly from West Coombe and experience life’s pleasures, but like many women of her time she is held back by her station in life. Until one day, Edward breaks his silence and asks Evie for a favor. He needs her to deliver a letter from a fallen comrade, Frank Grainger, and take his parting note to his twin sister Lilian in London. This gives Evelyn her shot at the adventure she’s been dreaming of.

Upon leaving her family home Evelyn runs into a cast of characters all very different from any of the people she knew in West Coombe. These new friends and acquaintances will forever change the the way she views the world. She will experience true friendship, acceptance, betrayal, but best of all, true love.

This book is a very nice read. There were a few times it bogged down with an abundance of details and comparisons of cities. I thought the characters were a lively, spirited bunch. I loved their desire to push the limits and live their lives to the fullest. If you like romance with a lot of history built in this may be the book for you.

3.75 stars out of 5

Fragile Wings
by Rebecca S. Buck
Link: http://amzn.com/B019GGAL7U



The Light of the World by Ellen Simpson

Hooked, that is the first thing that comes to mind after reading The Light of the World by Ellen Simpson. I was hooked right from the beginning. Sleep be damned, this book had me reading well into the night. The Light of the World is full of imagination, wonderment, history and love. I literally could not put it down.

Eva Kessler is such an interesting main character. She is cautious, thoughtful, reverent and kind. Eva has not had an easy life, unfortunately she is one of the many that battles with depression. I think because of her personal struggles she sees the world from a different perspective. The way Eva sees people is so very thoughtful and it is really quite captivating.

The book begins as Eva has just lost her grandmother, the one person she felt completely comfortable around. Her grandmother was someone who understood that at times life seems bleak for reasons beyond our control. The grandmother, Mary Kessler, could relate to the sadness that often engulfs Eva. The elderly woman lived a very long life, but was filled with a sorrow and at times bitterness. Why her grandmother felt this way, has always been a mystery to Eva. Did Mary Kessler suffer from depression as Eva does, or had something happened to her early in life that broke her spirit?

While cleaning out her grandmother’s apartment, Eva stumbles upon her grandmother’s journals from 1925. These diaries are preserved in such away Eva knows immediately that these were important to her grandmother. Upon reading of Mary’s early life, Eva has a gut feeling that these journals will give her the knowledge of why her grandmother was often sad and melancholy. Eva reaches out to a local bookstore owner and this is where the story really takes off.

This book is enchanting in the way that the writer, Ellen Simpson brings us a main character that is so different and yet so very charming. Eva is not perfect, none of the characters are. Simpson expertly arcs the stories of the past with the present. Mary and Eva’s lives are both equally important. Never does the story bog down and make you wish she would just get on with it. No, each piece of the puzzle is important, as well as interesting to the story as a whole. This book is a journey, one with romance, history, fantasy and friendship. This book with will hook you right from the beginning.

5 out of 5 stars

The Light of the World
by Ellen Simpson
Link: http://amzn.com/B018STI7SG






Love in the Catskills by BL Miller

Love in the Catskills by BL Miller is a historical romance sent in the mid-1850s. The book follows the lives of two girls who could not have grown up more opposite. Divided by social standing, these two young women forge ahead to make a life of their own.

Mary Chandler is a young girl, ten years of age upon first introduction, who is spending her summer with her family at the Mountain House in the Catskills. Mary is part of the upper echelon of New York high society. Her family is beyond wealthy.

Hester Van Wyck is also a young girl, nine when the book begins, who befriends Mary while she is summering at the Mountain House. Hester’s father paints portraits for the rich, while barely making ends meet. The Van Wyck’s are uneducated and very poor, night and day from the Chandler family.
Mary and Hester form an immediate friendship as only two young people can. The book follows Mary and Hester’s summer friendship for the next 8 years. Sounds nice right, well in all truth this was super boring. The first 30% of the book is so dry. I wanted to put it down. Reading about the ins and outs of a 10 year old’s day does not do it for me. I felt like I was reading the same chapter over and over again. I pushed through and it picked up a little, once the girls became of age, but it by no means became riveting. I felt like the real issues of that time, (the Civil War, women’s suffrage), that were brought up by the author were very much glossed over.

This book did not draw emotion from me as the reader, it was another case of an author telling but not showing. Overall, the book was not my favorite, and I would pass on reading it again.

2 out of 5 stars

Love in the Catskills (Eras of Love Book 1)
by BL Miller
Link: http://amzn.com/B0157KRA2S