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:

Juliana: Volume 1: 1941-1944
by Vanda

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

The Lavender List by Meg Harrington

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

Break Point by Yolanda Wallace

The book, Break Point, is a historical romance set in the two years before the official start of WWII. The story follows the lives of two female amateur tennis players and the struggles they must face in this unsettled time. If you are a sports fan book will definitely appeal to you.

Mieke von Bismark is the number one female tennis player in the world. She doesn’t need to turn pro, she is German royalty. She is a countess and a fierce competitor. Winning is her top priority on the court and nothing else matters more. Mieke’s life is altered when she becomes noticed by the furor, Adolf Hitler. In Hitler’s mind, her wins on the court, are a testament to her superior Aryan breeding. The problem for Mieke is that she is a lesbian in a time that that could land you in a concentration camp. The Nazi’s have spoken and she is forced to win in order to keep her life.

Helen Wheeler is other protagonist to this story. She is the number two female tennis player. She is on the precipice of turning pro, the only thing she needs to do is sign the contract. That is until Agent Lanier of the FBI shows up at her door. The FBI needs more information as to why a tennis player is meeting with Hitler. They force Helen into finding out why, using the past as their leverage. Helen and Meike used to be partners on the court and off.

I thought this book was a well written tale. I enjoyed to sports influence to a history romance novel. I thought both characters were interesting, and I enjoyed seeing their perspective of life in the late 1930’s. Sports based novels tend to give too much info on the game. Yolanda Wallace did a good job of not making the book too much about the actual sport, and its nuances. I will say the love story was good, but it didn’t ring my bell. If you had a strong past with a former lover, who suddenly broke up with you, I feel like the tension would be stronger. I just didn’t feel any true romance based emotions between these two characters. The last 30% of this book really amps up and takes you on a bit of a wild ride. Overall, this a good quality read.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Break Point
by Yolanda Wallace