Monday, August 27, 2018

Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully

Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully
Published by Thomas Dunne Books ISBN 9781250126962
Hardcover, $26.99, 245 pages

Daniela Tully's debut novel, Hotel on Shadow Lake, takes place in more than a few timelines. It begins with in 1990 with an older German woman, Martha Weisberg, receiving a letter from the postman- a letter from 1944. Now that the wall has come down in Berlin, many people have letters delivered to them that just disappeared after the war, and Martha is one of them. (Tully's family actually received one of these letters, the inspiration for her novel.)

The letter is from her twin brother Wolfgang, who died at the end of the war. Martha doesn't want to open the letter, afraid of what may be inside it.

We then turn to 1938 Germany, where Martha lives with her mother and brother, having lost a sister and her father. Wolfgang is becoming more involved in the Nazi party, something that Martha knows her father would be saddened by if he were still alive.

Wolfgang has become friends with Siegfried, another man who believes deeply in the Nazi party and Hitler's rise. They go to the many Nazi rallies and are swept up in the horrible acts that are the beginnings of the atrocities that the Nazis inflict on anyone not throught to be of pure Aryan blood.

In 2017, Martha's granddaughter Maya receives word from her father that the remains of her missing grandmother Martha have been found- in the United States, about an hour away from where Maya studied abroad in 1990.

Martha disappeared in 1990, and no one knew that she had even gone to the United States. Her remains were found in a landslide near a popular resort in the Catskill Mountains in New York State. The Montgomery Preserve Resort has been owned by the Montgomery family for generations, and it has been visited by presidents and wealthy people for many years.

Maya goes to New York and begins snooping around to find out what brought her grandmother to this place, and she gets caught up in secret history of the Montgomery family. She is determined to discover what exactly happened to her grandmother- was it an accident or was she murdered?

One of the reasons I really enjoyed Hotel on Shadow Lake is that the Montgomery Resort is physically closely based on Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskills, a place that my husband worked at when he was in college. The author has vividly recreated the place for the setting of her story, and if you have ever been there, you will recognize it immediately. It is an important character in the story.

There is a lot going on in the story, with multiple timelines and characters, and Tully skillfully weaves them together to create an enthralling story, one that kept me turning the pages. Many times a book will be either character-driven or plot-driven, but Tully has managed to combine the two in writing a story that will keep you guessing until the very end. I highly recommend Hotel on Shadow Lake.



Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Daniela Tully's tour. The rest of her stops are here:


Daniela Tully’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, August 7th: @ladyofthelibrary
Wednesday, August 8th: Write Read Life
Thursday, August 9th: Laura’s Reviews
Friday, August 10th: @jennblogsbooks
Saturday, August 11th: Books & Bindings
Monday, August 13th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, August 15th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, August 20th: @booksncatsncoffee
Tuesday, August 21st: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Monday, August 27th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, August 28th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Wednesday, August 29th: Girl Who Reads
Thursday, August 30th: @hotcocoareads
Friday, August 31st: Mystery Suspense Reviews
Tuesday, September 4th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Another Woman's Husband by Gill Paul

Another Woman's Husband by Gill Paul
Published by William Morrow ISBN 9780062843265
Trade paperback, $15.99, 480 pages

Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana were both women who ended up married to men who one day were destined to be the King of England. They got there in different ways and never knew each other, but author Gill Paul puts their stories together in her brilliant historical novel, Another Woman's Husband.

Their stories are told through two other women- Mary Kirk, a real person who was best friends with Wallis Simpson since childhood, and Rachel, a fictional young British woman who owns a vintage clothing consignment shop.

Rachel's documentary filmmaker boyfriend Alex has just asked her to marry him in the beautiful city of Paris on August 31st, 1997. As they are driving through a tunnel, they come across a car accident, with a gravely injured Princess Diana in the back seat of a car and dozens of paparazzi ghoulishly snapping photos of her.

Alex tries to help, and he finds a small bracelet on the ground, which he picks up and gives to Rachel for safekeeping. They are horrified by the aftermath of the crash.

Back home in England, the entire country is mourning the loss of Diana. Her death shocked the entire world, and Alex believes that he can make a good documentary about her death, especially when conspiracy theories pop up about whether she was murdered or it was just a tragic accident.

In 1912 Virginia, teenage Wallis Warfield and Mary Kirk meet at a summer camp for girls and become fast friends. They end up at the same boarding school in Baltimore and become even closer.
Mary is the prettier of the two, but Wallis is the wilder one. She is an outrageous flirt with the boys, and Mary takes a backseat to her more adventurous comrade.

As the years go by, Wallis marries a war pilot, and Mary marries a romantic French pilot. When Wallis' marriage falls apart due to her husband's alcoholism, Mary is there for her friend. When Wallis' father, stepfather and mother all pass away, it is Mary who picks up the pieces of her friend's life.

When Wallis begins an affair with a friend of Mary's, Mary is appalled, but doesn't end the friendship. Wallis and her new husband move to England, and Wallis becomes close to the Prince of Wales, the future King of England.

Their relationship is scandalous, upsetting Wallis' husband and Mary, who finds her friend's behavior unacceptable.

Another Woman's Husband is a terrific book, especially for Anglophiles and fans of shows like The Crown. Mary and Rachel's stories are fascinating, and telling Wallis and Diana's stories through these women adds a unique element to the novel.

Many times dual timeline stories can be uneven; one story is much more interesting than the other. In Another Woman's Husband, I found all four women intriguing and couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen next.

Fans of vintage fashions will get an added element of enjoyment through Rachel's storyline as we read about the fabulous clothes she sells in her shop. And after reading Another Womans Husband, I will be looking for more books about Wallis Simpson- what a complicated woman she was!



I highly recommend Another Woman's Husband.

Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Gill Pauls' tour. The rest of her stops are here:

Tour Stops

Tuesday, August 21st: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, August 22nd: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, August 23rd: bookchickdi
Friday, August 24th: Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine.
Monday, August 27th: Instagram: @writersdream
Tuesday, August 28th: Instagram: @shereadswithcats
Wednesday, August 29th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, August 30th: BookNAround
Monday, September 3rd: Jathan & Heather
Tuesday, September 4th: Instagram: @Novelmombooks
Wednesday, September 5th: Literary Quicksand
Thursday, September 6th: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Daisy Children by Sofia Grant

The Daisy Children by Sofia Grant
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks ISBN 9780062693440
Trade paperback, $15.99, 432 pages

Author Sofia Grant's novel The Daisy Children begins with a true event. In 1937, an elementary school in New London, Texas, exploded, killing nearly 300 people, mostly children. Her storyline alternates between the aftermath of that event, and the toll it took on one family, and present day Boston.

In Boston, Kate has just lost her job, and she and her husband are having problems conceiving a baby. Kate's husband works crazy hours at his job, and has become more distant. When Kate gets a letter informing her that she has inherited something from her late grandmother Margaret in Texas, she is shocked. She only met the woman once, and her own mother Georgina didn't get along with her mother, seeing her rarely, and often expounding about what a terrible mother Margaret was.

Margaret was what was known in New London as a "Daisy Child." After the horrific explosion, eleven babies were born to families who lost children there. The mothers of those children formed a support group, and worked to keep the memories of their deceased children alive.

Margaret didn't get along with her mother Caroline almost from the beginning. She was headstrong, and mean to other children, lording it over them that her father was an important oil man, and their fathers merely worked for hers.

She fell in love with Hank, the older brother of her best friend, and a survivor of the explosion. Hank suffered from what we today would call PTSD, and he had problems with alcohol and anger issues. Margaret thought her love could help him.

Caroline was dead-set against Margaret marrying Hank, and did everything in her power to turn Margaret against Hank. When Margaret had a daughter of her own, Georgina, she got a taste of her own medicine. Georgina clashed with her mother, and counted down the days until she could leave home.

Meanwhile, Kate meets her cousin Scarlett in Texas, and learns a little more about her grandmother as they go about cleaning Margaret's house. Margaret is described by a neighbor as "mean as a wasp and tough as a skewed skunk".

Secrets are uncovered, including a whopper of a one near the end that I didn't see coming. Young  Margaret states early on "if there was one thing (she) had learned in her eleven years on earth, it was that everyone had something they were hiding." Truer words were never spoken.

Grant describes the day of the explosion as Caroline tells Margaret what happened. The descriptions of parents rushing in to look for their children brings to mind the horror of the Newtown massacre and 9/11. Caroline's husband found his daughter Ruby's body, and he "identified her by her shoes that he'd helped her buckle that morning." What a heartbreaking sentence.

The Daisy Children is about the often painful relationship between mothers and daughters, and how we never really know what is going on in someone's life, even if we are close to them. This book may make you want to sit down with your grandmother, and ask her to talk about her life. You may be surprised. If you enjoy books about mother/daughter relationships, put The Daisy Children on your reading list.



Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Sofia Grant's tour. The rest of her stops are here:

Instagram Features

Sunday, August 5th: Instagram: @theliterarybirds
Monday, August 6th: Instagram: @ladyofthelibrary
Tuesday, August 7th: Instagram: @girlsinbooks
Wednesday, August 8th: Instagram: @writersdream
Thursday, August 9th: Instagram: @prose_and_palate
Friday, August 10th: Instagram: @somekindofalibrary
Saturday, August 11th: Instagram: @theloudlibrarylady

Review Stops

Tuesday, August 7th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, August 8th: Broken Teepee
Friday, August 10th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, August 13th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, August 14th: Instagram: @shereadswithcats
Wednesday, August 15th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, August 15th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, August 16th: Jathan & Heather
Monday, August 20th: Wining Wife
Tuesday, August 21st: Instagram: @writersdream
Wednesday, August 22nd: Instagram: @Novelmombooks



Monday, August 6, 2018

The Locksmith's Daughter by Karen Brooks

The Locksmith's Daughter by Karen Brooks
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks ISBN 9780062686572
Trade paperback, $16.99, 576 pages


Looking at the striking cover of Karen Brooks' The Locksmith's Daughter, with a woman dressed in a pale yellow long dress facing away from the camera, clearly this is an historical novel. It's set in the time of Queen Elizabeth as the tagline- "In Queen Elizabeth's time, no one's secrets are truly safe." It enticed me right away.

The novel opens with Mallory Bright walking through London with her chaperone, wearing her widow's weeds. It's clear from the looks and nasty comments made to her, that Mallory was involved in some sort of scandalous behavior that everyone knows about.

She arrives home at her parents. Her father is one of the city's most respected locksmiths, able to open or create any lock. Mallory spent many days with her beloved father, learning how to open even the most intricate lock. Her mother looks upon Mallory with indifference, perhaps even coldness.

At this time in England, there is a war between Protestants and Catholics. The previous queen Mary was a Catholic and she was executed. The Protestant Queen Elizabeth and her court fear the Catholics and accuse Jesuit priests of infiltrating England in order to incite the people to rise up against the Queen.

Sir Francis Walsingham is the Queen's spymaster, and he appeals to Mallory's sense of duty to her country in order to convince her to join his team to spies to root out the Catholic menace. Mallory's father is Protestant, and her mother Catholic, and Mallory chooses to become a spy.

Following Mallory's exploits as she trains to become a spy, was fascinating. One wouldn't think of women in the late 1500's being used as spies, and yet they were.

The author Karen Brooks is an historian, and her writing is a fine example of that. She has throroughly researched the era, and the language that she uses is authentic to the times. You can almost smell the city (and it is not pleasingly aromatic) as our heroine walks the streets. It's a big book, over 500 pages, filled with great historical detail that would please any reader who likes to steep themselves in the time period in which they are reading.

There are secrets to be uncovered, and Mallory finds herself at a crossroads where she must decide where her loyalties lie. Things (and people) are not always as they seem at first glance. There is also a dashing hero, but this is not a romance novel by any means.

I must give fair warning as well- there are a few realistic and graphic scenes of torture that some may find to difficult to read. It was a violent time in history and Brooks does not shy away from that.

Although The Locksmith's Daughter is set in Elizabethan times, there are some things that resonate today. The extreme distrust and anger between people of different faiths then can be compared to the distrust between people of different political beliefs today. The more things change, the more they stay the same?

It took me awhile to get into The Locksmith's Daughter, but once I did, I flew through it waiting to find out how Mallory's story ends. I also liked at the end of the book where Brooks lists each character and notes whether they were an actual person in history. That is unique and helpful. Her author's note also delves more deeply into her research for this book.

I recommend The Locksmith's Daughter for people who like thoroughly researched historical fiction stories about strong women and aren't offended by graphic violence.

Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Karen Brooks' tour. The rest of her stops are here:


Tour Stops

Tuesday, July 31st: A Bookish Affair
Friday, August 3rd: Reading Reality
Monday, August 6th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, August 7th: Instagram: @shereadswithcats
Monday, August 13th: Instagram: @writersdream
Tuesday, August 14th: Jessicamap Reviews
Thursday, August 16th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, August 16th: Instagram: @Novelmombooks
Thursday, August 23rd: Broken Teepee