Grief And Madness. One of the things I like about this particular book, and the way it parallels my own family’s life, is in showing how events during WWII can have generational impacts via creating madness – the older term for insanity, yet which feels like it applies more appropriately here – in some of the survivors of that war. Here, we see it even in two people who were far from soldiers, far from the front lines. They were simply mothers who had daughters at nearly the same time in the same city who happened to become friends… and then had that friendship tested in pretty horrific ways. But the varying types of madness we see here do a great job in showing how the war impacted different people differently, even people as connected as these two mothers were. Without giving too much away, we even see the horrors of the Holocaust a bit – and there again, we see survivors trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
All told this was one of those books where the gut punches land heavy – but early. The “big reveal” is, in fact, rather obvious *much* earlier than the explicit reveal, and yet the way this is done works within the story being told of the varying madnesses and how these survivors are trying to cope in any way they can. So while I can’t personally fault Harmel for this, I can see where other more stringent reviewers might. Even the near 400 page length works well here, never feeling bloated or too slow and instead simply packing in a *ton* of rich detail and events, many – even among the seemingly more insignificant in this tale – based on real world events and seemingly quite accurate. (The author’s note in the end reveals how one particular incident within the last few pages of the book is actually the author inserting her characters into that particular moment, but otherwise being pretty close to an actual nonfiction report on the incident in question.)
Overall a truly well done, beautifully layered tale of two beautifully broken women and the impacts their choices have across decades. Very much recommended.
This review of The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel was originally written on December 19, 2022.
This week we’re looking at a romance tale that manages to tell three separate second chance stories all in one excellent tale that combines second chance romance with the world of high fashion. This week we’re looking at Sapphires Are A Guy’s Best Friend by Nicola Marsh.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Fun Merger Of Haute Couture. Jewelry, and Second Chance Romance. This is a really fun and fairly short (barely 200 pages) look at the glitzy and glamorous world of high end fashion… which Marsh then wraps a solid second chance – in more ways than one – romance into. Solidly written such that both the business and the personal are given their fair due and are equally compelling, this is *not* one for the “clean”/ “sweet” crowd. But for those that appreciate a good amount of steam – maybe not enough for a sauna, but easily enough to set off a smoke alarm… you’re gonna like this one. Very much recommended.
Freaking LHC / CERN *STILL* Trying To Destroy The World! One of the most important websites you can check every morning is HasTheLargeHadronColliderDestroyedTheWorldYet.com … and here, in this action-packed continuation of the Delta Devlin series, Matthew Mather gives yet another reason this is true. One I had never even considered – passing data backward through time – … and doing other things that are certain to go into spoiler territory to name (even without a description of this book to judge “spoiler” by) but which are truly, utterly terrifying. Mather attains the best of the creativity of a Jeremy Robinson type of science fiction writer with the “straight out of the headlines” level current/ near-future tech of a more Michael Crichton type science fiction writer – high praise indeed, considering that both of the aforementioned authors are among my all-time favorites – and he uses this skill to create a tale that can stand up against most any action-based science fiction tale out there. I for one can’t wait to see what tech he tackles next in this series! Very much recommended.
This review of Out Of Time by Matthew Mather was originally written on September 28, 2021.
Blend Of Historical And Women’s Fiction That Leaves The Room Dusty Through Its Final Quarter. This was an excellent blend of historical fiction on one end and a “current” (mid-80s) timeline women’s fiction tale on the other. Not quite an either/ or thing, but both play well with each other (and most of the historical stuff is done by the 2/3 point or so). Just be prepared for a VERY dusty read through the back quarter of the book, where Davis does an excellent job of revealing things but then letting them play out in a more natural setting and timeframe than other authors may have done. The book starts off with a lot of The Giver type vibes before becoming something so much more than that work ever intended to be – but the fact that it even feels similar to that award winning book speaks to just how well Davis crafts her story here. Very much recommended.
This review of The Keeper Of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis was originally written on August 27, 2021.