Book Reviews

Letters Across the Sea by Genevieve Graham

Letters Across the SeaTitle: Letters Across the Sea
Author: Genevieve Graham
Rating: ★★★★★
Inspired by a little-known chapter of World War II history, a young Protestant girl and her Jewish neighbour are caught up in the terrible wave of hate sweeping the globe on the eve of war in this powerful love story that’s perfect for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

If you’re reading this letter, that means I’m dead. I had obviously hoped to see you again, to explain in person, but fate had other plans.

1933

At eighteen years old, Molly Ryan dreams of becoming a journalist, but instead she spends her days working any job she can to help her family through the Depression crippling her city. The one bright spot in her life is watching baseball with her best friend, Hannah Dreyfus, and sneaking glances at Hannah’s handsome older brother, Max.

But as the summer unfolds, more and more of Hitler’s hateful ideas cross the sea and “Swastika Clubs” and “No Jews Allowed” signs spring up around Toronto, a city already simmering with mass unemployment, protests, and unrest. When tensions between the Irish and Jewish communities erupt in a riot one smouldering day in August, Molly and Max are caught in the middle, with devastating consequences for both their families.

1939

Six years later, the Depression has eased and Molly is a reporter at her local paper. But a new war is on the horizon, putting everyone she cares about most in peril. As letters trickle in from overseas, Molly is forced to confront what happened all those years ago, but is it too late to make things right?

From the desperate streets of Toronto to the embattled shores of Hong Kong, Letters Across the Sea is a poignant novel about the enduring power of love to cross dangerous divides even in the darkest of times—from the #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child.

I received this novel from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

Letters Across the Sea is a story about the hardships experienced for Canadians both fighting in unfamiliar lands and those who stayed behind. The novel follows Molly, a girl who dreams of one day becoming a journalist, but is doing whatever she can to provide for her family during the Depression, and Max, a Jewish boy dreaming of being a doctor, but enlisted to serve his country. With tensions raised because of discrimination against Jews and suffering caused by the Depression, many families are struggling to find enough food to eat, jobs, and a sense of belonging. 

Graham introduces readers to a battle fought in WW2 that many are not familiar with. I’m a big WW2 history buff, but I have never heard of this devastating battle, possibly because it consisted of Canadian troops. This novel spurred me wanting to research other countries’ battles in wars that the United States was involved in. I believe that sometimes we are only shown the side of history that may not necessarily hold the full story. Who knew how involved the Canadians were? Not me! 

The historical aspect displayed by Graham shows an interesting side to WW2 that is very rarely mentioned when WW2 discussion is involved: the treatment of certain groups of people back home. Anti-Semitism is not only present in Germany, but many other countries. While everyone can give their lives to help with the war, the people back home have a hard time accepting one another because of differences. Protests are not usually mentioned with WW2, but many people were wanting the right to heard and treated the same as everyone else, whether it be with getting a job, being able to enter establishments, or anything we take for granted.

While the story was predictable, this was such a fun and fast read! I felt like I was living my past life / the life I want (haha). Readers who love romance with a historical twist will love this novel.

Letters Across the Sea is a story of two completely different people who find themselves finding love in the most unlikely of places, especially when it seems like everything and everyone is trying to tear them apart. Basham expertly weaves together the past and later in a story of love, diversity, and the power of forgiveness.

Book Reviews

Hope Between the Pages by Pepper D. Basham

Hope Between the PagesTitle: Hope Between the Pages
Author: Pepper D. Basham
Rating: ★★★★

Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter

Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

I received this novel from NetGalley and Barbour Fiction in exchange for an honest review.

Hope Between the Pages is the second novel in The Doors to the Past series. Just like in the first novel, the story follows two women over a century apart: Sadie, a young servant girl who works in the Biltmore library during WW1, and Clara, her great-granddaughter who runs the bookstore that Sadie started. The stories collide when a neighboring store offers to buy Blackwell’s bookstore and the deed is unable to be found. Delving back into family history, Clara embarks on a journey to save the bookshop and find out more about her mysterious great-grandmother’s love life.

Basham seamlessly intertwines the lives of Sadie and Clara, while infusing readers with clues to uncovering Sadie’s mysterious love life. Unlike the last novel, the women are related instead of the men. I love discovering the similarities between the two women and how love stumbles upon them. 

Hope Between the Pages is a story of two women who find themselves finding love in the most unlikely of places (and people!) and circumstances. Basham expertly weaves together the past and the present in a story of love, adversity, and good surpassing evil.

Book Reviews

The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

The Lady in ResidenceTitle: The Lady in Residence
Author: Allison Pittman
Rating: ★★★★★

Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.

In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?

I received this novel from NetGalley and Barbour Fiction in exchange for an honest review.

The Lady in Residencec is the start to collaboration of the present and the past in The Doors to the Past series. I don’t know if it was divine intervention or just perfect time, but I started reading this while watching Alias Grace on Netflix. The story follows two women over a century apart: Hedda Krause, a young widow staying at the Menger Hotel, and Dini Blackstone, a magician who gives ghost tours. The stories collide when Quinn Carmichael, a descendent of the detective in charge of the case of Hedda Krause’s robbed room, embarks on one of Dini’s ghost tours.

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story?! Or an unsolved case?! Pittman seamlessly intertwines the lives of Hedda (1915) and Dini (2017), while walking readers through the solving of the mystery. The chapters alternate between Hedda and Dini. As the story advances, the reader starts to see similarities between Hedda and Dini. Both girls are slowly falling in love…and with men who happen to be related! While the case was never solved, Dini and Quinn believe with her knowledge of Hedda’s novel and his family heirlooms, they can solve the case of who Sallie, the ghost, really is, and why she stole Hedda’s jewelry from her late husband.

The Lady in Residence is a story of two women who find themselves finding more than they ever wished and coming to terms with the truth of Sallie. Pittman expertly weaves together the past and the present in a story of love, mystery, and the paranormal.