Tag Archive: europe



The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War IIThe Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II by Madeline Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m so sorry I am finished reading this book! I wanted to live with these characters. No, I didn’t want to live during a war, especially while bombs were dropping. But I love living with book people who love to share books with those they love. Oh, yeah. I already live that, sans bombs!

Saskia Maarleveld (Narrator) keeps the story live. Not even a moment did I remember real life while in the book.

I love stories about females during World War II, but they are often soft mushy girls who do not seek their inner strength. They often fall in love with the guy and become arm candy or the like. Not our main character here. She seeks her own worth and, in the process, finds a fellow book lover, even before she has become addicted to the same.

Please, if you get the chance, try this book. I think you may love it as much as I did. I was lucky to pick it up on Libby, but I am seriously thinking of getting my own copy for when I want to curl up in a guaranteed good read. I hope you love it as much as I do.

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Through the Magic SunglassesThrough the Magic Sunglasses by Mariia Manko
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book gives the phrase “looking at the world through rose-colored glasses” a whole new meaning.

I picked up this book for free on Kindle Unlimited because of the blurb. Okay. I’ll share it.

“When Mariia storms out of her boyfriend’s Kyiv apartment forever, she has no idea what is awaiting her. She is handed a pair of ‘magic’ sunglasses by a mysterious cabdriver on her way to Berlin, and what begins as a journey to get over her breakup turns out to be the adventure of her life. The sunglasses become her secret helper, always showing her an escape route as Mariia is chased by a trio of rich, vindictive women who want a compromising flash drive back from her, going from Berlin to Düsseldorf to Paris and then on to Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah.
Combining urban fiction and self-help with a dashing tale of adventure, Mariia Manko’s Through the Magic Sunglasses is an enchanting story about independence, strength, and believing in yourself.”

And yes, it was an adventure. But the most challenging part for me was how the main character couldn’t stop thinking about her ex and get on with the magic she had been given. I think that was the part that ruined it for me. The rest of the book was fun. And it was upbeat and a bit of a self-help book.

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SaraliSarali by Susana Gino
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sometimes I read a book and feel raw from the length of the read. Granted, this was a Kindle ARC, so I’m sure a lot of the story will improve with the reviews.

The technical problem that has probably been addressed by now, but it took me out of the story every time, the author and/or the title and page number (?) pop up often and are inserted into the tale being told. I suppose if I were strictly reading it, my eyes would skip it, but since I read via text-to-speech, it is all very jarring.

Overall, the story was interesting, though the main character seemed in her head most of the time. The erotic scenes were almost too much while sorting through her growing maturity. And though the main character, who calls herself either Sara or Sarali according to whether she was involved in a sexual pursuit or her own enlightenment.

Though the main character seeks to learn of her sexuality and help others through their experiences with her, a sort of prostitution, that wasn’t my main problem with the main character. She seeks to be with her daughter out of love, and the relationship does grow. But her daughter’s safety ought to be her chief thought. A man who has such little control of himself as to rape a young woman and force her into marriage and having the resulting child, should not be trusted with that same child to raise on his own. What could he be doing to that child? It seems to me that should have been the character’s aim, not worry about what falsehoods he may speak. It is true, Sara needed to do some growing herself, but not once in her mental ravings about how unfair it was to her, did she mention what might be happening to her daughter.

My last problem with the book is how repetitive it was. I found myself wanting to find another book to read. Still, I think in a future edit or two that would be taken care of, and the newer readings will find an interesting read. As a seeming autobiography, the story reflects the way all our brains work in circular ways coming back to the trauma and trying to overcome it all. Worth the read.

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Wives and DaughtersWives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I just wrote on the Kindle version on GoodReads, I found the text-to-speech didn’t work for me. I had an Audible credit sitting there when my friend recommended this book so I pick this up. The Kindle and the Audible didn’t synch up so I gave up trying to read while listening and just listened.

The story didn’t grab me as much as the narrator’s voice and her ability to characterize the whole story. It took me a longer time than books usually take but I felt I needed to soak Nadia May’s storytelling in. She was fantastic. I could see the story as if I were watching it in a movie. It might make a fun movie.

Since this was the Victorian British Isles, the history of women shows. It shows how far we’ve come and yet how far we need to go until there would be real equality. Even the title represents the ownership of fathers and husbands. Yet it is a good example that young women today should read and take their time to soak in why many modern women are still not happy with our positions in life.

Still, just as a story it is fun. Often I would get bored with it and then Nadia May’s voice and excitement would pull me back in. I’m glad I read it. Give it a try.

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StumbleStumble by Susana Sparrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was quite fun. The young female protagonist goes to visit relatives in Europe. There are language problems for her except for those who do speak English. But the adventure begins when she goes to the cave surrounded by mythology.

I don’t want to give anything away but magic happens. Lots of magic. Some quite dangerous. Remember language issues and trying to remain a good house guest for her relatives. Oh, then add a romance that is quite impossible on so many levels. Yep, now you have a story. I quite enjoyed it and hope everyone gets a chance to read it.

Yeah, I know. I don’t usually like romance. But this one has so many problems most don’t have. And this protagonist is strong and stands for her feminist ideals in spite of all the magic. This kept it interesting for me. I hope it is for you, too.

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Waiting for a Miracle: Historical NovelWaiting for a Miracle: Historical Novel by Helen (Wininger) Livnat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished reading this a few days ago. I hate it when I finish before I am ready to sleep. I start the next book and forget to get back to the last book to review. But this one needs a review!

There cannot be enough books about the Holocaust. We need to look at it from every angle to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This book presented another point of view. It is from paternal journals handed down from the time of the first world war. The great-granddaughter is conveying the story. All the way to her own life.

All in all, it is well told. It doesn’t quite fit into my goal of reading books by strong women with strong women as main characters as Helen (Wininger) Livnat only tells her story at the end and it feels she left much of her own life out to give her forefathers the say of what happened in those horrid times. And that’s fine with me. She includes what is happening to the females at that time as best she can. The stories are coming from journals of the men so she’s telling what she inherited. None of it is fiction. We’ve read the histories, we can see the truth. We need to take warning.

It is always hard to give a rating to someone else’s life. So in that, I’m sticking with the five-star rating. There were errors, grammatical mostly–near the end, a ‘there’ that should have either been ‘they’re’ or ‘their’ (I can’t remember which now) is one example. In fact, the ending could use an editor’s eyes. But it didn’t take away from the truth and horror of the story or the warnings. And I think that there may have been some translation problems in that I think Russian was the first language. But I’m guessing.

Like I said, it is the story that is the important issue here. I think everyone should read this. It is enjoyable watching the families and the sons adjust and still love no matter what the outside world is doing. It is amazing what we can do when we do it for love.

Yes, there are a lot of tears. Even near the beginning. So have your Kleenex handy. But there are big joyous moments as well. Life and love bring us generations of stories and struggles. Well worth the read. But I’m repeating myself. I just want people to pick this up when they can and take it into their souls.

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Taxi - Tactics (Book 7)Taxi – Tactics by Sophia DeLuna

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ulrike, you did WHAT!! Well, what did you have in mind, Carmen? Yeah, that’s what I thought!

There. I’ve summed it up. Would I have done what Ulrike did? Nope. Wouldn’t have had the nerve or the idea. I’m stuck with whatever Carmen would have come up with. Stuttering my way through to absolutely nothing.

What’s this all about? Gosh, I can’t tell you. You have to read it for yourself. I am curious as to how others would handle this situation. What tactics would you use? Remember jobs and reputations are on the line. But it is a situation that comes up on a daily basis. Like I’ve said before, Sophia DeLuna uses realistic problems and handles them through the characters of Ulrike and Carmen. I have to say I was quite surprised with what was done and I have to admit to what I wouldn’t have known what to do. Real life like this scares me. As advanced as we think we all are on LGBTQ issues, this situation still exists.

As I have said before, I love these episodes by Ms. DeLuna. They challenge my mind. They warm my heart. It is a little like watching a soap opera. And at this point I can’t wait until Sophia finishes the next Taxi event! By the way, thank you, Ms. DeLuna for letting me read these last few for free. When I can, I will buy these stories for friends, thereby passing on the kindness.

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Taxi - Tuxedo (Book 6)Taxi – Tuxedo by Sophia DeLuna

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love visiting with my friends, Carmen and Ulrike. In this episode, Carmen has tickets to the opera and as the title suggests a tuxedo is involved. Some of us just can’t do dresses!

Do you want to know why I love these little book events? The writing is so flawless. The dialogue and situations are quite realistic. The troubles this couple encounter are also lifelike. And the way the author handles these situations are sometimes mature and responsible, sometimes not so much, but, real. What couple handle things beautifully every time? Most of us just muddle through our problems. We learn to talk it out, but some of us are better at that communication thing than others.

Most often I relate to Carmen in her ways of dealing with things. But in this chapter I related more to Ulrike. For me that is a grand feeling as I wish I was more like Ulrike and the ways she deals with the world.

Anyway, I highly recommend this series to those who want to read of lesbian relationships. The erotica is minimal, so if that offends, don’t worry. Some of us would like more, but that kind of book is a dime a dozen. These gems are about how this couple navigate being in a relationship. I was fortunate to have received the last few from the author but, when I get a few dollars ahead, I will buy them for others. After all, you can tell the work Sophia DeLuna puts into each and every story. By the way, you can find them on Smashwords. Most are $.99 or less. Check ’em out!

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Taxi - Talk (Book 5)Taxi – Talk by Sophia DeLuna

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Remember when I read the first four episodes of Taxi? Well, I got a welcome surprise after the review of the fourth one. Ms. Sophia DeLuna, the author of these great stories, sent me a sweet email that included coupons for the next three books in the series. Yay! Thank you so much. With my tight budget, it is often hard to decide if the next dollar is for food or reading. I hate to admit that I don’t look like I would if I chose books more often. Or maybe it is the fact that one can do both eating and reading comfortably at the same time?

At any rate, I got to the reading as soon as I could. And I think that Taxi 5, Talk, is one of my favorites. It is so real and honest. It touched deep emotional threads for me. This book deepens the relationship of Carmen and Ulrike. You see Carmen, still dealing with her bit of PTSD, or maybe there is a deeper issue going on, like social anxiety, depression, or other mental problems. I found I related to Carmen very much, phone phobia, isolation, etc. And Ulrike is fleshed out in how she and Carmen’s cat bond over yogurt, sharing a spoon. Carmen cringed and so did I. But as different as Carmen and Ulrike are, you see them working hard to communicate and deepen their love for each other.

By the way, I just did a review of New Hire: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…, where my complaint was that the characters weren’t deep at all. In comparison, this Taxi series has what I think give fictional characters real life. In this series, I was surprised at how well I had pictured the two characters. It had to be how the author described them. I went to the author’s website: http://www.sophiadeluna.com/ and under the Taxi category I found the author’s rendition of her characters. I would have known who they were had I met them on the street. That is how good Ms. DeLuna is creating her characters. She’s quite the artist, as well! I can’t wait to read #6!

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My Melancholic DiaryMy Melancholic Diary by Iva Kenaz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to thank my GoodReads friend, A.S. Johnson for recommending this treasure to me. She was right, I did love it!

Once I got the recommendation I found that I could get it through Kindle Unlimited so I set about getting it right away. I already had tons of books ahead of it on my ‘currently reading shelf’, but I got around to it finally. So glad I did!

Where was this book when I was growing up? Oh, yeah, the author probably wasn’t born yet. What a great way to learn how fanciful a diary could be! When I was a young teen I had one of those diaries that had a little lock on it. Why I needed a lock always made me laugh. I rarely wrote anything in it beyond “I breathed in and out today.”

That a person in grade school chose to stay the last year of grade school with her eccentric father in the countryside near Prague in the Czech Republic so that she and he could iron out their differences, shows the maturity of the main character, Lisa, who is 14 nearly 15. But the book is full of mature themes but not in a preachy way. I think there is so much depth in this book that anyone of any age would find something to glean from it.

Lisa, the diary writer, the main character, of course, has a romantic heart and the adolescent inadequate self-esteem. Not too different from most people her age, but when you are that age, you don’t realize that. In fact, I wonder how many people outgrow that?

So seeing Lisa’s musings of her life and loves didn’t feel far from most people I know. Except for the fictional character that becomes alive for her. At first, that is shocking in such a mature girl, but as you watch the rest of her life you see that this ghost from another book guides her as much as she guides him. It is the one relationship that is working for her. What a grand idea! We should all have our own fictional hero/heroine who can speak to us while we write out the character’s destiny. Oh, yeah, we who write do just that! That is if we are writing daily. Gulp. We should be writing daily. Note to self…

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think even males will like it.

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