This month’s picks include a stand alone novel in World War II Germany, the first of a trilogy in 18th century Nevis, and some St. Louis non-fiction flair. Also, for those of you who enjoy a pint on St. Patrick’s Day, there’s a blog recommendation you might enjoy.
Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke
Historical Fiction – 1939 – 1940 Germany
In a Nutshell: As the polished daughter of one of America’s leading genetic researchers, Rachel Kramer has always had the best of everything. But when the beliefs of her father’s German colleagues leave her uneasy, she wonders how much of his own thinking falls into the grey areas of morality. Still struggling to believe the best of her father, she receives a friend’s plea to save her deaf daughter, Amelie, from the eugenics of the Nazi regime. Unwilling to place herself at risk without more information, Rachel embarks on a quest to uncover the truth within her father’s research. With the help of American journalist, Jason Young, she quickly learns a secret more terrifying than she ever could have imagined, one that sends her on a race for her life, Amelie’s life, and questioning every other “truth” she’s ever known.
My Take: I love when I pick up a library book at random and it ends up being a wonderful read. I’m sure I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it a million more times, but I always have to force myself to read novels on World War II. There’s something so real about them, so emotional, that I tend to get a little gun-shy, but very rarely has one left me disappointed. I can’t say too much without spoiling the book’s secrets, but Cathy Gohlke weaves a tale of suspense led by characters who both warm and break your heart and feel so real as to jump off the page at you. Through Rachel, Jason, and Amelie’s plight, the author truly shows the courage it takes to remain strong when one’s own country has turned against you, and how family doesn’t always come in the neat package one might expect.
For more information visit: http://authorcathygohlke.com/
Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren
Historical Fiction – 1772 England and Nevis, West Indies
In a nutshell: Recently learning of their father’s death, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters set out to claim their father’s island sugar plantation and re-establish their family fortune. Upon arrival in Nevis, however, they learn that the plantation is in shambles and the island is no place for a woman. Especially a woman such as Keturah, still struggling to recover from her late husband’s abusive hands. To succeed in business, she must do the one thing she never wanted to do again – form an alliance with a man. With the help of her childhood friend, Gray Covington, she sets out on a journey to save her family, find healing, and maybe even restore her belief in love.
My take: This was my most anticipated read for February. Lisa Bergren is a fantastic writer and, as someone who does a happy dance over any story involving sailing ships, romance, and pretty dresses, the cover reveal for Keturah left me doing a jig. However, lest you think that this novel is all ballrooms and champagne, let me set the record straight. While Lisa Bergren weaves an enjoyable tale of romance with island life, she also tastefully tackles sensitive topics such as slavery and spousal abuse. It’s a story that may be difficult to some who have experienced abuse, however I felt it was an expression of the belief in hope and healing through the heartache.
Keturah is the first book in The Sugar Baron’s Daughters trilogy. If you enjoy it, I would recommend also reading Lisa Bergren’s Northern Lights series. It’s about 19th century Norwegian sailors and is one of my trilogy rereads.
For more information visit: http://lisatawnbergren.com/
Lost Treasures of St. Louis by Cameron Collins
Non-fiction – Local History
In a Nutshell: Large (some full page) glossy photos highlight the many places the city of St. Louis, Missouri has lost from the 1800’s to present day. From restaurants to dance halls to sports and schools, there’s a place to remember for every St. Louis native, and an interesting story for those who are not.
My take: Cameron Collins writes one of my favorite St. Louis history blogs, Distilled History: A Drinking Blog with a History Problem. Even if you’re not a drinker – and I’m not – and even if you don’t live in St. Louis – which originally Cameron Collins did not – you can still enjoy the extensive amount of history he includes in every post. The same is true for Lost Treasures of St. Louis. As a lifelong resident of St. Louis, I enjoyed getting to know many of my city’s features that are no longer around, including several that I remember fondly from my childhood. I bought my guinea pig from Beldt’s Aquarium, remember gathering around the TV when the Arena was imploded (we still have the VHS recording), and who can forget the Noah’s Ark restaurant? If you’re not from around here, this book still offers fascinating stories and fun ties to St. Louis’s influence around the United States. As a plus, it offered some additional writing research, including a couple locations that you’ll see in my next novel!
For more information visit: https://www.distilledhistory.com/