The German House – Maddy – Staff Review

The German House by Annette Hess

Eva Bruhns doesn’t really remember WWII as it ended when she was a small child and no one in her family likes to discuss what happened in great detail. Her father served in the war, but now and her mom run a successful restaurant. Eva works as a translator and is hired to translate for the 1963 Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, which are war crime trials in which former Nazi officers are being tried for their crimes. As Eva becomes more involved in the trials, she begins to question her family’s silence about the war and her father’s service. She also tries to come to terms with what she learns at the trials and what she has learned/ heard in the past.

Though the German House is a work of fiction, it is based on real events and the real trial of Nazi officers. Annette Hess does a wonderful job of capturing the mood during this time and bringing in different perspectives. For anyone looking for a good historical fiction, I recommend this book. It also counts towards the Fall reading challenge (West or East Europe categories)

4 stars

The Lost Girls of Paris – Staff Review – Maddy

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

In Manhattan 1946, Grace Healy finds an abandoned suitcase tucked under a bench at Grand Central Station on her way to work. Curious, she opens it to find a handful of photographs of different women hidden inside. The suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Tripp who helped lead a network of female secret agents that were sent to infiltrate occupied Europe during World War Two but never made it home.

Switching between the narratives of Grace, Eleanor and Marie Jenoff reveals a story of espionage, mystery, comradery and deceit.

I really enjoyed the way the author wove the three womens’ narratives together to reveal a larger story. For readers who enjoy WWII era historical fiction, I would recommend the Lost Girls of Paris.

4 Stars

The Tenant – Staff Review – Maddy

The Tenant by Katherine Engberg

In Copenhagen, Denmark, a young woman, Julie Stender, is  murdered in her apartment by a killer who drew intricate patterns on her face.The crime is eerily similar to a scene in the manuscript written by the victim’s landlady, who is trying to publish her first book. 
Detectives Korner and Werner are unsure if Ester de Laurenti is a suspect in this murder investigation, or a pawn in a larger game of revenge the police have yet to fully understand. The detectives must act quickly to solve the case before another person is harmed. 
The Tenant started off a little slow, but gradually picked up as the story went on. I liked the changing plot twists as the author kept readers guessing about who the killer was and where the story would lead. 

3 stars.

As long as we both shall live – Staff Review – Maddy

As long as we both shall live by JoAnn Cheney

Matt told park rangers his wife was dead- she fell off a high cliff when hiking into the river below. A rescue search ensues, but rangers are skeptical of what the outcome will be. But when a body turns up, it creates more questions than answers.

Matt’s first wife died under mysterious circumstances as well. Detectives Loren and Spengler have a lot of questions for Matt as they delve into the case and the couple’s past.

As long as we both shall live is a psychological thriller novel in which the author keeps readers guessing who did what and who’s guilty to the very end. Not everything or everyone is what they seem and the married couple in this story have much to hide. This book was a quick read and is good for those who enjoyed Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.

3 stars.

Evvie Drake Starts Over – Staff Review- Maddy

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

In a small coastal Maine town, Evvie Drake barely leaves her house. Her best friend Andy and most the town think her seclusion has to do with her husband’s death. Andy’s best friend Dean Tenney, a major league baseball pitcher in New York is struggling with the ‘yips’- he can’t throw straight anymore. Andy invites Dean to Maine, thinking the vacation and fresh air might do him some good. So Dean moves into Evvie’s apartment under the condition that he won’t ask about her husband and she won’t ask him about baseball. This doesn’t last long however, as the two become friends and help each other overcome their demons.

Evvie Drake Starts Over was a cute, fun read that was hard to put down. I enjoyed the relationship between the two main characters and how they helped each other through hard times.

4 stars.

The Moroccan Girl – Staff Review – Maddy

The Moroccan Girl by Charles Cummings

For those looking for a quick read or that enjoy spy and espionage novels, give the Moroccan Girl a read. The story focuses on Kit Carradine, a writer of spy novels who is suddenly drawn into a real life spy scenario in which he is tasked by MI6 to look for a woman, Lara Bartok who has ties to the Resurrection, an international revolutionary group targeting political figures. Initially, all he has to do is make contact with Lara while at a literary festival in Morocco. However, Kit soon realizes he is in over his head and the situation is much more complicated. Kit must choose between aiding his country or keeping Lara Bartok alive at his own risk.

As I said, the Moroccan Girl is a quick easy read that transports readers into the world of spies and secrets, if only for a few days. 

3 stars fiction

Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination – Staff Review- Maddy

Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination by Brain Jay Jones

 Everyone knows and probably read books by Dr. Seuss growing up, but who is the man behind the legacy? Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Geisel. Before he was known as a children’s author, Geisel drew political cartoons and catchy ads for materials such as bug repellant and education materials for soldiers during World War two. You may be surprised to learn how Dr. Seuss came to write childrens’ books or how he got his name, but I won’t tell. One thing is for sure, Dr. Seuss created a legacy and changed the way people thought about children’s literature for the better. Brian Jones did a great job with this biography, capturing all the details of Dr. Seuss’ life that made him the man he was while keeping readers engaged. 

4 stars biography 

Checkpoint Charlie: The Cold War, the Berlin Wall and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth – Staff Review – Maddy

Checkpoint Charlie: The Cold War, the Berlin Wall and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Ian MacGregor

During the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie was one of the three entry points in the Berlin wall to cross West Germany into East Germany. Checkpoint Charlie was the gate specifically used by military personnel and gaining access from one side to the other was not easy, especially for East Berliners. MacGregor details the history of the military checkpoint and how dangerous relations were for all sides involved in guarding the barriers and access across the wall. He also uses first hand accounts from military personnel and civilians from the East and West. MacGregor does a great job in detailing all aspects of life during this time and showing readers how the story wasn’t black and white. 
For anyone interested in the Cold War, Berlin wall, or Germany immediately after World War Two, I recommend reading this book as it gives a good history of Checkpoint Charlie and an introduction to how the Berlin Wall affected life on both sides. 

4 stars non-fiction

A Gentleman In Moscow – Staff Review – Maddy

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and read by Nicholas Smith

Available on the cloud library in both ebook and audiobook, A Gentleman in Moscow is a nice long book to read while in quarantine.

In 1922 Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a prominent hotel, for being an unrepentant aristocrat by the Bolsheviks (political party in power after the revolution). Going from a prominent man of the upper class who has never worked a day in his life, Rostov is moved to a from his expansive suite to a small attic apartment and left to provide for himself. But being stuck in a hotel, it turns out, is not as boring as it seems. In fact, there will be a lot going on as the times that can be gleaned from inside the Metropol. Some might even happen inside its doors. 
A Gentleman in Moscow is a historical fiction that spans the 1920s-1950s in Moscow. I enjoyed reading about Count Rostov and the rest of the characters in this book. Rostov knows a thing or two about being stuck at home and making the most of it. No spoilers here, but, I was slightly surprised by the ending turned out. 

3 stars