The Tea Rose series by Jennifer Donnelly

The three books in this series, The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose make up a marvelously engrossing family saga series. The series spans three generations of a couple of families during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although most of the series takes place in and around London, particularly London’s East End, some of the characters travel to America, Africa and Asia.the Winter Rose

The characters are rich and full of life. They experience despair and joy. They find love, lose it and find it again. I found myself really wanting things to come out all right for them. Usually it did, but sometimes it didn’t.

I listened to the Audible.com version of all three novels, narrated by Jill Tanner. While continuing to recover from my broken foot (still healing), I found myself subject to bouts of insomnia. These books kept me company and I cared more about the troubles of the characters than my own.

Highly Recommended for fans of General Fiction, Family Sagas and Romantic Historical Fiction.

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Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Publication Info: Audible.com audio edition published April 2016. Other editions available.

Summary: Lilac Girls is primarily the story of three women during World War II and is told from their varying points of view.  The first is Kasia Kuzmerick , a young polish girl who was caught running an errand for the resistance, arrested and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp for women. The second is Herta Oberheuser, a German doctor who after struggling to find a job, takes a position as camp doctor at Ravensbrück. And finally,  Caroline Ferriday, a wealthy American woman who works tirelessly for victims both during and after the war.Lilac Girls

Comments: I found the varying points of view to be interesting and enlightening. I also found the author’s “Afterward Notes” astonishing. This is much more than a work of fiction. While I knew of many of the German atrocities and medical experiments, I’d never heard of Ravensbrück and the group of women known as the “rabbits”. 74 young, healthy women, mostly Polish, were subjected to medical experiments that left them maimed and crippled. That 63 survived the surgery and the camp was nothing short of a miracle. Herta Oberheuser participated in these experiments under the direction of Dr. Karl Gebhardt. She was the only female doctor convicted at Nuremberg. Caroline Ferriday was also a real person who worked to help war orphans and the “rabbits”.

Highly recommended for historical fiction readers.

Hand of Silver, Hand of Gold by Christopher Peter Grey

Hand of Silver, Hand of Gold by Christopher Peter Grey

Publication Date: April 21, 2018 (Kindle Edition)

Summary: Set in Bologna, Italy at the end of the 15th century, this book is an historical-fantasy coming of age story. The protagonist, seventeen-year-old Orlando Novi, suspects his recently deceased father didn’t commit suicide, but rather, was murdered. He vows to find out who murdered him and avenge his death.Hand of Silver, Hand of Gold

While mourning at his father’s grave, Orlando encounters a mysterious alchemist. The alchemist digs something out of a very old grave, leaving behind a sinister looking cross. Orlando picks this up and very quickly his life becomes entangled in intrigue, danger and political uprisings. Young and inexperienced in the evils of the world, Orlando struggles to find his path and the truth.

Comments: I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. It is only available on Kindle.

I enjoyed reading it. The book moves along and has excitement at every turn. Primarily, it is an historical mystery, but the alchemy adds a bit of a magical touch.

There are some historical inaccuracies—the book would have benefited from a bit more research (such as a tomato in a sandwich in 1492; tomatoes didn’t appear in Europe until the 16th century (http://www.tomato-cages.com/tomato-history.html). But these didn’t detract from the sheer swashbuckling fun of the book.

Recommended for those who like to read historical fantasy and/or discover new authors.