All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

What I Read On Holiday, Part 2

on September 28, 2022

The Librarian Spy
Madeline Martin
Harlequin AUS
2022, 402p
Read via my local library/Libby app

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: Ava thought her job as a librarian at the Library of Congress would mean a quiet, routine existence. But an unexpected offer from the US military has brought her to Lisbon with a new mission: posing as a librarian while working undercover as a spy gathering intelligence.

Meanwhile, in occupied France, Elaine has begun an apprenticeship at a printing press run by members of the Resistance. It’s a job usually reserved for men, but in the war, those rules have been forgotten. Yet she knows that the Nazis are searching for the press and its printer in order to silence them.

As the battle in Europe rages, Ava and Elaine find themselves connecting through coded messages and discovering hope in the face of war. 

Madeline Martin’s previous book, The Last Bookshop In London was an unexpected favourite for me last year so I was super excited to read this and I think that it pretty much lived up to my expectations. It’s also set in wartime, with an American character Ava who is transplanted to Portugal, working undercover and using her linguistic skills to gather evidence. At the same time there’s Elaine in France, who is working for the resistance after the disappearance of her husband. She begins working at a printing press, making and distributing fliers that are also ways of communicating secret messages and danger lurks around every corner as the Nazis are desperate to stamp out resistance activity and suppress the locals even further. The threat of being rounded up and tortured or shipped off to one of the camps is an everyday thing.

This was a gripping read, the sort of book that didn’t feel like the 400p it was and I very much enjoyed both parts of the story – Ava in Lison and Elaine undertaking her new identity working for the resistance and trying to do as much as she could to undermine the Germans after they took her husband. There’s a lot of examples of what happens to people who get caught and Elaine has several near misses. The tension and suspense was built really nicely in that part of the novel and Ava’s part wasn’t without its tension either. There’s a little romance as well and just a well rounded picture of snapshots of both living in and around the war (France) and in a more neutral area, trying to help the hoards of people that need to escape (in Portugal).

Really found this to be a wonderfully entertaining read and I’ll be on the lookout for Madeline Martin’s next book.

8/10

Book #155 of 2022

This is book #38 of my 2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, hosted by Marg @ The Intrepid Reader

The River Gum Cottage
Léonie Kelsall
Allen & Unwin
2022, 448p
Read via my local library/Libby app

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: Sometimes, home isn’t a place: it’s a feeling.

Lucie Tamberlani had it all: a business manager with a passion for naturopathy, she was set to take over the bookwork at the family strawberry farm in South Australia. But the unexpected fallout from a relationship sees her flee to Melbourne, raising her daughter alone. Summoned back to the farm after her father’s death, Lucie must find a way to deal with not only grief, guilt, and the betrayal that forced her away – but the fear of losing her daughter.

Jack Schenscher is doing it tough: caring for his aged grandparents and managing their wheat farm while simultaneously pursuing his passion of sustainable eco-farming on his own acreage leaves him with little time and even less money. With the death of his business partner, he could lose all he has worked toward. Yet when he meets Lucie, can he set aside one passion for another?

Both Lucie and Jack must discover that home is wherever the heart is.

This is the third book by Léonie Kelsall I have read – they are all loosely linked, focused around the same rural community and the characters cross over into different books. I enjoyed the previous two enormously (the first I read is my absolute fave) but I have to admit, this one didn’t quite do it for me to the level of the previous two. It felt pretty long – took me 3 days to read it and I was doing other things but it definitely felt like at times, it was lagging, pacing wise in the middle.

I did really like the romance – I enjoyed Lucie and Jack together, I liked what Jack was doing on his farm and I thought that Lucie’s daughter was mostly a pretty well portrayed child character. It can be hard to get kids right in books, they can have a tendency to be inserted so much into the narrative that they take it over. The death of Lucie’s father brings her from Melbourne, where she has been living, back to her rural hometown and the disapproving gaze of her mother, who made it very clear that Lucie had been nothing but a disappointment to her beloved father ever since getting pregnant with her daughter.

It took me a while to realise that Lucie was like, 29 or something. She was in her mid-20s when she got pregnant. The level of guilt and disappointment that she’s made to feel she is felt really weird to me, like I could understand (maybe?) such a level of that behaviour if she’d been very young, in high school or something, with a whole future ahead of her but even then, to make someone feel like that over something like a child, just felt very pointless to me. Lucie was heartbroken about not seeing her father again before he died, being made felt like she had devastated him and look, when the reasoning for why her mother is so upset comes out, it felt….. not enough. She was punishing the wrong person and had been for a long time. When everyone kept telling Lucie to give her mother the benefit of the doubt, it ended up becoming quite infuriating to read.

This was okay but not my favourite.

6/10

Book #158 of 2022

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2 responses to “What I Read On Holiday, Part 2

  1. Susan Legg says:

    I’m delighted you gave The Librarian Spy a positive review, as I have it on hold from my local library having read her first novel, which I enjoyed very much. It’s occasionally hard to know reading a blurb whether a second book by an author will be equally as enjoyable. However that’s the beauty of library books, easily returned rather than struggling through with a purchased copy & feeling the necessity to finish.

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