The Lake Pagoda

The Lake Pagoda takes readers on a journey to French Indochina in the mid-1940s, a period rarely explored in WWII historical fiction. The protagonist, Arielle, is of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage working as a secretary for the French colonial government. When the Japanese invade Hanoi, her native blood spares her from imprisonment, but she is forced to work for the enemy. Ariel’s life takes a dramatic turn when she is approached by the Viet Minh, a Communist organization led by Ho Chi Minh. The agent threatens to expose dark secrets from her past if she doesn’t pass them information from the Japanese. She must navigate the dangerous path of […]

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The River We Remember

“Our lives and the lives of those we love merge to create a river whose current carries us forward from our beginning to our end. Because we are only one part of the whole, the river each of us remembers is different, and there are many versions of the stories we tell about our past.”–William Kent Krueger, The River We Remember. William Kent Krueger has done it again with The River We Remember, a captivating mystery set in the heart of small-town Minnesota. Set on Memorial Day 1958, the story opens with the discovery of the half-clothed body of wealthy landowner Jimmy Quinn in the Alabaster River, dead from a […]

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The Echo of Old Books

Bookbinder and rare-book dealer Ashlyn Greer’s affinity for books extends beyond the intoxicating scent of old paper, ink, and leather. She has a unique gift for sensing the emotions of a book’s previous owners. She is intrigued when a man named Ethan Hillard donates a pair of books to the store. Both are bound in a similar fashion, but there is no author information or publisher data. Her gift becomes an obsession. As Ashlyn researches the mystery of these books, she uncovers a decades-old romance between two authors. Hemi and Belle’s conflicting accounts reveal a tragic love story shaped by political agendas and social dynamics. (I couldn’t help thinking how […]

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The Golden Doves

American Josie Anderson and Parisian Arlette LaRue join forces in the French Resistance during World War II, earning the moniker the Golden Doves for their daring espionage. However, their bravery comes at a heavy price as they are captured and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where they endure unimaginable horrors. The narrative unfolds into a post-war era, with Josie working for U.S. Army intelligence in Fort Bliss, Texas, as part of Operation Paperclip, while Arlette searches for her missing son and tries to rebuild her life in Paris. Their paths converge once more when they embark on a perilous mission to hunt down a notorious Nazi doctor in French […]

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Sold on a Monday

Sold on a Monday takes readers on a poignant journey back to 1931 Philadelphia, a time marked by widespread unemployment, bank runs, hunger, and despair. During this hardship, struggling reporter Ellis Reed stumbles upon a heart-wrenching scene—two young siblings on a farmhouse porch next to a sign that reads: 2 CHILDREN FOR SALE. Ellis captures a photo, meant for his eyes only, but his editor unexpectedly publishes it. The repercussions are devastating, pulling in the editor’s secretary, Lillian Palmer, who sees more than just a story in the image. As Ellis and Lillian become romantically involved, they embark on a journey to right the wrongs caused by the photo and […]

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State of the Union

State of the Union kicks off with a ticking time bomb situation. Picture this: Russian agents playing hide-and-seek with 19 suitcase nukes across the United States. Fast forward twenty years to President Jack Rutledge being handed an ultimatum: inform the American people that the U.S. will withdraw from world affairs, remove its troops from all foreign countries, and surrender its seat in the United Nations (among other organizations). If he does not do as he is commanded, sleeper agents will set off the hidden nuclear weapons. The president calls upon Navy SEAL turned Secret Service agent Scot Harvath who’s got just seven days to save the day. Harvath teams up […]

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The Widows of Champagne

Wow, what a book! I dove into The Widows of Champagne thinking it might be just another sad World War II tale, but boy, was I in for a treat. This novel took me on a journey with three generations of resilient women fighting to safeguard their family’s vineyard during a tumultuous time in France. Gabrielle Leblanc Dupree, a woman with a secret mission, is at the forefront. Instead of gearing up for a grand celebration of two centuries of champagne excellence, she orchestrates a covert operation to protect the vineyard’s most precious vintages from the clutches of the Nazis. The tension is palpable, and you can feel the weight […]

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Enemy at the Gates

I’ve been a fan of the Mitch Rapp series ever since the first book hit the shelves in 1999. When Vince Flynn passed on after churning out thirteen fantastic books, I thought, “That’s it, the end of an era.” But then Kyle Mills stepped up to the plate, and while his first couple didn’t quite hit the mark for me, he’s found his groove with Enemy at the Gates. After two decades of covert ops and assassinations, Mitch is contemplating hanging up his spy hat. He’s feeling the wear and tear, has settled down with a family, and is not exactly fond of the new president. And this president, Anthony […]

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Amy’s Picks and Pans, Issue 25

Stop the Press! Winter’s chill is setting in, and if you’re anything like me, now’s the perfect moment to bulk up your “want to read” list. This edition brings you a diverse array of genres, from historical fiction and feminism to Christian thriller, time travel, and contemporary fiction. Join me on a literary journey spanning Russia, California, Wyoming, Alabama, England, France, Iran, and the Philippines. I should be jet-lagged with all that traveling through my eyeballs! Among these pages, you’ll find some real gems (and, in my humble opinion, a couple of duds). Here’s hoping you discover something delightful to while away the chilly hours. Extra! Extra! Read All About […]

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Sisters in Arms

Sisters in Arms explores the history of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps’ 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, called the “Six Triple Eight.” The 6888th had 855 women, amongst whom were three Latinas. They were among the first Black women allowed to serve in the US Army during World War II. This historical follows Grace Steele and Eliza Jones, from their recruitment in New York City to their mission in Europe. As part of the 6888th, their task is to tackle a substantial backlog of mail. The novel not only addresses the challenges of wartime but also the harsh realities of segregation and prejudice. Despite its historical significance, my journey through […]

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