Sunday Book Review – Queen of Paris #historicalfiction – Coco Chanel

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing a book by Pamela Binnings Ewen – Queen of Paris. This is a historical fiction story about the life of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, from her poor childhood and dropped off as a young girl, at a nun’s convent by her father, after her mother’s death, through her tumultuous years as a mistress, to her break through idea creating a hat, to her ruthless survival, hanging out with high ranking German officers during WWII, to her eventual fleeing of Paris once France was freed of Germans. As a lover of biographies and my curiosities for how people became famous, I found this a riveting read.


Legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel is revered for her sophisticated style—the iconic little black dress—and famed for her intoxicating perfume Chanel No. 5. Yet behind the public persona is a complicated woman of intrigue, shadowed by mysterious rumors. The Queen of Paris, the new novel from award-winning author Pamela Binnings Ewen, vividly imagines the hidden life of Chanel during the four years of Nazi occupation in Paris in the midst of WWII—as discovered in recently unearthed wartime files.

Coco Chanel could be cheerful, lighthearted, and generous; she also could be ruthless, manipulative, even cruel. Against the winds of war, with the Wehrmacht marching down the Champs-Élysées, Chanel finds herself residing alongside the Reich’s High Command in the Hotel Ritz. Surrounded by the enemy, Chanel wages a private war of her own to wrestle full control of her perfume company from the hands of her Jewish business partner, Pierre Wertheimer. With anti-Semitism on the rise, he has escaped to the United States with the confidential formula for Chanel No. 5. Distrustful of his intentions to set up production on the outskirts of New York City, Chanel fights to seize ownership. The House of Chanel shall not fall.

While Chanel struggles to keep her livelihood intact, Paris sinks under the iron fist of German rule. Chanel—a woman made of sparkling granite—will do anything to survive. She will even agree to collaborate with the Nazis in order to protect her darkest secrets. When she is covertly recruited by Germany to spy for the Reich, she becomes Agent F-7124, code name: Westminster. But why? And to what lengths will she go to keep her stormy past from haunting her future?

My 5 Star Review:

As a lover of historical fiction – and my fascination with Coco Chanel, I found this story riveting. If you Google up Coco Chanel and her ‘colorful’ past, you will find all the elements this author covered in the book that seem accurate as much as we can learn about this mysterious woman and her shenanigans. The said facts are woven into this telling about this intriguing woman, her tragic beginnings and love life, and the evolution of her couture and infamous fragrance, Chanel #5, and how far she’d go to protect it.

Gabrielle Chanel came from a poor family and when her mother died Gabrielle was twelve years old, and was sent to live in a nun’s convent/orphanage where she had to work and scrub the abbey floors because she was poor. Once freed, she started singing in cabaret halls and rubbed shoulders with some elite along her path, and ultimately, became part of an elite group of mistresses where she made some colorful liasons. It was a song she sang at the cabarets that inspired her new name – Coco. Chanel’s shmoozing with the elite as a mistress, had her falling in love with Boy Capel, who would turn out to be the one and only love of her life, which was really a tragic love story on so many levels.

She was a clever woman who made her mark when she made up a hat she wore around her elite friends in the early 1900s, and the hat was the beginning of her millinery career, created because of her determination to make her own money to stop being beholden to rich men. It was her lover, Boy Capel who helped her eventually set up shop for her couture business that followed her millinery beginnings.

A few years later, Coco met up with a perfumer, she commissioned him to come up with a scent to match her designs, and after assessing five certain scents, she fell in love with the fifth one and five, being her favorite number for various reasons, became her signature scent. To move this product along, Chanel had already met some people in high society and they hooked her up making a deal with Jewish marketing brothers, Pierre and Paul Wertheimer to run the company of Chanel perfumes. Chanel was given only a 10% cut of her own product, but with no money of her own, this venture helped begin her empire.

The history of the making of this perfume is interesting enough, but with all the hob-nobbing Chanel was involved with, this book takes us into her world once WWII was approaching and her Jewish partners who had fled France to the United States just before the war began spreading into France. They fled with the ‘secret recipe’ and locked down all the Jasmine fields in and around Grasse, Provence with buying off perfumers to make sure the product wouldn’t be altered by inferior or synthetic ingredients, and Chanel couldn’t get to them first.

Chanel did everything she could to get her rights back, but everything she tried, it seemed, her partners were always one step ahead of her. And then the war came to Paris. Chanel fled to the south of France, made some new connections with the elite, and after a few months, returned to Paris, to her beloved Ritz Hotel where the German hierarchy had taken over, but ‘the elite’ Parisians were still permitted to stay. It was during this time she made friends with some of Germany’s most ruthless SS leaders – a dangerous game.

This story also depicts how ruthless and vengeful Chanel was as she tried to declare her product as Aryan, stopping at nothing to get back her perfume rights, while trying to convince some very high gestapo to help her get her company back away from Jews. She is also forced to beg a favor of them for a very personal nature, and as we all know, once you are indebted to the gestapo, you are trapped. Chanel had a big choice to make – betray her country by becoming a spy and aligning with the Germans, or give up on trying to reclaim her company – and something else she loved even more dearly.

The author engages us in great story lines here, spanning between two different decades the early 1900s to 1919 and 1940 as WWII approaches, to the end of the war.

This book takes a deep look at the choices Chanel made in her life, her mission to survive and everything she would do to try and get back her rights. She was a clever woman who made her mark with an unusual hat, growing it into a huge empire. After WWI, when she could finally obtain materials, she began her fashion career. But she paid many steep prices along her way to fame, and this book highlights a lot of her heartache, and ruthlessness, depicting just how far she would go to obtain what she wanted.

Everyone thinks, ooh Chanel, but after reading this book, it left me feeling that Coco was both, a woman who would sellout anyone for personal gain and was sometimes lacking in human empathy in the name of keeping grandiose standing in high society. She was a woman who was very damaged and broken in many ways. I couldn’t feel sympathy for her, as I hold no value for those who value money more than human life. And as it turns out, after the war, many Parisians felt the same way. It wasn’t until ten years after the war she reclaimed her fame in America as Americans knew nothing about her secret life and liasons with the Third Reich.

A truly engaging read!


Sunday Book Review – Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay – #HistoricalFiction

My Sunday Book Review was a riveting read by Tatiana De Rosnay – Sarah’s Key. Once again I came across this moving book after a fellow author shared her own gripping review for the book. As many of you know I’m drawn to historical fiction – particularly in the WWII era. As much as my empathy has me turning away from violence and abuse, I am drawn to the stories that take me on a journey of trying to understand the human condition and the triumph of those that survive the heinous war. The atrocities of war don’t always have to relate to the physical violence, but the atrocities of mankind that instill fear in those living daily struggling to survive is equally frightening, sometimes more than a hand or a stick being struck against them.




Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.


My 5 Star Review (Really 4.5 stars, read on to discover why)

In this heart-grabbing story, it is told in two eras – the present day 2002) , where American journalist Julia – living in Paris for the past 25 years, is hired to do a story on the 60th anniversary of the Velodrome d’Hiver roundup by the French police, where 13,000 Jews were suddenly snatched from their homes in Paris, July 1942 and disappeared. Julia comes across a list of families taken on that fateful night, and later finds on the death list, one girl’s name is missing, despite her name being on the roundup list. Where did Sarah go? In the now, we are taken into Julia’s erratic life, marriage and stunningly, a common bond she discovers with Sarah of the past when Julia’s husband has chosen a new apartment for them to live in Paris.

Is it possible for anyone to survive the death camps? What happened to Sarah after that fateful night on July 16, 1942 after she and her parents were taken along with 13,000 others to the Velodrome stadium in Paris, once a sports arena, left to starve as they waited for days til their fates were sealed? Their crimes? They were Jews. The children were taken elsewhere separately and murdered, so as not to cause ‘alarm’ to onlooking citizens, while they watched parents loaded  onto buses headed for the train station and then loaded on like cattle in cattle trains, and were taken to their immediate deaths in Auschwitz.

In Julia’s investigation to try and solve what happened to Sarah from 1942, she travels from Paris to a farm community in Orleans, back to Paris, and then Italy where a lead takes her. When she returns to Paris she must deal with her newly discovered pregnancy that her philandering husband isn’t too excited about. Until she grows a pair and leaves him (finally) and moves back to New York.

The two stories converge when later, Julia discovers an incredible and heart-wrenching link between her husband’s family and Sarah’s family.

I found Julia’s life was a bit blase with some unnecessary filler, and I did not like the character of her husband and found Julia wasn’t empowering enough by staying way too long with her philandering husband. I can’t help but wonder how the book might have been more intense if it was told by Sarah in its entirety. Julia was banal, lacking dimension and gumption.  But this book was a great read with lots to keep me turning the pages. One of those – hard to put down books – despite my not loving the protagonist’s weakness as a woman. But Sarah’s story was absolutely riveting. And because Sarah’s story was riveting I’m giving this book 5 stars instead of 4 with my 4 1/2 actual rating (I deducted only half off for Julia’s lack of depth), because it was a fantastic, although disheartening story.


*NBFor those unfamilar with the Vel d’Hiv capture, even France liked to keep it under wraps for decades, ashamed to speak of their part in thousands of Jewish deaths. The roundup was the largest French deportation of Jews during the Holocaust.  Vel d’Hiv and how it began with the German occupation in France.



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Sunday Book Review – The Violin Maker’s Daughter by Sharon Maas

My Sunday Book Review is for Sharon Maas’s – The Violin Maker’s Daughter. This book takes us to Colmar, France 1940, when Germany is about to take over France during WWII. A hard to put down book as we follow the life of Sarah Mayer, a 17 year old girl, the eldest of five sisters who will be the first of them to be sent away from her home, arranged by her parents and the French Resistance with the ultimate journey and goal for Sarah to reach Switzerland or Spain.





When the Nazis march onto the cobbled streets of Colmar on November 1st 1940, Josef, a Jewish violin maker, gathers his wife and daughters closely to him and tells them everything will be alright.

But one year later, three sharp knocks on the door at midnight turn his seventeen year old daughter Sarah’s world upside down. As the oldest child, Sarah must be the first to leave her family, to make her escape in a perilous journey across France via Paris to Poitiers. And she must hide who she is and take a new name for her own safety. For now, bilingual Sarah is no longer a French Jew but a German girl.

As she bids farewell to her beloved father and family, Sarah has hope, against all odds, that she will see them again when the war is over. But, travelling through the mountains she finds herself in terrible danger and meets Ralf, a German deserter, who risks his own life to save her.

Ralf and Sarah continue their journey together, keeping their identities secret at all cost. But when Ralf is captured, will Sarah pay the ultimate price for sharing who she really is?

A gripping and heart-breaking account of love, bravery and sacrifice during the terror of war. A story of standing up for what you believe in; even if it’s going to break your heart. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Ragged Edge of Night.


My 5 Star Review:

Josef Mayer is the violin maker in Colmar, France. As Germany’s takeover of France nears, Josef makes arrangements with the French Resistance for his five daughters to be escorted to Switzerland. His eldest daughter Sarah will leave first, despite her own resistance for not wanting to leave her home and family, as the severity of what was to come to France couldn’t be realized. Sarah’s papers are all ready, stating she’s a German from Colmar, France with no yellow star stamped on the paper. Josef is an agnostic Jew and his wife Leah is a converted Jew, although the family are not practicing Jews, to the Nazis, they are still Jews. The children don’t understand why plans are being made for them all to eventually flee Colmar and quick plans are made with a nearby neighbor, Yves, to hook the family up with the resistance to get them all to safety – first Sarah, then her sisters to follow, and eventually her parents. That was the plan, but during war, plans can change in a moment’s notice.

Sarah is picked up in the middle of the night and taken to first stop – the winery where Rebecca who’s in charge of an old farmhouse, prepares the routes and missions with Eric to guide runaway Jews through the mountains from this underground safehouse pitstop along the way of Sarah’s journey. But when Rebecca falls and twists her ankle, early into the journey, the three must turn back as she cannot walk, and Eric and Sarah help to carry her back to the safehouse. New plans are made as Rebecca is housebound and will now await the next two sisters to come to the safehouse while she heals and Eric and Sarah set out again.

Eric and Sarah encounter two young German soldiers in the forest. One of them apparently relishes his job to kill Jews and the other, Raif Sommer, stood in mortification as he watched the struggle between Eric and the other soldier as Eric tried to protect Sarah and foil his attempt to rape Sarah, until Eric was shot in the leg. In this stunning commotion, Raif shoots and kills the other soldier and becomes a deserter and helps carry injured Eric with Sarah’s help, back to the safehouse once again. We soon learn, once Sarah and Eric and a German soldier return, that Raif was drafted in a war he wanted no part of as he was supposed to be studying in university to be a doctor. And now with Rebecca and Eric out of commission, the plans have changed. Raif is given civilian clothes from Rebecca’s son’s wardrobe and he will lead Sarah once again on the journey.

Before leaving, Rebecca has a chat with Raif, informing him how Sarah is young and naive and has no experience with relationships, warning him not to start any romance business. They set out for the journey to Metz, only Sarah will take a train and Raif will have to walk for three days because he has no papers. Those three days of traveling Sarah realizes she has feelings stirring for Raif who has been kind and chivalrous to her and has ultimately saved her and Eric’s life. Once they meet up again and have made it to the next farmer’s safehouse, they are to wait with the resistance members until Raif’s new papers are made for them to carry on together – only the safehouse is ambushed one night with mass murder going on upstairs. Once again, Sarah’s life is spared by Raif’s quick thinking, as they were sleeping in their respective rooms in the basement when the kerfuffle began and Raif grabs Sarah and squashes them both into a bathroom hole  with a secret crawlspace as they await the Nazis to finish inspecting the basement and leave. Later Raif walks around outside to make sure the coast is clear and with the help of a neighbor who saw the whole invasion, they are directed to the next safehouse where they will then get on a train to Paris where they will connect to the next town, Poitiers.

The train ride is nerve-racking as gestapo go around checking for papers and Raif – now Karl, and Sarah sit separately as not to attract undue attention. Sarah’s weakness is learning to keep her mouth shut as she loves to talk and still doesn’t grasp the peril of her journey. Great tension as we follow Sarah on the multiple journeys, almost squirming with hope she doesn’t make any mistakes.

They stop at a cafe and watch Jews being berated and ultimately beaten by Nazis. Sarah wants to shout out at them and Raif shuts her up by kissing her, and so the romance begins. Although Sarah is confused after because Raif backs off. He is also attracted to Sarah, but tries to honor his promise to Rebecca, not to tangle up Sarah’s young heart when she is dealing with so much more.

When they finally arrive at the last safehouse in Poitiers, a town south of Paris, the two must be separated. Raif has joined the French Resistance, and Sarah who speaks fluent French and German is sent to apply for a job as a nanny who is to teach the four young children, German, and give them violin lessons at the Limoin residence where this upper class French family have become collaborators with the Nazis. Sarah rests comfortably there as she pines away for Raif/Karl awaiting message from him so they can meet up. In the meantime, Madam Limoin’s boisterous and socialite younger sister, Monique, befriends Sarah and gets a little too close for comfort, especially when Monique  snoops and finds a letter Sarah stupidly, left on her bed. Sarah gets a message from her safehouse keeper, Regine, in Poitiers, and she’s told to get moving before she is discovered by the Limoins.

At that point, Sarah decides not to continue her journey to now Spain, but to also join the resistance. Her mission is to gather intelligence by traveling to Germany to visit various train stations to learn which towns in France the troops were being sent to next. Sarah also takes the opportunity to spread fake news to anyone she makes small talk with, in hopes they will spread her rumors that the allies have landed in some small towns in France and are killing the Germans. This mission offers great tension taking us all the way to the end of the book with a nice twist surprise ending I didn’t see coming.

This book was a fantastic read, well written, lots of suspense to keep the pages turning, a bit of romance, and, love, endurance, sadness and triumph. If you enjoy stories about courage and survival, espionage, mixed in with love, hatred and redemption during the perilous WWII era, you will love this book!



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Q & A with D.G. Kaye, Featuring #HistoricalFiction author Paulette Mahurin

Welcome to my Q & A today. I’m delighted to have one of my favorite historical fiction authors over here today, Paulette Mahurin.

As many of you who read my Sunday Book Reviews know, historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read in; and I was hooked on Paulette’s writing ever since reading her gripping book – The Seven Year Dress the story of one woman who survived WWII and lived to tell. Recently, I reviewed her latest book – Irma’s Endgame, a medical mystery/thriller, which I enjoyed too. But today Paulette is introducing us to her book – The Old Gilt Clock. Paulette’s  royalty profits are donated to save dogs from kill shelters.


Paulette Mahurin



About Paulette:

Paulette Mahurin lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science. While in college, she won awards and was published for her short-story writing. One of these stories, Something Wonderful, was based on the couple presented in His Name Was Ben, which she expanded into a fictionalized novel in 2014.

Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction of the year 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015.

Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue. Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.




Thanks for being here today Paulette, I’m excited to learn more about your latest book too! Let’s get into some questions!


Where do your book ideas grow from?

As glib as this may sound, the tree of life and what spouts organically, what comes to me with spontaneous interest is where my ideas come from. I have a fascination and passion, naturally, about hard topics. Anti-Semitism, homophobia, women’s abuse, racism, to name a few and am drawn to these topics. Ideas come to me and if they hold an interest I research the subjects. For example, when I read of a little known man, a heroic historical resistance fighter whose last words were, “let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards,” I was instantly intrigued. What was this person’s life that brought him to these final words? That became the topic of my last novel, The Old Gilt Clock. The man, William Arondéus, was a World War II underground resistance fighter in the Netherlands who along with his collaborators managed to save the lives of close to a million Jewish people.

D.G. – It’s no secret I love your books, and it’s fascinating to learn what inspires you. I am drawn to same hard topics, and am always mesmerized by learning people’s actions and the whys of behavior, so no wonder I enjoy your books.


Do you have any advice you can share for new writers?

The best advice I think any writer can ever receive is what defines a writer is sitting down in the chair and writing. Like the Nike commercial, just do it, it’s the same with writing. Everyone has something to say. We all live stories. Our days have a beginning, middle, and ending. The same is true for all aspects of our lives.

We communicate to friends in stories, usually snapshots of events with personal judgments and narrative commentary thrown in. It’s no different for anyone who wants to write. You just sit down in a chair, put your hands on the keys, and punch in; vomit out what you want to say. Vomit out what you don’t want to say. Don’t hold back. And when the inaccurate critic inside your head starts complaining, you say to that critic, “Shut up!” It doesn’t matter if you sit for a minute or ten hours, typing your ideas down makes you a writer. Period. If you want to write a novel, a novella, etc. then that also is about sitting down and doing it. Tell what comes to you organically and don’t worry about editing, grammar, how flowery it sounds, and for Pete’s sake don’t listen to the inside of your head when it tells you that’s crap and you have no talent. We all have those voices, not a human being alive (with the exception perhaps of a malignant narcissist) who doesn’t have doubts, anti-creative thoughts, feeling it could be better, etc. you name it. Leave all that for after you finish writing what you want to. Then hand it over to an editor.

Writing is a process, the more time you put in the stronger your writing muscle becomes. Some of the greats hated their own work. Millions disagreed. We just can’t know how something we write will be received but if you never sit down and just do it then you miss the opportunity to find out.

D.G. – I love your advice. And I’m sure I speak for many writers when I say, we are our own worst critics.


Share with us a book that moved you so much it stays with you.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It is one of the most profound books I’ve read. A non-fiction account of Frankl’s imprisonment and experience in an concentration camp where he lost the love of his life, his wife, and parents. His entire family was wiped out and yet this incredible man watched others and observed the resilience of the human spirit shine through the worst of circumstances. A Viennese psychiatrist by profession, in the most unthinkable situation he saw other dance, sing, and go to their deaths laughing. With everything lost to him, he gained an insight:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human
freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ― Viktor E. Frankl. I’ve never forgotten this. When dark times happen, I remember this and like a ray of sunbeam shining through a rainy cloud it lifts me.

Frankl made it out of the camps and went back to his psychiatric profession in Vienna, and was subsequently a visiting professor at Harvard. What a teacher he must have been. He certainly changed my life for the better—to me there is no better educator.

D.G. – Wow, I just got goosebumps Paulette. We both read a lot about the atrocities of mankind. I’m sometimes asked from some, why I want to read those sad war stories of evil and sadness. Because I can’t help myself from reading about the human spirit and how some people manage, despite almost zero odds, to overcome despite the heinous world they live through. And Frankl said it so succinctly. I will definitely be looking up that book. Thank you for sharing this.




During one of the darkest times in human history when millions of innocent Jews and others deemed “undesirables” were being sent to concentration camps to be brutality worked to death or slaughtered, a group of Dutch resistance workers rose up against the atrocities. Their resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands created a vast counterintelligence, domestic sabotage, and communications network to help hide Jewish people from German authorities. The Old Gilt Clock is the story of how one Dutch resistance member, Willem Arondéus, risked his life to defy the Nazis’ plans to identify and deport hundreds of thousands of Dutch Jews. Arondéus’ courage is largely forgotten by history, but not by the Jewish and Dutch people. Written by the award-winning international Amazon bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, comes a story of Arondéus’ courageous struggle to stand up to the unimaginable evil designs of Hitler. Inclusive is Arondéus’ battle to come out to his homophobic father, who hated his son’s homosexuality. It is also a story about friendships formed in the Dutch resistance movement, their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, their loves and betrayals, and ultimately their resilience to oppose tyranny and oppression when millions stood silent condoning heinous behavior. Thousands are alive today because of these brave, compassionate men and women.


The Old Gilt Clock Excerpt:

Across the ocean in America, where Birgit now lived with her new husband and a baby girl, the Roaring Twenties were reaching an end. It had been a time when blues and jazz bled into the culture, a time of rags-to-riches for black entertainers when the American prosperity was a way of life. But as the end of 1929 approached, it all came to a sudden end with the stock market crash. Not limited to North America, the Great Depression created a worldwide economic desperation that would last well into the 1930s, impacting the Netherlands. It led to political instability and riots. Hit hard was Germany. Already in political turmoil with the rise of brutality in the form of the Nazi and communist movements and the economic destruction levied on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles’ imposition of reparations in the sum of 50 billion gold marks, opportunity was provided for the rise of Hitler.

The end of the roaring twenties took on a new roar. At first, it was a low rumble but by the end of the thirties heading into the forties, it was deafening. The earsplitting grandiose contra-life outcry included talks of plans to create murdering machines. Sane ears discounted the oppressive rumors as madness. Just the talk of idle idiots. Sadly, as ears became unwaxed and able to hear, it became clear they weren’t just listening to rumors.

“There’s no such thing as a gas to kill people.”

“Oh, there isn’t? What of the poisonous asphyxiant gas used in the United States to
execute condemned prisoners?”

Soon it would not be a far stretch from the talk of one criminal being put to death to a
vast number of undesirables. Undesirables! They are not human, according to the proponents, remembered Willem, as electric ripples moved up his spine.



Fifty Sheds of Books
5.0 out of 5 stars The Old Gilt Clock
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 5, 2020
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

During these troubling times when fascism is on the rise, it is good to see quality authors like Paulette Mahurin tackling serious issues. In turns, I found this story gripping, sad and uplifting. There appears to be two sides to the human coin: people of evil and their acolytes, basically bullies and cowards, against people who demonstrate amazing bravery and courage. This is a story of incredible bravery and courage, a story that young people in particular should read so that they do not make the mistakes of past generations and our generation.

I found the setting intriguing, the story impeccably researched and the storyline engrossing. The men and women of the Resistance were a breed apart displaying the best of humanity, and the author captures their special qualities in this wonderful book. Paulette Mahurin has created a back catalogue of impressive quality and this book sits with the others as one of her best. Without doubt, she is one of the most impressive novelists writing today.


Well, between the blurb, excerpt and this rave review, you know I can’t wait to sink my eyes into this book! Thank you for joining us here today, it was fabulous having you over Paulette. ♥


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Sunday Book Review – The Cruel Romance: A Novel of Love and War by Marina Osipova

Book reviews by D.G. Kaye

I recently finished this book, The Cruel Romance: A Novel of Love and War by Marina Osipova. I learned about and connected with Marina on Sally Cronin’s author interviews and new books series at Sally’s virtual Bookstore and Cafe. I knew I wanted to read this book so didn’t hesitate to purchase it and bump it up on my big fat TBR. It’s historical fiction from the WWII era and that is one of my favorite genres to read when I’m not reading nonfiction. Have a look at my review below:





On October 1941, in a small village outside Moscow, Serafima bids farewell to Vitya, a Soviet officer going to the front. With only moments left together, she places a cross around her beloveds neck and reluctantly releases him into a cruel world where nothing is certain, especially whether she will ever see him again.

Days later, Germans invade her village and take over her tiny house. Serafima and her mother must comply with orders, endure abuse, and stay put, or their village will be annihilated.

As World War II intertwines Serafimas and Vityas life with that of a young German violinist and a Russian intellectual, their destinies are irrevocably altered. Can they rise to the challenge of agonizing moral choices and learn to forgive and love again?


The Cruel Romance is a tale of love, violence, and acceptance as Serafima is forced to live with what the Germans left behind. This compelling story makes for a thrilling read in a setting and time that comes to life, pulling the reader into the vividly drawn, rarely seen world (Elisabeth Amaral, author of When Any Kind of Love Will Do and Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup).


My 5 Star Review:

A cruel romance indeed. And as we all know, nothing is fair in love or war.

A fast paced, unputdownable engaging read from Osipova where she takes us into the troubled, and life of hardship of Serafima, a poor Russian girl, barely yet 18 years old. Serafima is caught in the midst of WWII and a sorrowful parting with her newly flourishing love with Victor who is heading off to the Russian front to join the war. Serafima vows to wait for him, both in virtue and in her heart. The author paints vivid imagery with poignant settings and well fleshed out complicated characters in a complicated time.

Already living in a tiny village in the forest, well outside of Moscow, Serafima knows poverty and hunger well, yet never complains. Living with her emotionless mother in a tiny hut, she learns that her hardships are about to get a lot worse after  two German soldiers invade and take over her tiny home, complete with her and her mother as their private slaves, where Serafima endures the brunt of mental and physical abuse.

Throughout the passing years, Serafima never stops pining for her lost love Victor. And as the war comes to an end and the Germans move out, Serafima finds herself with child. We are now drawn into the raw emotion  and struggle Serafima must deal with when her child is born and her disgust for his conception overshadows any joy she should have from giving birth and ultimately, distancing herself emotionally from her own child.

When a few more years pass, still with hope her Victor will return to marry her, she receives a rude awakening one day when he does return and he spots her child. A misunderstanding from unspoken words and a lifetime of holding back the truth changes the course of Serafima’s life dramatically. Instead Serafima continues to work and make the best life she can  while dismissing her undying love for Victor and learning to live with a broken heart.

Victor too never stopped loving Serafima despite their lack of reconciliation, and demonstrates how unresolved love can grow into vengeance. Life is a circle, and secrets of the past have a way of working themselves back into one’s life just as they did for Serafima, when she was faced to make peace with her past. Can she ever find love again? Will she eventually reunite with Victor? You will have to read the book to find out.

This book had me turning pages at every opportunity I could pick up the book. I will say. the ending was quite surprising, The book was beautifully written and so engaging I can’t help but give it 5 stars!


Sunday Book Review – The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin

Sunday Book Review


Book reviews by D.G. Kaye


Today’s book review is on Paulette Mahurin’s – The Seven Year Dress- A chilling look into the story of one woman’s survival after years of hiding out,fleeing the Nazi’s, her eventual capture, and her resilience and determination to live and regained her freedom from Auschwitz in 1945.

The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin

Get this book on Amazon!


One of the darkest times in human history was the insane design and execution to rid the world of Jews and “undesirables.” At the hands of the powerful evil madman Adolf Hitler, families were ripped apart and millions were slaughtered. Persecution, torture, devastation, and enduring the unthinkable remained for those who lived. This is the story of one woman who lived to tell her story. This is a narrative of how a young beautiful teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn asunder, ultimately bringing her to Auschwitz. It was there she suffered heinous indignity at the hands of the SS. It was also there, in that death camp, she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship.

Written by the award-winning, best-selling author of His Name Was Ben, comes a story of the resilience of the human spirit that will leave you thinking about Helen Stein and The Seven Year Dress for years to come after the last page is shut.


My 5 Star Review

The story of the Seven Year Dress is told through Jewish holocaust victim and survivor, Helen, as she shares her story with her new tenant about the degradation, starvation and brutality she witnessed and suffered from the Nazis.

Mahurin does a riveting job of capturing the climate of Nazi Germany just before the war broke out, depicting Helen and her family, and her one non Jewish friend who risked his own life to save Helen and her family from being captured and taken to Auschwitz concentration camp. We’re taken right into the emotions of Helen’s plight. Humiliation, inhumanity, fear and uncertainty of living one more day became the new life for Helen, once a seemingly happy, middle-class girl becoming stripped of everything she had, knew and loved from her former life before that fateful night in November 1938.

This heart-wrenching tale of destruction and devastation and an unfaltering fight to survive will have you eager to keep reading, despite the unblemished truths of the violence and descriptions of what Helen witnessed and endured.

I applaud Mahurin for writing this telling of a demoralizing tale of the human spirit of those who fought to survive despite all odds against them – heroic efforts to remain alive despite having no reason left to live except the desire to live.

I couldn’t stop reading this book and eagerly awaited any opportunity I’d get to pick it up again to learn how Helen survived. It’s also a good reminder about how easily a country can become brainwashed by false propaganda. I’m am looking forward to reading more books by this author. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, I highly recommend this book and author.


Sunday #BookReview – Featuring Ludwika by Christoph Fischer



Today’s book feature is Ludwika, by Christoph Fischer. I recently had Christoph over to my blog as my Friday Guest Author, featuring his newest book, Body in the Snow. But this book is in the genre that many of his books are written in, historical fiction. Christoph’s books, although fiction, are fact-based historical settings, often with events and characters written from actual people and places. I’m a huge fan of Christoph’s writing and storytelling, and this book in particular, has won many awards, recently, The Readers Favorite Book Award 2016.



Get this book on Amazon Here! 


The Blurb:


It’s World War II and Ludwika Gierz, a young Polish woman, is forced to leave her family and go to Nazi Germany to work for an SS officer. There, she must walk a tightrope, learning to live as a second-class citizen in a world where one wrong word could spell disaster and every day could be her last. Based on real events, this is a story of hope amid despair, of love amid loss . . . ultimately, it’s one woman’s story of survival.




My Review: 5 Stars


In keeping with historical fiction of World War II, Fischer takes us on a journey of one woman’s life in Poland, living on a farm in a small town, where the Germans are beginning to occupy. She is faced with a decision to go to Germany with a German SS officer who has taken a shining to her in exchange for safety, and the safety of her family who are to remain on their farm. Her biggest fear is having to leave her daughter behind, a heart tugging decision, which reminds me a lot about the book Sophie’s choice.

Once in Germany, and the beginning of the third Reich occupying much of Europe, Ludwika finds herself in the midst of several occurring circumstances while trying to find work, as a Pole, to survive and hide from the Nazis after unfortunate circumstances happen with her German suitor.

This book takes us through the trials and sufferings of one courageous woman, her sacrifices and sufferings to survive, and her undying desire to find her family.

A deep look into humanity, humility and determination, Ludwika will capture your empathy as she takes us with her on her perilous journey to survival.
Though parts of this story are true, the author notes about his research and his choices to use fiction to help create this incredible story. A captivating read!


Visit Christoph’s Amazon Author Page to see all of his wonderful books!

Book Review – The Luck of The Weissensteiners by Christoph Fischer

book reviews

Ever since I read one of Christoph Fischer’s books, I’ve been hooked on his writing. We all have quite a lengthy TBR list and great intentions of moving up a book in line from time to time.

Between the ‘must reads’, ‘want to reads’ and the shortage of time, sometimes I just say to myself, “I feel like reading a book of which the subject matter fascinates me” and I just move up the book. That’s what I did with Christoph’s book, The Luck of The Weissensteiners while I had time to read at the pool on my winter vacation. This book which is much longer than the average page count I prefer to read, captivated my attention through every page. Here’s my review below:



In The Luck of the Weissensteiners, Fischer weaves a story of humanity, compassion and anticipation with historical facts. I was engrossed with his ability to draw us in to his believable characters.


With the advent of WWII in the town Bratislava, the Weissensteiners, headed by the patriarch, Jonah, a hardworking man running a successful weaving business with the aid of his daughters and several employees, is faced with the dilemma of first believing if this new Aryan dominance could actually be true and if it would be affecting his and his family’s life eventually. Being a non- practicing Jew, and keeping a low profile, Jonah believes he might be safe.


As the story unfolds and new characters come into the life of the Weissensteiners, mainly by Jonah’s daughter Greta meeting and falling in love with a Protestant boy, the complications begin to ensue with the mixed marriage of Greta and Wilhelm at a time where religion was becoming a time of persecution and the Germans and Russians would soon be invading this little town on the Czech border.


Fischer captures our anticipations and emotions with the decisions made by the families as their complications in life ensue. First there are conflicting decisions to flee, where to flee, then will they be discovered?


The characters are well developed and the history is well researched as we’re taken through the journey of the Weissensteiners, we’re drawn into the history of the war and its effect on human life, psyche and degradation.


This book was a page turner. From the beginning I was taken in by the likeable characters and then by my anticipation to follow them in worry for their safety in escaping the horrors of being captured or killed in a conflicting war of race and religion, and for being Jewish in a wrong time of the world.


You can find Christoph on social media and his other wonderful books at the links below:








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