Your Next Favorite Book: August Reads

August wasn’t my favorite reading month.  While I enjoyed the books I read I didn’t devour any of them as has been the case with some of the books I read during the summer.  None the less I did find two that I thoroughly enjoyed!

I’m calling August the month of the Netgalley book.  Since three out of the four books I read in August were books I got from Netgalley.  If you’re a reader and have never heard of Netgalley, I suggest you get on that train ASAP.  It’s a website where you can request, yet to be released books in exchange for writing a review on them either on the website itself or on your blog.

Sadly you won’t get every book that you request.  But I have gotten the majority of the books I’ve requested so I’m still a happy camper.  Anyway, definitely worth checking out if you love to read!

And now on to the goods!

Goodreads Synopsis:  The highly anticipated new standalone novel from Martin Cruz Smith, whom The Washington Post has declared “that uncommon phenomenon: a popular and well-regarded crime novelist who is also a writer of real distinction,” The Girl from Venice is a suspenseful World War II love story set against the beauty, mystery, and danger of occupied Venice.

Venice, 1945. The war may be waning, but the city known as La Serenissima is still occupied and the people of Italy fear the power of the Third Reich. One night, under a canopy of stars, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across a young woman’s body floating in the lagoon and soon discovers that she is still alive and in trouble.

Born to a wealthy Jewish family, Giulia is on the run from the SS. Cenzo chooses to protect Giulia rather than hand her over to the Nazis. This act of kindness leads them into the world of Partisans, random executions, the arts of forgery and high explosives, Mussolini’s broken promises, the black market and gold, and, everywhere, the enigmatic maze of the Venice Lagoon.

The Girl from Venice is a thriller, a mystery, and a retelling of Italian history that will take your breath away. Most of all it is a love story.

My thoughts:  This is one of the books I received from Netgalley.  And yes, it’s another WWII book.  I just can’t help myself y’all.  This one caught my eye because it’s based in Venice and I’ve been to Venice, so I thought, “Sweet, I’ll be able to recognize the places they’re talking about.”  Wrong.  It doesn’t exactly take place in Venice but more so on one of the islands close to Venice.  But it was still a really fascinating read.  I haven’t read much about WWII in Italy and how it affected the Italians.  (Well save for having seen Life is Beautiful, phenomenal movie btw.)  I wish we had been given more back story on Guilia.  Although I do realize the story was supposed to be centered around Cenzo and his family.  Still would have been nice to read more about her.  There were times when the dialogue got a little confusing.  It was super fast paced at times and was difficult to keep up with.
But again I liked learning a little bit more about what it was like in Italy in the last days of WWII.  The love story was just okay.  I would have been perfectly fine with the book had there been no love story at all.  
Anyway, it’s worth a read if you’re into WWII historical fiction! 

Goodreads Synopsis: When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn’t belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that’s used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance.

Over half a century later, the Barbizon’s gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman’s rent-controlled apartment. It’s a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose’s obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.

My thoughts:  This was another book I received from Netgalley.  This was a good one.  I really enjoyed The Dollhouse.   The transition between present day and the 1950s was ok, but I did find myself wishing the whole book was all focused in the 1950s.  I kept trying to picture myself in the book.  Which floor would I have lived on, if I had been a Barbizon girl in the 1950s.  What would my dream job be?  I’d love to say model but in reality I most likely would have been a secretary or something.  
Anyway, good read and I enjoyed it!  

Goodreads Synopsis: Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King. But the fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen becomes the target of assassination attempts and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan, her world threatens to tear itself apart.

Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.

My thoughts:  The cover and the synopsis had me really excited to read this.  But to be honest, I was bored for the majority of the book.  I love British history and have read books similar to this but it just didn’t do anything for me.  I even found myself reading ahead to find out the end of the story because I just couldn’t get into it.  Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mindset for this genre right then but meh, I’ve read better.   Oh and this was the final Netgalley book I received. 

Goodreads Synopsis: Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

My thoughts:  I know I know.  Yet ANOTHER WWII book.  I told you it’s my favorite.  This was probably my favorite of the four.  I loved the detail and the way the story was told from 4 different perspectives.  I loved that it was told from the perspective of teenagers, rather than adults.  I cannot imagine having to go through the horrors of war at a time when you’re supposed to be learning about life and love.  The children and teenagers who lived through WWII lost their innocence in a way no one should.  And this book does a great job of showing us that.  This was another topic from WWII that I was previously in the dark about.  I had never heard about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gusloff, nor had I learned much about WWII in Baltic region.  So this was an eye opening book in more ways than one. 

Even though I loved the book as a whole, I will say I was a tad disappointed with then end.  I felt like is had and abrupt ending and I wanted more.  Much much more.  Still 100% worth the read though.  I give it 5 stars!


That’s a wrap for August friends.  The Dollhouse and Salt to the Sea are definitely worth your time.  The other two you can take or leave.

Have a great Tuesday!  Linking up for:

Life According to Steph

14 thoughts on “Your Next Favorite Book: August Reads

  1. The Dollhouse is currently sitting on my nightstand, so I'm glad to hear you overall enjoyed the book. Salt to Sea is also on my TBR. It sounds like it will hit me in the gut, but that's okay!


  2. I'm not a huge fan of historical books, but Salt to the Sea sounds really really good! I signed up for Netgalley earlier in the year and never did anything with it. Until now when you reminded me, requesting some books now since I want to read more the rest of the year :)!


  3. i feel you on netgalley. i still get sad when they reject me like what did i do! lol.i don't think i have ever read a WWII book to do with italy… lots of germany, france and england, but not italy i don't think. will add it to my list.the dollhouse sounds interesting.. that's the problem with multiple time periods in one book, i always prefer one and hate when it switches loli've heard amazing things about salt to the sea. it's on the never ending list!


  4. I just can't quit WWII fiction either, although after Lilac Girls, I might really need a break. That sucks that you didn't like The Girl From Venice that much! I requested it from Netgalley because I liked the fact that it was set someplace that I've visited (officially visited now!), so that sucks that it doesn't talk about the city that much. I'm going to look into The Dollhouse! It sounds really good!


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