The girl under the olive tree by Leah Flemming

cynthia-girl-under-the-olive-tree.jpgAn interesting story about the battle of Crete – filled with all the emotions. Penelope returns to Crete for the 60th anniversary of the battle – where she reminisces about her war experience. Such a strong character amid the horror, with moments of friendship and love.

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We that are left by Lisa Bigelow

Cynthia We that are leftMae’s husband has been posted to serve on the HMAS Sydney leaving her to cope with their newborn child. This is not going to end well. Grace has just fallen head over heels in love, and her journalist boyfriend leaves to cover the war in Singapore – more tragedy to come. There is a lot of emotion in this story and it is handled beautifully. The women’s grief, hope and ambitions along with coping with everyday life are explored. War effects everyone and this story brings it to life.

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The memory of love by Aminatta Forna

Amy The Memory of loveSet in Freetown, Sierra Leone, from the late sixties until the early two thousands, this book is about the effects of war, and desire and betrayal. A slow, powerful, novel, that explores one man’s obsession with another’s wife, and what acts it drive him to, years ago, and an English psychologist’s attempts to help after Sierra Leone’s civil war.

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The last days of new Paris by China Mieville

Amy Last Days of New ParisTotally bizarre, The Last Days of New Paris certainly isn’t a book for everyone. It is alternate history set in two time periods, 1941 and 1950. What is created in 1940, leaves Thibaut and Sam still fighting Nazis in 1950 Paris, along with surrealist art that has come to life, and demons. It’s kind of like looking at surrealist artworks; I don’t really have any idea of what is going on, but it is disturbing, intriguing, frightening and somehow beautiful.

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The turning tide by C.M. Lance

Cynthia The Turning TideI enjoyed this story and characters mainly based around the WWII campaign in Timor. I love it when a story makes me experience a range of emotions throughout the story. It is a story on the horror of war and its aftermath, mateship, complicated families, love and ultimately hope. The story jumps time periods several times per chapter, sometimes throwing me off the flow of the story, but this is only a minor complaint.

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Code name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Amy Code Name VerityI do love novels set during WWII, and this may be my first young adult WWII story. It begins as a written confession from Queenie, who has been captured in France, and she tells the story of how she and her best friend Maddie, a pilot, ended up there. There’s a lot about being a pilot, some of what it was to be a woman in the air force, and about the French resistance. Though torture is involved, there is little gory detail, and the book is gently amusing at times, and is a great story of friendship and loyalty.

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Suite Francaise

Amy Suite FrancaiseThough only two parts of the suite were finished before the author was taken from her family and killed in a concentration camp in 1942, the scale of this novel is still so grand. In the first part, people flee Paris as the Germans approach, and in the second, a country village is occupied. The setting is breathtakingly beautiful, the different reactions to the situation are raw, shocking, tender, brutal and very real. It’s hard to separate the book from the author’s real life tragedy, and why should we? The film focuses on just one part of the book, where it is set in the country village. Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas ( American, Belgian and English) do a great job playing the French and German characters and it is a moving film.

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The Paris architect by Charles Belfoure

Amy The Paris ArchitectI really like the idea behind the book – a French architect, during WWII, designs hiding places for Jewish people. The plot is fast paced and the resolution satisfying, but for me, the characters were stereotypical and the character development was off. The dialogue was anachronistic and I had a sense of the author being American. I can see why a lot of people would love this book, but the language and characters were not quite what I look for.

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The butterfly and the violin by Kristy Cambron

Hannah The buttterfly and the violinThe Butterfly and the Violin is a sad and gentle tale of two young lovers who were sent to the Nazi concentration camps, how they survived by a small thread of hope, how they were separated and found again, and how poignant and fragile the gift of life is. I was so deeply moved by this story that I purchased my own copy. If you wish for a book that will speak deeply to your heart, this I recommend!

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