Book Review of The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

368 pages

Published: 2/9/21 by Atria Books

Genre: Historical fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

*Click on photos to view original source.

”Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife. 

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.”


Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

“Numbers floated round my head like stars.”


If you enjoy books about books, then you’ll absolutely adore this one. It’s all about the American Library in Paris, which is still up and running to this day. I enjoyed the female power and determination that takes place in the story. We love strong female roles. The writing is no doubt beautiful and well done. I believe that the author spends quite a bit of time in Paris, so I’d say it’s pretty accurate, if I had to guess. It’s overall a great novel, but it just didn’t keep my attention. Historical fiction typically captures my attention, but I never wanted to pick this one back up. It was honestly a two-star read up until the last 50-ish pages.

I didn’t really care for any of the characters even though I could recognize how tough they were. There’s a strong community and family dynamic that I think a lot of people would enjoy. It’s more of family by choice type of situation. I can appreciate all of that.

I think the main thing that caused me to give it three stars was that it felt too long. Whenever I thought the story was about to come to a close, there was quite a bit left in the story. I’m sure no one else felt that way, but when you’re already not enjoying a book, that’s something that makes it feel even longer.

I know this author has written one other novel, so I’m interested in seeing if it’s something I’m interested in. I’d definitely give her a second chance. I really thought I’d fall in love with this one. It’s such a wonderful read, but I couldn’t get myself to give it more than a three-star rating. I would still recommend this since it’s a beloved book to many readers out there.


Janet Skeslien Charles divides her time between Paris and Montana. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family. 

The backdrop of her debut novel MOONLIGHT IN ODESSA is the booming business of email-order brides, an industry where love and marriage meet sex and commerce. 

Her second novel THE PARIS LIBRARY is based on the true story of the courageous librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II. Janet learned about the story when she worked at the Library.

Website: https://www.jskesliencharles.com


If you enjoyed this, then give it a like and follow my blog and other social media. Be respectful and happy reading!

Book Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune—New ALL-TIME Favorite Book!

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

398 pages

ISBN: 9781250217288

Published 3/17/20 by Tor Books

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Fantasy

Amazon | B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Review:

What an incredible story.

There’s so much positive diversity and LGBTQ+ representation. I honestly didn’t know that this had queer representation until it happened. It doesn’t take over the story, but it’s too cute that I wouldn’t have cared if it did.

Do you ever read your new favorite book and can’t think of words to describe why you liked it? That’s me in this review. I finished this last month, and I still don’t know quite what I want to say. I just need you all to read it.

I will say that there was one point where the children got on my nerves. I think it was mainly because I listened to the audiobook while I followed along, and the voices he used for them were not my favorite. If you had the option between reading physically and listening—physically is the way to go. I didn’t drop it any stars because of that (obviously).

The ending almost made me cry happy, happy tears. Linus experiences incredible character development throughout the novel, and I could only root for his weird little soul. He’s the type of main character that you absolutely despise at first, then you realize what’s going on behind the scenes, and you immediately change your mind. The love he develops for the children and Arthur is indescribable.

There’s so much heartbreak in this book, but it’s always followed by so much love and humor. There will be words said that will piss you off. I wanted to throw the book because of how mean people were to the kids, but then I thought about all the positive words they heard from Linus and Arthur. It’s just a whirlwind of a book.

Even if you end up not enjoying the book you’ll come out of it feeling like a better person. There are so many life lessons thrown at you in this book. It’s important to let others be who they are instead of oppressing them. There are a lot of similarities between the world in the book and our world. It really hits home. All I have to say is go into this with an open mind and don’t give up on it too quickly. If you don’t like it, then you don’t like it. I just hope that you’ll give it the best chance.

I also posted a review on my Instagram, if anyone wanted to check that out.

Here are a few quotes I wanted to share with y’all:

“Sometimes, he thought to himself in a house in the cerulean sea, you were able to choose the life you wanted.”

“We are who we are not because of our birthright, but because of what we choose to do in this life. It cannot be boiled down to black and white. Not when there is so much in between. You cannot say something is moral or immoral without understanding the nuances behind it.”

“There was green. Bright and beautiful greens of waving grass, and what appeared to be flowers in pinks and purples and golds. They disappeared into white sand. And beyond the white was cerulean.”

“But as long as you remember to be just and kind like I know you are, what those people think won’t matter in the long run. Hate is loud, but I think you’ll learn it’s because it’s only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as you remember you’re not alone, you will overcome.”


If you enjoyed this, then give it a like and follow my blog. Be respectful and happy reading!

Book Review: The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

Thank you to NetGalley / Harper for the digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

450 pages

Published on 9/10/19 by Harper

ISBN: 9780062946935

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from Vienna’s streets to its intricate underground tunnels. Stephan’s best friend and companion is the brilliant Žofie-Helene, a Christian girl whose mother edits a progressive, anti-Nazi newspaper. But the two adolescents’ carefree innocence is shattered when the Nazis’ take control.

There is hope in the darkness, though. Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance, risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. It is a mission that becomes even more dangerous after the Anschluss—Hitler’s annexation of Austria—as, across Europe, countries close their borders to the growing number of refugees desperate to escape.

Tante Truus, as she is known, is determined to save as many children as she can. After Britain passes a measure to take in at-risk child refugees from the German Reich, she dares to approach Adolf Eichmann, the man who would later help devise the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” in a race against time to bring children like Stephan, his young brother Walter, and Žofie-Helene on a perilous journey to an uncertain future abroad.

Review:

Trigger Warnings: Miscarriage, death of a baby, murder, suicide.

It was true after all: we are never more easily deceived than when we are ourselves in the act of deception.

This book pulled me out of a month long reading slump. Historical fiction will always be a superior genre in my reading life—if it’s done correctly.

The story takes place from December 1936 to 1940 and an epilogue that just wraps up what happened to everyone beyond 1940. It’s told in third-person omniscient, which I have learned is my favorite perspective. I love seeing all the characters from a bird’s-eye point of view, but also getting to understand how they feel. First person just seems so inauthentic unless it’s a thriller.


Geertruida Wijsmuller—Tante Truus—is a motherless Dutchwoman who rescues Jewish children from Nazi Germany and takes them to a safe country—Netherlands / England. She ends up making a deal with Eichmann (who I will mention later) to manage 600 children on a train—no babies / no 18-year-olds—during Sabbath. Not one child more or less. They all have numbers they have to go by. This is how Geertruida comes into contact with Stephan, Zofie, and Walter.

The reader also meets Geertruida’s husband, Joop. He doesn’t play a huge role in the novel, but they have been dealing with some infertility issues as well as the struggle with transferring the children from country to country. He understands why she does it, but his main goal is to protect his beloved wife.

I get where Joop is coming from, but I don’t always agree with how he communicates with Truus. He wants her to believe that having her own child is more important than SAVING the ones that are in imminent danger. I wouldn’t want to bring another baby into a horrifying situation such as pre-WWII / WWII. There was a quote from Truus that made me really connect with her. There is always so much pressure to have a kid, and this quote is extremely accurate—even in today’s world.

I’m a woman who can’t bear children in a world that values nothing else from me.

Geertruida Wijsmuller

Stephan Neuman starts out as a 15-year-old Jewish boy who wants to become a playwright. His idol is a well known playwright—Stefan Zweig. Stephan’s main goal is to get a typewriter for Christmas. Stephen lives in a mansion surrounded by quite a bit of family—Aunt Lisl, Uncle Michael, little brother Walter, Walter’s stuffed rabbit Peter, Papa and his ill mother.

He runs out to the barbershop to get his hair cut by Otto. Stephan doesn’t have the funds to pay for the haircut, so Otto pretends to cut it. Then Stephan meets Zofie-Helene—Otto’s granddaughter. Zofie’s mother—Kathe Perger—is the editor of Vienna Independent. Zofie’s father used to be the editor, but he was claimed to have committed suicide in a Berlin hotel in 1934. Zofie is an unfiltered math prodigy. Numbers are everything to her!

But one is always greater than zero, Grandpapa, even if zero is more interesting mathematically.

Zofie-Helene

I will add that Stephan talks a lot about Zofie’s breasts. He is a 15-year-old boy, after all. I just didn’t get the reason for it other than that. It isn’t mentioned a lot, but it’s definitely there.

Adolf Eichmann works at the Jewish Department—SD II/112—and was denied a promotion. Instead, he has to show around his new Prussian boss, Obersturmfuhrer Wisliceny. They discuss what should happen to the Jews, and Eichmann suggested they send them to countries that won’t benefit from Germany’s detriment. This ends up being the man that Truus talks to about the train to England.

It’s the problems you fail to anticipate that defeat you.

Geertruida Wijsmuller

The focus on family and the effect of giving up small children can have on them is incredibly well done. It also proves just how strong children are—mentally and physically—when they have to be. I loved the friendships that are formed, the love Truus has for each individual child, the risks that are taken by everyone. I loved every bit of it.


I don’t want to go into extreme detail about everything. There are a lot of plot points I left out (Stephan’s father, Stephan’s aunt and uncle, how Zofie, Walter, and Stephan all end up on the train, what happens when they all get to England, etc.) because I don’t want to ruin the enjoyment of the book. There are so many pieces of treasure you get to discover while reading this. The writing is also pretty incredible. I highly recommend this one to y’all!


If you enjoyed this, then give it a like and follow my blog. Be respectful and happy reading!

%d bloggers like this: