The German Girl by Lily Graham

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my thoughts about the The German Girl by Lily Graham, published in ebook today by Bookouture. Thanks to Sarah Hardy for the invite to join the blog tour and for the free digital copy. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

‘Our parents were taken. And if we go home, the Nazis will take us too…’

Hamburg 1938. Fifteen-year-old Asta is hurrying home from school with her twin brother Jurgen. The mood in the city is tense – synagogues have been smashed with sledgehammers, and Asta is too frightened to laugh as she used to.

But when she and Jurgen are stopped in the street by a friend, her world implodes further. Her Jewish parents have been dragged into the streets by German soldiers and if she and Jurgen return to their house, they will be taken too.

Heartbroken at the loss of her parents, Asta knows they must flee. With her beloved brother, she must make the perilous journey across Germany and into Denmark to reach their only surviving relative, her aunt Trine, a woman they barely know.

Jammed into a truck with other refugees, Asta prays for a miracle to save herself and Jurgen. Crossing the border is a crime punishable by death, and what she and Jurgen must embark on a dangerous crossing on foot, through the snowy forest dividing Germany and Denmark. And when barking dogs and armed soldiers find Jurgen and Asta escapes, she must hold on to hope no matter what. One day she will find her twin, the other half of herself. Whatever the price she has to pay…

A gripping and poignant read that will break your heart and give you hope. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Kristin Hannah and Catherine Hokin will be gripped by the story of a brave brother and sister seeking safety during one of the darkest times in our history.  

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, my first historical fiction read of 2021 and a new author discovered. Lily Graham has set a high bar for the other historical fiction authors to reach, with great characters and emotive writing in this book.

The story starts in Sweden in 1995, when Ingrid is making changes to her life, including checking on her grandfather Jürgen. However she discovers that Jürgen is not who she has always thought he was. We travel back in time to Hamburg in the 1930’s to find out what happened to Asta, Jürgen and their family as the Nazi party tried to remove all the Jewish people in Western Europe.

I flew through the story, and found myself unable to put my Kindle down, wanting to find out what happened next. As usual in historical fiction novels set during this time period, there is a lot of tragedy and heartbreak, but there are also some lighter moments too. I’m happy to recommend the book to readers of my book blog and I will be looking to read more books by Lily Graham in the future.

Author Bio:

Lily has been telling stories since she was a child, starting with her imaginary rabbit, Stephanus, and their adventures in the enchanted peach tree in her garden, which she envisioned as a magical portal to Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree. She’s never really got out of the habit of making things up, and still thinks of Stephanus rather fondly.

She lives with her husband and her English bulldog, Fudge, and brings her love for the sea and country-living to her fiction.

https://twitter.com/lilygrahambooks

https://www.facebook.com/LilyRoseGrahamAuthor/

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://bit.ly/3b2aGdL

Ashes by Christopher De Vinck

Today I’m pleased to be sharing a mini review for Ashes, a book I received via Readers First. I had originally hoped to share this last month when the book was published in mid August 2020, so apologies for the delay to the author and Harper Inspire.

Synopsis:

A deeply touching novel about two young women whose differences, which once united them, will tear them apart forever, during Hitler’s Nazi occupation of Belgium and France. Based on true events.

For fans of All The Light We Cannot See and Tattooist of Auschwitz. 

Belgium, July 1939: Simone Lyon is the daughter of a Belgium national hero, the famous General Joseph Lyon. Her best friend Hava Daniels, is the eldest daughter of a devout Jewish family. Despite growing up in different worlds, they are inseparable.

But when, in the spring of 1940, Nazi planes and tanks begin bombing Brussels, their resilience and strength are tested. Hava and Simone find themselves caught in the advancing onslaught and are forced to flee.

In an emotionally-charged race for survival, even the most harrowing horrors cannot break their bonds of love and friendship. The two teenage girls, will see their innocence fall, against the ugly backdrop of a war dictating that theirs was a friendship that should never have been.

My thoughts:

Personally I think this would be an excellent book for students in secondary schools to read for History and /or PSHE.

The book looks at how two very different girls became friends in Belgium just before the start of World War 2. Simone has grown up without a mother, has a national hero for a father and attends a convent school. Her friend Hava has grown up in a devout Jewish family and is full of creativity.

Alongside the story of what happened as the Nazi’s arrived in Belgium, we find out how the two girls enjoyed becoming friends so close they were like sisters.

I enjoyed this story despite the heartbreak. The message readers should take from the book is that we mustn’t ever let this happen again. As a world we need to show more kindness and compassion to our fellow human beings, irrespective of their race, religion and culture.

Author details (from Amazon):

Christopher de Vinck is a teacher and the author of eleven books and numerous articles and essays for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Reader’s Digest. He delivers speeches on faith, disabilities, fatherhood, and writing, and has been invited to speak at the Vatican. He is the father of three and lives in New Jersey with his wife. 

His essays on everyday life have been published in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The National Catholic Reporter, and used in high school and college textbooks as samples of good writing. 

He has won two Christopher Awards, which celebrates authors whose work looks at the ‘highest values of the human spirit’. His essays have been selected three times for ‘Best Column’ by the National Catholic Press Association. His essay The Power of the Powerless praised by, among many others President Ronald Reagan, was selected by Christianity Today as one of the ten ‘Best Biographies and/or Autobiographies’ of this past century, which also included the works of C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, and Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn. –This text refers to the paperback edition.