Tag Archives: Mario Escobar

Top 10 Tuesday — Thankful Freebie

22 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving week! That is how I am framing it, because my family began the festivities last Saturday with an extended family lunch. This week I will have all my kiddos and their families (including my beautiful one and only grandchild) at our home in the beautiful north Georgia mountains. We certainly do have a lot to be thankful for. In the past I have posted about books featuring families, books that helped make me the reader I am today, and all kinds of bookish goodies I am thankful for. Today’s TTT features one book from each month so far this year that I am thankful I had the opportunity to read. Spanning a variety of genres, the books featured well-developed characters, just the right setting for my mood 😉 , action, and well-told, engaging stories. I hope you find a book to love!

For more thankful bloggers, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books I Am Thankful For

January — A Light on The Hill by Connilyn Cossette

I used this novel as a part of my Faith And Fiction Bible study of sanctuary cities. What a wonderful resource to draw from.

February — Bride of A Distant Isle by Sandra Byrd

An “oldie” but a goodie, I loved going back to Victorian England in this novel.

March — In Search of A Prince by Toni Shiloh

Toni’s unique setting and fairytale nod to Princess Diaries was a delight.

April — All That It Takes by Nicole Deese

Women’s fiction/romance that touched my heart.

May — The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

English translation of Escobar’s moving novel set in WWII-era France.

June — Fatal Code by Natalie Walters

An unputdownable romantic suspense is just what I needed to kickstart my summer reading.

July — Sea Glass Cottage by Irene Hannon

What is a summer without a visit to Hope Harbor?!

August — Bookshop by The Sea by Denise Hunter

Another winner of a summer read. A small beach town and a bookshop, what’s not to love?

September — Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy

An exotic location, an independent and exasperating heroine, timely message.

October — The Lady’s Mine by Francine Rivers

A feel good read that sparked a lot of great conversation with my book club.

November — Where The Blue Sky Begins by Katie Powner

The best book I have read all year!

Top 10 Tuesday — Books With All The Feels

15 Nov

Happy Tuesday! Today I am sharing books that have ALL the feels. You know, the kind of book that grabs your heart and won’t let go. The kind of book it is sometimes awkward to read out in public. 😉 There was a particularly heart-rending Christmas book I listened to on my morning walks. If any of my neighbors happened to look out their windows as I walked by, they witnessed me laughing hysterically and crying uncontrollably all in one circuit of the neighborhood. Embarrassing! If you want a book that will create emotional havoc in your life (kidding, not kidding), take a look at my list. (It’s cool how the covers and titles compliment each other in a completely random fashion.)

For more bloggers with emotional reactions to their reading choices, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books With ALL The Feels

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

The London House by Katherine Reay

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

The Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Where The Blue Sky Begins by Katie Powner

Top 10 Tuesday — Back to School

30 Aug

Don’t know much about history, don’t know much about biology . . . ? Well, I’ve got some books for you! This week’s TTT is Back to School Freebie. I love Sam Cooke‘s song, What A Wonderful World This Would Be and always think about it when I hear back to school. My list today features books that fit the lyrics of this old school song (see what I did there? 😉 ). There are 6 subjects listed in the lyrics, and I have come up with 2 books each. An even dozen of great books! Who cares if some of the books loosely fit the category — it’s all in fun! I hope you enjoy my list.

For more fun back to school lists, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top “Back To School” Books

History

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan (WWII, could also count as Home Ec 😉 )

To Love A Viking by Heather Day Gilbert and Jen Cudmore (Dark Ages Europe)

Biology

Healing Skye by Janet W. Ferguson (marine biology)

Sunrise by Susan May Warren (bear tracking in Alaska)

Science

Fatal Code by Natalie Walters (nuclear physics)

The Engineer’s Wife by Tracy Enerson Wood (bridge building)

French

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar (WWII France)

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin (WWII France)

Geography

Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy (globe-trotting journalist)

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel (a bucket list trip)

Mathematics

Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini (early computing machine)

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White (WWI code breaking)

If You Liked . . . Until Leaves Fall in Paris

31 May

My book club loved Until Leaves Fall in Paris (it is my all-time favorite of Sundin’s now). We especially liked the unique perspective of this WWII-era novel. The two main characters are Americans in France prior to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. It was interesting to see how Americans living in France dealt with the Nazi occupation. If you liked this historical novel as well, here are a couple of more books with unique perspectives.

The Last Year of The War by Susan Meissner

In 1943, Elise Sontag is a typical American teenager from Iowa — aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.
 
The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.
 
But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.
 
The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

Saint-Malo, France: August 1938. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry and are hoping for a child, Antoine is called up to fight against Germany. As the war rages, Jocelyn focuses on comforting and encouraging the local population by recommending books from her beloved library in Saint-Malo. She herself finds hope in her letters to a famous author.

After the French capitulation, the s occupy the town and turn it into a fortress to control the north of French Brittany. Residents try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly purges part of the city’s libraries to destroy any potentially subversive writings. At great risk to herself, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while waiting to receive news from Antoine, who has been taken to a German prison camp.

What unfolds in her letters is Jocelyn’s description of her mission: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. With prose both sweeping and romantic, Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city and re-creates the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved.

The Queen of Paris by Pamela Binnings Ewen

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?

Mini-Book Review: The Librarian of Saint-Malo

23 May

While this may be a short (and I hope sweet) review of The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar, this WWII-era novel is anything but lightweight. Beautiful writing offsets the heartbreaking story told in the first person voice of the town’s librarian, Jocelyn. As she embarks on a new life with her husband Antoine, Hitler begins his merciless trek across Europe. Escobar examines the everyday life of Jocelyn and others in the town of Saint-Malo during the Nazi occupation and subsequent liberation by the Allies. The question of how cruelty and mercy, love and hate could co-exist kept coming to mind as I read this book. It had the same feel as All The Light We Cannot See, but with a hope for a future that Doerr’s book did not express. Jocelyn fights to save the library’s books, but also the soul of her city. I found the book unputdownable, yet had to take some breaks because of the subject matter. Many of the stories told in the course of the book don’t have a happily-ever-after ending, yet the triumph of right and goodness and love, is truly a very good ending.

I highly recommend The Librarian of Saint-Malo. It’s a must read for those who want a deeply felt novel that will make you think.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased this book from Barnes And Noble. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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Libraries are being ransacked. France is torn apart by war. A French librarian is determined to resist. Told through smuggled letters to an author, an ordinary librarian describes the brutal Nazi occupation of her small coastal village and the extraordinary measures she takes to fight back.

Saint-Malo, France: August 1939. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry, Antoine is drafted to fight against Germany. As World War II rages, Jocelyn uses her position as a librarian in her town of Saint-Malo to comfort and encourage her community with books. Jocelyn begins to write secret letters smuggled to a famous Parisian author, telling her story in the hope that it will someday reach the outside world.

France falls and the Nazis occupy Jocelyn’s town, turning it into a fortress. The townspeople try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly begins to destroy part of the city’s libraries. Books deemed unsuitable by the Nazis are burnt or stolen, and priceless knowledge is lost.

Risking arrest and even her life, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while desperately waiting to receive news from her husband Antoine, now a prisoner in a German camp.

Jocelyn’s mission unfolds in her letters: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city in sweeping and romantic prose, re-creating the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved.

Mario Escobar has a master’s degree in modern history and has written numerous books and articles that delve into the depths of church history, the struggle of sectarian groups, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. Escobar, who makes his home in Madrid, Spain, is passionate about history and its mysteries.

Top 10 Tuesday — Professional Book Pushers

10 May

Happy Tuesday! This week’s prompt is a joy. It’s all about bookish characters. I chose to focus on books in which the main character(s) is a professional book pusher — one who gets paid to get someone to read. (As opposed to those of us who just do it for fun. 🙂 ) Basically booksellers and librarians. I am currently listening to The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar. It is riveting, and naturally it is on my list. With the variety of genres represented, I hope you find a book to pique your interest.

For more lists of bookish characters, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Professional Book Pushers

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

Camino Island by John Grisham

Crime And Poetry by Amanda Flower

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

Miss Zukas And The Library Murders by Jo Dereske

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

The Secrets of Paper And Ink by Lindsey Harrel

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

First Line Friday — The Librarian of Saint-Malo

6 May

Happy Friday! I have been wanting to read The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar for a long time. I even have a physical copy of the book on my shelf. But it’s been put back so many times, I despaired of every getting to it. Until . . . I discovered that my local library, through Libby, had the audiobook version available to borrow. Yay! I am finally reading/listening. Have you read this book? I’d love to know your thoughts.

In the meantime, here’s the first line.

Dear Marcel Zola:

Time takes care with no one.

Saint-Malo, France: August 1938. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry and are hoping for a child, Antoine is called up to fight against Germany. As the war rages, Jocelyn focuses on comforting and encouraging the local population by recommending books from her beloved library in Saint-Malo. She herself finds hope in her letters to a famous author.

After the French capitulation, the s occupy the town and turn it into a fortress to control the north of French Brittany. Residents try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly purges part of the city’s libraries to destroy any potentially subversive writings. At great risk to herself, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while waiting to receive news from Antoine, who has been taken to a German prison camp.

What unfolds in her letters is Jocelyn’s description of her mission: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. With prose both sweeping and romantic, Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city and re-creates the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved.

Top 10 Tuesday — Most Anticipated Books of The First Half of 2022

4 Jan

With my Santa Please Bring Me post, I kind of covered a lot of the books I am anticipating releasing January — June of 2022. Oops! I am going to twist this topic a bit. What’s new. 😉 So I am heading to my TBR shelves to highlight some books I would like to read in the next 6 months. My only resolution this year is to read books I want to read, so this post may be the encouragement to get on with it! I’m only going to list 6 books, 1 book per month, because I have a terrible track record with resolutions. Every book on my list is an historical novel — there may be a theme going here.

For bloggers who followed the prompt 😉 , check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books I Want to Read in The Next 6 Months

The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

The morning of January 12, 1888, was unusually mild, following a punishing cold spell. It was warm enough for the homesteaders of the Dakota Territory to venture out again, and for their children to return to school without their heavy coats—leaving them unprepared when disaster struck. At the hour when most prairie schools were letting out for the day, a terrifying, fast-moving blizzard blew in without warning. Schoolteachers as young as sixteen were suddenly faced with life and death decisions: Keep the children inside, to risk freezing to death when fuel ran out, or send them home, praying they wouldn’t get lost in the storm? 

Based on actual oral histories of survivors, this gripping novel follows the stories of Raina and Gerda Olsen, two sisters, both schoolteachers—one becomes a hero of the storm and the other finds herself ostracized in the aftermath. It’s also the story of Anette Pedersen, a servant girl whose miraculous survival serves as a turning point in her life and touches the heart of Gavin Woodson, a newspaperman seeking redemption. It was Woodson and others like him who wrote the embellished news stories that lured northern European immigrants across the sea to settle a pitiless land. Boosters needed them to settle territories into states, and they didn’t care what lies they told these families to get them there—or whose land it originally was.

At its heart, this is a story of courage, of children forced to grow up too soon, tied to the land because of their parents’ choices. It is a story of love taking root in the hard prairie ground, and of families being torn asunder by a ferocious storm that is little remembered today—because so many of its victims were immigrants to this country.

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

Saint-Malo, France: August 1938. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry and are hoping for a child, Antoine is called up to fight against Germany. As the war rages, Jocelyn focuses on comforting and encouraging the local population by recommending books from her beloved library in Saint-Malo. She herself finds hope in her letters to a famous author.

After the French capitulation, the s occupy the town and turn it into a fortress to control the north of French Brittany. Residents try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly purges part of the city’s libraries to destroy any potentially subversive writings. At great risk to herself, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while waiting to receive news from Antoine, who has been taken to a German prison camp.

What unfolds in her letters is Jocelyn’s description of her mission: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. With prose both sweeping and romantic, Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city and re-creates the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved.

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky

Between the years of 1869 to 1939 more than 100,000 poor British children were sent across the ocean to Canada with the promise of a better life. Those who took them in to work as farm laborers or household servants were told they were orphans–but was that the truth?

After the tragic loss of their father, the McAlister family is living at the edge of the poorhouse in London in 1908, leaving their mother to scrape by for her three younger children, while oldest daughter, Laura, works on a large estate more than an hour away. When Edna McAlister falls gravely ill and is hospitalized, twins Katie and Garth and eight-year-old Grace are forced into an orphans’ home before Laura is notified about her family’s unfortunate turn of events in London. With hundreds of British children sent on ships to Canada, whether truly orphans or not, Laura knows she must act quickly. But finding her siblings and taking care of her family may cost her everything.

Andrew Fraser, a wealthy young British lawyer and heir to the estate where Laura is in service, discovers that this common practice of finding new homes for penniless children might not be all that it seems. Together Laura and Andrew form an unlikely partnership. Will they arrive in time? Will their friendship blossom into something more?

Inspired by true events, this moving novel follows Laura as she seeks to reunite her family and her siblings who, in their darkest hours, must cling to the words from Isaiah: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God”.

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.

But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.

The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.

Remember Me by Mario Escobar

Amid the shadows of war, one family faces an impossible choice that will change their lives forever. From bestseller Mario Escobar comes a 20th-century historical novel of sacrifice and resilience inspired by Spain’s famed Children of Morelia and the true events that shaped their lives.

Madrid, 1934. Though the Spanish Civil War has not yet begun, the streets of Madrid have become dangerous for thirteen-year-old Marco Alcalde and his two younger sisters. Marco’s parents align themselves against the new fascist regime, unaware that their choice will endanger the entire family—nor do they predict the violence that is to come.

In a desperate bid for safety, the Alcaldes join many other Spanish families in making an impossible choice to send their unaccompanied children across the ocean to the city of Morelia, Mexico—a place they’ve never seen or imagined, but whose government promises their children protection. Young Marco promises to look after his sisters in Mexico until their family can be reunited in Spain, but a harrowing journey ensues.

As the growing children work to care for themselves and each other, they feel their sense of home, family, and identity slipping further and further away. As their memories of Spain fade, they begin to wonder if they will ever see their parents again or the glittering streets of the home they once loved.

Based upon the true stories of the Children of Morelia, Mario Escobar’s Remember Me—now available for the first time in Englishpaints a poignant portrait of an immigrant family’s sacrificial love and endurance, detailing just how far we go for those we love.

Stars of Alabama by Sean Dietrich

One child preacher traveling across the plains.

One young woman with a mysterious touch.

Two old friends, their baby, and their bloodhound.

And all the stars that shine above them.

When fifteen-year-old Marigold becomes pregnant amid the Great Depression, she is rejected by her family and forced to fend for herself. And when she loses her baby in the forest, her whole world turns upside down. She’s even more distraught upon discovering she has an inexplicable power that makes her both beautiful and terrifying—and something of a local legend.

Meanwhile, migrant workers Vern and Paul discover a violet-eyed baby and take it upon themselves to care for her. The men soon pair up with a widow and her two children, and the misfit family finds its way in fits and starts toward taking care of each other.

As survival brings one family together, a young boy finds himself with nary a friend to his name as the dust storms rage across Kansas. Fourteen-year-old Coot, a child preacher with a prodigy’s memory, is on the run with thousands of stolen dollars—and the only thing he’s sure of is that Mobile, Alabama, is his destination.

As the years pass and a world war looms, these stories intertwine in surprising ways, reminding us that when the dust clears, we can still see the stars.

Top 10 Tuesday — First Character Lines

9 Nov

The last 2+ weeks have been a whirlwind around here with both expected and unexpected travel. I have been out of town many more days than at home — lots of catching up to do! All that to say I have chosen the easy way out with my TTT list. Memorable character quotes is being twisted to a variation on first lines — the first sentence uttered by a character. All the books featured today are on my near future TBR list. I hope you find a book that piques your interest.

For more memorable character quotes, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Character First Lines

“And King David, a warrior poet, cried out to God, ‘Out of my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.'”

“You’ll never believe it, but I discovered two more diaries!” Miss Cora’s voice wavered, but even at ninety-two it had not lost its cultured tone.

“Thanks for coming with me today. I needed this.”

“What are you doing, Miss Travers?”

“We shouldn’t be doing this.” Lindsey Waters whispered as she stood in the dark hallway next to her sometimes friend, sometimes enemy, and all-the-time troublemaker.

“I’m green with envy! Paris is the most beautiful city in Europe!”

“It will be over soon, little Hebrew,” said the man with painted lips, blood-red and curving with false tenderness.

“Seif, you will send your child to this school?”

The last child, a girl with wide brown eyes and a riot of red curls trailed her hand over the robe. “It’s softer than I thought it’d be.”

“You’ve got manure in your hair, Gerrit,” Luisa whispered, her Italian accent still strong even after thirty years in the States.

First Line Friday — Remember Me

29 Oct

Happy Friday! I love going to bookstores. I don’t do it that often because 1) I have shelves full of books and 2) I receive books all the time filling up non-existent shelf space. 😉 But who can resist shiny books that I have been drooling over online and in catalogs? I picked up a couple of books by Mario Escobar, a new-to-me author who writes historical fiction. An added bonus is that the author is not American and the books have been translated from Spanish into English. I cannot wait to read them. Today I am including the first line of Remember Me.

My hands shook with the letter I had just received, postmarked from Mexico.

Historians refer to the Spanish Civil War as one of the bloodiest wars of the twentieth century. In 1937, at Mexico s request and offer, nearly 500 children from Spain remembered as Los Niños de Morelia were relocated via ship to Mexico to escape the war s violence. These children traveled across the sea without their families and were expected to return at the war s end. No one could have foreseen another world war was on the way or that that Franco s regime would prevent the children from coming home. These enduring conflicts trapped the children in a country far from their homeland, and many never made it back. Remember Me is Mario Escobar s novelization of these events, as told by a fictional survivor one of the children of Morelia who looks back upon his life after making the long and devastating journey across the Atlantic. This story explores the endurance of the human spirit as well as the quandary of a parent s impossible decision, asking: At what cost do you protect your child in the face of uncertainty?

Mario Escobar has a master’s degree in modern history and has written numerous books and articles that delve into the depths of church history, the struggle of sectarian groups, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. Escobar, who makes his home in Madrid, Spain, is passionate about history and its mysteries.

Find Mario Escobar at http://www.marioescobar.es.