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February 24, 2019

8 More February Books You Don't Want to Miss

by Susan Roberts

There are lots of fantastic books publishing in February.  Earlier I posted about the books I've read that published on February 5.  Now I have reviews for you of several fantastic books that published mid-February and 3 books that come out this coming Tuesday.

What were some of your favorite February books?

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Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

Forget You Know Me
February 2019; St. Martin's Press; 978-1250184467
audio, ebook, print (336); women's fiction
Don't start this book with the belief that it's a psychological suspense novel. It's more of a novel of friendship, marriage, and love. That doesn't make it any less of a fantastic book with some very interesting situations.

Liza and Molly have been friends their entire lives. The friendship has diminished since Liza has moved to Chicago and Molly still lives in Indiana with her husband and two children in what appears to be a very unhappy marriage. They decide to Skype one evening while Molly's husband is out of town. When Molly goes to check on one of her children, Liza sees a masked man come in Molly's back door and panics. Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side—but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw. Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side—but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw. This event makes them both realize that their friendship is basically over even though they miss each other. Will they be able to connect as friends again or is their childhood friendship over?

This was an intriguing look at long term friends and their attempt to remain friends despite major changes in their lives. I especially liked Liza and the way that she looked at her life. Molly was a bit more difficult to connect with because she and her life were such a mess. Overall, it was an enjoyable look at friendship and love.

Buy Forget You Know Me at Amazon

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Finding Dorothy
February 2019; Ballantine Books; 978-0525622109
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); historical fiction
This book was not the book that I was expecting but it was so much better than I thought it would be. I was mildly interested to read it when I won a copy - I mean who doesn't love the Wizard of Oz movie, play, books but I wasn't sure how a book about the Wizard of Oz would be interesting. Ok. I was wrong. This book is about more than that - it's a story about L Frank Baum's wife Maud. It takes place in two time periods - 1871 through 1919 - Maud's years growing up until the death of her husband Frank. The second time period is 1938 when The Wizard of Oz movie was being made in Hollywood. Maud is the daughter of one of the leading women in the suffragette movement of the day and is even related to Susan B. Anthony. Her mother is insistent that she go to college so that she doesn't need to rely on a husband but when Maud meets Frank, their love makes her leave college and follow him around the country as he presents plays. Their life together is not easy as Frank tries to find his place in the world but once he starts writing, he has found his goal. The other part of the novel in 1938 involves Maud getting involved with the making of the movie so that she can protect the story that her husband had written. She meets and feels protective about Judy Garland who at the time was very young and very controlled by her stage mother.

I thought that Maud was an extremely well-written character and I loved how strong-willed she was. I had no idea how closely the characters in the book followed their real lives until I read the author's comments at the end of the book. I was also able to find a picture of Maud Baum with Judy Garland during the filming of the movie when I googled her.

So - bottom line - if you ever watched The Wizard of Oz movie or read the books - this is going to be an enjoyable book for you. If not - and I can't imagine too many people who haven't seen the movie - if you enjoy interesting and well written historical fiction, this is the book for you. I enjoyed and won't soon forget Maud Baum.

Buy Finding Dorothy at Amazon

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

The Care adn Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
February 2019; Berkley; 978-1984802439
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); women's fiction
American families come in all shapes and sizes. No longer is there a mom, dad, and 2.5 kids. The important part of a family is the love that they share not the way the family is put together. This novel is a book about family and the search to find the love that they share.

The Butler family is made up of three sisters - Althea, Lillian and Viola and one brother - Joe. Their mother died very young, and Althea helped to raise the rest of the family. She did her best but it often wasn't enough and there are lots of problems in this family. One sibling is an abuser, one is bulimic and none of them really know how to love each other or themselves. When Althea (the matriarch of the family) and her husband, Proctor are arrested and sent to jail, it's up to the rest of the family to pull together and take care of Althea's teenage twins. To successfully do this, they all need to forgive and learn to love each other again.

This is a well-written story about a family in crisis and what needs to happen within the family and within each member to get through the hard times and see if they can be a family of love again.

Buy The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls at Amazon

The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman

The Secret of Clouds
February 2019; Berkley; 978-1984802620
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); historical fiction
The cover of this book is beautiful and the great news is that the story within this cover is even more beautiful. It's a wonderful story with characters that I quickly loved and cheered for while I was reading. It's an emotional and heartwarming story about teachers and how they strive to teach and encourage their students. As I read it, I thought about several teachers who did the same for me.

This novel is about the lives of two main characters - Maggie a 6th-grade language arts teacher whose goal as a teacher is to help her students get excited about learning. She is asked by the principal at her school to tutor a student who is unable to attend school due to a heart problem. She agrees and starts visiting Yuri two days per week. At first, he is very resistant to her but she begins to connect with him through his love of the NY Yankees and they have a wonderful relationship. The other storyline is about Katya, Yuri's mother. The family has emigrated from Kiev where Katya was a ballet dancer but now her main focus is on her son's health. As she tells her story, we learn about how much Katya has given up in her life but she realizes that she has gained more than she gave up.

The story is not just about a teacher's love of teaching but also about teachers realizing that they can learn from their students if they just listen. It's a story about hope and love and family. It's a wonderful story with characters that will stay in my mind long after the last page.

Buy The Secret of Clouds at Amazon

The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

The Military Wife
February 2019; St. Martin's Griffin; 978-1250145536
audio, ebook, print (352 pages) women's fiction
This is my first book by this author but I enjoyed it so much that I know I'll read her books again. This book appears to be the first book of a series and I look forward to continuing this series about military life.

Harper lives in Kitty Hawk, NC., with her 5 year old son and her mother. She's lived there for 5 years since her husband, Noah, who was a Navy Seal, died in the Middle East. She is unhappy with her life but unable to move forward until she realizes that there are a lot of military wives who need more to do with their lives. Working with her best friend at Fort Bragg, she plans to start a business that will employ military wives and also help her move on from the life she's living. Along the way, she connects with her husband's best friend, who was with him when he died. Since she has been unable to find out the details of Noah's death from the Navy, she decides that his friend will be the person to give her the answers - which he refuses to do. As their relationship grows, she has to decide if she can let go of the past and create a new future for herself and her son.

This novel was heartwarming and romantic. It also went into a lot of detail about how families cope with family members who are suffering from PTSD after military deployments. It was great to see the support and love that military families got from each other - whether it was the soldiers away on deployment or the family members left stateside. I enjoyed getting to know these characters and look forward to the next book in the series.

Check out MK's review of The Military Wife to also read an excerpt.

Buy The Military Wife at Amazon

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

The Huntress
February 2019; William Morrow; 978-0062884343
audio, ebook, print (560 pages); historical fiction
Warning: before you start this book, you need to clear your calendar and turn your phone off. You will not want to be interrupted until you get to the end. This book has it all - fantastic characters that you care about, a plot that will keep the tension high, some laughter and even more tears.

This book takes place in the early 1950s with some flashbacks to WWII. The war is over but everyone knows that there are still former Nazis hiding all over the world. Ian, a British war reporter and his friend Tony are tracking down Nazis and have a special interest in The Huntress.  She was the lover of an SS officer and she shot several young children for fun near the end of the war. They are helped by Nina who can identify the Huntress due to a run in with her. Nina's story is so exciting - she was a member of the Soviet Night Witches - an all-female group of night bombers who bombed Hitler's armies on the Eastern front. The third main character is Jordan who lives in Boston with her father and wants to be a famous photographer. She is thrilled when her widowed father meets and marries a German woman but can't help but think she is hiding something. Ian, Nina, and Jordan are all from totally different worlds but their stories collide as they all try to find the woman who affected their lives so strongly. I loved the way all of their stories were brought together at the end of the novel.

This is a fantastic novel with characters I won't soon forget. Nina is armed with a straight razor, Ian with his words and Jordan with her camera as they attempt to find the Huntress and bring her to justice. You'll be cheering them on as they attempt to find this evil woman so that she can be punished for her crimes.

Buy The Huntress at Amazon

The Spitfire Girls by Soraya M. Lane

The Spitfire Girls
February 2019; Lake Union Publishing
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); historical fiction
I read a lot of WWII books and it's always great to find one with a different perspective and to learn something new. This novel looks at the war from the view of the British Air Transport Auxiliary. These brave women were pilots who shuttled planes to the bases where they were needed and to free up the male pilots for combat. At the same time, a similar group was being started in the US. These women were faced with discrimination from almost everyone -including the male pilots and often times, their own families. They worked to fly the planes while they are fighting for respect and equal pay as they try to do their part in helping their county's war efforts.

There are three main characters: May, the group commander in England who is fighting demons of her own due to the loss of her brother; May, a petite woman who is engaged to an RAF pilot and Lizzie, an American who went to England to fly with the BATA and learn more about the program so that she could replicate it in the US. All three women bring great flying skills but vastly different personalities to the group. Can they overcome their differences and work together to help aviation in their country during wartime?

I definitely enjoyed learning more about what these brave women did during WWII and how they showed their countries what they could accomplish. This is an enjoyable book that will teach readers more about women's roles during the 40s. I highly recommend it.

Buy The Spitfire Girls at Amazon

The Irishman's Daughter by V. S. Alexander

The Irishman's Daughter
February 2019; Kensington; 978-1496712295
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); women's fiction
The Irishman's Daughter is one of those rare books that make me wish I could give it more than 5 stars. It is a beautiful, well written, fantastically researched historical fiction novel about a rarely discussed time in Irish history - the Famine of the mid-1800s. I have read a lot about this time period because most of my maternal ancestors immigrated to America from Ireland during this time period. Even though I have read a lot about it, this book gave me more information about the Irish farmers and what they went through during this terrible time.

The novel begins in 1845 in County Mayo where Briana lives with her father Brian, the agent to a wealthy English landowner. As the land agent, Brian is responsible for collecting rent from the tenant farmers who grow crops on the land. Tenant farmers sell the oats and rye they grow to pay rent to Sir Thomas, surviving on the potatoes that flourish in the remaining scraps of land. When the potato crop fails, the farmers are left with no food and no way to survive. Briana feels great compassion for the farmers and has been in love with Rory, one of the local tenant farmers, since they were children. As the hunger and disease spread over Ireland, Briana and Rory work to make sure that their families survive despite the odds against them.

Briana was a wonderfully written character. The reader could feel her pain and compassion as the drought worsened and I must admit that I cried along with her several times. Her love of her home and the beauty of the Irish countryside is so strong that I consider Ireland to be one of the main characters in the book. I know that it made me want to take another trip to Ireland to see the beauty of it. This is a book that I won't soon forget.

Buy The Irishman's Daughter at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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