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review 2019-11-04 12:08
There seems to always be more evidence of evil, but hope often survives.
"Cilka's Journey" - Heather Morris

Cilka and her sister Magda went to work for the Germans when she was 16 years old. It was not a choice, it was a command. They were both sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Magda did not survive, but Cilka was chosen to be the Commandant’s woman and was afforded better living conditions and better food. She was put in charge of the block that housed the women condemned to death. These female prisoners were frail and beaten and often went like sheep to the slaughter, the description used to describe the Jews during the Holocaust. Yet, what choice did they have. They had no way to fight back; the citizens that witnessed their degradation turned a blind eye to what was happening to them, and when they were “resettled”, they were starved and weakened by the inhumane conditions. Cilka spoke harshly to the women she was in charge of because she had to, in order to survive, but she tried to be kind to them when no one was watching. Still, she was helpless to prevent their deaths. She led them to the trucks that would take them to the place they would be murdered, in order to save herself. When the war was over, Cilka was sent to Siberia because she was charged with collaborating with the Germans, with sleeping with the enemy. In fact, she had no choice. If she had refused to sleep with the commandant, she would probably have been murdered herself. No prisoner in Auschwitz had a choice about anything. Cilka was a prisoner. In Siberia, Cilka was chosen to be trained as a nurse. This opportunity provided her with better food and living conditions, however, most of the time she preferred to be in the hut she shared with her fellow prisoners because they had become friends. She also went out with the ambulance to rescue the injured and even went into the mine, under extremely dangerous conditions in order to rescue the trapped miners when there was a collapse or explosion. Many accidents occurred in the mines which had inadequate safety procedures. She was brave and risked her life often, to save others. Still, she harbored tremendous guilt because of what she had done in the Concentration Camp. When someone accused her of having blood on her hands, she collapsed in the snow and tried to scrub it off, although of course, it was only an accusation, and in fact, her hands were clean. This is Cilka’s story. It is part fact and part fiction. It is not an easy read because even when one thinks they know all there is to know about evil in the world, there is always more to be discovered. She was just a teen when she went to the camp and only 18 when she was sent to Siberia. She was alone, had no family or friends, and was forced to grow up and confront the face of evil before she even had a chance to experience much of the brighter side of life. Yet her happy memories often did sustain her. The Russians rivaled the Germans when it came to brutality. In Siberia, they worked the prisoners to death for long hours, fed them small quantities of poor quality food and housed them in buildings that were poorly built and inadequately insulated to withstand the harsh weather. It was not much different than the merciless treatment of prisoners that existed under the Germans. Many prisoners sickened and died. If a prisoner made a mistake or disobeyed a rule or angered a superior, the punishment was often violent and barbaric. Many did not survive. Although it is based on the life of a real person, the author has taken great liberty to create a narrative to bring her to life. Still, the basic idea is front and center. Cilka was maligned and unjustly punished, but Cilka was also brave and strong and she survived. She symbolizes the unjust treatment of Jews during the Holocaust and Russia’s unjust treatment of the political prisoners afterward, in the countries that Russia controlled while Stalin was in power. Kruschev made changes when he rose to power that helped Cilka have a second chance at life.

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review 2019-10-26 00:30
Best Historical Fiction Book of the Year, well in my opinion!
Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution - Heather Webb,Sophie Perinot,Stephanie Dray,Kate Quinn,Eliza Knight,Laura Croghan Kamoie

What is Ribbons of Scarlet about? It is about empowering women. From royalty to fruit sellers the reader learns about six different women with different lives with the same goal. It is the eighteenth century where women have no place in politics, but these women put themselves right in the middle of the French Revolution. 

We have The Philosopher by Stephanie Dray; Sophie de Grouchy Condorcet (Grouchette) was a prominent salon hostess from 1789 to the Reign of Terror. She was well-connected and influential before, during, and after the French Revolution. Her salon became a meeting place for those opposed to the autocratic regime and she survived the Revolution, publishing her husband's works.

The Revolutionary by Heather Webb takes on Louise "Reine" Audu, a fruitseller who participated in the French Revolution. She along with others led the Women's March on Versailles. The march started by women who were upset about the high price and scarcity of bread. She was part of the delegation that met with the King but was later arrested and jailed. Her stay ended with her going "insane".

Then we have The Princess by Sophie PerinotMadame Élisabeth was a French princess and the youngest sibling of King Louis XVI. She stayed with the royal family when they fled Paris during the Revolution. She had the ear of the King and often tried to advise him. As a result of being the sister of the King, she was executed.

The Politician by Kate Quinn features Manon (Madame) Roland who was a French revolutionary, salonnière, and writer. Along with her husband, Jean-Marie Roland de la Platière were both supporters of the French Revolution. They were involved in the Girondist faction but fell out of favor during the Reign of Terror and was executed on the guillotine

The Assassin by E.Knight has Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d'Armont, also known as Charlotte Corday was another figure in the French Revolution. Jean-Paul Marat was a member of the Jacobin faction who exerted power via his newspaper. Charlotte felt that his death would save the people of Paris. She did kill him and was executed for her crime.

Lastly, The Beauty by Laura Kamoie protagonist is Charlotte-Rose-Émilie Davasse de Saint-Amarand who was the daughter of a courtesan becomes a heroine when she takes on Robespierre. 

Let's just say that I love any and all stories by these talented authors. How they could take six powerful French women and combine their stories into one fantastic novel beats me but they did. I knew about the French Revolution, King Louis XVI  and Marie Antoinette but nothing about any of the heroines in the book. I was sad for the women who were executed and in such an inhumane way but I was happy that they were an important part of the history of France. Each of these authors is talented in their own right but writing together, very powerful! Well researched and put together, one of my favorite books of the year!

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review 2019-10-23 18:16
Crimson Twilight
Crimson Twilight - Heather Graham

Having not read any of the Krewe of Hunters books before, I am happy to say I didn't feel like I was missing anything. There is enough of an introduction at the beginning to introduce who the Krewe are. I like the idea of an unit of law enforcement who have "certain" abilities.
Jane and Sloan rented a castle for their wedding. They find their minister dead at the bottom of the stairs. This was a nicely paced who done it. I am curious enough about the series that I might check it out.

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review 2019-10-23 05:03
Review: The Highland Outlaw by Heather McCollum
The Highland Outlaw - Heather McCollum

Reviewed for Wit and Sin


Shaw Sinclair grew up under the brutal thumb of his wastrel uncle who sold the Sinclair lands to the Campbells. Shaw takes his duties as chief of the Sinclair clan seriously and is determined to protect his people at all costs. His fears for their welfare are well-founded so when the chance to reclaim his lands and guarantee health and safety for his people is offered, he jumps on it. All he has to do is deliver a very important newborn to the coast where she’ll be taken to France. But when the baby is delivered to Shaw, starving and clearly in imminent danger, Shaw knows he and his trusted warriors are going to need help. Chance throws him in the path of Alana Campbell and when her problem-solving skills and kind heart show she’d be perfect to help with the baby, Shaw kidnaps then bargains with her to gain her assistance. Their journey is fraught with danger as they work together to care for and defend the child in their care. Threats they expect, but their mutual attraction is something neither could anticipate. Sinclairs and Campbells are enemies, so there’s no way anything could happen between Shaw and Alana. Is there?

The Highland Outlaw is an exciting, engaging ride thanks to its two leads. Alana and Shaw have great personalities and fantastic chemistry, making the pages of their story fly by.

Alana has a generous heart, a spine of steel, and a deadly aim. She’s exactly the kind of heroine I enjoy and I liked her resourcefulness and spirit. As for Shaw, he’s a chieftain desperate to save his people and will go to great lengths to do so. He’s also as protective as they come and has more honor than he gives himself credit for. He and Alana clash, then become allies in the name of protecting the baby in their charge, and then they become something much more. Their dialogue made me smile, their romance made me sigh, and the way they cared for their vulnerable charge absolutely melted my heart. I loved every bit of Alana and Shaw’s journey and hated it whenever I had to put The Highland Outlaw down because I so wanted them to get their happily ever after.

Feuding clans aren’t the only problem in Shaw and Alana’s way. There are also the men hunting the child they’re sworn to protect, whose origins I’ll leave readers to discover. Alana and the Sinclair warriors with her are outgunned and outnumbered, but I’ll put my money on these fearsome Highlanders any day of the week. And though I must be purposefully vague so as to avoid spoilers, I enjoyed how the secrets, questions of loyalty, and various plots unfolded over the course of the book. Author Heather McCollum balanced the action and the romance perfectly there was never a dull moment in this book.

The Highland Outlaw is the fourth book in the Campbells series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. I’ve adored every single outing with the Campbell clan and the Highland Roses School, where women are taught everything from reading to self-defense. Alana and Shaw’s story is no exception and I dearly hope Ms. McCollum has more adventures in store for the Highland Roses. Ms. McCollum’s strong, compassionate, and skilled heroines and the brave, protective warriors who love them are always a draw for me.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Source: witandsin.blogspot.com/2019/10/review-highland-outlaw-by-heather.html
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review 2019-10-22 04:15
Incredibly Amazing!
"Cilka's Journey" - Heather Morris

This book once again was incredibly amazing (as the title suggests) and heart-wrenching! I loved it so much! While reading this book I was feeling as if the incidents that Cilka went through should’ve happened to me instead because Cilka is just an amazing character and I felt incredibly sad for her. Right when I read the first page I felt so bad for Cilka because she never even thought that she would ever be free I’m her entire life. I am so lucky to not be living in a world like that, although we still have our own struggles and stories there are always people that are suffering and/or have suffered way more than you have or ever will. We should always consider other people as well instead of just being absorbed by our own problems. Anyways I incredibly loved this book! And I loved the cover a lot! Thank you so much for sending me this book!

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