The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo

“‘You say this is a man’s world, sir, and I am not so naïve as to disagree with you. But’ – here Kay leaned forward, staring the man straight in the eye- ‘if the world of men ever tears itself apart again, it will take an army of nurses to put it back together.’”  

The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo shares the stories of two American nurses during World War II – one stationed in France and the other imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp.

Jo McMahon is trapped in a field hospital with 6 critically wounded patients under her care and the Germans are approaching. Very much on her own, Jo goes to extremes to save these men. It turns out that one of them may be more than just a patient to her.

Across the world, Kay Elliott was stationed in Hawaii and until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, everything in her life seemed perfect. She had met the love of her life and her heart was filled with hope for the future. Soon, Kay was imprisoned in a terrible Japanese POW that sucked her dry of any hope.

I appreciate that The Fire by Night shares the perspectives of nurses during the war – it was unique from other books I’ve read that are based during this time. Nurses not only experience their own horrors, they also experience the tragedies of their patients and carry those burdens. Both Joe and Kay are lively, strong characters who are pushed far past the brink.

While The Fire by Night is well written and compelling (and I do recommend it!) I didn’t think it was better than other World War II historical fiction novels out there like The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

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Books for Every Reader this Holiday

As we move into December, the rush for holiday gifts is here and will only build over the new few weeks. I may be a bit biased (I definitely am…), but I always think that a good book can be the perfect gift. The trouble is finding the right book for each person. Not to worry though, I have a few recommendations!

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica KnollFor the mystery lover: The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll – this a quick, engaging read with an interesting look into the life of a woman living a lie.

The Boys in the BoatFor the sports fanatic or history buff: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown – an excellent read, this book focuses on the crew team from the University of Washington that rowed in front of Hitler and won gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics against all odds.

Tiny Little Things by Beatriz WilliamsFor fans of historical fiction and/or romance: Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams – filled with great characters and surprising plot twists, this story set in the 1960’s is one of my favorites from this year!

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy NelsonFor YA adult readers: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – An imaginative and illustrative read, this story is filled with quirky and fun characters including a set of very competitive twins.
The NightingaleFor everyone: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – This is an excellent book centered around two woman in France during World War II and how they each deal with the Nazi occupation. It’s a very powerful book that I think everyone should read.

Happy holidays and may the season be filled with books!

A Few Favorite WWII Historical Fiction Novels

As we get older our reading choices develop and change. Over the last couple years, I’ve found myself drawn to historical fiction novels more than ever, especially those focusing on Europe during World War II. A terrible time in history, I find these stories both horrifying and fascinating. Three of my favorite books of this period also happen to take place in France during this time.

  1. The Nightingale by Kristin HannahThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – This is an excellent book sharing the powerful story of two sisters and how they each cope with the Nazi occupation in France. I was completely taken away by the bravery of these women and have recommended this book over and over again.

2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Another great book, this is a beautifully written story with flashes of scenes between characters and time All the Light We Cannot Seeperiods. Two characters, a young blind girl in France and a brilliant German boy who is recruited by the Nazis, offer readers very interesting perspectives. As the book goes on we see how their worlds collide during wartime.

  1. Sarah's KeySarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay – A haunting twist in the book has caused this story to stay with me years after reading it. In an attempt to save her brother from the Nazis during World War II, a little girl hides the boy in their special hiding place. Throughout the book we see her journey to get back to Paris and her brother.

These books are all so well written and I continue to look for other books by these talented authors!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin HannahThis one is absolutely incredible! The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a story that must be shared and read over and over again. Hannah shares with us the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, young women living in France during WWII. Hannah has done a fantastic job here, the book has great character construction and many different dynamics running throughout.

The elder sister, Vianne, has always been the weak one. When her husband is drafted for the war she has no choice but to stay strong for her daughter. Through Vianne’s story we get a glimpse into the life of a mother trying to survive through German occupation, while starving, freezing, and hosting German officers in her home.

Isabelle, the younger sister, is wild and has few thoughts for the consequences that her actions will cause. All her life she has felt unloved, a motherless girl being pushed away from a father and sister who cannot cope with the loss, kicked out of every boarding school she’s attended. When she joins the resistance against Germany she finds herself right in the center of it all.

The Nightingale is a beautifully written story and so terribly sad. These women are so brave, and although they are fictional, they represent very real people. I loved this book and highly recommend it to everyone, not only historical fiction lovers.