January 2020 Book Haul

Hi there! It is the first book haul of the year, and I think I went a little overboard….who am I kidding? Is there such a thing as too much when it comes to books?

The first two books I received after winning Goodreads giveaways.

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn

From Goodreads:

A cache of unsent love letters from the 1950s is found in a suitcase on a remote island in this mysterious love story in the tradition of the novels by Kate Morton and Elizabeth Gilbert .

1951. Esther Durrant, a young mother, is committed to an isolated mental asylum by her husband. Run by a pioneering psychiatrist, the hospital is at first Esther’s prison but soon surprisingly becomes her refuge. 

2018. Free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker embarks on a research posting in the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast. When a violent storm forces her to take shelter on a far-flung island, she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Captivated by their passion and tenderness, Rachel determines to track down the intended recipient. But she has no idea of the far-reaching consequences her decision will bring.

Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother, a renowned mountaineer, write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years.

With an arresting dual narrative that immediately captivates the reader, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is an inspirational story of the sacrifices made for love.


In Pursuit of Disobedient Women by Dionne Searcey

From Goodreads:

When a reporter for The New York Times uproots her family to move to West Africa, she manages her new role as breadwinner while finding women cleverly navigating extraordinary circumstances in a forgotten place for much of the Western world.

In 2015, Dionne Searcey was covering the economy for The New York Times, living in Brooklyn with her husband and three young children. Saddled with the demands of a dual-career household and motherhood in an urban setting, her life was in a rut. She decided to pursue a job as the paper’s West Africa bureau chief, an amazing but daunting opportunity to cover a swath of territory encompassing two dozen countries and 500 million people. Landing with her family in Dakar, Senegal, she quickly found their lives turned upside down as they struggled to figure out their place in this new region, along with a new family dynamic where she was the main breadwinner flying off to work while her husband stayed behind to manage the home front.

In Pursuit of Disobedient Women follows Searcey’s sometimes harrowing, sometimes rollicking experiences of her work in the field, the most powerful of which, for her, center on the extraordinary lives and struggles of the women she encounters. As she tries to get an American audience subsumed by the age of Trump and inspired by a feminist revival to pay attention, she is gone from her family for sometimes weeks at a time, covering stories like Boko Haram-conscripted teen-girl suicide bombers or young women in small villages shaking up social norms by getting out of bad marriages. Ultimately, Searcey returns home to reconcile with skinned knees and school plays that happen without her and a begrudging husband thrown into the role of primary parent.

Life, for Searcey, as with most of us, is a balancing act. She weaves a tapestry of women living at the crossroads of old-fashioned patriarchy and an increasingly globalized and connected world. The result is a deeply personal and highly compelling look into a modern-day marriage and a world most of us have barely considered. Readers will find Searcey’s struggles, both with her family and those of the women she meets along the way, familiar and relatable in this smart and moving memoir.


The next book I received as a gift from my son. He’s a fellow bookworm and knows how much I love historical fiction.

The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos

From Goodreads:

A sweeping family saga and love story that offers a vivid and unique portrayal of life in war-torn 1941 Bucharest and life behind the Iron Curtain during the Soviet Union occupation—perfect for fans of Lilac Girls and Sarah’s Key.

On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger, undergoing increasingly violent persecution. The girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind. They are even further from her mind when Romania falls under Soviet occupation.

Yet, as Natalia comes of age in a bleak and hopeless world, traces of her identity pierce the surface of her everyday life, leading gradually to a discovery that will change her destiny. She has a secret crush on Victor, an intense young man who as an impoverished student befriended her family long ago. Years later, when Natalia is in her early twenties and working at a warehouse packing fruit, she and Victor, now an important official in the Communist regime, cross paths again. This time they are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets.

When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms, and to confront the painful enigma of her past.


I chose this book from Amazon’s First Reads:

This Terrible Beauty by Katrin Schumann

From Goodreads:

From the bestselling author of The Forgotten Hours comes an unforgettable story of one woman’s journey to reclaim what she lost in a country torn apart by the devastating legacy of WWII.

On the windswept shores of an East German island, Bettina Heilstrom struggles to build a life from the ashes. World War II has ended, and her country is torn apart. Longing for a family, she marries Werner, an older bureaucrat who adores her. But after joining the fledgling secret police, he is drawn deep into its dark mission and becomes a dangerous man.

When Bettina falls in love with an idealistic young renegade, Werner discovers her infidelity and forces her to make a terrible choice: spend her life in prison or leave her home forever. Either way she loses both her lover and newborn child.

Ten years later, Bettina has reinvented herself as a celebrated photographer in Chicago, but she’s never stopped yearning for the baby she left behind. Surprised by an unexpected visitor from her past, she resolves to return to her ravaged homeland to reclaim her daughter and uncover her beloved’s fate, whatever the cost. 


These are my library loans. I’m not sure if you can tell, but I like a good Highlander romance:

To Marry a Scottish Laird by Lynsay Sands

From Goodreads: New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands returns to the Highlands of Scotland in her hottest new historical romance yet!

Highlander Campbell Sinclair is no stranger to battle, so when he sees a lad attacked by bandits, he jumps into the fray. He didn’t count on being stabbed. Grateful to the boy for nursing him back to health, Cam offers to accompany Jo safely to his destination. But when he accidentally comes across the lad bathing in the river, Cam discovers that Jo is actually Joan…with the most sinful of curves.

Joan promised her mother that she would deliver a scroll to the clan MacKay. But traveling alone is dangerous, even disguised as a boy. When a Scottish warrior lends his aid, she is more than relieved…until he surprises her with lingering kisses and caresses that prove her disguise hasn’t fooled him. As their passion ignites, will the secrets of the scroll force a wedding…and lead to a love she’s never known? 


The Highlander Takes a Bride by Lynsay Sands

From Goodreads: Sword fighting, swearing, and riding astride come naturally to Saidh Buchanan. Simpering and holding her tongue—definitely not. Raised alongside seven boisterous brothers, Saidh has little interest in saddling herself with a husband… until she glimpses the new Laird MacDonnell bathing naked in the loch. Though she’s far from a proper lady, the brawny Highlander makes Saidh feel every inch a woman.

She has an angel’s looks, a warrior’s temper, and seeks out his kisses with wanton eagerness. Little wonder that Greer is intrigued by his comely guest. When reckless desire overtakes them, he’s more than willing to make an honest woman of her. But Saidh is the target of a hidden enemy, and Greer faces the battle of his life to safeguard the woman he wants above all others. 


The Highlander’s Sword by Amanda Forester

From Goodreads: Scottish Highlands romance is a perennial favorite, especially when it’s as intriguing and sexy as The Highlander’s Sword. Set against the backdrop of the rugged Scottish Highlands and the tumultuous 14th century, Lady Aila Graham is destined for the convent until her brother’s death leaves her an heiress and her father hastily arranges a marriage for her with a Highland warrior she’s never met. Misunderstandings between the battle-hardened knight and his lady are exploited by their enemies and threaten the entire clan. Only by throwing caution to the winds and forging a powerful bond together can they rout a traitor and save their people—and their love—from destruction.…


There you have it! I’ve already jumped in and started one of the library loans. What books are in your haul this month? Share below and happy reading!


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