A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner

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This book was sent to Traveling With T for review consideration.

A Bridge Across The Ocean

Summary: Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women past and present in the latest novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life .

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings. Continue reading

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (plus giveaway!)

the nightingale by kristin hannah

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This book was sent to Traveling With T for review consideration.

The Nightingale

The year is 1939. The day is a beautiful day- a sweet family- Viann, Antoine and their daughter Sophie take a picnic and enjoy the weather, the scenery- the smell of life. Viann does not know it then- but she will soon learn the simple joys and pleasures of such a day- as her life and everything around her come crumbling down- making her wonder “How far do you go to protect the people you love?” Continue reading

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

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*This book was sent to Traveling With T in exchange for a fair review.

The Secret Life of Violet Grant

In 1964, Vivian Schuyler- smart, beautiful, and with more charm than the law allows has decided to pursue a career as opposed to living the life of carefree bliss that her family desires her to live. One day, at the post office, in the course of picking up a parcel- Vivian’s life takes a change- a tall drink of water helps Vivian take her parcel home and when she finds out what the parcel is- well, it opens Vivian to a world she had not known and makes her question many things.  Continue reading

Ember Island by Kimberley Freeman (plus giveaway!)

ember island by kimberly freeman

Photo Credit: Touchstone Books

This book was sent to Traveling With T in exchange for a honest review.

Ember Island

When Nina Jones arrives at Ember Island, she arrived with one mission- check on the family house, Starwater House, that she had been renting to a couple who was running a whale-watching business. When Nina arrives, she sees damage and already knows the couple has left the house- so she hopes to find someone who can quickly fix the place.

Continue reading

Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck (Blog tour and Giveaway!)

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Squee! Traveling With T is a stop on the FALLEN BEAUTY tour. Why am I so excited? Well, I developed a major literary love for Erika Robuck after HEMINGWAY’S GIRL. I cried for her character, Mariella. I loved her fiery spirit. And (no one throw anything at me) since I’ve never been what you would call a Hemingway fan, for Erika to make me care for him, care about these characters- well… I was hooked. So, when the opportunity knocked at my inbox about being on the FALLEN BEAUTY tour, I did not hesitate. So today, for your literary pleasure, there is a review, info about Erika and the tour, and a giveaway (sparkles, shimmers, rainbows and unicorns!) Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the link to the Rafflecopter page to enter the giveaway (but first read all the great info!)  Continue reading

The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten (+ giveaway)

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Photo Credit: Goodreads


This book was sent to Traveling With T in exchange for a fair and honest review.


The Tulip Eaters

It’s a regular day for Nora. Work and then going home to see her mother and her sweet baby, Rose. Until Nora gets home to the worst nightmare she’s ever experienced. Her mother, shot in the head. And a strange man, dead. Both of those incidents are alarming enough- but even more- where is the baby? Did someone kidnap the baby while her mother was being killed? Are the 2 incidents connected?

Nora, frantic with worry about her baby, only knows that she must find her child. Her life is not worth living if she cannot find her child. As Nora is packing some things of her mother’s away- she finds a metal box. And the box changes everything that Nora knows about her parents. Nora finds out a deep secret- a secret that she never wanted to know. Slowly, Nora begins to realize that the murder of her mother and the kidnapping of her daughter are linked- and have to do with the past, with a life before Nora.

Nora boards a plane to Amsterdam, to find answers to the questions she found in Houston, TX in a metal box. To find out if her parents were what the secrets in the box suggest. Once in Amsterdam- Nora finds out that there are people there- people in high places- who will go to incredible lengths to keep Nora from her daughter- all in part of a payback for the acts Nora’s parents committed against them. Can Nora find out what happened in Amsterdam years ago? Can Nora find her daughter? And will Nora’s former lover, Nico, help her or break her heart again?

Secrets, lies, and betrayal- Amsterdam is filled with those 3 things. Nora must solve the mystery to find out why her daughter was kidnapped, to even have a chance of finding Rose.


Traveling With T’s Thoughts

This is my first Antoinette V. Heugten book and I enjoyed this story. The reader knows pretty quickly why Nora’s mother was murdered- what her secret is. But, as the reader joins Nora- the reader finds that while some fairly key information was revealed in the first 100+ pages- not all was revealed- and that’s why you keep turning the pages.

There are a few twists- some are slightly predictable, some are not. There are a few things about this book that the reader can nitpick- timing of some scenes- but for the most part- enjoyable.

Some of the characters are not as well-drawn out as the others or perhaps the characters that are more memorable to me had evil personalities which added an extra layer.

This story has themes of betrayal, secrets and lies- but wove throughout is a theme of forgiveness. Forgiveness and understanding for yourself, for others.



*This book was sent to Traveling With T from a publicist in exchange for a fair and honest review. Above thoughts and opinions are mine alone.



Giveaway details:

Check the Rafflecopter Link for 1 copy of The Tulip Eaters (US only!) Giveaway runs from 1-8/1-14.


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The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris

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Photo Credit: Goodreads


The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris

Audra has not had an easy 2 years since her husband unexpectedly passed away. Raising Jack without him and  still dealing with grief- Audra decides that what she and Jack needs is a fresh start. A brand new page in the life of Jack and Audra shall begin in Philadelphia- Audra will continue her work as a veterinarian and Jack will go to a new school, with new friends. This is the plan- until they board the plane. Jack has a reaction- a terrible reaction and the plane is forced to turn around and take Jack and Audra back to the airport.

Audra is concerned (what mother wouldn’t be?) but, one reaction like that might can be explained by a million factors. When Audra is called into the school to look at some pictures Jack has drawn- her concern increases. Then, the night terrors. Audra knows there is trouble- and yet, she can’t explain or even wrap her mind around a possible suggestion. One night, when Jack turns up missing at a fair- a former soldier named Sean Malloy finds him. Something Jack said to him triggered a figment of a  memory- and Sean, suffering from a memory loss due to an event in Afghanistan, wants to know more.

Together, Audra and Sean begin to piece together a story from World War II- a story of love, of deception, a story that still has the ability to potentially hurt people of today. As each piece of the story is put together- Audra comes closer to understanding why her son, the son she loves and cares for beyond all things possible- has turned into a child who is withdrawn, anxious, and suffering from night terrors.

As the reader delves further into Audra’s life and learns more about the mystery of WWII and how that connects to today’s time- the reader will be amazed, touched and entertained.


Traveling With T’s Thoughts

This is my first Kristina McMorris book. Several months ago, the Twitter-verse was excitedly talking about Kristina’s upcoming book- and a blogger I trust (BookMagnet) raved about Kristina’s previous books. After reading and hearing such good things, when Kristina offered me a book- I jumped at the chance. This story, oh my, this story- weaves together perfectly a mystery of WWII and a current day mystery. The characters- Audra, Jack, Vivian, Lulu, Gene and Judith- are written in such a way that you can almost see them. You can see the characters- the mistakes, the love, the reasons for what they did- and understand  them.


The Pieces We Keep takes 2 stories- 2 stories that are strong enough to stand on their own- and places them together. No, not places. Immerses these stories in each other. Criss-crosses them in ways that are not immediately apparent. And makes a story that is a can’t put down, must stay up and read as much as you can story. Once the reader gets to a certain point of the mystery- the intrigue to find out what happens next will outweigh the need to do laundry, talk on the phone or even cook dinner. Clear your schedule and enjoy The Pieces We Keep!


*This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts & opinions are mine alone.

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson (+ giveaway!)

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Photo Credit: Goodreads


Would you ever forget a man’s face that was connected to the most horrifying experience of your life? What happens if you see his face later- years later, after he’s become wealthy, after he’s become the toast of the town? Do you confront him for past sins? Or not? And if you choose to confront, will anyone believe you? This is the story of Once We Were Brothers.

Ben Solomon one night goes to a ritzy Chicago event- an event where the toast of town of Chicago, Elliot Rosenzweig, will be attending. Ben is there for a specific reason- but not a reason that anyone could guess. He brings a gun and confronts Elliot- letting the world know that the man standing in front of them is an impostor. He’s a monster. He’s a Nazi. But the people of Chicago cannot understand that the man they love could ever have been a man like Ben claims.

Enter Catherine. Ben, because of pulling a gun on an esteemed Chicago man, needs a lawyer, and Catherine’s friend, Liam, persuades her to talk to Ben. Catherine agrees because Liam is her friend and because Liam has stood by her side in previous times- but is not sure she could help Ben- even if there is proof that Elliot is Otto Piatek as Ben claims. Ben begins to slowly tell Catherine his story- his story of his life in Poland, life before the Nazi’s came to town. Life back when he and Otto were brothers and had each other’s back. As Catherine hears more of the story- she becomes involved in Ben’s life. And begins to question if the man could be right- if Elliot and Otto could be the same person?

Catherine knows that if she’s to help Ben take on his claim- she’s in for the fight of her life. Until, though, events begin to happen at work- she had no idea how far people will go to silence her, to silence Ben and to protect Elliot from even the hint of scandal. With the cards stacked against Catherine and Ben, and the stakes rising- can they find the smoking gun to show everyone that Elliot and Otto are the same person? Or, has time and age taken a toll on Ben’s memory?

Once We Were Brothers is a mystery, love story, tale of intrigue and a look at how dirty politics, greed, and corruption can ruin places it’s allowed to fester. But Once We Were Brothers is so much more. It’s a cautionary tale, it’s a tale of warning to people, it’s an account of how life was for many people during a dark time in history. Ben’s story is compelling- and a must read for fans of historical fiction.


Traveling With T’s Thoughts

This book, Once We Were Brothers, is a book that you must read. A mystery, a tale of the Holocaust, a love story, pain and heartbreak, and so much more- Once We Were Brothers has something for everyone. Ben’s story- from how life was before the Holocaust, how he and Otto were not only friends, they were brothers- and then the changes in Otto- are compelling and heartbreaking. Reading Ben’s story of the vicious cruelty that was suffered is a story that will stick with you long after the last page of Once We Were Brothers is turned.  But even more- the mystery will stay with you- is Elliot really Otto? Or did Ben accuse the wrong man?


Giveaway details:

Simply comment on this post for a chance to win Once We Were Brothers! The Giveaway is US only and will run from December 13- December 20th. Winner will be notified by email on December 21’st.


Here is an excerpt of Once We Were Brothers:





Chicago, Illinois, September 2004

BEN SOLOMON STOOD BEFORE his bathroom mirror fumbling with his bow tie. He was eighty-three years old and getting dressed for Judgment Day. Years had come and gone since he had last worn his tuxedo, but then, Judgment Day was a black tie affair.

He uttered a Polish phrase to the man in the mirror and reached into his pocket to reexamine his pricey ticket.

Lyric Opera of Chicago. Opening Night Gala, September 26, 2004. La Forza del Destino. Main Floor, Aisle 2, Row kk, Seat 103—a seat he did not intend to occupy. Truth be told, he didn’t care much for opera. The ticket had set him back five hundred dollars, a goodly sum for a pensioner.

He pulled back the cuff of his shirtsleeve to check the time on his watch, a silver-band Citizen given to him when he retired from the Chicago Park District eight years ago. Four thirty—still two hours until the doors would open. He walked into his living room.

The windows of his modest one-bedroom apartment faced east, toward Lake Michigan and the row of condominium towers that stretched north in a line from the Loop to Thorndale Avenue like a stand of Midwest corn. The late-afternoon sun laid a track of shadows across Lake Shore Drive and onto the lush grass of the Waveland Golf Course, where he’d worked as a starter for almost fifty years. To his right, in the mirrored calm of Belmont Harbor, the luxury cruisers rested comfortably in their slips. He lingered. How he loved that view. He conceded that he might be looking at it for the last time.

Once more he checked his appearance in the mirror. He asked Hannah if he looked all right. Was he dapper? He wished she were there to answer.

Underneath his sweaters, in the bottom drawer of his bureau, lay a cardboard cigar box. Setting the box on the bureau top, he lifted the lid and removed a German P08 Luger, World War II vintage, in mint condition, purchased at an antique gun show for $1,250. Another hit to his savings account. He stuffed the pistol in his belt beneath his cummerbund.

Five o’clock. Time to walk to the corner, flag a southbound taxi, and join up with the glitterati at the “undisputed jewel of the social season.”



IN HIS DRESSING ROOM on the second story of his Winnetka mansion, a generous four-acre estate set high on a bluff overlooking the lake, Elliot Rosenzweig stood fumbling with his cuff links. “Jennifer,” he called out, “would you come help me, please?”

The young medical student, sparkling in her formal evening gown, breezed into the master suite and to the side of her grandfather, who was grappling with his French cuffs.

“Popi, we’re going to be late if we don’t hurry.”

He watched her hands easily fasten the gold links. So supple, so young. Soon to be a surgeon’s hands, he thought.

“There,” she said.

Beaming with profound adoration, he kissed her on the forehead. “I’m so proud of you,” he said.

“For fastening your cuffs?”

“For being my angel.”

“I love you, too, Popi.” She twirled and headed for the closet door.

“That’s a beautiful dress,” he called after her. “I like it.”

“You should,” she said over her shoulder, “it cost you a fortune. Nonna bought it for me at Giselle’s. It’s an original. Is Nonna going tonight?”

“No, I’m afraid not. She has another one of her headaches.” He winked. “She hates these public events.”

Jennifer lifted his Armani jacket from the hanger and held it for him as he slipped his arms through the sleeves. Smiling, she gave a short tug on his lapels and took a step back.

“You look very handsome tonight.” She kissed him on his cheek. “Now we need to go. All our friends are waiting.”

Together, hand in hand, they joined the rest of their entourage under the pink stone portico where the group filed into two limousines that would carry them downtown to the Civic Opera House. The iron security gates parted and the white limousines glided forward onto Sheridan Road and toward Chicago’s Loop.



FESTIVAL BANNERS HUNG FROM the art deco columns of the Civic Opera House’s mezzanine and multicolored buntings looped from the balustrades, all gaily surrounding the opera celebrants gathered in the foyer below. Costumed servers carried champagne and hors d’oeuvres on silver platters. In the corner, a subgroup of the Lyric Orchestra played selections from Rossini overtures.

Raising her voice to be heard above the din of conversations, Jennifer asked, “How many years have you been coming to opening night, Popi?” She smiled as she accepted a canapé from an Elizabethan palace guard.

“Since 1958, angel. Although in those days they didn’t pay so much attention to me.”

“You mean you weren’t a Platinum Grand Benefactor?”

“I always gave what I could to support the arts, but…” His answer was interrupted by the approach of Chicago’s mayor and first lady, who were being shuttled about by Lyric’s artistic director.

“It’s nice to see you again, Elliot. You’re looking well.”

“Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I think you know my granddaughter, Jennifer,” he answered in the noisy hall. “It always brightens my day to see you and Edith.” Rosenzweig flashed a congenial smile as he warmly took the hand of Chicago’s first lady.

“Quite an event, the Lyric opening, thanks to you and the board,” said Mayor Burton. “The city owes you a great deal, Elliot. You’re a priceless resource.”

“Maybe not so priceless, John.” And the two of them laughed.

While they continued to exchange flatteries, Ben Solomon quietly wound his way through the crowd toward the Grand Benefactor. He was oblivious to the music. He heard no conversations. He saw only his target. Making his way across the floor, he declined a flute of champagne from a seventeenth-century Italian peasant girl and felt for the Luger in his belt. The Lyric quartet pizzicatoed through the delightful strains of La Gazza Ladra.

He paused until the mayor and his wife had moved on to the next grouping and walked directly to Rosenzweig, his heart pounding like a pile driver.

“What did you do with all that jewelry?” he said inches from Rosenzweig’s face.

“Excuse me, sir?” said the esteemed donor with a smile, unsure if this was part of a staged repertoire. Perhaps an opera joke?

But there was no sign of frivolity. “Just curious,” Solomon said. “I asked you what you did with the jewelry—you know, the watches, diamond bracelets, wedding bands. You had a whole chest full. Don’t you remember?”

Rosenzweig looked to his granddaughter and shrugged.

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir.”

In a flash, Solomon drew the polished Luger and pressed the barrel hard against Rosenzweig’s forehead. A woman screamed. The crowd immediately backpedaled into a large ring.

“Popi!” screamed Jennifer.

“Recognize this gun, Otto? Should be real familiar to a Nazi officer,” Solomon said, waving the crowd away with his left arm. “Look at me, Otto. It’s Ben Solomon. Here we are, together again, just like when we were kids. Never thought you’d see me again, did you, Hauptscharführer Piatek?”

Rosenzweig held up his hands in conciliation. The room was silent except for the words he delivered, slowly and evenly.

“You’ve made a mistake, sir. My name is Elliot Rosenzweig. It’s not Otto. Or Piatek. I’ve never been a Nazi. In fact, sir, I am a camp survivor.”

Very slowly, he held out his left arm. “Jennifer, undo my cuff link and roll up my sleeve.”

As she did, his forearm displayed the blackened tattoo: A93554.

The gunman considered the offering, and then sneered. “You’re a lying Nazi murderer and I can see the fear in your eyes, Hauptscharführer. Scream and cry and beg, Otto, like the innocent women and children who cowered before you. Mothers and fathers and grandparents. People who never hurt a soul. And the babies. All the children.” He gestured wildly to the stunned crowd. “Tell them who you really are. Look at them all. They’re listening. The masquerade is finished.”

From out of nowhere, Solomon was blindsided and knocked to the marble floor. The gun slid along the tiles and came to rest against the staircase. Tackled by a Chicago Bears linebacker in formal attire, Solomon lay curled on the floor, weeping, his head shuttered in his forearms.

As he was pulled to his feet by security guards, Solomon screamed, “He’s a Nazi. He’s a murderer. He’s Otto Piatek. He’s Otto Piatek.” The screams melted into sobs as they led the old man away. “He’s Otto Piatek.”



Copyright © 2010, 2013 by Ronald H. Balson