Review: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

Title: The Butterfly and the Violin
Author: Kristy Cambron
Series: Hidden Masterpiece
Rating: ★★★★★

The Butterfly and the Violin

By now, it should be no surprise that I’ll read anything that is related to history. Second only to the turmoil of the European royal families, World War II era works fascinate me. The extreme honor and horror that came out of one war has always pulled at my heart. When I read the description for The Butterfly and the Violin and read there would be a connection, I knew I had to read it. My only hope was that Cambron would be able to weave the past with the present in a beautiful way. She succeeded.

The Butterfly and the Violin tells the story of two women, separated by decades and only connected through a painting. Sera saw a painting when she was younger that connected to her in a powerful way. She grew up thinking about that painting, and as an adult, she devotes much of her time to searching for that painting. Adele is the star of Austrian high society. She plays violin for the Vienna Philharmonic until it is discovered she helped smuggle Jews out of the country with a fellow musician. She is sent to Auschwitz, where her only chance of survival is her ability to play violin. As long as she can play, she has a chance.

Adele is the woman in the painting. Her story, from beginning to end left me feeling raw. She begins the novel with such hope and love, and being in the concentration camp clearly begins to strip her of that. She realizes that she didn’t know as much about the world as she thought she did. She knew how horrible the world had become, but it hadn’t really clicked in her mind yet. It’s one thing to know, but it’s another thing to actually understand. Decades later, as Sera searches for the painting with the aid of William Hanover III, the painting causes Sera to search herself for how she wants to fit into the world. It was wonderful how these two women were connected.

The story itself was beautiful. Adele’s fall from glory may have caused others to give up on finding anything good in life, but it didn’t for her. She found reasons to continue trying to live. Even in the direst of situations, she tries to find a glimmer of hope. Sera has focused for so long on her career and this painting that every other aspects of her life have fallen to the background.

The only part of this book that had me really worried was the fact that it is a Christian book. Both women address God and question His role and purpose in their lives. Without becoming too preachy or heavy, Cambron placed little pieces of Christianity throughout the book. Especially in Adele’s case, her faith made me think. She is a Christian woman in a camp built to destroy Jews. There could have easily been added tension there, but from the beginning it is clear that Adele does not care what religion a person is, as long as they are kind and moral. The religion was perfectly woven into the story, in my opinion.

The only thing that bothered me was I wanted more of Adele’s story. Not because I felt like it was needed, but because I wanted it. Every time something happened to Adele, the time would switch and I’d be left wondering what would come next for Adele. Sera’s story was great and well written, but just because I’m a history nerd, I wanted more of the historical story. This complaint really has no reflection on the quality of the story. It’s just my personal preference bleeding in.

The Butterfly and the Violin is a beautifully written story about two vastly different women tied together by one of the worst times in human history. This is a wonderful book for anyone who loves history, and even if you don’t, Adele’s story of love and bravery will bring you nearly to tears by the end of the novel. It’s lovely and gorgeous, even in the face of the ultimate ugliness.

If The Butterfly and the Violin sounds like a book you’d like to read, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Thomas Nelson Fiction, for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Title: The Tutor’s Daughter
Author: Juile Klassen
Pages: 412 pages paperback, 416 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been a fan of Klassen for a couple years. She’s able to write Regency romance extremely well. Despite a slow start, The Tutor’s Daughter fits right in with the style and sweetness of Klassen’s previous novels.

Emma Smallwood and her father travel to Cornwall set to tutor the two younger brothers of students Mr. Smallwood once had at his school. They hardly get off on the right foot, arriving somewhat unexpectedly. Emma had been friends with Phillip Weston and tormented by his older brother Henry when they were boys at her father’s school, and she’s both anxious and nervous to see how living in the same home goes.

Right from the beginning, it’s easy to tell there are a couple secrets being kept. Odd things keep happening and no one seems to have the right explanation for them. I will say I guessed one of the secrets early on, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

The first third of the novel moved a little too slowly for my tastes, but the last third definitely helped make up for that. There’s action and accusations and it’s wonderful.

Klassen once again proves her fantastic ability to write a 19th century English romance. The language she uses is perfect, and she’s able to paint the world as it was. The Tutor’s Daughter has just the right amount of mystery and romance, plus it doesn’t over do it when it comes to the religious discussions. I know this genre isn’t for everyone, but for lovers of Regency romances, Klassen is an author to add to your bookshelves.

If The Tutor’s Daughter sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss

I’m a little confused after finishing this book. I liked parts of it and couldn’t wait for other parts to get over. Mostly, I’m a little annoyed with the deception I felt while reading this book. I got no warning about what the majority of this book would be about and I feel like I could have saved myself the read.

Most of this book was great, and it was a very well-written book that did an amazing job of showing character development. The growth and maturity the main character exhibits throughout the book was fantastic, and if you don’t mind religious themes, then this is a great character-driven book for you to read.

It boils down to me having faith, but not practicing a religion. And religion is a large part of this book. I don’t look down on others for what they believe, however, I tend to avoid books that rely heavily on religion to get a point across because it makes me very uncomfortable and occasionally frustrated. Despite how amazing the writing was, it was hard to look past the religion, especially when it started to get into the hell and damnation and greatness of Christ and God. I didn’t like how Phillip started his search for religion because of a girl and tried so hard to completely cover himself in it all that he started to lose who I thought he was.

Basically, this is a wonderfully well-written book about something I can’t really handle reading about. If you don’t mind the reliance on religion to drive the plot, give this book a read. However, if you’re like me and prefer a more secular book, I’d pass on this one.

A Texan’s Promise by Shelley Gray

I almost feel as though I can’t give an honest review of this book. It’s not the type of book I usually read. I’m not a Christian, and while religion in books doesn’t usually bother me, the several references to the Lord and the Bible occasionally got in the way of my enjoyment.

That being said, it was a good book. The storyline was good and well thought out. It was easy to follow the shifts in point of views, and I did enjoy the characters. Corrine was one of my favorites and I almost enjoyed her and her husband more than Clayton and Vanessa.

This was a good book once I could look past the religious aspects of it, but I don’t think I’ll be reading anything like it soon.