A worthy war narrative with a strong, likable female lead and a solid supporting cast.


A young woman from the Philadelphia Main Line region joins the U.S. Army Signal Corps as a telephone operator during World War I in Runyan’s (Daughters of the Night Sky, 2017, etc.) historical novel.

Readers first meet Ruby Wagner in early December 1917. She’s helping her mother host a high-society get-together of women knitting socks and scarves for the troops overseas. Ruby’s enlisted brother, Francis, is in France, as is her fiance, Nathaniel Morgan. Both families encourage the engagement, although Ruby isn’t as excited about it: “He was kind and quick to laugh, and most importantly to Mother, he was from an old and respectable family,” she explains. “If he slid over to the pompous and boring side of things at times, it seemed of little consequence.” But before the afternoon ends, the Wagner family receives a dreaded yellow telegram: Francis has been killed in action. A few weeks later, Ruby, who’d been working shifts as an operator at the Pennsylvania Bell Company Central Office, decides that she must do more to help the war effort. The U.S. Army is looking for phone operators to work with the troops overseas, and Ruby is selected to become the chief operator of the First Telephone Group. This will change her life forever. Ruby proves to be a fine narrator for this engaging novel. In it, Runyan depicts a lesser-known story of heroism and courage during World War I, and she packs it with enough action to keep readers turning pages without submerging them in the throes of grisly battles. Ruby’s long hours at the Central headquarters in Chaumont, a few miles from the front lines, are interspersed with scenes of romance, possible espionage, and welcome moments of levity. The women of the First Telephone Group are also revealed to possess impressive skills as the story goes on; they’re not only bilingual, but also able to memorize complicated codes that change from day to day—and sometimes within just a few hours.

A worthy war narrative with a strong, likable female lead and a solid supporting cast.  

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0456-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

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Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.


Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.


Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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