blog tour · book review · dual timeline · historical fiction · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – You Let Me Go -plus giveaway

 You Let Me Go

After her beloved grandmother Rozenn’s death, Morane is heartbroken to learn that her sister is the sole inheritor of the family home in Cornwall—while she herself has been written out of the will. With both her business and her relationship with her sister on the rocks, Morane becomes consumed by one question: what made Rozenn turn her back on her?

When she finds an old letter linking her grandmother to Brittany under German occupation, Morane escapes on the trail of her family’s past. In the coastal village where Rozenn lived in 1941, she uncovers a web of shameful secrets that haunted Rozenn to the end of her days. Was it to protect those she loved that a desperate Rozenn made a heartbreaking decision and changed the course of all their lives forever?

Morane goes in search of the truth but the truth can be painful. Can she make her peace with the past and repair her relationship with her sister?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Let-Me-Eliza-Graham-ebook/dp/B08HN92DLQ/

US – https://www.amazon.com/You-Let-Me-Eliza-Graham/dp/1542017106

Author Bio

Eliza Graham’s novels have been long-listed for the UK’s Richard & Judy Summer Book Club in the UK, and short-listed for World Book Day’s ‘Hidden Gem’ competition. She has also been nominated for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Her books have been bestsellers both in Europe and the US.

She is fascinated by the world of the 1930s and 1940s: the Second World War and its immediate aftermath and the trickle-down effect on future generations. Consequently she’s made trips to visit bunkers in Brittany, decoy harbours in Cornwall, wartime radio studios in Bedfordshire and cemeteries in Szczecin, Poland. And those are the less obscure research trips.

It was probably inevitable that Eliza would pursue a life of writing. She spent biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the textbooks, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and history lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day.

Eliza lives in an ancient village in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family. Not far from her house there is a large perforated sarsen stone that can apparently summon King Alfred if you blow into it correctly. Eliza has never managed to summon him. Her interests still mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home and travelling around the world to research her novels.

Social Media Links

Website www.elizagrahamauthor.com

Facebook ElizaGrahamUK

Giveaway to Win 3 x Paperback copies of You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham (Open to UK / USA only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK and USA entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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My Review

I know, it’s another book with a WWII connection. What can I say? I love this era, but don’t let my idiosyncrasies put you off. YOU LET ME GO is more than historical fiction, this is a dual timeline story that brings it bang up to date.

Admittedly, it’s a slow burner, but all of that background info only adds to the story as a whole. I guess it could be a little trimmer, but I’m not complaining because, for me, all those details really pay off once the second half gets going and Morane (Morie) heads off to Brittany to look into her grandmother’s past.

Morie had always been closer to her grandmother Rozenn, much more so than her sister, Gwen. It , therefore, came as no surprise to see her portray similar traits to Rozenn as the truth unravelled. This made Rozenn’s decision to leave her Cornwall home entirely to Gwen such a mystery. It made little sense, if any, and proved to be the catalyst for Morie’s trip to France. Was she peeved? You bet. Did she struggle to hide her feelings? Absolutely. Which is why putting some distance between herself and her sister seemed to be the right thing to do …before she could say something she might later regret.

Morie, you see, had had her own fair share of troubles up to that point – a horse riding accident, a failing business due to her partner’s gambling addiction. So this news from Rozenn’s will was the nail in the coffin. By going to France maybe she would be able to understand her grandmother’s decision.

Arriving in St Martin, the village from which her grandparents left France for Cornwall, Morie met up with ancestors of villagers who knew Rozenn and Luc. There was some initial reluctance to tell Morie anything, and the puzzle seemed to be missing more pieces than ever until she met with Madame O’Donnell, whose father remembered Rozenn’s family. It was during a conversation with him that Morie discovered her grandmother was not an only child – that she had a brother and a twin sister. So why had she kept their existence a secret all these years?

Piecing the past together, Morie encountered yet more surprises. Including one that would change her own life forever, and which proved her grandmother had made the decision about the Cornish house for a very good reason.

The second half of the book became compelling reading. The author paced the chapters perfectly, swapping point of view at critical times that meant I just had to read on. By the end, I had an inkling as to what was to come for Morie, and it was just as delightful and emotional as I expected.

Neither Morie nor Rozenn are the most instantly likeable of women, but their personalities grew on me and I thoroughly enjoyed how the story came to its conclusion. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves dual timelines and who can hang in through the slow start. It’s worth it. Trust me 😉


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book review · dual timeline · historical fiction

Book Review – Where Madness Lies

Germany, 1934. Rigmor, a young Jewish woman is a patient at Sonnenstein, a premier psychiatric institution known for their curative treatments. But with the tide of eugenics and the Nazis’ rise to power, Rigmor is swept up in a campaign to rid Germany of the mentally ill.

USA, 1984. Sabine, battling crippling panic and depression commits herself to McLean Hospital, but in doing so she has unwittingly agreed to give up her baby.

Linking these two generations of women is Inga, who did everything in her power to help her sister, Rigmor. Now with her granddaughter, Sabine, Inga is given a second chance to free someone she loves from oppressive forces, both within and without.

This is a story about hope and redemption, about what we pass on, both genetically and culturally. It is about the high price of repression, and how one woman, who lost nearly everything, must be willing to reveal the failures of the past in order to save future generations.

With chilling echoes of our time, Where Madness Lies is based on a true story of the author’s own family.

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My Review

Based on a true story, Where Madness Lies is a dual-timeline novel, focusing on mental illness in 1930s Germany and 1980s Boston, USA.  Putting aside the appalling “treatment” meted out in Nazi Germany, the book also highlights how little has changed in those fifty years. Even now, another forty years on, the topic of mental health is not discussed as much as it should be. 

But, back to this book:  

In 1930s Germany, Inge has a fractious relationship with her mother as they clash over the care needed for her sister, Rigmor who has suffered from mental illness for much of her life. Inge pushes for a diagnosis so that Rigmor can lead a happy and more fulfilled life. Her mother also wants the best for Rigmor, but has a tendency to mollycoddle her rather than face up to reality. Eventually, Rigmor is hospitalised, and it is from this point on that her life is in danger – not from her condition itself, but from the upcoming practices of the Nazi government as they aim for the perfect Aryan race. 

In 1980s Boston, Sabine checks herself into the Maclean Clinic, recognising that she suffers from psychosis and needs to learn how to manage it. With a husband and young daughter, she is torn by the decision but soon feels safer at the Clinic than in her home environment. Inge, as Sabine’s (de facto) grandmother travels from her home in Switzerland to help. But Sabine is not keen to have her grandmother around – at first. However, as they grow closer Sabine learns about Rigmor, and feels a closeness to her primarily as a result of having the same problems. 

The story flips between the two time periods and focuses on the relationships between the women and how their circumstances affect how they come to cope. For me, I hoped to hear more of Rigmor’s story. The procedures and backstory of the eugenics programme initiated by the Nazis seemed to me to have been undertold, probably because it’s a horrific truth that is difficult to do justice.  However, as a story – especially a true one – the family secrets are fascinating and intriguing enough on their own. I also enjoyed reading about Arnold, a key character in Rigmor’s life, and whose role is far more significant than he realises. For me, the dual timeframe detracted from the original story, and overall the story didn’t have the impact on me I was expecting, though I do appreciate how difficult it must be to tell a true story set against such a backdrop. 

It’s an interesting story, though not really the one I was expecting. Even so, a worthwhile read. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

As always, 

 

 

blog tour · historical fiction · mystery · thriller

Blog Tour – Redlined: A Novel of Boston (with giveaway)

RedLine

Welcome to the blog tour for Redlined: A Novel of Boston by Richard W. Wise. Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win an audiobook edition of the book!

Redlined Front CoverRedlined

Publication Date: June 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Mystery/ Thriller

The year is 1974. Boston’s Jamaica Plain is a neighborhood under siege, a community skating along the razor’s edge of decline. The banks have REDLINED Jamaica Plain, causing the housing market to crash, wiping out local homeowner’s lifetime investments and opening the neighborhood to blockbusters and slumlords. Now, someone has begun systematically torching those abandoned buildings and the charred body of Sandy Morgan, a dedicated young neighborhood organizer, has been found among the ashes. Why? Who stands to gain?

Community organizer and Marine combat veteran, Jedidiah Flynt and Alex Jordan, his beautiful Harvard educated researcher together with a group of local property owners are determined to stop the redlining and and bring the arsonists responsible for Sandy Morgan’s death to justice. Their search will lead them through a labyrinth of corrupt politicians, Asian gangsters and bent churchmen.

Two interwoven plots work their way through the narrative, one is absolutely true, the other never happened, but very well might have.

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Excerpt

“Any word from the district fire chief ’s office?”

“So far can’t get anyone from the district to return my calls,” he said with a thin smile. “Better make up a Freedom of Information request, get one of your leaders to sign it. They know they have to respond to that. Talked to one of the fact checkers over at Little City Hall. She claims all fires are ‘thoroughly investigated, Mr. Flynt.’”

He raised his hands and dropped them in a gesture of helplessness.

She made a face. “Guess I better write a letter. So, what’s the point? Insurance?”

“Doesn’t seem to be a reason. Fire insurance on Green Street? Good luck getting any insurance company to write a new policy in your neighborhood or anywhere else in central J. P. The whole area is redlined.”

“Redlined? You’ve mentioned that before, but I really can’t say that I understand it all that well?”

Flynt hesitated and gazed at her for a moment to make sure that she wasn’t pulling his chain. Sandy, he knew, typically came on like she knew it all even when she didn’t.

“It’s complicated. The Northwest Community Organization in Chicago was the first people’s organization to get a handle on it. Got an organizer from N.P.A. —that’s National People’s Action—fellow by the name of Trapp coming in to run a staff training session. Basically, redlining happens when the banks or the insurance companies or all of the above get together and draw a big red circle on a map around parts of the city that they consider too risky to do business with.”

“So they write off the whole neighborhood?”

“You got it and once that happens, kiss the central neighborhood goodbye. Ninety-five percent of all residential housing sales are sold subject to a mortgage, and to get a mortgage you must have insurance. So, Catch 22, you can’t get one, you don’t get the other. If mortgage or the insurance money is choked off, the housing market collapses—which sets the stage for slumlords buying cheap for cash, racial steering and housing abandonment.”

“Redlining is the underlying economic cause of most of the shit we have been organizing around. So, basically all the properties in central J.P. are worthless?”

“Yeah, well there it is,” he said rocking back in his chair. She noted the stubble on his cheeks and the dark smudges under his smoke-gray eyes.

“You ever read the novel Gone with the Wind”? he asked.

“Yeah, when I was like about twelve, why?”

“Well, there is this scene where Melanie is questioning Rhett Butler about how he made all his money. You recall he was a smuggler, dodging the Yankee blockade to bring supplies into southern ports during the Civil War?”

“Uh, huh.”

“Okay, so, Melanie finally overcomes her proper Southern manners and asks the question, and he says, ‘There is more money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization than from the building of one.’”

Sandy rolled her eyes, “Yeah right, okay. I get it.”

“Exactly.”

“Okay, but what’s with the corridor anyhow? I mean whose bright idea was that?”

“Happened before my time. Bunch of community groups got together to stop I-95 running right through the middle of the neighborhood. Finally got the governor to stop it but not until the whole thing was demo’d in from Route 128 to Roxbury. What you see is what’s left, a partially demolished six-lane cancer eating out the guts of the neighborhood,” Flynt said.

She stood up. “Yeah, looks like Berlin after the blitz and only a couple of blocks down from my abandoned house.

Okay, I’ll get set up as soon as I leave here. But what do I do if I see anybody?”

“Stay out of sight! Hide in an alley between the buildings. Or just stay in the shadows. If you see anyone or anything suspicious, try for a description or a license plate. Then get the fuck outta there, call the cops, the fire department and then call me.”

“And if it’s late and you’re home asleep?”

“I’m serious, Morgan. Don’t take any chances. People who torch houses are not the kind of fuckers you want to screw around with. Call me if you see anything suspicious, no matter what time, day or night, just call me, okay?”

“Aye, aye, sir!” she said, and she tossed off a mock salute.

“Sandy!”

“Okay, okay. I get it. I’ll call!”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Vault

Richard Wise is the author of three books. His latest novel, REDLINED, A Novel of Boston is a mystery thriller set in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. PublishersWeekly raves: “Fans of suspense fiction with a social conscience will be pleased.” Midwest Book Review describes REDLINED as a “An original and simply riveting novel.” REDLINED was nominated for the National Book Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award in fiction.

The author’s first book: SECRETS OF THE GEM TRADE, THE CONNOISSEUR’S GUIDE TO PRECIOUS GEMSTONES was originally published in 2001. The book was serialized in two magazines and became a critically acclaimed best seller. The second edition appeared in 2016. Extensively revised and rewritten, the 2nd edition has added 127 pages, 11 new chapters, 5 new introductory essays and 161 additional photographs.

Mr. Wise’s second book,THE FRENCH BLUE, a historical novel published in 2010 was the winner of a 2011 International Book Award in Historical Fiction. The novel is set in the 17th Century gem trade. Called “a fine piece of historical fiction” in a 5 star review by Midwest Book Review, THE FRENCH BLUE tells the back story of the Hope Diamond and the true life adventures of 17th Century gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier.

Richard Wise has enjoyed a diverse career. He is a veteran of the U. S. Coast Guard. After receiving his B.A., teaching and doing graduate work at the University of Rhode Island, he spent most of the decade of the 70s as a professional community organizer. Wise headed organizing projects in Massachusetts and Rhode island. In the late 1970s he left organizing and apprenticed as a goldsmith. He studied gemology at the Gemological Institute of American and received his Graduate Gemologist diploma in 1985. He founded his retail company R. W. Wise, Goldsmiths, Inc. in the early 1980s and began traveling internationally, buying gems and writing about them in 1986.

Mr. Wise’s articles have appeared in Gems & Gemology, Lapidary Journal, JQ and Colored Stone. He is a former Gemology Columnist for National Jeweler and Contributing Editor at Gem Market News. The author retired from retail in 2012 to pursue his writing. Currently, he writes a book review column for Gemmology Today Magazine. He lives with his wife and two cats in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Richard W. Wise

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blog tour · book review · historical fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Children’s Fate

Children’s Fate

How can a mother just stand by when her daughter is being cozened into sin?

It’s 1360, eleven years since the Black Death devastated all of England, and six years since Emma Ward fled Meonbridge with her children, to find a more prosperous life in Winchester. Long satisfied that she’d made the right decision, Emma is now terrified that she was wrong. For she’s convinced her daughter Bea is in grave danger, being exploited by her scheming and immoral mistress.

Bea herself is confused: fearful and ashamed of her sudden descent into sin, but also thrilled by her wealthy and attentive client.

When Emma resolves to rescue Bea from ruin and tricks her into returning to Meonbridge, Bea doesn’t at first suspect her mother’s motives. She is happy to renew her former friendships but, yearning for her rich lover, Bea soon absconds back to the city. Yet, only months later, plague is stalking Winchester again and, in terror, Bea flees once more to Meonbridge.

But, this time, she finds herself unwelcome, and fear, hostility and hatred threaten…

Terror, betrayal and deceit, but also love and courage, in a time of continuing change and challenge – Children’s Fate, the fourth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Childrens-Fate-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B08LZLW9S1

US – https://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Fate-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B08LZLW9S1

Author Bio –

CAROLYN HUGHES was born in London, but has lived most of her life in Hampshire. After completing a degree in Classics and English, she started her working life as a computer programmer, in those days a very new profession. But it was when she discovered technical authoring that she knew she had found her vocation. She spent the next few decades writing and editing all sorts of material, some fascinating, some dull, for a wide variety of clients, including an international hotel group, medical instrument manufacturers and the government.

She has written creatively for most of her adult life, but it was not until her children grew up and flew the nest several years ago that writing historical fiction took centre stage in her life. She has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a PhD from the University of Southampton.

Children’s Fate is the fourth novel in the MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLES series. A fifth novel is under way.

You can connect with Carolyn through her website http://www.carolynhughesauthor.com and social media:

Social Media Links –

Facebook: CarolynHughesAuthor; Twitter: @writingcalliope; Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2hs2rrX

Giveaway to Win a $15 / £15 / €15 Amazon Gift Card (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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My Review

Children’s Fate is the fourth in the series set in the village of Meonbridge in the fourteenth century and, like its predecessor, it’s a gem. I say predecessor in the singular because, to date, I’ve only been to Meonbridge once before, in book three – De Bohun’s Destiny – but it was a most memorable read, so much so I knew I had to read this latest instalment. Besides, it was a joy to pick up with old characters to see how the years had treated them.

Fourteenth century England sees both progress and challenges for the people of Meonbridge. Emma Ward and her family take the leading roles, as we head to Winchester where Emma hopes new opportunities await. And, indeed they do, as Emma enters the weaving trade and earns enough to buy her daughter Bea an apprenticeship with an embroideress. Yet, it is here that Emma’s hopes begin to unravel, and maybe, just maybe, she has put her daughter in danger, morally and physically.

With that in mind, she heads back to Meonbridge wary of the welcome she might receive having left so unexpectedly some six years ago. But Bea has become accustomed to a different lifestyle in Winchester, albeit one of which her mother – and society – disapprove. Whilst Emma is eventually able to make amends with old friends, Bea struggles to settle into village life again when it comes to work. Bea has grown up, and attracts many admirers, but her reputation precedes her, and it’s a reputation that she daren’t let her mother hear of.

The to- and froing between Meonbridge and Winchester highlights not only the differences in city and village life, but it is later blamed when the plague returns. Those who put on a front of respectability in Winchester life are quick to seek their own gratification and self-gain whilst condemning others for doing the same, and they do so ironically without any thought for others. It’s the very essence of “do as I say, not as I do” in times when money and connections can absolve guilt in an instance.

Over in Meonbridge, the villagers want answers for the fate that has befallen them once again. And who do they blame when children’s lives are lost but the young woman who has travelled oft between the two places and whose sullied reputation marks her out as morally corrupt and socially despised. Their reactions, as they grieve, only makes Bea more unpopular. Poor Emma now blames herself for having left Meonbridge in the first place. She is faced with confronting an angry mob and defending her daughter, or sending Bea away to an unknown fate.

Although the story focuses on Emma and her family, it also looks at the lives of other women of the village as they cope with new births and miscarriages, grieve loved ones, fear what will become of their offspring, and contend with the plague, supposedly foreseen by a solar eclipse. The message sent out by religious leaders urges them to confess and renounce their sinful ways if they are to survive. It was interesting to read the author’s notes at the end, about how people in those times “treated” the plague with instructions to stay at home and cover their faces in public, both actions being spookily comparable to current times.

Once again, the author has created a rich tapestry of life in 1361, with all the trials and tribulations that came with it. For me, historical fiction at its best, immerses the reader in another time for a brief spell. Carolyn Hughes does just that; this is a story in 3D format and I can’t wait for the next one.

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Author interview · historical fiction · mystery · WWII

Mini Blog Blitz – A Wing & A Prayer

A Wing and a Prayer

When Betty Palmer’s sister dies under suspicious circumstances whilst landing her Tiger Moth, Betty and three other women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary in WWII England unite to discover who killed her and why.
Estranged from her family, Penny Blake wants simply to belong. American Doris Winter, running from a personal tragedy, yearns for a new start. Naturally shy Mary Whitworth-Baines struggles to fit in. Together though, they are a force to be reckoned with as they face the mystery that confronts them.

Against the backdrop of war, when ties of friendship are exceptionally strong, they strive to unravel the puzzle’s complex threads, risking their lives as they seek justice for Betty’s sister.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK- http://tinyurl.com/y2xhx4d4

Amazon US- http://tinyurl.com/y446pzgv

Amazon Aus- http://tinyurl.com/y5bqqtta

iBooks- http://tinyurl.com/y63fmdol

Nook – tinyurl.com/y324xdku

Author Bio

Mick is a hopeless romantic who was born in England and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elisabeth II in the Royal Air Force before putting down roots and realizing how much he missed the travel. This he’s replaced somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and supporting fellow saga and romance authors in promoting their novels.

He’s the proud keeper of two Romanian cats, is mad on the music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, and enjoys the theatre and loving his Manchester-United-supporting wife.

Finally, Mick is a full member of the Romantic Novelists Association. A Wing and a Prayer will be his second published novel, and he is very proud to be welcomed into The Rose Garden.

Social media links –

https://www.facebook.com/MWArnoldAuthor

Twitter – Mick859

Instagram – Mick859

Mick has kindly answered a few of my questions about his writing life.

  1. Tell me about your book / series? What do you want readers to most remember after reading it/them?

The people, my characters. I try to make them all as human as possible, fallible, normal, everyday humans. Just like you and me, they each have a journey to take and I’d like readers to recall what they went through on that journey and how that changed them.

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both, usually at the same time! Since a health scare a while back, I’ve never felt more alive than when I have my laptop in front of me and am tapping away. Being able to escape into a make-believe world takes me away from the problems of the real-one and I get a real buzz from that! I tend to get tired a little quicker than I used to, a hangover, but I don’t tend to let that stop me finishing a chapter.

  1. Have you ever got reader’s block? What’s your favourite genre to read?

Sometimes. I’ll pick up a book I’ve been dying to read, and it’s down before I’ve barely started. I actually have to be in the mood to read and if I’m not, I simply can’t. As for a favourite genre, it’s a mix of three. I love Romantic fiction, including writing it; am newly into WW2 Historical Sagas and still love to read anything by Terry Pratchett.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Start writing earlier! Simple.

  1. Is there a famous novel you didn’t finish reading? Why?

I really Hope some of my author friends won’t hate me for saying this, but I’ve never finished Pride and Prejudice. I blame the BBC tv version for this as I’ve watched that so many times – my Lady Wife is a huge fan – I find it difficult to concentrate on it.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

How did you know I’m a huge fan of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman? It would have to be a Scottish Wildcat. I love how they’re such a bundle of energy for such a small creature.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I’ve got three unpublished books and maybe, three or four unfinished ones. A Wing an a Prayer was actually the fifth book I finished and the first in this genre.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

For this book, and the others in the series to come, once the idea came, I then spent probably only a few hours on the internet researching to see if anyone had written the same idea. I then tend to begin writing, researching for what I need as and when I need to.

  1. How many hours a day do you write?

As long as I can get away with it. Once I start writing, I like to get a complete chapter done, no matter how long it turns out to be. I usually start writing in the afternoon, just after midday, so it can be into the wee small hours.

  1. What did you edit out of this book that you really wanted to keep? Will you reuse it at a later stage?

I took out a scene where some male members of the ATA stalk out of the Flight Line Hut when they meet my lady pilots. I thought it slowed the pace down and as it was early in the book, I didn’t want it. Something along that may make an appearance in book 3, a Christmas one, I’m currently writing.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

Often, they’re based on something I’m watching on tv, or a combination of names from books on the shelf, or my TBR pile. I do have a couple of books full of first and surnames next to where I write but, for some reason, I don’t reach for those as often as I should.

  1. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Only having had one book published before, I do recall reading the reviews. Is it a bit much to mention none were lower than a four star?

  1. What comes first for you, character or plot?

Plot! Or, to be more precise, the idea for the first half dozen chapters. I’m not a planster, I’ve tried but it doesn’t seem to suit me, so I fly by the seat of my pants. My characters seem to write themselves in as the scene progresses. Sometimes, they’re not even thought of before that scene is begun

  1. What was your hardest scene to write? Why?

The last, because it meant saying ‘goodbye’ to my characters at a time when I hadn’t sold the book. I didn’t know if I’d ever be writing them again.

  1. Do you Google yourself? What did you find that pleased you most?

Heck no. 😉

  1. What are you writing now?

Book 3 in the series. This is a Christmas one and seems to have become full of just as much mystery as the first. The second in the Broken Wings series, Wild Blue Yonder, is now with my editor and isn’t as much a mystery as the first, more of a story full of twists and turns for my characters as their relationships blossom.

Thanks so much for this, Mick. Looks like you’ve got your hands full. Lots of luck with A Wing & A Prayer and the Christmas story.

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book launch · historical fiction · Publication Day · romance · Victorian

Publication Day – The Tobaccanist’s Wife

The Tobacconist’s Wife

Having lost her father, Thea Goodson is alone in the world.

It is true she has a husband, but Ernie is a brutal man, more inclined to use his fists to keep Thea in line than to build on their marriage. And besides, Ernie Goodson has secrets – secrets that even his wife cannot share.
But in Victorian Yorkshire, appearances must be kept up, so Thea goes on powdering her bruises and forcing a smile as she toils in Ernie’s home and tobacco shop. There seems to be no other option.
That is, until a handsome and well-bred stranger arrives to set up shop next door…
Can Thea escape her misery and break from the conventions of society? Or will the clutches of her abusive husband confine her forever?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobacconists-Wife-emotionally-absorbing-Victorian-ebook/dp/B08G9N75NX

US – https://www.amazon.com/Tobacconists-Wife-emotionally-absorbing-Victorian-ebook/dp/B08G9N75NX

Author Bio – Award winning & Amazon UK Bestseller AnneMarie Brear has been a life-long reader and started writing in 1997 when her children were small. She has a love of history, of grand old English houses and a fascination of what might have happened beyond their walls. Her interests include reading, travelling, watching movies, spending time with family and eating chocolate – not always in that order! She is the author of historical family saga novels.

Social Media Links – http://www.annemariebrear.com

http://www.facebook.com/annemariebrear

http://www.twitter.com/annemariebrear

http://www.instagram.com/annemariebrear

As always,

book review · historical · historical fiction · trilogy · Tudor

Book Review – Nest of Ashes

October 1537

At a time of most supreme triumph, the moment of her greatest glory, security and power, a Queen of England lies dying.

Through dreams of fever and fantasy, Jane Seymour, third and most beloved wife of King Henry VIII remembers her childhood, the path forged to the Tudor Court; a path forged in flame and ashes. Through the fug of memory, Jane sees herself, a quiet, overlooked girl, who to others seemed pale of face and character, who discovered a terrible secret that one day would rain destruction upon her family.

Nest of Ashes is Book One in The Phoenix Trilogy: Story of Jane Seymour, by G. Lawrence.

The author’s thanks are due to Julia Gibbs, proof reader of this work of fiction, and to Larch Gallagher, the cover artist.

My Review

I’ve always loved historical fiction and have two favourite periods that never fail to catch my attention. The first is WWII and the other is The Tudors. As author Gemma Lawrence states, there is so little told about Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII. It’s a huge understatement to say I was intrigued as to how she would portray a story based on someone about whom so little actual “history” is known. Indeed, following Anne Boleyn as Henry’s queen must surely have been a daunting time for Jane, after all was not Anne the original viper in the nest that led to the break with Rome and to Henry’s marriage with the dignified and most-popular Katherine of Aragon.

Nest of Ashes is the first in a trilogy of Jane Seymour’s life, and it is probably in book one where the author has the most scope to create Jane’s story. The author’s has imagined situations from Jane’s early years that are in keeping with the world she inhabits, its traditions and customs. So believable is her creation that you could be forgiven for thinking it is not historic fact, and so engaging is the story that you are instantly drawn into its fictional realm. The very best of both worlds.

When we meet Jane, she is the only daughter (so far) born to the Seymour couple. Her plain appearance marks her out as a disappointment to her mother who had longed for a daughter to grace the King’s Court as she had once done herself. As such, Jane becomes almost invisible to them, particularly when her brother Thomas is around. For Thomas can do no wrong, and despite Jane’s objections to the contrary, it is always she who is on the receiving end of any punishment. Knowing what we do about Jane’s future, it felt as though Karma was watching over her: the invisible daughter who would be queen.

Jane’s world is shaken for the first time when her beloved brother Edward takes a wife, Catherine. This beautiful and vivacious young woman is everything Jane’s mother had hoped for in a daughter, and the Seymour household is soon captivated by her charms. For Jane, that charm quickly wears off when she realises Catherine is not the sweet young woman she professes to be, but rather is intent on seducing Jane’s (and her husband, Edward’s) father. From here on, all doubt as to Catherine’s true nature is cast aside, and Jane sees her only as making a cuckold of her brother. Being invisible to everyone else in the household, Jane has no-one to tell, let alone anyone who might believe her. Confronting Catherine only makes things worse for her.

Jane can only hope her brother will find a place for her at Court, away from her family and the lies she has to ignore daily. When Edward does come through for her, and Jane is called serve Mary, the King’s sister, only then does her mother recognise how much she relied on Jane.

Jane arrives at Court, quiet and reserved and not at all confident of her position. It is her shy nature that catches the eye of Queen Katherine, who takes a liking to the young woman and appoints Jane to her own staff.

Jane’s mother is torn between fury and pride; Jane has usurped her own position at Court and without all the fuss and fancy. She begs Jane to meet with her cousin, Anne Boleyn, which she reluctantly agrees to; they are never going to be close but who would have thought they would be rivals for the King’s affections?

Jane’s future at Court is about to change her life and the history books. Forever.

As Nest of Ashes came to an end, my appetite for the next book only increased. In today’s society we are used to binge-watching complete series, so biding my time until the next instalment will be a challenge. Suffice it to say, I’m ready when you are, Gemma Lawrence! (No pressure LOL)

I received a copy of this book as part of the review-a-book challenge. What a wise move that was on my part.

As always,

blog tour · book review · family · historical fiction · relationships · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Resistance Girl

The Resistance Girl

Two women. One heartbreaking secret.

Paris, 1943.

Sylvie Martone is the star of French cinema, and adored by fans. But as Nazi officers swarm the streets of Paris, she is spotted arm in arm with an SS Officer and her fellow Parisians begin to turn against her.

However, Sylvie has a secret – one she must protect with her life.

Paris, 2020.

Juliana Chastain doesn’t know anything about her family history. While her mother was alive she remained very secretive about her past.

So when Juliana discovers a photograph of a glamorous French actress from World War Two amongst her mother’s possessions, she is in shock to find herself looking at her grandmother – especially as she is arm in arm with a Nazi Officer…

Desperate for answers, Juliana is determined to trace the journey of her grandmother. Surely there is more to the photograph than meets the eye?

But as she delves into Sylvie’s past, nothing can prepare Juliana for the tales of secrets, betrayal and sacrifice which she will uncover.

A heart-wrenching story of love and war, perfect for fans of Pam Jenoff and Suzanne Goldring.

Purchase Link – https://buff.ly/3dHGHqQ

Author Bio

Jina Bacarr is a US-based historical romance author of over 10 previous books. She has been a screenwriter, journalist and news reporter, but now writes full-time and lives in LA. Jina’s novels have been sold in 9 territories.

Social Media Links
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/JinaBacarrNewsletter

Website: https://jinabacarr.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JinaBacarr.author

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YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/LadydeGrey/videos?view_as=subscriber

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jbacarr

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jina-bacarr

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/50392.Jina_Bacarr

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jinabacarr/

https://bookandmainbites.com/JinaBacarr

My Review

Guess what? It’s another book set in WWII. And, you know what else? I really enjoyed it. Quelle surprise! I guess I am a creature of habit.

When Juliana Chastain sorts through her late mother’s possessions, she finds an old photograph of her grandmother, arm in arm with a Nazi officer. Is this why her own mother never told her about her family’s past? Was her grandmother a Nazi collaborator? And who was her grandfather? The man in the photo? All these questions left Juliana with no other option than to find the answers, even if it meant going to France herself.

Told through the eyes of Sylvie Martone (grandmother) and Juliana (granddaughter) the story spans the generations and secrets hidden for decades finally come to the surface.

Sylvie always wanted to be an actress; it was her childhood dream. So when the chance came, so left the convent where she was raised and headed for the bright lights of silent movies. Her talents were recognised, and the “talkies” brought her even more success, making her the sweetheart of the French film industry with fans throughout the country.

When war broke out, Sylvie was noticed by the invading Nazis who loved how she was idolised by the nation. Having her on their arm, they believed, would give them a certain gravitas with the French citizens. Instead, it drove her fans away and left her labelled as a collaborator.

Yet, Sylvie was anything but. She used her position to help her fellow neighbours and colleagues, enabling them to escape the Nazi regime. Yet none of this was ever declared, for reasons Juliana has to discover for herself as she attempts to clear her grandmother’s name and restore her reputation as a much-loved filmstar.

The story plunged deep into Sylvie’s life, her necessary dalliances with the Nazi officer, as well as her one true chance for love. As Juliana learnt more about her grandmother, she became ever more determined to bring the truth to the fore. Following her grandmother’s films, notes, and recordings she was able to connect with her in so many ways, even as far as understanding who was important in her own life.

It was a captivating read, highlighting the realities of war with sensitivity and understanding. While Sylvie and Juliana got to tell their stories, and Juliana discovered the truth about her grandmother, it became ever more tragic that her own mother never took the chance to know that truth. Secrets certainly led to the three women having different takes on history.

I’d recommend this to fans of WWII historical fiction who enjoy the deep dive into believable and heart-wrenching stories.

My thanks go to Boldwood Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. This review is given voluntarily.

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As always,

book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · WWII

Book Review – Irena’s War

Based on the gripping true story of an unlikely Polish resistance fighter who helped save thousands of Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during World War II, bestselling author James D. Shipman’s Irena’s War is a heart-pounding novel of courage in action, helmed by an extraordinary and unforgettable protagonist.

September 1939: The conquering Nazis swarm through Warsaw as social worker Irena Sendler watches in dread from her apartment window. Already, the city’s poor go hungry. Irena wonders how she will continue to deliver food and supplies to those who need it most, including the forbidden Jews. The answer comes unexpectedly.

Dragged from her home in the night, Irena is brought before a Gestapo agent, Klaus Rein, who offers her a position running the city’s soup kitchens, all to maintain the illusion of order. Though loath to be working under the Germans, Irena learns there are ways to defy her new employer–including forging documents so that Jewish families receive food intended for Aryans. As Irena grows bolder, her interactions with Klaus become more fraught and perilous.

Klaus is unable to prove his suspicions against Irena–yet. But once Warsaw’s half-million Jews are confined to the ghetto, awaiting slow starvation or the death camps, Irena realizes that providing food is no longer enough. Recruited by the underground Polish resistance organization Zegota, she carries out an audacious scheme to rescue Jewish children. One by one, they are smuggled out in baskets and garbage carts, or led through dank sewers to safety–every success raising Klaus’s ire. Determined to quell the uprising, he draws Irena into a cat-and-mouse game that will test her in every way–and where the slightest misstep could mean not just her own death, but the slaughter of those innocents she is so desperate to save.

My Review

The fact that this is based on a true story only makes it more gripping and jaw-droppingly addictive.

Irena is a strong and determined woman, but she is not without her flaws. Her determination is often misconstrued (by her mother) as stubbornness and defiance, but always her intentions are the best. Her goal at the outset is to maintain the supply of food to her fellow Poles once the Germans invade. And she refuses to accept that Polish Jews are any less worthy, but she is fighting an uphill battle.

Her path regularly crosses with Klaus, an SS Officer, who is put in charge of the region, and for whom she is the eternal thorn in the side. Once the ghetto is built and her Jewish friends and fellow citizens are installed behind a solid wall, she pushes her boss, Jan, to get her a pass into the ghetto. The only way in is as a medical observer, to check on the infection rates within. Of course, Irena wins him over, using fair means and foul, but either way she now has access to the ghetto. It is there she finds her friends working in the hospital and orphanage. Seeing the conditions faced by the children, she has to get them out.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed by the local resistance who bring her in to discuss future plans to save as many as they can. As the situation deteriorates and residents of the ghetto are rounded up and relocated to Treblinka, the need to save the children becomes ever more critical.

By now, Irena is under pressure from all sides. Some consider her work in food distribution as being work for the Germans, even her Jewish friends come to that conclusion. The Germans – Klaus – see her as a potential pawn, to make it look as though they are treating the Poles well …until he realises she is working against him. Proving it, though, is a different matter and Irena comes close to arrest many times. None of that stops her though; she may fear for her life but she fears for the lives of others more. Remarkable!

Tense times lie ahead, and the story only gets stronger as Irena ploughs on through the machine that is the Nazi regime. She faces losses and wins but doesn’t stop – her resolve is breath-taking.

This is not an easy book to read at times, since the reality of war is not hidden away or glossed over. Being based on true events, it hits home with great impact. As a work of historical fiction, it feels very real and incredibly scary. We should be praising women like Irena more; she saved many more people than Schindler yet has gone unnoticed. Until now. This is a powerful story that bridges fact and fiction beautifully. I would highly recommend it to readers of WWII historical fiction.

My sincere thanks go to Kensington Books and NetGalley for this e-ARC. My review is given voluntarily and with absolute pleasure.

As always,

art · book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · Renaissance Italy · WWII

Book Review – The Night Portrait

Summary

“This is a truly original novel that has earned its place among my favorite works of historical fiction.”–Jennifer Robson, USA Today bestselling author of The Gown

An exciting, dual-timeline historical novel about the creation of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings, Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, and the woman who fought to save it from Nazi destruction during World War II.

Milan, 1492: When a 16-year old beauty becomes the mistress of the Duke of Milan, she must fight for her place in the palace—and against those who want her out. Soon, she finds herself sitting before Leonardo da Vinci, who wants to ensure his own place in the ducal palace by painting his most ambitious portrait to date.

Munich, World War II: After a modest conservator unwittingly places a priceless Italian Renaissance portrait into the hands of a high-ranking Nazi leader, she risks her life to recover it, working with an American soldier, part of the famed Monuments Men team, to get it back. 

Two women, separated by 500 years, are swept up in the tide of history as one painting stands at the center of their quests for their own destinies.
 

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My Review

Combining two of my favourite topics – WWII and art – I needed no persuasion to read this book. 

It centres on Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, from the moment he is called upon to paint it in the 15th Century until its many journeys during WWII between Poland and Germany when the portrait was “saved” by the Nazis – read “stolen” – destined for Hitler’s project to have the best art collection in the world. 

Told through four viewpoints, the story spans the centuries connecting the past with the present.  Leonardo and Cecilia (the subject of the portrait and mistress of the Duke of Milan) are the 15th Century perspectives, while the modern day characters are Edith (the art conservator whose role it is – against her will – to list the art on behalf of the Nazi government) and Dominic (one of The Monuments Men tasked with tracking down the stolen art as the war comes to an end).

Their stories weave effortlessly across the timelines, and I particularly enjoyed how she ended a chapter with a certain line, only for the next chapter to start with that line. Though the characters were centuries apart, they shared a vocabulary and a mindset. 

The scenes in Renaissance Italy between Leonardo and Cecilia showed two people, both wanting to make their mark. Leonardo yearned for his ideas on flying and weapon-building to be taken up by the Duke, and agreed to paint the portrait to keep in the Duke’s favour. Cecilia wanted to be more than a nun, after her brothers ruined her chance of marriage in her home village. Once she met the Duke, she had high hopes of being his wife. Needless to say, both Leonardo and Cecilia had unfulfilled dreams, yet their lives were nothing if not extraordinary even after their first encounter. 

Edith objected to being sent to Poland, away from her ailing father who suffered dementia. She objected to the work she was forced to do. It was a moment of clarity that made her realise she had a duty to preserve the art she found, and some day return it to its rightful owners. Dominic, a talented artist himself, wanted at first to have a more proactive role in the war. He felt he had a cushy number, until he too had that moment of clarity and understood that saving the artwork was an important role not just to return it to its owners, but to secure it for future generations.

This is quite a different take on a WWII novel; refreshingly so. It doesn’t gloss over the atrocities at all, but nor are these events at the core of the story. Clearly a lot of research went into this book; its detail is sublime. Fans of historical fiction will be sure to enjoy this book. Highly recommended. 

My thanks go to the publishers – One More Chapter – and Netgalley for the e-copy I received. To the author, Laura Morelli, my congratulations on a great idea, beautifully told. 

As always,