book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Betrayal: An Ann’s War Mystery (The Ann’s War Mystery Series Book 1)

Book description:

With her husband away on a top secret mission, Ann Morgan prepares for another secretarial day at Trevor Bowman’s detective agency.

However, this day will be unlike any other.

Over twenty-four hours, Ann will find her life turned upside-down as she discovers a murder, meets a handsome widower, Detective Inspector Max Deveraux, and confronts the murderer in a tale of temptation and duplicity

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My thoughts

Recently married, Ann Morgan says farewell to her husband as he undertakes a mission for the war effort. He should only be gone a couple of days, and Ann determines to carry on as normally as she can until his return. In his absence, she has the use of the car and takes to the quiet streets, passing a horse and cart on her way to work for Trevor Bowman, a private detective. No sooner has she arrived than her boss sends her to deliver a report. When she finally gets back to the office, a shadowy figure almost knocks her down and she enters the office to find her boss shot dead.
Had she just passed the killer? The thought runs through her mind when she tells Detective Inspector Max Deveraux what had happened.
Now, she is not only without her husband but also a job. With time on her hands, she wonders who would have wanted to kill Bowman, and can she possibly help to catch the killer?
With a pace and vibe reminiscent of the TV series Foyles War, Betrayal features a polite, softly-spoken detective in Max Deveraux and a young woman, modern in her actions and ambition in Ann. After deciding to question her boss’s last known client, Ann has unwittingly stumbled upon a scene of treachery, and the culprit does not wish her to be free to share her discovery with the police.
A short story, delicious in detail. Clearly well-researched, this first book in the series is engaging and invites me to want to read more … which, of course, I will. 😉

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Rose (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 6)

Operation Rose is book seven in the Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series.

Beside a graffiti-embellished pew, I turned to Rose and said, “You’re taking great risks for us.”
“Freedom is worth the risks,” Rose said.
“What about the risks to your family?”
Rose turned and offered me an angry glare. “Who said that I have a family?”
“I assumed that you are married,” I said, “with children.”
Rose looked like a housewife. She wore no rings on her fingers, yet her whole manner suggested a housewifely air.
“I would rather not mention my family,” Rose said.
“I understand,” I said.
At that point, the sound of an organ reverberated through the cathedral. Its sudden appearance caught me by surprise. It startled Rose and made her jump.
“I must go,” she said.
I nodded. “Take care.”
I waited and listened to the organ. The sound was modern, electrified. I didn’t recognise the tune, but it was pleasant enough.
Outside, I walked through the narrow alleys, along the cobbled streets. I couldn’t explain why, but I loved cobbled streets.
At a distance of five hundred metres, I turned and stared at the cathedral, and reflected on Rose. I considered that she was an enigma. Maxime Durand had vouched for her. London trusted Durand, but I had my doubts about him. For security’s sake, I reckoned that I should learn more about Rose.

My thoughts

Yay! I’m back with the latest in the Eve’s War series, and it was like catching up with old friends, the only downside being these stories are short in length and always leave me yearning for the next one.

Guy and Eve’s relationship has developed considerably but the question of whether her husband, Michel, still lives, lingers. When Guy has to leave for a meeting under the guise of an archaeology convention, he says he’ll see if he can find out about Michel.
Meanwhile, Eve is in charge and when a mayor is shot in public view by German Officer, Raab, she – and others – suspect they have a traitor among them.
If they can root this person out, Eve has to consider shooting them. Can she do it? Her answer: if need be. But when the time comes, she’s relieved to find another issue that explains everything.
In Operation Rose, the team work together to seek out the traitor and their reasons for betrayal, only to find it’s not what they think and instead they are thrown into a rescue mission.

As always, the story moves along at great pace and the main characters reveal just a little more about themselves. In this case, Eve is bewildered at her sudden weight gain 😉 … and when Guy returns to say Michel is alive, then you have to wonder what’s next for the couple.
The saga continues … and I must practise patience LOL

I’ve learnt from experience that this author’s books are addictive, and I was planning on starting The Olive Tree series next. However, I’ve now decided to wait until that series is published in full (hopefully that’ll be soonish) Instead, I’ll be getting my WWII historical fiction fix with The Ann’s War Mystery series, starting with Betrayal – all five books in this series have been released and I can binge to my heart’s content. Look out for my reviews on these stories in the coming weeks.

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Cameo (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 6)

I sat in the farmhouse in front of the open fire and read Vivienne Fernandez’s file.

Aged 24, she resided in London where, before the SOE recruited her, she was a switchboard operator. Multilingual, she enjoyed gymnastics – like Mimi – cycling, ice-skating and dressmaking. Her assessors also noted that she loved to party.

I’d met her from the plane and noted her elegance and grace. She was stylish, beautiful – the complete package. Jealousy should have raised its ugly head. Instead, I smiled at that recent memory; I liked her.

Vivienne’s French husband had died fighting for the Free French in Senegal. She’d left a two-year-old daughter at home, with childminders. Father and daughter had never met. That was sad, and all too familiar.

Vivienne’s mother was English, her father French. They’d lived on the French-Spanish border and, when the Nazis invaded, escaped over the Pyrenees. It was a route I knew well.

I tore Vivienne’s file into strips and placed it on the fire. Within seconds, it turned to ash, consumed by the orange and yellow flames.

I wondered what Guy would make of Vivienne. I would discover his thoughts soon enough, when he returned from the coast. I wondered how she would fit into our team. As a short-term replacement for Mimi, I didn’t foresee any problems.

In retrospect, I would regard that assessment as a huge mistake.

My thoughts

Eve and Guy have noticed Mimi’s decline, while she’s still the fastest wireless operator out there, she has lost her spark. They arrange for her to return to England for a break, and a new operator – Vivienne – is brought in. Mimi is not at all happy; she feels she’s being sent away because she knows how close Eve and Guy have become, and that she’s in the way. Eve admits her feelings for Guy, but assures Mimi that the break is only temporary.
Meanwhile, Eve’s German Officer admirer, Raab, wants her to spy for him. Despite Guy’s reluctance, Eve is determined to do so, although she plans on giving him out-of-date info, and just enough detail to keep him distracted from his amorous overtures to her, and to the real matters of business that they’re pursuing.
Vivienne is soon put to work, but her love for fashion worries Eve, who feels the new operator – a mother of a two-year-old – will stand out too much. Nonetheless, the business of sending and receiving messages continues until one night the power fails. It’s a tactic used by the Nazis to track down wireless signals. They have to flee.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets away and, together with Jean-Claude’s men, the SOE agents have to rescue one of their own. Clashes with the Gestapo lead to losses on all sides, and even Eve’s ardent admirer, Raab, is caught in the crossfire. Revenge is inevitable, the Resistance will not accept anything else.

Looking forward to the next in the series – roll on July! Now I’ve read all those published to date, I’m sort of wishing I’d waited till the whole series was available to binge read … but I’m not that patient!

I said in a previous post that I had a plan about how to fill the gap between now and July (for book 7) and the three month wait for each subsequent book. It’s not as if my TBR list is lacking, but having studied this author’s extensive back catalogue, I think I’ll be checking out The Olive Tree series next. As a former student of Spanish political history, I’m looking forward to this one. Hannah Howe, right now, is hitting all the buttons on my “want to read” list 😉

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Sherlock (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 5)

“Arthur is concerned about the Nazis’ latest terror weapon,” Guy said. “Rockets; they have the potential to cause death, destruction and chaos in Britain. He wants us to locate the launch site so that the RAF can bomb it.”

“How do we achieve that?” I asked.

“The Resistance in Paris think that they have identified the site,” Guy said. “Arthur wants us to confirm their suspicions.”

“Why doesn’t the local Sherlock network deal with this?” Mimi asked.

“Recently,” Guy said, “the Gestapo captured their wireless operator. Their network is in chaos. Trust is at a low ebb.”

I glanced at Mimi and noticed her pale, drawn features. As our wireless operator, she lived under constant stress; each transmission represented a moment of potential capture.

A trip to Paris sounded sublime. However, Mimi’s troubled expression reminded me that we were travelling into danger, potentially to our deaths.

My thoughts

Whoa! This book ratchets up the tension yet another notch.
The SOE are concerned about the Nazis’ latest terror weapon – a ‘silent’ rocket that could cause mass destruction and deaths if launched. The trio are informed that the weapon is being developed on the outskirts of Paris, and the Resistance think they have identified the site.
Guy, Eve and Mimi head for Paris. Mimi is already struggling so when she is challenged over the contents of her case (the wireless) she has to rely on her cover story to avoid raising further suspicion. Eve steps in to help and distracts the guard so they are able to board the train. But that is not the first time Mimi’s case will come under scrutiny …and the lengths to which Eve goes to avoid that scrutiny is shocking and yet to be applauded.

Unfortunately, sending messages in Paris is fraught with danger, the Gestapo are very active. When it appears they may be caught in the act, the idea of a traitor in their ranks comes to mind. Finding out who betrayed them is paramount. Guy and Eve have their suspicions … and are forced to confront the traitor. Working so close together in such dangerous circumstances forces the two of them to admit their feelings for each other.

So, you see, the tension is not just putting their lives at risk, it now involves risking their heart too.
Another fabulous tale that was over too quickly.

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Treasure (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 4)

“A message from Arthur,” Mimi said. “He wants us to steal a set of plans from a factory and blow up the building.”

“Who owns the factory?” Guy asked.

“Auguste Maingard,” Mimi said.

“And what does the factory produce?” I asked.

“It’s a scientific establishment,” Mimi said. “It’s developing a frequency-hopping guided missile system. Naturally, the Nazis are aware of this work and intend to exploit the invention.”

“So,” I said, “we steal the guidance system from Maingard and the Nazis.”

“That’s right,” Mimi said.

“And if we fail?” I frowned.

“If we fail,” Mimi said, “Arthur will send in the bombers and raze the factory to the ground.”

“That would mean the loss of many innocent lives,” Guy said. He stared into the middle-distance, grim-faced. “We can’t allow that. We can’t afford to fail.”

There was a determination on Guy’s face, a passion in his voice that demanded success. Obviously, a new missile guidance system was important, but Guy’s look and tone suggested that this operation went beyond the machinations of war. For some reason, it was personal.

My thoughts

Eve, Guy and Mimi have assumed their new identities in France and are going about the business of obtaining information, sending coded messages, and training up the Maquis for future acts of sabotage against the Nazi regime.
Guy is revelling in his findings as an archaeologist and Mimi is proving very adept as a nurse, while Eve – aka Genevieve – is playing the mourning widow with a penchant for sketching all too well. The trio’s bond is even tighter now, and there are hints of further closeness to come between Eve and Guy. Unfortunately, this time Eve has to contend with an amorous and immensely arrogant German Officer on a date she cannot turn down. Can she handle him? Of course she can – for now, at least.

Mimi celebrates her 21st birthday and is overwhelmed by gifts and a party, although she is seriously missing – and worried about – her fiancé, Henri.

Relations with the Maquis are fraught as they are keen to show their “muscle” against the Nazis, but their leader does not like “taking orders” from a woman; patience is waning and they want to strike quickly. However, the risk of moving too fast, or being disunited, comes with consequences. In the heat of war, success relies on keeping a cool head. The tension is mounting and the team have to think on their feet when things take a wrong turn regarding a mission to sabotage Nazi plans. They’re forced to act, and Mimi has to come to Eve’s rescue. In doing so, she carries out her first kill, but is the pressure getting to her now?
This story sees both Mimi and Eve hanker after happier times; Mimi longs to be with Henri and Eve thinks about her family in Wales, sending a letter to her brother before challenging Guy on his motives for joining the SOE.

This story is short in length but goes a great way in grounding the reader in the French countryside, understanding the dangers faced by the civilians who are helping them, and in showing the arrogance of the German officers who still believe they can and will win this war.
As always, elements of the story are based on real events as experienced by female SOE operatives, and the author includes snippets about them at the end.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be rushing to read Operation Sherlock, the next in the series. I can’t wait!

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Broadsword (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 3)

As Mimi examined her wireless, a figure emerged through the darkness. In his mid-thirties, he possessed broad shoulders and a muscular frame while a proud nose and a neatly trimmed moustache dominated his handsome features.

“The owls are loud tonight,” the man said revealing a voice blessed with a deep baritone.

“You’re allowed to make a loud noise when you’re the wisest of birds,” I replied.

With our code words established, the man stepped forward and shook my hand. His handshake was firm while his pumping action threatened to remove my arm from my shoulder.

“I am Jean-Claude,” he smiled. “Jean-Claude Quiniou. I will escort you to the safe house and introduce you to the Le Roux family.”

“I’m Genevieve,” I said, “and this is Lise.” Of course, I used our aliases, for Eve and Mimi belonged to another life.

My thoughts

As you can tell by my weekly blog posts, I’m loving this series. It’s taking all my strength to not post daily about them, but that’s only because half of the series is, as yet, unpublished. What will I do when I get to the end of the current publications? Well, funny you should say … I have a plan in mind. Stay tuned!

Now, where was I?

Operation Broadsword is the third in the series, and the pace is accelerating. The trio of SOE operatives, Eve, Guy and Mimi, are waiting for the go ahead to see them parachute into France. With their training complete, it’s only a matter of time before they can leave within the window of opportunity granted them by the night’s sky. Eve will not let the minor inconvenience of a fever stop her from going and lands in France to be escorted to the Le Roux farmhouse where she will be staying. Her first few days are spent recuperating, and we get to know the Le Roux family a little. Guy and Mimi take up their positions and become acquainted with the Résistance leaders and Maquis who will work alongside them.
As she is becoming accustomed to life there, Eve still wonders what has become of her husband. Is she a widow for real or is this just a cover?
Another intriguing and engrossing novella in what is proving to be a gripping series.

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Locksmith (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 2)

“I understand that you wish to return to France,” the man behind the mahogany desk said.

“That’s correct,” I said.

“Your motivation?” he asked, smoothing the corners of his moustache.

“To do my bit for the war effort,” I said, “to defeat the Nazis and to discover what’s happened to my husband.”

“It would be extremely risky,” the officious-looking man said, “suicidal even, for a lone woman to undertake such a venture. However, there is an alternative.”

“Alternative?” I frowned.

“Yes. We’ll parachute you in, as one of our people. Of course, you’d have to undertake training first. Rigorous training. Top secret training. If you fail, I’m afraid it will mean a spell in the cooler, possibly until the war is over.”

“The cooler?”

“But I trust it won’t come to that,” he said, ignoring my question. “When can you start?”

I began immediately. And during my training I met two people who would radically reshape my life – Guy Samson and Mimi Duchamp. I also discovered secrets about myself, abilities beyond my imagination. However, as the training heated up so the situations became all too real, until they reached a point where I had to kill, or be killed.

My thoughts

Having returned to Britain from France, Eve meets Vera Penrose who arranges for her to take a job at the Air Ministry. It’s dull work in comparison to her former life in France, leading airmen to safety across the border into Spain and beyond.
When Eve is offered something more suiting her skills, she can’t wait. But first she has to endure a brutal training camp, from the physical to the psychological. It’s not all plain sailing, Eve is a skilled lockbreaker and a superb shot but struggles with some of the more physical challenges. She’s also very observant and when she suspects foul play, she is not one to sit back and ignore it.
The training programme is extensive, and she builds a great bond with fellow trainees, Mimi and Guy. She’s also cutting back on the cigarettes, which makes the usual feisty Eve way more feisty when tested.
I raced through this book, it’s fast-paced and entertaining and nicely sets the scene for her next adventure.

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation ZigZag (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 1)

Marseille, December 1942

“We’re in a fix,” Vincent said. “The Gestapo have captured a British agent, code name Zigzag. They picked him up through his false identity papers, only the thing is they haven’t discovered his true identity, yet. But they will. And he will talk. They all do in the end. And when he talks he will reveal secrets that will destroy the local resistance networks, including our own. But there’s a way out, through a guard. He’s open to bribes. We’d like you to meet the guard, bribe him, spring Zigzag from the Gestapo prison then escort him over the mountain pass into Spain.”

“Why me?” I asked.

“Because you helped to establish the escape network. And you know the mountain trails like the back of your hand. Furthermore, as the wife of respected industrialist Michel Beringar you are above suspicion.”

I glanced at Michel. From the stern look on his face, I could tell that he wasn’t pleased. Was this one risk too many? And as for me being above suspicion…the Gestapo were following me and they were tapping my phone.

As a child, I’d run away from home. As a teenager, I’d travelled the world, living on my wits. As a journalist, I’d witnessed atrocities inflicted in the name of fascism. As a member of the Resistance, I’d eyeballed fear and stared it down. For the past thirty years I’d lived a full life. I could do this. However, even as I voiced my agreement I knew that my life in Marseille, my life with Michel, would never be the same.

My thoughts

I can’t resist reading stories set in this period in history. It never fails to amaze me how much there is to the topic; you’d think we’d heard it all. But no, as we come to learn, these stories – especially those based on real people and events – tell the lived experiences of those caught up in the war. No two stories are ever the same just as no two people experience the same event in exactly the same way. Eve’s War is a series of twelve novellas, around 20,000 words in length, and each is a complete story. The stories follow Eve from her childhood in Wales right through to her days as an SOE operative, her story arc concluding in the final book. At the very affordable price of 99p, these episodes of Eve’s War quickly become addictive and each one is easily read in one sitting.

As the first in the series, this book – Operation ZigZag – provides the background to Eve’s life, from the Welsh mining town to her marriage to Michel and a privileged life in France. It’s well-paced and hones in on what Eve is all about, and how her desire to beat the fascists drives her on.
There’s a very real sense of danger when she falls into the hands of the Gestapo, but her strength and resilience never waver. By the end, however, she is presented with a very real dilemma and has to trust her own instincts to survive.
I’ve already started book 2 and can see myself motoring through these in no time at all.
Highly recommended for fans of wartime heroines and strong females who “take no prisoners”!

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

blog tour · book excerpt · book launch · book review · change · hope · Kabul · novella · real life · terrorism · truth

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Finest Supermarket in Kabul

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R&R Book Tours Proudly Presents: The Finest Supermarket in Kabul, a fascinating novella inspired by true events!

Finest Supermarket in Kabul - cover image

The Finest Supermarket in Kabul

Publication Date: Oct. 30th, 2017

Genre: Novella/ Terrorism/ Inspired by True Events

Kabul, Afghanistan January 28, 2011.

Merza, a freshly minted Parliamentarian receives ominous threats after he wins his seat. Alec, an American journalist, flies from Kandahar without his editor’s permission to chronicle daily life in the capital. Elyssa, a Canadian human rights lawyer in Kabul to train female magistrates, is distracted by unwanted attention from a male justice. On this grey, wintry Friday, all three are embroiled in a dramatic and savage bombing. Inspired by true events and places, The Finest Supermarket in Kabul follows Merza, Alec and Elyssa as their idealistic and visionary hopes for Afghanistan are deeply challenged in the aftermath.

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Excerpt

Alec:

I’ve been in Kabul for just under twenty-four hours. I flew in yesterday from Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, after a heated argument with my editor earlier in the week during which I suggested a temporary reassignment to Kabul. Eric demanded I stay in the south for another three-week stint embedded with a US platoon. According to him, my stories from the US outpost were gripping and getting positive reactions from readers. Certainly, the embed was riveting – my first time moving around with US platoons – and gave me stories I couldn’t otherwise have written: intense firefights on a patrol, the evacuation of a wounded soldier, discussions about post-traumatic stress disorder, and fortifying against ambushes. But after three months of only covering action on the front line, I felt my outlook had started to skew by living and breathing the life of an American soldier. The longer I stayed in Helmand, the harder it was becoming to be okay with just telling one side of the story, as opposed to the broader picture. It was when I began saying “T-Ban” instead of Taliban that I knew I needed to get out. Meanwhile, Eric kept insisting that front-line coverage was our best news feature and refused to accept my other ideas, no matter how vigorously I pushed.

So I travelled to Kabul of my own accord to regain some perspective. I figure I’ll hold out an olive branch to Eric later, a magazine-length piece about how local ex-combatants are using the continuing conflict to their advantage. From fellow journalists, I’ve heard about former warlords, their identities and deeds well known, who’ve built massive houses painted in vivid carnival colours in the centre of Kabul and are living the high life, seemingly without repercussion. Interviews with a few of them, along with regular ex-Taliban fighters who got away from the fray, will form the story’s core; here and there, I’ll filter in views from ordinary people. I’m pretty sure Eric will go for an article with a military focus, even if it’s set in Kabul. Plus, he and I go way back, having both started out at the Chicago Tribune after studying at Columbia College Chicago fifteen years ago. If things go completely awry, I’ll hightail it back to Helmand.

I had my initial foray into Afghanistan’s real world yesterday morning. As I entered the plane bound for Kabul, I saw rows and rows of Pashtun men with long beards and turbans or woolen, round-topped hats with thick edging. My heart skipped a beat, as Pashtuns were the ethnic group that had birthed the Taliban, and I wondered if any were Taliban fighters. No one here would protect me from danger, and my visit wasn’t even sanctioned by my boss.

A familiar blast of adrenaline rushes through me.

Jakob stamps out his cigarette and leaps up while I gather my coat and Tish’s things under my arm. We race for the door. Ahead, I see Ben still on his phone but can’t hear him. As news of the explosion circulates, the room’s noise level surges and nervous energy grips the space.

We pick Tish up at the entrance and rush through the security gates, easily retrieving our various IDs and my passport as Ben advises that he’s called for a taxi to pick us up and that Masood, his interpreter, will meet us there.

After three minutes of energetic conversation about what we’ll find at the Finest, the four of us pile into the black Toyota Corolla that has pulled up. Sitting on the raised middle seat in the back, I have to duck my head to glimpse the street scene outside. It looks calm and oddly sedate considering what we know has just happened. Fortunately, traffic is far less jammed than on our morning’s walk over from the Safi.

We’re silent; our initial eagerness to cover this story has given way to an unpleasant realization that we will soon be confronting the bomb’s aftermath of chaos, destruction and injury. Jakob has already explained that the Finest is a convenience store that stocks expensive Western products like Nutella and peanut butter, so almost no Afghans ever shop there. An expat target, then, I ponder.

Available for Purchase

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About the Author

Ele Pawelski has lived in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Bosnia, Kenya, Uzbekistan and Kosovo. She has climbed in the Himalayas, walked the Camino and hiked in Newfoundland.

Now living in urban Toronto with her husband, she’s always planning for her next travel adventure.

Her stories have appeared in magazines, journals and newspapers. The Finest Supermarket in Kabul is her first novella.

Ele Pawelski

My Review

This is a fascinating read all centred around one very ordinary day – until something extraordinary happens. Three characters continue with their everyday life, until an explosion at the Finest Supermarket stops them in their tracks. The story focuses on their reaction to the event, and how the aftermath impacts upon them.

Merza is up first. he has just been elected to parliament, and is full of optimism for change, at the same time frustrated by the stranglehold placed upon the pace of change by the governing party. His family has reacted differently to his new position – his parents wary and seemingly disinterested, whether out of fear or because of the attention his new role brings to them. His sister, on the other hand, is excited for him. This nicely shows the changing attitude of a generation towards change. It inspires hope for a better future.

Next up is Alec, a reporter who has just abandoned his job as a military reporter to get some greater insight into how life is for people living it outside of the US forces’ field of vision. He mixes with other journalists, most younger and more daring than he is now – but that’s as a result of a ‘been there, done that’ attitude. That said, he really wants to find a great story to convince his boss that he was right to pursue his own version of AWOL. His encounters make for an interesting read.

Last up is Elyssa, whose role is to train female magistrates in Kabul, a job which suggests change is afoot but is not really given much attention as her story focuses on a social gathering and whether people will be able to attend. For me, this last story lacks the intrigue of the other two. When the story then ends with several lose ends, it leaves me wondering if a sequel is in the offering. Well, if there were such a thing, I’d be up for reading more about this. Absolutely!

The author presents Kabul and its inhabitants with details that get to the heart of the city,reminding us that real people have real lives here. I certainly have a renewed fascination for the human story after this, after all, these are the stories that touch us, inspire us and give us hope.

Giveaway

3 print copies of The Finest Supermarket in Kabul and 5 $20 Amazon GCs (North America Only)

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Tour Schedule

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Oct. 1st

Reads & Reels – Review

Cup of Toast – Interview

The Reading Mermaid – Excerpt

Where Dragons Reside – Excerpt

Oct. 2nd

Loving Life Every Day – Excerpt

The Bookworm Drinketh – Excerpt

Tranquil Dreams – Review

Oct. 3rd

The Voluptuous Book Diva – Excerpt

Didi Oviatt – Excerpt

Valerie’s Musings – Excerpt

Oct. 4th

The Genre Minx – Excerpt

Just 4 My Books – Review

Oct. 5th

Bri’s Book Nook – Excerpt

On the Shelf Reviews – Excerpt

Jessica Rachow – Review

My Baby, My Books, and I – Review

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blog tour · book review · novella · serial killer · thriller

Book Review ‘n’ Blog Tour – Go Home, Afton

Go Home, Afton

by Brent Jones

 

Go Home, Afton

Genre: Serial Thriller/ Novella

Series: Afton Morrison, Book 1

Release Date: June 25, 2018

Format(s): eBook

eBook Price: $0.99

Tagline: We all wear masks.

We all wear masks, and Afton Morrison is no exception.

A small-town librarian with a dark side, Afton, twenty-six, has suppressed violent impulses her entire adult life. Impulses that demand she commit murder.

Blending her urges with reason, Afton stalks a known sexual predator, intending to kill him. But her plan, inspired by true crime and hatched with meticulous care, is interrupted by a mysterious figure from her past. A dangerous man that lurks in the shadows, watching, threatening to turn the huntress into the hunted.

Go Home, Afton is the first of four parts in a new serial thriller by author Brent Jones. Packed with grit and action, The Afton Morrison Series delves into a world of moral ambiguity, delivering audiences an unlikely heroine in the form of a disturbed vigilante murderess.

My review: 4/5 stars

Afton Morrison is a librarian in a small town with an itch to scratch – or rather, a serial rapist to kill.

We first see Afton, by no means your stereotypical librarian, as a young, intelligent woman with a smart mouth and heaps of attitude. She has a goal: to kill Kenneth Pritchard.

She is spurred on by Animus (an evil twin type of character) whose mocking voice often riles Afton into venting her anger – and, boy, does she have some pent-up anger to offload.

Unwilling to be seen as a victim herself – always a survivor – she cannot let Kenneth harm another soul. Something she seems to agree about with Animus.

Afton is a complex character. Full of spirit, angst and fear. Her most pressing fear is that the Man in the Shadows – the very man she believes made her a ‘survivor’ – is back for her. She is spooked by every shadow at every opportunity, imaging him to be there, watching, waiting for her.

When the times comes for her to make her move on Pritchard, it seems the Man in the Shadows is one step ahead of her. And now, he has Kim, the sweet young girl who volunteers at the library, in his clutches. Of course, the reality is that Afton is his real prey …and the story continues in Book 2.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Afton is just out to kill Pritchard. There’s a lot more to her character, and the author seamlessly weaves in elements that show her softer side – much to the displeasure of Animus.

A fun read, with some unexpected twists along the way, all leading to a mahoosive cliffhanger and an absolute need to add book two to my reading list.  Thankfully, the wait is not a long one.

On a side note, I – naively – read this book with no prior knowledge of the author, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the story was set in Wakefield. As a Brit, I love a homegrown story. Except … it wasn’t Wakefield in West Yorkshire.  Hey ho – an honest mistake to make. I should have read the bio below first 😉

About the Author:

From bad checks to bathroom graffiti, Brent Jones has always been drawn to writing. He won a national creative writing competition at the age of fourteen, although he can’t recall what the story was about. Seventeen years later, he gave up his career to pursue creative writing full-time.

Jones writes from his home in Fort Erie, Canada. He’s happily married, a bearded cyclist, a mediocre guitarist, and the proud owner of two dogs with a God complex.

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | SmashWords

 

While I’ve got your attention, why not check what other readers have to say?

Schedule

June 25th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://www.readsandreels.com

Book Wonderland (Review) https://bookwonderlandweb.wordpress.com/

Down the Rabbit Hole (Review) http://meggydowntherabbithole.wordpress.com/

Touch My Spine Book Reviews (Review) https://touchmyspinebookreviews.com

June 26th

Book Dragon Girl (Review) http://www.bookdragongirl.com

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

Sinfully Wicked Book Reviews (Review) https://sinfullywickedbookreviews.com

The Scribblings (Review) https://thescribblingssite.wordpress.com

On the Shelf Reviews (Review) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

June 27th

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

June 28th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com

J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) http://jbronderbookreviews.wordpress.com/

Just 4 My Books (Review) https://just4mybooks.wordpress.com

Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com

June 29th

Kim Knight (Review) http://kimknightauthor.wordpress.com

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Port Jerricho (Review)  http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com

Errin Krystal (Review) https://errinkrystal.wordpress.com

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