#BookReview: The London Girls by Soraya M. Lane

Yet Another Realistic Fiction Of WWII. Lane does a tremendous amount of research for all of her WWII historical novels, then takes licenses where needed to tell the story she is trying to tell within that setting, and this tale is no different. Yet again Lane manages to bring a spotlight to a particularly deadly role in the war, that of the female motorcycle dispatch riders in the UK -where in the author’s note Lane reveals that of the 303 women killed in the line of duty (of 100,000 serving), roughly one third of them were these very riders.

And yet, even in this realism we also get a remarkable sense of who these characters are and some of their all-too-real motivations, as is also typical of a Lane tale. You’re going to fall in love with these women and their men, and that makes the tragedies of war all too real for the reader as well.

The only modicum of anything remotely negative here is likely at least parts of the epilogue, where Lane falls into tropes all too common in romance books (which this could *maybe* qualify as, as well?)… but here again, given the events of the years immediately after the war… even this particular thing is more real than not, and thus contributes to the very “mostly accurate” depiction Lane strives for and achieves.

Ultimately this tale does exactly what Lane set out to do – highlight these women most have never really known about, and tell tales of their lives that are all too plausible in every respect. Very much recommended.

This review of The London Girls by Soraya M. Lane was originally written on October 25, 2022.

#BlogTour: The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane

For this blog tour we’re looking at a tale where the author can *finally* combine “both halves” of who she is as a storyteller. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Slight Departure From Lane’s Typical Approach, Same Great Storytelling. I think this may be the first dual timeline book I’ve encountered from Lane, who normally writes historical fiction – mostly WWII – under this name. Here, we get a WWII story… but it serves to fill in the holes of the current day mystery, which is the other timeline. This is potentially an excellent starter that does well to both set up a series *and* combine “both” sides of Lane’s storytelling – she also writes actual romance stories as her name without the “M” middle initial, and the romance/ women’s fiction element here is particularly strong in *both* timelines. Which arguably makes this Lane’s strongest book to date, as she is finally able to combine her components into one full “self”. Truly an outstanding work, and very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane”

#BlogTour: The Secret Keeper by Siobahn Curham

For this blog tour we’re looking at a tense and visceral spy thriller set in an oft-overlooked area of WWII. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Secret Keeper by Siobahn Curham.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Tense Spy Thriller In Oft-Overlooked Area Of WWII. This tale was exactly what I said in the title of the review – a tense spy thriller based in the OSS days of the CIA during WWII and apparently based on the experiences of a real-life actress-turned-spy. Here, we see theoretically neutral Spain (under dictator Francisco Franco, in the early part of his reign) as a hotbed for spying by both sides and the tense and sometimes deadly stakes that arise from any spy story. But we also get a much more intimate and personal look at issues involving trust and betrayal, and throughout the text the reader is kept wondering as much as the protagonist is: just who *can* you trust? One of the more interesting features of this particular tale was the series of letters the protagonist’s grandmother writes – knowing she’ll never be able to send them – describing her ordeals in Paris as France falls and during the war. Overall an excellent tale well told, and very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including the book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Secret Keeper by Siobahn Curham”

#BlogTour: The Codebreaker’s Secret by Sara Ackerman

For this blog tour we’re looking at . For this blog tour we’re looking at The Codebreaker’s Secret by Sara Ackerman.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Beautiful Story With A Near Frequency Endgame. Yet again, Ackerman manages to craft a beautiful Hawaiian tale set partially in WWII and partially a couple of decades later. Both timelines worked quite well for me, and both were equally compelling with the high stakes and secrecy of codebreaking during the war and the mystery surrounding the opening of a new hotel during the early Vietnam era. Quite possibly the thing I liked the best was the endgame that came about with a nearly Frequency level abruptness, where the tale is moving along and *bam* – endgame. Overall a truly beautiful and wonderfully interconnected tale. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Codebreaker’s Secret by Sara Ackerman”

#BlogTour: The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer

For this blog tour, we’re looking at an excellent book where I found some of the secondary characters even more intriguing than our leads. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Evil Isn’t Born. It Is Created. Of all the WWII historical fiction books I’ve read over the years – and at this point, it is a decent number – this is the first to highlight one particular scenario that I’m almost positive has impacted my own life. Specifically, Rimmer does a phenomenal job with one of her characters fighting in WWII and having a particular experience that I’m nearly positive (as much as I can be, given the dearth of records) my own grandfather had a very similar one. She shows how, particularly if the soldier perhaps had already endured some level of trauma, this particular experience (and I’m being intentionally vague to avoid spoilers) could truly push them off the deep end and take them from troubled-yet-manageable to outright evil. But even there, Rimmer takes care to show that there is still hope that the person can be redeemed. Similarly, she also uses another character in a similar mold, but at a much different age and on the opposite side of the war. Rimmer does a great job with making the story hit notes not always seen in this genre, and in the process manages to humanize many types of people that are all too often dehumanized by various groups today. Truly an astounding work, and very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer”

#BlogTour: The Sea Nurses by Kate Eastham

For this blog tour, we’re looking at an atypical tale of WWI that pulls no punches. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Sea Nurses by Kate Eastham.

Atypical Tale That Pulls No Punches. While the WWI period isn’t *quite* as common in historical fiction tales as WWII, it is hardly the rarity another reviewer claims it to be – though this *is*, in fact, the first tale I’ve come across to detail life on the ships of the White Star Line in the years after the Titanic catastrophe. As such, Eastham does a great job here of showing life aboard the Olympic during its last cruise before Germany declared war on Great Britain – and the moment those on the ship first learned of that fact. We also see a vivid description of life along the coasts of Scotland and its great fisherman… and the women who toiled so hard to process all the fish that were caught. Eastham then dives into The Great War itself… as seen through the eyes of these nurses (mostly) as they serve on the HMHS Britannic. Eastham actually uses the moment of its sinking as a prologue, before eventually getting back to that moment deep in the book (around the 70% mark, IIRC). Eastham then continues to follow these two nurses through the end of the war, and it is here in particular that she shows the bravery to do things few authors do. Overall a solid tale of its type, one fans of the genre will love and which even those new to the genre will get a good example of this type of tale. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, author links, and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Sea Nurses by Kate Eastham”

#BookReview: The Lawless Land by Boyd Morrison and Beth Morrison

Solid Middle Ages Tale Told With Modern Storytelling Structures. This is a tale where the Middle Ages comes alive in a manner very consistent with how it is portrayed in fictional tales of the era such as The Canterbury Tales (and yes, Canterbury itself features in this tale) and The Decameron. As a potential series starter, it really could go the direction of either of those historical books, though the setup for a Decameron type series is less clear here (but I could still see the ultimate direction being to do a modern version of each of the ten tales therein). There is not one thing inauthentic to the period that I was aware of, though it is possible an actual Middle Ages historian may claim that X didn’t happen until some period later or some such. Still, with Beth Morrison herself being an actual Middle Ages historian… it becomes quite clear just how authentic the siblings tried to make this book. And yet even with the Middle Ages trappings re: customs and available weaponry, the actual story here, of a soldier intent on vengeance who suddenly becomes the protector of a woman and her secrets, could well be told in *any* time period and ultimately reads with a 21st century flair for storytelling even while telling a Middle Ages tale. Truly excellently done, and very much recommended.

This review of The Lawless Land by Boyd Morrison and Beth Morrison was originally written on May 12, 2022.

#BookReview: Last Dance On The Starlight Pier by Sara Bird

Powerful Examination Of Oft-Ignored Areas. Know up front that there is a LOT going on in this book, and to me it absolutely warrants the 400 page length. The book begins and ends in Galveston during the Depression, when one family had absolute control of the island. In between, we see a lot: the burlesque shows of the era – including their seedier sides engaging in open pedophilia, the dance marathons that were cheap entertainment for so many in this pre=television era and the marathoners that endured so much just to stay off the streets, the politics of the era (where your mileage is absolutely going to vary, but was true to the period at minimum), the treatment of homosexuality in the era, a new surgery meant to cure so many mental health issues – including homosexuality – that was just as barbaric as described late in the text here, and so much more. For those that care about precise historical fact in their historical fiction – I personally tend to give authors at least a touch of leeway, depending on particulars including overall story – know that this surgery was real, and the details provided about both it and the doctor that originated it – Dr Walter Freeman – are real. Bird simply moved up the timeline by about 15 years or so, and used it to great effect within the confines of her story. Truly a remarkable work, and very much recommended.

Note: For those seeking more details on the real horrors of the transorbital lobotomy described in this tale, My Lobotomy by Howard Dully – which I first encountered as a late night NPR broadcast – is truly tragically horrifying.

This review of Last Dance On The Starlight Pier by Sara Bird was originally written on April 23, 2022.

#BookReview: The Lost Book Of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock

Interesting Twist On Dual Timeline Historical Fiction. Over the course of 800+ books in the last three years alone, I’ve read quite a few dual timeline historical fiction books. Generally, one of the timelines is “current”, or at least mostly current – end of the 20th century at its oldest. Here, the “current” timeline is actually much older – the last months of WWII – and the “older” timeline is *much* older – 16th century. The poetic prose here highlights the idealized South of the pre-air conditioning era… and yet also doesn’t shy away from discussing some of its lower points, including both slavery and extrajudicial murders. (I intentionally don’t use a particular “l” word there, as it generally has connotations that do not apply in the particular situation in the book.) All of this is wrapped around the mysterious Dare stones and how so many of them could be judged to be fake… except the first one, Eleanor Dare’s stone and the tale therein inscribed isn’t necessarily so easily dismissed. The care Brock takes to show an atypical yet also completely realistic and plausible tale of what happened and why to Ms. Dare is quite remarkable, and indeed this shines through in the variety of other situations portrayed in this book as well. It quickly becomes readily apparent that Ms. Brock is a Southern storyteller of the best form – one that doesn’t excuse the atrocities of our past, yet one that also respects the real and vibrant cultures of the era, showing that even while misguided on particular points, the overall people were not the monsters many non-Southern (or even Southern of particular political persuasions) writers portray them as. Truly a remarkable work in so many ways, and very much recommended.

This review of The Lost Book Of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock was originally written on April 23, 2022.

#BlogTour: The Girl With The Scarlet Ribbon by Suzanne Goldring

For this blog tour we’re looking at a moving portrait of a loving daughter trying to understand her tortured artist father… and a protective sister trying to prevent her artist brother from becoming too haunted by the war they are living through. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Girl With The Scarlet Ribbon by Suzanne Goldring.

Moving Portrait Of Tortured Artist And Loving Daughter. This is an interesting dual timeline historical, one in which a man is at the center of both timelines… and yet his own perspective is never once actually included in the narrative. And yet despite this, the book does *not* come across as misandristic at all, as the two perspectives we *do* get – the man’s older sister in WWII Florence and his daughter in 2019 – are both seeking to understand him in their own ways. Thus, this book actually becomes an interesting look at how the experience of war ultimately shapes lives in so many divergent ways. While little of the horrors are shown “on screen”, some are, including a few murders, torture with a cigarette, general abuse, and a rape attempt (that may or may not be successful). Also discussed is how the Jews of the area are rounded up, gang rapes (alluded to but not directly shown), and how a citizenry can live with themselves not stopping either. So truly a lot of horrific stuff – and even after the Allies “liberate” the city, at least a few pages are devoted to the continued deprivations. Truly a well rounded look at a difficult and trying period – and the modern story of a daughter trying to understand the messages her tortured father left behind are solid as well, without having quite the horrific impact of the WWII scenes. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Girl With The Scarlet Ribbon by Suzanne Goldring”