#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.
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#BlogTour: Sisters Of The Great War by Suzanne Feldman

For this blog tour we’re looking at a visceral tale of atypical women – certainly for their time, but even (to a slightly lesser extent) in our “modern” time a century after the events here. For this blog tour we’re looking at Sisters Of The Great War by Suzanne Feldman.

Here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

Visceral Tale Of Atypical Women. This is a tale of atypical women in a very atypical (well, not really) time, where Feldman does a remarkable job of showing the full realities of everything she portrays. Whether it be the one sister who wants to be a doctor and is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, the other sister who is comfortable around cars and not much else, or the war itself – in all of its gory, gritty details and mechanisms. Truly one of the more realistic novels I’ve seen of this period, even as it portrays women who were far from normal in that period. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the book, followed by the “publisher details” – book details, description, author bio, web/ social links, and links to buy the book.
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#BookReview: War On The Border by Jeff Guinn

Fascinating Read About Seemingly Forgotten History. Let’s face it, these days (and even when this elder Millenial was in school in the late 80s – early 2000s), American schools (at least, perhaps, outside the Southwest) barely even teach World War 1 itself – much less the other actions that were going on as America was trying to stay away from that war. I knew of exactly one story from the Punitive Expeditions before reading this book, and that was the story of George S Patton’s first ever motorized attack – one of the events early in his career that made him truly legendary. Here, Guinn does a truly remarkable job of setting the stage and scope of the entire situation, from its earliest beginnings (even repeatedly referencing when the Spanish first came to central America) through the fates of the key players he has spent the text explaining. If you’ve never heard of this last war on Continental US soil before, do yourself a favor and read this book. If you want to understand more context for a lot of the current simmering tensions along the US/ Mexico border… do yourself a favor and read this book. Yes, the actions themselves were now slightly over a century ago – but if you’re able to read at all, it means that it was in the time of no further from you than your great-great grandparents, and these actions still reverberate to this day in the lands and minds of those whose own great-great grandparents (or more recent) were actively involved here. Very “readable” narrative, never sounds overly “academic”, and well documented to boot. Very much recommended.

This review of War On The Border by Jeff Guinn was originally written on February 18, 2021.

Featured New Release of the Week: Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel

This week we look at another WWI tale from another new to me Lake Union author. This week, we’re looking at Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel.

This took an aspect of WWI I’d never heard of – the American Women’s Hospital – and showed a fictional version of the life of its people in what seems to be a very realistic manner, never hiding the various horrors of that particular war – be it discussing bodies decomposing in No Man’s Land, the very real threat of chemical weapons, aerial bombardment, or even the Paris Gun. Along the way, we get another all too real tale of how a life can turn in an instant and the social pressures of suddenly finding oneself in dire circumstances. We even get a discussion late in the book of things not usually spoken of in that era, but which were obviously very real.

But there is one particular commentary aspect of the story that I do want to mention, and that is a particular situation involving a discussion of things that should be “given” to the troops.

You see, for this ardent anarchist, such discussions always bring to mind the following Ayn Rand quote from Atlas Shrugged: ““Miss Taggart, we have no laws in this valley, no rules, no formal organization of any kind. We come here because we want to rest. But we have certain customs, which we all observe, because they pertain to the things we need to rest from. So I’ll warn you now that there is one word which is forbidden in this valley: the word ‘give’.” (Full disclosure: I literally have a version of the title of this particular section of the book, “A is A”, – indeed, not far removed from this very sentence – tattooed on my wrist.)

Without giving anything away, let’s just say that giving the troops the thing in discussion is held as an ideal, and quite frankly it is an ideal this reader for one does not personally share. 🙂

All of that said, this really was an excellent book and is very much recommended if for the other atypical discussions alone. (Though seriously, it is an excellent story even absent the few sporadic instances of social commentary solidly embedded within the overall arc of the story.) So go buy it already. 🙂

And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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#BookReview: The Memory Tree by Linda Gillard

Century Old Memory. In this repackaging of a 3 yr old book under a former title, Gillard weaves an excellent pair of mysteries across a century of the English countryside. Both mysteries drag the reader in and compel them to keep reading via well paced clues and ultimately resolutions, though one of the mysteries isn’t resolved until the closing pages of the book. Excellent work, and my first from this author. Very much recommended.

This review of The Memory Tree by Linda Gillard was originally written on August 21, 2019.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Girls On The Line by Aimie K Runyan

This week, we go back to WWI just in time for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. This week, we’re looking at Girls On The Line by Aimie K Runyan.

This book opens with a woman trapped in the Philadelphia High Society scene due to the era and her parents’ desire to try to break into it. Her problem is that she doesn’t want that life – she wants to be a fully independent woman, and has even taken part in the suffrage movement while in college. She already works as a switchboard operator, and when the call comes that the Army needs just such ladies for the war effort in Europe, she leaves the social pages and heads to the front lines.

This was an excellent historical fiction book that got most of the details I remember from my not overly detailed studies of the era correct and weaves a great story of people trying to find their way during the social turmoil of life in the 1910s. While historical fiction isn’t normally my thing, Runyan’s work here proves that I may need to explore opening myself even more. Yet another stand out work from Lake Union Publishing, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from Runyan in particular.
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