#BookReview: The Blackout Book Club @bethanyhouse #AmyLynnGreen #WorldWarII

The Blackout Book Club is set in small-town Maine during World War II. Avis Montgomery accepts the position of Librarian when her brother, the permanent Librarian, goes off to war. She gets the idea to start a book club and faces immediate challenges. The book centers on four women in the club, all with different struggles, and the books they read are tied to their struggles in different ways.

I absolutely loved this look at homefront Maine during the war. The four women face such different challenges. Louise has a secret that she feels has ruined her life, Avis’s husband is depressed after he is medically disqualified from going to war, Ginny’s family home on Long Island has been taken by eminent domain, and Martina is hiding from a cruel and manipulative husband. The women’s stories are told from varying points of view or through the wonderful epistolary work that Amy Lynn Green does so well. Whether it’s letters from loved ones or book club minutes, it takes the book to the next level. The book club minutes are an absolute delight with funny observations as well as details about each book they read together. Realities of that time such as blackouts, factory jobs for women, and air raid drills are brought to life.

This is a fresh look at the World War II homefront with great characters, a little humor, and even dashes of romance and mystery/thriller. Amy Lynn Green has delivered more wonderful historical fiction showcasing strong women. Highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Lynn Green has always loved history and reading, and she enjoys speaking with book clubs, writing groups, and libraries all around the country, in person and virtually. Her debut novel, Things We Didn’t Say, was nominated for a 2021 Minnesota Book Award, won two Carol Awards, and received a starred review from both Booklist and Library Journal. Amy and her family make their home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can sign up for her newsletter on her website, amygreenbooks.com, for quarterly giveaways, writing updates, and lots of bookish fun.

Amy’s Social Media

Instagram | Amy Green Books | Sign up for Amy’s Newsletter | Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Amazon | Google | Amazon UK

Book Tour and #bookreview: Side Launch #WWII #CanadianNavy @Goddessfish #HMCSCollingwood

BOOK DESCRIPTION

1939, Canada, unprepared but defiant, declares war on Germany and mass produces a mid-size warship, the Corvette. Thus starts the creation and journey of Canada’s first Corvette, the HMCS Collingwood. Neither designed nor equipped for the North Atlantic, Collingwood is tasked to protect convoys and take on the predatory Sea Wolves lurking below the waves.

There is also a heartbreaking wartime romance as Ian and Kate struggle with love in difficult times. Our hero Ian, takes command of the Collingwood. He is ready to fight with any weapon he is given. Having witnessed Nazi atrocities, he is now driven by hatred. Kate, the daughter of the Collingwood Shipyards owner, is a brilliant woman with a strong desire to make something of herself. She is ready to fight for her country, but first she must fight for success in a male-dominated world.

This is action-packed historical fiction based on true events of WWII and the Battle of the Atlantic. Filled with murderous Wolf Packs, German Commandos, a nail-biting secret mission, spies, and saboteurs, Side Launch takes the reader through a roller coaster of emotion.

If you are a fan of history and love to learn, this Canadian historical fiction is for you.

EXCERPT

“Plasket’s men are armed and have him covered, Sir. I will have Davies give him additional men from the assembled boarding crew.”

Davies continued to rake the sub’s deck with machine gun fire. This prevented the Germans from arming the deck gun and stopped any further attempts to jump on board the Collingwood.

“Germans going in the water, Sir! Looks like they are abandoning ship.”

Just then the sub turned in its zig-zag pattern putting it under Collingwood. The sub was pushed down and the Collingwood slightly raised up.

“Turn to starboard, Number One. I don’t want any more Germans jumping on to my ship.”

The sub halted. It was obvious for them, the skirmish was over and they had surrendered.

“Chambly is closing, Sir, and preparing boarding parties. Looks like they surrender, Sir.”

“Have our boarding party stand down” ordered Ian.

“Survivors in the water, sir. Your orders?” asked Kendrick.

“Let the bastards die!” was Ian’s chilling reply.

Everyone on the bridge had heard their Captain clearly. Lieutenant Kendrick did not make a move. He glanced at the Chief who was looking at his Captain. The chief moved his arm slowly laying his hand on Ian’s arm; a gentle touch. “Your orders Captain?” asked the Chief. Ian looked into the Chief’s dark eyes. There was no emotion on either of their faces. The tension in Ian seemed to lessen and his voice was strong as he gave orders. “Scramble nets over the side Number One. Pick up survivors. Have Davies assist Plasket on the forecastle with prisoners.”

“New message from the Chambly Sir, requesting we assist the convoy.”

“Let’s make this quick Number One, and filtered lights only. I don’t know what the Chambly is thinking with its engine stopped and a floodlight on. Maybe he thinks all subs will be focused on the convoy, but he is a sitting duck.”

A few minutes later Ian gave additional orders. “Wrap it up, Number One. The Chambly can pick up the rest of the survivors. We will move on to the convoy and provide additional support.”

BOOK REVIEW

This is exciting historical fiction about Canadian involvement in The Battle of the Atlantic during World War II. It tells the story of Canada’s first Corvette, the HMCS Collingwood. We also get a look inside the Wrens, The Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, and witness their contributions during WWII. The romance between Ian, Captain of The HMCS Collingwood, and Kate, daughter of the Collingwood Shipyard owner, hits some stumbling blocks, but their story is well told. The weaving together of fact and fiction is successful and believable. There is a lot of World War II historical fiction out there, but to see it from a Canadian viewpoint was fresh and unique.

My one criticism would be that the book needs a comprehensive edit. Commas are misused throughout, much of the dialogue is not punctuated correctly, and there are run-on sentences. However, that does not take away from the overall story. If you’d like to see World War II from a Canadian perspective, check this one out.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Goddess Fish Promotions. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brock Martin, a retired captain, served ten years as a Canadian Forces Search & Rescue pilot before his current role. The Canadian Forces gave him the opportunity to travel many areas of Canada and gain an immense appreciation of his country. He has been involved in operations across Canada, including the high arctic.

His free-spirited upbringing in the wilds of Northern Ontario gave him a love of the outdoors and adventure.

Brock is fascinated with historical fiction. He loves to learn of past thrilling adventures through the eyes of fictional characters. He was captivated when he learned the very ships that fought in the Battle of the Atlantic were built in Collingwood.

The Battle of the Atlantic was a massive achievement of Canadian perseverance, dedication and sacrifice of its men and women. Brock wrote this fast-paced, action packed story to honor Canadian heroism.

CONNECT WITH BROCK MARTIN

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON.COM | INDIGO CHAPTERS | BARNES & NOBLE

SMASHWORDS | IBOOKS | ABEBOOKS | WALMART

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Brock Martin will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

RAFFLECOPTER:

Enter to win a $10 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contact Goddess Fish Promotions:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram 

#bookreview: Long Way Home by #lynnaustin

1946. Peggy is living with her father and working at his auto shop, but spends much of her time helping out at the Barnetts’ veterinary practice across the street. She regularly visits her good friend, the Barnetts’ son Jimmy, who was hospitalized due to a suicide attempt after his service in World War II. Determined to help Jimmy, Peggy begins looking for other soldiers who served with him in the war, and for the woman, Gisela, whose picture was among Jimmy’s possessions.

1939. After the Nazis begin to persecute and murder the Jews, Gisela and her family are put on a ship, the St. Louis, and given passage to Cuba, which had agreed to allow them to settle there. But the ship is turned away in Cuba, and Gisela begins a journey that will end at Buchenwald, where she meets a young American medic named Jimmy.

Lynn Austin has given us another well-woven and meticulously researched historical saga. This dual-timeline novel is set both during and after World War II, and slowly entwines the lives of two young women who are connected by a young soldier. We witness the heartbreaking voyage of the St. Louis as the captain tries in vain to reach a safe harbor, and we see the terror of Jews trying to hide in Nazi-occupied territories. We are shown the horrors of World War II and the struggles of survivors to move forward. A Christian crisis of faith is explored, and primitive mental health surgical practices of the 1940s are brought to light. Long Way Home takes us across the sea and back again, into concentration camps and even to small American towns on an unforgettable journey about the evil of war and the love that brings us through it.

My rating is 4.7 stars, rounded up to five on sites with no partial star option.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynn Austin

For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Hope College and Southern Connecticut State University to work as a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother, and daughter concerning the change in women’s roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve’s Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 27 novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We’re Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek (2011). She was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn’s novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

BUY LINKS

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google | Kobo

#bookreview of The Pilot’s Girl #CatherineHokin #Bookouture

This is a review I did back in June for the August edition of The Historical Novel Society. Per their policy, I was not able to post it until after August 1st.

The Pilot’s Girl is the second book in the Hanni Winter series.  While it can be read as a standalone, I would recommend reading book one, The Commandant’s Daughter, first.  In Berlin in 1948, Hanni is still working as a crime scene photographer for the police department but is also helping the U.S. government with some publicity shots.  She continues to investigate an evil person from her past, trying to bring everything to light and make things as right as she can. In addition, she is fighting her growing feelings for detective Freddy Schlüssel because she knows he can never accept her history. When a series of seemingly unrelated murders occurs, Hanni and Freddy are sure they are connected and begin to investigate.

This novel transports us back to Berlin after World War II.  The Nuremberg trials have taken place, but many Nazis have escaped, some remaining very close by.  The politics of the era and the upheaval in Berlin are portrayed very skilfully.  The murder mystery is unique in that the reader is introduced to the killer early on.  Hanni’s struggles are very real for the time.  She desperately wants to bring her evil father’s crimes to light but knows it may destroy her life as well, as he continues to manipulate and turn the tables on her. The weaving together of history, mystery, thriller, and love story is very well done.  The character development is outstanding, especially when it comes to the villains.  Full of intrigue, surprise, and a dose of romance, this mystery series will keep you enthralled.

While I had begun to tire of WWII fiction after the book world was inundated with it, this book set in post-WWII when many Nazis were on the run is fascinating.

4.5 stars, rounded up to five on sites with no half-star option.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Hokin

(In her own words on her Amazon page)

Welcome to my Amazon page and – if you’ve been here before – my brand new author image which was taken by my very brave husband (I’m not an easy person to catch with a camera). I seem to have followed a rather meandering career, including marketing and teaching and politics (don’t try and join the dots), to get where I have always wanted to be, which is writing historical fiction. I am a story lover as well as a story writer and nothing fascinates me more than a strong female protagonist and a quest. Hopefully, those are what you will encounter when you pick up my books.

I am from the North of England but now live very happily in Glasgow with my American husband. Both my children have left home (one to London and one to Berlin) which may explain why I am finally writing. If I’m not at my desk you’ll most probably find me in the cinema, or just follow the sound of very loud music.

Catherine’s Social Media: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

BUY LINKS FOR BOTH BOOKS IN THE HANNI WINTER SERIES

AMAZON| AMAZON UK

I was excited to see that both of the books in this series are on Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the series for free. That is a great value! Both books are highly rated on Amazon and already have 1500 reviews between the two of them. If you choose to purchase them instead, the ebooks are only $3.99 each, a very reasonable price for ebooks these days.

Blog Tour and #bookreview: The Orphan’s Mother

BOOK DESCRIPTION

1945, the German-Polish border: With Nazis on one side and Soviet forces approaching on the other, a mother and her little boy are torn apart, and so begins an unforgettable tale of courage, heartbreak and motherhood in wartime.

“If you ever get lost, Jacob, you need to stay where you are and wait, because I’ll come looking for you. And I’ll always find you.”

In the icy grip of winter, Emma is trying to escape Poland, with her two young children and little more than the clothes on their backs. With the Russian Red Army advancing, she knows their safety relies on them crossing the border. She swears to herself that she’ll do whatever it takes to keep their family together.

But before they can reach the border, her little boy Jacob falls ill, his once-sparkling blue eyes getting dimmer with each moment that passes. And Emma knows she has to get him to a hospital, where she hands him to a kind nurse.

She feels sure they will be reunited the next day. But then the bombing starts. And when she reaches the hospital again, she finds it deserted, her darling son gone.

Though her heart tells her she has to stay and find him, she faces an impossible choice. She would risk her own life for Jacob in a heartbeat, but as her daughter Sophie’s cold, little hand slips into her own, Emma is forced to make a heartbreaking decision. Unable to find any trace of her beloved son, she knows she must at least get her daughter to safety.

But she can never forget the promise she made to her little boy. That if they were ever separated, she’d come looking for him. That she’d always find him.

Whatever the danger, whatever the risk. She knows what she has to do. Because there is nothing stronger than a mother’s love…

An utterly unforgettable and devastating story, perfect for fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzStolen from her Mother and Sold on a Monday.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a heartbreaking novel set in post World War II Poland and Germany. It is about a mother who takes her very ill son to a hospital and then loses him when the hospital is deserted after the Red Army invades. It is also about another mother who takes the boy, Jacob, into her home and heart. There are so many casualties in war, even if you survive. Jacob, Emma, and Irena all suffer in this story about war, losses, sons, and mothers. How does a little boy acclimate to losing his mother twice in different ways? How does a mother find a child in the aftermath of a war where so many are missing? How does a woman who lost a child, gained a child, and then lost a child again cope with all this misery? This story takes a look at that and more. The bottom line of all of this is that war puts innocent people into horrible situations that are out of their control. How do the innocent cope?

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany before she set out to “discover the world” and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich where she’s now living with her family.

Inspired by the true story about her grandparents, who belonged to the German resistance and fought against the Nazi regime, she started writing historical fiction, set during World War II. Her books are filled with raw emotions, fierce loyalty, and resilience. She loves to put her characters through the mangle, making them reach deep within to find the strength to face moral dilemmas, take difficult decisions or fight for what is right. And she never forgets to include humor and undying love in her books, because ultimately love is what makes the world go round.

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

Sign up to be the first to hear about new releases from Marion Kummerow here 

Buy Links

Amazon | Amazon UK

Book Review: The Commandant’s Daughter #HistoricalNovelSociety #WorldWar2

Germany, 1933.  Hannelore (Hanni) Foss is a young girl living in Berlin as the Nazis rise to power.  Her father is a prominent figure in the Nazi party, and she lives the life that he dictates, attending Nazi functions and doing what she’s told.  Then she meets Ezra Stein, a photographer, and he shows her the art of looking at her surroundings through the lens of a camera.  She soon begins to see behind the façade of her father’s world.  In 1946 Berlin, after the fall of the Nazis, Hanni Winter has reinvented her life, working in the studio of Ezra’s son and hoping to one day bring her father to justice. With a new name and a new purpose, she keeps her past well hidden.  When she meets Detective Freddy Schlüssel, she becomes his crime scene photographer, and they begin to investigate a string of murders.

This is a compelling story that does not hold back on the descriptions of Nazi atrocities, making for an authentic and heartbreaking read. We learn a little about the history of the Nuremberg trials and the many Nazis who managed to avoid prosecution. Hanni is a purposeful and driven main character who is wracked with guilt and desperate for forgiveness. Her quest for justice is never-ending.  Through Ezra’s son Natan, and through Freddy Schlüssel we get the viewpoint of Jews who are still in Berlin and are trying to begin again after horrific persecution and loss. The evil manipulations and vile acts of the Nazis are shown through Hanni’s father. The author’s expert knowledge of and research into photography are evident throughout the story. The Commandant’s Daughter gives us a candid view of Berlin, both during and after unspeakable atrocities, uniquely conveyed through the lens of a camera.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

(In her own words) I seem to have followed a rather meandering career, including marketing and teaching and politics (don’t try and join the dots), to get where I have always wanted to be, which is writing historical fiction. I am a story lover as well as a story writer and nothing fascinates me more than a strong female protagonist and a quest. Hopefully those are what you will encounter when you pick up my books.

I am from the North of England but now live very happily in Glasgow with my American husband. Both my children have left home (one to London and one to Berlin) which may explain why I am finally writing. If I’m not at my desk you’ll most probably find me in the cinema, or just follow the sound of very loud music.

I’d love to hear from you and there are lots of ways you can find me, so jump in via my website https://www.catherinehokin.com/ or on my Cat Hokin FB page or on twitter @cathokin

BUY LINKS

AMAZON US|AMAZON UK

VISIT MY INSTAGRAM REVIEW

Blog Tour and Book Review Historical Fiction: The Postcard from Italy

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Italy, 1945. ‘Where am I?’ The young man wakes, bewildered. He sees olive trees against a bright blue sky. A soft voice soothes him. ‘We saw you fall from your plane. The parachute saved you.’ He remembers nothing of his life, or the war that has torn the world apart… but where does he belong?

England, present day. Antique-shop-owner Susannah wipes away a tear as she tidies her grandmother’s belongings. Elsie’s memories are fading, and every day Susannah feels further away from her only remaining family. But everything changes when she stumbles across a yellowed postcard of a beautiful Italian stone farmhouse, tucked away in Elsie’s dressing table. A message dated from World War 2 speaks of a secret love. Could her grandmother, who never talked about the past, have fallen for someone in Italy all those years ago?

With Elsie unable to answer her questions, Susannah becomes determined to track down the house and find a distraction from her grief. Arriving at what is now a crumbling hotel by the sparkling Italian sea, she feels strangely at home. And after an unexpected encounter with handsome wine waiter Giacomo, she can’t tell if it’s his dark eyes or his offer to help solve her mystery that makes her heart race.

Together they find a dusty chest tucked in a forgotten corner of the building. The white silk of a World War 2 parachute spills out. And the Royal Air Force identity tag nestled in the folds bears a familiar name…

With Giacomo by her side, and before it’s too late for her grandmother, can Susannah discover the truth behind a shocking wartime secret at the heart of her family? Or will it tear her apart?

An absolutely stunning page-turner that will sweep you away to the olive groves and majestic views of the Italian coast. Perfect for fans of Kathryn Hughes, Fiona Valpy and Victoria Hislop.

BOOK REVIEW

Full of family secrets, mystery, and lies, Postcard from Italy takes us to the beautiful Italian seaside towards the end of World War II. A young man wakes with no memories of who he is, and by the time he discovers the truth, it is too late. He has fallen completely in love. When his former life calls him back and his memories return, what does he do? In the present day, Susannah chases a family mystery from England to Italy and finds a lot more than she bargained for.

I enjoyed the description of the Italian seaside and definitely felt transported there. The concept of forgetting your old life and embracing a life that is not yours is compelling. The conundrum of regaining memories and then having to choose between the former life and the new is intriguing and does not disappoint here. There is also another element in memory loss: As a young man loses his memories temporarily, an elderly gentleman’s recollections are fading away forever. The character development in the 1945 timeline is very strong. Overall, this is compelling, heart-breaking, family-based historical fiction. It’s about navigating a no-win situation the best way you possibly can. And it’s about how an accident can change a family forever.

I received a free copy of this book via Bookouture. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Petch

Angela Petch is an award-winning writer of fiction – and the occasional poem.

Every summer she moves to Tuscany for six months where she and her husband own a renovated watermill which they let out. When not exploring their unspoiled corner of the Apennines, she disappears to her writing desk at the top of a converted stable. In her Italian handbag or hiking rucksack, she always makes sure to store a notebook and pen to jot down ideas.

The winter months are spent in Sussex where most of her family live. When Angela’s not helping out with grandchildren, she catches up with writer friends.

Angela’s gripping, WWII, Tuscan novels are published by Bookouture. While her novel, Mavis and Dot, was self-published and tells of the frolics and foibles of two best friends who live by the seaside. Angela also writes short stories published in Prima and People’s Friend.


Blog
Facebook
Twitter

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Audio:

UK
US

Book Review: Under A Sky of Memories

This is another review I did for the February edition of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. It is set during World War II, but has a take on it I haven’t seen before. There are so many books coming out that are set during World War II that I really look for unique perspectives before I decide to read them. This is based on a true story.

In 1943, three nurses from different backgrounds meet at training in Kentucky and become part of the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron, charged with transporting the wounded to safety during World War II. Evelyn has been caring for her father and sisters after the death of her mother and has finally left to make her own way in the world. Dot was jilted by her fiancé on the eve of her departure, but is still clinging to her engagement ring, afraid to admit the truth. Vita was born in high society and is used to the finer things, but left it all to pursue a different path. Together the three women face incredible danger when their transport plane crashes in Nazi-occupied Albania. Based on a true story, this historical thriller follows a group of nurses and medics, and their flight crew, as they attempt to survive in harsh conditions with the enemy in constant pursuit.

This is a thrilling novel full of suspense, intrigue, and romance. It is told from three points of view—Evelyn, Dot, and Vita—which is crucial in making a more compelling story. The three main characters are well-written and captivating, and the romances are engaging and believable for the circumstances. The true events, expertly woven together with fictional characters, make for a fascinating read. Descriptions of the harsh conditions and perilous journey make you feel as if you are there, and the author does not hold back on the agony, suffering, and physical toll of such a situation. This adds another layer of authenticity to this book. Under a Sky of Memories takes us through snowstorms, dangerous terrain, and bullet fire during a perilous attempt at survival, and throws in romance and heartache along the way. Highly recommended for fans of World War II fiction.

I received a free copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Soraya M. Lane graduated with a law degree before realizing that law wasn’t the career for her and that her future was in writing. She is the author of historical and contemporary women’s fiction, and her novel Wives of War was an Amazon Charts bestseller. Soraya lives on a small farm in her native New Zealand with her husband, their two young sons and a collection of four legged friends. When she’s not writing, she loves to be outside playing make-believe with her children or snuggled up inside reading.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website

Facebook

Twitter

BUY LINKS

Amazon *Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this book for free.

B&N

Self-Published Saturday: Leora’s Letters

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help self-published/indie authors. Self-published authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing. If I can help even a little bit with the marketing, I’m happy to do it. Below is a review of Leora’s Letters by Joy Neal Kidney. This is the heartbreaking story of a mother whose sons went off to war, and some of them did not return.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a heartbreaking look back at the real lives and losses of the family of Clabe and Leora Wilson, who were tenant farmers with seven living children at the start of the story. The prologue begins with the living family members putting flowers on the graves for “decoration day,” and we learn that they lost three sons and brothers in World War II. Photos and biographies of the Wilsons’ seven children who had lived to adulthood are also included. I had first gotten to know Leora’s family by reading book two, Leora’s Dexter Stories, which is a prequel. Leora and Clabe had already lost three of their ten children in infancy, and it broke my heart to see their additional loss and suffering in Leora’s Letters. In all, the Wilsons lost six of their ten children, three of them during World War II. But this is not just about loss. This is about a family that worked very hard to survive and always supported each other no matter what. The letters they all wrote to each other throughout the war are a testament to that love and support, as well as the closeness they all enjoyed.

Through their actual letters, we follow these sons and the entire family as the war progresses. And we see not only separation and suffering, but we witness the remaining family members doing backbreaking work, with the majority of their efforts going to the people who actually owned the farm. It is a testament to the way life was back then for working men and women. But this book is also about love and perseverance in the midst of all of the pain. It is a well-researched account of some of the significant events of World War II, and it will transport you back in time to the bloodiest war in history where over 60 million people died. Ultimately, it will introduce you to a loving and remarkable American farming family that made the ultimate sacrifice over and over and over again.

The research and writing of Joy Neal Kidney, and her willingness to share her family story with the world, are to be commended.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joy Neal Kidney

(In her own words) I am the keeper of family stories, letters, pictures, research, combat records, casualty reports, and terrible telegrams. Active on several history and military Facebook pages, I help administer local ones–Audubon County, Dallas County, and Guthrie County, Iowa–the places where my motherline stories originated, as well as Depression Era Iowa. 

Born two days before D-Day to an Iowa farmer who became an Army Air Corps pilot, then an instructor–with orders for combat when the war ended–and an Iowa waitress who lost three of her five brothers during that war. I spent my childhood in an Iowa farmhouse with a front porch. Now I live with my husband, a Vietnam veteran, in a suburban house with a front porch.

I’ve published two books (“Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II” and “Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression.”) I’m a regular contributor to Our American Stories. 

JOY’S WEBSITE

LINKS

BUY LEORA’S LETTERS ON AMAZON

BUY LEORA’S DEXTER STORIES ON AMAZON

My review of Leora’s Dexter Stories is here

*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Book Review: Red Crosses

Written by Sasha Filipenko. Translated by Brian James Baer and Ellen Vayner
Reviewed by Bonnie DeMoss for Historical Novels Review Magazine, February 2022.

Set in Minsk in 2001, and reaching back to 1930, Red Crosses introduces Tatyana, a 90-year-old woman who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and Alexander (Sasha), a man who is reeling from recent tragedy. Tatyana invites the reluctant Sasha into her apartment and begins sharing her fading memories of the early Soviet Union, her father’s standing in the Communist party, and her experiences during World War II.

What a touching and heartrending account of a woman who desperately wants to pass on what she has experienced before she can no longer remember.  Her description of why she’s losing her memories, “Because God’s afraid of me. I have too many inconvenient questions…” begins a fascinating, painful, and heartbreaking tale of the Soviet Union during World War II.  I learned so much about Soviet Russia at that time. For example, if a Soviet soldier was taken prisoner of war, he was immediately considered a spy, and his wife was executed or imprisoned.  Children were torn from their mothers, and interrogations were brutal with no limits.

This book includes important epistolary work such as poetry and diplomatic communications.  Music is a big part of the story, and musical works are described throughout.  The point of view changes from first person to third person at times, but is done smoothly with no interruption to the story.  You will be sad, heartbroken, devastated, and outraged as you read this beautifully written but agonizing tale. This book can be perfectly described by this one quote: “What surprises me the most is how fast, literally in a moment, morality can be shut down. Poof! Dehumanization takes only a second.” Anyone interested in a different aspect of World War II historical fiction will want to read about the shocking actions of Stalin against his own people and a woman who lived through it.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Reading the translators’ note at the beginning of the book will greatly enhance your reading experience.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sasha Filipenko, born in Minsk in 1984, is a Belarusian author who writes in Russian. After abandoning his classical music training, he studied literature in St. Petersburg and worked as a journalist, screenwriter and author for a satire show. Sasha Filipenko lives in St. Petersburg.

BUY LINKS

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

BARNES AND NOBLE EBOOKS

BOOKS A MILLION (BAM)