Fletcher and the Blue Star: Further adventures of seafaring hero Jacob Fletcher by John Drake – #BookReview – #historicalfiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

It is 1800 and Jacob Fletcher’s plans for a career in trade are once again dashed by the allure of ocean adventures.

Fletcher and the Blue Star by John DrakeSent to America as a roving ambassador, Fletcher finds himself caught up in one of his most demanding challenges yet, fighting against the robust French Navy. It is during this epic battle that Fletcher first sees the Blue Star, a diamond to surpass all others.

Determined to find the source of the diamond, Fletcher embarks on a journey through Africa, where he finds himself entangled in a new and dangerous enterprise: providing weaponry, and fighting side by side with Prince Inyathi, the Buffalo, a Zulu leader, who is battling against the Arabs. Fearsome Zulus, witchcraft and even love stands in Fletcher’s way as he navigates the diamond mines and works to secure safe passage back to England.

This action-packed adventure is the sixth book in the Fletcher series.

His Review:

Late 1700’s and early 1800’s were turbulent times. English cities are overcrowded and dreary. The royalty and nobility owned everything and controlled all. The only way for a person to get ahead was to join the military and put themselves in danger. Fletcher had joined the navy and risen quickly in the ranks. He is commissioned with a very fine vessel, and is to take her on her maiden voyage down the coast of Africa.

Fletcher and the Blue Star by John DrakeThe French are basically trying to blockade English ports and ships. The Spanish also pose a serious threat to England’s world exploration, therefore, Admiral Fletcher needed to be wary of both countries! The French had an additional advantage in that their ships were faster and their guns bigger.

The crew loved to sail with Admiral Fletcher. He was lucky to have a pilot who knew some of the more treacherous areas of the waters off Africa. This would prove to be a great advantage as the story unfolds. Admiral Fletcher is mesmerized by a beautiful blue stone which is masterfully cut and reflects rainbows of incredible light. Their quest is to find the source of the stones and thereby obtain unimaginable wealth.

The Zulu warriors are tall, lithe and very well trained. Word of their diamond mine has circled the globe and the blue diamond had been fashioned in Cairo. The English are looking for more of these large stones and the wealth that will come with the find! The Zulu women are tall, slender, and of exquisite beauty. Therein lies an excellent love story as a side event in the telling.

CE WilliamsThis story held my interest and I found myself pressed to find out the ending. I would suggest it to all who want to enjoy a riotous sea tale. 5 stars – C.E. Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical African Fiction, Historical French Fiction, Historical European Fiction
Publisher: Lume Books
ASIN: B09HXTMRL1
Print Length: 376 pages
Publication Date: December 9, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): Fletcher and the Blue Star [Amazon]
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John Drake - authorThe Author: Hallo,

I’m two-times delighted to say that two new books of mine, are now online. The first is ‘Fletcher and the Samurai’, so it will not require the insight of Sherlock Holmes to guess the country in which much of the action is set.

So Fletcher sails on, reluctantly climbing the promotion ladder, and always hoping that some day, some how, he will get out of King George’s bloody navy, and into a career in trade. That’s Fletcher: the only sea-faring hero who doesn’t want to be at sea at all.

The second book is ‘Traitor of Treasure Island’, and again the title is the clue to what’s in the book. It’s a new take on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson account of buried treasure, except that – and may Stevenson for give me (which he won’t) – I have turned the boy hero Jim Hawkins into a very naughty boy indeed, who never goes to church on Sundays because he is busy with the trollops of Bristol. So take note that unlike ‘Treasure Island’ my book is not for children. There’s plenty of seafaring adventure and two whole love stories.

Meanwhile try ‘Games in Londinium’ set in Roman Britannia in AD 100, giving the further adventures of Ikaros of Apollonis, an intellectually brilliant Greek, once a nobleman and a soldier but now a slave under Rome. Together with his friend Morganus, senior centurion of the 20th Legion, Ikaros faces a threat to the lives of every Roman in the province, and must discover who is behind this menace even as the killings begin.

On the way, Ikaros, who is profoundly ignorant of Roman Gladiatorial games, discovers to his surprise that it is rare for Gladiators to be killed in the arena. The fights – exactly like modern boxing – are displays of martial art, conducted under strict rules, with referees to control each bout, such that the usual outcome of a fight is that both men walk off with honour, even if wounded.

I plan a third ‘Londinium’ book when I have completed my current project which is writing a 5th Jacob Fletcher adventure: ‘Fletcher and the Samurai’. Fletcher is, of course, the only ‘Hornblower genre’ hero who does not want to be in the Navy at all, and the books explain his reasoning.

You might also like to, try my Thief Catcher’ (Georgian detective story), ‘Agent of Death’ (WW2 super-weapon), ‘Wayfinder’ (Viking Saga), or the ‘Flint and Silver’ trilogy which explains how Long John Siver lost his leg and why they buried the treasure (but be warned that these are for adults not children!).

Those are my latest books, but I’ve been making up stories ever since I spent half an hour each day walking from Wilmot Street, Bethnal Green, East London (where I lived) to the Central Foundation Boys’ school. And then another half an hour each day walking back. The bus was quicker, but I walked, and my imagination ran free to make up stories because I have a fountain in my head, which never stops.

Thanks for reading this far. And I hope you like the books because I loved writing them.

All best, John Drake

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Happy Autumn Weekend to you from Rosepoint Publishing

Churchill’s Secret Messenger by Alan Hlad – A #BookReview – #historicalfiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Churchill's Secret Messenger by Alan HladLondon, 1941: In a cramped bunker in Winston Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms, underneath Westminster’s Treasury building, civilian women huddle at desks, typing up confidential documents and reports. Since her parents were killed in a bombing raid, Rose Teasdale has spent more hours than usual in Room 60, working double shifts, growing accustomed to the burnt scent of the Prime Minister’s cigars permeating the stale air. Winning the war is the only thing that matters, and she will gladly do her part. And when Rose’s fluency in French comes to the attention of Churchill himself, it brings a rare yet dangerous opportunity.

Rose is recruited for the Special Operations Executive, a secret British organization that conducts espionage in Nazi-occupied Europe. After weeks of grueling training, Rose parachutes into France with a new codename: Dragonfly. Posing as a cosmetics saleswoman in Paris, she ferries messages to and from the Resistance, knowing that the slightest misstep means capture or death.

Soon Rose is assigned to a new mission with Lazare Aron, a French Resistance fighter who has watched his beloved Paris become a shell of itself, with desolate streets and buildings draped in Swastikas. Since his parents were sent to a German work camp, Lazare has dedicated himself to the cause with the same fervor as Rose. Yet Rose’s very loyalty brings risks as she undertakes a high-stakes prison raid, and discovers how much she may have to sacrifice to justify Churchill’s faith in her . . .

His Review:

Air raids are a nightly terror in London. Working in the war room underground is a task many young ladies are willingly doing to help the war effort. Rose Teasdale is proud to be doing her part. An interpreter is needed late at night when Winston is having a discussion with General Charles de Gaulle and Commandant Martel. The latter speaks no English. Rose volunteers to assist. Rose’s ability to flawlessly translate English to French does not go unnoticed.

Churchill's Secret Messenger by Alan HladMeanwhile a young man, Lazare Anon, is preparing and posting flyers suggesting the population resist Nazi occupation. He is crossing a river when he sees an old man reading one of his posters. An SS officer sees him reading the poster, pulls him away and executes him in front of his wife. Lazare is devastated. The ruthless character of the occupiers is crushing.

Her brother Charles was shot down over the English Channel and never recovered. Her parents and the house she grew up in are destroyed in one of the nightly blitzes. She is very heartbroken and angry because her entire family is now dead due to the Battle of Britain and she would like to do more to aid the war effort.

Being an enemy agent in a foreign country is a death sentence if caught. Rose is taught how to survive and is trained by the SOE (Special Operations Executive) to be dropped into France to assist in clandestine operations and communications. Should she be caught her death will be slow and painful as the Nazi’s try to extract as much information as possible. With her entire family dead at the hands of the enemy she is willing to be placed in France.

This book is an excellent example of the trials of many volunteers who served during WW II. The characters are well vetted and believable as saboteurs. This book ended with my having a much deeper appreciation of the people who did everything they could to defeat the enemy.  5 stars – CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from publisher through NetGalley. These are my honest opinions. 

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, Jewish Historical Fiction, Historical European Fiction
Publisher: A John Scognamiglio Book

  • ASIN : B08F2XLBCZ

Print Length: 398 pages
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Churchill’s Secret Messenger [Amazon]

Also find the book at these locations:
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Alan Hlad - authorThe Author: Alan Hlad is the international and USA Today bestselling author of The Long Flight Home. He is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Literary Cleveland, and the Akron Writers’ Group. Alan is a corporate executive turned writer who lives in Ohio with his wife and children. You can find him online at alanhlad.com, Facebook.com/AuthorAlanHlad, and on Instagram @AlanHlad.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel – a #BookReview World War I #HistoricalFiction

I love books based on true stories–most especially about brave and trail-blazing women in our history.

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelBook Blurb:

Inspired by the true story of the World War I American Women’s Hospital, Mercy Road is a novel about love, courage, and a female ambulance driver who risks everything.

In 1917, after Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground, taking her father with it, she must find a way to support her mother and younger brother. If she doesn’t succeed, they will all be impoverished. Job opportunities are scarce, but then a daring possibility arises: the American Women’s Hospital needs ambulance drivers to join a trailblazing, all-female team of doctors and nurses bound for war-torn France.

On the front lines, Arlene and her fellow ambulance drivers work day and night to aid injured soldiers and civilians. In between dangerous ambulance runs, Arlene reunites with a childhood friend, Jimmy Tucker, now a soldier, who opens her heart like no one before. But she has also caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a charismatic army captain who harbors a dark, treacherous secret.

To expose Brohammer means risking her family’s future and the promise of love. Arlene must make a choice: stay in the safety of silence or take the greatest chance of her life.

My Review:

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelThe beautiful opening paragraphs of this novel grabs your attention with the fleet-footed and magnificent Tornado, the Favier Farms prized breeding stallion. The small privately-owned ranch had a reputation built for race-winning Thoroughbreds and the French-born master of the manor a special knack for finding the best. Unfortunately, the fire that ensues levels the house he and his wife lovingly built and where Arlene and her brother Luc were raised. It is after the devastating fire that also kills her father that they discover the truth of the finances.

Desperate for employment to keep family and farm together, Arlene discovers an unusual opportunity for a woman in 1918. Owing to her father teaching her French and how to drive (GASP! In 1918?), Arlene will ship over to the last vestiges of the war in France to drive an ambulance for the American Women’s Hospital Services (an amazing story in itself).

American Women's Hospital Services
Two uniformed women with American Women’s Hospitals Services, ca 1919. (Courtesy of Drexel University, College of Medicine, Archives & Special Collections) as posted on the Women’s Voices for Change

What follows is a narrative into the war-torn country now covered with destruction and desolation, ashes and shell-pocked country roads. The group Arlene arrives with gradually begin the acclimation into the effort but it takes a huge toll on the women–warned but still not prepared for just how bad it would be.

Arlene is fairly well developed, although not all support characters are. She is quickly pursued by a US officer and rejects his advances according to rules, but he is having none of that. In the meantime, she discovers a childhood acquaintance likewise driving an ambulance, but he for the Army. A reigniting proceeds between herself and Jimmy and the ensuing romance pops back and forth into the storyline.

Written in first person through Arlene, the story is well-plotted and the pace even albeit slowed by the irrational interest of the narcissistic officer and the romance with Jimmy. I enjoyed the informational bits of the ambulance, the countryside, the people of France and her connection through her father, as well as the description of the many rescues. Also, the reader is reminded of the catastrophic flu that swept the globe as well as the rampant diseases brought about by such savage conditions. There was a rather obvious but surprising note regarding another of the crew and the climax came with sinking heart. Still, the author manages to weave a plausible concluding scenario with most loose threads neatly tied.

I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. It’s gratifying that the contribution of women’s war efforts are beginning to come to light. And BTW, I absolutely love that cover! Recommended for any who enjoy historical fiction, WWI narratives, and positive achievements by women.

Book Details:

Genre: World War I Historical Fiction, Historical European Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1542041988
  • ISBN-13:978-1542041980
  • ASIN: B07PWF72XG

Print Length: 278 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 19, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Mercy Road+Add to Goodreads

Ann Howard Creel - authorThe Author: Ann Howard Creel was born to write. By the age of ten she was writing daily in a diary, and by the age of twelve she had written an entire novel on a typewriter her father was getting ready to throw away. She worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, but the urge to write never left her. So after work and tending to children’s needs, she began to write again. During that time, she could have been found helping with math homework, making spaghetti, and writing a very drafty chapter all in the same night.

After first writing for children, she turned her attention to Historical Fiction. Her first novel for adults, THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS, was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on CBS. Her recent titles have been Kindle bestsellers and include WHILE YOU WERE MINE, THE WHISKEY SEA, THE UNCERTAIN SEASON, and her latest, THE RIVER WIDOW.

She now writes full-time. Ann’s main characters are always strong women facing high-stakes situations and having to make life-changing decisions. Her historical settings have ranged from Victorian-era Galveston to World War II in New York City. Her next novel, MERCY ROAD, to be published in 2019, takes readers to World War I France.

Besides writing, Ann loves old houses, new yoga routines, and all things cat. Contact her via her website http://www.annhowardcreel.com or oonnect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorannhowardcreel or Instagram: @annhowardcreel.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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