Last Night with Tokyo Rose: (Nisei War Series Book 1) by Alexa Kang – #BookReview – #historicalfiction

Last Night with Tokyo Rose by Alexa Kang
Last Night with Tokyo Rose – Lakewood Press – publisher’s banner

Book Blurb:

The land of the rising sun . . .
. . . Or the land of the free
Their survival hinges on his choice

Last Night with Tokyo Rose by Alexa KangLike any other American man, all Tom Sakai wants is a good life and a decent job. But in 1941, a Nisei son of Japanese immigrants could never be American enough. Frustrated, he leaves Seattle, his hometown. He sets out to sea, searching for his place in the world.

In Manila, he meets his soulmate, Fumiko, a Nisei from Los Angeles with a heartbreaking past. Together, they begin a new life, leaving behind the path of prejudice they walked at home.

Until the Pearl Harbor attack shatters their dreams.

Their dual identity now forces them to take a side. The wrong choice could cost them their lives.

Stranded in occupied territory, Tom must now decide where his loyalty lies. Should he swear his allegiance to Imperial Japan, the instigator of war and violence?

Or America, the country that deserted him when the world’s darkest hour begins?

His Review:

As a boy, I remember our war games were always against the Japanese or Germans. I harbored a definite dislike for the people who had initially bombed us. I felt self-righteous indignation towards both nationalities but particularly the Japanese. Then I was stationed in Japan on my first tour of duty in the navy and discovered quite a revelation.

Last Night with Tokyo Rose by Alexa KangTomio Sakai is a second-generation American of Japanese descent who is marooned in the Philippines after the attack on Pearl Harbor. His parents were sent to an internment camp for the duration of the war. The Japanese had been denied citizenship during the 30s and although Tomio was born in America he had received real prejudice from the people in Seattle because of his heritage.

In the Philippines, he is commandeered by the Japanese to help interrogate and spy upon the U.S. military. General MacArthur had promised to return. But when? Nisei or second-generation U.S. Japanese were considered viable spy conscripts. Therefore, they were segregated and treated poorly. Japan considered them Japanese citizens no matter where they lived. Tomio and his lady friend Fumiko work for the Japanese as disaffected American citizens.

This well-written story points out the prejudice encountered by second-generation Japanese-Americans. Stranded in foreign occupied countries, they were disillusioned by their treatment and the encampment segregation of their families. As with many of them who discover they have no choice, Tomio and Fumiko become embroiled in a class struggle. They do not see America as supportive of them or their families as citizens.

CE WilliamsI felt sympathy for these characters recalling my time in Japan and my initial prejudice and animosity towards that country. An engrossing and entertaining read, atmospheric, with strong characterization. 4.5 stars – CE 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.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Japanese Fiction, Historical Asian Fiction, Historical World War II Fiction
Publisher: Lakewood Press
ASIN: B08S36L6FL
Print Length: 438 pages
Publication Date: January 22, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Links: Last Night with Tokyo Rose [Amazon]
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Alexa Kang - authorThe Author: Alexa Kang is an author of WWII and 20th century historical fiction. Her works include the novel series “Rose of Anzio”, an epic love story that begins in 1940 Chicago and continues on to the historic Battle of Anzio in Italy; and the “Shanghai Story” trilogy, a saga chronicling the events in Shanghai leading up to WWII and the history of Jews and Jewish refugees in China. Her current work, the “Nisei War Series”, is a collection of stories about second-generation Japanese-Americans in war situations around the world during WWII. Alexa’s other works include the WWII/1980s time-travel love story “Eternal Flame” (a tribute to John Hughes), as well as various short stories, including those in the fiction anthologies “The Darkest Hour” (a USA Today Bestseller”), “Pearl Harbor and More: Stories of December 1942”, “Christmas in Love”, and “Wartime Christmas Tales”.

You can sign up for Alexa’s newsletter for new release announcements, sales, and special content at her website: http://alexakang.com/newsletter

You can also contact Alexa and her team at info@alexakang.com

Alexa grew up in New York City and has traveled to more than 150 cities, and she loves to explore new places and different cultures. She loves writing larger-than-life love stories and 20th century historical fiction, and hopes to bring you many more.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Have a Happy Mother's Day!

 

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

 

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it—the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

My Review:

Elsa Martinelli got sick when she was a teenager and though she survived, the family kept her at arm’s length and isolated until too late for marriage, she is overwhelmed and succumbs to the attention of the first man to notice her, the son of landowners, a Texas farmer.

Her urban family, wealthy and more worried about appearances than the love of their daughter, dumps her at the porch of the boy’s family. Rafe’s family has no alternative other than to take her in and teach her about the farm where she must learn to (gasp!) work. But they are good people, as we used to say “the salt of the earth.” Rafe does what he must with a shot-gun marriage and gives up his dreams of college.

The Four Winds by Kristin HannahThere is much to learn on the farm and the years pass, now with two children, and a tenuous marriage, but his parents come to embrace Elsa as the daughter they never had and love their grandchildren. When the drought hits and hits hard several years after the Great Depression started, the struggle to make severe changes in an effort to survive wears on all of them.

Rafe’s parents are determined to stay on their land, but Rafe is ready to head west. When their son confronts a devastating lung disease born of the Dust Bowl situation, Rafe has enough and he leaves them all in the dead of night. Elsa makes the difficult decision to head west, alone, with her two children hopefully to save her son.

But the harrowing drive alone to California is just the beginning of more years of extreme poverty, struggle, and the overwhelming competition for manual labor work with the many thousands who’ve also left their own Dust Bowl states to find a better life. It’s not.

My father’s family were among those who left for California (from Missouri) in 1938 and lumped in with the cruel denigration of “Okies” (Oklahoma). The staggering numbers of the destitute overwhelm the state and the farmers quickly take advantage of the infinite labor pool setting outrageously low levels of pay for back-breaking work sun-up to sun-down.

Emigrant camps blossom the length of every fertile valley with crops to tend including cotton, which when ready to pick is cruelly heavy with thorns as well as cotton bolls. The author paints a grim picture of the unsanitary conditions of tent and cardboard camps, lacking any potable water and tied to the “company store” where more money is deducted from paltry wages.

There are themes of love—the love given to each other in extreme situations—family, the love of a mother for her children, hopeless conditions, and those who overcome and who don’t. It’s not that hard to imagine the same can happen to anyone. The haves and have-nots and those who take advantage of the victims.

“Doom and gloom and agony on me” says the little ditty riddled throughout the old “HeeHaw” variety show. But can there be any light at the end of the tunnel?

The author does an amazing job of describing the devastation wreaked by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the thousands of migrants that choked California’s economy, services, and infrastructure. The characters are so well fleshed you can smell them, see the cardboard in their shoes, and wonder how much longer they can live on stone soup, their ribs prominent.

In the end, this is not a totally depressive narrative but one of triumph over all the odds and ultimately the indomitable spirit of human nature.

Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B0882VNQKS
Listening Length: 15 hrs 2 mins
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Four Winds [Amazon]
 

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Kristin Hannah - authorThe Author: Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. It was also named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week. In 2018, The Great Alone became an instant New York Times #1 bestseller and was named the Best Historical Novel of the Year by Goodreads.

The Four Winds was published in February of 2021 and immediately hit #1 on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Indie bookstore’s bestseller lists. Additionally, it was selected as a book club pick by the both Today Show and The Book Of the Month club.

The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with Dakota and Elle Fanning set to star. Tri Star has also optioned The Great Alone and it is in development. Firefly Lane, her novel about two best friends, was the #1 Netflix show around the world, in the week it came out. The popular tv show stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke and Season Two is currently being filmed.

www.kristinhannah.com

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Book hangover

Dark Seas by Jerry Borrowman – #BookReview – Historical World War II Fiction

Dark Seas by Jerry Borrowman

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Dark Seas by Jerry BorrowmanAs captain of a destroyer in the US Navy, Merrill Kendrick plays a crucial and dangerous role in protecting the convoys that are essential to Britain’s survival in the Second World War. Despite pressure from his father to join the family company, a supplier of military radios, Kendrick chose to fight on the front lines of the war, a decision he’s never regretted. But when technical issues with his family’s Gatekeeper radios lead to devastating consequences in combat in the Atlantic, Kendrick needs answers. 

Joe Horiuchi, a second-generation Japanese American, gave up a prestigious future to fight in the merchant marine on behalf of the United States. Though he is faced with harsh discrimination, his brilliance with electronics proves invaluable. When his expertise is most needed, Horiuchi does not flinch in the face of danger—and he suffers the devastating consequences.

Kendrick is a seasoned veteran when it comes to battle—but facing off with U-boats is nothing like facing off with his own father, who may be guilty of treachery. With the help of Horiuchi and his radio communications expertise, Kendrick must uncover the truth of his family business before more lives are lost. 

His Review:

Germany’s U-boats and E-boats were a constant harassment in the North Atlantic Ocean. The German submarines were everywhere in the waters off the eastern coast of the United States all the way to England and France. If a ship is not sunk immediately, an SOS and ship’s position is sent along with the coordinates where the torpedo struck the ship. This would give the rest of the convoy the chance to avoid the area.

Dark Seas by Jerry BorrowmanJoe Horiuchi is the radioman. His orders are to send the final message in hopes that rescue would come for the stranded sailors. Being a Japanese serving in the merchant marines was extremely difficult at that time. Although a Nissei or second-generation Japanese American, Joe had gone to Tufts University and then Rensselaer Polytechnic in New York getting a degree in electronics.

A major defense contractor was cutting corners on preparing vital radio equipment for the military and many of the communications equipment was poorly manufactured. Joe was busy trying to prepare a satisfactory radio from three “junk radios” purchased prior to the voyage. Captain Birdsall had also attended Rensselaer and had a fondness for his Seaman Radioman. They were able to get the distress signal out before abandoning ship.

Running defense and interference for the merchant marine ships delivering defense weapons to England and the North African coast was always a very dangerous endeavor. Throughout the war, many tons of shipping were sunk in transit in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of operation. In June of 1944 Captain Birdsall and his ship and crew were an integral part of the landing of troops and supplies to the Normandy Coast.

CE WilliamsThis book is an excellent memorial to the many men who fought and died freeing Europe from the Third Reich. The description of weapons used and tactics employed were quite illuminating. Catching companies who were cutting corners and seeking profits while endangering our troops was fascinating. I recommend the book to anyone who enjoys history and the saga of WWII. 5 stars – C. E. Williams

Much appreciation to the publisher and NetGalley for the complimentary review copy of this book that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions. 

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, World War II Historical Fiction, Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Covenant Communications
ASIN: B09K38GLWN
Print Length: 170 pages
Publication Date: April 4, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Links: Dark Seas [Amazon]
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Dark Seas by Jerry BorrowmanThe Author: Jerry Borrowman is a best-selling and award-winning author of historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and co-authored biographies.

Compassionate Soldier won the 2018 Indies Gold (First Place) Award from Foreword Reviews in War and Military. Compassionate Soldier and Three Against Hitler (with Rudi Wobbe) are George Washington National Award Winners from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.

Jerry has given voice to true heroes — Rudi Wobbe, a German boy who stood up against the Third Reich, Joe Banks in A Distant Prayer who served on 49 combat missions deep into German territory in a B-17 bomber, only to be shot down and taken prisoner of war, and Colonel Bernard Fisher, USAF, a career Air Force pilot who was awarded the Medal of Honor for Valor Above and Beyond the Call of Duty in Vietnam, (also known as the Congressional Medal of Honor).

But for those who enjoy historical fiction, his World War I and World War II series provides insight into the great European wars of the 20th Century in a unique and exciting way.

Here’s what Jennie Hansen, reviewer for Meridian magazine has to say: “Borrowman does a superb job of portraying life, including the values and prejudices of the early twentieth century. He brings a realism to that period that is slower and more innocent than teens experience today, yet the reader is led to an awareness of and learns to care about the hopes and dreams of these soon-to-be-men, who live in a time when automobiles are still new and airplanes are little more than toys…”

Jerry’s books are for readers of all ages, men and women. They will inspire you by the great sacrifices made by those who have fought for American freedom.

©2022 – CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint Publishing

Souvenirs from Kyiv: Unforgettable stories based on the heartbreaking experiences of Ukrainian families during WW2 by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger – #BookReview – #historicalfiction

Souvenirs from Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

‘Russia has been trying to wipe Ukraine off the world map for thousands of years. They haven’t succeeded yet. Now, I’m picking up my stone and throwing it at Goliath. I want people to understand. I want to save this country.’ Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, March 2022

Souvenirs from Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk-BergerLarissa is a renowned embroiderer, surviving in occupied Ukraine during World War II as a seamstress in her ruin of a workshop. Surrounded by enemies, she expresses her defiance by threading history into her garments. But at what cost?

Mykhailo is a soldier on leave, returning to Ukraine from the front on Christmas Eve. As he travels through his country, he is confronted by the hardship the war has brought to his fellow countrymen. Will what he sees this Christmas change the course of his life forever?

Marusia and her family are woken early one morning by the arrival of the Nazis, who have come to search for her partisan brother. As the soldiers move through their house, her family has just moments to make choices that will determine their survival.

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger’s stories bring to life the true history of her Ukrainian family who fought to survive World War II. Laced with hope,Souvenirs from Kyiv celebrates the endurance and resilience of the human spirit.

Souvenirs from Kyiv was awarded 2nd Place in the 2014 HNS International Short Story Award and the collection won the silver medal in the IPPY Book Awards 2020 for Military and Wartime fiction.

His Review:

As the current attack by the Russians upon Ukraine continues, Souvenirs From Kyiv illuminates the continuing hazard in that part of the world. This country has been in the path of battles and armies since recorded history. The Russians have attempted to draw them into their country for centuries. The citizens of Ukraine have suffered continually.

Souvenirs from Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk-BergerWorld War II found their male citizens being conscripted into the Nazi war machine. If they were unable to serve, they were kidnapped and forced to work on war materiel including bombs and bullets. The women were helping in the munitions factories as well and also conscripted to sew uniforms and other outfits including snow warfare camouflage gear.

Hiding some of the young men became the work of families. They would go to the forests and be part of the resistance. Families would take them in at very great risk to themselves. Should they be caught harboring these men, the whole family would wind up being shot. The Ukrainians also helped hide and protect large numbers of Jews. Harboring Jews was also a crime punishable by death.

Those members of the resistance saved many American and English pilots forced down in the fighting. The Ukrainians and Yugoslavian citizens helped to rescue the pilots as well as set up an underground system to spirit the pilots back to the west. Avoiding serving and being caught usually resulted in an immediate deployment to the Russian front.

The Ukrainians are not fond of the Russians. They hoped that the American forces would release their villages. The Russian troops had a reputation for gang raping the women and taking everything of value. The maturation of the war found the Ukrainian people praying the Allies would prevail and liberate their communities from the Nazis.

CE WilliamsStarvation was a major weapon of the Third Reich. The cities were blockaded and farmers and foodstuffs were taken by the German soldiers for the Fatherland or to feed the troops in the area. Small barley or wheat soup was the staple diet for the average citizen during the war. 5 stars – CE 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 Fiction Short Stories, Historical Russian Fiction
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B09WF1MQ8K
Print Length: 159 pages
Publication Date: April 22, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Souvenirs from Kyiv [Amazon]
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Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger - authorThe Author: IPPY Book Award 2020 silver medal winner for SOUVENIRS FROM KYIV.

Long-listed in the Flash500 Novel Competition 2017 for No Man’s Land/The Breach.

Winner of the Flash500 Short Story Competition with an extract from Bolzano.

Winner of the Coffee Pot Book Club Book Award Box and Box Set of the Year 2019 for the Reschen Valley Box Set.

A Discovered Diamond, shortlisted for Book of the Month July 2019, Reschen Valley Box Set

Reader’s Favorite 5-star reviews for Bolzano, The Smuggler of Reschen Pass, and Magda’s Mark (featured in The Road to Liberation Collection).

HNS International Short Story 2nd Place Winner 2014 for Souvenirs from Kyiv (short story in the Souvenirs from Kyiv collection)

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger was born in Minnesota in 1969 and grew up in the culture-rich neighborhood of “Nordeast” Minneapolis. She started her writing career with short stories, travel narratives, worked as a journalist and then as a managing editor for a magazine publisher before jumping the editor’s desk and pursuing her dreams of writing and traveling. In 2000, she moved to western Austria and established her own communications training company. She has won several awards for her short stories and novels and now primarily writes historical fiction. During a trip into northern Italy over the Reschen Pass, she stood on the edge of Reschen Lake and desperately wanted to understand how a 15th-century church tower ended up sticking out of the water. What stories were lying beneath? Some eight years later, she launched the “Reschen Valley” series with five books and a novella releasing between 2018 and 2021, in parallel to her WW2 novels and short story collections.

For more on Chrystyna, dive in at inktreks(dot)com.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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Rosepoint Reviews – March Recap—It’s Spring? Did we miss the memo?

Rosepoint Review Recap-March-Hello April!

March is typically a radical mix of warm to freezing with another blast of snow. I’m content to look out the window and note the grass is turning green again, the trees are trying to bud out. The deer came in and I swear they must have sat on my Magnolia tree, broke the main trunk and branches back to about a foot tall (it was just over 3). Damn does.

April will be very busy with a visit from my daughter, granddaughter, and new great-grandbaby boy. So excited to see the little guy, born last November and already teething. Mercy! My daughter was later than that but walking at nine months. (She skipped the crawling phase; once she pulled herself up it was all over.) We’ll be exchanging visits to southern Illinois and they up here, so we are very excited to see them.

March, of course, #readingirelandmonth22, and I participated with a number of selections, many suggested by the host of the all things Irish celebration, Cathy at 746Books. You will find a wealth of titles to investigate.

Between the CE and I, we read and/or listened to seventeen books for March, some from NetGalley, but more from my local library as that is where I get most of my audiobooks.

The Paris Network by Siobhan Durham The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

Chasing Time by Thomas Reilly Wild Irish Rose by Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter Wolf Catcher by Anne Montgomery Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann Walking with Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly Hope Island by Jackie Elliott Poison Pen by Sheila Lowe Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry Citizen K-9 by David Rosenfelt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Paris Network by Siobhan Curham (audiobook)
The Night Shift by Alex Finlay (a CE review)
Chasing Time by Thomas Reilly (CE review-Reading Ireland Month)
 Wild Irish Rose by Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles (Reading Ireland Month)
Pieces of Her (vs audiobook) by Karin Slaughter
Second Chance by Mike Faricy (Reading Ireland Month)
Wolf Catcher by Anne Montgomery (Reading Ireland Month)
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Reading Ireland Month)
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (audiobook-Reading Month)
The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan (a CE review-Reading Ireland Month)
The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly (Reading Ireland Month)
Hope Island by Jackie Elliott
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne (audiobook-Reading Ireland Month)
Poison Pen by Sheila Lowe (a CE review)
Walking with Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne (audiobook-Reading Ireland Month)
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry (audiobook-Reading Ireland Month)
Citizen K-9 by David Rosenfelt (audiobook)

 

Reading Challenges

March, so much going on but think I’ve about got my challenge page caught up.  My challenges for 2022 are all listed and linked in the widget column on the right. You can check out the progress of my challenges by clicking the Reading Challenges page but so far I’m four books ahead on my Goodreads Challenge of 180 books at 48. Slow progress on the NetGalley Challenge in March as I participated heavily in the #readingirelandmonth22 challenge with eleven novels by Irish authors, of Irish ancestry, or about Ireland.

Book Club and Reading/Listening Update

As I mentioned last month, the second reading choice of the year is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, also a Goodreads Choice Award nominee an all-round awesome Historical Fiction, and a favorite of mine last year. Since I’ve already read it and participate in discussion, I’m waiting now for the next one, which will be The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner, published in March 2021, and another Goodreads Choice nominee. Have you read this one? I confess, first time I’ve seen the title. LMK if you liked it, please.

The first quarter flew by and I’d resolved to try and narrow down my favorites this year. I had several in January, including The Golem and the Jinni, a couple in February including The Lincoln Highway, and several again in March, including A Ladder to the Sky (audiobook for March). And the winner for the first quarter:

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

Kept me glued to my earbuds, stunned by the prose, shocked by the cunning morality of the protagonist. Resonated well after I shut off the audio.

I hope you’ve seen a title here that beckons to you and I’d love it if you let me know in the comments. Welcome to my new followers and a hardy thank you to those who continue to read, like, share, and comment. I do so appreciate you!!

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Have a great weekend!

Wolf Catcher by Anne Montgomery – #BookReview – Native American Literature

Wolf Catcher by Anne Montgomery

A Reading Ireland Month book

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars  5 stars
“Gardening is not about growing food, but about growing children.”

Book Blurb:

A reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician and discovers that black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

Wolf Catcher by Anne MontgomeryIn 1939, archaeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate beadwork, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine-hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

My Review:

Boy, didn’t this one grip me quickly and keep me glued to the pages! I absolutely love reading fiction tales about the ancient history of our own beautiful United States—this one in the spectacular geographical area known as Arizona. Probably better known for searing summer desert heat, the state boasts a multitude of topographical diversity.

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Flagstaff AZ
Chapel of the Holy Cross

Flagstaff, north of Phoenix, is high desert at almost 7,000 feet, a little over eighteen miles from Ridge Ruin. When I was still riding my motorcycle, the girls and I rode to Prescott—and then a short ride to pricey but gorgeous Sedona, the artsy community not far from Flagstaff that features red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls, and inexplicably deep pine forests. Sedona (twenty-nine miles from Flagstaff) is unique and heart-poundingly stunning. While there, I’d recommend a visit to the (active Catholic) Chapel of the Holy Cross built into the red rocks that offer dramatic views.

So I was deeply and thoroughly embroiled in this imaginative novel that split the storyline in dual narratives: The current one and that of the eleventh century capturing a native people written so creatively, you’d swear it was taken from the pages of a diary.

Kate Butler is a freelancer working on an article regarding the discovery in 1939 of a tomb near Ridge Ruin where a man buried nine hundred years previously was obviously a magician and sacred member of the tribe populating the ridge. But was he of the tribe? If not, where did he come from? And here’s where it turns fascinating—enter the world of Kaya, Wolf Catcher, Deer Runner, Badger, and the white wolf, Spirit Warrior.

Wolf Catcher by Anne MontgomeryThe Arizona high desert landscape in the tenth, eleventh century was changed by the active volcanoes of the area forcing tribes to abandon their villages and seek fresh game, water, and arable conditions. Some peoples were peacefully assimilated; some not so peacefully ventured to take by force the attractive conditions offered by distant communities.

Kaya, accepted to her village as a child, is a healer, but still not wholly one of them and keeps herself separate. Her skills, however, are unquestioned having learned from her mother. I loved her character and that of the support characters of the village. Their stories, their lives, come to life and breathe their circumstances to reality in the mind. Their experience as the storyline hurtles to conclusion is gripping.

The novel melds seamlessly much of fact with fiction. I love it when I’m moved to research the veracity of places like Ridge Ruin. Although to be accurate here, the author discloses her own discoveries when she was commissioned to write a feature article about The Magician by the Arizona Highways Magazine, and I must say managed to incorporate a complex tale here combining the tribal experience possibilities into an unputdownable account that includes a crushingly plausible antagonist bent on stealing artifacts.

“Our priority was the guys with guns, not the ones with shovels.”

Loved the cliff-hanging chapter endings. Well researched, well-plotted and paced, a historical mystery that raises still more questions about the migrations and origins of peoples and artifacts found in unlikely places.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts. Trust me, you’ll love it. Totally recommended and out now! 

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Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, US Historical Fiction
Publisher: TouchPoint Press
ASIN: B09MV1H4N3
Print Length: 382 pages
Publication Date: February 2, 2022
Source: Author inquiry

Title Link(s):

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Anne Montgomery - authorThe Author: Anne Butler Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, and amateur sports official. Her first TV job came at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter. She finished her on‐camera broadcasting career with a two‐year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery was a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. Her novels include The Castle, The Scent of Rain, A Light in the Desert, and Wild Horses on the Salt, Montgomery taught high school journalism for 20 years and was an amateur sports official for four decades, a time during which she called baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball games and served as a high school football referee and crew chief. Montgomery is a foster mom to three sons. When she can, she indulges in her passions: rock collecting, musical theater, scuba diving, and playing her guitar.

Find Anne Montgomery on her website: https://annemontgomerywriter.com/

NB: Ms. Montgomery states she has “red hair and freckles” and is American of Irish descent.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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The Paris Network by Siobhan Curham – #Audiobook Review – WWII Historical Fiction

The Paris Network by Siobhan Curham

The Paris Network by Siobhan Curham

Book Blurb:

Paris, 1940: He pressed the tattered book into her hands. “You must go to the café, and ask at the counter for Pierre Duras. Tell him that I sent you. Tell him you’re there to save the people of France.”

Sliding the coded message in between the crisp pages of the hardback novel, bookstore owner Laurence slips out into the cold night to meet her resistance contact, pulling her woolen beret down further over her face. The silence of the night is suddenly shattered by an Allied plane rushing overhead, its tail aflame, heading down toward the forest. Her every nerve stands on end. She must try to rescue the pilot.

But straying from her mission isn’t part of the plan, and if she is discovered, it won’t only be her life at risk….

America, years later: When Jeanne uncovers a dusty old box in her father’s garage, her world as she knows it is turned upside down. She has inherited a bookstore in a tiny French village, just outside of Paris, from a mysterious woman named Laurence. 

Traveling to France to search for answers about the woman her father has kept a secret for years, Jeanne finds the store tucked away, in a corner of the cobbled main square. Boarded up, it is in complete disrepair. Inside, she finds a tiny silver pendant hidden beneath the blackened, scorched floorboards.

As Jeanne pieces together Laurence’s incredible story, she discovers a woman whose bravery knew no bounds. But will the truth about who Laurence really is shatter Jeanne’s heart or change her future?

My Review:

Paris in 1939 is getting scary.

Laurence Sidot is dispensing books with appropriate passages for her customers; those in need, those looking for something positive. She inherited the book store from her parents (now deceased) and is trying to carry on amid worsening rumors of the war reaching their area. Unfortunately, it isn’t long before the Germans arrive to confirm stories and demonstrate just exactly the shocking conditions and atrocities they rain down on the people in her little village outside of Paris.

When she begins to see the people of her town either taken away, shot, or hanged, she realizes she absolutely cannot stand by and do nothing.

The Paris Network by Siobhan DurhamShe learns of the French resistance and creates a book club (which were banned), and conducts meetings at their peril. She learns of a banned books list and makes sure she has those available to the participants of the book club. She feels she can exert resistance pressure by printing small but powerful anti-German sentiments and coded messages and disseminates those in the middle of the night.

In addition, she is given small but clandestine missions by the French Resistance where she meets war paraphernalia airdrops in the middle of the night. One of these results in her meeting an American airman, slightly wounded, whom she rescues and protects and mends for his return to England.

Now switch to 1993 and the reader is introduced to Jeanne, a former detective who, following the death of her mother, learns she has inherited a book store in a village outside of Paris. Her father can tell her very little of Laurence, though it’s obvious he loved her and claims that Laurence was a hero. She and her father travel to the village to claim her inheritance, discover the truth of what happened to Laurence, and determine their mutual connection.

Yes, I loved the 1939 timeline, Laurence, who loved and knew her books well and provided peace and hope to her customers. Her pride and spirit were strong, her story gripping.

Jeanne, on the other hand, was still smarting over being “retired” against her will, unhappy in her circumstances. I’m not sure why she didn’t badger her father into telling her about Laurence (or he to just admit and spill the whole story), but the truth is fed in small portions, a revelation at a time. It’s an uneven timeline, heavily on the side of Laurence (thankfully) and almost aggravating coming from Jeanne. I didn’t particularly like her character, but once she finds out her mother was not her birth mother, things begin falling into place.

Based on true events, a revelation about the determination and the many ways the women of the resistance provided support. I loved the story and it hooked and kept me listening until the final heart-rending reveal. Powerful, emotional statements of the individuals on both sides of a war and my recommendation to all who enjoy historical fiction as well as the indomitable spirit of people in horrific circumstances.

We received a complimentary review audiobook from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: World War II Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hachette UK – Bookouture
ASIN: B09RKMDB4G
Listening Length: 13 hrs 50 mins
Narrator: Laurence Bouvard
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Paris Network [Amazon]
 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Siobhan Curham - author
Siobhan Curham

The Author: Thank you for visiting my Amazon author page! It still blows my mind to be able to say that I’m an award-winning, best-selling author of over 40 books for adults, young adults and children, because I’m also a former council estate kid and university drop-out who gave up on my writing dream because I didn’t think I was from the right (aka posh enough) background. So I really am proof that miracles can happen!

It’s safe to say that my books cover very wide ranging subjects, from spirituality, love and friendship to World War 2, the refugee crisis and talking animals! One theme remains constant however, my desire to leave my readers feeling uplifted and inspired.

My first historical novel, An American in Paris, was published in 2021 and became an Amazon best-seller in the US and UK, which I was over the moon about, as it turns out I have a real passion for writing historical fiction. I love unearthing the lesser known facts and details from World War 2 and presenting them to readers in stories that will resonate today. My other World War 2 novels are Beyond This Broken Sky, The Paris Network, and the yet to be titled ‘Book 4’ – which will be published by Bookouture in August 2022.

I’m also currently writing two more books for my Moonlight Dreamers series for young adults.

Because my path to writing success has been such a bumpy one, I love nothing more than helping other people achieve their writing dreams via my online community, THE WRITING ADVENTURE (you can find us on Facebook).

You can find out more about my writing and sign up to my newsletter, GRIT, GRACE & GRATITUDE, at http://www.siobhancurham.com

And you can connect with me on social media here…

Facebook: Siobhan Curham Author
Instagram: @SiobhanCurham
Twitter: @SiobhanCurham

Thanks so much to everyone who has read my books and taken the time to leave a review here on Amazon, it really helps so I very much appreciate it.
Siobhan

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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