I read Anne Goodwin’s “Sugar and Snails” and loved it, as my review below shows :-).
Now you can read it for free! Get your e-copy herebefore 28 Feb 2021, and enjoy!
~ FlorenceT Title: Sugar and Snails Author: Anne Goodwin Publishers: Inspired Quill (23 July 2015) Format: Paperback ISBN-10: 1908600470 ISBN-13: 978-1908600479 Website: http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/ Twitter: @annecdotist Pages: 342 Genre: Contemporary Fiction, LGBT
What’s it about?
This is a story of a woman’s journey of self-discovery.
I am introduced to Diana through the narrative of the life she’s lived, so far filled with insecurities and fears. The story begins in the present day with a confronting scene of Diana self-harming as a result of, so it seems, her partner leaving. The vivid description of her bringing a knife to her arm, after many years of abstinence, caused me to put the book down and almost not returning to it. But I did, because I wanted to know more.
What happened in Cairo? Why is it significant? What is she hiding? Why? What? How? So many more questions asked as I followed Diana Dodsworth’s life journey…from a young kid to a professor of psychology at university. Diana’s story weaves in and out of different pasts as she held the attention of the reader, slowly and steadily divulging the story of her life. Goodwin has written real characters, not just in Diana but with each of the significant figures in Diana’s life – flawed, conflicted. As the reader, I can empathise with each of them. What are the motivations for parental love? How is one changed by childhood events? Is an adolescent capable of deciding her future? What is the value of friendship and love in shaping a life?
As a therapist, I would have loved to get greater insights and explore Diana’s psyche as she slowly comes to the realisation that she has held herself back and living in a time bubble, and that she is indeed alright. Not that it is indeed the case, or is it? I appreciate a psychological study however may not be everyone’s cup of tea. This said, my reading experience was not compromised in any way. There is enough to maintain my attention and interest. After a somewhat slow and for me, perplexing take by Goodwin in ‘jumping’ across time and events, the second half of the book provides resolutions which showed Goodwin’s skill in weaving all the threads into a coherent tapestry.
Goodwin has created an intriguing story of a person’s life, complex and filled with the confusions of a child, the pain of existence, of irrevocable decisions and the effects on the subsequent decades of her life.
Would I recommend it?
Absolutely. Mesmerising, especially the second half of the book, thought-provoking and sensitively written. If you enjoy reading real and flawed characters set in a contemporary background with controversial issues (still!) to boot, this is the book for you (and your book club, if you belong to one).
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4/5
DESCRIPTION OF AUNT IVY’S COTTAGE by Kristin Harper
Three generations of the Winslow family gather one Spring as they go through joys, sorrows, and many decisions to find healing in the home that’s been in their family for generations. Add mystery, romance, and a manipulative, self-centered cousin, and you have the makings of a promising series set in the fictional New England village of HOPE HAVEN on DUNE ISLAND. The picture painted by the author of the sunsets, ocean waves, the surf, the smells, and more make the fictional setting come to life.
ZOEY has been staying with her elderly AUNTIVY and Aunt Sylvia after Sylvia developed pneumonia. Out of a job and her savings all but depleted by an ex-boyfriend, Zoey dedicates herself first to nursing Sylvia, until her passing (in the prologue), then to Aunt Ivy while she copes with the loss of her sister-in-law, Sylvia.
Then another bombshell drops when Zoey’s asked to assume responsibility for her niece GABI, the daughter of her sister, JESSICA, who was lost to cancer several years earlier. The girl’s step-mother and father hope Zoey will let her finish the school year wherever Zoey ends up living. With Gabi’s mother gone and now her dad in a rehab program for alcoholics, Zoey says yes.
On top of that, Zoey’s cousin MARK, the next in line to inherit Aunt Ivy’s house, is doing his best to get her to move into a retirement facility so he can renovate the house and lease it out for an income. If this happens, what happens to Zoey?
But there is one light in it all, NICK, the local contractor. Or is his light too bright to be believed?
If you read the blurb/book description on Amazon, it isn’t accurate to the book’s story. I think if I read the book, after reading that description first, I would be disappointed because the suspense and anticipation it promises is not quite what’s delivered. Even some imagery given isn’t what you get in the book. But don’t let that stop you from reading AUNT IVY’S COTTAGE after reading this review. Because I’m just pointing that out in case you read this review and then the Amazon description and wonder what was this book blogger talking about.
If the blurb is not accurate, then what do you get?
A story with more substance, more emotion, and more heart than expected. And I enjoyed it better than I would have if it had been what the blurb described.
KRISTIN HARPER does a great job of painting a wonderful picture of what the Hope Haven area of Dune Island looks like. It’s a nice job of giving the imagery as part of the story and not just throwing it in to fill up the page. Harper really knows what she’s doing. It’s not over the top, just enough to give you what you need. I love it when that happens. And as a writer, I can tell you it’s a balance not easily accomplished.
Each character has their own unique personality and problems. This is something I enjoy in any book, but in this type of book in particular there is a tendency to have too many characters that serve the same purpose and clutter the story. When that happens, you end up wondering which character someone is talking about. Harper nails it with just the right number. One living great-aunt, one aunt in her thirties, and one teen niece. The niece, Gabi, has friends that are unique and fleshes out her character nicely, but they aren’t cluttering the reading. For instance, you read about one boy early on, and the next time you meet him, you have no problem visualizing him again walking with the girl down the hall her first day of school to give her a tour. Honestly, I could see the kid. It surprised me. (Maybe I knew a kid just like him.)
The emotions of the story are not overdone, and they aren’t always about the same things. Yes, the same emotions happen about the same things at times, but I expect that when a story involves grief. If the story didn’t include those moments, it would come across to me as unrealistic.
You have the tears, but they are usually warranted, not filler or lack of a talented writer’s ability to come up with something better to say. They are timed at the right moments in the story where they belong rather than pulling you out of your escape into the sounds of the surf on a New England island in spring. (Zoey’s moments on the beach and in the ocean had me wishing I were there.)
There are laughs as well, which include multi-generational moments that aren’t contrived. Some of those moments include characters that might surprise you but ultimately don’t.
Harper does great with not making any of the characters one-dimensional. I have to say that surprised me. A lot of times in books of this genre one person has a role to play and they stick to that stereotype/trope with no variation. Harper doesn’t do that here. Some of the roles do play to type where they need to but then there is much more to each person. Very nice.
There are only a couple of places in the book I thought could’ve been different, but in no way do they take away from the reading of the book or diminish the enjoyment I had. Nor would they change the story or outcome of the book.
I really like books that have a sweet, emotional family story, be they mysteries, romances, suspense, or whatever. There is no profanity at all in the book. Also, there are no intimate/sexual situations that would keep a teen from reading this book.
Summing it up: It’s a tight story with no fillers and some little learning moments about life, love, and family. You’ll enjoy it, as I did.
I’m horrible at comparing one author to others in this genre. Why, because I pick up a book to read based on the title, cover, description, and reviews. I do like reading the same authors but if the reviews are bad, I’ll skip the book. Plus, when you read over a hundred books a year, you get kind of get lost in your own little world of words.
All I can say is this was a well-plotted and well thought out story. The world-building Harper has done makes for a four-dimensional feel (fourth being the senses included) reading experience.
When you have a book that is put forward as a Clean & Wholesome Romance, you often think of those painfully awkward almost-moments of intimacy the two leads go through until the ‘finally’ moment happens. I am so pleased to say this book does not put you through that. Of course, you have moments, but reasonable and nothing like what I’ve read so many times before. There are very few cliché moments in Aunt Ivy’s Cottage. Nicely done.
I said all of that to tell you how Kristin Harper’s efforts stand out from others.
A solid 4 out of 5 Stars. I would read more in this series. (One other title currently available, Summer at Hope Haven.)
Click one of the logos below to visit the book site so you can purchase.
$.99 for ebook.
About the author
Ever since she was a young girl, there were few things Kristin Harper liked more than creative writing and spending time on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her family. Eventually (after a succession of jobs that bored her to tears), she found a way to combine those two passions by becoming a women’s fiction author whose stories occur in oceanside settings. While Kristin doesn’t live on the Cape year-round, she escapes to the beach whenever she can.
I first discovered my grandfather’s diaries after my mother’s death, hidden behind books. Although it was already late at night, I started to read immediately. My grandfather, Api as I called him, had given me my first stable home after the war, and I had spent the happiest days of my childhood with him. Since my father had been killed in the war, he was both father and grandfather to me. As I opened the first of the two little green notebooks, I noticed that each entry was in the form of a letter to my grandmother, mother, and even me, a baby. We had fled the city in February 1945 while Api had stayed behind to serve as doctor during the final period of round the clock bombing before the fall of Berlin. Starting in April 1945, he recorded his experiences every day:
“Towards evening, the sky to the east is a ghastly sea of smoke. I creep out at ten o’clock at night to the clinic under whistling grenades and bombs, a wilderness of fire and dust, behind it, although already high in sky, the blood-red moon.”
Still reading while the first light broke in the sky, I came upon something that hit me like a punch to the gut: my beloved Api had been a member of the Nazi Party. For a while I sat there with a pounding heart, unable to move, and then I hid the diaries again, just as my mother had done, not even telling my husband Mike.
Two years later, Mike and I were relaxing in a coffee house when suddenly I started to cry, and my secret burst out. To my surprise Mike said that I needed to write about the diaries and show how ordinary people get caught in a totalitarian regime. That thought kept me awake at night, and yet I couldn’t get started. It felt like a betrayal. However, for the first time in my life I began to seek out books about the Nazi period. I was surprised how historians stressed the importance of personal experiences, like the diaries, for our understanding of history. So gradually I got up the courage to write Api’s Berlin Diaries. My Quest to Understand my Grandfather’s NaziPast.
I set out with two goals in mind. I wanted to give the reader a powerful personal perspective of what it was like in Berlin as Hitler’s Reich collapsed. Working to exhaustion in medical cellars, Api could do little for the wounded and dying. Doctors were left with few medications and without even water after the last drops had been drained from the heaters. He records in graphic detail how streets had become unrecognizable beneath the ruins so that he had to find his way over rubble and through cellars of destroyed buildings. The entire city seemed in flames, the smoke making it hard to breathe. He saw starving people cut up a dead horse in the midst of bombardment.
My second goal was to find out why Api had joined the Party in 1933. In Berlin archives, I found out more about his life. Raised in a Prussian town, he obtained a scholarship to a prestigious Berlin academy to become an ophthalmologist. The only stipulation was that for every semester he took, he had to serve a year as military doctor. The moment he graduated in 1914, he was sent to the Eastern front where he suffered a nervous breakdown and for a while was a patient at the Charite Hospital where just before he had been a student. Within a few months, he was back at the front.
After the war Api set up his own practice in Berlin. The city was torn by violence, strikes, even assassinations. Gangs of young Communists fought gangs of young Nazis; shootings were common. The Weimar Republic, Germany’s first democratic government, was unable to prevail. At the same time, the gay twenties turned Berlin into “the Babylon of the new world,” as so many tried to forget the war, the gargantuan inflation immediately after, and abandon themselves to a life of orgies and wildness. Into this world stepped Hitler. He promised to restore law and order; he promised peace and stability, and a return to Christian values. Api, I learned, fit the profile of people who joined in 1933: educated, conservative, veterans of World War I.
In the process of writing, two other themes forced themselves into the book. Finding out more about Api’s life brought up a flood of memories of living with him after the war which I hadn’t thought about for half a century. The other subject that kept pushing itself into my mind was reflections on German guilt, and Api’s in particular. His de-Nazification document categorized him as Exonerated. This was a relief to me, but at the same time I knew that it was too easy and incomplete an answer. Although I do not believe in collective guilt, I do believe that we are accountable for what happens in our countries. The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. who condemned not only the actions of the bad people but the silence of the good kept ringing in my ears.
Api’s Berlin Diaries made me confront a past I had evaded all my life. As I grew up in post-war Germany there was complete silence about the recent past. Our history classes stopped with the end of World War I. Neither I, nor as I remember any of my friends, ever questioned this silence. So now, late in life, I needed to come to terms with my German past. I had always been ashamed of being German for the country’s horrendous history of genocide and war, but I had never dealt with the guilt.
It was hard to face German guilt on such a personal level. I kept asking myself “what would I have done if I had lived in the Third Reich?” What small acts of courage or cowardice would I have committed? Would I have given the Hitler salute or dared to refuse? How far would I have been willing to go to help Jewish neighbors? I doubt that I would have had the courage to risk my life and stand up against the Nazis.
I hope that readers of today will come away with two main feelings. First, an emotional understanding of how the “volcanic eruptions” of history impacted my grandfather’s life who had to serve in two world wars and lost his only son, and how these tremors still reverberate with me in the third generation. Juxtaposed with these are my happy memories of Api who loved me and played with me, who taught me Latin and showed me how to build a kite. These passages I hope may trigger readers’ childhood memories of their own that will continue long after they have finished the book. Above all, I hope readers will feel more strongly how all our lives intersect with history. We all have a past and that past is still with us.
I hope that the ultimate take-away that sticks with my readers is one of empathy, of understanding other people’s behavior and mindset, that we may need now more than ever. This will strengthen our faith in our common humanity, in our capacity for compassion and tolerance. Although much of the diary focuses on the horrors of torture and persecution perpetrated by human beings upon one another, it also shows instances of kindness and love that testify to the power of the human spirit to breach the gulf of hate. As Api wrote even in the depth of his despair: “If love once again dwells in all human hearts then also will the life on God’s wonderful earth again become not only bearable but beautiful.”
Gabrielle tells stories about people that reveal their personal situation within its historical context.
One reason for her fascination with the intersection of the personal and historical stems from her own experience. Born in Berlin in 1942, her father’s fighter plane was shot down in 1943. After her family was bombed out twice, they fled Berlin in 1945.
Lieutenant Cameron Joiner is faced with trying to get home from a mission to a satellite orbiting Mars when disaster strikes and leaves him alone in a crippled ship in…who knows where.
An emotional, psychological story that has a touch of mystery as you go along. Of course, he does want to know what happened, right? The more story you read the more you sense how imperative it is he fix the ship and get home before he’s the next victim of whatever murdered his crewmates.
The descriptive writing pulls you into the scenes and you feel what Joiner feels. You end up caring what happens to him and root for him to win.
Joiner goes through emotional highs to center of the her lows. Your heart gets ripped out one minute and the next you have hope.
The tension starts from the very first page and doesn’t stop until the end.
The story is about 10,000 words and is 43 pages with an 8-page preview of another story at the back. It’s a One Hour read that can be read in way less time, depending on your preference.
This is a standalone short and it could have a sequel if the author wants to do one, but doesn’t need one.
I recommend it to fans of science fiction, psychological horror, horror, Star Trek, and (James Cameron’s ‘Alien’ to Some Extent) and as the author mentions The Twilight Zone.
If you can’t write a review on Amazon make sure to do so on GoodReads or somewhere. Authors have a better chance of survival with reviews. They also use them to know what they got right or what they got wrong, which of course never happens.
How Blood and Silver Came to Be
Guest Post by Author
My name is Vali Benson and I am a published author. That still feels funny to say. Sometimes I still don’t believe it, but I just published my first novel. It has been a work in progress for over fifty years. Ever since I can remember, I have had a book in my hand. As a lifelong reader, I often thought, “I could do better than that”. So I decided to do something about it. People have asked me to explain the writing process but I can’t. I don’t think there is a right way or wrong way to write a book. As Doris Lessing once stated that “There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be”. But I do know what works for me.
The first step is to come up with an idea. It must be something that interests you, or that you feel strongly about. No point in picking a subject that you know nothing about. You would have to do far too much research and it still would not sound like you know your subject.
Once when I had severe writer’s block, a great teacher told me, “Write about what’s in your own backyard.” Before I forget, my advice regarding writer’s block is: don’t take it personally. Anyway, I took my teacher’s advice and turned in an award-winning essay. That was the inspiration in writing my book; a young adult historical fiction novel called Blood and Silver. The story takes place in Tombstone, Arizona. For thirty years, I have lived in Tucson, Arizona. Tombstone is only forty-five minutes down the road, practically in my backyard.
I have been to Tombstone countless times. People are fascinated with Tombstone (not so much after they visit!). Tombstone is not like other “Wild West” tourist towns, like Deadwood or Dodge City. Tombstone has only two blocks of “downtown”. People walk on the original boardwalk (with some repairs) along the main thoroughfare, Allen Street, which was, until recently, a dirt road.
The population of Tombstone today sits at about thirteen hundred. On the weekends, many of the residents dress up in western garb – as cowboys, sheriffs, frontier gamblers, proper matrons and saloon girls. At first glance, it seems as though this may be a retirement community designated for extras of John Ford films.
However, Tombstone does have one enduring claim to fame – the shoot out at the O.K. Corral. It is called “the most famous thirty seconds in the history of the American west”. The legendary incident is a gunfight that occurred in 1881. The shoot out involved Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp and two Earp brothers against a gang of outlaws called the Cowboys. Three men were killed, all of them Cowboys. The Earps and Doc Holiday were already famous in the old west. The gunfight made them infamous.
The real reason people remember Tombstone is because of its enduring place in pop culture due to the twenty or so movies made about the fight. People show up from far and wide and pay a $10 admission fee to look at a dusty, dirty lot behind a run-down barn. At the actual site, people look at mannequins standing where their real-life versions stood during that fateful afternoon 139 years ago.
Once I knew the reality of Tombstone today, I wondered how it could have become so famous. I knew about the silver mines, of course, but I had no idea how massive the output was. The profits were mind-boggling. Millionaires were made overnight. The silver created civilization where there was none. At the end of 1877, one hundred inhabitants had found their way to the mines of Tombstone. In 1884, it was a bustling city of fourteen thousand residents. The term “boomtown” was never so appropriate.
Tombstone was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco in 1884, with over 150 businesses, including 100 saloons, and a thriving red-light district. Apparently this arid little tourist trap, only forty-five miles from my hometown, was more important than I thought! This information began to spin my inquisitive wheels. I began to wonder what it would have been like to live in this obscure place in 1880. The first step was complete; I had a premise that sparked my interest. Now, it was time for the part of the writing process that gives life to the story, research.
It is all about the research. One needs to look in unusual places, not just the top three Google hits. I love sourcing museums, libraries, newspaper archives, and even historical homes. Don’t rely on your computer only. Everyone can get that information. Not only is it not original, it is not interesting. One tip that I would like to emphasize to a burgeoning writer of historical fiction is to seek out the primary sources whenever possible. If you can work from the original source, it falls on you to interpret the story. This allows you to not have to depend on someone else’s version of the truth.
As I began to delve deeper into the true story of Tombstone, I also uncovered unexpected angles. The most prominent of which was the effect of the Chinese population. The result of this research led me to a real person whom I could never had made up, a woman named “China Mary”. This woman lived in Tombstone from 1879 – 1906 and essentially ran the town. In addition to operating a gambling hall behind her general store, she was also the preeminent broker for opium, laudanum and Chinese prostitutes. After I discovered the real-life splendor of China Mary, I made her one of my central characters and twisted my fictional story around her actual exploits. None of that could have been possible without an extensive research period.
As a writer of historical fiction, historical accuracy is the most important component of the piece to me. It is even more pivotal than the narrative. I cannot tell you how many times I have quit reading a book that claims to be factual because the information and events are incorrect. It really annoys me! It is also important to realize that research is never-ending because you can’t ever learn everything there is to know. At some point, you just have to make up your mind that you have enough to craft the story you want to write. Then start writing! I begin writing using my research as a reference and don’t worry if I have a fully formed concept. I believe in the Jodi Picoult approach, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page”.
Many writers believe in outlines as a method of organizing and categorizing their research. Outlines don’t work for me. I tend to be too specific. I end up writing the whole story in my outline. What works best for me is to simply write. Just start, and see where it takes you. I flesh out the characters first and I let them take me where they want to go. I often go back and change them, but that’s the beauty of writing. You can do whatever you want with your people, just be sure you wind it up so that it makes sense.
This is why research is so important, because if I can understand the times in which my characters live, I will shape their circumstances and attitudes into the narrative.
As far as my writing habits are concerned, I don’t have many. I just do it. I know that many professional writers say the best method is to treat writing like a regular job with set start and stop times. I’ve tried this and it never feels right. For one thing, when I get on a creative roll, it is nearly impossible for me to stop. Conversely, I cannot force an idea. When I don’t feel like it’s happening, I walk away. I commit a lot of time thinking about my characters. When inspiration strikes, I will sit down with my glass of sweet iced tea and see how my characters handle the new twist. I know that strong coffee is the traditional nectar of the working writer, but I need my sweet tea. The sweeter the better I say!
When your story is finished, it is time for my least favorite part of the writing process, editing. Editing is obviously extremely important but I find it terribly frustrating. Aside from the occasional grammatical error, most of my editing is about subtracting rather than addition. I choose to refer to my editing time as a tightening up period. This is when I can really focus on making my narrative flow the way that I want and make sure the story is always kept in perspective; the story that I want to tell. When is your story finished? It is finished when you think it is. Before you begin, you will know where you will end up. If you don’t, don’t start. You need to have an idea where you are going. Trust your characters to get you there.
WithBlood and Silver, I put my characters through a lot and felt I told the story that I wanted to tell. After all, I need them to rest up for the sequel. valibenson.com
The Joy of Botanical Gardening
A Step-by-Step Guide to
Drawing and Painting Flowers,
Leaves, Fruit, and More
The reviewer received this book for an honest review.
I’ve taken art classes and have books on how to draw various subject matter. Some of those books are good, and others…not so much. Amazingly, I’ve found one may use this book, it’s techniques, tools, instructions and examples across the drawing genre spectrum. Although, that’s not it’s specific intent.
I love art, I love drawing, but the years have not been kind to my hands. So, when given the opportunity to review and share this book, I gladly and hopefully accepted, with the hope of enjoying a moment to immerse back into the world of art. I have not been disappointed.
Wendy Hollender gives a brief story of what draws her to her craft and subjects, giving us permission to enjoy and delve into the same world she loves so much. I learned how to combine different tools to create these beautiful works. Hers have appeared in The New York Times, Real Simple, O, The Oprah Magazine, and others. The way Hollender approaches the drawing of flowers is excellent and something I hadn’t thought of but applies to any subject.
With each section, each flora, you learn how to take what’s learned through each section so far and add it to the next section for greater results, not only from the perspective of the details of the object but also with the use of the various kinds of pencils to use.
Even after you learn how to draw in this style you will be using this as a reference guide and refresher course, over the years.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes the art of drawing, wants to learn, or refine your craft in the botanical art world. Also, if you like botanicals in general, I think you would enjoy this book for a further appreciation of the world of flowers, fruits, vegetables, and all that go along with them.
As for a rating, I believe the book achieves what the reader expects. There is an added layer of a bit more detail than I expected, a surprise if you will in the design of flora.
With the above in mind I will give this a 4 out of 5. 4 being better than what I would expect from a book with this heading and even
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wendy Hollender is a botanical artist, author, and instructor. Hollender’s illustrations have been published in The New York Times, “O,” The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple and The Observer (UK). Her work has been exhibited in natural history museums and botanical institutes, including a solo exhibit at the US Botanic Garden. She is the author of three books on Botanical Drawing and co-published and illustrated Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi.
She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1976 and began a career in botanical illustration after completing a certificate at the New York Botanical Garden in 1998.
Wendy is an instructor of Botanical Art and Illustration at the New York Botanical Garden and leads workshops in exotic locations such as Hawaii, many nature preserves, botanical gardens, arts centers and colleges around the country.
Visit the authors Amazon Author Page for this book and more by clicking HERE.
I recently read and reviewed Samuel Marquis’ most recent book in his WWII Historical Fiction series. I’ve read them all, and this one has more battle details than I’ve seen in any of the others. Which I think is warranted and deserving of the titular subjects of the book. You can check out the book review by clicking HERE. – Ronovan
Soldiers of Freedom: Why Patton’s 761st “Black Panther” Tank Battalion and Other African-American Units Fought Despite Racism in WWII
By Samuel Marquis
In Soldiers of Freedom: The WWII Story of Patton’s Panthers and the Edelweiss Pirates, Book 5 of his WWII Series, historical fiction author Samuel Marquis tells the story of Sergeant William McBurney and the 761st Tank Battalion, the first African-American armored unit in U.S. history.Fighting under legendary General George S Patton, Jr. in the grueling Lorraine campaign in France, the Battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland, and in the final conquest of Nazi Germany, Sherman tank gunner McBurney and his fellow Black Panthers had to fight two wars at once: one against the German Army, the other against the racism of their fellow white soldiers. In their fight on behalf of freedom, they changed the makeup of the modern U.S. Army and paved the way for the civil rights movement.
After the battle for Tillet—one of the many small Belgian towns U.S. forces had to liberate to eventually win the legendary Battle of the Bulge—a German prisoner took one look at the troopers from the all-black 761st Tank Battalion that had just vanquished him and was stunned to see colored men in uniform. “What are you doing here?” he asked one of the tankers in English. “This is a white man’s war.”
Grinning and offering the German soldier a cigarette, the Negro tanker replied, “You ain’t got no black or white when you’re over here and the nation is in trouble. You only got Americans.”
In a nutshell, the exchange explains why African-American soldiers were willing to risk their lives to fight in WWII, despite suffering from pervasive discrimination from their own white troops and American civilians during their training. They simply wanted to do the right thing in the name of freedom and democracy and make a difference in the world—the same as their white counterparts. But in the process, they also hoped to advance their own freedom. They longed to move themselves forward onto an equal footing, or at least a more equal footing, with whites they would soon learn from the hard experience of war were certainly no better than them.
In late 1945 and early 1946, the 761st Tank Battalion—the first African-American armored unit in U.S. history to see combat—returned home from WWII along with 1.2 million other black veterans. They had been handpicked by General George S. Patton, Jr. himself, fought in his vaunted U.S. Third Army until the German capitulation, and were damn proud of that fact. Patton’s veteran Black Panthers, whose motto was “Come Out Fighting” in tribute to boxing legend Joe Louis, should have returned as conquering heroes. Instead, while their white brethren in the armed forces enjoyed great fanfare, ticker-tape parades, and a plethora of newspaper ink, the Black Panthers, Tuskegee Airmen, and other black outfits that had put Nazism down like a rabid dog were largely ignored. They had no choice but to quietly resume their daily lives in a country that cared little about their contributions and sacrifices overseas.
They had gone to Europe and the Pacific to perform their duty on behalf of their country, hoping that by fighting on behalf of freedom they would become free themselves. But upon their return, the painful truth was they had not changed a nation. In fact, they found themselves in many ways more at the beginning of a civil-rights struggle than at the end as returning African-American soldiers. Having served their country with distinction during the largest and most violent conflagration in human history, they returned to second-class status and with expectations that were deemed unacceptable to those of many of their white compatriots. Most of them still could not vote, use public facilities, sit beside whites in buses or at lunch counters, or find work at anything but the most menial of jobs.
For the returning members of the 761st and other black units in the U.S. Army and Air Corps, it was apparent that America had never really cared for them and now had mostly forgotten them. Most people did not even know of African-American service on the battlefields of Europe. In the roar of postwar America, the battalion’s service might as well not have happened, so few people knew or even cared. What the 1.2 million black servicemen had done on behalf of their country was not acknowledged or even believed. But even more upsetting to the returning colored soldiers was that white America expected life in the U.S.—with its racial castes and customs—to go on as if the war had never happened. The majority of whites were still unwilling to look at them in the new light that black leaders had originally sought by insisting that colored men receive the right to fight. They experienced lynchings, beatings, and employment discrimination despite their veteran status, and they couldn’t help but feel excluded from the postwar economic prosperity they could see all around them.
The returning black troopers found all this perplexing, especially considering how well they had been treated by not only the French, Belgians, and Dutch they liberated, but by the German civilians who only days and weeks before had been their enemies. Sergeant William McBurney, Sherman tank main gunner and the protagonist of my book Soldiers of Freedom, had fond memories of Holland from his stay there in February 1945, recuperating and refitting after the brutal Battle of the Bulge. So did the other members of the 761st Tank Battalion. To them, the best thing about Holland was the people. The Dutch citizens spoke English fluently and treated them with genuine respect and warmth. They welcomed them not as black men but as Americans, honoring them as liberators from the German occupation forces. McBurney found the simple and sincere kindness of the Dutch people a welcome and pleasant surprise after the treatment he had experienced at the hands of many of the American soldiers, particularly those from the 87th Infantry, a Southern unit the 761st had fought alongside.
The French, Belgian, and Dutch people were right to treat the members of the 761st as heroes and liberators: Patton’s Panthers had truly earned their reputation as a crack fighting unit. From the time that the battalion was committed to combat on November 7, 1944 through May 6, 1945, it had spent 183 days in action, its only pauses accounted for by the time needed to move from one mission to another. During its combat actions, the battalion destroyed or captured 331 enemy machine-gun nests, 58 pillboxes, and 461 wheeled vehicles; killed 6,246 enemy combatants; and captured more than 15,818 enemy soldiers. Not bad for an outfit that rarely numbered over a thousand men, including maintenance and supply. McBurney and his buddies also liberated the Gunskirchen concentration camp in Austria in the final days of the war. Since the war, battalion members have visited Jewish organizations and school groups throughout the country to share these memories and to testify to the horrors they witnessed during the camp’s liberation.
The Black Panthers paid a heavy price in the name of freedom. The unit suffered thirty-six men killed in action, including three officers. Thirty-nine officers and 221 enlisted men fell wounded in action. Nonbattle casualties stood at nine officers and 192 men, mostly trench foot cases. Total casualties pressed towards 50 percent, a disproportionately high number for a comparatively small outfit that fought alongside manpower and equipment behemoths like the 26th Infantry Division and the 4th Armored Division. The battalion lost a whopping 71 tanks in battle, more than one and a half times its original allotment.
The men themselves never thought of themselves as particularly heroic. All the members of the 761st had ever wanted was simple human dignity, to be recognized for their abilities as soldiers without being judged by the color of their skin. By taking up arms in the struggle against Tojo and Hitler, they had hoped to heal the old wounds of racial prejudice inflicted upon them by their white counterparts in the U.S. armed forces and by the bigoted white civilians at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, and Camp Hood, Texas, where they had undergone their training. But as fate would have it, the men of the 761st and other segregated African-American combat units like the 92nd Infantry Division and the famous Tuskegee Airmen received a less than warm welcome upon their return home. The continued discrimination towards the black soldiers after willingly giving their lives on the killing grounds of Europe and the Pacific was a source of significant disappointment and discouragement for the returning men, as well as their embittered families.
As Platoon Sergeant Johnnie Stevens of the 761st said: “We were treated better by the civilian German population than we were treated in America. See, in our own country, we could not buy a hot dog when we were in uniform, had to ride in the back of the bus when we were in uniform…. But over there, you were treated like a king. We ate together, slept together. After the war was over and the Germans had dances again, we were invited. That’s why a lot of black GIs took their discharges in Europe. They said, ‘Look, ain’t nothing in America for me. I can’t get a decent job when I go back, I know that. I’m not gonna have any privileges. I can’t even vote. So what the hell do I want to go back there for?”
Though the 761st’s vets were disappointed to return home to the same old prejudices, they soon began to put their lives together, start careers, marry, raise children, and lead in countless quiet but nonetheless significant ways. Though some struggled, the bloody battlefields of Europe had trained them to be disciplined, responsible American citizens who understood the true cost of freedom. But they would have an even greater impact in the future.
The brave actions of the 761st on the battlefields of Europe would eventually garner the men the recognition they deserved, pave the way for an integrated U.S. Army, and lay the foundation for the post-war civil rights movement. At the end of WWII, the distinguished service of the 761st Tank Battalion, Tuskegee Airmen, and other African-American combat units helped convince President Harry S. Truman and other high-ranking government officials to desegregate the U.S. Armed Forces in 1948. And then, after thirty-three years of intense lobbying by the unit’s veterans, the battalion was belatedly awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for “Extraordinary Heroism” by President Jimmy Carter on January 24, 1978. The award became official on April 10, 1978 by the Department of the Army under General Orders Number 5. The final award stood as a single citation for all the 761st’s actions from October 31, 1944, to May 6, 1945. Most importantly, the government finally acknowledged that “racial discrimination and inadvertent neglect on the part of those in authority” had played a role in the previous disapprovals and that “the climate created by the Army commanders could only have made it difficult to provide proper recognition for a ‘Negro’ unit during the period 1944-1947.”
Though the citation should have come thirty-three years earlier, it was ultimately the struggles of Patton’s Black Panthers—at home and abroad, within the armed forces and outside it—that led to the construction of a stronger U.S. Army and a greater nation. Since the new millennium, African-Americans make up around 20% of the U.S. armed forces (and no longer are they merely cooks, stevedores, and drivers), and black officers in the services stand at 5%-7% in the Navy, Air Force and Marines and 10%-15% in the Army.
That is the ultimate legacy of Patton’s Panthers.
The ninth great-grandson of legendary privateer Captain William Kidd, Samuel Marquis is the bestselling, award-winning author of a World War Two Series, the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series, and American historical fiction. His novels have been #1 Denver Post bestsellers, received multiple national book awards (Kirkus Reviews and Foreword Reviews Book of the Year, American Book Fest and USA Best Book, IPPY, Readers’ Favorite, Beverly Hills, Next Generation Indie, and Colorado Book Awards), and garnered glowing reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus, and Foreword Reviews (5 Stars). Book reviewers have compared Marquis’s WWII thrillers to the epic historical novels of Tom Clancy, John le Carré, Ken Follett, Herman Wouk, Daniel Silva, and Alan Furst. His website is samuelmarquisbooks.com and for publicity inquiries, please contact Books Forward at email@example.com.
The author provided a copy of the book for an honest opinion.
When you read the book, you realize a great deal of research and analysis went into its making. There are a few good stories about players, as the title indicates, but there is an overwhelming amount of stats packed into the few chapters. I think that’s an overwhelming amount for me. For a baseball fanatic, and I use that word in a positive manner, this would be right up their alley.
The stories and stats included are from the early 1900s, until the new millennium. There are names I’ve never heard of and I’m surprised, considering names and situations they’re attached to.
I’m not going to give away the stories and the statistics, unlike some other reviews. There are comparisons between players as well as times. And even I could understand the significance. I’m not a baseball novice by any means, I’m just not an avid fan these days. That’s why I say this is more for someone looking to get the details they might not find elsewhere. Because the more you read, the more you know.
A great thing to know. This leads to a great source for all who want to get into the Kindle Universe. KU. See what I did there. KU, Kindle Unlimited. I turned it into Kindle Universe. I am so funny I died three times last week.
A question many authors have is how many words are on the average page when it comes to books and ebooks on Amazon.
This information helps you calculate how long your novel or nonfiction work has to be to hit a certain page count on Amazon, which is important if you’re applying for promotions that require you to be above a certain number of pages to qualify.
The info also helps you figure out how many total words you need to write to create a book that meets reader expectations in your genre. Since you can view the Amazon page counts of the books that are currently ranking well, you simply multiply by the average number of words per page, and presto.
So, what’s the right answer? What is the average number of words per page on Amazon?
I’ll tell you upfront, this question is more complicated than…
Fiction: WWII Historical Fiction/German Historical Fiction/Military Historical Fiction/Biographies of World War II. 646 Pages Print. Mount Sopris Publishing (March 31, 2020)
The ninth great-grandson of legendary privateer Captain William Kidd, Samuel Marquis is the bestselling, award-winning author of a WWII Series, the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series, The Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series, and a historical fiction novel centered on the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. His novels have been #1 Denver Post bestsellers, received multiple national book awards (Foreword INDIES, American Book Fest’s Best Book Awards, Beverly Hills Book Awards, IPPY, Next Generation Indie Awards, Colorado Book Awards), and garnered glowing reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus, and Foreword Reviews. Book reviewers have compared Marquis’s WWII thrillers “Bodyguard of Deception,” “Altar of Resistance,” and “Spies of the Midnight Sun” to the epic historical novels of Tom Clancy, John le Carré, Ken Follett, Herman Wouk, Daniel Silva, Len Deighton, and Alan Furst. (Emphasis by Ronovan.)
In addition Sam has been the Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year Winner. Kirkus Reviews, founded in 1933 it has been considered one of the big two along with Publishers Weekly. To be selected for review is a sense of worth for an author. To be selected as a book of the year? I can’t imagine but can dream. (Kirkus Reviews is owned by Nielsen Holdings, 2010.)
In Soldiers of Freedom: The true story WWII Story of Patton’s Panthers and the Edelweiss Pirates, Samuel Marquis mixes his ability to capture authentic dialogue with his massive amounts of research to give societal issues and the human condition during the time not only by the obvious racial aspect but by nation and society ruled by a dictator and his self-important official and citizen followers. Marquis gives the experiences of the soldier as a person with thoughts and feelings beyond being in a war simply to be following orders and killing the enemy, but the rest of his life the experiences of war touches. This carries over to the military command level as well as citizens in the home nation of the Nazi regime.
With a book set in WWII Europe and involving the 761st Tank Battalion, there must be sensory loaded descriptions of battles; the roar of guns, the smoke, the smells, the confinement, but more than that, I am given the emotional mindset of a tank gunner, and his comrades-in-arms as they fight against the Nazi regime. Marquis does not stop there, he gives a taste of what it’s like to be a Black man in the 1940s and how that translates to being a soldier at war, while at the same time often outranking white soldiers who show disrespect, disregard, and disdain for them.
Getting flipped on its head, I then read about the physical and emotional state of a teenage German girl, who is resistance fighter with the Gestapo dogging her every step, a situation more treacherous than any man would face. She shows me not every German in WWII is either a Nazi, a Nazi supporter, or innocent of having blood on their hands.
The dialogue and action of the military and resistance fighters draw you in and give you a sense of being a part of a war environment, not just the battlefield of soldiers, but the battlefield of citizens fighting their own government. Marquis uses his research materials of government documents, biographies, interviews, and personal letters to great dramatic effect.
Soldiers of Freedom is told through the voices of three people; SARGENT WILLIAM H. BURNEY, a Black man from Harlem on Manhattan Island, New York who is a part of the 761st, GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON Jr, commander of the US THIRD ARMY, and 16/17-year-old ANGELA LANGE, daughter of a German Colonel, and member of the EDELWEISS PIRATES, a real German resistance group in Cologne, Germany.
While reading I can’t help but feel the frustration of the young Black soldiers not just during the war, but from the moment of sitting down with a recruiter and being told that you aren’t allowed to so much as try for what you dreamed of doing in the military and for your country, that you would have to take another route. I am surprised by the honesty of the recruiter considering the times. Frustrations continue wherever McBurney goes, from one camp to another, all in the name of training. The use of the JACKIE ROBINSON’s court-martial hearing is perfect to put an exclamation point on the 761st time in the US.
Samuel Marquis gives facts of history not taught to me even in my higher-level History courses at university, and that was as a History Education major. For example, the existence of the 761st TANK BATTALION, the reason for their formation, how they end up in Europe, and the impact they make on the war, which is huge. They are a large part of important moments. There are times in McBurney’s journey I want to punch so many people, run over them with my tank, or shot them with my big 76mm gun, preferably with a round of HE. I get to see the reaction of the German soldiers, and German citizens as well, misrepresented in every level from middle school through university. I learned what a HE was, as well as what a 76mm was and what it could do.
“But it struck him as ironic that he and his fellow Negro tankers were about to cross the same ocean their African ancestors had crossed in chains; and that, in taking part in the struggle against Nazism, they were about to fight a war in the name of freedoms neither the men of the 761st nor their forbearers had ever enjoyed.”—Sergeant William H. McBurney, Tank Main Gunner, U.S 761st “Black Panthers”
What I enjoy a lot is the sharing of the experience the tankers both in battle and in the everyday life of a soldier. The difficulty the drivers and gunners have using these machines is incredible. How although the tanks can be lions, they can also quickly turn into lambs. I haven’t come across another book, of any kind, describing with such honesty what a soldier goes through in the confines of a war machine, regardless of the genre. I don’t know how they did it. I’d still be shaking, rattling, and my eyes would be bopping all around to this day. Then there is what McBurney reveals about German towns and the citizens they come upon. I have never given much thought to that part of the story, at least not down to that level. One reason for not knowing is, history books don’t teach about the Black soldiers of WWI and what they did in Germany. You must read to believe.
“Lord help us,” [Patton] said, pulling out a fresh cigar. “And Lord help me when this war is over.”
“Why’s that, sir? I would think you would celebrate.”
“No, Codman. With nothing to do, I’m going to be a [***]damn wreck and an absolute nuisance to my wife.” – Major Charles Codman and General George S. Patton Jr, Freedom Soldiers
That sampling of dialogue is just a little taste to help you get in the spirit of General George S. Patton Jr.
Patton is as flamboyant and audacious as I thought. Using diaries and letters, Marquis gives me the colorful language and stories Patton liked to tell, but more importantly, his feelings about soldiers under his command, as well as the Generals and commanders he must work with. Those feelings are quite surprising, not only for the tough-as-nails Patton but from a field general at all. I laughed, yes laughed, reading old Blood and Guts Patton’s
exchanges with GENERAL DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, as well as other generals, and his thoughts on the BRITISH FIELD MARSHAL BERNARD MONTGOMERY. And the honest opinions of Eisenhower, at least through research are eye-opening. What is revealed about the politics, perceptions, and egos of war and how they play out on the battlefield is not necessarily surprising, but are brutal when laid in front of you and you can’t help but see it and think about the outcomes.
The resulting command structure and atmosphere of the European Theater following Patton’s removal for slapping two shell-shocked soldiers in Sicily are painful to watch with Patton demoted then later given command of the US Third Army. How the war would have been different if not for his believing the soldiers were just trying to avoid fighting. No one had heard of PTSD in the 1940s. The press had a field day, but Patton had a powerful fan and ally waiting in the wings to help get him back in the war.
For the ugly truth was that every German was ultimately guilty for allowing Hitler and the Nazis to rise to power and hiding their head in the sand and turning their backs when the regime began singling out Communists, Jews, clergymen, and other racial, political, and social enemies of the Reich. – Angela Lange, Freedom Soldiers
Angela Lange is loosely based on real-life Edelweiss Pirate of Cologne, GERTRUD KOCH, but with elements drawn from events experienced by her comrades. I learn through Angela’s authentic filled voice and view, just how naïve and young these Edelweiss Pirates, who called themselves Navajos out of admiration for the Native American tribe, are in the beginning, but also how fast they grow up. Their main target is the Hitler Youth that patrols the town and enacts harsh punishment on those they deem conducting criminal or disloyal acts. The demented CRIMINAL COMMISSIONER FERDINAND KÜTTER of the Cologne Gestapo along with his interrogators are nothing but sadistic, rabid dogs who enjoy nothing more than torturing Germans and enemies alike until they get confessions, information, or death. Marquis settles into a groove with Angela’s story as the book continues. I witness the innocence, naivete, love, pain, tragedy, hope, despair, spirit, and determination throughout this young woman’s story and all while battling with the Gestapo. And not just any Gestapo, but some of the most factually brutal in the Nazi Regime, that were historical figures in Cologne.
As important as Patton’s story is, the 761st story is bigger and as big as their story is Angela’s story is the one that delivers a reality punch. We don’t think much about resistance within Germany unless we think of the Jews who hid from death and helped others escape it. Here we see German citizens fighting against the Nazis, not to help the Allies, but to take back the Germany they once knew.
WHAT I LIKED:
facts about unheard of people
a sensory experience from each view of the war
the action of the tank soldiers
how the 761st put aside bigotry for country
revealing details of the German citizens’ attitudes and the towns the 761st encounter
Patton’s loyalty and love for his men
the camaraderie among the US Generals in Europe
learning of and about the Edelweiss Pirates
continuing to learn about the types of Nazis through Marquis’ books (They aren’t cookie-cutter and all fall-in-line Nazis.)
the afterword information and further details of what happened next for these people
WHAT I LIKED LESS:
There are a few moments in Angela Lange’s story that don’t ring as emotionally engaging or authentic as they should be. I don’t mean the events don’t occur historically. What I mean is the telling of certain scenes are not as detailed or as emotional as they should be. Those parts that don’t capture the emotion of the scene do not take away from Angela’s experience, they lessen the impact in those specific scenes. It might be the nature of situations that gives hesitation to going deeper.
The book isn’t quite as smooth as I am accustomed to with Sam’s books, (I’ve read all the WWII series books, amazing series.) I put this down to the massive amount of action that takes place during this important period covered. Transitions within the three views sometimes take a moment to become clear as to who is speaking. I know the setting because that is clear at the beginning of each chapter. I just at times don’t know the individual speaking or spoken to. That could be me.
There are one or two, what I will rudely call minor, battles that I could do without the description of the battle, just given the information that the 761st wins and why it is important. This happens with several battles after the war turns heavily into the Allies’ favor. I always want the wins, losses, and strategic information. There are simply a few scenes where I feel like I’m reading the same scene from earlier, with minimal differences. Tanks do what tanks do, and similar battles occur, but at times there is a battle, though important, as every battle in WWII is, that can be told with just the telling of its victory and its strategic importance. Sam gives a few hugely important battles brief mentions, but we see their importance. In these cases, if Marquis went into detail, we would have more books to read.
Others have compared Samuel Marquis’ writing style to New York Times #1 Bestselling author, Ken Follett who has seen some of his books turned into movies and TV series. Also, another name mentioned is Adam Makos, another New York Times Best Sellers list author.
As for me, there is an author who wrote many historical fiction novels, the late British author John Gardner, an ex-Royal Marine commando, and Anglican Priest before losing his faith. I’ve read over 20 of his books, perhaps that is one reason I enjoy Sam’s books so much. Gardner’s historical fiction work includes the five-book Herbie Kruger Series of action encompassing WWII, the Cold War as well as subsequent events inspired by the two, and there is also the three-book Railton Family Series, which has ties to the Kruger books. If you are a James Bond fan, he wrote 15 novels, beginning in 1981 with License Renewed and ending in 1996 with Cold/Cold Fall. All of us know him for the 007 book GoldenEye, in who’s film adaptation Pierce Brosnan made his Bond debut. I’ve read most of them.
As one review states:
“Marquis is a student of history, always creative, [and] never boring…A good comparison might be Tom Clancy.”—Military.com
Obviously for fans of the authors mentioned above.
Those who enjoy digging into the personal details of historical figures.
Those who are interested in untold stories of African American History.
People who want to understand a little more about the imagery of war in ways not normally described in books or shown on film.
For those who like to understand the citizens of war, their struggles, fears, tragedies, and sometimes why they participate in a war.
Genre/s: Urban Superhero Fiction (With a lot of mystery.)
Price: Kindle ($5.99) Paperback ($12.99)
In Elle Boca’s latest stand-alone book An American Weeia in Paris , the fourth entry in her The Weeia Marshals series, I was treated to a tale of mystery, suspense, surprise, intrigue, friendship, science fiction and urban fantasy all rolled into one so smoothly that I didn’t realize all of that until I started writing this review. There are at least five subplots going and all are clear, and I still didn’t think about there being that many until now. An American Weeia in Paris is simply put, a great read I got caught up in and read in one day. I could not put it down.
Marshal Danielle ‘Danni’ Metreaux, now the acting Head of the Paris branch of the Weeia Marshals, is tasked with the job of watching over a Texas Weeia Elder and his family. The book starts at the Eiffel Tower where the group is having dinner in one of the famed Eiffel Tower restaurants when a terrorist attack occurs. That’s when the mysteries begin. While I watch some suspenseful and thrilling moments in the tower above, a Weeia takes action against the terrorist on the ground, with the scene captured on social media threatening to reveal the existence of Weeia to Humans, who are not aware they have a gifted race living among them. Who is this good Samaritan the media dubs MGV? But that’s not the only mystery. Stalkers? Mystery Weeia? And there is a life changing shock I never saw coming.
I am enjoying seeing the continued development of the main protagonist in the series, Marshal Danni Metreaux. She is no longer the unsure, self-conscious girl, who grew up on her aunt and uncles farm. Now she is comfortable enough in her position as acting head of the Paris branch of Marshals, to face off against elitist members of the Marshals. She traverses the streets of Paris, both the good and bad more and more like a native, which is a wonder considering the maze that is Paris. Her personal skills with others improves to a surprising degree, but she’s still the same plain speaking Danni.
There is more of Danni’s oldest friends from her Marshals Academy in Portland, Maine, with tech gifted Ernie Satuan and best friend Marla than in the recent books. Both have surprises in store for her. And then there is Danni’s friend Ceri…the Poodle, a match that could only be made in Paris.
I learn about Paris through Danni’s adventures as Elle Boca gives life to Paris by giving us Danni’s thoughts as she negotiates through the streets of Paris, following the street names and historic landmarks she sees. Bits of history only the Parisians know is shared. For this former History teacher and Historical Fiction author, through the words of Elle and the eyes of Danni, I can see vividly what it must have been like centuries ago and learn how the early intentional forward progress of Parisian society was formed. This is not done in a scholarly or boring fashion.
The supporting cast and fringe figures are well developed and as the series moves from one book to the next, I know the feelings each one brings to Danni. Plus, I remember the characters, as opposed to looking back to previous books to find out who they are. Great job!
Elle Boca has created a world where Weeia and Humans can co-exist, with the help of Marshal Danni Metreaux and her friends. Weeia, who Humans don’t know exist, are people gifted with abilities and can cloak or mask themselves to the eyes of others, make people ‘like’ you or seem charming, or even teleport across an entire continent and ocean with a friend in tow. Some might say Weeia have superpowers, but don’t think costumes, superhero names, or robot armor. Think more like Charles Xavier, who appears as normal as anyone else but just happens to have an incredible ability he uses when among Humans only when necessary.
What I liked about this book:
I enjoyed the overall easy flow of the book, making reading enjoyable.
There is a good balance of surprises with new characters and moments with recurring cast members that keep the protagonist grounded and happy.
I really liked the parts with the Poodle, Ceri, though simple for the most part, they showed some emotional development in Danni.
I think the handling of the supporting cast is well done, especially how they fit into the everyday life of Danni.
There are things/words used in the Weeia world that I had no problem with understanding. The author does well with her choices when it comes to language. Anyone can read this book and the previous three in the series with relative ease.
What I liked a little less bout this book:
There are a few scenes and a minor subplot that I stumbled over a bit and took me out of the story, but I can see how the author would have thought it helped show consistency in how a certain element in the Weeia world view her.
Staying with the scenes above, the editing during those particular areas broke up the flow.
What book/author would I compare this book to:
I liken this book to a less dark urban fantasy than say a Jim Butcher Dresden Files offering. I love Jim Butcher, but his books can be a tad intense at times. With Elle Boca’s The Weeia Marshals series does have the occasional dark moment, and twisted character, they are used in just the right amounts, so as not to desensitize the reader to dark themes, then you are truly disturbed by the rare moments and thus concerned for those involved.
You could also say with the secretive nature of the Weeia in the series, that J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter shares some similarities, but not in the YA manner or in that magic sort of way. This series can be read by most any age.
I recommend this book to those who love Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Adventure, and a bit of Travel. And of course those who love learning more about Paris than you might have known was out there. For those expecting a superhero book in the vein of the Avengers or Watchmen, that’s not happening.
This is a 4.25 Stars Review.
Purchase An American Weeia in Paris at one of the options below, or check your favorite book choice:
This quote from Gabor Maté comes to mind as I read Nina’s Memento Mori by Mathias B Freese.
“I needed to write, to express myself through written language not only so that others might hear me but so that I could hear myself.”
Title: Nina’s Memento Mori Author: Mathias B Freese Publishers: Wheatmark Format: Paperback (2019) Pages: 136 Genre: Non-fiction, Literary, Memoir
What’s it about?
This is retired psychoanalytic therapist, Mathias B Freese’ memoir of his 2-year marriage to Nina.
I have not read Mathias Freese before and is taken by his unashamed revelation of himself, and in the process, who his beloved Nina was. And this without fear (she is dead and he is old), and without favour (he has no need of this). This book is one man’s expression of love as he bears witness, through memory, to her life. It is a collection of short reflective essays, existentialist in nature and psychoanalytic in process.
I mean no disrespect, when I refer to 78-year old Freese as “old’ as I am aware that “old” is relative and subjective. He himself freely refers to his mortality and what is to come in the memoir.
Freese lays bare his regret and sadness in not loving Nina enough due to his self-perceived inability to express love and to love as well as he should – his “emotional deficits” as he calls them. It is his hope that this memoir would honor his memory of their time together and of the woman that Nina was to him.
The poignancy and sadness of his story are evident. While there is much exposition, references to feelings and emotions are somewhat lacking in the “I am … “ emotional-kind. It is indeed intriguing to read the workings of a psychoanalyst’s mind. Reading this book is like a game of “hide-and-seek”.
Through the essays, Freese professes his need for “mother”, one who would nurture and guide, and love unconditionally. This he had missed out in his early years and consequently, he claimed this role of child in relation to Nina in desiring and seeking safety and hope. These, she was able to provide in her quiet unassuming manner.
She had understood the trauma of his childhood, as she had been in worse. This was followed by two abusive relationships prior to meeting Freese. The commonality of unloving parents, growing up without proper guidance or care (as expected of parents) nor kindness and love perhaps bound Freese and Nina. (Freud did mention something about neurotic complement in marriage? I stand to be corrected 🙂 ) The manner of how each coped was contrary, Freese in his refusal to conform and is outspoken, while Nina adopted the roles required of her and was quiet.
Though he felt inadequate and not “good enough” as a husband, Freese acknowledged “I was Nina’s final grasp at tranquility, of personal realization after decades of torment. I served a good purpose as the human I am.” Perhaps he did love her and in the way she needed to be loved – not as he thought she would want to.
Is it enough to know that one is needed and served a purpose? It would seem not, as Freese’ narrative is replete with regret, of not giving more to the woman who had provided him with space to be and caring in a manner suited to him. His biggest regret for not bringing her from the hospice to their new home to live out her final days. I found the self-flagellation at times difficult to bear.
Did he see her during their marriage? “When we are in a marriage or a relationship, we fabricate images of the other and live accordingly,” he wrote. I will let you decipher this from Nina’s Memento Mori.
While Freese generously gives in thought and intellect, he characterizes himself as restraint in emotional expression or acts of affection. Yet his affection and love for Nina is undeniable. She is portrayed as an industrious woman who cared for two children while working as a seamstress while in abusive relationships. He loved her gracious giving of herself, in receiving his love as he chose to provide it, her quiet stillness, her unimposing presence.
What strikes me is despite the frank self-disclosures, there seems to be much that was not said. “At some levels we choose not to recall.” So what has Freese chosen not to recall? Perhaps that his love is received and is enough. Nina felt the love he had for her – he was “on her side” after all.
And tangentially, I wonder if Freese as psychotherapist and writer with a love for words, has found his manner of coping with his stated inadequacy to express his emotions. I will let you decide for yourself, or not.
This book is both an eulogy and an elegy of Nina, to say and express what he did not when they were together. It is Freese seeking absolution.
As a reader, I thank him for his courage and candour.
I hope Freese experience the redemptive power of writing this memoir. As he said, “I know I must change”.
This fictitious tale by Bridget Collins mesmerizes from the start… and I *hated* every moment when I couldn’t get back to it, even as the rest of life called.
It is a tale of two characters whose lives intersect even though they come from different worlds, even when others conspire to keep them apart. It is heart-wrenching and sweet, and surprising. The depth and richness of each of the characters add to this magnificent story of redemption and the inevitability of destiny.
As writers, we write what we are capable of feeling – every sorrow, every gladness, fear and doubt. What if what we write is in fact another’s true story? What if they are stories given to us because they are unwanted and discarded? What if we are in fact binding negative feelings – grief, fear, shame – others choose to forget into a book which we are then entrusted to protect and keep safe? What if unscrupulous binders betray this trust and make it available to others’ reading pleasure or worse?
If you could tell and forsake your deepest and darkest secrets and feelings, so you can forever forget them, would you?
What if you could tell your story, have it bound within a book and never look at it again… thereby relinquishing them forever, would you?
What if you are the binder destined to keep these memories safe? What if the binding is used to serve the powerful and less than noble?
Isn’t it better to remember your whole life? Or only your “good” life?
This is the premise upon which this tale is told. And it allows us to imagine the magic of books and their binding.
Would I recommend it?
A resounding yes. Well-paced and a relatively easy read, “The Binding” kept me turning pages wanting more.
Most importantly, “The Binding” reminds us of the simplicity and that certain innocence of love even in the most difficult of times.
Love That Moves the Sun: Vittoria Colonna and Michelangelo Buonarroti
He was the genius of his age; revered sculptor, painter, architect and poet; fiercely devoted friend; beleaguered artist to the popes; and a pilgrim in search of an elusive redemption.
She was a celebrated poet; dutiful daughter; adoring yet betrayed wife; powerful political voice; spiritual seeker; suspected heretic; and the only woman Michelangelo ever loved.
LOVE THAT MOVES THE SUN is not a simple Historical Romance, or love story. Yes, you have a telling of the friendship that the poet and what I would call a religious/social activist, Vittoria Colonna and the great artist Michelangelo shared, albeit it in a somewhat different manner, but who is to say what is what.
This is a book for every person that wants to learn about strong and influential women in Europe in the 1500s. The well described settings, character development and emotional atmosphere of the day envelope you in perfection and you forget to come up for air until the hour is so late your eyes drop or your stomach growls in protest of your neglect.
Most people see Michelangelo as one thing, an artist, perhaps too some he is the greatest. But you see with the turning pages and through Colonna’s voice that he had other depths, another purpose.
If you are not a normal fan of the Romance genre, with LOVE THAT MOVES THE SUN you receive a thoroughly researched and well-presented historical lesson that is wrapped in the velvet glove of Romance, just to trick those Romance fans into becoming History fans.
I recommend to the aforementioned genre lovers Linda Cardillo’s latest offering, as well as to those who are wanting to test the waters of Historical Romance for the first time.
This is where I would tell you a little about the author, Linda Cardillo, The problem is, there is no way I can do a cliff notes version of her life. Visit her website http://lindacardillo.com/ to see how a love of writing and Harvard Business School produce an award-winning author.
You can purchase her book at the following: (Indie Bound is the third logo in case some are not familiar with it.)
SPIES OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN: A TRUE STORY OF WWII HEROES
You might ask me why I have read just about every one of Sam Marquis’ books, but don’t bother. I’m going to give you reasons why as I go along. As a former history teacher and continued historian and lover of history, perhaps those last two are one and the same, and having been known as a World, read European, History specialist, you would think I would know the finer details of something with such significance to the world as WWII. But, unfortunately all the nice money I paid for a top of the line college education failed me yet again. And I know this only because of that evil man writer known as Samuel Marquis.
Of all the books Marquis has written, his WWII trilogyis by far my favorite, only because of my love of history. I am biased that way. I love his other books too but again, I am biased. What sets his books apart from other historical fiction efforts is his deep research and attention to detail. He doesn’t just use information that is easy to find, he uses information that has been declassified by governments. That means he dredges through file after file and reads obscure books with information in it that would bore a bookaholic, all in the effort to find three characters little known by anyone outside of their families and immediate hierarchy during WWII.
Spies of the Midnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes is about real people. We have the colorful British safecracker, Eddie Chapman, who is the double agent known as Agent Zigzag. Then there are two amazing female Norwegian Resistance fighters, the 20-year-old model Dagmar Lahlum, who is Chapman’s lover, and Annemarie Breien. Of course, if there are heroes and good guys then there are the evil bad guy and of course Nazis cover that role well, and in this case, it is the Gestapo’s investigator Siegfried Fehmer.
Several reviewers have commented that this book should be a film and I agree. You have it all. Spies, the Resistance, Nazis, surprises, twists and turns, and moments of complete shock. And you can’t forget the must of great characters.
So why do I like Marquis’ books and recommend them to everyone? He isn’t just writing fluff about a favorite subject, which he could and get away with it because his writing is that good, he loves his subject deeply and it shows in the quality you get with each chapter. With Spies of the Midnight Sun, the final in his WWII trilogy, he chooses to spotlight the women who made victory possible. I don’t believe that fact has been shouted enough. He is bringing to light how important women were, the chances they took, the willingness to die, or perhaps experience worse, for their country’s freedom.
I only hope Sam Marquis has more historical fiction left in him. How he has put out this much in-depth content so rapidly and not slackened in his quality or even quantity of words for that matter, is beyond me. I’ve written historical fiction and afterwards I was so burnt out that I needed a serious break, but Marquis seems to have an IV of Red Bull permanently inserted in his veins.
Get this book! You don’t need to have read the other books in the trilogy. They are standalones. Once you read this one, you will WANT those others, especially Altar of Resistance, which includes declassified information about the Vatican and Pope’s roles during WWII. You will be surprised. Go to AmazonNOW before you forget to later!
I am intrigued by the impact of internet on human lives. This book is about an aspect of it.
Title: everybody lies: What the internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are Author: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz Publishers: Bloomsbury Publishing, UK (2018) Format: Paperback Pages: 338 Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Technology, Psychology, Sociology
What’s it about?
As Steven Pinker(cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author) states in the foreword, “this is a book about a whole new way of studying the mind” and, I would add, human behaviour.
This book is less about big data science than about the new innovative ways of thinking, of designing, and of approaching the questions we ask of our life.
Stephens-Davidowitz makes his points by regaling the reader with early Big Data collected through Google searches and clicks, predominantly. Facebook also features as with other Silicon Valley data companies. “everybody lies” gives new and interesting insights into matters such as the effect of assassination of leader on a country’s economy, or going to a great university equates to a better career or larger paycheck.
Stephens-Davidowitz provides a definition of “data” which is no longer limited to numbers or words. For a data scientist such as he, Big Data has four virtues. First, Big Data as “digital truth serum” as people are most honest without an apparent audience leading to honest data on say, sexual preferences or racial discrimination. It provide honest data. Second, it offers a way to run large-scale randomized controlled experiment through the click of the mouse. Third, Big Data allows us, through the large scale sample, to zoom in on subsets of people and with greater accuracy. Fourth, Big Data provides new types of data.
What’s logical and rational before is no longer enough nor are the experiment results accurate enough. The scope of our sample size has significantly increased withe the internet, so why think small?
That is not to say, as Stephens-Davidowitz points out, that Big Data is the answer but it is a valuable resource which we are ill-advised to ignore. Information is king or queen, and this is truer than before. Social science is becoming real science, Stephens-Davidowitz says. Why? Read the book.
Stephens-Davidowitz encourages us to approach this field with curiosity and creativity when contemplating how we use and manage data. Data however is neither good or evil; it is powerful. In “everybody lies”, he cautions against what Big Data cannot do and what we shouldn’t do with Big Data.
Would I recommend it?
Reading this book is a pleasurable journey. Highly recommended.
The Typist by Caroline Taylor available on AMAZON by clicking HERE.
The Typist by Caroline Taylor? Let me start out by saying that at 250 pages you’ll be able to read this one in one sitting if you choose to but actually because you can’t help it.
Set in 1960s Washington, D.C. the atmosphere is perfect. If you lived there during that time you would swear you were right back there again as you turn the pages. Taylor nailed it.
Judah Lundquist moves to DC to make a better life for herself after growing up having been used in schemes by her father and conflicting being bible thumped by her mother. That had to be confusing, but she finds the courage to move on and she ends up right in the middle of the deep end of secrets at an insurance company. Yes, an insurance company. Think about the 1960s and how easy it would be to do things less than the straight and narrow.
But the intelligent young woman doesn’t back down as the stories moves on although she is a bit naïve about certain things, it still doesn’t stop her.
You get twists and surprises by the end. The only thing I can say against the book is that it that is a bit slow to begin with, which I have found to be common in books lately. I think we as a society are just used to things being crammed into an hour or two hour filmed piece that we forget that books just like this one are behind what we see on screen, just cut up and pieced together. So keep reading and you’ll get in to a groove and finish before you know it.
Who is Caroline Taylor?
Formerly from Washington, D.C., Caroline Taylor is an award-winning writer and editor living in North Carolina. She has written two mysteries—What Are Friends For? (Five Star-Cengage, 2011) and Jewelry from a Grave (Five Star-Cengage, 2013)—and is the author of Publishing the Nonprofit Annual Report: Tips, Traps, and Tricks of the Trade (Jossey-Bass, 2001). Her short stories and essays have appeared in several online and print magazines. She is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America. Visit her at http://www.carolinestories.com
British Spymaster Tar Robertson and Double Cross were Instrumental in Winning D-Day
By Samuel Marquis
In Spies of the Midnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes, Book 3 of his WWII Series, Historical Fiction Author Samuel Marquis brings to life legendary British MI5 Spymaster Tar Robertson and the Double Cross Spy System, which played a pivotal role in the Allied deception at Normandy on D-Day and other operations in Hitler’s Festung Europa.
It has become an annual ritual for Americans and British to celebrate the hoodwinking of Hitler and the triumph of democracy over tyranny represented by D-Day. We all know how important it was, the tremendous stakes involved, and the glamorous Allied players in the daring assault upon Hitler’s Festung Europa recreated in countless books and movies. We all know that June 6-9, 1944, comprised the most epic battle of WWII. The only problem is it’s not true. The D-Day deception operation and subsequent acquisition of the beaches of Normandy was, in the words of Ben Macintyre in his book Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, “an undisputed, unalloyed, world-changing triumph”—but it was not the greatest battle of WWII. That distinction belongs to Stalingrad or Kursk. But the bloodbath of the Eastern Front—with war crimes committed by Hitler’s Germans and Stalin’s Russians in equal measure—doesn’t resonate with the historical poignancy of D-Day. And D-Day is still the greatest amphibious operation in the history of warfare.
With that in mind, the key to the success of that longest day was the Double Cross Spy System and Operation Fortitude, the latter of which was designed to persuade the Germans that the invasion of France would not take place in Normandy but in Pas de Calais. The Double Cross Spy System, or XX System, was a counterespionage and deception operation of the British Security Service, a civilian organization usually referred to by its cover title MI5. The system is described in detail in Books 1 and 3 of my World War Two Series, my countdown-to-D-Day thriller Bodyguard of Deception and the newly released Spies of theMidnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes that takes place mostly in Occupied Norway. Under Double Cross, German agents in Britain – real and false – were captured, turned themselves in or simply announced themselves, and were then used by the British to broadcast mainly disinformation to their Nazi controllers. The deception operations were overseen by the Twenty Committee under the leadership of Thomas Argyll “Tar” Robertson and John Cecil Masterman; the name of the committee comes from the number 20 in Roman numerals: “XX” (i.e. a double cross).
Tar Robertson was the brains behind Double Cross. He wore a Glengarry cap and McKenzie tartan trews of the Seaforth Highlanders, and was universally well-liked by those who knew and worked with him. He played a pivotal role not only in the main Normandy deception, Operation Fortitude, but in Operation Mincemeat, a deception intended to cover the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily by fooling the Germans into thinking that an invasion of Greece was imminent. His deft handling of a widely disparate collection of Double Cross agents—among them socialites, sex-addicts, criminals, and drunks—brought several spectacular military advantages to the Allied cause between 1942 and 1945.
Robertson—working with his multifaceted team of double agents and his MI5 colleague Masterman, the somewhat priggish, cricket-obsessed Oxford don— was the driving force in the various Double Cross deception operations that played an important role in the ultimate Allied victory (though not as much as the Big Red Army pounding away along the Eastern Front, remember). The most important by far was Operation Fortitude, which had the overall effect of immobilizing the Wehrmacht tank reserves and limiting the effectiveness of German counter attacks all along the Normandy coastline.
While the incessant rivalries among and within the Wehrmacht, Abwehr, SS, the Führer’s headquarters, and the various other bureaucracies clogging German decision-making played a huge role in the German failure and Allied triumph, the Fortitude deception drove the Reich to an even higher state of confusion at a critical time—with disastrous results for a vacillating Hitler and Nazi Germany. And it was all brought about by a thirty-one-year-old Scotsman named Thomas Argyll Robertson, who early on in the war decided to enlist captured Nazi operatives as double agents rather than hanging them from the gallows.
It was a brilliant and uplifting idea for a country under siege in the air by Nazi Germany during the Battle for Britain, and there is no doubt that Robertson was the right man for the job. By all accounts, he was affable, determined, discreet, and doggedly loyal—but he could also be ruthless in his handling of those who threatened Double Cross. With a fondness and appreciation for a good practical joke, he also liked to pick the names of his turned double agents and tended to give them colorful monikers that he and his staff would not fail to remember. Two of his favorite and most successful doubles were the convicted safecracker Eddie Chapman (code-named Agent Zigzag by Robertson because of his unpredictability) and the Yugoslavian playboy Dusko Popov (code-named Tricycle Robertson because he enjoyed ménage à trois sex).
Tar Robertson was widely recognized by many of his contemporaries as one of MI5’s greatest assets, but is little known today. So, this June 6—during the 74rd anniversary of D-Day—is a good time to pay homage to a legendary British spymaster who helped the Allies win the war. He was truly a great one—and he had a sense of humor to boot.
Get Spies of the Midnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes at Amazon.com by clicking HERE.
The ninth great-grandson of legendary privateer Captain William Kidd, Samuel Marquis is the bestselling, award-winning author of a World War Two Series, the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series, and historical pirate fiction. His novels have been #1 Denver Post bestsellers, received multiple national book awards (Foreword Reviews Book of the Year, American Book Fest Best Book, USA Best Book, Beverly Hills, Next Generation Indie, Colorado Book Awards), and garnered glowing reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus, and Foreword Reviews (5 Stars). Book reviewers have compared Marquis’s WWII thrillers Bodyguard of Deception and Altar of Resistance to the epic historical novels of Tom Clancy, John le Carré, Ken Follett, Herman Wouk, Daniel Silva, and Alan Furst. Mr. Marquis’s newest historical novel, Spies of the Midnight Sun, is the true story of legendary British safecracker and spy Eddie Chapman, the British Double Cross Spy System, and courageous Norwegian female Resistance operatives Dagmar Lahlum and Annemarie Breien. His website is samuelmarquisbooks.com and for publicity inquiries, please contact JKSCommunications at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The book has been compared has reminded readers of the works of Pat Conroy, and if you know anything about Southern novels then you know that is the highest praise. You won’t be disappointed.
Mourning Dove isn’t just a book about family in the South. It’s about the reality of a family in the South. There are many dramatizations of what people believe life is like here in the Southern part of the US, but unless you lived it, you don’t know it. Claire Fullerton lived it. The author and I have had exchanges in the past about commonalities in our lives to the point that I know she is the real deal. She grew up a Memphis girl while I lived just 2 hours away in Tupelo, MS.
One thing about Southern life is there are layers. Depending on who you are socializing with will determine which layer you allow to show. That’s for your own protection. You learn this quickly to survive, not only in Southern society but in your own family. If you aren’t like your blood then you in more trouble than you would be at any other point in time. This is just an observation I’m throwing in here.
Mourning Dove finds Posey, moving back to Memphis, the city of her birth with her two children. The story is told through the voice of Millie, the youngest child. She’s the quiet one who looks up to her charismatic brother, Finley. The children are thrown into a world totally alien to their Minnesota home when they set foot in Memphis, a city where old society still looks to generational lines to help determine societal prestige.
Posey, sets out to find a new husband and ends up catching the Colonel, a totally inappropriate match for a husband only because of his place in society in the hopes it will continue to help her and assure her children will not fall from grace. The problem is, this leaves her children without true parents. Posey mothers occasionally but it doesn’t really help her children.
The star of the show is Finley, the big brother that has been given almost god like qualities by Millie in his perfection. His talent, his intellect, his abilities to move people. The things she cannot do. But just as a god, he is just out of reach in his kinetic life of always pushing higher and higher to next level of his creativity. His time in Charlottesville to attend university and expanding his music lies perfectly with the music scene of the day for a certain element that continued in university towns on into the 80s.
But without Finley, Millie has to fend for herself in the aristocratic society of her mother’s upbringing. He was her navigator of Memphis, her protector of sorts.
If you want to know the real South of the 1970s, read Mourning Dove. Much like Claire Fullerton’s masterpiece, Dancing to an Irish Reel, you get atmosphere, emotions, characters, not only the main but a wonderful supporting cast, which very much matches what you find in the South. You also find yourself pulled in to the landscape and forget you exist in a present. You are present in the past.
Preorder Mourning Dove on Amazon by clicking HERE before June 29,
Because I liked the premise of this book by the 2014 Man Booker Price winner, I thought I’ll give it a try.
Title: First Person Author: Richard Flanagan Publishers: Penguin Random House Australia Format: Hardback Pages: 392 Genre: Fiction, Thriller
What’s it about?
“First Person” is a quiet yet violent thriller which begins with the protagonist Kif Kehlmann being offered a commission to ghost-write the memoir of Siegfried Heidl.
Heidl is a notorious con-man and corporate criminal awaiting trial. And Kif is a writer desperate for a well-paying job. How hard could it be anyway?
Little does Kif realise he would put his integrity on the line, even his morality and at times, sanity it seems.
The reader is taken on the journey of a man facing a moral crisis, culminating in an act which even Kif could not have foreseen.
Despite the interesting premise of this book, it was difficulty for me to move forth with it. The narrative seems “stuck” and so is the plot. Heidl feels one-dimensional, as I looked for depth and change in the character. Interestingly, Heidl is based on a real-life con artist John Freidrich whom the author interviewed early in his career as a journalist. Perhaps this explains the more intimate and relaxed feel of the book in parts where Kif is present.
The interactions between Kif and Heidl, and between Kif and Ray, Kif’s friend and Heidl’s gopher, are worthy reading even if they feel surreal at times. Kif ultimately becomes a witness to Heidl’s destruction.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, if you are prepared to see beyond the structural difficulties.