Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Humour

The Spy Who Inspired Me Stephen Clarke 5*#Review @sclarkewriter #PAF @RichardsonHelen #humour #historical #WW2 #France #Female #Spy #satirical #BlogTour #BookReview #TheSpyWhoInspiredMe

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author via Helen Richardson PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story highlights the role of female spies in WW2. Their commitment and courage is something often overlooked, but many died in service of their country. This story parodies a well-known male fictitious spy as he finds himself in an uncomfortable alliance with a female spy who is everything he isn’t, but would like to be.

Lemming’s major contribution to the war effort appears to be working his way through the females who work alongside him until he meets his match in Margaux. She flatters his ego but makes him uneasy. When they meet again, he realises why.

Thrown in an uneasy alliance the unlikely couple travel to occupied France where Margaux shows Lemming what really happens behind enemy lines. Comically, and once you get to know him predictably, Lemming retreats into his vast imagination and rewrites the story covering himself in glory.

The immersive writing style and relatable characters draw the reader into the fictitious world from the start. Good use of sensory imagery brings the history and location vividly to life, so the reader feels they are on the mission too.

Humour and satire underpin this story making it an enjoyable read with characters, events and places that resonate.

Guest author Post – Stephen Clarke – The Spy Who Inspired Me

My new novel The Spy Who Inspired Me is a reaction against the old-fashioned Bond girl. The most Bond-girlish of them all, for me, is the dubiously named Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. In the original novel, she’s the feisty leader of a lesbian criminal gang, one of the key players in a plan to rob West Point. Then she meets 007, decides he’s cute, and suddenly she’s betraying her criminal chums and turning straight. It’s the same with the clairvoyant Solitaire in Live and Let Die – she sleeps with Bond (her first lover), loses her powers and becomes more or less enslaved to him.

The suggestion is that a woman will abandon all her ill-advised feminine foibles as soon as she meets a “real” man. It’s old-school gender nonsense.

This is why for The Spy Who Inspired Me, I decided to reverse the roles. The spy on the cover, Margaux Lynd, is a tough, highly-trained agent with plenty of mission experience. But when she lands in Occupied France in April 1944, she gets saddled with a scared, inexperienced, older male sidekick who just wants to go home to his clean shirts and his limitless supply of handmade cigarettes. The man is modelled on, but – for legal reasons mainly – not named after Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming. My character’s name is Ian Lemming. (You see, nothing at all like “Fleming”.)

The real Fleming was a suave playboy who spent most of the war in a comfortable Admiralty Office, a world away from the harsh everyday realities of spying. Meanwhile, dozens of women were being sent undercover into Occupied Europe. And they were the inspiration for Margaux Lynd. These real-life heroines joined up with the Resistance and acted as radio operators, go-betweens, recruiters and spies. Many were caught by the Gestapo, and then there was no Bond-like banter with their interrogator before a miraculous dash for freedom and a finale in a luxury bed. It was usually a short trip from the torture chamber to the firing squad.

Women agents were valued by the Allies because they exploited Nazi sexism – most Gestapo officers thought that German Frauen existed to breed Aryan babies, and found it hard to believe that a woman would do perilous “male” work like spying. In many ways, that is what Ian Lemming in The Spy Who Inspired Me believes, too. Only gradually does he come to respect, and then fear, the ruthless female secret agent he is forced to work with.

And as the two of them sneak across Occupied France and into Paris, Lemming begins to fantasize about a world in which a suave male spy would lord it over the ladies, while enjoying all the comforts he’s missing from back home – champagne, hot water, a change of underwear. As a reaction to the humiliations and deprivations he’s suffering, we sense that a macho superhero is being created in his head. And while Lemming fantasizes, his female mentor Margaux Lynd has to concentrate on completing her mission – and begging him never to attempt real undercover work ever again.

The Spy Who Inspired Me published on November 12 by pAf Books.

Stephen Clarke – Image Credit Marie Liss

Stephen Clarke is the bestselling author of the Merde series of comedy
novels (A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually, Dial M for Merde et al) which
have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than a
million copies worldwide.

Stephen Clarke has also written several serious-yet-humorous books on Anglo-French history, such as 1000 Years of Annoying the French (a UK number-one bestseller in both
hardback and paperback), How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), and The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. He lives in Paris.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance, Travel

The Resistance Girl Jina Bacarr 4*#Review @JinaBacarr @BoldwoodBooks #boldwoodbloggers @rararesources #BlogTour #HistFic #WW2 #BookReview #Romance #Family #TheResistanceGirl

Two women. One heartbreaking secret.


Paris, 1943.

Sylvie Martone is the star of French cinema, and adored by fans. But as Nazi officers swarm the streets of Paris, she is spotted arm in arm with an SS Officer and her fellow Parisians begin to turn against her.

However Sylvie has a secret – one she must protect with her life.


Paris, 2020.

Juliana Chastain doesn’t know anything about her family history. While her mother was alive she remained very secretive about her past.

So when Juliana discovers a photograph of a glamorous French actress from World War Two amongst her mother’s possessions, she is in shock to find herself looking at her grandmother – especailly as she is arm in arm with a Nazi Officer…

Desperate for answers, Juliana is determined to trace the journey of her grandmother. Surely there is more to the photograph than meets the eye?

But as she delves into Sylvie’s past, nothing can prepare Juliane for the tales of secrets, betrayal and sacrifice which she will uncover.

A heart-wrenching story of love and war.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is an emotional timeslip story set in Paris during WW2 and the present day. Juliana grieving the loss of her mother finds a clue to her past when she sorts through her mother’s possessions. The secret they reveal is heartbreaking but does the camera lie?

Told from Sylvie’s viewpoint in pre-war France and during war-torn occupied Paris and Juliana’s in the present day a story of courage, danger and heartbreak unfolds. The historical setting is full of period detail that adds authenticity to the story. Sylvie is a courageous woman who uses her position and skills to help others in occupied France. Juliana uncovers an epic story worth immortalising in film. She also realises things about herself she’s ignored in the past and ends the emotional journey knowing who she truly is.

This story has two believable female protagonists and an engaging mix of adventure, danger, history and romance.

JinaBacarr

Jina Bacarr is a US-based historical romance author of over 10 previous books. She has been a screenwriter, journalist and news reporter, but now writes full-time and lives in LA. Jina’s novels have been sold in 9 territories.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Friendship, Guest post, Historical Fiction

The Deptford Girls Patricia A.McBride #GuestPost #HistFic #TheDeptfordGirls The Lily Baker Series #WW2 #Friendship #London #BlogTour @rararesources

A country at war. Friends in trouble. A fascist traitor. Stepping up can only lead Lily to danger.

Rescuing friends or spotting spies; Private Lily Baker always gets involved.

While London burns she looks out for workmates and girlfriends but also uncovers a web of deception at the Depot where she works.

When the ruthless suspect knows she’s closing in, she must act fast to unmask the traitor and save her friends, herself, and the brave soldiers overseas whose lives are at risk.

The Deptford Girls is the fourth in the Lily Baker wartime series. This heart-wrenching story features courage, friendship, betrayal, compelling characters, and a captivating plot.

If you like vivid stories that take you right into the world of the characters, you’ll love The Deptford Girls. Cuddle up with a cuppa and enjoy this exciting, warm-hearted read.

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How I write – Guest Post Patricia A. McBride

This is a frequent topic in writing magazines – how I write and where I write. Let me tell you both.

I write anywhere where I have my laptop – cafes, on a bus, in the garden, at my kitchen table. Call me weird, but I have no rituals and no lucky mascots. Often I have no plot either which is worrying for an author. I’m sometimes found wondering what on earth to write next. How I envy writers who say they have a hundred plot ideas in their heads!

How I write is another matter. My goal is to have a plot worked out in great detail before I start. Every single scene oven ready. This would work well because when I know where I’m going with a story I write fast. Five thousand words on a good day. But as I said, that’s the goal. The reality is, I have some plot ideas worked out, and optimistically think that’s enough. It never is – hence the dreaded writers’ block.

I have a few ways to break through the block. Number one is to take my husband Rick to a nearby coffee shop and mercilessly pump him for ideas. He’s not a writer; he’s a very down-to-earth engineer, but somehow he has more imagination than me. That’s just plain unfair. So he’ll often give me great ideas, but he sometimes gets frustrated when I twist and turn them to fit the plot. ‘But that’s not what I said!’ he complains. I can’t argue with that, but without his suggestions I’d still be looking at a blank screen.

My second method is to speak to my great writing buddy, Fran Smith. We speak at least twice a week about writing and marketing. Oh, and sometimes about our husbands, but we won’t tell them that. She’s a massively supportive person who writes brilliantly (head off to Amazon to read ‘Best wishes, Sister B’ you’ll love it!  https://books2read.com/u/3Lg10M)

As with Rick, I often change her suggestions, but they are always inspirational. Both of us write period stories and find old photos aid the writing process. My Lily Baker series is set in World War Two England and France. There are hundreds of photos online that give me ideas and I love the BBCs People’s War web pages where people alive during the war tell their stories. Many of them have found their way into Lily’s novels.

While I was writing The Telephone Girls, which is set in England and France, I was absolutely stuck for a plot idea. Lily and her friends worked as telephonists in Paris for the British Expeditionary Force. They had to work right up until the German army entered the city, then they had a frantic race across France to avoid the murderous invasion. I’d already given them several horrible obstacles to overcome, then dried up. I asked for suggestions on a writing Facebook page I belong to, and someone came up with the perfect idea.

If you’d like to read The Telephone Girls, you’ll find it on Amazon now.

Patricia A. McBride

Patricia lives in Cambridge, England with her husband Rick. She first wrote non-fiction, mainly self-help books, but became inspired to try her hand at fiction. In addition to writing she volunteers for a local museum and Addenbrookes Hospital.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Memoir

Squadron Airborne EllestonTrevor 5*#Review @I_W_M #EllestonTrevor @RandomTTours #WW2 #BattleofBritain80 #RAF #1940 #Summer #Britain #BlogTour #BookReview #SquadronAirborne @angelamarymar #wartimeclassics #WartimeBritain

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Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from The Imperial War Museums in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Like other books in the wartime classics series, It’s a fictional story based on the author’s first-hand experiences. Originally published in 1955, it focuses on a week during the Summer of 1940, the Battle of Britain. The book is prefaced, by an introduction describing the historical background to the Battle of Britain.

The story focuses on everyone on the airbase, pilots, ground crew and ancillary staff. Everyone played an essential role in this iconic victory in WW2. The camaraderie is evident, as is the commitment and courage from young individuals. With little life experience, their bravery and skill thwarted an enemy and possible invasion.

The book captures the claustrophobic, intense atmosphere at the airbase. The frenetic periods of the missions contrasting with long periods of waiting. Both defining life on the airbase during the Summer of 1940.

Authentic relatable characters endear themselves to the reader, you fear for their safety, and admire them. The perfect read if you are looking to explore the people behind the headlines. The wartime ethos is well described and gives the reader an omnipotent view of this WW2 event.

Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Spotlight, Historical Fiction

The Village by Philip Duke @freshly_press @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #TheVillage #WW2 #Crete #BookBlitz

 

A Cretan village confronts the Nazi juggernaut sweeping across Europe. A village matriarch tries to hold her family together…Her grieving son finds a new life in the Cretan Resistance…A naive English soldier unwillingly finds the warrior in himself…And a fanatical German paratrooper is forced to question everything he thought he believed in. The lives of four ordinary people are irrevocably entwined and their destinies changed forever as each of them confronts the horrors of war and its echoes down the decades.

Amazon UK

Philip Duke is a retired professor of anthropology. He and his wife lived on the island of Crete, Greece for five years before returning to the United States in 2015. His first novel, A Terrible Unrest, is currently being turned into a screenplay. Philip now lives in Durango, Colorado, USA.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Memoir

Green Hands Barbara Whitton 5*#Review @I_W_M #BarbaraWhitton @RandomTTours #WW2 #WomensLandArmy #LandGirls #1940s #Britain #BlogTour #BookReview #GreenHands @angelamarymar #wartimeclassics #WartimeBritain

I received a copy of this book from The Imperial War Museums in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story is an authentic representation of what life in the Women’s Land Army (WLA) was like for many. The land girls worked on the land and maintain the food supply chain for Britain at War. They endured relentless work and ridicule until their vital contribution to the war effort was recognised.

This story prefaced by an introduction from the Imperial War museum which provides salient historical, and social details. Historical details of farming in the war years provides the backdrop for a lovely story of acceptance, friendship, romance, and humour.

Told from Bee’s point of view, the story shows how three young girls coped or didn’t with life in the land army. The author employs sensual imagery allowing the reader to imagine the characters, events and setting.

There are some important social differences in this book, compared to contemporary society. Women were doing men’s work and seen as filling in. After the war, many women didn’t remain in the workforce especially in the farming industry.

The book highlights the importance of working as a community and the hardships faced by the land girls and the country as a whole from rationing. It shows another often overlooked contribution to women in the workforce in the 1940s. It provides a dramatic representation of historical facts through relatable characters and events.

MARGARET HAZEL WATSON (writing under the pseudonym Barbara Whitton) was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1921. She was educated at the Church High Girls School in Newcastle, and later sent to St Leonards School in St Andrews. Due to study Art in Paris, her training was curtailed by the outbreak of the Second World War.

Having volunteered for the Women’s Land Army (WLA) in 1939, she worked as a Land Girl for around a year before moving to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) and later joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) as a driver, where she remained for the duration of the war. Her novel Green Hands is a fictionalised account of her time spent as a Land Girl, detailing the back-breaking hard work and intensity of her experience with good humour and an enchanting lightness of touch. During her time with the ATS she met her husband Pat Chitty and they were married in 1941. After the war, she wrote a number of accounts of her wartime experience and retained an interest in art, literature and horticulture throughout her life. She died in 2016.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Romance, Saga

The Boat Girls Margaret Mayhew 4*#Review @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #TheBoatGirls #WW2 #HistFic #England #BookReview #BlogTour #MondayBlogs

THREE GIRLS GO THE EXTRA MILE TO DO THEIR BIT FOR THE WAR EFFORT.

1943: three very different girls are longing to do their bit for the war effort.

Frances – her life of seeming privilege has been a lonely one. Brave and strong, stifled by her traditional upbringing, she falls for a most unsuitable man. Prudence – timid and conventional, her horizons have never strayed beyond her job as a bank clerk in Croydon until the war brings her new experiences.

Rosalind – a beautiful, flame-haired actress who catches the eye of Frances’s stuffy elder brother, the heir to an ancestral mansion.

The three become friends when they join the band of women working the canal boats, delivering goods and doing a man’s job while the men are away fighting. A tough, unglamorous task – but one which brings them all unexpected rewards…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Transworld Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Told from three young women’s points of view The Boat Girls highlights the largely unsung contribution this female workforce made to the second world war effort. The three women are from diverse backgrounds in terms of social class and life experience. They form strong friendships as they train and work on the inland waterway ferrying essential supplies from the docks to the factories in the Midlands.

The characters are relatable and easy to empathise, their experiences are interesting as they try to gain acceptance from the traditional boating communities. There’s friendship, laughter, poignancy and romance for the three women who mature and emerge independent and stronger than before.

There are some interesting historical details, in this character driven historical saga which add depth to an enjoyable story.

Margaret Mayhew

Margaret Mayhew was born in London and her earliest childhood memories were of the London Blitz. She began writing in her mid-thirties and had her first novel published in 1976. She is married to American aviation author, Philip Kaplan, and lives in Gloucestershire.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Romance, Saga

Our Yanks Margaret Mayhew 4*#Review @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #OurYanks #WW2 #Northampton #Airforce #HistFic #England #BookReview #BlogTour #MondayBlogs

August 1943. A fighter group of US airmen descends upon the quiet and sleepy village of King’s Thorpe in Northamptonshire. The village has never seen the like of them before: they are glamorous, rich, exciting and full of bravado.

While some of the older residents are dismayed, many of the younger ones cannot help but be won over by their charms.

And for many – including young Sally Barnet from the bakery, Agnes Dawe – the Rector’s daughter, and newly-widowed Lady Beauchamp, they will have a long lasting impact.

It will be a summer many will never forget…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Transworld Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a gently paced WW2 historical saga novel set in 1943 in Northamptonshire England. This story captures the ethos of an English village during the second world war. The rationing, the loss of loved ones, the loneliness and the realistic mix of community spirit and village gossip.

The American airmen’s impact on the cosy villagers is perfectly pitched in this novel. The villagers are worried about their daughters and how they airmen will alter the village’s ambience. The American airmen are lonely, scared of war and dismayed with the lack of facilities and the villagers’ reluctant acceptance of them.

There’s animosity, friendship and romance in this historical saga with poignancy, humour and some happy endings.

Margaret Mayhew

Margaret Mayhew was born in London and her earliest childhood memories were of the London Blitz. She began writing in her mid-thirties and had her first novel published in 1976. She is married to American aviation author, Philip Kaplan, and lives in Gloucestershire.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Travel

The Bird in the Bamboo Cage Hazel Gaynor 4*#Review @HazelGaynor @HarperFiction #HistoricalFiction #WW2 #China #ForgottenHeroes @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #TheBirdintheBambooCage

Published August 20 in Hardback

China, 1941. With Japan’s declaration of war on the Allies, Elspeth Kent’s future changes forever. When soldiers take control of the missionary school where she teaches, comfortable security is replaced by rationing, uncertainty and fear.

Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School. Now the enemy, separated indefinitely from anxious parents, the children must turn to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – for help. But worse is to come when the pupils and teachers are sent to a distant internment camp. Unimaginable hardship, impossible choices and danger lie ahead.

Inspired by true events, this is the unforgettable story of the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher, in a remote corner of a terrible war.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction – Harper Collins in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Stores inspired by true-life events are always engaging. This book tells of the courage, hardship and strength of schoolchildren and their teachers who became prisoners of war in China during WW2. This historical fiction is well researched, from the recorded war events to the human experience.

This is an emotional, character-driven story told from Elspeth, teacher and Nancy, a school child’s viewpoints. It explores the atrocities, depravations and inhumanity of war. The darkness balanced by the children and their teachers’ courage, friendship and fortitude.

This book delivers a rich reading experience with intimate portrayals of relatable characters and vivid sensory imagery.

Hazel Gaynor

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, and Irish Times, bestselling author of historical fiction, including her debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown award. She is published in thirteen languages and nineteen countries. Hazel is co-founder of creative writing
events, The Inspiration Project, and currently lives in Ireland with her family, though originally from Yorkshire.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

The Tuscan Contessa Dinah Jefferies 5*#Review @DinahJefferies @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks #TheTuscanContessa #BlogTour #BookReview #HisFic #Italy #WW2

Contessa Sofia de’ Corsi’s peaceful Tuscan home has been upturned by the arrival of German soldiers. Desperate to fight back, she provides shelter, medical aid and any help she can, keeping her efforts secret from husband Lorenzo – who is also passing information to the Allies.

When Maxine, an Italian-American working for the resistance, arrives on Sofia’s doorstep, the pair forge an uneasy alliance. Practical, no-nonsense Maxine promised herself never to fall in love. But when she meets a young partisan named Marco, she realizes it’s a promise she can’t keep.

Before long, the two women find themselves entangled in a dangerous game with the Nazis.

Will they be discovered? And will they both be able to save the ones they love?

Amazon UK Waterstones

Goodreads

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK -Viking Books UK in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An aspect of WW2 history that I’ve not read about before this novel captures the menace of an occupying power and the camaraderie of the villagers. The story focuses on a small village in Tuscany, and its Contessa Sofia. It’s a story of courage, danger and friendship as the Italians fight against the Fascist stranglehold of their country.

The story focuses on the women Sofia the Contessa, Maxine an allied spy and Carla and Anna, who work at the Castello. Their friendship sustains them through terrible times and makes this story memorable and motivational. Vivid, sensual imagery and well-researched, historical detail bring the historical setting to life. The characters are authentic and relatable from the vibrance of the Italian women to the menace of the SS Officers.

This is an emotional story exploring the horrors of war and the human cost. Humorous touches and romance balance the poignancy, making it addictive reading.