Monday, September 22, 2014

Temperance's Trial by Hallee Bridgeman, the Story of a Wireless Operator in Occupied France

Temperance's TrialI came across this series quite by accident while browsing Amazon one day. I preordered the first of them. It's a series about 7 different women, from different backgrounds, ethnicities, etc, with different skills that served during WWII. Each one of the stories is inspired by a real woman.

This one, about a wireless operator behind enemy lines, is based on Eileen Mary "Didi" Nearne, who like the heroine of this book, served in Occupied France. Also like the heroine, she and her brother (and a sister, not in the book) escaped France immediately upon German occupation and made their way to England where they all entered service with the SOE.

The real Eileen, according to the author notes, was one of only 39 women to parachute into Occupied France and she transmitted 105 messages during her operation.

I wondered while reading this story why the heroine does something so stupid--takes the wireless back to her room instead of doing her transmitting from the tomb and leaving the device with the code book--and it turns out the real Eileen actually did this and was arrested too

The author def stayed very true to original events. We follow Temperance as she escapes France, head back in the dark of night on a plane (flown by a woman pilot!), her wireless rig in tow, and pretends to be a seamstress while secretly sending data back to England and thus, aiding the Resistance. Meanwhile, an SS agent attempts to court her...and things just end up going so wrong.

The real Eileen, from Wiki
And here is where I get upset....the story--and I knew this was a novella--ends at 75% with us having no idea what becomes of Temperance. I expected (since I can't acquire book two yet and have no idea when I can) that each woman's story would end before the next woman's story began, that they would satisfactorily concluded, but that wasn't the case.

I'm just going to tell myself that like the real Eileen, Temperance goes camp to camp, escapes, is picked up by the Americans, and later released.

I appreciate learning about this woman, especially appreciate the author notes, but I do not appreciate being left hanging. I also feel it was a tad too short, the story is only 3/4 of the book. Yes, this must make way for the author notes, but having spent almost three on kindle for it, I was expecting more.

I bought this on Amazon.

A side note to the author/editor/publisher: There is an entire repeated scene beginning with the odd words, THE twin at skirt and shifted her suitcase... and then going a few pages until the repeated scene ends.



Sunday, September 21, 2014

From Housewife to Helicopter Pilot: The Concetta Hassan Story

"I guess what they say is true. If you let the bird out of the cage, it may not be happy stuck inside four walls."

I loved this movie. It's so inspiring! It brings home that saying, "It's never too late" and you're never too old. And us women can certainly carry the load and take care of business. 

Long story short: It's the late seventies and Concetta (this movie is based on a true story) is happily married with three children (one a baby. In real life the baby had a heart condition. In the movie, she doesn't.) When her husband has a heart attack and can't work anymore, they lose everything, and it's up to Concetta--despite her husband's protests and the damage to his pride--to get some money coming in...STAT.

After a failed gas station job, she joins the Army...at 32 years of age!

For a while there, I didn't think she was going to survive Basic, not under that bad-ass "John Wayne". (FYI, I loved this "John Wayne" lady. Watch the movie and check her out for yourself.)

She not only makes it, surprising everyone but her husband who knew she could do it all along, she strives for even more and four years later, decides to be a helicopter pilot, enrolling in flight school in which she's the only woman in a barracks full of men. And sometimes she's patronized...etc.

But we also see how her home life is, how the daughters have strife with their father, as he's the one home all day, and yet he's the one they turn to when they have a bad dream or whatever. And this hurts the working mother. It was also interesting to watch what it's like for a stay-at-home husband as he goes from shame to hurt pride to acceptance and telling people off for judging him. From anger at his wife to being proud of her.

Truly a great movie with so much to it. I wish they'd explained the man's heart condition better though. I mean, why couldn't he get a desk job at least? Seems to me being home with screaming girls all day is more stressful than sitting at a desk or selling insurance. And if he could have relations, why couldn't he climb a ladder? But I'm not a doctor...and don't understand. I also think the movie could have showed us just what kind of discrimination she faced besides a patronizing teacher. I know there had to be some. She mentions it in the newspaper articles.

Fabulous movie, terrific heroine. Remember, ladies, no matter how old you are, no matter how long you've been at home if that's the case, it's never too late to prove anything to yourself. It's always your TIME TO TRIUMPH.

The real Concetta flew helicopters in the Army way into her sixties. She was a flying grandma. 

I watched this via Amazon Prime.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Reading Radar 9/20/2014

Spotted on Amazon..Moon Queen by Katharine Branning. It's on my wishlist though I would like to find more information about it and the woman it's about. Never heard of her before, but then I know nothing really about Turkish history. Looks promising.

Mahperi the Moon Queen survived in a competitive court ruled by both love and hate in an era of builders and destroyers. Armed with intelligence and determination, she courageously weathered power struggles with male and female rivals, wars with the Mongols, intrigue at the court, and ultimate betrayal to become one of the most influential figures in the empire.

Inspired by true events and people, Moon Queen weaves a bright carpet of inspiration, by turns inspiring and heartbreaking, providing a new perspective on one of the most glorious periods of Turkish history.

***

Spotted on Historical Editorial and I'm so in love with that cover, of course I have to read it... It's on my wishlist. The War Nurse by R.V. Doon.

A historical family saga and epic romance set during World War II.

The War Nurse is a heart-rending story of two Americans, Katarina Stahl, a civilian nurse, and Jack Gallagher, a surgeon, caught in the Philippines on a goodwill medical mission, when war interrupts their newfound love. As the situation becomes dire, Katarina in an impulsive move frees a German doctor accused of spying; a haunting mistake, that sets off a chain of tragic events for her German-born parents in New York.

Now, pregnant with Jack’s child, Katarina begins a journey into depraved darkness as Manila descends into occupation and chaos. The horrific choices she has to make to avoid internment and starvation distances her from Jack. Three years of hell pass, and she has earned her nickname, war nurse, but can she regain the love of her life?

***

Found whilst browsing Amazon's upcoming historical fiction releases...it's a woman pilot! So of course it makes the wishlist: Return to Apathy by Eric Scott Johnston.

Return to ApathyAfrica, WWII...
Annette cannot be tied-down. A free-spirited air courier for the Red Cross, Annette enjoys a carefree life until she begins a brief love affair with an army surgeon, Don Barnes. Their time together is cut short when Don receives orders to accompany seven soldiers on a mission to root out insurgents in the former Italian-occupied city of Asmara. He is never seen again.

Devastated, Annette spends the rest of the war looking for information on his whereabouts. Then, when she finds a small clue, she takes her aircraft into the Eritrean desert in hopes of finding him.

Amare is like any other 12-year-old boy living in Eritrea. Every week he makes the trek from his village to the capital, Asmara, to sweep the floors and oil the wood-working machines for Colonel Panelli, the commander of Italian forces in Asmara. Amare's modest salary affords him the latest issue of his favorite comic every month. But change is coming. As the Italian forces are threatened in Eritrea by the British advance, everyone is a potential soldier, even children. And, on the lonely road to his village, Amare is taken and forced to fight against the British as an insurgent for the infamous, Ascari. After living as a child-soldier for two years, Amare's life changes yet again when he encounters an American woman searching for her lover.

70-Years later…
After losing his daughter in a custody battle with his ex-wife, Michael concedes that abandoning his life to look for his father was meaningless. His new job as an investigator for JPAC quickly takes his mind off his current troubles as he is assigned to a case with a man who served under his Father in Vietnam, Frank Hayes. The job is to find seven missing WWII-era soldiers in Eritrea, Africa. Frank introduces him to an elderly woman living in Georgia named, Annette. Michael learns the key to finding the missing soldiers is Annette, but she will only help, if Michael agrees to learn about what she did after she left to search the desert 70-years ago, a place called, Apathy.

Told in Eric Scott Johnston's signature non-linear style, Return to Apathy spans decades and brings the reader across continents, love, loss and the inevitable path life take us on when a simple act of compassion changes the meaning of life. Return to Apathy is the follow-up to The Glass Girls and brings back Michael Huntington and other characters from the book that started it all.

***

Spotted on NG and on my wishlist: Vigilante by Shelley Harris.

Jenny Pepper never expected to end up like this. Tired of her job and her lacklustre marriage, increasingly marginal in her teenage daughter's life, Jenny stumbles into a vigilante rescue one night; suddenly her world is exciting again - and she's a hero. In secret - in costume - she walks the streets of her small town, seeking to right wrongs. But secret identities are tricky to maintain, and Jenny's need for adventure is beginning to cost her dearly.

Then, amidst the petty crime, a terrifying villain appears. He's attacking young girls - and Jenny's daughter is at risk. As she starts to see less and less clearly through the mask, Jenny finds her fantasy life becoming frighteningly real.

We all want to be extraordinary, and we all have a moment in our lives when we realise that we're not. VIGILANTE is about a woman who didn't accept it gracefully.

***

A GR find: Her Own Vietnam by Lynn Kanter.

Her Own VietnamFor thirty years, Della Brown has tried to forget her service as a U.S. Army nurse treating horrific battlefield injuries in Vietnam. But now an unexpected message arrives that propels her into harrowing memories of the past. She must also confront the fissures in her family life, the mystery of her father’s disappearance, the things mothers and daughters cannot—maybe should not—know about one another, and the lifelong repercussions of a single mistake. An unflinching depiction of war and its personal costs, Her Own Vietnam is also a portrait of a woman in midlife—a mother, a nurse, and long ago a soldier.

Friday, September 19, 2014

An American Duchess Transforms from Fun, Feisty Aviatrix to Emotional Basket Case

An American Duchess"I never believed in the idea of nobility. Now I understand what being noble truly means. It has nothing to do with a title. It's not even about sacrifice or duty. It's about a passion for your world, one that runs through your blood. It's about loving something so deeply you would never put yourself first."

In the past, I've often complained about romance novels, about how they always end with a couple getting married and the woman with a babe in her womb. So predictable. And is that really a HEA? We all know there's so much more to a woman's life, to marriage.

This story goes that further step, and for that I'll give it a few points, but now I understand why most stories end with marriage. It gets so boring after that. Though it didn't have to be...

I loved the first part of this book, loved the heroine, the scandal surrounding her arrival and the family she is marrying into. I laughed at her shocking remarks to all the uptight women, applauded her stance on women's rights, wanted more of her flying escapades. This was truly a heroine after my own heart....oh--and I grinned when she criticized the English upper class for having inherited their fortune rather than working for it. However, that last bit being said, I was surprised at how she changes after she's wed. It's not like she works for anything either, never did, come to think of it.

After she's married all she does is think about sex, how to get her husband to visit her bed more often, why her husband isn't sleeping with her. That becomes the main focus of her life, of her very existence. And then something bad happens and the story just won't let up on it and the emotional ramifications. I realize it's hard to go through in real life, but to pound on and on and on about it. The experience became too much of the story. The heroine became a ninny.

And then suddenly she declares, "I intend to be the first female to circumnavigate the globe. I can do this. you need three things: guts, ability and money. I do that those things, Nigel (her husband). And I want to the world that I do."

And, oh....my poor heart. I got excited for nothing. NOTHING. Oh , there's a brief mention--one sentence--of her flying from FL to NY, but that's all. Instead the story chooses to focus on her just doing something randomly stupid. And then suddenly she's afraid to fly over water, this girl was going to fly over the Atlantic? Huh? So while I loved her in the beginning, in the end I decided she was all bark, no bite.

The first part of the story has so much more going on: a younger sister in love with no dowry, a dowager stuck in the old ways, the question of a brother's sexuality, an uncle who has reason to throw the heroine's mother in jail...so much suspense and excitement that all disappears once the heroine marries and her focuses in life completely change.

At the risk of repeating myself, it was a great story in the beginning, but the exciting stuff was over too quickly and the not-so-exciting stuff expounded upon mercilessly: her loss, the duke's old-fashioned values, his shell shock. I am fully aware shell shock is an important issue, but this isn't The Poppy Factory and it was just too heavy and too much for this type of tale/genre.

I also got tired of the back and forth...I love him. I love him not. He loves me. He loves me not. I love him...

I received an ARC of this via Netgalley.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thieving Forest: The Unpredictable Futures of a 19th Century American Family



Susanna Quiner hid while she watched four of her sisters being violently torn from their home by a party of Potawatami warriors.   Is this the opening scene of a propaganda piece designed to show us how savage the original inhabitants of North America were?   Thieving Forest by Martha Conway may seem that way initially, but this story line is more complex than readers might think.   I received a free copy of this novel from the author in return for an honest review.

                                             
                                            

The tale takes place in  early 19th century America.  Its portrayal of the period is neither utopian nor dystopian.  Martha Conway goes for realism.  There are both horrific events and wonderful ones. 
 
The capture of these sisters isn’t what it appears to be. Each of the Quiner sisters has her own individual destiny.  Susanna is determined to restore her family to the situation that had existed before they were captured, but neither her sisters nor their home were ever going to be the same.  This is a lesson that Susanna learns over the course of the novel.

I do have to say that while Susanna is a sympathetic viewpoint character, she isn’t the sister who interested me most.  From the beginning, I was drawn to Naomi the musician. Her story also turned out to be the one that I most wanted to follow.  I would like to find out more of what happened to Naomi after the events of this book. 

I  learned more about a group of settlers about whom I had previously known very little.  The Moravian missionaries who were originally from Germany established a settlement in Pennsylvania that was called the Gemeinschaft in this book.  They and their Native American converts to Christianity seemed to live together in equality and harmony.  Yet when Susanna looked beneath the surface, the Gemeinschaft didn’t seem so perfect.  Perhaps one of the lessons of  Thieving Forest is that there are no options that are perfect for everyone.  Their community’s social structure reminded me a bit of the Shakers.   I wanted to know more, so I ran a few searches on the Moravian Church.  I learned that although they call their community a Gemeinschaft now, there is no record of their having done so in the early 19th century. 

Just as Susanna's desire to re-create an ideal past was fated to be disappointed, readers who expect an ideal novel will never find one.   Even if the author had chosen to follow Naomi rather than Susanna as I would have preferred,  I probably would still have found flaws in  Thieving Forest.  Perhaps I would have become less enamored of Naomi if I had seen more of her.  She might have made some foolish decisions as Susanna occasionally did in the course of the narrative.  Yet Susanna always redeemed herself.  Although there could have been many alternate paths that  Thieving Forest might have traveled, the book we have is very readable and periodically enlightening.