Toni

The way I see it

"D-Day Girls", by Sarah Rose

D-Day Girls - Sarah Rose

The spies who armed the resistance, sabotaged the Nazis, and helped win World War 11 

This is a dramatic true account of extraordinary women recruited by Britain who helped win the day on June 6, 1944 and pave the way for Allied victory.

Drawn from declassified files, diaries and oral histories, as per her notes, Ms. Rose did intensive research and has written a story of five remarkable women. These courageous women are Andrée Borrel, Odette Sansom, Lise de Baissan, Yvonne Rudellat and Mary Herbert. It is also the story of fearless men who worked by their side: Francis Suttill, Gilbert Norman, Peter Churchill and Claude de Baissic. Together, they destroyed train lines, ambushed Nazis, plotted prison breaks, and gathered crucial intelligence. Some never made it home.….

France and Environs 1940-1944.

Interesting:

A most heavy read, this account is a fascinating and important story not only of the women who worked as spies but also of the members of the resistance in France and the SOE (Secret Operations Executive) Office whose agents played key roles in the D-Day invasion. Sara Rose takes us on the dangerous journey they had to face in enemy territory. 

Not so much:

It is a hard book to get into, the narrative lacks some cohesion and something is lost in the way it is told. The story jumps from event to event, from person and person sometimes using their code names other times their real names all this with little warning. I found this distracting and mostly confusing. It also reads like it was thrown together, much unorganized, more like a history professor’s lecture notes, a person that wants to say a lot but doesn’t have time to do so. Staying focus was a challenge and I wanted to abandon this book many times but I persevered wanted to know who would make it home….

In Conclusion:

Writing a non-fiction is a daunting task. Ms. Rose has nevertheless provided us with an overall picture of the war and has supplemented her words with a lively bibliography at the end. This book is an addition to the WW11 histories and not meant to be an easy and quick read. 

I stay on the fence on this one. 

I received this ARC from Crown Publishing via NetGalleys for my thoughts

"The Sins of the Father", by Jeffrey Archer

The Sins of the Father - Jeffrey Archer

The Clifton Chronicles book #2

In this sequel to “Only Time Will Tell”, Mr. Archer continues the Clifton Chronicles with a plot-driven story that begins hastily with Harry Clifton in prison detailing his experiences after he had switched identities with Lt. Tom Bradshaw who died when his ship was sunk by a U-boat. Mr. Archer is a canny and experienced author that has made his sequel complete in itself without the benefit of what has happened before. Harry’s backstory really didn’t matter although I am glad to have read the first installment. I think it is always preferable to read series in sequence in order to understand the characters’ connections and what sparked the chain of events that follows. 

The story spans the years of World War 11 with the family drama of the Cliftons and the Barringtons continuing at top speed. This is an attention grabber from the start plunging us into the action, shifting points of views between 5 characters and peeling layers after layers of the story in every chapter. The narrative is divided into sections by character and we follow each one as the years move on during the war. All are strongly connected to Harry, the central character. The war is at the forefront and we have a few combat scenes which are vividly described and exciting. While, back in England the other characters are caught up in their own melodrama. It is quite captivating to follow them.

Mr. Archer puts a cunning twist in the very last paragraph…and, yes, we're left with another cliff-hanger, right at the end, as we're awaiting a decision from the House of Lords…..

Well now I need to read “Best Kept Secret” and not wait a year to do so…..I am curious to see what will come out of this family drama. 

"At Last", by John W. Mefford

AT Last (An Alex Troutt Thriller, Book 6) - John W. Mefford

Book #6, In Alex Trout and Redemption Thriller series

To enjoy this story I needed to put all sense of reality aside and let the action take hold and go for the ride, after all this is a thriller one of my favourite genre. Mr. Mefford has done it again and in my books “At Last” is the best one in this series by a long shot, so far….

Memories do more than haunt. They kill. Thirty years after losing a parent to a hit and run, Alex finally confronts the killer. The hunt takes her deep into the foothills of West Virginia… With Archie on board, Alex must out-think and out-smart a fanatical religious cult to get to the truth. 

This scenario will bring memories of Waco and those under the spell of fanatic leaders who brainwashed them. Known is that the followers suffered psychological abuse, sexual abuse, incest, torture…etc. all the while the Elders were stashing money away for a clean get away….Following Alex in her quest reminded me of the evils lurking in this world. It is so easy to be wrapped up in something when you are not happy. This story smoothly recreates the lives of those caught up in this terrible web and a daughter who will go to all means to get her mother back home. This story is an emotional journey hard to put aside…..

This 6th book gives us more information of how Alex grew up and why she is so determined to find her mother who may be alive and a member of a cult. 

The book starts fairly quickly and leads immediately into action and suspense, no doubts it is a grabber and a page-turner. Quite an intense scenario that is played out by a cast of great characters….Love this series and how it is slowly developing. 

Although this could be read as a standalone I highly suggest reading this series in sequence in order to follow Alex’s personal life.

Great series

"Thin Ice", by Nick Wilkshire

Thin Ice - Nick Wilkshire

“Thin Ice” is a suspenseful police procedural set in Ottawa and revolves around the murder investigation of a rookie hockey player recently signed by the Ottawa Raftsmen.

I enjoyed reading this story adding to the appeal is the setting, Ottawa is a rich and colourful city where hockey is way of life. This is a fast-pace and dialogue driven mystery that follows two homicides detectives Jack Smith and Dave Marshall on the tail of suspects when a young hockey superstar is murdered on a morning jog.

I was tuned in from the opening page and had a hard time putting this story down. The huge cast of suspects were intriguing characters, very different on their own but all had a connection with Curtis Ritchie, the hockey sensation. As the case moved on and the investigation intensified it is evident the author is a lawyer who excels in asking questions and twisting them around to get what he wants. The story has pretty interesting police procedural and dabs somewhat into the personal life of the protagonists. This story is well written with plot twists to detail us and a great ending hard to see coming. Good pacing all through and played out by interesting characters.

You don’t need to be a fan of hockey to enjoy this book. I am not by a long shot although being Canadian it was easy to make parallels with the NHL and the Ottawa Senators ….and the shenanigans going on….

"Never Let Go", by Elizabeth Goddard

Never Let Go (Uncommon Justice #1) - Elizabeth Goddard

Uncommon Justice Book # 1

The story premise is very intriguing it brings together Forensic genealogist Willow Anderson with Ex-FBI agent Austin McKade on a quest for answers regarding a baby’s abduction more than twenty years ago. The story is set against the stunning backdrop of Bridger-Teton National Forest region of Wyoming.

I am not a huge fan of romance but when suspense is thrown into a plot layered with twists hard to see coming it makes for a pretty good read. Well romance…the chemistry between Austin and Willow is hot and cold I really wanted to slap them to make a decision but again this is a necessity to show us how vulnerable relationships can be and how our past can interfere with our decisions to move forward. I like the way the author weaves in the backstory of her protagonists as the story progresses. It is also interesting to watch Willow and Austin piece together the decades of mystery behind this kidnapping. Following these two has kept me on the edge trying to see who was behind. Well it is a well-kept secret that is divulged only in the last pages. This is a story well done from its riveting opening to the satisfying conclusion…..

This fast-paced and emotional page-turner is my first experience reading Elizabeth Goddard and it will not be my last.

I received a copy of this book from Revell Books via NetGalleys for my thoughts

"Burn Rate", by Ty Patterson

Burn Rate (Zeb Carter #3) - Ty Patterson
Book # 3, in the Zeb Carter series

By weaving an exciting scenario along with his familiar characters, Mr. Patterson knows how to entertain us. “Burn Rate” is a suspenseful story created by an author with a fertile imagination. Zeb Carter and his warriors are on the trail of a terrorist who plans to kill all leaders at the G20 Summit. Leads bring them to Iran and the head of the security force is their target.

This thriller is fast and furious we have not time to catch our breath. It is action packed and very intriguing and suspenseful. We have situations in this story that are quite believable and some maybe farfetched but captivating to read. Zeb and his team do their notorious deeds and escaped unscathed …. Awe and this interesting story filled with clever twists and turns bring us to a dynamic ending…..The team did it again….outsmart the terrorists and the gang behind them….

Once again Ty Patterson wrote a white knuckle thriller that flows well and is played out by smart characters. We have incredible descriptions and amazing details everything is so vividly written you may forget this is a fiction. Well-done.
 
 

 

"Blue Water Horizon", by Glenn Trust

Blue Water Horizon (Blue Eyes #3) - Glenn Trust

Book#3, in the Blue Eyes series

Alice is on the move fleeing Las Vegas exchanging the hot desert sands for the cool ocean breeze of the Atlantic. Taking the name of Samantha she settles for a while in Digger Key, an isolate place with a shabby bar….. The Florida Keys will never be the same…..This 3rd story is as captivating as the 2 first were.

After two books, I knew our protagonist will do anything to help her new family. First she settles in, find a job, a home and makes friends that she will call her family. When Digger Key is treated by a predatory property developer Sam springs into action. As the story moves along and switches among the characters, we get deep inside the minds of each one. Of course the main focus is on Alice (Samantha). New players to enjoy and one important recurring one…Barent, her lover from Las Vegas who is tracking her down…but don’t expect too much here, the thread is barely developed leaving the door open….. 

This story does not disappoint, we are swiftly engulfed in a tug of war game between the good guys versus the bad guys in a scenario that is fast and filled with suspense and thrills. Alice is a well-developed and unforgettable character and how she pulls us in is surely where the author excels.

With its everyday language, a narration that flows smoothly and a cast of fun characters this can only be a page-turner and an easy read.

"A Desert View", by Glenn Trust

A Desert View (Blue Eyes #2) - Glenn Trust

Book #2, in the Blue Eyes Series

You definitely need to read book #1 first, “An Empty Tree/an Eye for Death”, the story is so intriguing I simply had to continue with book #2 right after, here I am telling you my thoughts on this one. An elusive, strong female leads the story and our protagonist is back in full force with a new identity and challenges. 

Alice Trent is a wanderer who conducts her life on the fringe of the law and unable to settle and have a true relationship. After her episode in the last novel Alice ends up in Las Vegas hoping for a new life. But life is not that smooth for our Alice, the business she works for is under a hostile takeover, her colleagues are not all keen to have her there and a cop gets too close to her. What is she getting herself into when she meets and makes a deal with a strong hand man to save Sol’s business…..eventually she needed to escape once more…. she is on the move again…..book #3 will tell us where.

Another great story filled with twists and turns and suspense. Alice is not your typical female character and her sort stay in Nevada was captivating, a story hard to put down. Lots goes on, not a dull moment from the opening page to the last I was kept on the edge all along trying to be a step ahead of Alice and guessing what she was up to even wondering if her cop friend will discover her true identity. 

“A Desert View”, is a wonderful relaxing adventure and perfect entertainment that flows smoothly and grabs you from the get-go.…. boy I will be reading book #3 next…..

Loved it….

"Templar Silks", by Elizabeth Chadwick

Templar Silks - Elizabeth Chadwick
In this historical fiction Ms. Chardwick sweeps us to medieval Jerusalem where William Marshal will go to save his soul but the greatest danger he will faces there is losing his heart.

The story moves back in forth between England, 1219, with William Marshal lying on his death bed looking back upon his long-ago pilgrimage with his brother Ancel to the Holy Land then it smoothly switches to Jerusalem, 1183, where the brothers get embroiled in deadly politics, devious scheming and lusts of the powerful people ruling the kingdom. Back and forth we go.

Although this is a glossed account of the time spent in Jerusalem during the calm before the death of King Baldwin, the author’s stunning grasp of historical details of this particular period of time has definitely helped to virtually fill the gaps in a time nothing is actually known. “Templar Silks” is probably more a fiction than anything else but is richly and brilliantly written nonetheless.

The style is formal but in modern English and to be authentic to the era and the court the author leaves the names of people and place in their original French. The factual and factious elements sit together with ease giving the feel that what you read has actually happened. Although this book is set during the Holy Wars, the story is not filled with battles but more with small personal ones. Religion at that time was the backbone of Marshal’s world and he truly believes he will be damned for his actions. He needs to atone for his sins and find his path for the future….this is his final story, he died at age 72. The author is at her best describing Marshal himself and his relationship with his brother, in the ways she depicts the Templar as men of God, how she sets the political situation and plunges her protagonist in a dangerous romance…..

“The Templar Silks” is well said but I found it to be long and the many repetitive scenes did not move the narrative forward…..much too slow for my taste but an excellent read nevertheless.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalleys for this ARC.

This title was previously released by Sphere (Feb.27,2018) 

 
 

 

"At the Mountain Edge", by Genevieve Graham

At the Mountain's Edge - Genevieve Graham

This historical novel is an epic tale of romance and adventure about two people who must let go of the past not only to be together, but also to survive. Set during the Klondike Gold Rush we are swept into a drama of love, tragedy and redemption.

In 1897 gold rush has reached the Canadian wilderness and thousands of prospectors swarm to the North seeking riches. Dawson City, Yukon was their destination but to get there was not an easy endeavor. This story will bring our main protagonist, Liza Patterson, and her family to establish their business in this terribly cold city overrun with guns, liquor, prostitutes and thieves. As for our second main player, recent recruit Constable Ben Turner from North-West Mountain Police will uphold the law….”At the Mountain’s Edge” tells how in order to reach Dawson City they all had to climb harsh trails and survive an excruciating journey for weeks before reaching their destination. But most of this entire exhausting story will tell us how they faced every form of catastrophe and managed to survive in a crude and hostile environment. 

The author has combined historical events along some thrills with a wee bit of romance for our enjoyment. Vividly written with a modern twist to it, this story dives straight into the time of the Klondike Gold Rush and propels us in the middle of the action with expert knowledge. The events are accurately recounted showing Ms. Graham spent enormous time researching her subject matter but unfortunately the descriptions just scratched the surface. “At The Mountain Edge" is somewhat of a fluffy story but one that could pique some to look deeper into those who dreamed of making big ….The story is well played out by two charming characters…..awe and there is love in the air….

This is a good story but it wasn’t the page-turner I had wished for. 

I received this ARC from the Publisher Simon and Schuster via Netgalleys for my thoughts. 

"The Survivors", by Kate Furnivall

The Survivors  - Kate Furnivall

Post war Germany 1945, this epic historical fiction brings us to Graufeld Displaced Persons camp where we follow Klara Janowska and her daughter Alicja, they along with thousands others who needed to navigate through dangerous conditions and do anything to find a safe home. Klara and Alicja were the lucky ones.

Klara and Alicka are the heart in this sad tale. The story highlights how far a mother would go to protect her child and how deep the love of a daughter has for her mother. Both had endured the horrors of war before fleeing their native Poland walking for weeks to get to Graufeld , a camp where they found themselves in a grim situation, with basic rations and where they will be plunged in a cat and mouse game with an old adversary….. Oskar Schotz. 

The story is narrated by Klara, Alicja and Davide Bouvier, the camp administrator.

The characterisation is superb especially when Klara and Oskar circle each other amidst the confines of the camp. The story also moves beyond the camps’ walls where the cost of war is revealed in heart wrenching depth. Cruelty and kindness and simple human compassion are poignantly explored. Ms. Furnivall particularly knows how to emotional engage us with shocking events in the darkest days of wartime and by vividly bringing to life the uncertainty and desperation of the displaced.

“The Survivors” although brutal is beautifully written, full of tension, thrills, and historical details. This is another cleverly plotted historical fiction which explores the resistance of human against adversity.

Well-done

Thank you Simon & Schuster and Netgalleys for this ARC

"The Butcher's Daughter", by Mark M. McMillin

The Butcher's Daughter - Mark M. McMillin

The Queen’s Privateer #1

“A-hoy”

Based on true historical events, this is an epic story and a swashbuckling adventure of a young girl who grew up to be an influential 16th century seafarer. This tale is filled with gripping scene of murder, sea battles, sex, piracy, treasure galore and a lot of pirate lingo.

“Avast Ye” 

This story is certainly an attention grabber. It starts with Mary, the heroine, discussing her father’s murder then the narration moves along for more than half the book recounting her life on the high sea till she was captured. I would say, this story fits different genres: it is a bit romantic, has strong adventure with pirates and smugglers, is quite educative in some ways with maritime language but most of all it will appeal to those who has a sense of adventure and are passionate for a plot full of thrilling action and love to be plunged into intense drama.

“Man-O-War”

Recreating life in the “wild west” days of the West Indies is very well done and most captivating. Mary managed to command ships and with her loyal crew has prowled the Caribbean and prospered in the New World. ….the joy of open sea….This is definitely a delicious spin to the old boys club of male captains….Mr. Mc Millan pulls no punches, the story flows with period of tensions intercepted with peaceful interludes where I was able to regain my breath. This book is very well- done. For those seeking the history behind this fiction Mr. McMillin has included relevant odds and ends of historical facts in the last pages.

“Hearties”

The cast of lively characters includes a cameo appearance by an historic figure, Queen Elizabeth 1. The protagonist Captain Mary is human and credible as well as original. The men are authentic and passionate, their life was cheap but their courage was golden….. 

ARRR!

Transport yourself back to the 16th century and you will find this novel to be a very entertaining and captivating read. 

"The Black Mile", by Mark Dawson

The Black Mile - Mark  Dawson

Book #1, Soho Noir series

This is a good mystery that transports us back to the dark streets of London during the time Nazi were bombing the East End. For those not familiar with the lingo this story may be challenging “The Black Mile” uses a lot of period slang to add the feel of the time. 

The story is told from three perspectives: police officers, brothers Frank and Charlie Murphy and newspaper reporter Henry Drake. All three are looking for “The Blackout Ripper” a serial killer murdering prostitutes in the seedy side of London. The setting during the Blitz is recreated very well as well as the atmosphere during that time: Freemason influence at the forefront, police corruption, brother’s feuds, ripper murders, journalists making up stories and the usual scandals. The plot moves quite fast with plenty of twists and turns to derail us and keep us interested. Seemed the real life Jack the Ripper was the inspiration behind this novel but Mr. Dawson did his thing and shown us he is a true master of suspense giving us just enough to pique out attention then leaving us hanging wanting to find out the next move. Although some parts are quite graphic it is nevertheless a gripping story with all the violence, sexual references, description of autopsies and many more gruesome descriptions we expect in such a mystery. “The Black Mile” is a roller-coaster ride of a novel and a page turner.

It may take a while the get a handle on the various characters but as the story moves on and we are able to place them we are into a story that flows smoothly and grabs all our attention. Unfortunately, by the end all threads do not tie down neatly leaving the door open for a sequence. Since this books was first out in 2012, of course by now there is one for us to grab…. Next on my TBR list: ”The Imposter”.

"The Secret Life of Mac", by Melinda Metz

"The Secret Life of Mac" - Melinda Metz

This is a charming little story of MacGyver a tabby who is a kleptomaniac and loves a good challenge by playing matchmaker….he thinks humans are hopeless when it comes to romance and crazy for not following their instincts.

Mac is simply a loveable kitty and is definitely the star in the fiction. We meet him from the start where he lives with his humans and a bonehead of a dog named Diogee. Mac’s owners are on their honeymoon and is left in the care of Briony, a cousin now house/pet-sitter. Briony just left her fiancé at the alter and Mac sense her sadness so he springs into action, back to his old tricks and sets her up with Nate, owner of a retirement home…..awe……

We have a cute romance and a little mystery going on: someone is trying to sabotage the retirement home and Nate has to find out who is doing it and why…. … no more pussyfooting for Mac he is out for the kill….and a little matchmaking….

Where this story excels is in the descriptive writing. Through MacGyver’s eyes the author’s expresses clearly his point of view. His voice is clear and loud, he is simply an adorable feline. Most of the story tells how the two main characters see their lives with tid-bits of Mac’s manoeuvers inserted here and there. The best part is definitely MacGyver no doubt in my mind. The human players main and secondary are good and well defined but Mac is my hero…:)

If you like cats and know how they think you will enjoy “The Secret of Mac” it will hit all those soft spots. This book is such a delightful read…Enjoy.

I received this review copy from the publisher Kensington Books via NetGalleys for my thoughts

"The Sky Above Us", by Sarah Sundin

The Sky Above us - Sarah Sundin

Book#2, Sunrise at Normandy

This historical romance is sweet tale set at a time when ordinary men had to do extraordinary things, and when women first explored non- traditional roles. 

“The Sky Above Us” is a heart melting adventure history-filled second to “The Sea Before Us” where three brothers have their say. This time Lt. Adler Paxton takes center stage and we follow him while he is in England with the US 357th Fighter Group to battle the German Luftwaffe in 1943.

This story is also of Violet Lindstrom who serves in the American Red Cross where she arranges entertainment for the troops at the Aeroclub. Both are numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets…..no need to expand you well know what comes next….

This story although has its suspenseful moments it did not quite resonate and I felt it dragged way too much. Adler is portrayed as the typical fly-boy who seeks forgiveness to become a better person and as the story moves on he of course with the help of Violet reaches peace of mind. Violet on her side is in charge of entertainment and we follow her on her day to day life entertaining kids and the troop while patiently waiting for Adler safe return to base.

Well done is the dog-fight over the skies of Normandy to clear a way for bombers and how Adler became an ACE. What particularly excels is how the story captures the turmoil and struggles of the time and the inner battles the two main characters face each day.

The author definitely did a lot of research and has provided a lot of details about flying planes and some military aspects of war. We also find a lot of spiritual aspects, biblical quotations and prayers throughout this story. Men prayed for their safe return home and women for their men to come back in one piece. This story is definitely a military romance with all the Christian elements we can have…

Received this ARC from the publisher Revell via the first reviewer program for my thoughts

"The Birds That Stay", by Ann Lambert

"The Birds That Stay" - Ann Lambert

This complex novel spins a beautifully laid out mystery set in the heart of the Laurentian Mountains where its inhabitants will play out a collection of events that shaped their lives. Each player reveals memories recalling how life was growing up. While the enigmatic Chief Inspector Romeo Leduc reluctantly answers the call when a reclusive older woman is found strangled in her home….seems the investigation will weave the sins of the past with today’s devastating consequences.

Ms. Lambert’s words clearly resonated not only did I picture vividly the scenery I also reminisced with her characters. Being a Montrealer I enjoy Canadian authors who set their stories near or in my home town and uses the patois and expressions of most of us French Quebecer do. The author does a magnificent job in doing so. It actually made me smile….yes, we really do speak this way….The mystery in itself is very slow in development a bit too slow for my taste but the complexity and the array of fascinating characters made up for it. Yes, it may be slow but no less has gripping tension to keep us glued to every word till the very end. Do not look for great police procedural this story dives more into the background and motivations of its players than anything else. The streets of Montreal 1970, the beautiful Laurentians (not so much today it is-30C) and Hungary 1944 revisited…..and lots more ……well-done.

I received this Arc from the publisher Second Story Press via Netgalleys