Cover Crush: Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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Midwinter BreakMidwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty

W. Norton & Company

General Fiction (Adult)

Pub Date 22 Aug 2017

A retired couple, Gerry and Stella, travel to Amsterdam for a holiday to refresh the senses, do some sightseeing, and generally take stock of their lives. Their relationship seems easy, familiar—but over its course we discover the deep uncertainties between them. Gerry, once an architect, is forgetful and set in his ways. Stella is tired of his lifestyle and angry at his constant undermining of her religious faith. Things are not helped by memories that resurface of a troubled time in their native Ireland. As their vacation comes to an end, we understand how far apart they are—and can only watch as they struggle to save themselves.

Bernard MacLaverty is a master storyteller, and this is the essential MacLaverty novel: compassionate observation, elegant writing, and a heartrending story. It is also a profound examination of human love and how we live together—a chamber piece of resonance and power.

My Thoughts: 

I LOVE this book cover! Everything about it draws me in and I am looking forward to reading the story.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Latest cover crush HERE

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

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Wish-List 5: World War II History/Sea Bound

This month’s wish-list is a powerful one in my opinion. We will never forget the sacrifices our military made and still makes so we might be saved from oppression and for many other reasons. War is ugly, brutal and often times heatless one…Needless to say, it also saves lives and governments from falling into the wrong hands.   

This list involves war at sea and this collection of books is one I want to have for my library. Be sure to check out other wish-list from my fellow book bloggers below!

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The Cruel Sea (Classics of War)The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

A powerful novel of the North Atlantic in World War II, this is the story of the British ships Compass Rose and Saltash and of their desparate cat-and-mouse game with Nazi U-boats. First published to great accalim in 1951, The Cruel Sea remains a classic novel of endurance and daring

 

 

 

The Battle of the Atlantic How the Allies Won the WarThe Battle of the Atlantic: How the Allies Won the War by Jonathan Dimbleby

“The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril,” wrote Winston Churchill in his monumental history of World War Two. Churchill’s fears were well-placed-the casualty rate in the Atlantic was higher than in any other theater of the entire war. The enemy was always and constantly there and waiting, lying just over the horizon or lurking beneath the waves. In many ways, the Atlantic shipping lanes, where U-boats preyed on American ships, were the true front of the war.

England’s very survival depended on assistance from the United States, much of which was transported across the ocean by boat. The shipping lanes thus became the main target of German naval operations between 1940 and 1945. The Battle of the Atlantic and the men who fought it were therefore crucial to both sides. Had Germany succeeded in cutting off the supply of American ships, England might not have held out. Yet had Churchill siphoned reinforcements to the naval effort earlier, thousands of lives might have been preserved. The battle consisted of not one but hundreds of battles, ranging from hours to days in duration, and forcing both sides into constant innovation and nightmarish second-guessing, trying desperately to gain the advantage of every encounter. Any changes to the events of this series of battles, and the outcome of the war-as well as the future of Europe and the world-would have been dramatically different.

Jonathan Dimbleby’s, The Battle of the Atlantic offers a detailed and immersive account of this campaign, placing it within the context of the war as a whole. Dimbleby delves into the politics on both sides of the Atlantic, revealing the role of Bletchley Park and the complex and dynamic relationship between America and England. He uses contemporary diaries and letters from leaders and sailors to chilling effect, evoking the lives and experiences of those who fought the longest battle of World War Two. This is the definitive account of the Battle of the Atlantic.

The Kappillan of MaltaThe Kappillan of Malta by Nicholas Monsarrat

As bombs pound Malta to dust, Father Salvatore–a simple priest, or kappillan, serving the poor–finds himself caught in the drama of World War Two. In the fragile safety of catacombs revealed by the explosions, he tends to the flood of homeless, starving, and frightened people seeking shelter, giving messages of inspiration and hope. His story, and that of the island, unfold in superbly graphic images of six days during the siege.

The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945 by James D. Hornfischer

The extraordinary story of the World War II air, land, and sea campaign that brought the U.S. Navy to the apex of its strength and marked the rise of the United States as a global superpower

One of America s preeminent military historians, James D. Hornfischer has written his most expansive and ambitious book to date. Drawing on new primary sources and personal accounts by Americans and Japanese alike, here is a thrilling narrative of the climactic end stage of the Pacific War, focusing on the U.S. invasion of the Mariana Islands in June 1944 and the momentous events that it triggered.

With its thunderous assault into Japan s inner defensive perimeter, America crossed the threshold of total war. From the seaborne invasion of Saipan to the stunning aerial battles of the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, to the largest banzai attack of the war and the strategic bombing effort that led to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Marianas became the fulcrum of the drive to compel Tokyo to surrender with consequences that forever changed modern war.

These unprecedented operations saw the first large-scale use of Navy Underwater Demolition Teams; a revolution in the fleet s ability to sustain cross-hemispheric expeditionary warfare; the struggle of American troops facing not only a suicidal enemy garrison but desperate Japanese civilians; and the rise of the U.S. Navy as the greatest of grand fleets. From the Marianas, B-29 Superfortresses would finally unleash nuclear fire on an enemy resolved to fight to the end.

Hornfischer casts this clash of nations and cultures with cinematic scope and penetrating insight, focusing closely on the people who rose to the challenge under fire: Raymond Spruance, the brilliant, coolly calculating commander of the Fifth Fleet; Kelly Turner, whose amphibious forces delivered Marine General Holland Howlin Mad Smith s troops to the beaches of Saipan and Tinian; Draper Kauffman, founder of the Navy unit that predated today s SEALs; Paul Tibbets, who created history s first atomic striking force and flew the Enola Gay to Hiroshima; and Japanese warriors and civilians who saw the specter of defeat as the ultimate test of the spirit.

From the seas of the Central Pacific to the shores of Japan itself, The Fleet at Flood Tide is a stirring and deeply humane account of World War II s world-changing finale. Advance praise for The Fleet at Flood Tide

This is a masterful account of the barbaric last year of the Pacific War, combining original scholarship, engaging prose, excellent historical judgment, and empathy for the soldier, to explain why defeating the Japanese proved so costly and how American military forces performed so effectively and, in the end, humanely. The Fleet at Flood Tide is, quite simply, popular and scholarly military history at its best. Victor Davis Hanson, author of Carnage and Culture, senior fellow in classics and military history, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University

We have here a carefully researched and well-written account of key stages and events in the final portion of the war in the Pacific that includes a careful look at the Japanese side as well as the American. The campaign in the Marianas and the background and reality of the atomic bomb are exceptionally thoughtfully presented. Gerhard L. Weinberg, author of A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II, professor emeritus of history, University of North Carolina”

Pacific CruciblePacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942 (The Pacific War Series #1) by Ian W. Toll

On the first Sunday in December 1941, an armada of Japanese warplanes appeared suddenly over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and devastated the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Six months later, in a sea fight north of the tiny atoll of Midway, four Japanese aircraft carriers were sent into the abyss. Pacific Crucible tells the epic tale of these first searing months of the Pacific war, when the U.S. Navy shook off the worst defeat in American military history and seized the strategic initiative.

Ian W. Toll’s dramatic narrative encompasses both the high command and the “sailor’s-eye” view from the lower deck. Relying predominantly on eyewitness accounts and primary sources, Pacific Crucible also spotlights recent scholarship that has revised our understanding of the conflict, including the Japanese decision to provoke a war that few in the country’s highest circles thought they could win. The result is a page-turning history that does justice to the breadth and depth of a tremendous subject.

The Caine MutinyThe Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

The Novel that Inspired the Now-Classic Film, The Caine Mutiny and the Hit Broadway Play, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial Herman Wouk’s boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half century, The Caine Mutiny has become a perennial favorite of readers young and old, has sold millions of copies throughout the world, and has achieved the status of a modern classic.

 

 

Here are the wish lists from a few of my friends this month:

Erin @ Flashlight Commentary

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired

 

Book Review & Free Book Offer: A Fine Pair of Shoes and Other Stories by Clare Flynn

A Fine Pair of Shoes and other storiesMy thoughts:

Award Winning Author Clare Flynn writes a collection of nine short-stories. She shares with her readers’ tales of the past to the modern day. It is not often I review short-stories, so I was delighted to agree to this project. I enjoy how Clare cleverly weaves these intriguing short tales. I’d have to say the first two stories and the story about two people’s trip to The Great Exhibition of 1851 are my favorite and I would love for her to expand of the character’s lives with a possible novel or maybe further short stories. One can only hope. What brings even more value to two of the stories in this collection is Flynn’s family history-or based on I should say. You get a glimpse into her family and find charming, heart-felt and extraordinary people.

In the last two chapters, Flynn shares with us the first two chapters of her upcoming novel, The Chalky Sea. My review for that powerful story will come soon.

Overall I have rated this collection of art four stars while giving a few of them a three-star rating. The overall presentation of the book was superbly done starting with the book cover and title. I hope to see more short-stories like this from the author and look forward to reading The Chalky Sea!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

You can download A Fine Pair of Shoes by Clare Flynn HERE now through June 30th.

About Author:

Clare Flynn

Clare Flynn writes historical fiction with a strong sense of time and place and compelling characters. Her books often deal with characters who are displaced – forced out of their comfortable lives and familiar surroundings. She is a graduate of Manchester University where she read English Language and Literature.

Born in Liverpool she is the eldest of five children. After a career in international marketing, working on brands from nappies to tinned tuna and living in Paris, Milan, Brussels and Sydney, she ran her own consulting business for 15 years and now lives in Eastbourne where she writes full-time – and can look out of her window and see the sea.

When not writing and reading, Clare loves to paint with watercolours and grabs any available opportunity to travel – sometimes under the guise of research.

Author links

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

goodreads

Award Winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Books

Cover Crush: The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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The Lioness of MoroccoIndependent-minded Sibylla Spencer feels trapped in nineteenth-century London, where her strong will and progressive views have rendered her unmarriageable. Still single at twenty-three, she is treated like a child and feels stifled in her controlling father’s house.

When Benjamin Hopkins, an ambitious employee of her father’s trading company, shows an interest in her, she realizes marriage is her only chance to escape. As Benjamin’s rising career whisks them both away to exotic Morocco, Sibylla is at last a citizen of the world, reveling in her newfound freedom by striking her first business deals, befriending locals…and falling in love for the first time with a charismatic and handsome Frenchman.

But Benjamin’s lust for money and influence draws him into dark dealings, pulling him ever further from Sibylla and their two young sons. When he’s arrested on horrible charges, the fate of Sibylla’s family rests on her shoulders, as she must decide whether she’ll leave him to his fate or help him fight for his life.

My thoughts:

I find this book cover, striking. I love the colors and the backdrop-if you will-and how the woman’s eyes draw you into her world. I am also intrigued with the title and premise. I will be reading this book very soon.

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Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

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Cover Crush: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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People of the BookInspired by a true story, People of the Book is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity by an acclaimed and beloved author. Called “a tour de force”by the San Francisco Chronicle, this ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century Spain. When it falls to Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, to conserve this priceless work, the series of tiny artifacts she discovers in its ancient binding-an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-only begin to unlock its deep mysteries and unexpectedly plunges Hanna into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics.

My thoughts:

I’m not quite sure how the cover relates to the story, but nonetheless, this cover really stands out to me. I find the title appealing as well and the premise. I am definitely moving this one up on my reading-list.

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Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Erin’s latest cover crush HERE

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

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Cover Crush: When It’s Over by Barbara Ridley

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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When It's OverWhen It’s Over by Barbara Ridley

She Writes Press/ Historical Fiction/ Pub Date 26 Sep 2017

Coming of age in Prague in the 1930s, Lena Kulkova is inspired by the left-wing activists who resist the rise of fascism. She meets Otto, a refugee from Hitler’s Germany, and follows him to Paris to work for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. As the war in Spain ends and a far greater war engulfs the continent, Lena gets stuck in Paris with no news from her Jewish family, including her beloved baby sister, left behind in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Otto, meanwhile, has fled to a village in England, and urges Lena to join him, but she can’t obtain a visa.

 

When Lena and Otto are finally reunited, the safe haven Lena has hoped for doesn’t last long. Their relationship becomes strained, and Lena is torn between her loyalty to Otto and her growing attraction to Milton, the son of the eccentric Lady of the Manor. As the war continues, she yearns to be reunited with her sister, while Milton is preoccupied with the political turmoil that leads to the landslide defeat of Churchill in the 1945 election.

Based on a true story, When It’s Over is a moving, resonant, and timely read about the lives of war refugees, dramatic political changes, and the importance of family, love, and hope.

My Thoughts:

The first thing that drew my attention to this book was actually the title. It spoke to me in different ways. First it hit me personally and then of course when I read the premise it drew me in on a history level-if that makes any sense. This goes to show that even titles, and book covers can have an emotional impact on a person. The layout itself has meaning and a time of war, fascism, encounters, relationships, and turmoil.

For those of you who are readers, you can request this book on NetGalley.

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Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Erin’s latest Cover Crush HERE

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

 

Anthropologist & Historical Fiction Writers: How are they linked?

me-iiAs a child I was inquisitive and longed for adventure. When I was ten years old or a little younger, I dreamed of being an archaeologist. I remember my friends and I at lunch recess digging in the sand for fossils. As I got older, I still wanted to know more about the past, thus began my deep love for history and anthropology.

There are different types of scientific fields.  Scientists from various fields many times work together to find answers and to uncover the past. They use hypothesis, evidence, technology for solving problems, and ask questions on what they observe to help them come to some sort of conclusion. We know that not everything we question has answers which leads us to different avenues to explore.

When scientists investigate and come to conclusions they usually write a scientific paper of their findings; then they publish their work. When scientists publish their work, not everyone will agree with their findings resulting in more questions and discussions. I would say it takes as much courage to be a scientist as it does an historical fiction writer because they will be both judged on the accuracy of written history.

How are the two linked? The definition of anthropology is the “study of human societies and cultures and their development.” Anthropologists study different aspects of humans from the past; how they lived, worked, cultivated the land, and so on. Anthropologists provide vital information on human existence.

Truths and or hypothesizes are revealed when we look to the past. The past speaks to us in many ways. The history of cultures and the human condition reveal these realities. A good historical fiction writer gives us tangible material to bring the past to life. In their research they must look to the past and study the civilizations and cultures-very much like anthropology.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Book Review: Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

Golden HillGolden Hill

A Novel of Old New York

by Francis Spufford

Scribner

General Fiction (Adult)

New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan island, 1746. One rainy evening in November, a handsome young stranger fresh off the boat arrives at a counting house door on Golden Hill Street: this is Mr. Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion shimmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge sum, and he won’t explain why, or where he comes from, or what he is planning to do in the colonies that requires so much money. Should the New York merchants trust him? Should they risk their credit and refuse to pay? Should they befriend him, seduce him, arrest him; maybe even kill him?

My thoughts:

I was thrilled when I picked up this book to read and review. It seemed to have everything I have been looking for in a story. Male protagonist, an early New York setting, intrigue, and a mystery of a man no one knows and everyone is talking about him. When people meet him he is intelligent and speaks eloquently but gives very little of himself away. Meanwhile, as he waits for his “thousand pounds” to be legitimized-if you will-he meets many interesting people and gets himself into some trouble.

The major points in the story for me was the beautiful prose, brilliantly drawn characters and time and place of the story. However, I will have to say as I got further into the book the prose was getting to be too much and it seemed to take away from the plot and my eyes started to gaze over somewhat.  To me there are too many unnecessary prose in the book that did not enhance the story-line however “literary” people might find Golden Hill.

Overall the plot needed to have more substance and to be fleshed out more. Having said all this, I am rating this book three stars and five stars for the cover.

I obtained a review copy of Golden Hill through NetGalley from the publishers for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Cover Crush: Solitaire: A Captivating Novel of Intrigue and Survival in Wartime Paris (Clara Vine #5) by Jane Thynne

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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Solitaire A Captivating Novel of Intrigue and Survival in Wartime ParisJune 1940: the first summer of the war. Berlin is being bombed and nightly blackouts suffocate the city. Then France falls and a shadow descends.

A shadow has fallen over Clara Vine’s own life, too. She is an English citizen in a country that hates her. Virulent anti-British propaganda is everywhere.

Then she is summoned to meet the Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels who has decided that Clara should adopt a new role – as his spy – and that she must go to Paris on a mission.

Much as she dislikes the idea, Clara realises this might be the chance to find an escape route to England. But Goebbels has other ideas and soon Clara is drawn into a web that threatens to destroy her. As everything she holds dear is taken as ransom, she must fight to protect her family – and to survive…

My Thoughts:

This whole layout is appealing to the eye. It caught my attention straight away. I love the ladies bright red dress against the softer tones in the background. The Eiffel Tower is a nice touch! I love the title and the premise sounds promising!

I will say this, I have read an historical fiction book that involves the Propaganda Ministry and the story was a total wash. I hope this one one won’t be the same! Alas, I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy it!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers