This post will return when it stops being an ass
Acclaimed author and managing director of The Times Literary Supplement, James MacManus, creates a compelling historical novel that brings to life an unbelievable but true love story set during the Second World War. In 1942, Cork-born Kay Summersby’s life is changed forever when she is tasked with driving General Eisenhower on his fact-finding visit to wartime London. Despite Eisenhower’s marriage to Mamie, the pair takes an immediate liking to one another and he gifts Kay a rare wartime luxury: a box of chocolates. So begins a tumultuous relationship that against all military regulation sees Kay travelling with Eisenhower on missions to far flung places before the final assault on Nazi Germany. She becomes known as “Ike’s shadow” and in letters Mamie bemoans his new obsession with ‘Ireland’. That does not stop him from using his influence to grant Kay US citizenship and rank in the US army, drawing her closer when he returns to America. When the US authorities discover Eisenhower’s plans to divorce from his wife they threaten the fragile but passionate affair and Kay is forced to take desperate measures to hold onto the man she loves…
MacManus has an effortless flow to his storytelling and you’re transported back to the 1940s. He doesn’t get overly flowery in details and yet he gives great descriptions. Like the title implies this is a story about Ike and Kay, his driver, there are a couple of other chapters that are from the POV of others but they are part of history and their story in a way so it does work.
Kay was an interesting character and you could have a good bit of sympathy for her for the choices she makes, knowing she does things usually with the best intentions/out of love.
I do think MacManus did a commendable job with Ike, we’re not meant to idolize him in this and in fact he does a lot to show him as someone who achieved quite a bit but didn’t go unscathed by making mistakes in his personal life. I really didn’t like Ike, but not because of MacManus’s lack of competency, rather, because he did so well writing him. He is not the hero of this story.
The historical aspects of this were hands down my favorite parts, and the romance was as grey and confusing as I think it was meant to be.
Overall it was an intriguing read and I really enjoyed learning more about Ike through this as it definitely led me to look into him more after being fascinated by this book!
Thank you to Duckworth Publishing for a free eBook of this in exchange for my honest review as part of the blog tour.
About the Author
James MacManus is the managing director of The Times Literary Supplement. After studying at St Andrews University he began his career in journalism at the Daily Express in Manchester. Joining The Guardian in 1972, he later became Paris, and then Africa and Middle East Correspondent. He is the author of several novels including On the Broken Shore, Black Venus, Sleep in Peace Tonight and Midnight in Berlin. James MacManus has three children and lives in Dulwich, London.
The Rest of the Tour Schedule
Haha, I did more donating than shopping this weekend, but I’ll have our charity shop finds up next Sunday.
Today I felt like doing some mini-reviews with a few of the books I’ve read this month, and expect my wrap up post on the 31 to have a very long list of books.
“TheWind Softly Murmurs” is for anyone who has ever grieved over the passing of a loved one. These poems arose from the poet’s efforts to resolve the grief that followed the death of her parents. This book reflects her transformative journey that began while she was immersed in her parent’s love. Her progress was suspended at their deaths, but she ultimately recovered through the process of writing. These profound, lyrical poems ask us to contemplate our own lives and perceptions in order to move towards healing and a deeper spirituality. They urge us to meditate on death, loss, family, love, eternal life, and renewal. They encourage us to embrace change, as it ultimately leads to evolution and new life. The poet hopes this uplifting message of eternal life and renewal will bring solace to the readers, nurturing their souls in their bereavement. Throughout our lives, there is loss. As we age, the losses seem to come more frequently. It always hurts, but there is value in the pain. With every loss that is handled in the right spirit, we find ourselves a little stronger.
|**I received a copy of this from the author in exchange for my honest review.**
One doesn’t expect such prose in this day and age on the manner of grief in poetry but Sharon Arthur achieves a mythical and spiritual journey for the grieving in her poetry. The poems are divided into sections, and she shares with the reader words that have come to her from the loss of her own parents. One doesn’t need to lose a parent though to identify with Arthur, simply know the feeling of grief.
The poems are beautiful and haunting and the call to the age of mythology in them makes for a powerful read and I haven’t seen such talent in a ‘new’ poet in quite a long time. -My GoodReads Review
And just to expand on that, this was poetry that I could really identify with, it wasn’t just pretty and lyrical, it was emotional -and without being overwhelming for me-. I felt a connection to Arthur’s words and I know this will be a poetry book I will revisit, she hit the nail on the head with keeping the length just perfect, you can read it in a sitting or pick one a day and it will still be impactful. I was very happy to read a poetry book and if you’re looking for some poetry to read, I’d recommend this book.
The Girl Who Became a Goddess is a tribute to the childhood stories of Theresa Fuller who has experienced multiple cultures and learned to love them all. These are tales passed on from generation to generation, some to delight, some to terrify, all to enlighten.
A FOOLISH ANIMAL DISCOVERS THAT THE RAINFOREST IS A DANGEROUS PLACE.
As a girl, a mother, and a teacher, Theresa retells her favorite folktales through the lens of her own life experiences in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, putting a unique spin on ageless classics.
A YOUNG BOY IS WILLING TO SACRIFICE EVERYTHING FOR HIS FAMILY.
The Girl Who Became a Goddess is a love letter to a young girl from the adult she has become.
|-Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy to read in exchange for my honest review-
This was a lovely collection of fanciful folklore tales, some with the old ‘Aesop’s fables’ morals at the end [though this is not inspired by Aesop or related, just an example to help]. Fuller gives us a great introduction into folklore that is outside of the usual tales we grow up hearing of or knowing about in the Western World, such as Aesop’s Fables. Fuller also makes this quite personal, giving her version of stories that she grew up with and as folklore is steeped in such an oral tradition, many people can know the same story in many different ways. I really enjoyed each little story and the glimpses into these other worlds of Folklore, my only complaint is that I wish there would have been more. I loved this collection and hope Fuller decides to do something like this again.
I rounded this up to four because I truly loved reading it, it just would have been great if there had been more. These were gorgeous tales told in such a great way, but it ran out all too quickly for me while reading it. </3
The Second World War is drawing to a close, but the world is far from safe. Left to fend for themselves, women and children are forced out of their homes in East Prussia to make way for the advancing victors. As the Russian soldiers arrive, the women know that they are still very much in danger, and that for them, the fight for survival is only just beginning.
Facing critical food shortages and the onset of a bitter cold winter without heat, the women send their children into the nearby forests where they secretly cross the border into Lithuania, begging the local farmers for work or food to take back home to their waiting families. Along the way the children find cruelty, hardship and violence, but also kindness, hope, and the promise of a new and better future.
Based on meticulous research, this stunning and powerful debut novel by Alvydas Šlepikas tells for the first time the story of the ‘wolf children’ and the measures many families were forced to take in order to survive.
|The subject matter alone proves the book is worth a read, especially today after so much time has passed and history becomes clouded.
How quick we are to forget the true scope of just how many victims war can leave, especially in one such as WWII. Though a hard read, due to the events described and based on true stories, it was a well thought out, meaningful and sadly brilliant novel.
Anyone deeply interested in history/WWII and not adverse to reading about the horrors and hardships of the children left behind from war should give this book a chance.
Honestly, this was a hard read but again because of the subject matter. I have no regrets reading this but it does just grip your heart and try to rip it in two. These stories are based on true accounts of the ‘wolf kinder’ and I appreciate what the author did in bringing those stories into the spotlight. It’s all too easy to forget the unseen victims of war, and then again we tend to forget the ones right in front of us anyway but I felt this was an important book to read and review.
-The formatting did not properly divide chapters in the eARC which could cause some confusion when reading as it seems to jump about, but I’m unsure if the problem is fixed on the final copy. Thank you to OneWorld Publications and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.-
In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice.
From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.
In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.
At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story—a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.
|I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
An endearing novel that captures the heart from Callahan. This book was everything I wanted and more, it was what I needed. She delves into the very heart of Joy, exposing her in a way that you forget she’s writing fiction. The spirit and character of Joy is complex and wonderful just as is her counterpart, C.S. Lewis himself (or Jack as he is known).
Joy has a journey that takes us through most of her adult life, the pain she goes through, the poverty and spiritual healing and love, all of it is tantamount to, well, becoming Mrs. Lewis. This was the definition of a spiritual journey and for those who forget C.S. Lewis was quite a spiritual man himself, he helped Joy through her journey and in return realized that there was love for him yet.
Honestly, I love Callahan’s style, I love her works, and this is no exception. Once more she’s knocked it out of the park with capturing the essence of the author and most importantly, the woman in his life, who was an author herself, successful in her own right. This was like chicken soup for the soul, where it’s more love and philosophy and the thought of what’s out there than an in your face Christian novel. If you’re feeling you need a bit of an inspiration read and don’t mind the religious philosophy of it all, well, I recommend this one.
Her tribe is shattered. Her parents are gone.
When eight-year-old Samara faces the capture of her tribe, an unimaginable power awakens within her. Even as this magic threatens to consume her, a disembodied voice intervenes, offering guidance and helping her control these newfound abilities.
Meanwhile, Samara’s father chases his wife’s captors across an unfamiliar terrain. But can Orin find his wife in time to save her? Will Samara learn to control her power and reunite with her family? And who is the mysterious entity traveling with her?
Find out in . . .
The Unfettered Child
The author gave me an eBook of this in exchange for my honest review.
This had a bit of essence of Dune to it as far as writing style went and I loved that. Sahd gives us an intriguing world, and he casually gives us world-building without going too deeply and this works for the purpose of this story which at its heart is about a few characters and the connections they have, with each other and with magic in some way.
Young Samara was a good protagonist, I wish I would have connected more to her, I did feel there was a lack of connection between myself as the reader and the characters, which was unfortunate as the rest of the novel is really great.
The elves are super intriguing and I feel like it was nice to have them shown in a different light. (Not that I don’t love my LotR elves, but it doesn’t hurt to have some variety!)
Orin was the one I felt most sympathetic toward but at times I felt it was perhaps him who had magic considering how he survived compared to others who seemed to fall down dead from a 1/3 of the things he did. Still, he was a good character and I enjoyed reading about him almost more than I did Samara.
Overall there’s some fantastic ideas and some great talent peeking through this novel, it’s going to be exciting to see his novels grow because I have no doubt he’ll grow in his writing and would definitely read more of his books.
There we have it! My mini-reviews for the day! Toodles!
Just a sidenote eARCs I’ve read this month that are getting their own review will be:
– The Phantom Forest
– Spin the Dawn
SS Bach is the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do. Fast forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog. The author’s writing is a wonderland, captivating and drawing the reader in to the presented world. Time becomes no object as a literary universe unfolds and carries the reader through eighty years, where emotions are real and raw and beautifully given.
Hardcover: 200 pages
Publisher: Wrecking Ball Press; Hardcover edition (4 Mar. 2019)
Where to Buy
Where do I start? This holds all the horrors and beauty of mankind. The fact that even when someone isn’t good they can still do good. It’s a book that shows how the past echoes on in the future, how it really affects people rather than the imprint it just leaves in history books.
Goodman immediately drops you into the story, he doesn’t waste time on flowery prose and shows you the heart of the matter, the journey he wants to take you on. It’s one that’s not for the faint hearted. He also is brilliant at describing history in such a modern and stark way. He shows how ugly things were, how brutal it was, and yet his words are elegant, poignant, guiding you through brutal honesty and lyricism of music.
Three generations of women from the same family have been entangled in Otto’s life, whether they know it or not. Katja is the origins of it all and her character is not an easy one to appreciate, but, Goodman does a good job showing you enough about her to at least have some understanding on certain parts of her workings. I can appreciate the struggles she went through though they are justified in many ways.
Her daughter Uwe broke my heart, if there was ever a character that I wanted to reach out and cherish, it’s her. The child of two Nazis, and yet just an innocent life herself. She bears the burden of the shame brought on to her by her parents, hated by others for simply being born to them. It’s a hard life to live, and really it was a heartbreaking read overall but especially for her, Otto, and Greta. In fact the reason I rated this 4.5 instead of 5 is simply because I wish there would have been more to Uwe’s story, and the women in general but this story in reality is about Otto more than anyone else in my opinion.
Otto himself is a character full of turmoil, tragedy, and isolation. Goodman breathes him to life, there’s not one moment where his actions are believable, the way he lives his life, the choices he’s made. The only thing I struggled to believe was a certain moment that occurs in the book once it’s back to 1994, but I won’t say it and spoil it, it was quite a small issue, and one though I don’t agree with, it makes sense why Goodman put it in. In fact the rest of the story is pretty flawless, I just wanted more because I think it needed more about the women but it’s hard to argue with the choices Goodman has made. Otto though, he is the true main character in my humble opinion, and your heart will be gripped by him.
Rosa is Katja’s Granddaughter and Uwe’s daughter, raised by Katja, she’s grown up in a world knowing the stark truth about her grandparents but never knowing her own past entirely, told that her father had died, and not at all knowing who he was. She is tugged by the past onto a path that will eventually lead her to Otto.
And at the heart of everything, the main reason I wanted to read this, is music.
Otto is a brilliant cellist and composer, Katja was a musician until she went deaf (not a spoiler as you find out within the first few pages she is indeed unable to hear), and Rosa is a musicologist. Fun fact, My postgrad is in Musicology, so I was a bit critical of the musical aspects of this, and Goodman certainly did his research, I was pretty impressed and he didn’t overreach, it was a perfect balance. Music connects Otto to his family and to Katja, to Rosa later on, and it draws people in and strips them down to the bare bones of their pain and joy, its something that can’t be quantified or explained but I loved the way Goodman wrote about it, the sensations it brings in emotions and to our bodies.
As I stated earlier, this book is not for the faint hearted. This shows the brutality and violence of WWII, there are Nazis before and after the war, there are people who are cruel, but it’s never needless cruelty or violence in Goodman’s writing, it all adds purposefully to the story.
4.5/5 Cups of coffee and I tip my hat to Goodman. This was a brilliant novel that broke my heart in the best ways. Thanks to Anne for letting me be part of this tour and thanks to Goodman for the copy of his book. [I don’t typically write this in blog tours but of course my honest opinion was given in exchange]
About the Author
Martin Goodman was born in Leicester, and has lived and worked in China, Qatar, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and France. Travel forms a large part of his writing: both for strictly travel-related books and also for novels and biographies. His first novel ON BENDED KNEES was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize, and his most recent biography SUFFER AND SURVIVE won 1st Prize, Basis of Medicine in the BMA Book Awards 2008. He is the Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hull. He lives in Hull, London and the French Pyrenees. ‘Such narrow, narrow confines we live in. Every so often, one of us primates escapes these dimensions, as Martin Goodman did. All we can do is rattle the bars and look after him as he runs into the hills. We wait for his letters home.’
– The Los Angeles Times
The Rest of the Tour
My June Reads
- The Chosen
- Kingdom of Exiles
- Random Attachment
- The Missing Years
- The Repenting Serpent
- The Sea Refuses No River
- Dream Angus
- Bride Squad Runaway
- The Van Apfel Girls are Gone
- The Starter Wife
- The Red Labyrinth
- The Disappeared
- Without a Trace
- The Ice House
- Finer Things
- Shadow of the Fox
- Heart of Stone
- Horizontal Collaboration
- Soul of the Sword
- Something to Live For
[Review to Come]
Total Tally: 25 Books Read this Month
Favorite Posts from around the book blogger-verse
- Fictionally Sam: 2019 Mid-Year Check In
- Bookwyrm Bites: Guide- Formatting Posts Using Templates, Classic + Reusable Blocks
- Bookwyrm Bites: An Open Letter to My Younger, Questioning Self
- Michelle Likes Things: #PrideLibrary19 Representation Matters
- Northern Plunder: How to feel prepared for YALC and create a TBR
- Not Just Fiction: HOW A BOOKDRAGON IS BORN
- Bookwyrming Thoughts: kerys from the everlasting library | novel newcomers
- Reader Voracious: Storytime- The Time(s) I Tried to Turn into a Mermaid Growing Up
- Books and Dachshunds: Should our blogging voice change depending on the “style” of posts?
These are most certainly not all the great posts I’ve seen but they’re the ones that I did recall the most, and trust me, I’ve seen some amazing content this month, it was a bit overwhelming to try and pick lol.
What I’ve Posted
- Comparing Notes
- Cymera #1
- Cymera 2- Discussion Post: Monsters
- How To Email A Book Blogger
- Thriller Thursday
I had so much fun attending my first book event, Cymera Festival! I had a lot of blog tours and I came up with some new things, Thriller Thursdays and Comparing Notes (Comparing Notes will be monthly for now so July will have a new post to roll out on that) I also didn’t post for like 6/7 days out of the month and it was nice to have those days off! I can’t wait to see what July brings!
**And That’s a wrap! I’m off to go nap now. If you click on the pics this time you’ll be directed to my GR review, and clicking on the title of the book will give you my blog post review if there is one for the book. I know I read a lot of 4/5 star books this month, but it was a really good month for reading, and I have no regrets on loving so many reads this go!**
“Horizontal Collaboration” is a term used to describe the sexual and romantic relationships that some French women had with members of the occupying German forces during World War II. In this poignant, female-centered graphic novel created by writer/artist duo Carole Maurel and Mademoiselle Navie, the taboo of “sleeping with the enemy” is explored through the story of a passionate, and forbidden, affair. In June 1942, married Rose (whose husband is a prisoner of war) intervenes in the detainment of her Jewish friend and then accidentally embarks on a secret relationship with the investigating German officer, Mark. There is only one step between heroism and treason, and it’s often a dangerous one. Inside an apartment building on Paris’s 11th arrondissement, little escapes the notice of the blind husband of the concierge. Through his sightless but all-knowing eyes, we learn of Rose and Mark’s hidden relationship, and also of the intertwined stories and problems of the other tenants, largely women and children, who face such complex issues as domestic violence, incest, and prostitution. This fascinating graphic novel tackles the still-sensitive topic of who it is acceptable to love, and how, and the story’s drama is brought vividly to life by intimate and atmospheric illustrations.
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Korero Press; None ed. edition (18 Jun. 2019)
The art in this was simply gorgeous and the stories combined with it made for a breath taking and well…quite frankly, hear breaking read. The emotion on the characters was so raw and powerful, it made the art flawless by making them so utterly believable. There is a large mix of characters, they all board in the same building and we’re given insight into all their toils and dreams. The pressure of WWII wears down on France, and on Parisians especially in this beautiful graphic novel. There is no one without strife or causing it, and in the darkness of war one woman has fallen in love with a German Soldier.
For those who don’t know their history, it was severely ‘frowned upon’ [and that’s putting it mildly] by the people of Paris for the French women to liaison with German Soldiers. Of course some women did it to survive, others because they were true to the German cause, and some, because they fell in love. Rose’s is not the only love story in the book, and everyone’s heartache and hopes really spilled through the pages. It’s an emotional read and one that left me a bit breathless. Things are believable, they’re palpable whether in the actions of the characters or in the setting of history itself and the author and artist have blended everything together beautifully.
I could not say enough good things about this graphic novel. If you are someone who likes history or graphic novels, or even someone who s intrigued by a devastatingly gorgeous story and art, I would definitely recommend this book to you all. By far the best graphic novel read of the year for me so far and I don’t see it slipping out of the top rank anytime soon.
Below you’ll find a couple of examples of the beautiful art and at the very bottom make sure to check out the rest of the tour.
Five huge cups of coffee from me.
About the Authors/Artists
Carole Maurel cut her teeth on animated films before devoting herself to illustration, in particular, graphic novels. Her 2017 book The Apocalypse According to Magda was awarded the Artémisia Avenir award, which celebrates women in comics.
Navie is a screenwriter for press, cinema and television. She has a degree in history from The Sorbonne in Paris, where she specialized in the history of fascism – making Horizontal Collaboration an excellent fit for her first graphic novel.
Rest of the Tour
Emerging out of the 1940-1941 London Blitz, the drama of these two short works, a novel and a memoir, comes from the courage and endurance of ordinary people met in the factories, streets and lodging houses of a city under bombardment. Inez Holden’s novella Night Shift follows a largely working-class cast of characters for five night shifts in a factory that produces camera parts for war planes. It Was Different At The Time is Holden’s account of wartime life from April 1938 to August 1941, drawn from her own diary. This was intended to be a joint project written with her friend George Orwell (he was in the end too busy to contribute), and includes disguised appearances of Orwell and other notable literary figures of the period. The experiences recorded in It Was Different At The Time overlap in period and subject with Night Shift, setting up a vibrant dialogue between the two texts.
Inez Holden (1903-1974) was a British writer and literary figure whose social and professional connections embraced most of London’s literary and artistic life. She modelled for Augustus John, worked alongside Evelyn Waugh, and had close relationships with George Orwell, Stevie Smith, H G Wells, Cyril Connolly, and Anthony Powell. The introduction and notes are by Kristin Bluemel, exploring how these short prose texts work as multiple stories: of Inez Holden herself, the history of the Blitz, of middlebrow women’s writing, of Second World War fiction, and of the world of work.
Thank you Handheld Press for sending me a review copy, in exchange I’m providing you all with an honest review.
This book was a nice change of pace to my other recent reads. I’m a huge history buff and I had done a lot of WWI and Russian Revolution reading for my nonfiction so to have a change of pace with WWII was great. Not to mention this is a 2 for 1 really, we get Inez Holden’s novella Night Shift along with her wartime memoir, It Was Different At The Time.
Both had their own slice of history to bring to the table, they are both pieces though that are exploring the sort of people that exist in this time period. This isn’t a look at WWII as an event as much as a time period in someone’s life. Holden has a talent for describing people as an outsider that’s a joy to read and the details she provides are unlike other accounts I’ve read. In her novella, she describes the work week, and this includes the machinery that many of us now forget were used to help so much in the war and that was manned quite a bit by women at that point in time. She also recalls things as ‘mundane’ as the buses, and bicycles people used to get around during air raids, and this goes for her memoirs as well.
Oh to be a fly on the wall for Holden’s life, she knew an amazing group of people and thanks to the introduction by Kristin Bluemel we get to know more of what an amazing woman Inez Holden was herself. This is not for reading to get to a plot or experience a satisfying ending, it’s for just plain enjoyment and observation. I can’t say I recall being on the edge of my seat while reading this but I did thoroughly enjoy it for what it was, the small nuances and bits of information were a true delight. I am happy to say that I look forward to reading more about and by Inez Holden.
I would recommend this to any History Buff especially those interested in WWII.
4/5 Cups of Coffee from this caffeine addict! This book will be launched on May 31st at The Second Shelf Bookshop in London!