Category Archives: #review

“Exquisite, expansive narrative.” Read the latest 5* #review for #histfic THE SOLDIER’S RETURN #RWISA #RRBC

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Exquisite, expansive narrative

“An expansive saga of early 17th Century Germany during the Catholic Counter-Reformation, The Thirty Years’ War, and the Witch Trials of Bamberg – one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. This exquisite narrative follows the travails of a kept farm maid, an alcoholic soldier on the run, and a sadistic Jesuit priest hellbent to rid the region from pestilence, famine and evil through tortuous and murderous forms of purification. Through the lives of these characters we experience the vermin-infested life on the farm replete with bedbugs, lice and fleas; the soldiers’ disease-ridden life on the march, and the zealot’s monastic life of prayer and inquisition. Written from the omniscient perspective of a credible researcher of history, the author pulls no punches in her vivid, sometimes purplish, depictions of plunder, torture, rape and murder, and she portrays the desperate plight of women and children trying to survive against the random vagaries of marauding armies, starving vagabonds, sweeping famine, incest, and the drunken forays of virtually every man in their cloistered lives. Glimpses of love, joy and hope are quickly trampled under the grind of survival, but like the sun, they rise again and again, as does the indomitable spirit and work ethic of the Germanic people. The primary characters’ lives have brutally collided in the past, and their trajectories propel them toward violent ruin. Who will survive? The history books will relate the choices of kings and pope, but if you want to know how their decisions were felt on the ground at the human level, read The Soldier’s Return.”

Review by author Douglas C. Gilbert

THE SOLDIER’S RETURN:

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The year is 1626. A senseless war rips through parts of Germany. Ongoing animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants has turned into an excuse to destroy much of the landscape situated between France, Italy and Denmark. But religion only plays a minor role in this lucrative business of war.

The young dutchman, Pieter van Diemen, returns to Amsterdam in chains after a period of imprisonment in the Spice Islands. He manages to escape but must leave Amsterdam in a hurry. Soldiers are in demand in Germany and he decides to travel with a regiment until he can desert. His hope of survival is to reach Sichardtshof, the farm in Franconia, Germany; the farm he left ten years ago. His desire to seek refuge with them lies in his fond memories of the maid Katarina and her master, the humanist patrician Herr Tucher. But ten years is a long time and the farm has changed. Franconia is not only torn by war but falling victim to a church-driven witch hunt. The Jesuit priest, Ralf, has his sights set on Sichardtshof as well. Ralf believes that ridding the area of evil will be his saving grace. Can Pieter, Katarina and Herr Tucher unite to fight against a senseless war out of control?

Available in paperback and for kindle right here: mybook.to/SoldiersReturn

Welcome to the WATCH #RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour, Day 8! #RRBC #RRBCWRW with John Howell @HowellWave

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Thank you all for joining us today on this showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB! This showcase will feature 19 awesome writers, each having their own special day of being featured on multiple blogs.  We ask that after reading the written work of art by each RWISA Author, please click on the link to take you directly to the author’s profile page on the actual RWISA site.

Today we welcome author JOHN HOWELL!

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by John W. Howell ©2018

I know its morning, but I don’t want to open my eyes. I am starting to remember what went on last night and I don’t even want to imagine who might be sleeping next to me. Not that I think there is anyone there since I’m pretty sure I came home alone. I didn’t want to go back alone, and god knows I tried hard to prevent sleeping by myself. I do remember coming on to the beautiful woman in the bar. Wait a minute. I remember it because it was so early in the evening, I didn’t have a lot to drink then. I know I drink too much and lately, I have been having a hard time getting the events of the previous night together. Okay, so before I open my eyes, I will give a thought to what I believe the evening turned out to be.

First, I met David at the bar, and we had a drink. I ordered gin on the rocks and David had bourbon. So far so good. David and I were discussing something about workout shoes, then he left for the bathroom. The woman came in and asked if I would mind buying her a drink. She had some story about losing her purse and being pretty much stranded. I remember asking her if she had someone she could call. I think she told me, no, but I’m not sure. Anyway, we had a couple more drinks, and sometime in there, David came back. I introduced the woman to David. I think her name was Chloe or Carolyn. By this time, I am starting to feel pretty good. I ask her if she would like to stay over and I remember her telling me she was not that kind of girl. We had some more drinks and then decided to go to dinner. I asked the woman if she would like to join us and she was pretty definite about the decline. I chalked it up to my usual déclassé, and David and I left.

Now from there, it is a little fuzzy. I remember ordering dinner and a couple more drinks. I really don’t remember finishing the meal or leaving the place. This lack of memory is foretelling me that from experience the outcome will not be good. I’m sure David and I went out after dinner as we always do and so there are some blank places where mayhem could have occurred. I am now sweating quite hard, and it isn’t the heat either. The room must be fifty degrees if it is one. The sweat is as a result of the sinking, bottom of stomach pit nervousness coming from the fact I have no idea what I did after we left the restaurant. My head is also beginning to ache as a warning to my body the caffeine level in my system is getting dangerously low. I am afraid I have no alternative, but to get up and face whatever needs facing so I can get some coffee. I know I will also need some painkiller as well. I will try aspirin and know from previous headaches I will need to wash it down with about three fingers of vodka. No ice just the ice-cold vodka from the freezer in a glass with no ceremony. Get it into the system fast so the memory will come back, and these infernal shakes will slow down for the moment.

I steel myself and get ready to get out of the bed. I will need to move my body slowly, so I don’t cause a situation that inevitably leads to nausea and the arrival of the dreaded throw up that doesn’t have the decency to come when I’m numb and in the bag. I know my body would prefer if I did, in fact, throw up, but my mind still considers throwing up the sign of someone who can’t hold their liquor. God knows I can hold mine even if I can’t remember a damn thing about the night before. Now is the time to open the eyes and have a look around. I do the left one first since I think I am closer to the left side of the bed and I’m sure no one is there. When I open my eye, I can almost hear the tearing of the lids as they try to separate. Another joy of falling asleep drunk; the eyes feel glued shut. I look with my left eye and see nothing but the bedroom window looking reddish and covered in the gauzy curtains one of my past loves put up there. The red glow must be the bloodshot view my iris gets looking out of my eyeball.

I open the right and almost scream out loud. My worst nightmare has come true and is lying next to me. That beautiful Chloe or Caroline is sound asleep, and now I have to wonder why I didn’t feel the heat of her body before I opened my eyes. Immediately the old Coyote ugly joke comes to mind about chewing off an arm to get away, but this woman is not ugly and not on my arm. I begin to hyperventilate since no good can come from not remembering how this lovely creature ended up in my bed. I can see she doesn’t seem to have a shirt on either. I am not about to probe to understand about the pants and must try to get to my medications before I actually throw up right here in the bed. I roll to the left and swing my legs over the edge of the bed and sit up as gracefully as I can. I see I am completely naked and instead of feeling free, I believe I feel more like someone who has a clamp around the midsection. I rise off the bed very slowly.

“Morning darling,” she says.

“Uh good morning,” I say. “Would you like some coffee?”

“Ummm that sounds so good right now.”

“I’ll be right back. Don’t go away.”

“Oh, don’t worry I won’t.”

Son of a bitch. What the hell have I done now? I can feel my gag reflex starting to go into automatic drive, so I rush to the kitchen and open the freezer. The vodka is right there, and I am not even going to wait for the glass. I take three big swallows and hold my breath. My stomach gives a lurch like I just dropped an explosive down the hatch but retains the liquid in place. “God thank you,” I say out loud. It Looks like I can go to the coffee machine and brew some strong stuff. At times like these, I am so thankful I quit smoking. As bad as I feel, had I consumed a couple of packs of smokes, I would have wanted to kill myself about now. I hold on to the counter as the coffee begins its cycle.

“How do you feel?”

I wheel around and almost lose my precious vodka which is just starting to worm its way into my brain. “I feel like shit.”

“I am not surprised. When I ran into you again, you were pretty wasted.”

“Whoa, I sure was. Where is David?

“You and David got into a fight.”

“A fight? What were we fighting about?”

“You wanted to take me home, and David didn’t want you to do so.”

“So, where is he?”

“I really don’t know. We left him on the street.”

“What? Left him on the street? Why the hell did we do that?”

“As I said you were pretty wasted.”

“Yeah but leaving him passed out on the street.”

“Oh, he wasn’t passed out.”

“What was he?”

“You shot him. I believe David is dead.”

“Shot him? How is that possible. I don’t own a gun.”

“That didn’t stop you from finding one.”

“Finding one? Where did I find a gun?”

“I loaned you mine.”

“And I shot David with it?”

“Yup. Right in the back as he tried to walk away.”

“Oh my God. What on Earth made me do that? He’s my best friend.”

Was. I wouldn’t say it was an Earthly persuasion. I do believe my work is done here.”

“Your work?  What do you mean?”

“Hear those sirens. They are coming for you. I called them. I would get some clothes on if I were you. Oh, and a piece of advice.”

“Advice?”

“Yeah. Think twice before you decide to mess with the devil. See you on the other side.”

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

John’s RWISA profile page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application! 

 

Book #Review : Discover authentic, 5***** #GeorgianEra #HistoricalFiction by G.J.Griffiths @gjgfh_g

stars-5-0What did I like about this book? Easy: its authenticity. This is what I expect from historical fiction: an authentic, realistic account of the time period with all the uncomfortabilities that go with it. I haven’t read The Quarry Bank Runaways (Book 1 of the series) yet but Mules; Masters and Mud can be read without having read the first book. Give this book a chance and don’t feel daunted by the dialect! The dialect adds flavor and flair and it may be challenging but I don’t want to be spoon-fed a story. I feel this is a very loving tribute to those western European workers of the 19th century that fought to make our western 20th century factories safer and somewhat human to work in. Highly recommended!

Here’s the book blurb: WARNING! This book may contain NUTS! (Non-Uniform Text Speech) In other words speech in what some have called “Olde English Vernacular.” It is spoken by characters in the book from the North, the Midlands and the South of England. There is a glossary at the end of the book to help if you can rise to the challenge. It adds shades of colour to this 19th century story that you may not be expecting.

When Mrs Alexander wrote about “the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate” and declared that “God made them, high or lowly, and order’d their estate” in the ever popular hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful, she was probably reflecting one of the mores of the times. It would fit in well with prejudices and beliefs of the middle and upper classes that paternalism had indeed been intended by God, thus laws protecting the workers in their fields, mills and factories were not necessary. In the words of Browning so long as “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world!”

The continuing story of the Quarry Bank Runaways is about what happened to two cotton apprentices over three decades during the Industrial Revolution; first as qualified young men with hopes and later when they are full grown. By the start of the Victorian period the fates and their ambitions would have collided. Serious events and incidents, both personal and national, were about to impinge upon the lives of Thomas Priestley and Joseph Sefton, who had earlier run away from their apprentice master, Samuel Greg. What would cause a qualified mule spinner to give up his comparatively safe job and risk failure, ridicule or destitution? Ambitious and determined working class individuals like Tommy and Joe had to carefully step through a pathway involving love, loyalty and legal persecution and prejudice, from within the social hierarchy of the times.

The inspiration to write The Quarry Bank Runaways and Mules; Masters & Mud came about after reading The Real Oliver Twist by John Waller, a biography of Robert Blincoe, and acting as a tour guide around the Quarry Bank Mill Museum in England. There to discover the existence of the real apprentices and the lives of many child cotton apprentices during the Industrial Revolution.

Check out G. J. Griffiths’ home page here: https://www.gjgriffithswriter.com/  GJ

About the Author: G. J. Griffiths is a retired science teacher with some early working experience of the photographic industry. Born in the UK he enjoys reading most genres of fiction such as sci-fi, crime/detective thrillers, historical and wildlife stories. Non-fiction reading mainly includes scientific or historical books. Walking in the English, Scottish or Welsh countryside with binoculars ready for bird-watching or other wildlife is a particular pleasure. Seeing badgers and otters in the wild recently was an exciting first.

His first novel was Fallen Hero and the So What! series of three books followed and which are all focussed around the fictitious Birch Green High School. They include: So What! Stories or Whatever!, So What’s Next! and So What Do I Do? Each book is quite different in its overall context, e.g. a collection of the teachers’ experiences, creation of a school nature corner, and arson, fraud and murder. More recent works include poetry: Dizzyrambic Imaginings, two illustrated children’s sci-fi stories about ant-size aliens and a historical fiction based upon real characters from the Industrial Revolution period: The Quarry Bank Runaways.

Welcome to the 2nd 2017 TREAT READS BLOG HOP! #RRBC #RRBCTreatReads @gmplano

Greetings!  Welcome to the 2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop!  These members of RRBC have penned and published some really great reads and we’d like to honor and showcase their talent.  Oddly, all of the listed Winners are RWISA members!  Way to go RWISA!

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed, and after reading it, leave a review.  There will be other books on tour for the next few days, so please visit the “HOP’S” main page to follow along.

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the “HOP’S” main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!

Today we are featuring author Gwen Plano and her memoir LETTING GO INTO PERFECT LOVE:

Gwen5Inspiring and unforgettable, Letting Go into Perfect Love is a riveting account of a journey through the terror of domestic violence to a faith that transforms all. As a college administrator, Gwendolyn M. Plano lived her professional life in a highly visible and accountable space–but as a wife and mother, behind closed doors, she and her family experienced unpredictable threat. The statistics are staggering–every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten–but to Gwen, this was her secret; it was her shame. When her husband eventually turned his brutality on her son, she knew she could no longer remain silent.

 Alternately heart-wrenching and joyful, this is a story of triumph over adversity–one woman’s uplifting account of learning how to forgive the unforgiveable, recover her sense of self, bring healing into her family, and honor the journey home. Accompanied by glimpses of celestial beings, Gwen charts a path through sorrow to joy–and ultimately, writes of the one perfect love we all seek.

My review: stars-5-0Wow. This is a beautifully written memoir; a candid, honest, brave account of one woman’s struggle and spiritual journey through an abusive marriage. It was not easy to read but I was riveted. I enjoyed the emphasis on the healing process and the uplifting message. Powerful, insightful, what else can I say? Highly recommended read.

 

Welcome to the 2nd 2017 TREAT READS BLOG HOP! #RRBC #RRBCTreatReads @jhawker69

Greetings!  Welcome to the 2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop!  These members of RRBC have penned and published some really great reads and we’d like to honor and showcase their talent.  Oddly, all of the listed Winners are RWISA members!  Way to go RWISA!

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed, and after reading it, leave a review.  There will be other books on tour for the next few days, so please visit the “HOP’S” main page to follow along.

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the “HOP’S” main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!

Today we are featuring author Ronald Yates and his novel THE IMPROBABLE JOURNEYS OF BILLY BATTLES

As Book 2 of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy opens, Billy is far from his Kansas roots and his improbable journeys are just starting. Here’s my review of Book 1, Finding Billy Battles.

The year is 1894 and Billy is aboard the S S China sailing to the inscrutable Far East. Trouble is not far behind. He has met a mysterious and possibly dangerous German Baroness. He has locked horns with malevolent agents of the German government and battled ferocious Chinese and Malay pirates in the South China Sea.

Later, he is embroiled in the bloody anti-French insurgency in Indochina–which quite possibly makes him the first American combatant in a country that eventually will become Vietnam. Then, in the Philippines, he is thrust into the Spanish-American War and the brutal anti-American insurgency that follows. But Billy’s troubles are only beginning.

As the 19th century ends and the 20th century begins, he finds himself entangled with political opportunists, spies, revolutionaries, and an assortment of vindictive and dubious characters of both sexes. How will Billy handle those people and the challenges they present? The answers are just ahead.

 

 

BORN FOR LIFE: A Midwife’s Story by #RRBC author Julie Watson @BornforMidwife is a #mustread #memoir

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I’m continuing my review series of RRBC authors today with my thoughts on this memoir, Born for Life: A Midwife’s Story by Julie Watson.

stars-5-0This is a highly recommended memoir. I loved the story. I loved the Call the Midwife series so I was particullary interested in this story. This is Julie’s story of working maternity in New Zealand in the early 70’s and how the changing times affected her and her career. She also addresses her own trauma, having lost her second child. All in all, a fast moving, enjoyable read.

I feel it’s tough to write, organize and deliver a fast-moving, engaging, well-organized memoir. I imagine it’s quite easy to get bogged down in memories that can jolt the reader out of the flow of the story. But in BORN FOR LIFE, the flow is there and all in all it’s a very enjoyable reading experience.

The blurb: A nurse aide position in the local maternity annexe at the age of sixteen gave Julie a love for being with women during labour and birth and caring for mothers and their babies.

Life could not have been happier until the tragic death of her own baby in the first hour of life led to depression, loneliness and despair.

This true story tells of Julie’s struggle to triumph over adversity and follows her journey to fulfil her dream and become the midwife she was born to be.

JulieAbout Julie Watson: Julie lives in Palmerston North, New Zealand with her husband Barry. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Following the story written in ‘Born for Life : A Midwife’s Story’ Julie has travelled extensively and worked in several countries around the world, caring for women of different cultures, nationalities and backgrounds. She has worked in England, rural Australia, volunteered in Africa, and has recently volunteered in Northern Vanuatu as a midwife and nurse at Medical Santo.

 

Discover #HistoricalFiction #adventure packed with #action by #RRBC author Ron Yates @jhawker69

Billy Battles

The summer is waning and I have not written a word in weeks. Real life takes precedence sometimes. On the positive side, I have found time to read and there are talented writers out there producing quality books. Like this historical series by RRBC author Ron Yates. Here’s my review for the first book in the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy:

5***** I really enjoyed this story. Just the idea that someone is left with a trunk full of memorabilia, journals and a manuscript describing a great grandfather’s life is so intriguing. And so begins the recount of the life of Billy Battles. This is historical fiction the way I like to read it. Set in the late 19th century, it’s a train ride across America. I know very little about this time period and it was a real pleasure to learn something about it in such an entertaining way. I’m looking forward to continuing with the series.

About the book: When a great-grandson inherits two aging trunks and a stack of meticulously detailed journals penned by his great-grandfather, he sets out to fulfill his great-grandfather’s last request: to tell the story of an incredible life replete with adventure, violence, and tragedy. The great-grandfather’s name is Billy Battles–a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control.

For much of his 100-year-long life Billy is a man missing and largely unknown to his descendants. His great-grandson is about to change that. As he works his way through the aging journals and the other possessions he finds in the battered trunks he uncovers the truth about his mysterious great-grandfather–a man whose deeds and misdeeds propelled him on an extraordinary and perilous journey from the untamed American West to the inscrutable Far East, Latin America and Europe.

As he flips through the pages of the handwritten journals he learns of Billy’s surprising connections to the Spanish-American War, French Indochina, and revolutions in Mexico and other Latin American countries. But most of all he learns that in finding Billy Battles he has also found a long lost and astonishing link to the past.

About the author: Ronald E. Yates is an award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and award-winning Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans from around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.

RonRon is a former award-winning foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media.

His book, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles,” is the second in his Finding Billy Battles trilogy of novels and was published in June 2016. It has won multiple awards, including the 2017 KCT International Literary Award, the 2016 New Apple Literary Award in the Action/Adventure category and First Place in the 2016 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the Literary Category. It was also a finalist for the Diamond Book Award in the United Kingdom. The first book in the trilogy, “Finding Billy Battles,” was published in 2014 and was a finalist for a Laramie Award.

Book 3 of the trilogy, “The Lost Years of Billy Battles,” was published in June 2018.

Ron has been a presenting author at the Kansas Book Festival and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, among other venues. He is also the author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with A Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill. Other books include Aboard the Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey through Japan, a collection of columns translated into Japanese, as well as three journalism textbooks: The Journalist’s Handbook, International Reporting and Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a Global Economy.

Before leaving the world of professional journalism where he toiled 25 years, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and both Central and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places.

Ron’s work as a war correspondent resulted in several awards, including the Inter-American Press Association’s Tom Wallace Award for coverage of Central and South America; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists; three Edward Scott Beck Awards for International Reporting, and three Pulitzer nominations.

He is a proud graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas.

He writes a blog entitled “ForeignCorrespondent” that can be found at: http://ronaldyatesbooks.com/category/foreign-correspondent
His Website and authors pages can be found at: http://ronaldyatesbooks.com