“Those Who Save Us” by Jenna Blum

“Those Who Save Us” is a novel by Jenna Blum.  This is a novel about the indignities and heartbreak of those living in Nazi Germany were forced to endure in order to save their children and themselves.

Trudy lives in Minnesota and is a professor of German history.  She begins investigating the past by interviewing persons of German ancestry who are now living in America to try to piece together what they remember about that time and what they went through.  She and her mother, Anna, lived in Weimar.  Anna endured so much in order to protect her child, and those memories have stayed with her through the years.  Anna has not really spoken to her daughter about any of her past.  This novel addresses the indignities and shame that follow these people the rest of their lives.  The memories never go away and their lives are forever changed from what might have been.

Advertisements

“The Captured Bride” is a novel from The Daughters of the Mayflower series by Michelle Griep.  This novel is set during the French and Indian War and takes place in Upper New York in 1759, about five years into the war.  Actually the British fought both the French and Indians for control of more land.

At this point in history, the British and American colonists fought against the French presence in the Ohio River Valley.  The Native Americans tribes aligned themselves at various time with the two sides, frequently changing their allegiance.  The colonists were moving farther into the Ohio Valley and were not welcomed by the Indians and French trappers.

In this story set during this time, we follow Mercy Lytton, a half-breed scout raised among the Mohawk Indians, her fellow scout Matthew Pinn, and a condemned traiter, Elias Dubois.  No one is sure which side Dubois is on, but he is forced to see a gold shipment to its destination.  Mercy, Matthew, and a young, brash private are required to go also, posing as a family travelling to a new land.

This novel is fraught with tension as the group heads into hostile territory.  Not only are they trying to evade the French, but also hostile natives.  At one point, Mercy is captured by the Wyandot Indians, and Elias diverts his focus on rescuing her instead of accomplishing his mission.

I’m sure you will enjoy reading about this perilous time in history.  I found that I was more interested in this time period after reading this story and decided to research a little more into that conflict.  Ms. Griep is an excellent author whose characters have a depth of faith, loyalty, and compassion that will draw you in to the story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

“Love, Alabama” by Susan Sands

Emma Laroux is a South Carolina girl, a past Miss Alabama for a short time, and now a pageant coach.  She is part of a large, close-knit family who run a venue for celebrations.  Her mother is getting re-married soon and her sister, Cammie, is the host of a popular television cooking show.  She does her make-up before the taping every day.

The show has a new director, Matthew Pope, who has not made a great impression on anyone since he came.  There is a secret that Matt is keeping close to the vest, one that may impact his relationship with Emma.

Emma is also keeping a secret, one that she is not even sure about.  Her former beau, the town mayor, Tad Beaumont, seems overly solicitous of Emma and is determined to keep her away from Matt.  Something is not computing here.  Emma has not dated in a decade, ever since she resigned as Miss Alabama right after her crowning.  Something happened one night that she is not aware of, but that caused Tad to break if off from her and threaten her all these years.

Matt knows more than he’s telling.  He finds himself enamored by Emma, but unable to tell her who he really is.  She does not recognize him and he keeps putting it off, which doesn’t spell a good thing.  Following this story as it goes along and comes to a surprise ending is a good evening’s pastime, but I found the premise a bit soft.  It just didn’t ring true to me.  Nevertheless, “Love, Alabama” by Susan Sands was entertaining.

“Land Girls: The Promise” by Roland Moore

“Land Girls: The Promise” by Roland Moore is a story about Land Girls who served in England during WWII.  They worked for farmers, putting in crops, harvesting and in general taking the places of young men off to war.  Sometimes these girls were sent to farms where they enjoyed good food, camaraderie, and provide a service to their country at the same time.  Even though it was not the army, desertion was not an option.

Iris Dawson is seventeen and a Land Girl at Pasture Farm.  She is illiterate and is being tutored by the gamekeeper, Frank.  When the murder of a farmer’s son is discovered, Frank is the number one suspect.  There was bad blood between Frank and the murdered man, Walter Story.  Walter was a bully and not very well liked by the townspeople.  His father was a brute and also not trusted by most.  When Frank is taken into custody, Iris tries to prove his innocence.  She stumbles upon evidence that proved that Frank was not guilty.  However, the true murderer knows that she knows and vows to have revenge.

The rest of the story focuses on what effect this has on Iris.  She is continually looking over her shoulder, has nightmares, begins drinking and almost loses her position as a Land Girl.  She is sent to another farm where things are not as nice as on the previous farm.  She runs away and comes face to face with her worst nightmare.

I feel that this story is about a young girl who is forced to grow up quickly.  She possesses a strong will and the fortitude to fight for what is right.  I think that this is what happened to many young people during this time in history and I find it interesting to read about different services that were utilized during the war.

“Telegrams and Teacakes” by Amy Miller

“Telegrams and Teacakes” by Amy Miller takes place mostly in a bakery Bournemouth, England, during 1942.  Britain was under attack by the Luftwaffe and rationing was ratcheting up.  You couldn’t buy white bread, but all that was available was dark harder bread.  Eggs, milk and sugar were severely rationed, as was cloth, shoes, and staple item.  This put a strain on bakeries throughout England and households as well.

At the beginning of this novel, we find Betty Mitchell, desperate to leave the home she has shared with her husband Robert, after finding that Robert has a second wife and three children.  She takes their savings and gets on a train, finally stopping in Bournemouth, ready to find lodging and a job.

Audrey Barton keeps the bakery running despite her husband’s wartime service and her advanced pregnancy.  She is also very generous in helping others who need her.  She already is helping her stepsister, an evacuated child, her husband’s uncle and her brother, a victim of PTSD, and sister-in-law.  Betty decides to try to find employment there and Audrey hires her.

The novel follows these people as they struggle through rationing, bombing, worries about absent love ones, worries about Nazi invasion and more.  Although it is hard to keep a cheerful outlook, Audrey does.  She is a whirlwind of activity.  Although pregnant, she hardly stops working.  She is always the first to help.

I really enjoyed reading about this time in England’s wartime history.  I’m sure things were just as bad as portrayed in this novel and probably even worse.  I liked the fact that even though things looked desperate, these people came together and fought that desperation.  Having a good outlook about the future made them continue to fight the good fight and “keep the home fires burning”.

I’m looking forward to reading more about the Barton Bakery.

“The Torch Betrayal” by Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer requested that I read and review his novel, “The Torch Betrayal”.  I readily agreed, since this time period of one of my favorites to read about.  The fact that Operation Torch was indeed a part of wartime military action was a bonus to my reading of the novel.

I was super-impressed with Dyer’s seeming knowledge of historical facts of WWII.  What brought the most impact to this novel is the inclusion of real individuals involved in the war effort.  This made the novel even more convincing.  Although this is a fiction novel of history, all the elements were there…history, politics, espionage, double agents, English cabinet members, suspense, thrills, and enough plotting in the government and spy circles to make reading this novel exciting.  The fact that Churchill, Eisenhower, Hitler, Canaris, Wild Bill Donovan, and more real characters were part of this novel provided thrilling background and plenty of drama.

I am especially excited about the inclusion of fictional plans of a real operation that took place in Northern Africa.  The fact that this was a true military plan made the book one that was hard to put down.  I’m sure that espionage and counter-espionage were rampant during this time and the sub-theme of romance didn’t hurt the reader either.  I thought that the realism of the violence committed in order to protect state secrets and wartime planning was appropriate and probably quite true.

I thought this story was very carefully developed and the characters well-conceived to provide the most suspense and realism to the novel.  I will be reading more novels by Mr. Dyer.

“The Mistress of Tall Acre” by Laura Frantz

Laura Frantz’s book “The Mistress of Tall Acre” was a really great story.  I normally am not a great fan of post-Revolutionary War sagas, but this one was well-written and the characters quite believable.  The story line was not one that I’d come across before.  That a decorated officer in the Patriot Army was forced to plead for custody of his child, after his wife was declared dead and a gravesite exists to prove it…then shows up after the conflict has ended to try to become wife and mother again was unique and very curious.

After spiriting his daughter away from his wife’s family in the dead of night, Seamus Ogilvy brings her home to Tall Acre to live.  Lily Cate misses her aunt and does not know her father because he was away at war most of her short life.  Lily Cate makes friends with the neighbor Sophie Menzies.  Sophie’s father was a Tory living in rebel territory and the townspeople do not let Sophie forget it.  She is ostracized, even though her sentiments as a Patriot are overlooked.

Seamus decides to ask Sophie to help him take care of Lily Cate since the little girl has become quite attached to her.  They both harbor feelings for one another and eventually they marry.  Their life is torn apart by the return of Seamus first wife, who has miraculously returned from the dead and is set on returning to her prior position as mistress of Tall Acre.  What follows involves the reader in the legal aspects and insecurities of the new Republic.

I was captivated by the descriptions of life in that time period.  I was also dismayed at the actions of townspeople at the conclusion of the war.  “Forgive and forget” is not that easily achieved.