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“The Other Side of Courage” by Joe Matlock

I know when I have read an outstanding book by the fact that I cannot get the story or the characters out of my mind after having read it.  “The Other Side of Courage” by Joe Matlock is such a book.  This book is written about the American fliers and their counterparts in Britain during World War II.  One pilot, Tom MacMillan is sent to England to fly against the Nazis because he is a scoundrel and one girl did not respect had family connections with his commanding officer.  In reality, he is a coward.  He doesn’t want to fight, is scared to death of going into battle.  During one early sortie, he is hit by flak and is recuperating in the army hospital.  His nurse is Molly Masterson, a wonderful girl who really does not want to be a nurse and who hates American fliers.  Their relationship is a back and forth war-of-words until sparks fly between them.  Her family is not enamored of Joe, but he and Molly love each other and have plans.

During wartime, one can never be sure of the future.  This is true of Molly and Joe.  She worries and frets when he flies his missions, and he just tries to do his job and get home to Molly.  Joe is shot down and is helped by the resistance to get back to England.  He is so anxious to see Molly, but fate has a different path for him.

I was so captivated by the writing of Joe Matlock.  The characters really came to life for me and the descriptions of aerial combat kept me on the edge of my chair.  Joe really goes through so many emotions and life changing experiences that it was hard to imagine anyone surviving all this.  However, I’m sure that in war, especially a war like that the men who fight never come back the same person as they were before their war experiences.  This book will join others in my personal library, not to be loaned or traded.  Joe mentions in the back of this book that he is not a real author.  I beg to differ.  I think his writing is exciting, insightful, and compassionate.  I look forward to reading his next work about Katinka Oostvogels, a Dutch girl and Commander Bob Corey, a survivor of Pearl Harbor and their adventures together in Joe’s next great saga.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Mr. Matlock for my honest review.

“Go Away Home” by Carol Bodensteiner

“Go Away Home” by Carol Bodensteiner reminds me of the old adage: “You can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.”  This book is written about a farm girl in Iowa in 1913 when the United States was on the cusp of entering the First World War.

Liddie can’t wait to leave the farm and travel to see new sights and find new opportunities.   She is ready to go to town and become a seamstress which she thinks will open many doors for her future.   In spite of some serious events occurring within her family, she gets the opportunity she’s been looking for and beyond.  She meets a photographer and learns about his trade.  He wants her to go to Paris with him to take pictures of the war as his bride, although reading between the lines he just wants an assistant.  During her stay in town, she has kept up a correspondence with a former hired hand from her family’s farm, who has gone to Canada to homestead.  She needs to choose which life she would rather lead, that of a farm wife, or that of a world traveler.  In the life she chooses, she finds that there is happiness, good times, bad times and times which are almost impossible to endure.  In the end, the skills and character that she develops in growing up on a farm stand her in good stead for the rest of her life.

I thought that the author did a wonderful job of portraying farm life as it would have been in that time period.  Life was hard, yet rewarding and the lessons learned during the growing-up years followed a person throughout life.  I enjoyed reading this simple yet complex story of one girl’s journey to happiness. NetGalley.com and Lake Union Publishers provided me with a complimentary Kindle copy of this book.

“Catching the Wind” by Melanie Dobson

“Catching the Wind” by Melanie Dobson is a very fascinating novel.  Dietmar Roth and Brigitte Berthold were childhood friends back in Germany in 1940.  Dietmar was three years older than Brigitte at the age of 13.  Of course Germany was under Nazi rule at this time and everyone was tense and scared.  One afternoon, the children were together playing when they heard screams and ran home.  Just in time they hid as they saw the Gestapo taking away their parents.  Dietmar ran to the window in his home and saw his mother mouth the words “RUN!”.  He grabbed Brigitte and they ran for all they were worth, finally making their way to Belgium.  Although Belgium was also under German rule, they were able to escape to England where they were parted and sent to various locations.  They were thought to be British children and were being evacuated to escape the Blitz.  They were never reunited.

Seventy years later, Quenby Vaughn is doing an article on English aristocratic families who collaborated with the Germans during the war.  Some provided safe houses for German soldiers who were infiltrating the public and sending messages over wireless to Germany apprising them of troop locations and air fields.  Sabotage was part of their plan.  They thought Germany would win the war and they wanted to be ready to accept German rule as a friend to the invaders.

Lucas Hough, a lawyer representing Daniel Knight, seeks Quenby and requests that she meet his employer for a job.  Quenby is not interested until Daniel, alias Dietmar Roth, tells her of his past life.  He is searching for Brigitte, not knowing if she is dead or alive, but to reassure himself that he finds out about her before he passes away.

Little did Quenby know that along with searching for Brigitte, she will uncover information that her investigation into treason among the higher set also includes Brigitte’s past life.  I was SO interested in the chapters dealing with the involvement of so many of British aristocratic members and their savagery.  The years gone by have made searching for Brigitte a definitely difficult task, but I was pulled into the story by the intriguing manipulation of the story line by Ms. Dobson.  What a great read!  My only criticism is that the ending was not as satisfying as I’d hoped.  In fact, I was a little disappointed because I did not think it altogether fit the story…a little too contrived, I think.  However, I would highly recommend this book because my observations may be very different from another reader.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

“Missing” by Lisa Harris

 

The Nikki Boyd Files by Lisa Harris is a great series of mystery and murder.  In her second book of the series, “Missing”, Nikki Boyd is called to the scene of a double murder in a residential neighborhood.  Not only are the two men not the owners of the property, but the husband and wife are missing.  Tyler Grant, Nikki’s friend is involved only because the body of the husband is found on his boat and his father-in-law is involved as well.  As with all of Ms. Harris’ books, we are soon drawn into a complicated situation where there are many suspects and murders occur in each chapter.

Nikki’s main priority at this point is locating the missing wife.  Evidently the husband had found evidence of counterfeit drugs at the pharmaceutical company where he worked and was ready to go to the authorities.  Victims had died because the drugs were not what they should be and contained missing or non-existing ingredients making them lethal to some.  Because the criminals weren’t sure who knew the truth, they were out to destroy all those involved.

We follow Nikki as she tirelessly works to uncover the plot and the murderers and those who hired them.  Tyler, his son Liam, his mother and many others are at risk and time is running out.  I love Ms. Harris’ books.  They are well written, the characters are true and the plots are tricky and involved…just like I like them.

Revell has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

 

 

“Vendetta” by Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris has written a great series of mystery and suspense, The Nikki Boyd Files.  In this first book of the series, “Vendetta”, we are led through a maze of mysterious events which also lead to multiple murders, seeming with no reason.  Nikki and her team of investigators as members of the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force, follow the clues, the suspects, the victims and the crimes to solve the abduction of a young girl.  This case harkens back to ten years earlier when Nikki’s sister, Sarah, was abducted, never to be seen again.  Nikki has been on the lookout for her abductor ever since.  Is this the work of the same person or a copy-cat crime?

Into the mix, we find Tyler Grant, the widower of Nikki’s best friend, Katie.  The two of them are just discovering the feelings they have for one another and striving not to feel guilty that with Katie’s death, they lean on each other for comfort in their grief.  Neither one expected their feelings to escalate as they did.

This mystery kept me on the edge of my seat all the way to the end.  The list of suspects grew along with the dead bodies.  I could not put the book down and will definitely continue to read any books by Lisa Harris.

Revell has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

“Trusting Grace” by Maggie Brendan

Times are hard in Gallatin Valley, Montana Territory in 1866.  Grace Bidwell is the sole owner of Bidwell Farms after the death of her husband a few years earlier.  Her ill father lives with her and between him and the farm chores, she is too busy.  So, she puts a notice in the mercantile for hired help.  While there she sees three raggedy children eagerly staring at some peppermint sticks and decides to purchase on for each.

The children are in town with their father Robert, who is looking for work to tide them over until the can move on.  Finding Grace’s notice, Robert is able to secure the job, although he keeps the existence of the children a secret.  They set up camp a little way from the farm, but on the farm property.  When Grace finally learns of the children she is offers them a place to stay while Robert is working for her.  She had always wanted a family, but was childless in her marriage.  She loved caring for the kids and learned to care for their step-father too.

Reading this story showed just what a heightened sense of pride, hurt, and anger can do.  It takes special people to overcome all of this and to make good the life that they have.  Revell has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, “Trusting Grace” by Maggie Brendan.

“On Her majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service” by Rhys Bowen

I love any book written by Rhys Bowen and “On Her majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service” is no exception.  This book is part of her Royal Spyness Mysteries series.  Lady Georgiana Rannoch is engaged to Darcy of Kilhenny.  He is Catholic and she, being a cousin of the King, is not.  In order to marry, she must give up the rite of succession and this must be approved by Parliament.  The Queen summons her to tea and Georgie is sure this is about her marriage.  In talking with the Queen, she is asked to perform a little subtle spying on the Prince of Wales and his lady friend, Mrs. Wallace Simpson.  The fact that Wallis is a Mrs. and that being two-times over, is cause for concern to the royal family.  The Queen, the Prince’s mother, makes arrangements for Georgie to be invited to a house party in Italy.  She is to keep an eye on the Prince and his “friend” and let the Queen know if Mrs. Simpson has acquired her divorce.  Georgie is also going to Italy to help a friend after the house party.

Among a varied cast of characters at this house party something sinister is happening.  Georgie, being the sleuth that she is, cannot keep her nose out of it.  When someone turns up dead, is she the suspect?  Even Darcy is involved in this little drama.  Everyone has a motive.  Some are planning political allegiances which would turn the tide of the current unrest in Germany.

If you enjoy historical fiction along with a little mystery, you will love this book and the way Ms. Bowen brings real figures in history to life in her novels.  I received a Kindle edition of this book from NetGalley.com.