Review: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir



Synopsis:

“Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!” 

As England enters World War II’s dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to shutter the church’s choir in the absence of men and instead ‘carry on singing’. Resurrecting themselves as “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir”, the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives. 

Told through letters and journals, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit — a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past — we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life. 

In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the home front, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict. 

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan is one to love. I am always intrigued by stories about World War II. This one was just that…but much more. Jennifer Ryan brings to readers a story about the women on the home front. Women band together during these terrible and emotional times. Husbands and sons away fighting at war. Life is interrupted and everything opens up…the women are able to step in and do much more. A choir group is dismissed and all seems lost. But not yet. One determined woman goes out and reaches the ladies. They form a new choir…The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. From there, I got to meet a bunch of interesting woman whose stories varied as did their personalities. A refreshing piece of literature. Bold, engaging, and intriguing. I was hooked. Secrets, a crime, and love are all wrapped in inside this stunning story. Overall, I recommend The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir to readers worldwide. 

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Review: Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou 



Synopsis:

Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou intertwines historic persons, actual events and distant locales of World War II with a fast-moving fictional Nazi plot to disrupt the manufacture of Higgins boats, the remarkable landing craft that won the war for the Allies. Spanning the globe from amphibious landings at Guadalcanal, to the Navajo code talker school, to the exotic environs of New Orleans, to the secret world of Bletchley Park, this tautly written thriller, covering two weeks during the summer of 1942, combines a fully imagined cast of characters with the historically important figures of Andrew Higgins, members of American and British Intelligence, Navajo code talker Chester Nez, Commander Ian Fleming of MI6, along with a Polish intelligence officer, and “Silver Dollar Sam” Carolla, crime boss of New Orleans.

An old German is found dead in a New Orleans whorehouse. Sewn into the lining of the dead man’s vest is a notebook filled with hand-drawn maps and notes about the comings and goings at military installations. German conspirators fret that their local contact (the dead German) is overdue. Mafia crime boss Nico Carolla, is soon drawn into the disposition of the corpse.

We move to the Pacific and meet the grandson of the dead German, PFC Brock, a U.S. Marine being trained for the landings at Guadalcanal. Then we meet Andrew Jackson Higgins at the helm of the single most important landing craft ever built, the Higgins Boat, the steel-ramped landing craft that brought American troops to Pacific islands and to Normandy. In his colorful manner, Higgins is instructing a class of Coast Guard newbies on how to properly drive and operate his nearly indestructible boat. Higgins faces shortages of materials, manpower, and factory space. The Mafia boss controls much of the labor supply. Accommodations must be made to placate the mob family, who also have Old World connections in critical to the upcoming North African landings.

The Waffen-SS officers charged with sabotaging the Higgins Boat plant arrive, only to learn of the loss of the intelligence gathered by the dead German. Now enter the code breakers at Bletchley Park who intercept the commando team’s messages, including one female mathematician through whose eyes we see inside Bletchley Park.

America is almost entirely dependent on Britain’s MI6 for intelligence gathering. We meet Martina Amerada, a Cuban woman with a high-level banking responsibility, including ties to British intelligence, and who is Nico Carolla’s mistress. Martina moves money for the crime family and provides diplomatic cover between the Palermo branch of the family and the planners of Operation Torch. We are also introduced to the Navajo code-talker program essential to securing Marine Corps messages in the Pacific theater.

The German commando team searches for the lost notebook by visiting the whorehouses Brock has been known to frequent, which leads to a murder and later retaliation by the Mafia against the German conspirators. Half the German commando team perishes. US marshals are drawn into the story as bodies are discovered in the nearby bayous. The Mafia is suspected. When the marshals confront Carolla, the marshals are put on the trail of the commandos which leads to the death of the marshals. 

Bletchley Park is busy trying to crack the code imbedded in the Himmler messages, We move back to the Pacific where grandson Brock is involved in the bloody landings ahead of Guadalcanal. Brock is wounded and nearly dies as the remaining commando attempts to demolish the largest Higgins Boat manufacturing facility in New Orleans. With the help of British intelligence, Nico Carolla prevents the plant from being destroyed and thus becomes the hero of the story.

Operation Torch gets underway and the Higgins boats prove their indispensability to the war effort. PFC Brock recovers from his wounds, and Martina takes possession of all intelligence related to the German commandos so the threat never becomes public knowledge.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou by Steven Burgauer is every history buff’s dream book. The scenes immediately come live. Bursting with death, loss, and action. A fast-paced thriller that sends readers back to WWII time era. Germans are striking again…and it’s only a matter of time if they succeed or fail their task. 

The realistic telling of what really goes on in a war time zone was believable. The characters each add a piece to the enchanting tale. It will take time, before the dead German’s team realizes that something is wrong. Secrets, dead bodies, codes and a mystery that is addictive. 

Steven Burgauer is a talented writer. His writing is superb. Having read another of his works, I find his storytelling engaging. It’s like reliving the past. A past that contains consequences for every move made or not made. Like a domino effect. The mafia are tied into this story. I found it entertaining. A large scale operation hanging loosely by a thread…and characters racing to save it…Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou is a historical fiction novel, many don’t want to miss. All the historical details and action going on…amazed me.  Diplomacy, violence, and enemies on attack…readers will find themselves lost within every page. Just like I did. Overall, I highly recommend this read to all. 

Review: Journey to Munich

 

Synopsis:

Working with the British Secret Service on an undercover mission, Maisie Dobbs is sent to Hitler’s Germany in this thrilling tale of danger and intrigue—the twelfth novel in Jacqueline Winspear’s New York Times bestselling “series that seems to get better with each entry” (Wall Street Journal).

It’s early 1938, and Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she walks towards Fitzroy Square—a place of many memories—she is intercepted by Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the Secret Service. The German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison, but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.

The British government is not alone in its interest in Maisie’s travel plans. Her nemesis—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death—has learned of her journey, and is also desperate for her help.

Traveling into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie encounters unexpected dangers—and finds herself questioning whether it’s time to return to the work she loved. But the Secret Service may have other ideas. . . .

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear caught my attention because it’s a war novel. Nazi Germany…is nothing but a place of nightmares, terror, and mass murder. The cries of those who were killed can still be heard anytime the topic comes up…My grandma worked on the Nazi war crimes so, reading about this time and horrific period brings me a little closer to those who suffered, torn apart, and murdered. I don’t know how any can forget or move on…it was way before my time yet my heart breaks for all those people especially the children who died…because one man hypnotized a country into mass murder, destruction, and lies.

Inside of Jacqueline Winspear’s novel, Journey to Munich, readers are taken deep into the frontlines of war and the danger becomes real. One woman lost her husband and needs a purpose to move on…she is soon swept up into a situation that will be hard to get out of…like that of pretending to be one man’s dead daughter to get him out alive…all because the government wants him for their purpose. Readers will be brought close to what it’s like being a prisoner of war and the ugliness of how governments can be during these confusing, sad, and frightening times. A woman who’s heart stays true to her one and only love…a woman who won’t back down until she’s satisfied. What she doesn’t know she makes up with tenacity. This novel is well-written and the characters are more than well-developed. It’s the most intriguing read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats waiting to find out what’s going to happen next. I have heard so much about this novel before reading it and I wasn’t disappointed. Jacqueline Winspear is a talented writer who can drag every reader into her historical fiction. I loved it. Overall, I highly recommend this novel to readers worldwide.

Death Comes Calling

Kara, sixteen and a poor Jew happened to not have the dark hair like the rest of her Jewish family. Her bestfriend Daniel, also sixteen but a wealthy German boy has taken her safety into his own hands. He had real documents made in advance to protect Kara.  Kara was to be hidden as a cousin of his. His family was fooled by the documents he provided.

Kara didn’t know about the risks her best friend took to protect her. The day the Nazis came into her home. They shot her parents right were they stood. And she just froze. Hidden from the Nazis soldiers. Daniel came to her hidden room. The spot she hid in when she was a kid. He took her hand and lead her to his home. Before going in he showed her the papers and said,”This is you now. Do you understand.”

Shaking her head for a yes, Daniel lead her into the house. “Mom, Dad, here she is.” Pushing Kara closer to his parents, Kara wasn’t sure what to say. She never met his parents. Until now. They looked stressed and they looked like any German couple who weren’t Jews.

“Welcome home”, his parents said to her. His mother hugged her and his father clapped her on the back.  Three blocks away her parents bodies were bleeding on their house floor. Killed outright. No hesitation. No thought into their deaths. No last goodbyes. Just death come calling them away. Away from her forever.

All because there are Jews. All because of one evil man, dictating their lives in his hands. Plucking them all away from life itself.
Will Kara survive during the war under her new disguise? What will happen, if her friend Daniel is called to fight for the devil, called Hitler?
Will he still be the same friend who risked all to save her?