WWI Romance in “Not By Sight”

23411528Not By Sight by Kate Breslin
Bethany House: August 4, 2015 (Historical Fiction; Christian Fiction)*

Beach Vacation

“When bad things occur, it’s the devil working to shake our belief. We have to look to our hearts for the truth and not at what the world does. ‘We live by faith, not by sight’”.

Not By Sight caught my attention because of its WWI connection – it’s a period in history that fascinates me endlessly. In general, I tend to say away from Christian Fiction recognizing that it’s just not my thing – I get why it’s popular but it tends to be too sweet and the faith element is not subtle enough for my taste. That said, Not By Sight pleasantly surprised me. The historical details were great, the plot was exciting and the religious element was not overpowering.  (more…)

A Ghostly Romance in “The Uninvited”

19547848The Uninvited by Cat Winters
William Morrow: August 11, 2015 (Historical Fiction)*

Beach Vacation

“I admit, I had seen a ghost or two.”

The Univited is a ghost story set in Illonis in 1918, in the midst of the First World War as well as the Spanish Flu epidemic. Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan wakes up one night to learn that her father and younger brother have killed a man. With the war raging, anti-German sentiments are high, and reeling from the loss of Ivy’s other brother, her family seeks retribution. For Ivy it’s the last straw; she leaves home. Seeking to assuage the guilt she feels for what her father and brother have done, Ivy goes to pay her respects to Daniel, the brother of the man killed. This initial meeting unravels as expected, which is to say, not well. However, that does not stop Ivy from returning or from Daniel and Ivy forming an attachment to one another. (more…)

Snapshot of an age in “The Massey Murder”

18163741The Massey Murder by Charlotte Gray
Harper Collins: September 6, 2013 (Nonfiction)

My rating: I’d go there again vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

My latest foray into nonfiction is Charlotte Gray’s fantastic Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Country. On the surface, Gray takes a look at a trial, but this book is much more. It’s a snapshot of Toronto during a time of change and turmoil. Women were fighting to be recognized as something more than wives and mothers, and Canadians were shipping off to Europe to fight on the front lines. The trial and the war do not initially make much sense being juxtaposed against one another, but the strength of Gray’s writing is in her ability to combine a seemingly unrelated trial to the larger scope of events that occupied the minds of an entire country.

In February 1915, eighteen year old, Carrie Davies shot and killed her employer, Charles “Bert” Massey. This act captured the attention of the masses for a short time in February, and showcases the divided attitudes and social codes of a city in flux. (more…)

The Great War Reading List

This August marks World War One’s Centennial. I’ve always been fascinated by both world wars, and it’s impossible not to see how both events have influenced fiction. I remember reading Richard Adams’ Watership Down as a kid and having my teacher point out to me the comparison to WWII; the same goes for The Hobbit. I’ve always loved making those kind of connections in my reading, and to date, I’ve probably read much more fiction related to the second world war than the first. However, with the centennial year here, there has been explosion of WWI fiction. Today’s top 10 is my Great War reading list. As usual for me, it’s a mix of the serious and lighthearted. I like the books that take a hard look at the war, especially the aftermath, but I also want some that show the happily-ever-after for those affected. Without further ado, here’s my wartime reading list in no particular order:

Wake Somewhere in France Three Day Road Silence For the Dead Overseas (more…)

World War I on the High Seas: “The Wolf”

6810289The Wolf: How One German Raider Terrorized the Allies in the Most Epic Voyage of WWI by Richard Guilliatt and Peter Hohnen
Free Press, April 20, 2010 (Nonfiction; History)

My Rating: Beach Vacation (3/5)

Once again I’ve departed from my usual fiction reading for something for the nonfiction book club that I mediate at work. Due to this year’s WWI Centennial, I decided to pick something WWI related to discuss, and let me tell you, this was an arduous undertaking. It was extremely difficult to find a history book that was under 500 pages long and not dry as dust. Ultimately, I do think that The Wolf was a good choice for book club; not only was this book informative, it also offered some food for thought and discussion.

The Wolf concerns a lesser known aspect of the First World War: war on the high seas. Typically, when you think of the WWI you do not think of oceanic battles or countries like Australia and New Zealand; usually it’s the trenches that come to mind. The Wolf was eye-opening in the fact that it reminds you that WWI had a far reaching impact. This book explores one specific German freighter’s year-long voyage that terrorized the Allies in the hopes that they could help starve the enemy by compromising their supply lines. (more…)

Ghostly Investigations in ‘Silence for the Dead’

18114136Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James
NAL Trade, April 2, 2014 (Historical Fiction)*

My rating: I’d go there again! (4/5)

It’s 1919, the Great War is over, but the battle continues on for those that were scarred, both mentally and physically from the battles. Like St. James’ previous novels, post-war life is tackled; however, with Silence for the Dead, the theme of mental illness and PSTD takes the forefront.

Kitty Weeks is a young woman on the run from a painful past. She thinks she has finally found a relatively safe situation as a nurse at Portis House, a far away asylum for former soldiers broken from their time in the war. The problem is Kitty is no nurse, and there are strange happenings at Portis House, a large home that was seemly abandoned by its former owners.

Kitty is slowly drawn to the mystery of the disappearance of the former owners of Portis House as she gets to know her patients, and learns that they all share a similar nightmare featuring the same villain. Kitty gains a partner in her investigations with the patient, and war hero, Jack Yates. But can Kitty trust this apparently insane (and handsome and charismatic) patient? Or will trusting Jack cause Kitty to lose her long sought for sanctuary.


Giveaway: Somewhere in France

18090117Starting today and running until January 21st, 2014, Stacey and I will be hosting our first ever giveaway. Up for grabs is one copy of Jennifer Robson’s fantastic Somewhere in France!

In December we both reviewed the wartime romance, and we agreed: this book is amazing. So if you’re interested in the book, please enter the giveaway below (and I highly recommend that you do; this book is that good).

About the book

Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society and her mother’s rigid expectations forbid Lily from following her heart. When war breaks out, the spirited young woman seizes her chance for independence. Defying her parents, she moves to London and eventually becomes an ambulance driver in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps—an exciting and treacherous job that takes her close to the Western Front.

Assigned to a field hospital in France, Lily is reunited with Robert Fraser, her dear brother Edward’s best friend. The handsome Scottish surgeon has always encouraged Lily’s dreams. She doesn’t care that Robbie grew up in poverty—she yearns for their friendly affection to become something more. Lily is the most beautiful—and forbidden—woman Robbie has ever known. Fearful for her life, he’s determined to keep her safe, even if it means breaking her heart.

In a world divided by class, filled with uncertainty and death, can their hope for love survive. . . or will it become another casualty of this tragic war? (Description from Goodreads).

About the giveaway

Stacey and I graciously thank the author for providing this giveaway. To enter the draw, simply let us know what your favourite wartime book is at Rafflecopter.

And if you do win, leave us a comment and let us know what you thought of the book!

Somewhere in France – A Joint Review

18090117Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson
William Morrow & Company, December 31, 2013 (Historical Fiction)*

Stacey and I were lucky enough to receive advance copies of this wonderful book at the same time, so naturally we decided it was an opportune time to do another joint review.

Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford, or Lily, as she prefers to be called, is trapped by her status in life. Her family expects no more from her than a well-connected marriage. While Lily dreams of more, she has no idea how to go after what she wants: an education, an occupation, and a life with meaning. However, when war breaks, Lily finally finds the impetus she needs to overthrow her parents’ constraints. With perseverance, she obtains employment as an ambulance driver and contrives to get herself stationed near her brother’s best friend, Robbie Fraser.

Robbie is surgeon of low (Scottish!) birth working near the front lines. After Robbie gets thrown out of a party at Lily’s parents’ house, he drops out of Lily’s life. When she begins her search for purpose and work to help the war efforts, they become reacquainted. Robbie and Lily start up a correspondence at beginning of the war, and while he admires her commitment, he’s thrown for a loop when Lily shows up at his hospital, which is much closer to danger than he would like Lily to be. Robbie struggles with his growing feelings for Lily because of his fear for her safety but also because of their difference in social station. He wonders what will happen when the war ends. Will Lily return to her parents and her life of privilege? Would it be better to simply end things before they get a chance to begin? (more…)

Wartime Romance in ‘Aiding the Enemy’

18245657Aiding the Enemy by Julie Rowe
War Girls, Book 3, Carina Press, October 7, 2013 (Historical Romance)*

My Rating: I’d go there again!

Aiding the Enemy is the third installment in Julie Rowe’s War Girls series. All of these short novellas take place in the midst of World War One and feature nurse heroines that find love amidst the drama of war. I’ve read the first two books of the series and have enjoyed them both, and the latest addition to the series was just as fast paced and engaging.

In Aiding the Enemy we return to Nurse Rose Culver, who readers of the series will remember as the nurse that helped Maria and Lieutenant Bennett from book one escape from the Germans. Rose has continued to help British soldiers from her post in a Belgian hospital; however, more recently she has come under close scrutiny. Despite the increasing danger, Rose refuses to stop her efforts to help all of those that have been affected by war. The type of uniform the men are wearing doesn’t matter in the least to Rose, and this outlook has gained her the respect of German doctor, Herman Geoff.

Doctor Geoff has long admired Rose’s efforts at the hospital, but is determined to keep her at an arms length as you  never know what direction the war will turn. When Rose is arrested for helping the British, Herman knows that he has to do something to protect the woman he has come to care for, even if he risks a charge of treason. Herman proposes to Rose and the two flee Belgium for the neutral Netherlands with the Germans in hot pursuit.

While Aiding the Enemy is part of a series, each book can be read as a stand alone novel. There are references to characters from the previous books, but each book focuses on a specific couple. Each of these stories are very sweet and short; they are a perfect read for when you don’t have a lot of time, but you want a complete story.

The romance between Rose and Herman was rather subdued, and I would have to say it was quieter than the previous two books of the series, but I liked it. There was no big misunderstanding between Rose and Herman, and any disruption to their relationship was resolved quickly. I don’t generally like a romance with a lot of angst and flip-flopping of emotions, so the lack of romantic discord worked for me. The romance was nice and Rose and Herman were nice people, if any thing they were a little too nice. But, some times you just want a read that is nice; that’s about nice people who have their happy ending without too many emotional difficulties (although, being on the run from the Germans is probably a pretty big barrier to the relationship).

I know this characterization of “nice” people may sound bland, but Aiding the Enemy certainly wasn’t. Herman and Rose were up against some impossible odds. Herman was a German officer and Rose a British Red Cross nurse. By rights they should have been enemies, but they found some common ground through their work. I liked the fact that these seemingly insurmountable odds were taken care of rather quickly so that these two exemplary people got their happy ending. I thought this relationship was handled in a believable manner, considering Herman and Rose’s countries were at war. The fact that they were both in the medical profession helped lend a credible reason for why Herman and Rose would consider each other in a romantic light. Overall, the romance was great, and it just may be my favourite of the series.

I also have to mention the setting. Since reading the first two books in the series, I have been fascinated with the world war one setting. I don’t think Rowe romanticizes the era, especially considering the use of maggots in medical care (shudder), so I found the setting to be fairly authentic. I find this atmosphere to be fascinating and it’s one that I’ve been seeking out more and more. If you’re looking for something about the after effects of the war I urge you to check out Simone St. James ASAP. Her novels are fantastic and they really take a look at the ghosts of the war both literally and figuratively. I reviewed her most recent novel, An Inquiry into Love and Death, back in June 2013, and I cannot rave enough about her highly atmospheric post-war novels. Obviously, I really like this era in my fiction, so I was pretty much guaranteed to like Aiding the Enemy.

Aiding the Enemy was a solid addition to the series and I think anyone who likes the world war one setting with be intrigued with this war time romance. I can’t wait to see more from the series, and I’m hoping that there will be more!

Instead of doing read-alikes for this novella, this time round, I’m going to list some world war one era books that I’m looking forward to reading (some have been published and some have yet to be):

Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great WarMy Dear I Wanted to Tell YouWake: A Novel

*Review copy provided via NetGalley.