Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Second Midnight by Andrew Taylor (TLC Book Tours)

The Kendell family is a typical family in pre-WWII England.  Alfred Kendall is struggling to keep his family business of importing glass afloat through the tough economic times.  When he is given the opportunity by the British government to go on a minor mission to Czechoslovakia, he jumps at the change to serve his country and to also hopefully earn some much-needed money.  Intelligence tells him to take his young son Hugh with him for cover.  After Hitler invades, Alfred has to make a choice.   The Czech resistance will get him out, but he must leave Hugh behind to ensure his return.  When Alfred cannot return what will happen to Hugh?

Hugh’s disappearance rips his family apart as they try to survive WWII.  Hugh himself goes through much adventure trying to survive.  Hugh learns that the enemy is not always apparent.  His brother Stephen goes into intelligence during and after the war, and his sister Meg searches for love and stability. 

I liked that the story was very unique.  About half of the book was set in WWII and then the last half was set in post WWII England and it focused on espionage.  I loved the East European setting for much of the book.  I also loved the love story between teenage Hugh and Magda, the daughter of a high official off the Nazis.  I thought the story had a good overall look at German people.  Some were fanatical supporters of the Nazi regime, and others were just trying to survive. 

I had a hard time with the flow of the story at times.  There were a lot of minor characters with missing pieces in their story.  As the book went along, the missing pieces were mostly filled and everything tied together at the end.  One item I seriously disliked was the incest between Hugh and his sister Meg at the start of the story (involved inappropriate touching).  It’s not something I want to read about and it did not add to the story at all.
Overall, The Second Midnight was an interesting WWII thriller and post WWII espionage novel.  It was a unique story that was full of action.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Harper Collins as a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!   For more stops on this tour, please check out this link.

About The Second Midnight

• Paperback: 400 pages • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (January 28, 2020)

From the international bestselling author comes a World War Two tale of one boy’s fight for survival in Nazi Europe

A secret mission… 1939. As Europe teeters on the brink of war, Alfred Kendall is tasked with carrying out a minor mission for the British Intelligence Service. Traveling to Prague, he takes his troubled young son, Hugh, as cover.

 A terrible choice… When Hitler invades Czechoslovakia, Alfred is given an ultimatum by the Czech Resistance. They will arrange for him to return to England, but only if he leaves his son Hugh behind as collateral.  

A young boy stranded in Nazi terrain… Hugh is soon taken under the wing of a Nazi colonel – Helmuth Scholl. But even though Scholl treats Hugh well, his son, Heinz, is suspicious of this foreigner. And as the war across the continent intensifies, they are set on a path that will ultimately lead towards destruction… .

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor is the author of a number of crime novels, including the ground-breaking Roth Trilogy, which was adapted into the acclaimed TV drama Fallen Angel, and the historical crime novels The Ashes of London, The Silent Boy, The Scent of Death and The American Boy, a No.1 Sunday Times bestseller and a 2005 Richard & Judy Book Club Choice. He has won many awards, including the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger, an Edgar Scroll from the Mystery Writers of America, the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award (the only author to win it three times) and the CWA’s prestigious Diamond Dagger, awarded for sustained excellence in crime writing. He also writes for the Spectator and The Times. He lives with his wife Caroline in the Forest of Dean.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Groomed: Overcoming the Messages that Shaped Our Past and Limit Our Future by Elizabeth Melendez Fisher Good with Beth Jusino (TLC Book Tours)

Elizabeth Melendez Fisher Good is the cofounder of Selah Freedom, one of the nation’s leading anti-sex trafficking organizations.  Good teaches that sharing our secrets and personal stories with others can help people to heal from personal trauma.  She also feels that messages that children receive when thy are young groom them to live lives that are not their own. In Groomed, Good shares her personal story to explore the areas where women are often groomed:  for appearances, to be invisible, for judgement, to endure, or for financial fear.  She explores not only how that can lead women to be sex trafficked, but how it can affect those that are not sex trafficked into leading lives that are not fully their own. 

The book starts with “How Did I End Up Here” with the story of a child having a secret, one that is so deep that they can’t share it with others although it will change the direction of their life forever.  This hooked me into the book and I was intrigued by the rest of the book as well.  It gave me a lot to think about and I recognized myself in several parts of the book.  The first three chapters of the book focus on how we’ve all been groomed.  The next five chapters focus on the specifics of how we’ve been groom and the last three are how to make changes and the leave the life that is causing you harm.

In the groomed for appearance section, I recognized my Grandma.  She and other members of the family were constantly remarking on the appearances of all of the girls in my family, even ranking us on our appearance and weight.  I was the valedictorian of my class, but always felt unworthy as I am not a skinny beauty queen.  It was just this Thanksgiving while going through her old pictures, I found an envelope with clippings about me and the awards I had won in high school.  She had never told me she was proud of me, but was always criticizing my appearance.  It made me sad. I realize now that was how she was raised and how her entire focus in life was to make sure she was groomed for her appearance and looking good. It was her way to help me out and love me I think to criticize, although I wish it could have been different. I really thought the quotes below from the groomed for appearance section were very thoughtful, especially this week where the news is full of the appearance of Jennifer Lopez at 50 and how the Super Bowl performance represents “Empowered Women.”  I found this focus very sad and falling into the same trap for women.  I don’t remember talk last year about Adam Levine doing well and looking well on the stage at his age and how it represented “Empowered Men.”

“Study after study shows that children intuitively believe what adults tell them, even if those messages contradict what they see right in front of them.  Not only that, but children internalize those messages and carry them into adulthood.  When boys are routinely complimented as smart and girls are told their pretty, it affects what they seek in the future.”

“Girls who were groomed for appearances often become women who don’t know how to look beneath their own surfaces.”

“Focusing too much on appearances takes all our energy and focuses it on what other people see, leaving nothing left for who we really are.”

The groomed to be invisible section sadly made me think of my other Grandma.  She was groomed to be invisible, always in the background serving and never the focus of anyone.  Poor Grandma.  “But far too many women hover in the background because they believe this unhealthy message:  You’re here to serve, not to be recognized.  You don’t deserve anything more.”

While I recognized myself in many sections of the book, I realized I was groomed to endure.  I am the always busy person that is always helping people and never having time just for myself.  This was what my family needed from me when my parents divorced, I needed to keep everything together in both households.  This has continued on to adulthood where I am now the always busy person trying to figure out how I got here.  This book gave me a lot to think about and I particularly liked these quotes:

“Your friends and family know that you’re the dependable one, the reliable one, the one who will be there for anything, no questions asked.   Most of the time they take you for granted – not because they are trying to hurt you but because they can’t respect your boundaries if you’ve never established any.”

“You were groomed to believe you exist to care for others, but that’s left you without space for your own needs to be met.”

This book not only gave me an insight on how people become victims of sex-trafficking, but it also gave me insight into myself and how I was “groomed” by others into who I am these days for both the positive and the negative.  I think it’s a good book for all women to read.

A lot of what I liked about this book was Elizabeth Melendez Fisher Good's personal story and the story of the development of the Selah Freedom Foundation. Her candor was refreshing.

One more Favorite Quote: 
“If you find yourself stuck in an endless loop of resentment or angry feelings toward a person who hurt you years ago, you’re probably spending too much time on something that can’t be changed.”                                                 

Overall, Groomed is an important book that gives insight of how people become victims of sex-trafficking, but also into how we are all “groomed” in our lives.  It was a very thought-provoking book and one that I think all women should read.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Thomas Nelson as a part of the TLC Book Tour!  For more stops on this tour, check out this link.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

A Sister’s Courage by Molly Green (TLC Book Tours)

Raine Linfoot has one goal in life, to become a pilot.  She is a proper teenager in 1939 England and her French mother wants her to have nothing to do with flying.  Through her sheer determination, work, and the help of her father, Raine is able to get a job at the local air field and pay for flying lessons.  She has a school girl crush on her instructor Doug, but he disappears in France after he joins the RAF.  Broken hearted, she meets the attractive and infuriating Alec. Will she be able to open her heart to love again?  And will she be able to be help her country out as a woman pilot?

I have always loved to read about aviation and in particular, woman in aviation since I was a child.  My Great-Grandfather taught aviation during World War II in America.  My Great-Uncle and Grandpa used to tell me all sorts of stories about my Great Grandpa and how he met Amelia Earhart and Orville Wright.  That lead me to read all about them and others in aviation.  My family loves to visit the Air Zoo aviation museum in Kalamazoo Michigan, which has a display about American female aviation heroes during WWII.

I thought this book was fascinating as it was from the British prospective and told the story of the important British women who helped to fly airplanes during the war.  They were not allowed to fly on the front lines, but they were able to fly planes to their destinations to efficiently make sure they were ready for men to fly to the front lines.  These ladies faced dangers and were also victims of prejudice and sexual harassment.  I really enjoyed Raine’s story and the story of her friends.  I liked the romance too, although I was sad about poor Doug.

An important part of Raine’s story was her family.  She is the oldest of three sisters and has a very difficult relationship with her mother.  I felt like at the end of the novel I wanted to know more about what would happen and that the story wasn’t finished.  Luckily at the end of the novel was an excerpt for book two about Raine’s sister Suzanne.  I want to know more about these characters!

Favorite Quote: 
“Enjoy yourself while you can, is my motto, and that’s even more crucial with this war on.  You could be here today and gone tomorrow.”

Overall, A Sister’s Courage is a great story about the courageous women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary in Great Britain during WWII.
Book Source:  Review Copy from Avon Harper Collins as a part of the TLC Book Tour!  For more stops on this tour, check out this link.

About A Sister's Courage

• Paperback: 400 pages

 • Publisher: Avon (January 21, 2020)

 It’s 1939 and the threat of war hangs over Britain… The most ambitious of three sisters, Lorraine ‘Raine’ Linfoot always dreamed of becoming a pilot. As a spirited seventeen-year-old, she persuades her hero Doug Williams to teach her to fly. When war breaks out in 1939, Raine is determined to put her skills to good use. She enlists in the Air Transport Auxiliary, becoming one of a handful of brave female pilots flying fighter planes to the men on the front line. Raine embraces the challenges of the job, despite its perils. But when Doug is reported missing after his Spitfire is shot down, she realises the war could tear apart not only her country, but also her heart…  

A gripping story of family, friendship and courage, perfect for fans of Natasha Lester, Lizzie Page and Call the Midwife.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Molly Green

Molly Green is a seasoned author of fiction and non-fiction. She has sold lipstick in a Denver store, modelled in Atlanta, assisted the UN Narcotics Director in Geneva, chauffeured a Swiss Gnome in Zurich, assisted a famous film producer in the UK, and cooked in a sanatorium in Germany. She now lives and writes in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.