Anne Bonny #BookReview East End Angels by @hendry_rosie Rosie Hendry #ww2 #Saga #WomenOfWW2 ‘East End Angels tells the story of three fascinating women and their journey through ww2’

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East End Angels by Rosie Hendy
My own copy from tbr pile
Synopsis:

Meet The East End Angels, the newest members of Station Seventy-Five’s ambulance crew

Strong-willed Winnie loves being part of the crew at Station Seventy-Five but her parents are less than happy. She has managed to avoid their pleas to join the WRENS so far but when a tragedy hits too close to home she finds herself wondering if she’s cut out for this life after all.

Former housemaid Bella was forced to leave the place she loved when she lost it all and it’s taken her a while to find somewhere else to call home. She’s finally starting to build a new life but when the air raids begin, it seems she may have to start over once again.

East-Ender Frankie‘s sense of loyalty keeps her tied to home so it’s not easy for her to stay focused at work. With her head and heart pulling in different directions, will she find the strength to come through for her friends when they need her the most?

Brought together at LAAS Station Seventy-Five in London’s East End during 1940, these three very different women soon realise that they’ll need each other if they’re to get through the days ahead. But can the ties of friendship, love and family all remain unbroken?

My Review:

East End Angels tells the story of three fascinating women and their journey through ww2. The novel is the first in a series and perfectly builds the foundations for further novels. The three women are all very different in personality and I look forward to watching them grow and develop through the series. I already own the next in the series Secrets Of The East End Angels on my bookshelves.

The East End Angels comprise of: Stella Franklyn (Frankie), Margot Churchill (Winnie) and Peggy Belmont (Bella). They are members of the 75 ambulance crew, with Frankie their newest member. Overseeing their work is Station Officer Violet Steele. There is also transferred in new recruit William McCartney (Mac).

‘We look out for each other at station 75’ – Bella

The girls form a fantastic team and as the novel progresses we see them on various call-outs and in action. It is quite shocking some of the scenes they must contend with and overcome. At times forced to make tough choices with little time to think or plan. But together they make a formidable team.

William offered an interesting narrative into the plot. As William in a conscientious objector. I read a lot of ww2 fiction and saga’s, yet I think this is the first time I have come across a conscientious objector as a character.
So, I looked forward to every scene he was in.

‘I’m not a coward; I just can’t kill’ – Mac

Slowly we begin to learn each girl’s backstory. Stella’s homelife is far from perfect, but she takes comfort in nurturing an evacuee. Winnie was born in India and raised in considerable wealth and her mother tries to play a huge part in her life choices. Bella is possibly the quietest of the bunch, she has experienced a hard life and thanks to the air raids, it continues to get tougher.

The story of the male characters is told as they confide in their sisters. I thought this was a fantastic idea. I am one of eight siblings, I cannot even begin to imagine how life would have been for us growing up during ww2. But I know my brothers would perhaps confide their fears to me and my sisters. I think this also offered a different dynamic to the confiding soldier we see so often in ww2 fiction or saga’s with confidence only being between lovers.

There is love, smile and laughter amongst the team. As the battle the aftermath of catastrophic air raids and the devastation they leave behind. There is even a search and rescue dog named Trixie. The novel has a personal focus solely on the characters and their role in the ambulance crew.
It reminded me of the novels/TV series Call The Midwife. 4*

RH
Rosie Hendry
Website
Twitter

Next in the series. . . .
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Secrets Of The East End Angels by Rosie Hendry

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Her hidden Life by @VSAlexander3 V.S. Alexander #ww2Fiction #HistoricalFiction #NewRelease @AvonBooksUK She would risk everything for the man she loves. . .

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Her Hidden Life by V.S. Alexander
Synopsis:
Her Hidden Life is currently just 99p in the UK on Kindle!
The title was released in the US under a different name – ‘The Taster’.

A forbidden love. A deadly secret.

It’s 1943 and Hitler’s Germany is a terrifying place to be.
But Magda Ritter’s duty is the most dangerous of all…

Assigned to The Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat, she must serve the Reich by becoming the Führer’s ‘Taster’ – a woman who checks his food for poison. Magda can see no way out of this hellish existence until she meets Karl, an SS officer who has formed an underground resistance group within Hitler’s inner circle.

As their forbidden love grows, Magda and Karl see an opportunity to stop the atrocities of the madman leading their country. But in doing so, they risk their lives, their families and, above all, a love unlike either of them have ever known…

Extract:

Karl informed us that Hitler often stayed at the Berghof for only a short time before leaving for another headquarters or hiding place. When Hitler was in residence, a giant Nazi flag flew over the grounds. As it turned out, he wasn’t even at the Berghof for about two weeks in May. I wasn’t sure where he went, but Karl, on the sly, told me it was to the ‘Wolf’s Lair.’ To foil assassination attempts, the Führer kept his travel schedule secret and often switched trains or flights at the last moment or showed up early or late for appointments. He’d used this tactic for years, and it had served him well, particularly since the war broke out.
A rumor circulated that Hitler was holding a reception at the Teahouse for kitchen staff before he left on his next trip. It would be the first time I had a chance to meet the leader of the Reich. I asked Karl about this and he confirmed it was true.

After breakfast the next morning, everyone was in high spirits and anticipation about ‘tea’ with the Führer. A light rain fell, but it did not dampen our gay mood. Cook wanted me to take inventory from the greenhouses and record food items, in addition to my tasting duties, so I was late getting back to my room.

‘Eva has instructed everyone to wear traditional Bavarian garments,’ Cook told me. ‘There will be a costume on your bed.’

‘Why is dressing up so important?’ I asked her.

‘Because Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s personal photographer, is here. He and Eva thought it would be a good opportunity to capture the benevolent spirit of the Führer as he entertains and thanks his staff.’ She chuckled. ‘Eva loves to dress up. That’s really why we’re doing it.’

When I went back to my room, I interrupted Ursula. She was already dressed in her Bavarian costume. I really had no fondness for the hose, petticoats, the flouncy dress and puffy sleeves of the garment. Ursula sat on her bed, sewing her apron. She turned quickly away from me when I entered.

‘You’d better get ready,’ Ursula said, looking back over her shoulder. Her fingers trembled and the needle slipped from her hand.

‘Are you all right?’ I asked. ‘Is there a problem with your apron?’ She shook her head. ‘I’m shaky because I haven’t eaten. I need to get to the kitchen for some food.’ She began sewing again and stitched across the apron’s left pocket.

‘There’s not much to eat now. The staff is preparing lunch, but I wouldn’t be concerned about me getting ready. I’m sure it’ll be after four before we’re called to the Teahouse. We’ve got plenty of time.’ Ursula sighed. ‘Yes, plenty of time.’

She went back to her work as I inspected my dress and its trimmings. ‘I don’t have an apron. Do I need one?’

Her eyes dimmed. ‘I don’t know. You might ask Cook. This one was given specifically to me.’

I stretched out on my bed with a book. ‘The weather is so nasty it’s a good day for reading.’

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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Shipyard Girls by @arevellwalton 5* #Saga #ww2Fiction #WomenOfww2 @arrowpublishing ‘easily rivals Josephine Cox’ #MustReadSeries

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The Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell – Shipyard Girls #1
Review copy
Synopsis:

Sunderland, 1940, and the women go to the shipyards to do their bit for the war effort.

Polly never dreamed she would be able to work in the shipyards like the men in her family but times are tough and her new job ends up giving her more than she ever expected when she meets enigmatic dock diver Tommy Watts.

During the day, head welder Rosie teaches her fledgling flock of trainees their new trade, but at night she hides a secret life.

And mother hen Gloria signs up to escape her brutal husband, but finds she cannot run from her problems.

The Shipyard Girls start off as strangers – but end up forging an unbreakable bond of friendship in the most difficult times.

My Review:

This novel is the first in the Shipyard Girls series and has been sat on my tbr pile for quite some time. I am a huge fan of the saga genre but have been super busy lately with crime fiction reviews. I decided it was time for a visit to 1940 Sunderland and see what these books are all about.

The novel opens in the warm and homely house of Polly. Her mother, Agnes lost her husband in The Great War and has raised her children (now adults) alone. She is the matriarch type character, but it is born of love and desire to see her kids succeed. Polly’s twin brothers Teddy and Joe have joined up. Leaving their jobs at the shipyard for the frontlines. Sister-in-law Bel and daughter Lucille reside at the property, whilst they wait for Joe’s return from war. This is a house filled with love and built on doing their best to survive the war and trying times they face.

When Polly gets a job at J.L Thompson & Sons shipbuilders, she is apprehensive of the response of her mother. But she is from a long-line of shipbuilders and determined to continue the trade.

‘This wasn’t just about getting another job for Polly – it was a dream come true’

The role of women in ‘male roles’ is debated, and Agnes is forced to back-down or contradict her own beliefs on equality. I think Agnes is also tortured by the death of her husband and risk to her sons. She just wants Polly to be as safe as possible. With the docks being a target for German aircraft, that isn’t always the case.

Rosie Thornton is a much more complex character. She is the boss at the shipyard, where the women are trainees. But she also harbours a secret. A secret she will go to great lengths to protect. A secret so damning that its exposure could be the ruin of Rosie and her sister Charlotte. But what Rosie doesn’t know, is that someone is watching her and waiting for the right moment to spring a trap. . . .

Although the novel deals with several darker themes and not forgetting the background of ww2. It does have many moments when it made me smile or laugh out loud. Between Agnes’s gossip and dialect or the girls banter at the shipyard. The light-hearted moments within really did deliver. Which makes you grow more attached to the characters.

The women at the shipyard consist of Polly, Dorothy, Gloria, Mary, Martha and boss Rosie. They all notice when Polly catches the eye of shipyard hunk Tommy Watts. . .

‘Polly had a slightly strange but exciting premonition that they somehow belonged together’

Tommy’s background is further explored, and you learn that he has much in common with Polly. I may not be a huge fan of romance, but I wanted Polly and Tommy to fall in love. After all, the world needs love, right?

The sinister man following Rosie, has his trap set and is ready to pounce. He is a truly vile character and I dreaded the moment Rosie would come face to face with him.

At work, the girls begin to notice bruise’s that appear on Gloria’s arms and neck. They become concerned for her welfare, but due to the era and social attitudes, dare not pry. Gloria is dealing with the internal shame of being a victim of domestic abuse. Her life being held hostage to drink and violence. What I found unusual about Gloria’s portrayal is that she is an older female character. She has been married 19yrs, and has grown-up children away at war. She isn’t the typical naïve, young victim we see too often portrayed in saga novels.

Overall, I absolutely loved the Shipyard Girls. There are themes of secrets, intimidation, gossip and trials of adversity. There is first love and old love reignited. But most of all the women’s strength, sacrifice and courage shines through. The sisterly protection Polly, Rosie and Gloria come to have for one another is perfection.

The perfect recipe for a ww2 saga and easily rivals Josephine Cox.
If you read this book, you will find yourself buying the whole series. 5*

Nancy Revell
Nancy Revell
Website
Twitter
Just £1.99 in Ebook – At time of blogging!

***Coming next in the series***
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The Shipyard Girls At war by Nancy Revell – Shipyard Girls #2
Review scheduled for 2nd May #ComingSoon

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Spark Girl by @Fionajourno 4* #ww2Fiction #Saga #HistoricalFiction @orionbooks Can her fight for her country fix her broken heart?

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The Spark Girl by Fiona Ford
Review copy
Synopsis:

Can her fight for the country fix her broken heart?

A knock on the door early one morning shouldn’t be cause for concern but it is 1941, Britain is at war, and Kitty Williams’s fiancé is far from home fighting Hitler with the Navy.

As her heart is shattered hearing the news she had been dreading, Kitty becomes more determined than ever to do her bit for the war effort.

Signing up to the Women’s Army is just the sort of challenge Kitty needs but when bombs start to fall on her home town of Coventry, and allies turn against her, Kitty must find the strength she never knew she had to save her family, fix her broken heart and help her country to victory.

My Review:

April 1940, Kitty Williams is a 21yr old woman just trying to get through each day, until her fiancé Joe Simmonds returns from war! Joe was conscripted to the Navy, just the summer previously. Kitty was brought up in a children’s home, after being orphaned at 8yrs old. She has no real family to speak of. Just a kind-hearted landlady (Mrs Carswell) and a job at a factory to occupy her days. That is until one fateful day, Joe’s mother brings her news of a telegram.

‘We regret to inform you’

Kitty is left reeling from the news of Joe’s death, as her grief takes over her mind and soul. It pushes her to think like Joe and a desire to make a difference is born.
Kitty decides to enlist.

The novel details her experiences through basic training at barracks in Leicester. She meets fellow trainees Mary and Peggy. Mary Holmes-Fotherington is quite the character herself, born to a wealthy father, Mary has never known hardship. That is until she rebelliously joins up and learns first hand, how the other-half live!

Kitty’s lifestyle changes dramatically. She has a new ambition in her life, letters of warmth from her old friend Arthur and growing friendship with the girls. Kitty’s life is looking up, or is it?

‘She couldn’t shake the strange, uneasy feeling that life was never that simple, and trouble was sure to be just around the corner’

Kitty is posted to Northampton as a ‘spark girl’ aka a driver. It is at Northampton; the reader gets to know the military lifestyle in all its glory! The inspections, chain of command, perfect uniform and hierarchy of the trainees fast becomes daily life. Sgt Hopson is constantly watching Kitty and waiting for opportunities to arise, so that he may punish her for insubordination.
What motivates Sgt Hopson? Or is this just part of military life?

When Kitty finds herself confined to barracks with extra duties, due to Hopson’s relentless bullying. She immerses herself in her letters, but someone is watching Kitty. Watching her every move.
The female characters develop from naïve young girls to strong independent women. But as some, go from strength to strength, Kitty is left exposed to blackmail and it isn’t long until her head is filled with secrets and betrayal. Isolated and alone, she has no one to turn to in her hour of need.

‘Nobody could save her now’

The novel packs a huge twist! One that I did not see coming, at all. The letters scattered throughout the novel add a sense of realism. The harsh reality of the war upon the women of the era, is fully explored.
Kitty’s story is perfect for cosy Sunday afternoon reading by a log fire. 4*

FF
Fiona Ford
Website
Twitter

***Coming soon – 9th August – Summer reads***

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The Spark Girl’s Promise by Fiona Ford
Synopsis:

January 1941. Peggy Collins has learned a lot during her time as a Spark Girl. Posted to Swansea, as a driver to the squadron leader, she often hears things she shouldn’t and she knows to be discreet, understanding how serious the phrase loose lips sink ships really is.
Peggy meets and falls in love with pilot Jim Hudson, but her heart is broken when he becomes missing in action and Peggy is left fearing the worst. That isn’t the end of the shocks in store for Peggy and she is forced to remember a promise made long ago. But can she keep her word while the bombs fall?

 

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost – Class Structure. Tapestry Of War by @JaneFMackenzie #HistoricalFiction #ww2Fiction #NewRelease @AllisonandBusby

tapestry of war
Tapestry Of War by Jane MacKenzie
Synopsis:

From the deserts of North Africa, to the waters of Scotland, the Second World War touches the lives of two women from two very different worlds. In Alexandria, Fran finds her world turned upside down as Rommel’s forces advance on the idyllic shores of Egypt. The life of luxury and stability that she is used to is taken away as she finds herself having to deal with loss, heartache and political uncertainty. Meanwhile, in the Firth of Clyde, Catriona struggles between her quiet rural life and her dreams of nursing injured servicemen on the front lines. As the war rages on, the two women’s lives become intertwined – bringing love and friendship to both.

Guest Post:

I have dedicated this book to the myriad people whose lives and endeavours threaded together, weaving victory into the tapestry of war. The second world war threw people from different nations, cultures and classes together in a way no previous war had done. They worked together, challenged each other, and prised open long established social structures and beliefs. It was no accident that the general election directly after the end of the second world war swept the war hero Winston Churchill out of office and gave a landslide victory to the Labour party. The people who emerged from World War Two wanted a different world.

Setting Tapestry of War in two such contrasting locations as Alexandria in Egypt and rural Scotland allowed me to insert a spyglass into that social upheaval. My characters in Alexandria are wealthy colonials with servants and grand homes, living a life of tennis parties and cocktails. But into their world come fighting men with completely different values, Australian troops who despise the British class system and invade bars supposedly reserved for officers, Indian troops who make it clear that they are not fighting this war to preserve the Empire, people from all over the globe who want to defeat Hitler, but not to preserve the old British order.

My sober naval officer Jim MacNeill comes from simple, quiet-living, industrious Highland stock. He doesn’t want to get drawn into what he sees as the frivolous social whirl of Alexandria, but he does. And in spite of himself he becomes entangled with a woman from that social circle. Jim and Fran’s relationship challenges them both, but Fran is a journalist. She too can see that the old order is on its way out, and she can see the damage being done by the narrow-minded arrogance of the old British colonial mentality.

Back at home in Scotland Jim’s sister Catriona is living a very different war, nursing injured servicemen and looking after her father. But for people at home too the world is turned upside down by the war. Women like Catriona are entering into new fields of work, mixing with American, French, Polish servicemen, left-wing conscientious objectors who build ships for the war instead, a whole melting-pot of people of every social background whose experiences will forever change them after the war. Their parents had lived grimly through the Great Depression, had known and never changed their social order, had done as they were told. But now, as World War Two reaches its end, those who have given their all want a better future.

Tapestry of War isn’t a deliberately ‘social’ novel. Indeed, I hope it is a very human one. But you can’t write about World War Two without witnessing the fascinating changes it helped bring about. It was a melting-pot. And when you melt things they never take quite the same shape again.

jane-portrait-1-280
Jane MacKenzie
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