RAPTOR by Stephen Phillips #WW1 spy #Thriller @uk_sf_writer

RaptorRaptor by Stephen Phillips
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Raptor is a WW1 historical novel and opens in 1915 with the second battle of Ypres. Edgar Smythe is is an engineer, yet he finds himself deep within the fighting, ending up gassed and wounded.

Returning to England to recuperate, Edgar and his family lodge in Folkestone. He needs the help of his sister until his eyesight returns. As a pair they are approached by Colonel Cockerill and asked to join a secret investigation team who are searching for intelligence leaks at the frontline.

Edgar and Agatha undergo espionage training and are then sent to France posing as American journalists. Their forged American passports allow them to cross the enemy line and head to Brussels for clues, but they are picked up by the Germans. Held captive, Edgar is tortured until a daring rescue plan is mounted.

A cat and mouse adventure back and forth across Europe follows as the pair try to return to England, first with a hostage and then alone, but the elusive “Raptor” still evades exposure. They return to their French base and prepare to flush out their quarry with the help of friends.

I like reading war adventures, but for me they need to be full of tension and the horrors of battle. I need the writing to make me believe that the situations were raw and filled with fear and anxiety, but I felt this lacked both emotion and suspense. I believe the storyline, in this book, would benefit from slimming and sharpening to capture the harsh realities and desperation that war caused amongst those involved.

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Book Description

On the first day of the Second Battle of Ypres, a young officer receives life changing injuries. But the war has not finished with him. On repatriation to the Kent coast at Folkestone, he and his sister become involved in the ‘Great Game’ of espionage and counter espionage. Sent to the continent to try and find a traitor within the British ranks, they quickly find themselves on the wrong side of the front line, chased by the head of German intelligence, a distant cousin who has designs on the sister which are inconsistent with his role. 

Chased across Europe, they eventually gather sufficient information to be able to identify the traitor, known to the enemy as Raptor. But that is where their troubles begin …

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THROUGH THE BARRICADES by @denisedeegan Fabulous #Irish war time #HistFic #SundayBlogShare

Through the BarricadesThrough the Barricades by Denise Deegan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Through The Barricades is an Irish based historical fiction.

The prologue opens in 1906, a house fire. Maggie Gilligan’s father gets her to safety out of a bedroom window. His last words to her are “Make a difference in the world, Maggie”.

Chapter one begins in 1913, Dublin. It is seven years after her father’s death. Maggie meets Daniel and Michael, two boys who help her with a flat bicycle tyre. They talk of trouble in the city, strikers are causing riots, Maggie fiercely defends them to the surprise of the boys.

Daniel is intrigued by Maggie, his privileged upbringing has sheltered him from the plight of the poor. He is determined to see Maggie again and learn more. Maggie challenges Daniel to help her at a food kitchen and her determination to help those in need and fight for their rights opens his eyes to so much more.

They become friends, joining the Na Fianna, a scouts youth group, but one of many rebel groups within Ireland wanting equality and an end to British rule. Daniel realises that all his education has been about British history, he hears of the 1695 Penal laws used to suppress the Irish. As his love for Maggie grows, so does her determination to fight for Ireland. Desperate to protect her he believes that when WW1 breaks out if he signs up and fights for the British army they will allow home rule for the Irish once the war is over.

The war for Daniel and Michael is terrible, they are sent to Gallipoli and the reality is devastating. Back home Maggie cannot rest, she takes on dangerous work for the rebels which culminates in the Easter Rising of 1916.

I really enjoyed this book, I read it all in one afternoon and evening as I was so engrossed in the storyline, the passion of the characters, the historical detail and the experience I came away with from reading this. Like Daniel I learnt about the background to the Easter Rising, and I learnt about what it was probably like fighting in Gallipoli. Truly horrific on both accounts.

Recommended for those who like good detailed historical fiction, yes it is laced with a romantic theme, but it was subtle enough to be part of the passion of the book.

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Book Description

She was willing to sacrifice everything for her country. He was willing to sacrifice everything for her. 

‘Make a difference in the world,’ are the last words Maggie Gilligan’s father ever says to her. They form a legacy that she carries in her heart, years later when, at the age of fifteen, she tries to better the lives of Dublin’s largely forgotten poor. 

‘Don’t go getting distracted, now,’ is what Daniel Healy’s father says to him after seeing him talking to the same Maggie Gilligan. Daniel is more than distracted. He is intrigued. Never has he met anyone as dismissive, argumentative . . . as downright infuriating. 

A dare from Maggie is all it takes. Daniel volunteers at a food kitchen. There, his eyes are opened to the plight of the poor. It is 1913 and Dublin’s striking workers have been locked out of their jobs. Their families are going hungry. Daniel and Maggie do what they can. Soon, however, Maggie realises that the only way to make a difference is to take up arms. 

The story of Maggie and Daniel is one of friendship, love, war and revolution, of two people prepared to sacrifice their lives: Maggie for her country, Daniel for Maggie. Their mutual sacrifices put them on opposite sides of a revolution. Can their love survive?


About the author

Denise Deegan

Denise Deegan lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies. 

Denise has been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer. Her most difficult job was being a checkout girl, although ultimately this experience did inspire a short story…

Denise writes for both adults and teenagers. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House, Hachette and Lake Union Publishing. Writing under the pen name Aimee Alexander, Denise’s contemporary family dramas have become international best-sellers on Kindle.

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WE ALSO SERVED by Vivien Newman #NonFiction #WW1 @worldwarwomen @PublishingPush #wwwblogs

We Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First World WarWe Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First World War by Vivien Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First World War is a non-fiction book.

Filled with well researched material, from all walks of life it looks at the way women featured in a war which is mainly remembered for its horrors and its men.

Did you know that the government propaganda effort to get men to sign up focused on women? Not only encouraging the “white feather” brigade but printing posters that implied that mothers, wives and sweet hearts were all fully behind the government call ups. They used them to shame men to sign up before conscription was brought in. Once the men were gone, women were encouraged to support them knitting desperately needed socks and other items too.

But many women also wanted to be useful and volunteered as nurses, yet there was a reluctance to accept anyone not seen as a “qualified” nurse and many women drummed up financial support themselves and headed to the front with ambulances, supplies and determination.

Oversees women nurses were eventually called for when it became obvious the war was going to last much longer than expected, they came particularly from Canada and Australia, many funding their own transport, uniform and travel.

I was fascinated to learn about the hospital trains and barges used to transport the injured men. And the horrific conditions the nurses had to work in. Then there were the home front women, those who worked in factories in dangerous jobs handling explosives and being exposed to chemicals which later caused them ill-health and even death.

This book is a tribute to the women who were proud to take up their own form of “arms” and serve their country, few received medals or recognition for their work and there was no pension or compensation or even job prospects at the end. I think the author did a great job of giving a voice to these war heroines.

A free copy of this book was provided by Publishing Push for review.

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Book Description

We Also Served is a social history of women s involvement in the First World War. Dr Vivien Newman disturbs myths and preconceptions surrounding women’s war work and seeks to inform contemporary readers of countless acts of derring-do, determination, and quiet heroism by British women, that went on behind the scenes from 1914-1918.In August 1914 a mere 640 women had a clearly defined wartime role. Ignoring early War Office advice to ‘go home and sit still’, by 1918 hundreds of thousands of women from all corners of the world had lent their individual wills and collective strength to the Allied cause. As well as becoming nurses, munitions workers, and members of the Land Army, women were also ambulance drivers and surgeons; they served with the Armed Forces; funded and managed their own hospitals within sight and sound of the guns. At least one British woman bore arms, and over a thousand women lost their lives as a direct result of their involvement with the war. This book lets these all but forgotten women speak directly to us of their war, their lives, and their stories.”

About the author

Vivien Newman

Viv has been interested in social history since primary school, when her teachers commented upon her “very many questions”. 

In her doctoral research on women’s poetry of the First World War Viv uncovered a treasure trove of long-forgotten women’s poems. These widen our knowledge of women’s wartime lives, their concerns, and their contributions to the war effort and subsequent Victory. 

Viv has taught women’s war poetry in both academic and non-academic settings and speaks widely at history conferences (both national and international). She gives talks to a variety of audiences ranging from First World War devotees of organisations such as the Western Front Association as well as to Rotarians, Women’s Institutes and U3A. She has lectured in the USA.

As well as writing articles about women during the First Word War, Viv has numerous books either already or soon to be published. 

“We Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First Word War”, published in 2014, explores women’s uniformed and un-uniformed lives between 1914 and 1918, uncovering how women’s contribution to the war effort made victory possible, or , as one contemporary newspaper put it, “Why not VCs for Women?”

In “Nursing Through Shot & Shell: A Great war Nurse’s Diary”, published 2015, Viv takes the reader to the battlefields of Belgium & France to place Beatrice Hopkinson’s war diary completely in context – from her transition from Nottinghampshire chamber maid to trainee fever nurse, to casualty clearing stations and ever closer to the Front Line. Finally, in 1918, Beatrice is part of a rapid response unit sent to wherever the fighting is most fierce, and hence where the wounded threaten to overwhelm the medical services. 

“Tumult and the Tears”, published June 2016, tells the story of the Great War through the eyes and lives of its women poets. Each poem is placed within the context of its author and Viv provides the the background to why it was written, to whom and the story it seeks to tell – from patriotism, to grief, denial to anger, all is explained. Reviews have described it as very moving.

“Singer, Siren, Spy”, due for publication in 2017, takes you deep into the undercover world of women spies and explains why an Italian resident in Switzerland was spying for Germany in Marseilles … and how she met her end in January 1918.

And plans for 2018 include “The Children’s War 1914-1919” which explores British and Allied children’s wartime lives.

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BY THE HANDS OF MEN by Roy M. Griffis #Bookreview #WW1

By the Hands of Men, Book One: The Old WorldBy the Hands of Men, Book One: The Old World by Roy M. Griffis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

By The Hands Of Men is a WW1 drama set mainly in the Passchendaele area of Flanders. This small village north-east of Ypres is associated with the Third Battle of Ypres which took place in 1917.

Charlotte Braninov is a Russian nurse working in No. 12 Base Hospital in the thick of the battlegrounds. She works alongside Kathleen an American nurse and Alice a new English nurse. Charlotte is called to help at a Casualty Clearing Station, this is very close to the frontline fighting and is one of the first places the wounded arrive at. Working in terrible conditions they treat the men with little or no anaesthetic, sewing up wounds, amputating as necessary, shipping the men through as the centre is hit by debris and gas. Here she first meets Robert Fitzgerald, a gallant soldier who treats her like a Lady.

Later when Charlotte returns to the hospital base she is delighted when Robert gets a post as Hospital Supply Officer and a romance blossoms. However their friendship doesn’t go unnoticed, fellow nurse Alice is jealous and tries to de-rail their relationship and Matron steps in to make sure they can’t be accused of being improper.

As the war nears its end, Robert catches Typhoid and is very ill, finally being shipped home, but Charlotte is left broken-hearted when she hears nothing from him. At the end of the war Charlotte travels to London to work with Matron, but she finds Matron dying. She is also shocked at turns of political events in her homeland of Russia and finds that as a former member of “The Whites” she and her family are in danger. A chance meeting with Robert in London pushes her final decision to try to return to her family.

The story will continue, this is book 1 of a 4 book series and book 3 is due out May 2016.

This book is written in American English and the author has used literal licence when calling Robert The Duke Of Lesser Devonshire and noting a place called Dorshire, neither I believe exist in England. The writing could be tightened to improve the tension, emotions and engagement of the reader by reducing some of the longer sentences. I felt much of the dialogue was “clunky”, sometimes being used as an info dump of details, and lacked flow, with a tweaking of weaker dialogue tags such as he/she said/asked and using a wider range of the senses and body language this would improve the writing style.

A good storyline which would work better with a good re-edit as I’m sure the author’s writing style is vastly improving with experience.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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Guest Author Juliet Greenwood

Today we have Juliet Greenwood as our guest author, she wrote We That Are Left which I reviewed yesterday, see this link for the review http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-5MX

Let’s find out more about Juliet and her books.

Juliet With We That are Left



1) Where is your home town?

I live halfway up a mountain on the edges of a village in Snowdonia in North Wales. In one direction I look up to the mountains, and to the other I look over the romantic Island of Anglesey, and some pretty gorgeous sunsets. I lived next to the Hammersmith flyover in London for several years, so I certainly appreciate the peace and quiet!

2) How long have you been writing?

All my life! I wrote my first rip-roaring historical at the age of ten, and never looked back. It’s taken me a long time to be actually published and begin to be the writer I want to be. It’s been a long learning curve, but I feel that time and experience is often vital to the creating of a long-term career as a writer. Having your first book published is really only the beginning of the journey.

3) What was the one idea behind this book?

I wanted to write about the amazing women in WW1, who not only kept life going at home under the most difficult of circumstances, but also worked on the front line risking their lives as ambulance drivers, doctors and nurses, but who have been largely forgotten.

4) For readers who don’t know the book yet, can you introduce us to Elin?

At the start of the book, Elin is a typical wife of her time, living a comfortable, but rather unfulfilling existence in the country estate in Cornwall. Her husband, Hugo, is much older, and sees her in the way women were generally viewed at the time, as delicate and in need of protection, and is quite unable to share his own traumas from fighting in the Boer War. Like many women, Elin is left to take charge of the estate when WW1 breaks out, discovering new strengths and depths that eventually take her on a desperate rescue mission in the battlefields of France. It’s an experience that changes her forever.

5) Mouse is such a fun character, can you tell us about some of her beliefs.

I love Mouse! Like Elin, she’s frustrated by the limitations of being a woman in Edwardian times, but coming from a rich, aristocratic family she has far more choices. She is adventurous, and loves to shock. She flies her biplane over to France and back for a bet, wears trousers (very shocking at the time), speaks her mind and is determinedly independent. She has no wish to be tied to a rich husband and forced into tedious domesticity. When the war comes and her brothers go off to fight, she is determined not to be left behind. Like many rich women of the time, she takes off with supplies to help on the frontline of the fighting. Despite the things that she goes through, she never loses her free spirit.

6) How does Elin grow into her role as leader at Hiram Hall once Hugo leaves for war?


Elin soon realises that she will need to use the estate’s kitchen garden to help the local population as food prices rise, and eventually shortages kick in. She rediscovers old recipes and remedies to cope with the shortages, and she also rediscovers her own passion for baking, inherited from her mother.


As the war goes on, Elin takes on more of the responsibilities, learning to deal with staff and the accounts, and discovering that she is perfectly capable of running a large estate, as well, if not better, than her husband. Like many women during the war, she becomes the linchpin of the local community, dealing with the grief and loss of those around her, and reassuring them in the face of the danger from Zeppelin air raids. When Hugo returns, he can no more understand this change in her than she can understand his experiences of war, meaning that, for Elin, the end of the war is where her own battles begin. It was something that happened for many couples after WW1, in fact so much so that the level of those seeking to divorce after the war finally led to divorce being made possible for ordinary people.


7) What do Mouse and her friends do to help the war efforts?


In WW1 there were plenty of wealthy women who were determined to do their bit for the war effort, despite being scornfully dismissed by those in authority. It was totally chaotic, with volunteers simply taking off with supplies and going over to France to do what they could. Mouse and her friends fit out a truck and set off with food and medical supplies to help on the frontline, driving ambulances and helping in the makeshift field hospitals. One of the real-life women who did this was the Duchess of Sutherland who set up her own field hospitals: http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-on-land/casualties-medcal/2383-millicent-duchess-of-sutherland-ambulance.html They were truly brave and heroic women!


8) Can you explain how the front line might move from day to day and how the field hospitals coped?


The part set in France is not only in the trenches but on the edges of the battlefields, the tiny bits of land that were fought over constantly during the years of the war. What was horrible about the fighting was that it was over such small advances that caused huge losses on both sides, and then the line moved back again, with the civilians who had nowhere to go caught in the middle. This meant that in places the front lines were constantly shifting, which caused huge suffering not only for the soldiers involved but also for the French civilians. I have family in France who experienced the effects on civilians in both wars, something that has always haunted me. I also read accounts of the women working on the frontlines, in field hospitals in whatever building they could find, who frequently had to move as the fighting grew too close, losing precious vegetable gardens that supplemented the lack of food, and desperately trying to take wounded and dying men to some kind of safety. So much is written about the soldiers and the battles, I wanted to give a sense of what it must have been like for civilians caught in the middle of the horror and the chaos of war.


9) Is this your only book set in this time period? What else have you written?


This is the only book I’ve written that covers the period of the war. My first book for Honno Press, ‘Eden’s Garden’, is a timeshift set in Cornwall, London and Wales in contemporary times and the late Victorian era. The historical story of ‘Eden’s Garden’ ends just before WW1, and it was during my research that I stumbled across the stories of the women during the war, and so the idea behind ‘We That are Left’ began.



10) Where can readers find out more about you and your books?


These are my media links:



Juliet Greenwood

‘We That Are Left’, Honno Press, 2014

The Welsh Books Council’s Book of the Month, March 2014

The National Museum of Wales Book of the Month, March 2014

Waterstones Wales Book of the Month March, 2014

Amazon Kindle #4 May 2014




‘Eden’s Garden’, Honno Press, 2012

Finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’, May 2014

Amazon Kindle #5 June 2014




Website:     http://www.julietgreenwood.co.uk/

Blog:            http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/

Facebook:    https://www.facebook.com/juliet.greenwood

Twitter:      https://twitter.com/julietgreenwood



We That are Left

Juliet Greenwood

Elin lives a luxurious but lonely life at Hiram Hall. Her husband Hugo loves her but he has never recovered from the Boer War. Now another war threatens to destroy everything she knows.

With Hugo at the front, and her cousin Alice and friend Mouse working for the war effort, Elin has to learn to run the estate in Cornwall, growing much needed food, sharing her mother’s recipes and making new friends – and enemies. But when Mouse is in danger, Elin must face up to the horrors in France herself.

And when the Great War is finally over, Elin’s battles prove to have only just begun.

Waterstones Wales Book of the Month, Wales Independent Bookshops Book of the Month and Wales National Museums Book of the Month, March 2014