Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #NewRelease #WW2 THE SECRET STEALERS by @HealeyJane

The Secret StealersThe Secret Stealers by Jane Healey

4.5 stars

The Secret Stealers is a World War Two espionage story. It begins in Washington DC, where Anna Cavanaugh has been invited to work for Major General William Donovan, head of the Office of Strategic Services. This is the American version of the British Secret Service and Anna relishes her new responsibilities.

With her photographic memory and fluency in both French and German, Anna is keen to do more against the war which rages in Europe. She’s also worried about some friends whom she met in Paris when she lived there just before the war, so when an opportunity to be a secret agent is offered, with the purpose of discovering what the Germans are covertly working on, Anna leaps at the chance.

What follows is a thrilling spy story set against the background that surrounded the hardships and bravery of the French Resistance fighters. The narrative had plenty of grit and fear, which I expected to read in this genre, as Anna and those she worked with put themselves in great danger. Anna is a likeable character and I enjoyed her determination to fulfil all her roles.

I must say that I did begin the book with a few doubts because the war was going to be seen through the eyes of an American; I was worried that some of the real suffering and peril might have been glossed over. There were one or two stereotypes which might grate with some English readers. However, I wasn’t particularly bothered by them myself, because the rest of the story was very well written and my doubts were blown away.

So overall, this was a good piece of historical fiction and I would happy recommend it to those who enjoy stories set during the war.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

A female American spy in Nazi-occupied France finds purpose behind enemy lines in a novel of unparalleled danger, love, and daring by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Beantown Girls.

Anna Cavanaugh is a restless young widow and brilliant French teacher at a private school in Washington, DC. Everything changes when she’s recruited into the Office of Strategic Services by family friend and legendary WWI hero Major General William Donovan.

Donovan has faith in her—and in all his “glorious amateurs” who are becoming Anna’s fast friends: Maggie, Anna’s down-to-earth mentor; Irene, who’s struggling to find support from her husband for her clandestine life; and Julia, a cheerful OSS liaison. But the more Anna learns about the organization’s secret missions, the more she longs to be stationed abroad. Then comes the opportunity: go undercover as a spy in the French Resistance to help steal critical intelligence that could ultimately turn the tide of the war.

Dispatched behind enemy lines and in constant danger, Anna is filled with adrenaline, passion, and fear. She’s driven to make a difference—for her country and for herself. Whatever the risk, she’s willing to take it to help liberate France from the shadows of occupation and to free herself from the shadows of her former life.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #WW2 #HistoricalFiction CITADEL by Kate Mosse

CitadelCitadel by Kate Mosse

4 stars

Citadel by Kate Moss is a mainly a World War Two story about the French Resistance, but it also has a paranormal sub theme. Set in the south of France, the war story begins in 1942 and focuses on a resistance group led strongly by a group of women; they call themselves Citadel.

The second theme is about a lost Codex, which was believed to be buried in the foothills of the Pyrenees several hundred years ago. If found it may be a useful tool in the war as it is said to unleash a powerful army.

The story goes back and forth between the war years and the year 342 when a young Monk travels through France with the precious Codex. Before I read this book I was aware that the Languedoc region of France had strong connections with early Christianity and the Knights Templar, so when a friend gave me this book saying it was about the World War Two Resistance and set in the south of France, this ticked two boxes of interest for me. I had not previously read the first two books in the series and it didn’t seem necessary to have done so before starting this story. My favourite parts always involved the thrilling resistance episodes; the fear, tension and lengths that people went to, while fighting for what they believed in.

There were a lot of characters, but then there is also a lot of book! My copy had approximately 900 pages. I liked the war theme of this book, but I don’t think I would read the others in the series as the paranormal element of the Codex was less interesting.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

1942, Nazi-occupied France. Sandrine, a spirited and courageous nineteen-year-old, finds herself drawn into a Resistance group in Carcassonne – codenamed ‘Citadel’ – made up of ordinary women who are prepared to risk everything for what is right. And when she meets Raoul, they discover a shared passion for the cause, for their homeland, and for each other. But in a world where the enemy now lies in every shadow – where neighbour informs on neighbour; where friends disappear without warning and often without trace – love can demand the highest price of all.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #WW2 #HistoricalFiction THE LIFELINE by @swiftstory #TuesdayBookBlog

The Lifeline: A wartime saga set in Nazi-occupied Norway (World War Two Sagas)The Lifeline: A wartime saga set in Nazi-occupied Norway by Deborah Swift

4.5 stars

The Lifeline is a World War Two historical fiction. The story takes place during the 1942 occupation of Norway and follows the lives of two Norwegians: Jørgen Nystrøm a wireless transmitter for the Resistance and Astrid Dahl, a school teacher.

Early in the story Nystrøm becomes wanted by the Nazis and he goes on the run, hoping to get to England via the Shetland Islands. Meanwhile, Astrid turns into an agitator, refusing to follow the new Nazi teaching syllabus while inciting her fellow teachers to protest over the new teaching contracts. Her dissent lands her in trouble with the police and she is forced into hiding.

I liked this story, there was plenty of fear and terror which felt realistic. What went on in the schools and how the teachers tried to resist those changes was particularly interesting, as was the escape route via The Shetland islands, which was followed first by Nystrøm and later by Astrid.  I could easily imagine the horrors of the cross-country journey and the fear of reprisals by the Germans against Norwegians found helping refugees or those seen as criminals. The ‘Shetland Bus’ elements were also a first for me, as I had not heard of this before; the men who put their lives on the line each time they went out in the stormy seas were very brave.

I’m really glad that I read this story; it had all the gritty tension that I enjoy in this genre.

View all my reviews on Goodreads 

Book description

From the heart of Norway to Shetland in Scotland, one couple fight to overthrow the Nazis…

1942, Nazi-occupied Norway

Schoolteacher Astrid Dahl has always kept out of trouble. But when she is told to teach the fascist Nazi curriculum, she refuses and starts a teacher’s rebellion, persuading eight thousand teachers to go on strike.

The Germans arrest her, and terrified of what punishment her trial might bring, she is forced to go into hiding.

Astrid’s boyfriend, Jørgen Nystrøm, has joined the Norwegian Resistance. When his cover is blown he escapes to Shetland where he is taken on as crew for the Shetland Bus; a dangerous clandestine operation of small fishing boats that supply arms and intelligence to war-torn Norway.

In Shetland, hearing Astrid is in trouble, Jørgen sets off through enemy waters to meet her.

But the Nazis have a spy on Shetland and have been tipped off about the Shetland Bus.

With the enemy in pursuit from both directions, will Astrid and Jørgen be able to find each other?

Or will they be separated forever by the brutal Nazi regime?

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Codename Lazarus by @APMartin51 #WW2 Spy novel

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Codename Lazarus by A.. P. Martin

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My Review:

I was looking forward to reading Codename Lazarus for two reasons; that it’s adapted from a true story and that it’s set against the background of WW2, a particular time in history I’m interested in.

This is a dense story to read due to the extensive details and descriptions  built around the actual plot.  I admire the author’s obvious knowledge and research to set the story in both the era and the places the protagonist moves around in. There is a wonderful sense of place.

The lead up to the war, the settling in of the plot, although well written and described, is too slow for me, mainly because I didn’t feel I was getting to know the protagonist, John King. I didn’t get any sense, initially, or as the plot progressed, of his emotions at what must have been an extremely tense time. I don’t think his internal dialogue works; a lot of the time the thoughts portrayed were too formalised and revealed nothing of the tension and apprehension of a young man  newly learning to survive under cover in an dangerous and threatening situation.

 And I felt the same about his personal life. The love angle with Greta became instantly too intense and then abruptly dismissed. Although I am aware that such immediate and tempestuous relationships must have happened during wartime, this neither felt passionate or particularly dangerous for either of them, despite them being citizens of countries almost at war with one another.

Saying that, as the story progresses , there are other characters who are extremely well rounded, who stand out by the way they are portrayed. And their dialogue is excellent and gives greater insight to them and their part in the plot.

All in all, I would have liked the beginning to move at a faster pace; I thought the pacing of the plot in the middle just right; but I would have liked a more gradual lead up to the ending, which felt as though it all came in a rush and finished the story too suddenly.

I don’t know if it was the way the novel was downloaded onto my reader but there are times when sentences, dialogues and paragraphs run together where there should be spaces so I ignored that. But there were quite a few punctuation errors.

This is a good story. If it weren’t for the fact that I felt the protagonist to be too distant from the reader I would have given five stars. A rewrite of only a few places to bring John King/James Kemp to life and another final, tighter edit, would make this an excellent 5* read.

Book Description

Spring 1938: Great Britain is facing potentially lethal threats: the looming war with Germany; the fear that her Secret Service has been penetrated by Nazi agents and the existence of hundreds of British citizens, who are keen to pass information to her enemies.

John King, a young academic, is approached by his Oxbridge mentor to participate in a stunning deception that would frustrate Britain’s enemies. As King struggles to come to terms with the demands of his mission, he must learn to survive in a dangerous and lonely ‘no man’s land’, whilst remaining one step ahead of those in hot pursuit.

Adapted from a true story, ‘Codename Lazarus’ takes the reader on a journey from the dark heart of Hitler’s Germany, across the snowy peaks of Switzerland to the horrors of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz, before reaching a thrilling and decisive conclusion, from which none of those present emerges unscathed.

About the author

A.P. Martin

I was born and spent my entire working life in the North West of England, where I taught at school, college and university levels. I became Head of Department of Social Sciences at a University, specialising in the study of social inequality, social mobility and sport. During my academic career I published many sociological studies on these themes.

Since taking early retirement, I have really enjoyed immersing myself in reading and writing fiction. I feel that most historical fiction benefits from a connection to something that actually happened, so when I wrote my first book, Codename Lazarus, I took a little known true story and used it as a framework for an exciting thriller.

I am currently writing my second spy story, which also takes as its inspiration a fascinating, yet almost unknown episode from the Second World War.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT CODENAME LAZARUS by @APMartin51 #WW2 Spy #Thriller

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Codename Lazarus by A.P Martin

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Codename Lazarus by A P Martin

Codename Lazarus takes us first to Germany in the mid-1930s as Hitler and the Nazis rise to power. We see the unpleasant changes through the eyes of John King, an English academic, whose friends include a Jewish family, the Bernsteins and a young German, Joachim Brandt, who has decided to join the SS.

Moving to 1938, King is recruited by his former professor to the world of espionage, in an attempt to foil the efforts of Nazi sympathisers in England. This requires him to cut off all ties with his former life and after another visit to Germany, he must disappear. However his under-cover activities take place in London, where he has to cultivate relationships with British nationals who wish to aid Germany. A significant relationship with a young German nurse, is suspended, but old friends from the past will take a dramatic part in the denouement.

This is an exciting plot-driven story and although we gain knowledge of King’s feelings early in the story, he becomes increasingly more distant as other protagonists take a more active part in the storyline. One of the Nazi sympathisers gains our sympathy and we realise that she has trapped herself in a web of deceit. I was especially interested in the vivid description of pre-war Germany and in the realistic account of the evacuation scene at Dunkirk. The final scenes intensify in excitement and are real page-turners, but I was disappointed at the sudden conclusion which left questions about other threads in the book.

This debut novel is a fluent tale set in a fascinating time. Plotting and descriptions are sound but the earlier parts of the book lead me to expect greater knowledge of the hero’s emotions and confusion at his use of subterfuge and his abandonment of his friends and family. I look forward to reading the next book by this promising author.

Book Description

Spring 1938: Great Britain is facing potentially lethal threats: the looming war with Germany; the fear that her Secret Service has been penetrated by Nazi agents and the existence of hundreds of British citizens, who are keen to pass information to her enemies.

John King, a young academic, is approached by his Oxbridge mentor to participate in a stunning deception that would frustrate Britain’s enemies. As King struggles to come to terms with the demands of his mission, he must learn to survive in a dangerous and lonely ‘no man’s land’, whilst remaining one step ahead of those in hot pursuit.

Adapted from a true story, ‘Codename Lazarus’ takes the reader on a journey from the dark heart of Hitler’s Germany, across the snowy peaks of Switzerland to the horrors of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz, before reaching a thrilling and decisive conclusion, from which none of those present emerges unscathed.

About the author

A.P. Martin

I was born and spent my entire working life in the North West of England, where I taught at school, college and university levels. I became Head of Department of Social Sciences at a University, specialising in the study of social inequality, social mobility and sport. During my academic career I published many sociological studies on these themes.

Since taking early retirement, I have really enjoyed immersing myself in reading and writing fiction. I feel that most historical fiction benefits from a connection to something that actually happened, so when I wrote my first book, Codename Lazarus, I took a little known true story and used it as a framework for an exciting thriller.

I am currently writing my second spy story, which also takes as its inspiration a fascinating, yet almost unknown episode from the Second World War.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Codename Lazarus by @APMartin51 #WW2 #Spy #Thriller

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Codename Lazarus by A P Martin

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CODENAME LAZARUS by A P Martin

4 out of 5 stars

This is a spy story set in England and Germany during Hitler’s rise to power and the first year of the Second World War.  John King, a history lecturer, is invited to become an undercover agent, and, despite the realisation of how dangerous and lonely his life will become, he agrees.

What I liked about this book

  • The author clearly knows his subject inside out and, I would imagine, has a great interest in it, as opposed to just having done the research required to produce this novel; you can tell the difference.  I feel that A P Martin has an innate understanding of the era itself, and the people who lived within it.
  • The section before the war, when agent King witnesses the ‘gathering storm’ of Nazi Germany, is excellent, and SS man Joachim Brandt’s witnessing of Dunkirk, from the point of view of a German spy, is outstanding.  I loved these two parts.
  • I thought the plot was well thought out, generally, and it kept me interested throughout.
  • The understated communication between King and his controller, Pym, was most believeable.  The characterisation of Pym and Brandt was particularly good, as was that of misguided informant Abigail Stevenson; Brandt’s duplicitous relationship with her was executed very well, as was Brandt’s developing character, as he grows from patriot to confirmed Nazi.  There’s a key scene were he slaughters some POWs, which triggers him off; it’s so well done.
  • The build up to the war, with the growing danger in Germany, the differing attitudes to Hitler, and the many theories about his intentions, was fascinating, and gave such insight into how that time must have been for different people across both countries.

What I was not so sure about 

  • I found some elements early in the book less than convincing; at the beginning, King is with his friends in Germany in 1933, and everyone speaks in perfectly formed sentences, giving just the right amount of information to the reader; the conversation didn’t seem real.
  • I wasn’t convinced by the romance with Greta; I found their Christmas together in 1938 not a last idyllic, romantic few days before the war, but a mildly interesting account of activities.  Greta never came across to me as a living, flesh and blood woman. However, it was no worse than the depiction of women by some well-known writers of this genre, Jeffrey Archer to name but one.
  • I would urge Mr Martin to seek out a proofreader who knows how to punctuate ~ there are scores of missing or incorrectly placed commas, and the curious placing of quotations marks around proper nouns (eg, ‘Lords Cricket Ground’).  I didn’t find any spelling mistakes or typos, though.
  • The ending.  The book just stopped.  The main conflict of the plot is resolved, and satisfactorily, but it seemed almost as though the author had forgotten that minor story threads needed resolution, too.  I turned the page expecting another chapter, or at least an epilogue, but that was that.

This book has much to commend it, hence the four stars; the parts I liked, I liked very much indeed, but I feel it needs a bit of ‘sorting out’ by a really good editor, perhaps a trimming down and removing of mundane detail, to make it the first class novel it deserves to be.  I think lovers of ‘old school’ sort of spy stories will love it.

Book Description

Spring 1938: Great Britain is facing potentially lethal threats: the looming war with Germany; the fear that her Secret Service has been penetrated by Nazi agents and the existence of hundreds of British citizens, who are keen to pass information to her enemies.

John King, a young academic, is approached by his Oxbridge mentor to participate in a stunning deception that would frustrate Britain’s enemies. As King struggles to come to terms with the demands of his mission, he must learn to survive in a dangerous and lonely ‘no man’s land’, whilst remaining one step ahead of those in hot pursuit.

Adapted from a true story, ‘Codename Lazarus’ takes the reader on a journey from the dark heart of Hitler’s Germany, across the snowy peaks of Switzerland to the horrors of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz, before reaching a thrilling and decisive conclusion, from which none of those present emerges unscathed.

About the author

A.P. Martin

I was born and spent my entire working life in the North West of England, where I taught at school, college and university levels. I became Head of Department of Social Sciences at a University, specialising in the study of social inequality, social mobility and sport. During my academic career I published many sociological studies on these themes.

Since taking early retirement, I have really enjoyed immersing myself in reading and writing fiction. I feel that most historical fiction benefits from a connection to something that actually happened, so when I wrote my first book, Codename Lazarus, I took a little known true story and used it as a framework for an exciting thriller.

I am currently writing my second spy story, which also takes as its inspiration a fascinating, yet almost unknown episode from the Second World War.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter