[Review] The Light Attendant: A Canadian Bluebird Novel, Part One by Wendy Fehr

Publisher and Publication Date: ShiftersPress. February 17, 2022.
Genre: Historical fiction. War literature. Nursing history during World War I.
Pages: 303.
Format: Kindle e-book.
Source: I received a complimentary NetGalley Kindle e-book. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of war stories, World War I, and romance.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon. The Kindle copy is $2.99.

Part Two of the book is @ this link: Amazon. It is $3.99.

Wendy Fuhr @ Goodreads.

Info on Wendy Fuhr at ShiftersPress/ Instagram/ Twitter/ Facebook.

Summary:

Two main characters: Henry Ryzak and Abbigail or Abbi Grieves. They are both from Canada. They were both raised on farms. Henry is the second son, and there is animosity between him and his father. Abbi and her father do not see eye to eye on a scheme her father has planned to involve her life and the farm.

A year after World War I begins, Henry’s older brother enlists. Henry enlists to keep watch over him.

Abbi talks her father in to letting her go to nursing school, but there is a requirement for her after returning. She must fulfill an obligation.

Abbigail finished nursing school and became a Canadian Nursing Sister or Bluebird for the war.

Abbi and Henry both experience the war but from different views and experiences.

Their lives will intersect, and first impressions will be different for both. However, war has a way of changing people.

My Thoughts:

I love this story! I have several reasons why I love it.

1. This story is what I had been looking for several months ago when I began to read a couple of other books about this historical event. I wanted to read about medical care for the injured during World War I. In one of the books, it seemed more focused on the extra activities of the medical personnel and the soldiers, rather than on their roles in the war. The other book gave me more knowledge about the physicians who operated on the injured. The Light Attendant shares the gritty details of what they actually did-on a daily basis, and during specific missions.

2. One of the reasons I love this story is that even though romance is a theme, it does not take away or distract from the events and personal experiences of war. What I mean is often when I read a book about two people who care for one another and they are both directly involved in the war effort, the romantic aspect totally shifts the story and can even hijack the overall story. The war then becomes a background, and this is never the reality during a time of war.

3. War is horrific, violent, lengthy, and damaging. People who are in a war, whether they are in combat or in direct contact with caring for the injured are changed. They cannot go back to the people they were before. This is never said in the story, but I can tell by the behaviors and developments of the characters.

4. Some things I’d never thought about that a soldier did. He learned to care for his own needs. For example, mend a torn shirt. This is a task their mother or wife or sister did. Now, they must do this type of thing. This is a personal but important example to share about the soldiers.

5. I learned that injuries and death is not always on the battlefield but is a result of accidents or negligence on the part of the soldier or another soldier.

6. I love that Abbi demonstrates that nursing is a skill, but it is also showing compassion, patience, and care to the injured.

7. I love the comparison stories of Henry and Abbi. He will share his story and then in the next chapter the same scene is shared but it is through Abbi’s eyes and thoughts.

8. I love reading how triage is handled by Abbi. She is thrust into this task without having done this before. And triage is probably not a word used at this point in history, but it is still an act that must be implemented.

9. I love stories that will give me a panoramic sweeping view of what is happening. In a war, during a battle, the story can take a reader up close, and it can shift away for the reader to see the larger scene taking place. The same can be said of a hospital tent or the injured laying on the grounds in front of a hospital. To me this is such an important structure for a story! It brings the scene to life in my mind.

I love this book so much I bought the 2nd part of Henry and Abbi’s story.

[Review] An Indiscreet Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria’s Daughter by Georgie Blalock

Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. September 27, 2022.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 400.
Format: NetGalley, Kindle e-book.
Source: I received an advanced reader complementary Kindle e-book from NetGalley and William Morrow. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction and the royal family of England.
Rating: Good.

Pre-order @ Amazon.

Georgie Blalock’s Goodreads page. A bio is included.

Further links for Georgie Blalock: Website/ Instagram/ Pinterest/ Facebook.

To read more information about Joseph Edgar Boehm [1834-1890].

To read more information about Princess Louise – later Duchess of Argyll. A lot of advertisements at this site.

Summary:

Princess Louise was the 6th child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Three more children will be born to them.

Princess Louise was 13 when her father died.

She had the reputation as being a headstrong and defiant child. She was an artist; her medium was sculpture.

At the age of 22, she married John Campbell, the 9th Duke of Argyll. No children.

For a period of several years the couple lived in Canada where he was the Governor General.

In An Indiscreet Princess, the story begins when she is in her early twenties. She lives with her mother, Queen Victoria, who tries hard to keep a firm grasp on her daughter’s activities. Louise is resilient and equally firm in wanting to live a life beyond the reach of her mother. But Louise understands she will have to marry. There are certain standards and requirements she must obey.

The focus of the book is on Louise’s adult life, but the storyline follows the relationship she and Boehm have over a period of many years.

My Thoughts:

I read an advanced reader copy. There is only the story. There is not a chapter for Reader’s Notes telling me about the author’s research. There is not an Acknowledgement’s section either. So, I don’t know what books Blalock read or other types of factual history there is on Louise. I want to state this plain that it is a rumor that she and Boehm had an affair. There were other rumors of her as well. For example, a child possibly born to her when she was a teenager. But I don’t believe there is solid historical evidence in writings, etc., about her affair with Boehm. Maybe she did and maybe she did not. She was with him at his death, but it doesn’t mean they had an affair. Yes, this is a fictional account, but I still dislike.

Why do I mention the above? I kept thinking all through the story, I would hate it if someone wrote a book about me sharing untrue information. But if I am dead who can argue my case.

I will review on the book itself. But I did have to get the above off my chest.

In the story, Louise comes across as disrespectful to her mother. Yes, Victoria comes across as critical and domineering. And uses a strong hand (or tries to) with her children. Louise is still sneaky and disrespectful.

I love the focus of art. I too am an artist. I draw mainly. So, I enjoyed reading a book that has artistic qualities and characters.

Usually in a book there is a character or characters that I feel sorry for. That I feel something for. It was difficult to “feel” for these people who come across as snobby even though they see others as snobby they don’t realize it in themselves. As a result, the book was difficult for me to become invested in. I had (almost) an- I don’t care attitude.

The most touching scene in the book came at 81%. I don’t have a page number. It took that long for the story to touch my heart.

The book wraps up well and between that point and the previous mention of the touching scene my rating moved up to “good.”

[Review and Excerpt] The Tacksman’s Daughter by Donna Scott

Publisher and Publication Date: Atlantic Publishing. The paperback was published January 10, 2022. The Kindle edition was published January 3, 2022.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 368.
Format: E-book.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book copy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Historical fiction readers. Readers who have an interest in Scottish history.
Rating: Very good.

Link for the book tour page: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Link for the book @ Barnes and Noble.

About the Author:

Donna Scott is an award-winning author of 17th and 18th century historical fiction. Before embarking on a writing career, she spent her time in the world of academia. She earned her BA in English from the University of Miami and her MS and EdD (ABD) from Florida International University. She has two sons and lives in sunny South Florida with her husband. Her first novel, Shame the Devil, received the first place Chaucer Award for historical fiction and a Best Book designation from Chanticleer International Book Reviews. Her newest novel, The London Monster, was released in November 2020. To learn about new releases and special offers, please sign up for Donna’s newsletter.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Summary:

Scotland, 1692. To escape a brutal winter storm, King William’s regiments descend on the small village of Glencoe. Caitriona Cameron, the tacksman’s daughter, cannot forget her unpleasant encounter the last time English troops appeared. She senses the army’s arrival might not be as innocent as it seems, but her warnings go unheeded. Not even MacIain, the MacDonald clan chief, listens. After twelve days of billeting in the villagers’ homes, the soldiers attack, committing one of the greatest atrocities in Highland history.

Cait escapes the assault with the help of Sergeant Edward Gage who is accused of being a traitor for not taking up arms against the MacDonalds. Edward is hunted by his debauched half-brother, Alexander, who stands to lose everything if King William attaints their father for his treasonous past deeds. With bad blood between them, Alexander sets out to capture Edward to prove his loyalty and save himself from ruin.

Cait and Edward travel to Edinburgh to confront the men they suspect are behind the attack, unaware that Alexander is headed there as well. Although Cait is convinced the chief of Clan Campbell is responsible, Edward suspects something much more sinister—that the orders came from higher up, possibly even from the king himself.

As accusations of betrayal, deceit, and treason abound, they are all trapped in a web of intrigue and danger, but not everyone will escape.

Excerpt:

MEET EDWARD, the hero~
The snow found its way inside Edward’s collar and shirtsleeves. He pulled at his broad-brimmed hat, praying for some protection from the wind. His feet were wet and numb from having accidentally stepped in a shallow stream he’d thought was frozen over. He and the others had been marching for weeks now, since December, to meet the Earl of Argyll’s regiment in Inveraray. Sir John Dalrymple, the Master of Stair, had sent the orders, conveniently forgetting—or not caring—that it was the middle of winter and almost impossible to travel through the snow-covered passes. If Edward and his men didn’t perish from trying to navigate the dangerous Highland terrain, they’d die from the cold. Now with the regiments joined, Argyll’s men marched ahead, most of them Scottish and faring slightly better cocooned in green plaids with their blue wool bonnets protecting their ears from the wind’s frosty teeth. Edward tugged his hat lower, hoping to ease the icy burn on his forehead.
Alexander, his brother, marched farther up front, his shoulders hunched liked all the others, the wind forcing his head down, his chin to his chest. Even with the north and south sides of the glen framed by tall ridges, there was no respite from the freezing gusts. The only sounds were the howling wind and the crunch of their boots as they made their way through the snow.
After a while, Edward found it difficult to tell if the noises were real or if his mind had simply allowed their interminable rhythm to play in his head.
“Edward!” Alexander called to him with an urgent wave. It was an unnecessary gesture, for Edward could spot his brother in any crowd. It was like looking in a mirror. They were both a half a head taller than most men, their shoulders straight and broad, their hair long and dark. The only remarkable difference lay in their eyes—Alexander’s the colour of weak tea and Edward’s blue. Like his mother’s.
The regiment stopped. Edward edged by some soldiers to join his brother. “What is it?”
Alexander nudged his chin towards the brae. “It looks like Highlanders near Argyll’s troops. Could mean trouble.”
Edward scanned the sloping hillside down to the edge of the loch. There were men there, maybe twenty or so, but they didn’t appear to be armed. “They don’t seem as if they mean harm. I see no weapons.”
Alexander laughed without humour. “They are Highlanders. Each one of them has five blades hidden in his plaid.”
Edward blew into his hands, then rubbed them together. “A bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think?”
“They are armed. Trust me. Come.”
They trudged through the snow to Argyll’s men and reached them just as Captain Campbell yelled, “Order your muskets! Order your pikes! Rest on your arms, men!”
One large Scot descended the hill first, the others trailing behind. Edward guessed he was in his early thirties and seemed to have the respect of his men. He was likely not the clan chief, but he displayed the confidence of a man in charge.
Alexander moved slightly, resting his hand on the hilt of his sword. He was always so distrustful, too quick to attack.
“Stay your hand, brother,” Edward urged under his breath.

Praise for the Book:

The Tacksman’s Daughter is a fascinating read, at the heart of which is a truly horrifying historical massacre. The author brings the times alive in vivid detail, skillfully (and often humorously) weaving in ancient Gaelic language. Readers will be riveted!”—KD Alden, author of A Mother’s Promise

“. . . it’s a gripping read, and the author has a real skill for keeping the reader turning pages.” –SS, Penguin RH

“[Scott] does an excellent job of transporting her reader back to the seventeenth century Highlands. The dialogue felt so authentic, and the characters and Scottish landscape really jumped off the page.” -KK, Simon and Schuster

My Thoughts:

One of my favorite settings in a story is Scotland. I’m also fond of Ireland, Wales, and England. The time period is another favorite because of the history of this time: the Jacobite group and the current ruling monarch in England. These are strong reasons for me to become swept up in the story.

Another reason I fell in love with the story is the character, Caitriona or Cait. She is both beautiful and wise. She has a hidden talent rare for a female and this gives her an interesting and enticing bonus.

The two brothers are Alexander and Edward. They are polar opposites which also create elements for the story. Plus, when there are characters who are so opposite in nature it causes each to become larger in the eyes of the reader. What I am saying is if the very bad and mean character were not so very bad and mean he would not make the very good character look so good. I hope that makes sense. It is like placing a diamond beside a piece of coal. The diamond seems to be more brilliant and beautiful beside that piece of coal rather than placed alone. It is the same with the two female characters. One of them is feisty and wise. The other is innocent and naive.

What did I learn or take away from the story?
A. That people see sometimes what they want to see in another person. Love often obscures vision.
B. Freedom and truth is worth fighting for.
C. When a person is deceptive, their behavior will eventually show who they really are as a person.

How do I wish the story had ended?
A. I wish the brother with the terrible qualities had changed his character to positive attributes.
B. I wish the lovemaking scenes held tenderness, gentleness, and patience. In this story there are two brothers with two very different ways of engaging in sex. I had hoped to find a more gentle and patient nature in one of the brothers. I’m not saying he is a brute, but I am tired of lovemaking scenes in stories being all about quick fiery passion. One of the best love scenes in a story I’ve read is in the book, For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway understands that women don’t always want a quick fiery pop of sex.

Themes in the story: family honor, courage, deception, revenge, romance, survival, war, rebellion, beauty, greed, loyalty, jealousy, redemption, obsession, bravery, and betrayal.

[Review] Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman

Publisher and Publication Date: Mira Books. October 26, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 400.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of World War I historical fiction, both combat, and medical/nursing care. Readers of romance: male/female romance and a same sex female romance.
Rating: Okay to good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Link @ Barnes and Noble.

The last pages in the book are the Acknowledgement and Source pages. It’s brief.
If you are interested in reading more about World War I, I am including the books I’ve read. These books are nonfiction and fiction.
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.
A World Undone: The Story of the Great War 1914 to 1918 by G. J. Meyer.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.
The character Bess Crawford in the mystery series by Charles Todd. She was a nurse during World War I but became a sleuth-detective both during the war and afterwards. The settings are in England, Ireland, and France.
None of Us the Same by Jeffrey Walker.
Letters to Doberitz by Derek R. Payne.
The Great Influenza by John M. Barry.

I recently watched Charite and Charite at War on Netflix. I enjoyed both series. Watching them piqued my interest in reading about nursing/medical care during a time of war. I’ve read more books about World War II and wanted to read about World War I medical care. This interest led me to search for books on Amazon that were in this genre. I settled on Sisters of the Great War. However, I’d like to read a book that’s primary focus is on nursing and medical care during World War I.

Summary:

The story begins in 1914. The story ends in 1920.

Ruth and Elise Duncan are sisters who live in Baltimore, Maryland. When the story begins Ruth is a nursing student at Loyola College of Nursing. Elise is the family mechanic. Ruth is the older of the two sisters. Elise is 18. Their father is a physician. Their grandfather lives with them. Their mother died in childbirth having Elise. In August of 1914, both sisters decide to travel to Ypres, Belgium and help with the war. Ruth will be a nurse. Elise will be an ambulance driver. They arrive in Belgium, April 1915.

Meanwhile, Ruth had met John in Maryland, who is now a medical doctor in Belgium treating the wounded soldiers.

Elise is coming into her own person about who she is and what she wants in life.

Both sisters are on the cusp of discoveries about who they are and what they will persevere to become.

My Thoughts:

The main problem I have with the story is it’s too busy. War itself is a gigantic and busy theme for Sisters of the Great War. But added to it is two sisters with their own personal stories: romances, war experiences, injuries, life decisions, female traditional roles, social customs, society in early 20th century, traumatic family history, and decisions about who they are and what they want in life. One sister would be sufficient for a book. By adding two sisters, I feel it makes the book top heavy. When a book is full of heavy themes, plots, etc., it is difficult to become swept away and feel an investment in and feel a part of the story, because I don’t have time to settle down and become engaged with the story and characters. Another words I felt yanked from here to there too much.

The setting for most of the story is in Belgium. The specific places are the hospital settings, living quarters for Ruth and Elise, and Elise’s ambulance driving in the war zone areas.

Sisters of the Great War is told from the 3rd person point of view.

I feel it is too much to expect Ruth and Elise will continue through all the time they are involved in the war effort, to be near one another in location. It is the same for Ruth and John. I feel these are valid points that cause the book to lack in believability. By the end of the war, there were about 22-23,000 nurses who had given care. And there had been almost 5,000 ambulance drivers. Yet these three people are able to remain near one another.

The story ends too clean. I almost expected a red bow pasted to the last word. Where is the believability in this? War causes loss-multiple losses. John lost a body part. But his story about how he feels as well as the aspect of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for all the characters who were in the war is not talked about. At that time, it was called Shellshock. I had hoped the book would address this. I am disappointed.

I have read several reviews from people who are disappointed in the same sex romance. They didn’t know this theme is in the book. Actually, in the opening pages of the book where the publisher usually has a short list of what the genre, subjects, or themes of the book is listed-nothing is written! I feel it is beneficial to know about the genre and other aspects of a book. Not everyone wants to read about sexual activities. Not everyone wants to read about combat operations in a war. Not everyone wants to read about a sexual assault. Not everyone wants to read about other types of subjects or themes in books. It is helpful to know about a book before purchase or reading. Good communication is also for the books we read.
I do not name call or call a person out because they do not want to read about certain themes in a book. When I think about this situation, I am reminded about being on the playground in elementary school with other kids taunting other kids. It is never okay to name call-neither side. I have a great love and compassion for people no matter who they are. And I dislike name calling.
I am only disappointed because I wanted the book to have a primary focus on medical and nursing care during World War I. Nevertheless, Sisters of the Great War is a good starting place.

My favorite place in the story (even though it is sad) is when an aero plane flew over a hospital and shot at the defenseless and vulnerable people on the ground. This action scene shows the destruction and brutality of war. The moment when Ruth took charge is a “bravo” moment for the whole book!

Themes in the story: war, peace, romance, heroism, courage, power of love, bravery, perseverance, survival, judgment, family honor, hope, tolerance, conformity, resistance, and suffering.



[Review] Eternal by Lisa Scottoline

Publisher and Publication Date: G P Putnam’s Sons. March 23, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 480.
Format: Kindle e-book.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction with an interest in the Holocaust, Italian history, Rome, and World War II.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon for the Kindle copy.
Link @ Audible.
Link @ Barnes and Noble.

Link @ Penguin Random House.

Lisa Scottoline’s Goodread author page/ Website/ Twitter/ Instagram.

An interactive map for the book, Eternal.

Summary:

Elisabetta, Sandro, and Marco grew up together in Rome, Italy. While growing up as children they were best friends. During the teenage years their feelings changed to romantic love. Two young men in love with the same young woman. Elisabetta loves them both, yet differently.

The story begins in 1937, in Rome, Italy. Benito Mussolini or Duce is in power in Italy. He is a Fascist dictator. The rise in antisemitism is in Italy just as in other European countries. In Germany, the Nazi’s are in power, and they are tightening restrictions and spurring hatred of the Jews. Their power is spreading.

In Italy, the members of the Fascist Party wear black shirts. Marco and his father are Fascists. Sandro and his family are Jews. To make things even more complicated, the two families have been friends for years. And the relationship will remain strained and at a danger to all of them.

My Thoughts:

Eternal is a name of Rome-the Eternal City. Rome is both the setting and a character of the story. Sometimes a home, church, or city can be so descriptive and alive that it too can be compared to a character in a book. Rome-the Eternal City-is to me a character. The setting of Rome is a breathing character-it is alive and vivid. This is the first reason why I love this story. The setting of Rome, Italy is described beautifully (despite the horrors of the evil atrocities of some people) Rome is still itself beautiful and loved by its people. I am also glad to have a World War II historical fiction story in a different place than most of the other books.

The love relationship between three people is not going to end positive for someone. Someone will get hurt, maybe multiple people. At times in the story, I had no idea what to expect in this entanglement. What would be the final outcome? This is both a theme, conflict, and a strong reason to continue turning the pages.

I love the passion of the characters. I am not referring to just romantic passion. For example, the passionate love of Italy. The passionate love of parents.

Internal and external conflicts are strong. The external conflicts are Italian Fascists, Mussolini, Nazi Germany, antisemitism, the love triangle, and the war. The internal conflicts are the love triangle, duty, loyalty, power of love, revenge, grief, intolerance of race and religion, and other factors.

Further themes in the story: jealousy, compassion, bravery, kindness, survival, sacrifice, honor, suffering, peace, war, and resistance.

Eternal is an emotionally moving and memorable story. It is a story I will not forget.