Book Review: Beyond This Broken Sky

This is a dual-timeline novel set in London in 1940 and 2019. In 1940, rich and carefree Ruby has surprisingly volunteered for the ambulance service during the Nazi bombing of Britain, otherwise known as the Blitz. Her partner and driver is Joseph, a conscientious objector. Ruby owns a house in London and has rented out one of the top two floors to Joseph and the other to a married couple, Kitty and Reg. In 2019, Edi has purchased an apartment in London and is trying to start life anew. A neighbor, a book, and a hidden object lead her to pursue a mystery and learn about the actions of truly courageous women in a dangerous time.

I was spellbound by this novel, which transports us to a shell-shocked London being hit with a barrage of bombs night after night. We careen through the streets in an ambulance, saving who we can, and we do it over and over. This is the life of Ruby at that time. We also meet Joseph, who cannot take a life but wants to help his country in other ways. We learn of life-threatening prejudice against women, and we witness the very real September 1940 occupation of the Savoy Hotel, as the differences between the shelter accommodations of the rich and poor are made very obvious.  In 2019, the heartbroken but determined Edi, with the help of her neighbor, Pearl, unravels a mystery that has been hidden for decades.

This is a unique and eye-opening look at London during the Blitz that gives us deeper insight into the realities of life in that era. I highly recommend this book to fans of World War II fiction, women’s fiction, and mysteries.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Bookouture, for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Siobhan Curham

(In Her Own Words)

When I was a child my evil genius parents decided not to have a TV as they thought it was bad for a child’s imagination – I mean, as if?! And, as this was in the days before the internet and mobile phones, I had a choice – I could either learn to love books or I could die of boredom. So I learnt to love books and pretty soon my love of reading grew into a love of writing and I dreamt of one day having a shelf of books of my own.

At eighteen I set off for uni in pursuit of my dream, to study English Literature. But two years into my degree, I become plagued by the fear that I just didn’t have what it took to become a professional writer. I came from a much poorer background than most of my fellow students and I started to feel that people from council estates didn’t belong in the middle class world of publishing. So I dropped out of uni and ended up working in the complaints department for a frozen food company where all I wrote were grovelling apology letters to irate customers. (This is the tragic low point of my story).

After four years of working in jobs I hated I came to an important realisation: life can be a very dull and dark place when you don’t dare to dream. So I dusted off my literary dreams and instead of seeing writing as some kind of rarefied world solely for the silver-spooned, I decided to approach it as I would any other job, starting small and working my way up. I began my quest writing short stories for weekly women’s magazines (the kind of magazines that have headlines like: The Day My Womb Fell Out! and OMG My Fella is Sleeping With the Milkman!). Then I wrote some articles. Having short stories and articles published gave me the confidence to finally have a go at writing my first book.

That book was published in 2000.

Fast forward 20 years and I’ve now written over 30 books and I’ve won three book awards. Moral of the story … never give up on your dreams!

I love helping other people with their writing, in my work as an editor and writing coach.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Apple Books

Barnes and Noble

Agustina De Aragón by Gail Meath–made an Editor’s Choice by Historical Novels Review Magazine.

As many of you know, I’ve been singing the praises of this fabulous historical novel for some time, and other reviewers agree! Historical Novels Review Magazine, the magazine of The Historical Novel Society, made this an Editor’s Choice book for the August 2021 edition, and gave it a fabulous review!

I’m especially happy about this because the author, Gail Meath, a wonderful person by the way, is a self-published author. As you know, I have a heart for self-published authors so I am thrilled to see this book in the magazine alongside books from top traditional publishers like William Morrow and Revell.

Here is a link to my review back in April on a Self-Published Saturday and here is a link to buy this great book on Amazon.

Congratulations, Gail. This book deserves that distinction and more!

Upcoming #Book Reviews Historical Novels Review

Some of you may have noticed I haven’t been posting as much lately. That’s because it was deadline time for my most recent reviews for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. These reviews were for the August edition, and I reviewed 13 books this time. I cannot share them online until after they are published on August 1st, but I wanted to share with you the covers, links, and Amazon book descriptions for some of the books I’ve been reviewing. I cannot give my opinion at all at this time on these particular books, but I will definitely be sharing them on August 1st.

AMAZON BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Germany 1940. As secretary to Himmler, the leader of the SS, Magda spends her days sending party invitations to high-ranking Nazis, and her evenings distributing pamphlets for the resistance. But Magda is leading a dangerous double life, smuggling secrets out of the office. It’s a deadly game, and eventual exposure is a certainty, but Magda is driven by a need to keep the man she secretly loves safe as he fights against the Nazis…

Forty years later.Nina’s heart pounds as she steps into an uncertain future carrying a forged passport, a few bank notes, and a scribbled address for The Tower House taken from an intricate drawing she found hidden in her grandmother’s wardrobe. Separated from her family and betrayed by her country, Nina’s last hope is to trace her family’s history in the ruins of the past her grandmother ran from. But, when she finally finds the abandoned house, she opens the door to a forgotten story, and to secrets which will change everything: past, present, and future…

LINK TO BUY THE SECRETARY

AMAZON BOOK DESCRIPTION

Trudy can’t escape the Bickerstaffs. One by one they invade the Avalon until death intervenes.

Old Mr Bickerstaff, recovering slowly from a stroke, moves into Miss Harriet’s old room at the Avalon hotel. His family, inheritance in mind, demands his immediate return home. His grandson Jeremy is not prepared to wait – he wants his money now. His accident – was it an accident? Or did one of Mr Bickerstaff’s closest associates give him a push? And why is it so important that old Mr B should return home?

Mr B’s decision to move into the care of Alice and Trudy puts him in the middle of the Avalon crew – especially Mrs Shand, whose obsession with the aristocracy hides her secret. But his family can’t leave him to settle in peacefully. His wife, his sons, his daughter-in-law demand his return with tears, threats, hysteria. His grandsons, future lawyers all according to Grandmamma, confront him with their own drama. But then Perry arrives, not interested in the Bickerstaffs, their money or in becoming a lawyer. But he looks so much like the young Bickerstaff men…

LINK TO BUY THE PROBABLE SON

AMAZON BOOK DESCRIPTION

Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She’s soon teaching just about everyone–and coming up against opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives.

Acclimating to a whole new world, Ellie meets a lonely but intriguing Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary white alligator that haunts these waters. Raphe and Ellie have barely found their way to each other when a huge bounty is offered for the elusive gator, bringing about a shocking turn of events that will test their love and their will to right a terrible wrong.

LINK TO BUY UNDER THE BAYOU MOON

I can’t wait to share my reviews of these books and more! Now that that’s done, back to my huge TBR pile and more reviews to come tomorrow.

Sunday Reflections

BOOKS READ THIS WEEK FOR THE HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY

I am currently reviewing several books for Historical Novels Review Magazine. This is the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. I am including the cover and the book description from Amazon. My reviews will not be posted until after the magazine comes out in February 2021. The books I have read/am reading for them this week are:

Twelve-year-old Adam is whisked away from his imperfect but quiet life with the arrival of a stranger and a magical promise in this time travel mystery.

Amazon Description: It’s 1999 and Adam doesn’t mind living at his uncle’s bakery, the Biscuit Basket, on the Lower East Side in New York City. The warm, delicious smells of freshly baked breads and chocolate croissants make every day feel cozy, even if Adam doesn’t have many friends and misses his long dead parents very much.

When a mysterious but cheerful customer shows Adam a snow globe and says that adventures await him, it’s too strange to be true. But days later, an unbelievable, incredible thing happens. Adam finds a similar looking snow globe and immediately travels back in time, first to Times Square in 1935, then a candle factory fire in 1967. 

But how are these moments related? What do they have to do with his parents’ death? And why is a tall man with long eyebrows and a thin mustache following Adam’s every move?

Book 9 in the Carpenter & Quincannon mystery series. It is the late 1800’s, and Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon are partners, both as detectives and in life.

Amazon Description: Quincannon’s pursuit of two con men who have absconded to Hawaii with a considerable sum of his employer’s assets dovetails nicely with Sabina’s vision of a second honeymoon.

But neither is wont to stay out of trouble, and Sabina inadvertently becomes involved in a locked room/dying message murder in Honolulu.

Amazon Description: April 1944, the fifty-fifth month of the war in Europe. The entire island of Britain fairly buzzes with the coiled energy of a million men poised to leap the Channel to France, the first, riskiest step in the Allies’ long slog to the heart of Germany and the end of the war.

Lieutenant Eddie Harkins is tasked to investigate the murder of Helen Batcheller, an OSS analyst. Harkins is assigned a British driver, Private Pamela Lowell, to aid in his investigation. Lowell is smart, brave and resourceful; like Harkins, she is prone to speak her mind even when it doesn’t help her.

Soon a suspect is arrested and Harkins is ordered to stop digging. Suspicious, he continues his investigation only to find himself trapped in a web of Soviet secrets. As bombs fall, Harkins must solve the murder and reveal the spies before it is too late.

Amazon Description: Headstrong Johanna Berglund, a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota, has very definite plans for her future . . . plans that do not include returning to her hometown and the secrets and heartaches she left behind there. But the US Army wants her to work as a translator at a nearby camp for German POWs.

Johanna arrives to find the once-sleepy town exploding with hostility. Most patriotic citizens want nothing to do with German soldiers laboring in their fields, and they’re not afraid to criticize those who work at the camp as well. When Johanna describes the trouble to her friend Peter Ito, a language instructor at a school for military intelligence officers, he encourages her to give the town that rejected her a second chance.

The Historical Novel Society provides a quarterly magazine, Historical Novels Review, with reviews of many different genres of historical fiction. The reviews are both online and in the hard copy magazine. They also provide interesting online articles and hold conferences and other events. My reviews for them which appeared in the November 2020 issue can be found here