Book Review: The Siege of An Loc

The Siege of An Loc is the story of the defense of An Loc in 1972 during the Vietnam War. It is also a love story between a South Vietnamese soldier, Trung, and Ly, a student, daughter of a rubber plantation owner. As Trung struggles to defend his country, he finds himself falling for the beautiful Ly, but do they have a chance for happiness in the midst of war? We also see the evil of communism especially personified in one of the characters, and two brothers are reunited, one from North Vietnam and one from South Vietnam.

I learned so much about the Vietnam War from this book. When I was in grade school and high school in the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, they didn’t teach us much about it. I just knew my uncle died in this war at the age of 20, and I really didn’t even know why he was there. When we would ask in the mid-70s, we were told nobody liked to talk about it. But now the author, Nguyen Trong Hien, has answered a lot of the questions. I love the fact that we see inside the war from the perspective of a South Vietnamese soldier instead of the American perspective. And we learn of the atrocities of Communism and how it takes over and annihilates a culture.

Some small constructive criticism: This is both a romance and a history book, and sometimes it felt as if we left the romance and entered a very detailed history book with little transition. However, the history is important for the reader to know, and the characters were interesting and well developed. The ending of the book was left open for our characters, and I wasn’t sure what happened to them after South Vietnam fell. I hope there will be a sequel.

I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author. I also downloaded a digital copy on Kindle Unlimited, where members can read books at no additional cost. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Link to The Siege of An Loc on Amazon

Link to Nguyen Trong Hien’s Amazing Blog.

Link to my Goodreads Review

Link to my review on Amazon

Historical Fiction

I’ve been busily reading novels for the May edition of Historical Novels Review, so I haven’t been posting as much. However, I’m finally all done and I wanted to share the names and covers of some of the novels I’ve reviewed. The reviews will be posted in May. Also I found this cool photo of a steampunk lady I had to share above. For those who don’t know, Steampunk combines history or alternative history, science fiction, and 19th Century steam engine technology. It makes for some cool fiction (and cool pictures). There are some who say Steampunk is not historical fiction, but I say the 19th century steam technology and often the Victorian or Wild West setting make it a subgenre of Historical Fiction. Others say it’s Science Fiction. I say it’s a cool combination. What do you think?

But today I’m sharing some of the books I’ve reviewed, just covers and descriptions because I can’t post the reviews yet. (None of them are Steampunk. I just thought the picture above was awesome.)

Here are the three novels that I liked the best, along with their Amazon book descriptions:

OPHIE’S GHOSTS: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism

Ophelia Harrison used to live in a small house in the Georgia countryside. But that was before the night in November 1922, and the cruel act that took her home and her father from her. Which was the same night that Ophie learned she can see ghosts. 

Now Ophie and her mother are living in Pittsburgh with relatives they barely know. In the hopes of earning enough money to get their own place, Mama has gotten Ophie a job as a maid in the same old manor house where she works. 

Daffodil Manor, like the wealthy Caruthers family who owns it, is haunted by memories and prejudices of the past—and, as Ophie discovers, ghosts as well. Ghosts who have their own loves and hatreds and desires, ghosts who have wronged others and ghosts who have themselves been wronged. And as Ophie forms a friendship with one spirit whose life ended suddenly and unjustly, she wonders if she might be able to help—even as she comes to realize that Daffodil Manor may hold more secrets than she bargained for.

THE FAR AWAY GIRL: Coming of Age Historical Fiction

Georgetown, Guyana 1970. Seven-year-old Rita has always known she was responsible for the death of her beautiful mother Cassie. Her absent-minded father allows her to run wild in her ramshackle white wooden house by the sea, and surrounded by her army of stray pets, most of the time she can banish her mother’s death to the back of her mind.

But then her new stepmother Chandra arrives and the house empties of love and laughter. Rita’s pets are removed, her freedom curtailed, and before long, there’s a new baby sister on the way. There’s no room for Rita anymore.

Desperate to fill up the emptiness inside her, Rita begins to talk to the only photo she has of her dead mother, a poor farmer’s daughter from the remote Guyanese rainforest. Determined to find the truth about her mother, Rita travels to find her mother’s family in an unfamiliar land of shimmering creeks and towering vines. She finds comfort in the loving arms of her grandmother among the flowering shrubs and trees groaning with fruit. But when she discovers the terrible bruising secret that her father kept hidden from her, will she ever be able to feel happiness again?

SHADOWS OF LIONS: Historical Fiction/Psychological Thriller

Catherine Kensington is in the midst of high society Regency era. She is an unmarried heiress with accomplishment, wit, and grace. But very few are aware she has recently returned from Africa in a desperate attempt to escape her murderous mother who sits far too close on the chaise. No one suspects Lady Kensington of violence, however, not even Catherine’s soul mate Captain Ashmore. Sarah Hope also sits among them dizzily longing for intrigue and adventure but is soon overwhelmed when she unwittingly throws herself into the midst of the Kensington’s trouble. And Mebalwe stands alert in the corner, but he is no ordinary serving man, he is an African warrior, sent to protect Catherine from all that threatens to kill her.

If any of the above books look interesting to you, check them out. I’m back to my normal reading schedule and will be posting again soon. Sorry for the delay.

Book Review–Loving Modigliani (Updated: Blog Tour and Sale through Feb 17th)

Diamond Level Read

See my previous review of Loving Modigliani below. I really enjoyed this one! Loving Modigliani is on sale starting Feb 14th through February 17th on Amazon. The ebook price has been reduced to $3.99. It’s a great time to pick up your copy (Amazon Link). As you can see from my raving review below, I highly recommend you check this out. I’ve joined another blog tour to help promote this great book. The tour schedule is:

February 8 – RABT Book Tours – Kick Off
February 8 – Readers Alley – Excerpt
February 9 – The Avid Reader – Interview
February 10 – Book Review Virginia Lee – Spotlight
February 11 – Teatime and Books – Spotlight
February 12 – Silver Dagger Book Tours – Spotlight
February 12 – The Indie Express – Review
February 13 – Dina Rae’s Write Stuff – Spotlight
February 14 – Jazzy Book Reviews – Excerpt
February 15 – Lynn Romance Enthusiast – Excerpt
February 15 – Bonnie Reads and Writes – Review
February 16 – Momma Says to Read or Not to Read – Spotlight
February 17 – A Slice of Orange – Guest Post
February 18 – Quirky Book Reads – Review
February 19 – Nesie’s Place – Spotlight
February 19 – RABT Reviews – Wrap Up

REVIEW

Loving Modigliani is one of those books that is so good that I don’t feel my review will do it justice. It is so good that I stopped halfway through and bought it in print version because I only had an electronic copy. I always keep print copies of my favorite books. It is so good that I didn’t want to put it down, and I was sad when it was finished. It made me realize that if I ever write a book I need to demand this type of excellence in my own work. I even created a new Category on this blog, Diamond Level Reads, for books that are beyond special. Below is my humble attempt at a review and my bow to an accomplished author, Linda Lappin, who has woven together a remarkable piece of fiction based on real events.

It is Paris, 1920. It is also Jeanne Hébuterne’s day of death, 48 hours after her common-law husband, Amedeo Modigliani, died of meningitis. Modigliani was an early 20th Century artist of post impressionist inspired portraits and nudes who died basically destitute, but became famous years later. As the book begins, we meet Hébuterne on the street where her body lies after she fell or jumped, despondent and hugely pregnant, out of a window. We follow her spirit to a wheelbarrow rumbling through the streets of 1920’s Paris, which is described in such detail that we feel we are there. We watch along with Hébuterne’s spirit as her belongings are stolen, including her diary, a bangle, and a family portrait. We flash back with her to her life with Modigliani and her own growth as an artist. We cheer her as she struggles to move forward and begins to search the afterlife for her beloved “Modi.” 

In a separate timeline in the 1980s, an art student stumbles upon some long hidden secrets and is given a window into the life of Jeanne Hébuterne. What will she do with this information and who will try to stop her?

This is an amazing historical novel with sub-genres of fantasy, mystery, and the paranormal. It is a tribute to the art world of Paris, specifically the post-impressionist era of the early 1900s. Linda Lappin’s ability to describe the sights, sounds, and smells of 1920’s Paris transports us there immediately. Her portrayal of the art and artists of that time is meticulously researched. Her ability to create a work that seamlessly binds together history, mystery, fantasy, and the paranormal is awe-inspiring. Her characters are so real you can see them, feel them, love them, and hate them. Lappin’s description of Hébuterne’s afterlife is full of unexpected turns, pitfalls, and surprises with huge nods to the art world. The realities of Jeanne’s life with Modigliani are shown to us, from infidelity to drunkenness to abuse and neglect, but above all we are shown Jeanne’s all-consuming love for this man, so well described in this book. Lappin shares the spirit and talent of Jeanne Hébuterne in so many ways, through her art, her music, and her steadfast determination and willingness to buck the rules of society. I wish I could speak more of the last line of the book without giving out any spoilers, but it is a perfect ending, tying everything together.

My personal rules for historical novels, regardless of sub-genre, is that they must transport me to that time and place. Loving Modigliani did this instantly. They must also teach me something, and I learned so much about the 1900s Paris art scene that I am interested in exploring it further. 

Although I was given a free digital copy via Netgalley, I also bought a print copy on Amazon. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

About the Author:

Prize-winning novelist Linda Lappin is the author of four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004), Katherine’s Wish (Wordcraft , 2008), Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery (Pleasureboat Studio, 2013), and The Soul of Place (Travelers Tales, 2015). Signatures in Stone won the Daphne DuMaurier Award for best mystery of 2013. The Soul of Place won the gold medal in the Nautilus Awards in the Creativity category.

Buy the book on Amazon

Buy the book on Barnes and Noble

Purchase on Ibooks

Visit Linda Lappin’s Website

Visit My Goodreads Review

My Amazon Review (Helpful Votes Appreciated If You Are So Inclined)

Comes The War

Comes The War by Ed Ruggero is Book 2 in the Eddie Harkins series. It is April 1944, and the allies are preparing to invade France. Lieutenant Eddie Harkins is in England  and  is  on  orders  to  join  the  Office  of  Strategic Services  (OSS)   when   an American   civilian   employee   is   murdered.   Eddie   finds   himself    in  charge  of  the investigation,   but   his superiors   settle on   a   suspect   very   quickly.  Ordered  to  close  the  case,  but doubting the guilt of the  accused,  Eddie  continues  his  investigation.  He  is  aided  by  his  driver,  Private Pamela Lowell, a smart and resourceful ally.

This was a fascinating look at the Allied forces in WWII England in 1944 prior to D-Day.  It combines a   fictional murder investigation with actual World  War  II  history  in  a  compelling  way.  The  political  fights  between    the    commanding   generals    and   the    “air”     vs.”ground”     war     philosophy are    intriguing. It contradicts  some  of   the   history books    on    the effectiveness  of  the  air  campaign  during  the  war.    It  speaks of Major  General  James  Doolittle, whose  bombing raids  may  have  caused thousands of unnecessary deaths with  no real strategic wins. I also learned that General Dwight D. Eisenhower was so upset by the  pushback  from  the Army Air Force and Royal Air Force generals against his plans that  he  threatened  to  quit  his  command and return  to the United States just a few months before D-Day. I have read many books set in World War II, but this one really made me want to read more about the strategic military history of the day.

The characters are well developed, and the  murder  mystery  and  investigation  are  interesting  and  engaging, with  many  twists  and  turns.  I  would recommend  this  book  both  to  fans  of  World  War  II  history  and fans of crime/thriller fiction.

I received a free copy of this book from MacMillan/Tor-Forge via Netgalley for Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary.

Comes The War was released February 9th, 2021. The link to buy is below.

ED RUGGERO’S WEBSITE

BUY COMES THE WAR ON AMAZON

LINK TO MY REVIEW ON AMAZON (HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED IF YOU ARE SO INCLINED)

LINK TO MY REVIEW ON GOODREADS. (LIKES AND FOLLOWS APPRECIATED)

Book Blitz: Loving Modigliani

 


The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne

Paranormal Ghost and Love Story

Historical Paranormal Fiction, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Literary Fiction

Published: December 2020

Publisher: Serving House Books



A ghost story, love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.

PARIS 1920 Dying just 48 hours after her husband, Jeanne Hebuterne–wife and muse of the celebrated painter Amedeo Modigliani and an artist in her own right — haunts their shared studio, watching as her legacy is erased. Decades later, a young art history student travels across Europe to rescue Jeanne’s work from obscurity. A ghost story, a love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.

Loving Modigliani is a genre-bending novel, blending elements of fantasy, historical fiction, gothic, mystery, and suspense.


Praise for Loving Modigliani:

“LOVING MODIGLIANI is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning pages late into the night” –Gigi Pandian, author of The Alchemist’s Illusion

“Part ghost story, part murder mystery, part treasure hunt, Linda Lappin’s Loving Modigliani is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning the pages long into the night.” – Best-selling mystery novelist Gigi Pandian



Other Books by Linda Lappin:


Signatures in Stone

2014 Overall Winner DAPHNE DU MAURIER AWARD for excellence in Mystery Writing, also Winner in the Historical Mystery section of the Du Maurier Awards, from Romance Writers of America.

Seeking inspiration in the timeless Italian landscape, four unlikely misfits find their destinies entangled in the meanders of the mysterious sculpture garden of Bomarzo, peopled with freaks and monsters. Daphne, a writer with a hashish habit, Clive, American gigolo and aspiring artist, Nigel, an English aristocrat down at the heels, and Finestone, a fly by night art historian come together in a decrepit villa looked after by two Italian servants who are not what they seem. To find their heart’s desire, all the characters must descend into the depths of hell, but not everyone will make it out alive. In the hideous sculptures of Bomarzo, Daphne must face up the hidden sides of herself while solving the mystery of murder for which she is unjustly accused. She will discover that her own journey to hell has already been written sculpted by an unknown genius centuries ago in these signatures in stone.

Amazon



The Soul of Place

In this engaging creative writing workbook, Linda Lappin, novelist, poet, and travel writer, presents a series of insightful exercises to help writers of all genres — (literary travel writing, memoir, poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction) discover imagery and inspiration in the places they love.

Lappin departs from the classical concept of the Genius Loci, the indwelling spirit residing in every landscape, house, city, or forest, to argue that by entering into contact with the unique energy and identity of a place, writers can access an inexhaustible source of creative power. The Soul of Place provides instruction on how to evoke that power.

The writing exercises are drawn from many fields such as architecture, painting, cuisine, literature and literary criticism, geography and deep maps, Jungian psychology, fairy tales, mythology,metaphysics,theater and performance art, all of which offer surprising perspectives on our writing and may help us uncover raw materials for fiction, essays, and poetry hidden in our environment.

An essential resource book for the writer’s library, this book is ideal for creative writing courses, with stimulating exercises adaptable to all genres. For writers or travelers about to set out on a trip abroad, The Soul of Place is the perfect road trip companion, attuning our senses to a deeper awareness of place.

“Insightful exercises help creative writers of all levels attune themselves to the power of place.” Amy Alippo, National Geographic Traveler

Amazon


About The Author


Prize-winning novelist Linda Lappin is the author of four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004), Katherine’s Wish (Wordcraft , 2008), Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery (Pleasureboat Studio, 2013), and The Soul of Place (Travelers Tales, 2015). Signatures in Stone won the Daphne DuMaurier Award for best mystery of 2013. The Soul of Place won the gold medal in the Nautilus Awards in the Creativity category.


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