Book Review: “The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Mari K. Eder published the book “The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II” in 2021. It was released a few days ago. This is the first publication by retired US Army major general Eder.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘G’. 

The book tells the stories of women who rose to extraordinary levels. Each met the challenges of what was happening around them in WWII. Most I had never heard of before. They served in many different ways. One was a journalist. Some helped Jews escape from Nazi Germany. Another was a young girl held in a Japanese POW camp in China. Several served in an official capacity – OSS, SOE, WASP, WAVE, WAC, or Nurse. 

Each chapter of this book tells the story of a different exceptional woman. Most but not all are women from the US. This book will appeal to those interested in WWII. It will also serve as an inspiration to young girls.

I enjoyed the 6.5+ hours I spent reading this 400-page WWII history. The book did not just dwell on the women’s WWII experiences. Their later lives and accomplishments are also discussed. In the later chapters, I did begin to feel that the book was getting a little repetitive. It is a very readable history. Perhaps a few chapters should have been left out and those expanded into a second book along the same lines. I give this book a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 560 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “Dark Nebula: Discovery”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Sean Wilson (https://www.seanwillson.com/) published the novel “Dark Nebula: Discovery” in 2021. This is the second novel in the author’s ‘Dark Nebula’ series. Mr. Wilson has published five novels. 

I received a copy of this novel from the author in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains mild scenes of violence, mature language, and mature situations. The story is set in the far future. The primary character is Bradley Olivaw. 

The story in this volume of the series picks up in parallel with what has transpired in volume 1. Olivaw is part of the Earth colony in the Tau Ceti system. When the colony receives a message from Abigail Olivaw they are amazed. She announces that aliens have arrived in the Solar System. She is the President of the Confederation of Planetary Explorers (CoPE). She is also Bradley’s sister.  

They scramble to prepare for the aliens to find them. The message has taken years to reach them so they expect contact at any moment. They have no real defenses so that is the first priority. This is only the first of several revelations that the colony must absorb. These discoveries lead Bradley and a handful of colonists on a risky but vital mission. The long-range plan that Abigail has set in motion will take them far from home and their families. They will also find themselves with some new allies.  

I enjoyed the 10.5 hours I spent reading this 458-page science fiction novel. This is the third book in the series that I have read. The others were Dark Nebula: Contact and Dark Nebula: Isolation. I have liked the plot of these novels. The story in this volume feels to be a bit choppy, but it is still enjoyable. I do recommend reading the first volume of the series Dark Nebula: Isolation first. The story will make far more sense. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Have you ever thought of building your own coffee roaster?

Photo from Make Volume 65

(See my other coffee-related posts) – I like coffee, particularly flavored coffees. For years now I have been buying roasted whole beans. I then grind them just before brewing my coffee. I recently came across the article My 15-Year Quest to Make the Ultimate DIY Coffee Roaster. I found it to be a very interesting look at how you can build a coffee roaster and roast your own beans.

I used to subscribe to Make magazine and always liked their ideas. The roaster designs in this article look interesting. I think that most of them would be easy to build. In particular, the Dog Bowl/Heat Gun Roaster from Make: Volume 65 looks like it would be a simple project. 

Looking at Amazon, coffee roasters start at around $50 and go way up from there. Rather than lay out the cash just to try roasting, one of these designs might be the way to try roasting your own beans. It would also give you quite the conversation piece for visitors. You will find the full directions for the Dog Bowl/Heat Gun Roaster build here

If I give bean roasting a try I will report how it goes.

Book Review: “Dark Nebula: Contact”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Sean Wilson (https://www.seanwillson.com/) published the novella “Dark Nebula: Contact” in 2020. He has published five books, all in his ‘Dark Nebula’ series. This is a short prequel to the first novel. 

I received a copy of this novella for signing up for the author’s newsletter. I categorize this novella as ‘G’. The story is set in the far future of 2278. Humanity has spread throughout the Solar System and has ventured to a few stars. The novella has a few different characters. 

Without warning alien spacecraft appears in the solar system. That does not mean that they were not expected at some point. Abigail Olivaw President of the Confederation of Planetary Explorers (CoPE) knew they might show up one day. She just didn’t expect them to arrive in her lifetime. CoPE has been in an ongoing conflict with the Outer Ring. Old animosities are hard to forget. They are mostly set aside when the alien ships from the Galactic Alliance arrive. Humanity has enjoyed many significant scientific advancements. Most have come from the Olivaw family businesses. Few know that the basis for this technology is derived from a probe discovered by Olivaw’s ancestors. Stolen technology from the Galactic Alliance. 

The novella describes what the reactions are to the alien arrival. It sets the stage for the first full-length book in the series. 

I enjoyed the 2 hours I spent reading this 88-page science fiction novella. Fortunately, I had already read book 1 (Dark Nebula: Isolation). It helped me to understand what was going on in this book. I had hoped to learn more about the background of the Universe this series is set in. Unfortunately, I do not think that this book adds much. The story seems to jump around between the characters. My complaints would have likely been addressed if this had been a full-length novel. That said, it was a reasonably enjoyable read. I do like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 3.7 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Sign up for a Challenge!

I have visited many military museums around the world. One of the best is the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, USA. I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email about their WWII challenges. These are virtual run/walk challenges. These Challenges are a unique, virtual opportunity to honor our WWII veterans. They will let you explore the stories of two WWII journeys: Liberty Road and Pacific Theater.

The challenge began July 4 and runs through October 10. There are five different challenges you can choose to participate in:

  • Operation Pacific Theater: 72-mile Challenge from Pearl Harbor to Midway Island
  • Operation Pacific Theater: 717-mile Challenge which continues from Midway Island to Tokyo Bay
  • Operation Liberty Road: The 100-mile Challenge through France. This takes you from Saint-Mere-Eglise in the Normandy region to St. Malo in the Brittany region.
  • Operation Liberty Road: 712-mile Challenge. This challenge continues on to Bastogne, Belgium from St. Malo. Bastogne was liberated on September 10, 1944. It was an important Allied strong point during the Battle of Bulge.
  • Freedom 5K

The cost for the first four options is $50 per person. The 5K is just $35. Registration for all five events is open through July 31. If you start now you still have plenty of time to finish before the October 10 finish. My wife, my son, and I all signed up a few days after the challenge began. We all selected Operation Liberty Road: The 100-mile Challenge. We each have accumulated over 30 miles so far. With a little more than 10 weeks left you can easily achieve one of the race goals. 

Sign up to support the museum and give yourself some exercise goals!

You can register using my unique referral link. You can read more about this event on the museum’s website.  https://runsignup.com/Race/LA/NewOrleans/WWII


If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 550 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “George Jellicoe: SAS and SBS Commander”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Nicholas Jellicoe published the book “George Jellicoe: SAS and SBS Commander” in 2021. This is Mr. Jellicoe’s second book. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence. The book tells the story of George Jellicoe and both the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS).

While this is in part a biography of George Jellicoe, it also addresses the creation of both the SAS and SBS. The book covers a lot about the struggle for those units to survive. Jellicoe was an important figure in those organizations. Included are details of many of the North African missions taken on during the early years of WWII. A great deal of attention is also given to the battle for the Greek Islands.

Jellicoe was an essential founding member of the special service organizations. When the war ended, he was involved with the liberation of Greece. He also found himself having to deal with the communist resistance forces there. 

Jellicoe enjoyed a very successful military career during the war. Post-war he joined the Foreign Office. This led him into the world of intelligence and espionage. After he left the Foreign Office he was successful for a while in British politics. Jellicoe was active in and found a leadership role in many public organizations. He enjoyed a very full and eventful life. 

I enjoyed the 12.5 hours I spent reading this 336-page WWII history. This book is a bit of an amalgamation. It tells of the life of George Jellicoe. It is also is a history of the early days of the SAS/SBS and those who served there. I have had the opportunity to read other books about the SAS and SBS. This one complements those by adding details about some of their operations. The book is an academic look at Jellicoe, the SAS, and the SBS. It includes many details and references. The names of several of those involved with the organizations are included. This made the book a little tedious to read. It also seemed to ramble a little in the storytelling. The last few chapters of the book deal with Jellicoe’s post-war career. I like the chosen cover art. I give this book a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 550 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “Tidal Rage”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author David Evans published the novel “Tidal Rage” in 2021. This is Mr. Evan’s first publication. 

I obtained this novel through promotion by the publisher. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence, mature situations, and mature language. The story is predominantly set on cruise ships. The primary character is Max Cutler an experienced Secret Service agent. 

Sebastian McKenzie is a very odd man. He is also a brilliant musician so his eccentricities are overlooked. He is part Asian and has an unusual look. He has spent years at sea being the star performer on one cruise ship after another. He doesn’t stay too long on any one ship. He isn’t very social but that isolation suits him well. He is an accomplished serial killer that no one knows exists. His first murder was of a neighbor girl as a child. Now his victim tally is in double digits. He has discovered that deaths at sea fall into a gray area. The next port of call handles the investigations. Missing passengers are often attributed to suicide or just wanting to disappear. The cruise lines just want any bad publicity to go away.  

Cutler has been working in Europe with Interpol. The case he is completing has put ex-Stasi agent Josef Werner behind bars. Werner has been making millions counterfeiting US currency. Cutler’s work on the case is disrupted when his 18-year-old sister Elisa disappears. She has been on a cruise with their parents. Cutler takes a leave of absence and flies to Alaska to meet his parents. The gray area on crimes at sea emerges as he begins his investigation. He resigns from the Secret Service and forms his own investigation agency to focus on crimes at sea.

Werner uses his organization and wealth to arrange an escape from custody. Cutler’s attention is fixed on the tragedies his family has suffered. Even with the disappearance of his sister he has not forgotten about Werner. He has a new employee looking for Werner. Cutler and his team must face challenges from many fronts. He wants to bring both Werner and those behind his sister’s disappearance to justice. He has no idea when he begins his quests that these two vastly separate investigations will come together.

I enjoyed the 8.5+ hours I spent reading this 297-page thriller. There were a few ‘technical errors’ in the story and the writing is not the best. That said the story is a very enjoyable thriller and a quick read. The selected cover art is appropriate to the story. I give this novel a 3.8 (Rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “Agents of Influence: A British Campaign, a Canadian Spy, and the Secret Plot to Bring America into World War II”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Henry Hemming (http://henryhemming.com) published the book “Agents of Influence: A British Campaign, a Canadian Spy, and the Secret Plot to Bring America into World War II” in 2019. Mr. Hemming has published seven books. 

I received an ARC of this book through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘G’. The story begins as WWII breaks out in Europe. 

In the late 30s, there were strong antiwar and isolationist sentiments in the US. This persisted well after the Nazis invaded Poland. One of the most vocal in these feelings was the air hero and personality, Charles Lindberg. Both Germany and the UK began propaganda efforts to sway the US.  

This book is the story of Canadian William ‘Bill’ Stephenson. Germany was pressing its attack on the UK. Churchill and the government came to believe that their only hope was to bring the US into the war as an ally. MI6 recruited Stephenson and sent him to New York. He became head of the station there. His mission was to sway US public opinion in favor of joining the British.  

Stephenson built up a large organization in New York. He brought in workers from both Canada and the UK. An early mission was to sway the 1940 election. They took extreme measures to see President Roosevelt reelected for a third term. There was also a lot of behind-the-scenes work to expedite the Lend-Lease Act. The MI6 office worked to see William J. ‘Bill’ Donovan named as the US Coordinator of Information (COI) in 1941. This agency evolved during the war into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and after the war into the CIA.

The US had no centralized intelligence organization. The British believed that one was needed and helped to organize the young agency. The Stephenson organization spent most of its efforts towards changing American opinions. This involved overcoming the isolationist attitude. Promoting an interventionist policy was critical to the survival of the UK. 

I enjoyed the 8.5+ hours I spent reading this 401-page WWII era history. Until I read this book I had no idea the extent that the British and Germans had gone to in WWII to sway US public opinion. Recent allegations of foreign government involvement in elections are nothing new. The author also brings up a few very interesting but unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. While the book is full of detail, it remains very readable. I like the selected cover art. I give this book a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 550 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “Deadly Driver”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author J.K. Kelly (https://jkkelly.com) published the novel “Deadly Driver” in 2021. The author has thus far published six books. I was able to interview Mr. Kelly in September of 2019. You can read that interview here

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence. The story is set in contemporary times at locations all around the world. 

The primary character is Bryce Winters a world-class Formula One driver. He has a darker side as a CIA operative. He didn’t want to be a spy, but they had evidence against him. He had little choice but to comply. 

His celebrity status from F1 racing gets him near many powerful people. This lets him make hits for the CIA without drawing too much attention to himself. He is willing to serve his country, but not while under the CIA’s thumb. He struggles to find a way to leave them behind. He travels around the world from one Formula One race to another. Beyond his work for the CIA, he faces danger from racing and those associated with it.  

I enjoyed the 7+ hours I spent reading this 265-page thriller. The book reminds me a lot of Flemings’s ‘James Bond’ thrillers. The main character is repeatedly ending up in trouble. He also falls into bed with beautiful women and dispatches his foes. The Winters character is far from a hero wearing the white hat. While he repeatedly comes to the aid of damsels in distress, he is ruthless. Author Kelly mixes his interest in racing with writing thrillers in this novel. This is the fifth book by Kelly that I have read. They are consistently enjoyable, though a little rough around the edges. They are an entertaining and fun read! The selected cover art is engaging and has the feel of the story. I give this novel a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “Children of the Resistance – Volume 1 – Opening Moves”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Vincent Dugomier published the graphic novel “Children of the Resistance – Volume 1 – Opening Moves” in 2019. This is the first of six in his Children of the Resistance series. He has produced several graphic novels. Vincent

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’.The publisher suggests this publication for a 9+ audience. The story is set in 1940 France. The main characters are the two young French boys François and Eusèbe. 

François lives in the village of Pontain-L’Écluse. François cannot believe how the adults have accepted the German occupation. He enlists his friend Eusèbe to unite their families and neighbors against the Germans. 

I enjoyed the hour I spent reading this 60-page graphic novel of the French Resistance. I don’t read many graphic novels. This is only the third that I have reviewed. True stories from WWII inspire the story. The two barely teen resistance fighters do not accomplish great acts of sabotage. Their resistance is mischief targeted at the Germans. Though if caught they would have been severely reprimanded, even shot. They do succeed in changing village opinions about the occupation. I like the chosen cover art. I give this graphic novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 550 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Observations on SciFi, Books, Space Exploration, Robotics, and Productivity

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