Category Archives: WWII

Review of “The Berlin Affair”

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Book ReviewsWWIIWWII Timeline – “The Berlin affair” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by David Boyle. Mr. Boyle has 12 publications. This is the first in his “Xanthe Schneider Enigma thriller” series.

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, Mature Language, and Mature Situations. The story is set in England and Germany during 1940. The primary character is the young American woman Xanthe Schneider.

Schneider is recruited by British intelligence to travel to German in the guise of an American reporter. She is to determine if Ralph Lancing-Price, a former British government minister, is still a patriot to England or a traitor.

She finds more in Germany than she bargains for: Information about the secret German ‘Enigma’ coding device is revealed to her; She develops a romantic relationship with Lancing-Price; and Germany begins to mobilize its armies.

I thought the 3+ hours I spent reading this 121 page World War II spy thriller was interesting. This wasn’t a very compelling read. The story seemed to just amble along. I think it would have been better if it had been expanded into a full novel. The cover art is OK, but not very closely related to the story. I give this novella a 3.5 (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).

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Remembering D-Day 2018

WWII – WWII Timeline – It is that time of year again when I make an effort to see some of the movies that depict D-Day, June 6, 1944 or that period in history. I watched “Darkest Hour” recently on the long flight home from Singapore. Not D-Day but certainly an interesting look at the war. I will watch “The Longest Day“,  “Saving Private Ryan” and the “Band of Brothers” series over the next couple of weeks.

74 years have past since D-Day and a shrinking number are left today that experienced it. I’m surprised as how many of today’s youth do not even understand the significance of June 6 or December 7.

I am glad to see the film, “Dunkirk” come out last year. I think that there are WWII period films in production that will depict the Battle of Britain and one with Tom Hanks as a destroyer Captain. With 2019 being the 75th anniversary, I suspect we will see a lot more in the media looking back at this important date in our history.

I have an interest in history, particular of that period. I had hoped to visit the “National World War II Museum” in New Orleans again this year, but that has now been delayed. I have been there twice now but I am ready to visit again. They have done a superb job of telling the story of both the European and Pacific Theaters in World War II.

Locally in Austin, Texas there is the Texas State Military Forces Museum that covers that period in history as well, though it is not nearly as large.

Review of “Prisoner in the Castle”

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Book ReviewsWorld War IIWorld War II Timeline – “Prisoner in the Castle” eBook was published in 2018 (August) and was written by Susan Elia MacNeal (http://www.susaneliamacneal.com). Ms. MacNeal has published eight novels in her ‘Maggie Hope Mystery’ series. This is the eighth in the series.

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 and Mature Language. The story is set in Scotland during World War II. The primary character is Maggie Hope, a former British spy.

Hope has been sent to a castle on a remote Scottish island because she has become aware of the plans for D-Day. She and a hand full of others from the intelligence community are there to set out the war where they cannot reveal sensitive information that they have come across.

Soon after a new resident arrives, members of their small community begin to die. At first, the deaths seem like accidents, but before long it is obvious that there is a killer amongst them. Not only are they living with a killer, but the evidence indicates that there is a German spy on the island after Allied secrets.

I really enjoyed the 8 hours I spent reading this 320 page World War II-era mystery/thriller. While this is one of a series, it reads well as a stand-alone novel. I liked the characters in the novel. I would like to go back and read earlier novels in the series, and I will certainly be looking for future additions. I like the cover art. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

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

Review of “Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today”

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Book ReviewsWWIIWWII Timeline – “Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today” eBook was published in 2018.

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 ‘PG’ because it contains a few scenes of Violence. The book is a collection of very short (mostly 2-3 pages each) stories about World War II experiences shared with today’s children. Views are recorded from the military and civilians, Allied and Axis. The accounts give a very different look at World War II and the lives of those who lived through it.

I thought that this was an interesting 7 hour read of this 320 page non-fiction book. I learned a few things while reading. I had never heard of the Land Girls. I did find that the stories began to get a little repetitive. I think that Young Adults would be interested in these accounts, but would have a difficult time reading the book cover-to-cover. I can see where teachers would want to share selections with their classes when the World War II era was being covered in history. I liked the 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).

Review of “Morning Star, Midnight Sun”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “Morning Star, Midnight Sun” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Jeffrey Cox. Mr. Cox has published two non-fiction books on World War II.

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 ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book tells the story of the first campaign in the Pacific Theater by the Allies – the invasion of Guadalcanal. The story documents the many mistakes made by both sides during the conflict and emphasizes how important communications is.

I enjoyed the 16 hours I spent reading this 466 page World War II history. I found this book gave me a better understanding of what went on during this first campaign in the Pacific. Given the challenges that faced US forces, I am amazed that the invasion was successful. The book is a little dry and is filled with the numerous names of military personnel and ships on both sides of the conflict. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

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

Review of “Lady Death”

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Book Reviews – “Lady Death” eBook was published in 2018 (I believe that a Russian version was published much earlier, but I have not been able to determine when) and was written in Russian by Lyudmila Pavlichenko. The English version was revised by Martin Pegler. Mr. Pegler had published 16 non-fiction books, all of which deal with the history of firearms.

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 ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story covers the years of World War II at various locations on the Eastern front. It is told from the perspective of the autobiography author, Lyudmila Pavlichenko.

Pavlichenko was the most successful Russian female sniper of World War II with 309 confirmed kills. Some believe her actual total was closer to 500. This is her story, beginning with her as a girl before the war, then covering her exploits during the war and a little of her life afterward. No doubt her academic training as a historian helped immensely with her autobiography.

Her story is filled with a great deal of loyalty to and patriotism for Soviet Russia. I thought that this was a very interesting look at World War II. The Easter European Front is not one I have read a great deal about. Her story is remarkable. Her time with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt while touring the US was very interesting. For a historical autobiography, this read well. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

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

Review of “Seven Days of Infamy”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “Seven Days of Infamy” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by Nicholas Best (http://www.nicholasbest.co.uk). Mr. Best has published more than 20 books and novels.

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 covers the days just before and then following December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Perl Harbor.

While I have read several accounts of the Perl Harbor attack, this non-fiction book brings a different perspective. Most of it focuses on various people around the world and what they were doing when they heard about the attack. These come from a wide range of sources from diverse backgrounds, some Allied and some with the Axis powers. The book touches on many lives with their perspectives on the attack and how it impacted their lives.

A couple of stories are good examples of the variety. One tells of author Edgar Rice Burroughs who was in Hawaii at the time of the attack. He is handed a Springfield rifle and spends the night guarding a group of Japanese civilians aboard their small boats. Another tells of the Japanese embassy officials in Washington DC trying to type out a 15-page document that includes a break in diplomatic relations with the US. This document was supposed to be delivered just before the attack, declaring war. Because of security concerns, typists were not used on the document, but an official who could only “hunt and peck” with two fingers had the task of typing it up. As a result, the declaration was late, delivered well after the attack.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 8.5 hours I spent reading this non-fiction account from World War II. While the was definitely a historical account, this read very easily. This is definitely a book I recommend for anyone interested in World War II. I learned many interesting facts about the attack. The cover art is a reasonable choice. I give this book a 5 out of 5.

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

Review of “Blue Madonna”

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Book Reviews – WWII – “Blue Madonna” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by James R. Benn (http://www.jamesrbenn.com). Mr. Benn has published 14 novels. This is the eleventh in his “Billy Boyle WWII Mystery” series.

I purchased this novel through Barnes and Noble for my Nook reader. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story takes place in England and France in the days just before and following D-Day, June 6, 1944. The primary character is US Army Captain Billy Boyle.

Boyle is thrust into a dangerous undercover operation to identify those behind the theft of US military supplies intended for use by D-Day troops. This leads Boyle into occupied France on the eve of D-Day to find and bring out a key witness against the thieves.

A group of US fliers who have been shot down is in hiding with the French resistance. Included this group is the key witness. Boyle must make contact with them and bring out the witness. But the activities with the French underground are disrupted when one of the airmen is found dead. Boyle must not only try to solve the murder, but also assist the resistance with operations against the Germans. He is faced with surviving both the obvious German enemies, but also the unknown killer.

I thoroughly enjoyed the nearly 9 hours I spent reading this 337 page World War II mystery. In fact, I read this novel in one day. This novel reads well enough on its own, but I recommend reading these novels from the beginning. I have read all 11 now and find them to be excellent. I like the characters that Benn has developed for this series, and how he has woven the details of World War II into the mysteries. While the cover art is not bad, I think something more in line with the main plot of the story would have been better. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

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

Review of “Against All Odds”

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Book Reviews – “Against All Odds” eBook was published in 2016 (original paper edition was published in 1984) and was written by Philip McCutchan (https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/philip-mccutchan/). Mr. McCutchan hasp published 100 novels and non-fiction works. This is the 10th in his “Donald Cameron Naval Thriller” series.

I received a copy of the book under promotion by the publisher. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story takes place during World War II. The primary character is Lieutenant Commander Donald Cameron.

Cameron is a assigned a new ship and crew. They, along with two other aging destroyers are loaded with commandos and sent on a dangerous mission to occupied France. The Germans are building hightly fortified submarine pens near Brest. The mission of Cameron and the others is to deliver the commandos so that they can blow up the pens under construction.

The plan initially goes as planned, but soon the commandos are ashore and in trouble. The three destroyers are under heavy fire from the Germans. Cameron must decide whether to try to complete the mission or flee France with what is left of the force.

I enjoyed this 194 page World War II thriller. I have read a few if McCutchan’s “Cameron” novels and have liked them. For being more than 30 years old, they read well. The novel also reads well as a stand-alone novel. The cover art is OK, though the ship shown is certainly not the destroyer Cameron commands. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

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

Review of “The Steel Fist”

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Book Reviews – “The Steel Fist” eBook was published in 2014 (original paper edition was published in 1984) and was written by Richard Townshend Bickers (https://www.fantasticfiction.com/b/richard-townshend-bickers/). Mr. Bickers published more than 45 novels and a dozen non-fiction books.

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 and Mature Situations. The story is set during World War II. The story follows British Officer Taggert as he fights the Germans during the early months of World War II. He is part of the British Expeditionary Force who have been dispatched to France in 1940 to help fortify the Maginot Line. He has more than once scrape with the Germans and finally must evacuate France with the lucky others from Dunkirk.

Once back in England, he is volunteers for a new fighting force, the Commandos. He and his men go through extensive training and raid France to harass the Germans.

I enjoyed the 3.5 hours I spent reading this 178 page novel of World War II. Even though it was written more than 30 years ago, it still reads well. I have read quite a few of Bicker’s novels and have enjoyed them all. While the cover art depicts World War II, I am not sure it relates well to the story. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

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