Tag Archives: Book Review

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.

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.

Book Review: “Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author and historian James Holland (https://www.griffonmerlin.com/) published the book Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France in 2019. Mr. Holland has published more than a dozen non-fiction books as well as nine novels. 

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 gives a detailed history of D-Day in 1944 and the ensuing battle for Normandy. 

This book begins with preparations for D-Day. If follows several individuals over the course of the battle. As you would expect the book includes the stories of Americans, British, and Canadians. In addition, there are tales of both French and Germans as well. Most of the personal accounts are of soldiers in combat, but it also includes the experience of a nurse too.  

The book goes into the planning and training in preparation for D-Day. It also covers the logistics of supporting the invasion forces. It is long and filled with many details. That said it is also very readable. D-Day occurred more than 75 years ago, yet Holland makes reading history as exciting as a thriller.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 20+ hours I spent reading this 805-page WWII history. This is the second book of Holland’s that I have read. The other was Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II. I enjoyed them both and I look forward to reading some of his other works. In particular, I enjoyed reading some of Holland’s perspectives on the battle. I like the chosen cover art. I give this book a 5 out of 5.

Besides his books, Holland is the co-host of the “We Have Ways of Making You Talk” podcast. This show features Holland and comedian Al Murray. They discuss anything and everything related to WWII. It is one of the many podcasts I follow and I recommend it.

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: “The Hollywood Spy”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Susan Elia MacNeal published the novel “The Hollywood Spy” in 2021. Ms. MacNeal has published 10 novels and two non-fiction books. This is the 10th novel in her ‘Maggie Hope Mystery’ series. The novel went on sale on July 6. I had the opportunity to interview Ms. MacNeal earlier this year. You can read the 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 ‘PG’ because it contains a few scenes of violence and mature language. The story is set in 1943 Los Angeles, CA. The primary character is Maggie Hope. 

Ms. Hope has already enjoyed quite an unusual career. She has dropped behind German lines as an SOE agent. She has also helped both MI5 and Scotland Yard with investigations. She has now traveled to California to aid her friend and former fiancé, RAF officer John Sterling. The body of a young woman, Gloria Hutton, was found floating in the swimming pool of the Garden of Allah Hotel. Stirling had been engaged to her. He asked for Hope’s help because of concerns that the death was not an accident. 

Hope arrives on the scene with her friend Sarah Sanderson. Sanderson has gone to Hollywood to dance in a movie. She, Hope, and Stirling are friends from London. Hope does not waste any time and begins asking questions and digging into Hutton’s death. She had hoped for assistance from the local police, but they are not proving helpful. Not only is there the mystery to solve, but Hollywood, like much of the country during the summer of 1943 is tense. The concern for the war is only part of it. 

Racial tension and confrontations have appeared across the country. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan continue to stir up trouble in the LA area. Compounding the situation are strong Nazi sympathies even after months at war. Ms. Hope must determine on her own if the death of Hutton was an accident. Only then can she begin to investigate who killed her and why. 

I enjoyed the 8+ hours I spent reading this 368-page WWII era mystery. I have read three of the Maggie Hope mysteries and I enjoyed them all. Ms. MacNeal has done a wonderful job of mixing historical facts into her fiction [Follow Ms. Hope on Twitter for daily posts about the war]. She has also been able to find a way for Maggie Hope to run into several celebrities of the age. These mystery/thriller novels are enjoyable, though not books to keep you on the edge of your seat. I do like the chosen cover art. It is eye-catching and portrays the glitz of 40s Hollywood. I give this novel a 4.2 (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: “Fairhaven Rising”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (https://www.lemodesittjr.com) published the novel “Fairhaven Rising” in 2021. This is the 22 volume in his ‘Saga of Recluce’ series. Mr. Modesitt has published more than 80 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 continues the saga of Recluse. The primary character in this volume is White mage Taelya. 

Taelya is now 23 and is the adopted niece of Baltur. He was the main character in the previous three novels (The Mongrel MageOutcasts of Order, & The Mage-Fire War). Taelya has matured in the 16 years that elapsed since the story in the last volume. She is now an Undercaptain with the Fairhaven city guard. Under Baltur’s tutelage, she has also become a skilled mage. While not yet as strong as Baltur, she is powerful and is growing stronger. She is also developing as a leader. 

The Duchess of Montgren has agreed to ally with Certan. Fairhaven is part of Montgren. The agreement means that troops and mages must travel from Fairhaven. Taelya is one of the mages chosen to travel with the troops as a war mage. 

The trip takes several weeks on horseback through rugged country. They join with troops supplied by Montgren, then with those of Certan. Taelya practices her magic on the long journey. She also encourages the other three Fairhaven war mages to practice as well. Baltur has given the mages a specific mission. They are to support the Montgren troops but not put themselves in danger. As is so often the case the plans for battle do not survive first contact. The Fairhaven forces must survive a military confrontation. They must also deal with deceit and treachery. Will they be able to survive to return home? If they get home will it still be standing?

I thoroughly enjoyed the 19.5+ hours I spent reading this 455-page fantasy novel. This is the fifth novel by Modesitt that I have read. I found all to be very enjoyable. I like that he has moved the focus in this novel to a new generation of mages. You have the familiarity of continuing characters but also a fresh set of characters. The story includes excitement, conflict, and battle. It also includes political intrigue and a touch of romance. I like the chosen cover art. The scene is important to the plot. 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).

Book Review: “The Hitler Years: Triumph, 1933-1939”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author and historian Frank McDonough (http://proffrankmcdonough.com) published the book “The Hitler Years: Triumph, 1933-1939” in 2021. Professor McDonough has published more than a dozen 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 ‘PG. The book covers the period between 1933 and 1939. Adolf Hitler ascends during this period becoming the undisputed leader of Nazi Germany.

The book was an interesting read. It covers the politics and intrigue that went on in 1930s Germany. It follows Hitler as he is appointed Chancellor then as he is named the Fürher. Hitler was brutal to those that opposed him. Many opponents were arrested, beaten, or sent to the camps. Some just disappeared.

Hitler won over the population by creating jobs and stimulating the economy. He and the Nazis used the common sentiment against the Jews. Many felt the Jews were responsible for WWI and for the economic situation. He first drove them out of their positions then gathered them for the camps. Hitler was a clever politician during these early years. He used threats and political arrangements to achieve his goals. He used political maneuvering to bully and intimidate various powers of Europe.

I enjoyed the 16 hours I spent reading this 496-page history. While this book was very academic and full of details, it was also very readable. There was far more political maneuvering during these years than I had realized. I do like the chosen cover art. I give this book 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 540 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: “Hellhound, Take Me Home”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Stu Lane published the novel “Hellhound, Take Me Home” in 2019. This is his first publication. 

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. Much of the story is set in Australia, but some of it takes place elsewhere in Asia. The story spans from 1942 to the end of the war. There are three primary characters. Ken Hazel of the Australian Army, his wife Ann, and Japanese soldier Hito Egami.

Early in 1942, Hazel travels with the Australian Army to Singapore. They are there to help defend the island. Shortly after he arrives the Japanese take the island and he becomes a POW. He is held there for months before being shipped to Japan to work as a slave laborer.

The Australian Army captured Egami and he was held in a POW camp in Australia. He escapes from the camp and wanders the desolate bush. Ann Hazel and her son come upon Egami and they hide him in their home for a while. She begins to fear their efforts are starting to unravel. At about the same time she comes up with a crazy and dangerous scheme to both get Egami home and her husband back.  

Egami had received letters from home while a POW. Ann had received letters from her husband. From those Ann learns that Egami’s brother is a guard at the camp where her husband is being held. A nurse shortage in Guam is the final catalyst for her plan. She volunteers and heads for Guam with Egami in tow disguised as a burn patient. The first leg of the trip is dangerous enough. They must make their way by ship to Guam. Once there she has to find a way for Egami to stow away on a plane headed to Japan. The journey is filled with one peril after another. She is not sure if they will survive the trip let alone be able to maintain the charade.

If this all isn’t enough, after so many months living close to Ann, Egami has begun to develop feelings for her. While she still loves her husband, she has become fond of Egami as well. With the outrageous course they are pursuing, she may lose both of them.

I thought that the 6+ hours I spent reading this 306-page thriller were interesting. While the plot was a bit outlandish, that is not that unusual for a thriller. Some details included in the story though are simply wrong. For instance, in Chapter 25 the POWs in Japan make a ‘tiny transistor radio’ to listen to war news. While POWs were sometimes able to make a radio, it couldn’t have been a transistor radio. The first working transistor was not made until 1947. I find the cover art a little odd. The plane looks vaguely like a B-29, which does factor into the plot. I have no idea though what the image waving his arms means. I give this novel a 3.4 (Rounded down to a 3) 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 540 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: “The Export’s Revenge”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author J. K. Kelly (https://jkkelly.com) published the novel The Export’s Revenge in 2021. Mr. Kelly has published six novels. This is the second novel in his ‘The Export’ series. I had the chance to interview the author in September of 2019. You can read that interview here

I received a copy of this novel from the author in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence. The story takes place at various locations around the world. The primary character is FBI agent Matt Christopher. 

This novel picks up shortly after the first novel in the series, The Export, concludes. Christopher has taken a job protecting a wealthy yacht owner. Christopher barely survives an attack on the vessel. Soon after, he learns that his sister has been brutally attacked and may not survive. He flies immediately to Rome to check on her. He believes that the attack resulted from some of his prior actions. 

Forced to leave the FBI Christopher forms his own company. One of his first hires is Francesca. She is a former Italian policewoman and Special Forces operative. Christopher’s relationship with his ex-wife Claire seems to be growing closer. He has been warned though that he shouldn’t trust her. He is not sure what to believe. The US President offers Christopher a position within his administration. He tells Christopher that he wants him to seek out those who are abusing their positions. This was what Christopher had been trying to do when forced to leave the US years before. He is tempted, but he is wary of the offer. 

Things are happening that seem to have a link to Brit Thomas Sinclair. Christopher had helped an MI5 friend bring down the powerful Sinclair (see book #1). What has happened to Christopher and his family seems tied to the Sinclair family.

I enjoyed the 6 hours I spent reading this 362-page thriller. While this novel can be read stand-alone, it would be best to read The Export first. This is a much better-written novel than the first in the series. It is very exciting and packed with action. The cover art is a little dull, but it is OK. 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).