#BookReview- #Historical #WarStories by Robbie Cheadle and @KristinHarmel @bakeandwrite

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Two mesmerizing historical war stories from Robbie Cheadle and Kristin Harmel.

The sun is shining here and we’ve been busy in the garden. Our corn crop is up and growing by the day, we have apples on four of the five varieties on one tree, Stella and Rainier cherries are producing, along with blueberries and strawberries galore! On top of that, we went to a local farmer this weekend and picked up a male and female fuzzy kiwi. We’re excited to see if we can get a crop off the vines!

On the writing front, my story has crossed the halfway mark and is bounding (okay crawling) toward the finish line. Another lady in the set was in hospital for a time, so we were given an extension to the 23rd- yay!

I managed two books this week, again. Both are war novels, one set in Africa, and the other Germany and poland, and were excellent reads.

Description via Amazon.com

After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904. Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle? After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lie in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.

My Review

Told from dual-timelines, A Ghost and His Gold is an immersive novel set partly during the Second Anglo Boer War and the new home of a modern day couple, Tom and Michelle Cleveland.

During a night’s entertainment with friends, Michelle pulls out a Ouija Board she’d found amongst her husband’s possessions, and after some teasing, sets it up for a trial run. Things go dreadfully wrong spirits- including one malevolent teenager- is released into the home, destroying the happy couple’s peace of mind.

During a search at the local library, Michelle uncovers an interesting story of a family who had homesteaded on the land where her and Tom’s house now stood. Apparently, this family, encompassing Pieter, his wife and two young daughters, are the original land owners. Pieter was called to war when the British descended and was given the gift of a fortune in gold by his commander to protect for his community to rebuild after the war. Forced to flee their home, Pieter buried the treasure in the backyard, intending to return for it when things calmed down.

We then switch to the early 1900’s and Pieter’s time fighting what must have seemed impossible odds against the much-larger British forces. I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of reading Robert’s journal entries (a British soldier). It gave another perspective to the war and shows why each side believes they’re fighting for the right cause.

The carnage scenes are written so realistically they leapt off the page, and sent shivers down my spine!

This is a well-written story filled with details and interesting facts from a terrible time in South African history- a great read!

Description via Amazon.com

The New York Times bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (PeopleThe Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with the journey-from-the-wilderness elements that made Where the Crawdads Sing a worldwide phenomenon, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel from the #1 internationally bestselling author whose writing has been hailed as “sweeping and magnificent” (Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author), “immersive and evocative” (Publishers Weekly), and “gripping” (Tampa Bay Times).

Photo by Darwis Alwan on Pexels.com

My Review

When a elderly healer is directed through her inner voice to steal a German baby from Berlin, it sets in motion a series of events that will change the future.

Yona is raised within the sheltering embrace of the Nalibocka Forest of Poland, learning survival skills, healing techniques, and methods to kill from the cantankerous Jerusza. The old woman refuses to tell her anything about her past until the she lays dying and reveals Yona’s parents’ names, but little more.

Left alone for the first time in her life, Yona is torn whether to remain in the forest as Jerusza ordered, or seek out her parents though they were far away. Before she could make a decision, her solitude ends when a group of Jews fleeing German soldiers stumble into the forest, weak and starving.

Yona takes it upon herself to teach the families how to live in the forest and ends up in love with one of the men. Danger follows them and keeps the group on the move while preparing for the upcoming harsh winter conditions.

Though Yona is experienced in the way of the woods, she is a novice when it comes to people’s emotions and has to learn how to interact with differing opinions- often getting hurt along the way.

This story tells of horrific crimes during WWII, some not easy to read. It boggles the mind how people can be so cruel in the name of their country.

While I found parts of this book repetitious, overall it was an engrossing read and introduced me to the plight of the Jewish people during the war.

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

I like books that I can learn from, how about you? Do you enjoy war stories?

My rhododendron is loaded with blooms this year!

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57 Replies to “#BookReview- #Historical #WarStories by Robbie Cheadle and @KristinHarmel @bakeandwrite”

  1. Thank you for these great books, and the reviews on them, Jacquie! A Ghost and his Gold is another famous story by Robbie. The second one i have to go closer first time. But like the review shows, its a page turner too. Have a nice week! Michael

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for stopping by the blog!
      I’ve enjoyed all of Robbie’s work, but this is her best yet, in my opinion.
      Kristin Harmel is a new-to-me author. I enjoyed her writing style and will definitely look for more of her books!


  2. It’s wonderful all therhi gs you are growing in your garden:) Great reviews, Jacquie! I do enjoy historical fiction and will be reading Robbie’s book soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Jacquie, thank you for this lovely review of A Ghost and His Gold. I am delighted you enjoyed it. The other book also sounds excellent. War is so heart rending and destructive to families. I am thrilled to know you are getting on well with your own writing. It’s not always easy to get the draft done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You did an amazing job with a tough subject matter, Robbie. I shared to Goodreads and put in a request to have the story added on Bookbub, but Amazon won’t let me post- sorry.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Jacquie Biggar has shared a wonderful review of two war books, one of which is A Ghost and His Gold. Thank you, Jacquie. I am delighted you enjoyed my book and The Forest of Vanishing Stars also sounds excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jacquie, you’ve outdone yourself. I’m familiar with Robbie’s wonderful book. Kristin’s is new to me but sounds spectacular. I love survival stories and ‘raised by wolves’ sort of themes. I’m excited to check this out.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Jacquie. Thanks for these mindful reviews. Yes, I like books I can learn from too. 🙂 I love A Ghost and His Gold, and Kristin’s book sounds intriguing too.
    What a garden you have! That’s marvelous. Stay happy and sassy. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes, I do enjoy learning about the experiences of ordinary people in wartime through fiction. I’m really looking forward to reading A Fool and HIs Gold because I know very little about the Boer War, just what I’ve read on Robbie’s blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great reviews, Jacquie! I recently read Robbie’s book and the stark and vivid pictures she paints of the Anglo-Boer war and its atrocities are still with me. It’s such a valuable and very readable resource for learning about that little mentioned period in the history of South Africa. Kristin’s book will also need to go on my teetering TBR pile.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sometimes I find war stories and “based on true events” stories hard to read, Jacquie. The cruelty of mankind strikes me at my core. It’s so alarming and depressing that I just can’t handle it. I will definitely be reading Robbie’s story as soon as its out on kindle. The Forest of Vanishing Stars sounds riveting. Thanks for the wonderful reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m the same way. I’d sooner bury my head in the clouds and believe life is all rainbows and roses, than have the reality we get from the news rammed down my throat night after night.
      Oops, I’m ranting, lol.
      These stories, while based on true events, are more about strength and resilience under unbearable conditions. I think you’d enjoy them.

      Liked by 1 person

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