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Saturday, March 23, 2024

My Thoughts - The Girl with the Red Hair written by Imogen Matthews


The Girl with the Red Hair

Imogen Matthews

My heart thrashes inside my chest as I watch my best friend get dragged away by German soldiers. I run towards her, begging them to stop, but then I see the gun. ‘No, please!’ I shout as panicked tears stream down my face. ‘Don’t hurt her!’ I’m the only one left who can save her…

1942, Amsterdam. The Nazi occupation has shattered the lives of inseparable best friends Hannie and Sonja. The canals and rainy cobbled streets they once strolled down are now patrolled by soldiers day and night, who arrest people at will and beat those who resist.

Hannie can’t stand by and watch the lives of the innocent be destroyed by the evil occupiers. At great danger to herself, she joins the underground resistance, where she meets the charming and mysterious Jan. She covers her bright red hair to avoid detection by the Nazis while distributing fake IDs. And she makes a promise to Sonja and her little sister Maya, who are Jewish – she will hide them and keep them safe, no matter the cost.

But as the German grip on the country tightens with each passing day, Sonja’s worst fears come true when members of her family are taken prisoner. With Jan by her side, Hannie goes undercover as a nurse to try to free them. But she’s devastated when she discovers they’ve been taken to a concentration camp in the isolated far east of the country. Is she too late to save them?

And when Sonja goes missing, Hannie is terrified the worst has happened – has someone betrayed her best friend? Hannie knows her most dangerous task is now ahead of her. Can Hannie save Sonja, and will she have to make the biggest sacrifice of all to bring her home?

Inspired by the incredible true-life story of a brave young Dutch woman who would stop at nothing to fight for justice and freedom, The Girl with the Red Hair is an utterly heart-wrenching and emotional World War Two novel of one woman’s bravery and sacrifice. Perfect for fans of Heather Morris, Kristin Hannah and Fiona Valpy.


A portrait of the author Imogen Matthews

Imogen Matthews is an Oxford-based, award-winning author and journalist with an interest in forgotten stories from WW2 Holland. Imogen was born in Rijswijk, Holland, to a Dutch mother and English father who moved the family to England when Imogen was very young. All her life, she listened to her mother’s stories about her life in Holland, in particular the hardships she faced during the Hunger Winter in 1944-5, which has had a profound impact on her writing.


 The Girl with the Red Hair is written by Imogen Matthews. I have read a lot of World War II books the past year, and this one definitely ranks in the top 5 of the ones that I have read. The author does a wonderful job in capturing raw emotions of those who lived during the Nazi occupation. 

Hannie is horrified when her best friend, Sonja is drug away by German Soldiers. She cannot believe what she is seeing. She cannot believe the evil that has come to her town. She makes a decision. She decides to join the underground resistance. She wants to keep a promise she made to Sonja and her sister - keeping them safe. 

Hannie wants so hard to push back and reclaim the previous way of life. She starts taking assignment after assignment, and each one seems to become more dangerous. She is in charge of distributing fake identification cards. One of the things that stick out with Hannie is the bright red hair. She knows to remain undetected, she must mask this. Sonja seems to rebel against being in hiding - and Hannie just wants to keep her safe. 

I had no idea this was based off a true story. I love stories that are like this. The book was well researched and once you start reading, you will not want to put it down. 

Thank you to the author and publisher for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own. 


Sunday, March 17, 2024

My Thoughts - The Spy Across The Water by James Naughtie

 The Spy Across the Water (The Will Flemyng Thrillers)


From one of our most treasured BBC broadcasters, The Spy Across the Water is the third instalment in James Naughtie's brilliant spy series, woven around three brothers bound together through espionage.

We live with our history, but it can kill us.

Faces from the past appear from nowhere at a family funeral, and Will Flemyng, spy-turned-ambassador, is drawn into twin mysteries that threaten everything he holds dear.

From Washington, he's pitched back into the Troubles in Northern Ireland and an explosive secret hidden deep in the most dangerous but fulfilling friendship he has ever known.

And while he confronts shadowy adversaries in American streets, and looks for solace at home in the Scottish Highlands, he discovers that his government's most precious Cold War agent is in mortal danger and needs his help to survive.

In an electric story of courage and betrayal, Flemyng learns the truth: that his life has left him a man with many friends, but still alone.


James Naughtie, special correspondent for BBC News, is one of the country's best-known broadcasters. He presented Today on Radio 4 for 21 years, and has reported for the BBC from around the world for more than three decades. Alongside his journalism he has wide cultural interests, and has written and produced many documentaries on music and books, and presented concerts from across Europe for radio and television. On Radio 4, he has hosted every edition of Bookclub since it began in 1998.


The Spy Across The Water is written by James Naughtie. This is book two in the Will Flemying Thriller series. I have not read any of the books - but I did not have any issues following along. This is a thrilling policital thriller espionage story.  The book drew me in within the first few pages. 

Flemyng is now the British Ambassador in Washington. He still has intelligence links. He finds out that his brother, Abel, has been found shot dead. He realizes that he has no idea what his brother has been involved in. 

He finds himself brought back in time to Ireland where there were double agents. Did these past dealings catch up with him? 

The book is well written. There are a lot of characters to keep up with. I hope to read more from this author. Thank you to the author, publisher and Rachels Random Resources for allowing me to read a copy of this book. All thoughts are my own. 

Saturday, March 16, 2024

MY THOUGHTS - The Girl From Provence By: Helen Fripp

 The Girl from Provence: Absolutely gripping and heartbreaking WW2 historical fiction


South of France, 1942. Twenty-one-year-old farmer’s daughter Lilou is horrified when her best friend is dragged away by the Nazis simply for being Jewish. Risking her life for the French Resistance is Lilou’s one way to fight back. Soon she’s smuggling hidden messages in fresh-baked loaves of bread and meeting pilots in remote moonlit fields. She lives in fear that Kristian, a blue-eyed German soldier stationed in the village, knows about her work – but does he keep her secrets because he is undercover, too?

Then Lilou is given her most important task: to keep a frightened little boy, 
Eliot, hidden safe in her farmhouse. All alone in the world, Eliot refuses to speak as he clutches his treasured children’s book close to his chest. Inside is a beautiful story of stars, planets and the night sky. But why is this innocent child the one, among thousands, who Lilou must save?

When she is told Eliot’s book will help her decipher coded messages, Lilou knows he must have knowledge that could change the course of the war. But the day Kristian arrives at her farm searching for hidden Jewish families, 
Lilou is terrified that Eliot is in more danger than ever…

Can Lilou trust the one person who could tear her world apart? 
And will she ever help Eliot find his way home?

A totally stunning and heartbreaking read about the incredible sacrifices ordinary people are forced to make each day in wartime. Perfect for fans of Fiona Valpyand Rhys Bowen.


Helen Fripp profile image

Best-selling author of The Girl From Provence, The French House and The Painter's Girl. I love delving into the past to uncover new stories, and in my writing, the tiniest historical detail can spark an idea for a whole chapter. My female characters rail against the social constraints of their time, and often achieve great success, but they are of course flawed and human, like the rest of us. It’s the motivations, flaws, loves and every-day lives of my characters that I love to bring life, against sweeping historical backdrops - and I will find any excuse to take off and research a captivating location or person for my next story.

I spent a lot of time in France as a child, have lived in Paris, and spent a year with my family in a fishing village in South West France, so that’s where my books have ended up being set so far. Who knows where next!


 The Girl From Provence is written by Helen Fripp. This is the first book that I have read by this author, and it will not be my last. This story grabbed my attention from the first few pages and I did not want to put it down. Lilou is twenty one years old. She is selling her lavender honey from her family farm. Suddenly she sees  the Nazi's storm her hometown. She watches helplessly as her best friend is dragged away, just because she is Jewish. 

She soon sees everyone in her village starting to chose sides. It pains her to see the way neighbors are acting towards each other. Lilou joins the resistance and takes on many tasks.  Soon she is assigned the care of a little Jewish boy, named Eliot. He does not say much and has been clutching his children's book. Lilou finds out that she can decode messages with the book. 

I admire Lilou and her courage. She was living in a world of darkness and was determined to make a brighter day. The author writes this story so beautifully. I hope to read more of her work in the future. 

Thank you to the author and publisher for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own. 

Saturday, March 9, 2024

My Thoughts - What I Promise You Author: Liz Tolsma


About the Book

Book: What I Promise You

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Fiction / Romance / Historical Fiction

Release Date: February 1, 2024

A Family’s History Is Lost to the Ravages of WWII in Southwest France

Noémie Treves, a young, pregnant Jewish woman, had her entire world shattered when she is arrested and taken to the Camp de Rivesaltes transit camp in Southwest France. No sooner does she arrive, though, than she assists in helping two young girls scheduled for transport escape to a nearby maternity hospital. The matron there befriends her and changes her name to help hide her. But nothing goes according to plan, and Hannah finds herself doing the unimaginable to save one precious life.

Caitlyn Laurant is haunted by recent events in her life and hopes becoming a nurse on the mission field will help her forget. While in training, she and her friends travel to France where her grandfather was born. What should have been an easy search for his birthplace turns into anything but and reveals secrets that no one alive has ever heard.


Click here to get your copy!


About the Author

Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping.





More from Liz

The Story behind the Cover of What I Promise You

In the late summer, I got the preliminary cover for What I Promise You. While Barbour Publishing always does a great job with their covers, and the one they sent was very nice, I wasn’t crazy about it because it didn’t tell the story at all. The mansion that plays such a big part in the novel was nowhere to be seen. Barbour is fantastic when it comes to working with me to get great covers, so I asked if we could include the real mansion that the story is based on. Turns out that they were having trouble getting copyright permission to use any image they could find of the maternity home.

That was disappointing. But I got brave and let them know that I took a picture of it when I was in France last year, and they could use it, but I’m not a very good photographer and I only used my iPhone. I attached the photo to the email and didn’t hear anything for a while.

Then in October, I wanted to include a preorder link to the book on social media or something and went to Amazon to grab it. And there was the cover. I went back and forth between the cover and my picture, and sure enough, it was the picture of the maternity home I had sent them! So I not only wrote What I Promise You, but some of my photography is on the front. I never thought that would happen. Am I in the wrong profession?? Just kidding!


What I Promise You is written by  Liz Tolsma. This is book two in the Echos of the Past series. One of the things that I love about this author, is her ability to transport readers back in time. She always does such extensive research to bring her stories to life. She has written the timeline split seamlessly. We see stories in 1945, 1955 and 2022. 

Noémie Treves, a young, pregnant Jewish woman, had her entire world shattered when she is arrested and taken to the Camp de Rivesaltes transit camp in Southwest France. The author does a fantastic job showing us what Noémie had to navigate. The pain that Noémie experiences when being separated from her husband and the uncertainty of her safety with her unborn child was so heartbreaking. The emotions come off the pages as you feel her pain. 

Our 1955 character, Helene, did not get as many chapter as the other time periods but her story is important in connecting the story. Helene and her faith is so strong. 

Present day, Caitlyn Laurant travels to France while she is a nurse in training. She wants to go to the place where her grandfather was born, however she has a hard time finding his presence. 

I went through a lot of emotions reading this story. The author captured the darkness of World War II so vividly. I have really enjoyed this series. Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own. 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 27

Life on Chickadee Lane, February 27

Lots of Helpers, February 28

Lighthouse Academy Blog, February 28 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 29

For Him and My Family, February 29

Betti Mace, March 1

Devoted To Hope, March 1

She Lives To Read, March 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 3

Texas Book-aholic, March 3

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 4

Blogging With Carol, March 4

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 5

Lily’s Corner, March 5

Bizwings Book Blog, March 5

lakesidelivingsite, March 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 6

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, March 7 (Author Interview)

Southern Gal Loves to Read, March 7

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 8

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, March 8

Cover Lover Book Review, March 8

Connie’s History Classroom, March 9

Holly’s Book Corner, March 9

Pause for Tales, March 10

Labor Not in Vain, March 10

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, March 11

Becca Hope: Book Obsessed, March 11

Lights in a Dark World, March 11


To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-Gift card and print copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.