OXBLOOD by Annalisa Grant

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Description via Net Galley —

Review: The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal

Maggie Hope is at it again!

I’ve loved all the books in this series and was so excited to see that a new one was out this month (and doubly excited that I got it from Net Galley!).

In this installment, Maggie is dealing with depression and trying to decide what further paths to take with her life. She adopts a rather unique cat. She tries to get out more. She throws herself into her job as a trainer at her spy training camp. Something is just missing. Then mystery finds her again when three ballerinas, including her dear friend Sarah, are taken ill and two die. Who or what has poisoned them? Added to this are interspersed chapters of Maggie’s mother, German spy Clara Hess, who is being interrogated and whose execution is planned. Also, there is a subplot following the planning for and bombing of Pearl Harbor.

A lot is going on in this book, though I didn’t find that overly confusing. My favorite chapters, though, were the ones with Maggie in them. I want her to have her adventures, but also to find happiness. When the book ended, I could see where the next one would start up, so this book seemed less like a separate story than part of a larger work in several volumes.

I love reading about WWII and I really enjoy Maggie’s character, so I’ve recommended these books to several friends. I look forward to the next book in this series, which I’m pretty sure is in the works!

Quick YA Review: CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein

Since I had recently read ROSE UNDER FIRE, I went back and read CODE NAME VERITY, which comes first (though it can be a stand alone book). This is an extraordinary depiction of a friendship during WWII, told from the writings of a British female POW, held by Germans for spying, and then from the perspective of her friend, the female pilot who flew them there. Their story is heart-breaking and haunting, and stayed with me long after I finished reading.

An intense read, I’d recommend it to older YA readers and definitely to adults who enjoy historical fiction of the WWII era.

I can’t say more without giving it all away. I’ve debated for weeks how to even write this review, and settled on this very short blurb!

See this book on Amazon where I got mine.

Review: HIS MAJESTY’S HOPE by Susan Elia MacNeal

I have really enjoyed the Maggie Hope cozy mystery series by Susan Elia MacNeal and was thrilled to get the latest one through Net Galley. In this third installment (the previous two were reviewed earlier), expert mathematician and British spy Maggie is being dropped over enemy lines into WWII Germany. In a parallel story, her mother’s daughter (Maggie’s half-sister) is working as a nurse and discovers that children with developmental and physical disabilities are being secretly sent to gas chambers by the Nazi’s and vows to work against the Nazi’s (and her mother). In yet another storyline, Maggie’s dear friend David is being pressured by his parents to marry, but he is gay. And finally Maggie’s former fiance who everyone thinks is dead awakes and finds himself in a German hospital.

What will happen? Will Maggie survive behind enemy lines? Will Elise, her half-sister, save the children? Will Maggie and Elise meet? Will David have to renounce the man he loves and enter into a marriage of convenience? And will Maggie find herself in a love triangle with John, her lost love, and Hugh, her current flame? Of course, you need to read to find out!

I really enjoy this series. It’s a historical cozy, my favorite kind, and Ms. MacNeal certainly does her research! I have chatted with her on Twitter and Facebook and even asked if she time travelled in order to get the details so right (FYI – she doesn’t). The Maggie Hope books are fun to read and are one of my favorite genres (WWII). I particularly like how the story continues across books. I recommend them to those who like cozies, especially of this period. Looks like another book will be coming out next year!

Thank you to NG and Bantam Publishers for my copy!

Quick Review: “The Midwife’s Revolt” by Jodi Daynard

“The Midwife’s Revolt” was a Net Galley find for me. It tells the story of Lizzie Boylston, a young woman left widowed at the start of the Revolutionary War, as she struggles to get by, to deal with the war and her farm, and to basically survive in 1770’s Massachusetts. Lizzie is friends with Abigail Adams and holds their relationship quite dear. In time she is pulled into intrigue and acts as a spy (dressed as a boy). Lizzie is a strong character, and this book follows her daily life (she is a midwife), her trials and tribulations, her relationships with her family and friends, and even has a little romance, intrigue and mystery added in. I felt while reading it that I was reading a fictionalized account of a person’s diary for that time period. Daynard has done her research here in accurately depicting a detailed picture of everyday life in the 1770’s in New England. At 440 pages it took a bit to get through, but I felt I was travelling along with Lizzie through the war, and read a bit each day.

A great historical novel for those who like this period and genre!

Thanks, Net Galley and Opossum Press for my copy.


Quick Review: “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” by Susan Elia MacNeal

A few months ago I read “Princess Elizabeth’s Spy” by Susan Elia MacNeal (see my review here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/quick-review-princess-elizabeths-spy-by-susan-elia-mcneal/ . I really enjoyed this period cozy mystery about Maggie Hope, a code breaker and typist to Churchill during WWII. I decided to go back and read the first book in this series: “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary”. I purchased the book from Amazon for my enjoyment (technically my husband purchased it for me because I ordered through his account while he was in Europe on business – lol).

This book introduces Maggie Hope, a British-born but American-raised twenty-something, living in London and working as a typist during WWII. Maggie has a host of friends, both male and female, all with their own subplots/developments. Her parents are deceased for many years and she has been raised by her aunt in Boston. Maggie is a math whiz, and she yearns to be a code breaker. Instead she is a typist. The more Maggie works, though, the more she uncovers. Is there a spy amongst them? What really happened to her father? And is there a coded German message right in front of their faces?

I really enjoyed this first story of the series! MacNeal is a strong writer and I enjoyed how much I learned from reading this novel. This is a cozy mystery in that it is not overly violent or graphic; however, there is a wealth of (what I presume is well-researched!) information about London during WWII, espionage, and life in the 1940’s.

I look forward to more Maggie Hope mysteries from Ms. MacNeal.