13 Nov 2013

Damian Stevenson “The Ian Fleming Files”

1 Comment Book Reviews

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“The Ian Fleming Files: Operation Armada” by Damian Stevenson is based on a simple but brilliant idea: To use the creator of the James Bond series and make him the hero in his own James-Bond-style adventure.
Set in 1940 it shows Fleming as a Naval commander who is on a secret mission in France regarding the French Navy.
As Fleming used to be an navy officer in real life this has an excellent real feel to it, an idea so simple and genius, you wonder why nobody has thought of doing it before Many have written James-Bond style books, but few have thought of going to the root of the creation itself.
Very authentically written the story has everything that you would expect from a James Bond story: thrilling action scenes, gadgets, women and cars.
I am a big fan of history and absolutely loved the idea of bringing Bond into the past rather than the future. For me James Bond is a cult figure and I find that the recent film instalments with the ever increasing pyrotechnics and technology advances take the fun out of the original idea.
Stevenson has done a fantastic job at extracting the essence of Bond and choosing an excellent setting for his novel.
I hate to use this phrase in reviews but I really am looking forward to a series of these books.

 

Hi Damian

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How did the idea for the novel come to you?

I was stunned by how successful the movie Skyfall (2012) was – over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office – given that the character was a 1950s creation and it occurred to me that there was a huge lack of awareness that Ian Fleming based his character on himself, that he was himself a spy during World War 2.  Because Skyfall was such a hit,  I thought there might be interest in a story that put Ian Fleming in similar circumstances to 007 but was rooted in biographical and historical truth.

How did you come to writing in the first place?

I studied literature at Oxford, worked with writers in Hollywood when I was an executive at DreamWorks and eventually decided it was time to give writing a go. I wrote screenplays for ten years with mixed success and turned to books about a year ago. My heart is definitely in books.

How did you choose the setting for the story? Did you research much for the book?

I chose to focus on what I thought was the most exciting Bond-like period of Ian Fleming’s life and the setting was thus dictated by the circumstances. Fleming was a reporter before and after the war and by far his most thrilling adventures took place during the war, specifically in 1940 when he was flown to Bordeaux to negotiate the purchase of France’s navy. So France during the Nazi occupation became the default setting, as well as some scenes at Admiralty HQ and elsewhere in London.

Yes, a lot of research. With historical fiction, research and writing go hand in hand. Before, during and even after writing (when someone points out a mistake!). I had been casually researching Ian Fleming for years out of personal interest and then took it to another level when I started the book. One thing I have learned from research is that the Internet is highly over-rated as a source of information. The library, i.e. books, is where the real research comes. Until every book is scanned and readable on line, you have to go to the library.  

Who is your favourite character and why?

Ian Fleming, because he dominates so much and it’s told mostly from his point of view. I like the Denise character, the story’s femme fatale, because I like writing about women, especially dangerous Bond-girl types, lots of fun.

Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

I would like to say Fleming only because I had no choice but to draw on my own experience for his everyday emotions like love, hate, hurt, jealousy, etc. Also, I tried to depict him as the kind of guy that other guys want to emulate, a cool cat. In my fantasy I am like Ian Fleming but I am probably more like Henry Cavendish, his friend, who lives an ordinary existence without villains and femme fatales to worry about.

Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

Interesting question. I think a lot of writing is part planned and part discovery. I had a general sense of the plot – he goes to France, the Resistance help  him, he is betrayed and gets revenge – but beyond that a lot of the story was discovered. For example, one of the plot motifs I like to use is that the best laid plans never go as expected. So initially Fleming’s parachute jump wasn’t a mis-drop but by following the motif of plans-going-awry I was able to come up with a twist on a twist: the first twist was that there is a traitor and the Germans know where the drop-zone is but by having Fleming miss the drop-zone when he parachuted it was more interesting – yes, the Germans were waiting for him, but there was a mechanical and weather problem that made him miss the intended landing spot and avoid the trap. I thought this made for good suspense.  As you write you are always facing the dreaded foe of Predictability and one of the best strategies is to not know yourself what is coming next. It’s good to have a general idea – Fleming is parachuting into France – but it’s better if you don’t know every single step that happens so you can take unexpected turns as you write. If I know what is coming next then by definition it is predictable so in a way I have to be a little bit unware.

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

I love rewriting. The end stage where you get to polish and improve and really see something substantive emerge. I find the beginning stage horrible and do all I can to avoid it – and then spend a lot of time hating myself.  It’s the despair of the blank page versus the satisfaction of having created something out of nothing. They say god created the blank page to show you how hard it is to be god.

What do you do when you don’t write?

I spend time with my young daughter every opportunity I get (I’m divorced) and I also play tennis and loaf around in the sun like a typical Los Angeleno. I read a lot and try to stay out of trouble.

 

Favourite James Bond:                           SEAN CONNERY

Film                                                                       GOLDFINGER

Song                                                                      LIVE AND LET DIE

Actor                                                                     SEAN CONNERY

Actress                                                                 JANE SEYMOUR (FAVORITE BOND GIRL, Miss Solitaire)

Gadget                                                                 MAGNETIC WATCH IN ‘LIVE AND LET DIE’

 

Which are your favourite books and authors?

I love the classics, especially 19th Century British authors like Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde, big Shakespeare nut, Ian Fleming is a huge favorite, naturally, and for modern prose I love the ‘outlaw’ tradition in American writing,  authors like William S Burroughs, Hugh Selby JR and Charles Bukowski.  At the end of the day I love a great stylist, an author for whom it seems every word is a big decision.

Which indie writers can you recommend?

Peter John, James DiBenedetto, Chloe Thurlow, Sheryl Seal, Sameer Ketkar, Brandt Legg, Todd Thiede, Julia Gousseava, Oleg Medvedkov, Dennis Waller, Karen Black, James Ross, Carolyn Bennet, Dani J Caile, Simon Okill, Charity Parkerson. Too many to name! I know I left someone out…

What three books would you take to an isolated island?

The Bible, Collected Shakespeare and Naked Lunch

Tell us about your other books?

I have written a suspense novella (Solstice), based on an unproduced screenplay I wrote a few years ago, which people seem to like. My one non-fiction book is a look at the 1983 movie ScarfaceScarface: The Ultimate Guide which no one buys but has the best reviews of all of my books.

What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?

What I really want to do is direct. Just kidding.

“Operation Parsifal” is out and the next one is “Operation Uncle Sam” set in the summer of 1941 that sees Fleming working with the Americans to get them into the war effort. After that I may write ‘The Ian Fleming Files: Origins’ and take the saga back to before the war started.

FIND DAMIAN ON GOODREADS AND AMAZON:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7102035.Damian_Stevenson

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http://www.amazon.com/Damian-Stevenson/e/B00CGP6JJ8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

MY REVIEW OF OPERATION PARSIFAL:

“Operation Parsifal”, Book 2 in the Ian Fleming Files series is a remarkable achievement both in terms of historical accuracy and as a “Bond” / spy thriller.

Ian Fleming acts as a spy in her majesty’s service and is sent to Egypt to recruit a German deserter and the mistress of a German industrialist to the British Intelligence. Parsifal is a secret organisation to bring down Hitler and replace him with a new Chancellor and naturally the Allies take an interest in this internal power battle and its consequences for Europe.

As writer of historical fiction about the era I was stunned at the detailed research and the accuracy of the people, places and the times: The physical descriptions of the Nazi big wigs and industrialists, the scenes set in a bombed and semi-destroyed London and the feeling amongst the German nation so briefly before the end of the Reich to name but a few, all are portrayed with competence and perfection.

The story itself also held great interest for me. I have seen all Bond films and very much enjoyed that Parsifal is written in a similar style but with a real historical connection rather than the invented villains with no connection to reality. For me that concept really worked and I found myself quite glued to the pages, wondering where the story line would take us next: Berlin, the Eagle’s Nest or Fort Alderney in the channel islands.

Not only does Stevenson know his Bond and Fleming, he writes eloquently and with appropriate pace. There were no redundant stretches in the story line, dialogue and characters were well composed and made this a very enjoyable read. Now I’d like to know more about Fleming and his life so I could figure out how much of this is true and what was added as fiction.

An intriguing and worthy read.

 

 

21 Sep 2013

Peace In Time Book Blitz

1 Comment News

 

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Peace In Time Book Blitz

 “The Bridge of Deaths” by M.C.V. Egan was recommended to me by several of my reviewer friends who just earned themselves more credibility. This well written and compelling story is based on a true event, the crash of a British Airways Plane at a Danish bridge in 1939. 
A couple in Britain and a woman in Florida are trying to reconstruct the events and the lives of the people who were killed through various channels of research; some of it factual, some psychic. 
It is fascinating how the story unfolds, like a regular detective story, but the use of transgression to past lives and the use of information derived from psychics adds a special touch to it.
Whether you – like myself – are open to the concept of transgression or not, the result is the same: a carefully composed and thrilling read that combines historical facts with suspense and entertainment.”

The Peace connection:

“Peace is defined as a state of harmony or simpler even as a lack of violence and conflict behaviours. The Bridge of Deaths, as featured in the book of the same title, is at first a sad symbol for the opposite. Two weeks before WWII erupted a plane crashed near a Bridge in Denmark. The identities and missions of the passengers are subject to an intense archival and psychic investigation as detailed in the book. While unravelling the mystery of the plane throughout the book we learn about the sad history of the Bridge of Death:

Used as a landmark for fighter and bomber pilots on their way to Germany many other planes were shot down around the area, serving as reminder of hostility and broken down international relations. However, as the protagonists of the story learn more about the passengers of the plane in question they begin to find their inner peace, at a time where the atrocities have long come to an end, and the bridge can serve again as a symbol for connecting people and countries separated from each other.

For me peace begins with myself. If I am at peace within I can bring peace to others. Peace should be a natural state of being.

M.C.V. Egan has created a new monument for peace.”

 

Genre: Historical Paranormal
Publisher: AuthorHouse Publishing
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Amazon

On August 15th, 1939 an English passenger plane from British Airways Ltd. Crashed in Danish waters between the towns of Nykobing/Falster and Vordingborg. There were five casualties reported and one survivor. Just two weeks before Hitler invaded Poland with the world at the brink of war the manner in which this incident was investigated left much open to doubt. The jurisdiction battle between the two towns and the newly formed Danish secret police, created an atmosphere of intrigue and distrust.

In the winter of 2009-2010 a young executive, Bill is promoted and transferred to London for a major International firm. He has struggled for the better part of his life with nightmares and phobias, which only seem to worsen in London. As he seeks the help of a therapist he accepts that his issues may well be related to a ‘past-life trauma’.

Through love, curiosity, archives and the information superhighway of the 21st century Bill travels through knowledge and time to uncover the story of the 1939 plane crash.

The Bridge of Deaths is a love story and a mystery. Fictional characters travel through the world of past life regressions and information acquired from psychics as well as archives and historical sources to solve “One of those mysteries that never get solved” is based on true events and real people, it is the culmination of 18 years of sifting through sources in Denmark, England and the United States, it finds a way to help the reader feel that he /she is also sifting through data and forming their own conclusions.

The journey takes the reader to well known and little known events leading up to the Second World War, both in Europe and America. The journey also takes the reader to the possibility of finding oneself in this lifetime by exploring past lives.

 

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About The Author:

 

M.C.V. Egan lives in South Florida. she is fluent in four languages; English, Spanish, French and Swedish. From a young age became determined to solve the ‘mystery’ of her grandfather’s death, she has researched this story for almost two decades. the story has taken her to Denmark, England and unconventional world of psychics.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

Rafflecopter :

 

 

Giveaway – Peace Prizes

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03 Sep 2013

Judith Barrow: “Pattern of Shadows”

1 Comment Book Reviews

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Mary is a nursing sister at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs. Life at work is difficult but fulfilling; life at home a constant round of arguments—often prompted by her fly-by-night sister, Ellen, the apple of her short-tempered father’s eye. Then Frank turns up at the house one night—a guard at the camp, he’s been watching Mary for weeks—and won’t leave until she agrees to walk out with him. Frank Shuttleworth is a difficult man to love and it’s not long before Mary gives him his marching orders. But Shuttleworth won’t take no for an answer and the gossips are eager for their next victim, and for the slightest hint of fraternization with the enemy. Suddently, not only Mary’s happiness but her very life is threatened by the most dangerous of wartime secrets

 

“Pattern of Shadows” by Judith Barrow is a wonderful gem of a historical novel with a greatly chosen setting.
Mary is a nursing sister at a prison of war camp in the UK during the last years of WWII. Her family often seems at war with each other, particularly Mary and her sister Ellen argue a lot, not least in connection with prison guard Frank, for whom Mary has mixed feelings herself.
The book has really great characters and a complex storyline. Although it is set in war time a lot of the book is about a regular family that has to deal with the loss of one of the family members and it is also about a blossoming but complicated romance. It is my kind of book, rich in plot and different themes while offering a lot of historic facts and insights with a fresh perspective.
The book was an interesting and very compelling read and I’d recommend it to anyone who – like me – likes a good story with interesting characters

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Hi Judith

How did the idea for the novel come to you?  Your story heavily features a Prisoner of War camp. Why did you choose this setting?

Pattern of Shadows was inspired by my research into a disused cotton mill in Oldham, a town in Lancashire in the North of England, and its history of being the first German POW camp in the country.  I was looking for information in the Oldham Local Studies and Archives for general background for a story I was writing. The history of Glen Mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood and I was side-tracked.

My mother was a winder (working on a machine that transferred the cotton off large cones onto small reels (bobbins), for the weavers). Well before the days of Health and Safety I would go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into great wooden gates. I remember the rumble of the wheels as I watched men pushing great skips filled with cones alongside the winding frames, or manoeuvring trolleys carrying rolls of material. I remember the women singing and shouting above the noise, of them whistling for more bobbins: the colours of the cotton and cloth – so bright and intricate. But above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales and the feel of the cloth against my legs when I sat on them, reading until the siren sounded, announcing the end of the shift.

When I thought of Glen Mill as a German POW camp I wondered what kind of signal would have been used to separate parts of the day for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill. There would be no machinery as such, only vehicles coming and going; the sounds would be of men, only men, with a language and dialect so different from the mixture of voices I remembered. I imagined the subdued anger and resignation. The whole situation would be so different, no riot of colour, just an overall drabness. And I realised how different the smells would be – no tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres; all gone – replaced by the reek of ‘living’ smells.

And I knew I wanted to write about that. But I also wanted there to be hope somewhere. I wanted to imagine that something good could have come out of the situation the men were in.

How did you come to writing in the first place?

I’ve been a compulsive reader for as long as I can remember. As a child, every Saturday morning I went to the local village library with my mother and carried home a stack of books that didn’t always last the week. My father didn’t believe in the television or radio, so reading was always my greatest pleasure. Books were both my passion and an escape. As I grew older they also became an inspiration for the writing I did in secret. I hadn’t the confidence to show anyone what I was doing; the short stories, plays and poems stayed firmly hidden. And, later again, like many women, work, getting married and bringing up a family was a priority for a lot of years. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my forties, had gained a BA degree and a Masters in Creative Writing.

How did you choose the characters for the story?

I know what I want my characters to look like but I need to sort out their personalities first. I don’t think you can be a good writer without empathy for your characters. They can’t be one-dimensional; good or bad. I suppose, initially, they’re a mixture of people I’ve known but mostly they become rounded by their place in the book.  Once I have a clear picture in my head of my character’s personality I can feel free to tell the story. But it rarely finishes up as the one I have in the beginning; the characters lead the way in that; I can sense how they react to the events in the plot, how they feel, what they say, invariably means I change the direction of the story.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Mary Howarth: She lives within the shadows of her family’s expectations of her – a pattern that rules her life. Most of all she lives within the shadow of her own loyalties. I believe we all live within the confines of our own pattern of the shadows that rule our lives – our expectations and those of other people. But ultimately she goes her own way

Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

I believe we all live within the confines of our own pattern of the shadows that rule our lives – our own expectations and those of other people. On a personal level, I was brought up in a patriarchal household where what my father said was the rule. I know the feeling of helplessness, of the unfairness of not being listened to, of being ‘invisible’ if you like. I carried the frustration of having no voice into my adulthood. Luckily (or perhaps by wise choice) I married a man who believes in the equality of the sexes, who gave me a voice. We are still together after forty-five years.  It’s taken me a long time but I’m more comfortable with who and what I am than I’ve ever been.

What was the most fascinating aspect in the research and the writing for you?

I always carry and explore characters, ideas, a story in my head. So when I knew where and what period of time the events would take place I went back to the Oldham Local Studies and Archive to research Oldham, in the forties and also to a records officer in the county of Pembrokeshire during that decade. It was fascinating. By knowing my settings, the details of the background, I could write in the knowledge that it was a strong and a fitting place for my characters to live in.

How did you research for the book?

 The most important aspect of my research was making sure that the details of a German POW camp in Britain during WW2 were authentic. So I learned as much as I could about the history of the camp and its occupants throughout the war years.

I traced a map of Oldham in the nineteen forties and then renamed all the streets and the town – and did the same for a village in Pembrokeshire.

 Then I read books and researched on the Internet to find out what life was like during that time.

Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

I had an idea how I wanted the plot to run but there were lots of twists and U – turns when the characters wouldn’t act as I originally intended. I didn’t want to change the personality of the characters so the plot had to be altered. Ultimately the end result was the same though. As for the sub –plots – they just appeared as the story progressed. Oh dear, that doesn’t make me sound very organised – but it worked for me.

This is part of a series. How many books will there be and can you tell us where this will be going – without any spoilers?

Changing Patterns, the sequel to Pattern of Shadows, was published by Honno in May of this year. It follows the lives of the characters, there are continuations of some of the issues raised in Pattern of Shadows – but it’s also a stand-alone book with a story of its own.

I’ve already started to research for the third in the series. It’s set in the sixties and most of the same characters are in it; certainly Mary and Peter will feature quite largely. But the children who were born during Pattern of Shadows will have the major part

Tell us about your other books.

My eBook, Silent Trauma, is awkward to categorize; it’s fictional but based on fact. It’s the result of the anger I’ve felt about an injustice done to many women. It took me a long time and a lot of persistence to get it published but, finally, I succeeded.

 It’s a story of four women affected in different ways by a drug, Stilboestrol, (Diethylstilboestrol, DES, in the USA) an artificial oestrogen prescribed to women between the decades of the nineteen forties and seventies, ostensibly to prevent miscarriages. Not only was it ultimately proved to be ineffectual it also caused drastic and tragic damage to the daughters of the women. I learned about the charity (DES Action UK) some years ago through a relative and became involved. I wrote an article for the annual newsletter and mothers and daughters affected by the drug began to contact me

The characters are a disparate group; their stories are run both in parallel and together and have been described by readers as ‘strong’ and ‘speaking with a true voice’.

I chose to self-publish Silent Trauma initially as an eBook mainly because, after years of research, I was impatient for the story to be told. Luckily, I was given permission to reprint an interview from the Independent on Sunday with two DES Daughters as the Foreword (which lends both veracity and authenticity to the book) and I’ve been given quotes from many women affected by the drug to use at the beginning of each chapter.

DES Action UK folded last year due to lack of funds but http://www.desaction.org  (the USA equivalent) is available to help and advise any DES mothers and daughters in Britain also. A percentage of the sales will go to the charity. People shy away from ‘issue-led’ novels but ultimately the story is fictitious and has been described as’ a good read’ and ‘sad, fascinating and poignant’

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

The best aspect of writing for me is that I’m never short on ideas; there so many images and words in my head – I just need to write them down. The worst aspect is time – and that I am a slow writer. I tend to go over and over what I’ve written the day before and need to get it right before I can move on. I envy writers who can speed along getting the whole story down – and then edit it.

Why do you write?

I can’t stop writing. I get tetchy if I ever miss a day – which is rare. I have a motto on the wall next to my desk “You’ll know you should be writing when you hate the world and everyone in it”. When that happens I know I’ve gone too long without sitting in front of my computer and getting words on the screen. I should apologise to my family, at this point, for being irritable sometimes.

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

 With difficulty – on line; I’m not completely on top of things with social media because I resent spending time learning all the ‘ins and outs’ of it all. So it’s my own fault that I find keeping up with everything hard work and time consuming. But I’ve made good friends with a whole host of writers on Twitter and Facebook and I find myself drawn in. I want to read everybody’s blog and look at all the websites and answer all the posts on Facebook and Twitter. So I plod on. My favourite side of marketing is book signings and appearing at events and giving talks. On the plus side, I do manage to balance the two aspects of being a writer these days. I tell myself I was a ‘domestic goddess’ for years – now the house gets a ‘lick and a polish’ most days.

What do you do when you don’t write?

 I paint, walk. potter in the garden, meet with friends and family. I try to ignore ‘domestic trivia’ but it catches up with me eventually and so then have I spend a whole day cleaning.

Who did you have in mind when you wrote the characters?

 I don’t think I should say who I have in mind for the ‘difficult ‘characters. The rest of the them are a disparate mix of people I have met or imagined over the years.

Who would play them in a film?

I’ve never thought of that. I have been told many times that Pattern of Shadows would make a good television drama series. In which case I would love to have Gaynor Faye, from Emmerdale, as Mary.

Who are your biggest influences?

 My husband, David. And then my closest friends – one of whom is Sharon Tregenza, a children’s author, and my greatest critique.

Which are your favourite books and authors?

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou. And anything by Pat Barker; I think her writing is so complex; she mixes absolutely exquisite description with dialogue that is so believable the reader lives within the internal lives of each of her characters. I am, and have been for a long time, a real fan of her work.

Which indie writers can you recommend?

 There are so many: If I had to pick names out of a hat – Judith Arnopp, Jenny Lloyd, E.L. Lindley, Eleanor Anders, Regina Puckett, Bert Murray. And I love all the mottos and saying Khaled Talib Tweets.

What would you take to an isolated island?

 My husband and family

What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?

 I think I’ve said enough!

 

Pattern of Shadows was published by Honno in 2010

http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?ISBN=9781906784058

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pattern-of-Shadows-ebook/dp/B00940YWKQ/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=pattern+of+shadows&tag=googhydr-21&index=stripbooks&hvadid=15209327994&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=297622601706156893&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_30tvv8osf2_b

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Changing Patterns:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Changing-Patterns-Judith-Barrow/dp/1906784396/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1376847892&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Changing-Patterns-ebook/dp/B00B0STM2I/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376847892&sr=1-2&keywords=pattern+of+shadows

 

Silent Trauma, published December 2012.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silent-Trauma-ebook/dp/B00AFZ8CLO

The link to my website:

http://www.judithbarrow.co.uk/

http://www.judithbarrow.com

 Other links:

https://twitter.com/judithabarrow

judith.barrow.3@facebook.com

 

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow

 

02 Sep 2013

A Chat with Christoph Fischer

3 Comments News, Review

TLOTW SLider

Today my biggest news is that a website in the US by a fellow author has chosen my book to become a study object for online students and I am invited to answer their questions. Oddly enough just a few days ago exactly this was suggested by one of the reviewers. 

Author Julia Gousseva is a writer and a teacher  Molly

She has a BA in English from Moscow State Linguistics University and two graduate degrees from the University of Arizona: MA in English Language and Linguistics and a PhD in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching. 

She is a full-time writing teacher at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. 

The goal of this blog is to give her students (and anybody else who happens to wander in) a chance to interact with today’s most interesting writers.

Here is the link!  2137033

http://juliagousseva.com/2/post/2013/09/a-chat-with-christoph-fischer.html

The Luck of the Weissensteiners  

continues to do well in the Jewish Fiction Charts on Amazon –  as does Sebastian.

The current review Bonanza is ongoing for both books.

And here are the last three reviews for The Luck of the Weissensteiners , bringing it to a total of 64 on Amazon.com and 50 on Amazon.co.uk.

Sebastian climbed to 28 reviews – amazing after only being on the market since May.

******

Should be Required Reading for History Students, August 31, 2013

…As a romance, this book is superb: well-drawn, believable, with authentic and likable characters, each with their own realistic flaws.

But calling this amazing novel a romance would be a major understatement. What immediately complicates the budding relationship between Greta and Wilhelm is the historical setting that at first acts as a backdrop for their relationship but, as the story develops, gradually comes to the fore and becomes a guiding force in the story, just like it happened in Europe in 1933 as the dramatic events of World War Two unfolded.

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...The historical detail, the meticulous research done by the author (just look at the topnotch bibliography at the end, and you will be amazed), the accuracy of the smallest detail in the narration – all make this story come to life in the most realistic way possible.

But don’t think that research means absence of plot or dry writing style. Far from it. As the story and the raging war in Europe progress, Greta and Wilhelm get deeper and deeper involved both in their own relationship, full of challenges and complications, from settling on common religious beliefs to dealing with a miscarriage to attempts to find a safe place for their young family to eventual separation, and in events surrounding them. And that’s just the beginning.

old-town-bratislava-james-a-stewart

This beautifully told story is filled with allegories and symbolism. For example, at one point, Greta and Wilhelm are considering getting forged passports from a communist and a former customer of Wilhelm’s bookshop. A passing phrase, “we know a lot about people by the kind of books they buy” immediately made me think of the power of books, a theme that runs strongly throughout this novel, and Hitler’s multiple agencies that diligently worked at blacklisting, banning, and eliminating anything that could be construed as “un-German.” Banning books and limiting information access – a terrifying but still very much present concept in today’s world.

The author’s portrayal of Greta as a “pawn in a political chess game” as she is trying to fit in but failing, feels very real. In Greta’s case, with her Jewish background but lack of Jewish religion, a blond son, and a German husband, she just doesn’t belong with either Jews or Germans. Nowhere seems safe for her in war-ravaged Europe. Greta’s plight feels so real, I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s the author’s own “ambiguous sense of belonging” in Bavaria (he was born in Germany from a mixed heritage marriage) shaped his understanding and emotional connection to Greta.

An amazing book on many levels. Highly recommended.

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Wonderful, September 1, 2013

I was gifted this book to review and it is one of the best books that I have read about WW2 . A very humane and personable. The family of weavers where like a family to me. I felt the pain that Greta experienced…. Rather than reading about the atrocities that occurred during the war, this writer wrote about a family and all of the trials and tribulations they experience. While presenting facts about the war that tied everything together…. I would highly recommend this book.

 *****

An Oblique Lightness of Being, September 2, 2013
 
This review is from: The Luck of the Weissensteiners (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Volume 1) (Paperback)

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… two decades before the setting of Kundera’s novel, but dealing similarly in the themes of identity, nationality, shifting ideas and shifting frontiers.

I called up Kundera’s name because Fischer has the same oblique style and concentrates on the slow steady construction of his characters until they are flesh and blood people that we know as intimately as our neighbors and friends. His story portrays struggle, romance, separation and, ultimately, redemption in a way that is both moving and totally believable. The moment I finished this book I clicked into Amazon to find the second book in the trilogy. That says all that needs to be said.

*****
THANKS EVERYONE FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR THE SUPPORT! Reviews like this keep us writers going, so thanks for taking the time and writing such lovely and heart-felt comments.
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30 Aug 2013

Newsflash: Review Bonanza for THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS

Comments Off on Newsflash: Review Bonanza for THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS News, Review

THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS

In the last week this book drew in a staggering 10 new reviews:

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Here are some highlights from the reviews. Thanks for everyone who has helped promoting the book and put the word out there. This is a very exciting time. {Sebastian also had more reviews but that will have to wait for another newsflash}

Historical Fiction at its Best!!

“The Luck of the Weissensteiners” by talented Author Christoph Fischer is classified as a fictional novel but words can barely describe how much more it is than that…his style of writing is seasoned, well-researched, captivating, and true-to-life. It brings back memories of my first encounter as a young school girl with the heart wrenching plight of the Jewish people when I read “The Diary of Anne Frank”.

Author Christoph Fischer has such an incredible gift. He is able to quietly and softly bring his reading audience into the lives of his characters and touch their hearts in a memorable and profound way.

This touching novel has certainly left its mark on me. Early in the morning…I eagerly rose to read a few more chapters before I started my day. In the evening before bed time, I engaged in the same activity with not wanting to miss a word in this captivating epic story with plenty of historical facts and authenticity to make every word penned remarkably believable and enticing. I was so expertly drawn into the story line in this incredible novel that I felt mesmerized by the cast of characters depicted…how their lives were intertwined and how their stories unfolded. This historical novel is such a wonderful and enjoyable read. Thank you to Author Christoph Fischer for sharing his talent with all of us! Simply put…I loved this book!

*****

An encapsulating read,

A very interesting read

It is a touching and moving tale with some wonderful characters and great storytelling.

The story is well developed and will draw a reader very quickly inside the pages

and an overwhelming sense of reality in this book.

An exceptional page-turner and many historical readers will enjoy this gripping novel.

Nicely put together! A credit and a craft to the author.

***** 68681_10151109627282132_490312403_n

A truly beautiful historic suspense,

An astounding and epic story about the harrowing experiences of a Jewish family during World War Two.

Christoph Fischer’s wonderfully descriptive writing style gives an authentic feel of the era.

I found myself feeling real concern for the superbly drawn characters as they desperately try to avoid being detected by the Nazis.

*****  Molly

A little difficult to get a hang of at first, but good later on,

In Christoph Fischer’s “Luck of the Weissensteiners” you get … a great new perspective to yet another war story.

… becomes a nail biting drama as the war comes to its end. I am glad I persisted with the book. I felt moved by the story and just loved the ending when everything is being tied up.
I really enjoyed some of the great characters that came in later, particularly a tough and ambiguous Hungarian Countess, or the late love interest for the widowed father Jonah. I cared for all the characters, even some of the bad ones were becoming soft and it made me realise just how difficult it had to have been for all these people, regardless of their agendas, and how many possible outcomes for these people there could have been.
Fischer tells a good story and does so without much stereotypes and predictability. Some parts were intense but overall it was a pretty good read.

****  704801_10151110620882132_1411199247_o

A Jolt to my Ethnocentricity,

Reading Christoph Fischer’s The Luck of the Weissensteiners presented another view of that period through the camera lens of people living in Eastern Europe. The book shows people from all the different perspectives before, during, and after the war. It’s an eye-opening read to learn that the United States wasn’t the center of this war. In the lives of these ordinary folks, the United States played an almost peripheral role.

Through it, all one family stands strong.

This book’s retelling of the history of this period in Europe is personalized through the characters that represent a cross section of the lives impacted by the atrocities of war. Jews, Gentiles, Germans, Slovakians, lesbians, and traitors all point to one direction. War never makes much sense when the individual lives of its victims are examined. Neither side wins when people are persecuted for their religion, political beliefs, nationality, or sexual orientations.

Christoph Fischer has written an important book for its historical perspective. He personified the vagaries of war through the fictional characters.

As long as genocide exists in the world, we must do as Fischer has done in his novel – remind us, and remind us again, that our faith, our color, our language, and our life choices should matter not a wit. In the end, it’s our integrity and how we treat others that matters the most.

Thank you, Christoph, for writing this important book to remind us never to repeat the mistakes of the past.

***** 14708_10151107403537132_1439408697_n

Historical Fiction at it’s best,

It is hard to say a great deal about this book without giving it all away. No, it isn’t an ‘easy read’. But it it a literary gem in a huge field of historical fiction, many of which I don’t get past the opening chapters. It is insightful, historically accurate, and informative. One I started, I couldn’t put it down. A fantastic read for all ages.

I am looking forward to starting the second book in this trilogy.

****

TLOTW SLider

 

 

About this author

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria, which has led to his interest in the concept of Nations, individuals and communal culture, some of the central themes of ‘The Three Nations Trilogy’.
He moved to Hamburg, London, Brighton and Bath, where he is still resident today.
The Luck of The Weissensteiners’  is his first book and was published in November 2012.
‘Sebastian‘ in May 2013.He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

Christoph Fischer on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/TheLuckOfTheWeissensteiners?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sebastian/489427467776001?ref=hl

Profile on Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16177343-the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17834808-sebastian

Amazon US:

http://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133796&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292311&sr=8-2&keywords=luck+of+the+weissensteiners

http://www.amazon.com/Sebastian-Three…

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133835&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292346&sr=8-2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sebastian-Thr…

 

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners-christoph-fischer/1113932211?ean=9781481130332

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sebastian-mr-christoph-fischer/1115243053?ean=9781484156001

 

 

17 Aug 2013

“Kicker” by R. Grey Hoover

4 Comments Book Reviews

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“Kicker” by R. Grey Hoover is an extraordinary read about air force life in Burma during WWII.
It focuses on Sam Huber (and his wife Eleanor home in Pennsylvania) from his first days of training through his various stops on the way to armed conflict in Burma.
Sam and his friends illustrate the regular soldier’s life, not just the super heroes as featured in Hollywood films about the time. They have embarrassing moments during the physical exams, they run out of petrol and have a huge variety of close calls and successes, too. It made them much more realistic and likeable.
The story is not just limited to Burma; Sam stops in Africa and India on the way and with him we also get to know a lot about the situation for soldiers in these areas.
With much research and an amazing amount of factual knowledge about flying, aircraft technology and weather conditions as perceived by air force personnel this book is packed with amazing information and moving insight and worth reading for many reasons.

Based on the actual experiences of American soldiers during World War II, KICKER features the lives of those who fought in the China, Burma and India Theatre, also known as CBI. Written by R Grey Hoover, this book showcases one of the most unheard of forces that fought in conjunction with British and Chinese Allied air and land forces during the Second World War.

Compelling, insightful and moving, this book tells the story of a family caught in the throes of war. It pays tribute to the bravery of a family with a 165 year tradition of service to their country. It reenacts the understated heroism of valiant men who were sent off fourteen thousand miles from their homeland to battle all the harsh elements of nature and the life-threatening attacks of hostile enemy forces. In the hopes of reminiscing his father’s life in the military, Grey writes this historical novel to bring to light the significant efforts of war veterans whose struggles may not have been recognized by many.

Little is known about the CBI Theatre. This was even referred to as the Forgotten Front due mainly to the fact that the men who fought in this zone had received very little amount of supplies and support from the government. The soldiers did not have enough provisions and had limited supply of rations. A man named Sam Huber was a part of this group. In his son’s effort to bring to life his father’s accomplishments not only as a soldier, but also as a family man, Sam’s story is told in this powerful work that will inevitably stir readers.

KICKER inspires readers to appreciate and honor the courage, strength and endurance of war veterans who risked their lives and the welfare of their families in order to fight for the very freedom that is now being enjoyed by millions

RGreyHoover

 

 

Hi Grey

Tell us a little about yourself and your book.

I am retired from the Pennsylvania State University where I spent a long and successful career in the IT field.  Since retiring, I have done a lot of traveling and have become quite successful in the field of wood carving. I have also written a book titled “Kicker”, which is a historical novel based on the experiences of my family during World War II. In addition, I founded the Author’s Social Media Support Group (ASMSG) to bring together authors who are interested in helping each other. 

How did you come to writing in the first place?

After I retired, I wanted to document my father’s wartime experiences for my family. However, the more I learned about his service and others in the China-Burma-India theatre, I decided to write a book to shed more light on that little known theatre of the war and to honor the men and women who served there.

How did you choose the actual characters for the story?

The majority of the characters in the book are based on my family members and veterans I met or learned about during my research on the book.

Who is your favourite character and why?

I would have to say my favourite character is Sam, the main character in the book.  He is my favourite because he is based on my father who I admired and respected very much.

Are you like any of the characters yourself (and how so)?

 I am like the character Billy because he based on my life during that time.

What was the most fascinating aspect in the research and the writing for you?

The most fascinating part of my research was actually meeting and befriending many World War II veterans.

How did you research for the book?

I spend over 7 years researching the book. I attended meetings of CBI veterans where I made many new friends and was able to interview a lot of them.  Sadly, those CBI veteran groups are now largely disbanded because their numbers have dwindled. I also did a lot of research through military records centers and publications available online.

Did you have any say in the cover art and how was that process?

I had a lot of say on my cover art. I provided the publisher with a picture of my father in a C-47 cargo plane and they suggested it be placed over an image of a World War II ration booklet. I was very pleased with the job that was done.

What do you do when you don’t write?

I spend a lot of time with the administrative aspects of the ASMSG group. When I am not doing that, I like to travel and pursue my wood carving interests.

Which are your favourite books and authors?

 I like adventure books and my favourite authors are Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov and Clive Custler. 

Which indie writers can you recommend? 

The ASMSG group has a large number of indie authors that are very talented. 

What else would you like us to know about yourself, your books and the ASMSG?

Having a successful book is very difficult. Through the ASMSG group, I hope to help as many authors as I can become successful.

*****

Links:

Blog: http://rgreyhoover.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/R.-Grey-Hoover/e/B00940YE9U/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_10?qid=1375295961&sr=1-10

Twitter: https://twitter.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rgrey.hoover

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6517460.R_Grey_Hoover

ASMSG: http://asmsg.weebly.com/

 

 

12 Aug 2013

More reviews and chart success for my books

Comments Off on More reviews and chart success for my books News

IT’S BEEN ANOTHER GREAT WEEKEND FOR MY BOOKS:

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THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS 

re-entered the Jewish Fiction Charts on Amazon

and it received this 5 star review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!!!

This review is from: The Luck of the Weissensteiners (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)

a harrowing story
a real heart breaking tale

a truly inspiring read and I would place this as high up as “Schindler’s Ark”.
This author had got details and character’s just right!!!!

On AMAZON.COM that is now 44 reviews, 37 x 5 Stars

 

SEBASTIAN is still in the JEWISH FICTION CHARTS ON AMAZON

and it received 4 NEW FIVE STAR REVIEWS:

 

5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy read,

This review is from: Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)

This author’s talent – in my view – is the way he gets in those characters’ heads and invites us in too. We’re treated to all those feelings – the good, the bad, and the constantly changing. I love that.

I recommend this book. Very much.

when book three comes out, I’ll grab it immediately.

*****

 

Greta reading The Luck of the Weissensteiners

5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Storytelling,

This review is from: Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)

The Luck of the Weissensteiners was equally well written, but Sebastian is more of a character-driven read. And what characters they are!

Sebastian is an excellently drawn tale, full of vibrant characters and brilliant story. I will definitely be reading the last in the series when it comes out.

*****

5.0 out of 5 stars Glad to have found this book,

This review is from: Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)

Sebastian’s family is an odd bunch of characters that you can’t help liking.

Fischer does a great job at exploring Sebastian’s ideas of what his place in society should be.

I liked the subplots;
Sebastian is well written, unpredictable and an interesting historical novel, and is also a coming of age story about a young disabled man and his journey to self-acceptance. The book ends on a positive, inspirational note, and also with a wonderful twist.

5.0 out of 5 stars Sebastian, Worth the Time,

This review is from: Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)

I became quickly invested in the characters.
You have to love the main character! Sebastian

There are a colorful cast of characters in this book,

Christoph Fischer has a way of drawing the reader into the story and keeping your attention throughout making this novel a wonderful read. Thank-you for sharing your words with this reader. Sebastian was a pleasure to read!

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Christoph Fischer on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/TheLuckOfTheWeissensteiners?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sebastian/489427467776001?ref=hl

My profile on Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16177343-the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17834808-sebastian

Amazon US:

http://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133796&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292311&sr=8-2&keywords=luck+of+the+weissensteiners

http://www.amazon.com/Sebastian-Three…

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133835&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292346&sr=8-2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sebastian-Thr…

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners-christoph-fischer/1113932211?ean=9781481130332

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sebastian-mr-christoph-fischer/1115243053?ean=9781484156001

25 Jul 2013

Newsflash Christoph Fischer

1 Comment News

It has been an amazing week for my books. THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS received

5 reviews in 3 days with a staggering 24 out of 25 stars, bringing it to a total of 39 reviews on Amazon.com.

It also entered the US charts on Amazon.com for the first time 
#90 in Kindle Store / Kindle eBooks / Literature & Fiction / Jewish 425829_471091442942720_930460501_n

 

Oleg Medvedkov is one of the Top 300 (320) reviewers on Amazon, a successful blogger and renowned writer himself. His praise and the unexpected 5 star review have made my day.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1QMSNE2W1FVXI/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00AFQC4QC&linkCode&nodeID&tag

as has this glowing review by Ashley Lee

http://www.amazon.com/review/RC1GTC6P42WIM/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00AFQC4QC&linkCode&nodeID&tag

quotes from the last 5 reviews

 

The suspense at several key points was masterfully done and I found myself holding my breath, tensing up and being unable to stop reading until I knew everyone was safe.

a really good book. the luck book

*****

absorbing and utterly convincing

a writer completely confident in his material and research.

Christoph is meticulous in his approach and has the gifts of a natural story teller. I suspect that this is only the first in a long line of must read books.

*****

an important historical rendition of wartime Eastern Europe that will continue to haunt you for a long time after you finish reading it.
…characters are all strong fictional creations that give life and credibility to the historical backdrop.
It is a touching story of courage, love and heroic endurance in a time of abject cruelty and terror.
The players in this drama are far from being two-dimensional; even the cold, unfeeling characters will at times show a glimmer of warmth.
Be prepared for emotional upheaval while reading this– you cannot remain untouched. 

My biggest fan

My biggest fan

*****

What this book reminds us of, is that the “quiet” and “acceptable” racism, just like the veiled racism we can often see just by looking outside of the window, is NOT acceptable. All it takes is one crazy ideology or an opportunistic politician, and we could still relieve the horrors of concentration camps and mass graves. Still, this is not a political book. It’s a human story, with love, betrayals, and hope. I don’t want to give away the spoilers, so do pick up this book and read it. You won’t be disappointed.

*****

This story – the tale of two families – will captivate readers immediately and hold them mesmerized until the final page.
It is a gripping tale and incredibly thrilling. Among all World War II historical fiction novels I would certainly place this within the must-read books.

I was enamored with this story and only regret that I read it so quickly. 8679_571267166258697_1624968188_n

This is a book that deserves to be read slowly and pleasurably.

*****

In other news:

THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS

is No. 5 at the http://www.theindietribe.com/category/top-fiction-books/ sebastian book

and SEBASTIAN is No. 2 

 

*****

As reviewer I have also news:

First I received this email:

On behalf of the Goodreads team, I want to say thank you.  You’re in the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads! Your many thoughtful book reviews help make us a vibrant place for book lovers.

And our community has been growing! We now number more than 20 million members on Goodreads.

And then one of my preview reviews was chosen for netgalley with this note:

“This is a very powerful and stimulating read and rewarding with its intellectual depth . . .” Said Christoph Fischer, UK author, freelance editor and professional reviewer. “McGonall’s command of language is superb; whether it is casual conversation or speech between the gods and legacy members, he always finds the right tone to draw [readers] into that specific sphere or world . . . This is unlike other books I have read.”

 

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