“In the Shadow of Lies” by M.A. Adler: Outstanding Depiction of California in the Early 1940s

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5stars

This book reminded me of butter, the writing style was so rich and smooth. It is one of the most skillfully written books I’ve read in a long time. The prose was like ambrosia, the imagery vivid and memorable. I always appreciate an author who can render emotions properly and thus draw the reader into the characters. Again, Adler did a stellar job.

This story is far more than a murder mystery. Its coverage of the early 1940s, i.e. the historical period during the early days of WWII, was outstanding. That was such a different time and so much has changed since then. I was particularly drawn in because I have personal connections to the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area as well as that time period through family and in-laws.

For starters, my father was in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He had fond memories of his time on leave in the Bay Area, so much so that many years later, in 1960, our family moved from New York State to the East Bay. However, it did not turn out to be the Utopia he had imagined. He’d been a diesel mechanic for the New York Central Railroad in New York for a decade and assumed he’d be able to get a job, possibly with a trucking company. As it turned out, however, the labor unions at the time made this impossible. To get such a job you needed to be a union member, and to be a union member you had to have a job. The ultimate catch-22 supported by pure nepotism. As the cliche says, it’s not what you know but whom you know. My father had a few insignificant jobs, like working for a lawnmower repair shop, then eventually transitioned from unemployment to retirement. This had a devastating effect on our family.

But I digress.

Back to the story. Even though I was a teenager in the 60s, I had no idea how bad racism was a few decades before, much less that the KKK had been so active there. I also had no idea how badly Italians were treated during the war, due to their assumed sympathy toward Mussolini. I had in-laws who were Hungarian and some married Italians. Now I understand why some of them were so resistant to providing information when I was doing genealogical research back in the 70s. It’s sad they didn’t share their stories, but they may have been too painful for them to recount. On top of it all, some were Jewish, and had fled Europe just in time; some left behind were exterminated by Hitler.

I’ve never been a history buff. The way it was taught when I was in high school was a horrible bore. Even as a child, I preferred to learn about history through historical novels and this one definitely provided a treasure trove of information for a period I didn’t know much about. For that I am most grateful to the author for her meticulous and comprehensive research. This made reading the book an actual experience that had a strong impact on my understanding of the world at that time.

There were a lot of different characters in the story. I mean LOTS. So many that they were a bit difficult to keep track of. Fortunately, the author included a dramatis personae in the beginning, but this was not that easy to access with an ebook; I wish I’d read this in a print book, where I could have flipped back to refer to it more easily. I know I would have been doing a lot of highlighting and dogeared many pages in an actual book. Since I don’t exactly have what you’d call a “steel trap” memory, I probably should have taken notes while I was reading. LOL. Okay, I’m weird like that, when I really get into a book. This one and some others I’ve read recently (more specifically the “Finding Billy Battles” series by Ronald E. Yates) have reminded me of why I should be reading more historical novels; usually I prefer science fiction.

The one thing about having so many characters with their own prejudices and agendas is that it does make the story seem very real. My familiarity with the East Bay Area added to this, especially when references were made to streets and other areas with which I was familiar. This made it very easy for me to connect to this book.

I’m grateful the author used multiple viewpoints in different sections to get into the characters’ heads as opposed to omniscient, which would have been entirely mind-boggling. She is a very skillful writer. The story did wander about somewhat, yet it added to its rich texture and sense of real-life as opposed to one with a classic, straight-line plot. She broke some rules, but did so in such as way that it worked, which is exactly how it should be done.

This book would not be for everyone, especially those that want to whip through a story and not wander about, really getting into the time, place, and people. However, if you appreciate a well-written, complex story with considerable historical significance, I highly recommend it.

Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

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5-Stars for “Finding Billy Battles – Book II” by Ronald E. Yates

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I learned so much from this well-written and meticulously researched book. I’m not usually that much of a fan of historical fiction, but in this case it was a welcome educational experience. As Billy’s journeys take him to Saigon, the Philippines, and even turn-of-the-20th-century Germany, this story is richly imbued with cultural and historical facts I previously did not know. This included something as simple as where white pepper comes from, but most especially the dark history of colonialism. I had heard of the Spanish-American War, but had no idea it was fought in the Philippines, much less why.

I have grown up simply accepting the fact that the British, French, and Spanish did a considerable amount of exploring, which also constituted conquests for more land and resources. This is apparent by the languages spoken in diverse parts of the world, far from where they originated. Getting a glimpse into the climate and attitudes of the 19th century, especially how indigenous people were trampled and exploited, brought up multiple considerations that had previously been entirely off my radar.

While colonialism’s defenders note that it brings a higher standard of living to these areas, it is also at a high price to the cultural norms and freedom of those unfortunate enough to live in such a place. Insights into Saigon in the late 1800s provided a new understanding into the Vietnam War and guerilla warfare. While in some cases, America has helped defend these countries, in others it has been just as guilty as the European conquests. Ironically, American is the prime example of a country that rebelled successfully against colonialism, yet then went on to force it on others, for example Native Americans. We are no better than anyone else and it’s easy for me to understand why other countries hate us.

The best part of this story is that all these fascinating details were woven into the plot of a story with believable characters caught up in this historical drama, from the Old West, to pre-WWI Europe, and overseas in the Far East.  I recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys a meaty, well-researched read that serves up more than an interesting story. History buffs will love it. While it is the second book in a trilogy, I thoroughly enjoyed it and had no trouble following it without the benefit of reading the first.

Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Rhoda D’Ettore Blog Tour

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Coming this Summer…..


ZODIACJUNE

No One Is Safe While…

ZODIAC LIVES

A Novel by Rhoda D’Ettore

After surviving a car accident that killed her father, three-year-old Jennifer begins having nightmares. It’s soon obvious she suffers from something more dreadful than the accident when she provides clues to a murder committed 3,000 miles away—and two decades before she was born.

Jennifer’s nightmares set off a chain reaction that prompts the infamous Zodiac Killer to emerge from dormancy and terrorize San Francisco for a second time.

Visit Rhoda D’Ettore’s Website


BOOKSQUAD

Goin’ Postal & The Creek

Rhoda D’Ettore began her writing career by publishing humorous tales about working at the United States Postal Service. Fifteen years of dealing with bombs, anthrax, and human body parts in the mail made for an interesting read. Her co-workers laughed so hard at the nostalgia, they encouraged her to publish the writings. Since then, D’Ettore has fascinated readers with plot twists mixed with sarcastic humor.

D’Ettore knew postal workers would buy her story, yet she also wanted to show them she could write interesting, serious work with shocking twists. In Goin’ Postal & The Creek, the reader gets two very different stories in one book. The first containing the hysterical tales of postal worker life. The second story is a historical fiction that spans 200 years with a slightly supernatural twist. Topics include war, love, romance, death, Prohibition, the Great Depression, and how families survive such events.


Newborn Nazi

Newborn Nazi tackles the issues of right and wrong as well as self sacrifice when fourteen-year-old Edmund is forced into the Hitler Youth in 1935. His older siblings vow to destroy Nazi Germany, and the family gets swept up in espionage and the Underground Movement. When Edmund becomes an adult and joins the feared SS, his sister’s secret endeavors to save Jews in her home endangers lives—including her own. This suspense thriller is sure to keep you guessing.

Newborn Nazi is based on Rhoda D’Ettore true family history. There was an Edmund who was forced into the Hitler Youth, and his sister did help Jews escape. D’Ettore found the story so riveting, she took the plot of the story and added murder and espionage to create this intense thriller.


Tower of Tears: The McClusky Series 1

In Tower of Tears: The McClusky Series, we find Jane traveling to America from Ireland with her three-year-old son. Expecting to find a better way of life, Jane finds nothing but intimidation, betrayal, violence, and heartache. This family saga includes blackmail, murder, mystery, and a touch of romance.

While writing Tower of Tears, D’Ettore gave her mother one chapter at a time for feedback. D’Ettore was undecided who the murderer in the book would eventually be, so she wrote the story with five characters hating and threatening the murder victim. Halfway through the book, D’Ettore’s mother shouted, “I know who killed him…. it was ####”. D’Ettore then finished the book with a different character as the murderer. When her mother read the final draft of the book, she replied, “That’s not who the murder is. I told you who is was.” D’Ettore then said, “I wrote the book, so I know who the murderer should be. Thanks.”


10 Shades of Blush: The Softer Side of Kink

10 Shades of Blush: The Softer Side of Kink is a collection of naughty fantasies of ordinary women. Teachers, mothers, and professionals submitted their wants and desires for kinky fun. All the tales are told as if the women are speaking directly to their partners. The audiobook of this has been called “Two hours of phone sex for $7”.

Rhoda D’Ettore works are available as ebook, paperback, and audiobooks

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Interview with Author Rhoda D’Ettore

rhodaI have rarely encountered a book that was so intense that it was literally stressful to read but that was the case with Rhoda’s “Newborn Nazi” (posting of review to follow). Her ability to build suspense and create vivid characters is incredible. It’s even more interesting that much of her inspiration comes from real-life stories.

MF: Your family history has served as considerable inspiration for your novels. Did you do your own genealogical research or was it handed down to you?

RD: I did use ancestry.com for a considerable amount of research. On that site, I was able to find distant cousins from around the world who were able to provide me with research that had already been compiled. It was an amazing journey. With regards to Newborn Nazi, that story was based on a story that was verbally passed down. However, I do have certain memorabilia which provides proof that it is true.

MF: If you did your own research, did you have any interesting or perhaps even paranormal experiences while doing so?

RD: I was not expecting some of the things I did find. In the 1890s, one of my ancestors was in the newspaper for drunk driving of a horse and buggy. During World War I, my German ancestor (naturalized as an American citizen) had a bar fight in which he said this country was going to “hell in a hand basket”. I was able to find an FBI file on him for “Violation of the Espionage Act” because he spoke against American interests. I think one of the funniest things was to find that in the 1820s, members of my family worked for the postal industry. I currently have about six family members who either work for, or retired from the USPS. My brother’s response was, “Great. In 150 years, our family didn’t advance at all!”

As far as paranormal, I have experienced such occurrences, but none that involved my genealogical research. I have incorporated my family’s paranormal experience into a book entitled “The Creek: Where Stories of the Past Come Alive”. I am also working on a book currently entitled Zodiac Lives which is a paranormal thriller.

MF: Did you grow up with these stories being told by grandparents or at family gatherings?

RD: My German grandmother did indeed raise me with stories of interesting tales. Specifically the story that inspired Newborn Nazi.

MF: If you did your own research, was it to find story ideas or did it work the other way, that what you found inspired you to capture and develop it?

RD: I had always loved history, and because of it, I have always had an interest in my own past. Once I started writing seriously, I realized that some of those stories of the past did indeed make for good plots. Of course, I have embellished upon them. Although my family did house Jews and others to help them escape from Nazi Germany, they were not involved in any sort of spy network. But the truth is an awesome basis for a story.

MF: When you extrapolate what you know about a certain family do you ever feel as if you’re channeling as opposed to creating what occurred?

RD: I would not say “channeling” but I have certainly considered that my deceased sister has influenced me. I can hear in my head her saying things like, “You go, lil’ sis! That book is awesome”. I have even used her picture on a couple book covers and written a free short story about her, Thrice Dead. If you want to read about how many times a person can die, read that one!

MF: You certainly have a very lively genetic background which includes ancestors from Germany, Italy and Ireland. Did you notice any culture clashes growing up or did they meld together and create their own unique cultural environment? Was there any particular factor (e.g. religion) which bound them together?

RD: All three ethnicities were Catholic, and growing up that way provides some awesome material as well. I have often joked that the Irish would get drunk, the Italians would then start fights with the drunken Irish, and the Germans would sit back singing polkas and laughing at the other two for not being able to hold their alcohol. I know that sounds really stereotypical, but it made for some fun times. I miss those days. My German grandmother used to love a party… and the family joke was “It’s Tuesday night and someone sneezed. Be at Mom Mom’s house at 7pm.” Be sure to check out the “Short & Silly” posts on my blog for my Strip Club Grannies story. Then you will get an idea of how much fun I had as a kid!

MF: Do you identify with one nationality more than the others? If so, which one and why?

RD: Physically, I am the typical blue eyed blonde, big framed German woman. I didn’t really fit in physically with the rest of the Italians or Irish, that is for sure. My mother is a very strong lady who has the Italian temper. So I am a mix of the Italian temper with the German brawn— that is a dangerous combination! But I never got into any trouble because of it.

MF: What are your thoughts on the statement “Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it?”

RD: Unfortunately, most people find history boring. Or in their own lives, they refuse to learn from the mistakes of others and insist on making their own mistakes. However, people need to open their eyes.

Some of the societal issues in Newborn Nazi involve giving up our freedoms for safety or economic improvements. It discusses conformity without question. As the American society evolves, we are giving up more of our personal freedoms and even thoughts. We live in a world now where if you are not politically correct, then you are evil. A racist might be a stupid bigot, but it is still his right to believe the way he does. And I have the right to believe he is a moron. But when you limit people’s right to think the way you do, then the horrors of the past are not only possible, but probable. We live in a society where a Lieutenant in the US Army died in Afghanistan after serving to protect the rights of the American people, but his wife had to fight for over a year to be able to place a Wiccan symbol on his headstone. What hypocrisy! He can die to provide freedoms, but not be entitled to those same freedoms? Only by learning from the past can we ensure our freedoms in the future.

MF: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

RD: The best part of writing is talking to people who have read and enjoyed my work. Reading the reviews is one of the most incredible feelings I have ever had. I have a friend who stopped talking to me for a month because I killed her favorite character, but she failed to realize what a huge compliment that was. She felt so connected to that character—someone I invented— that she yelled and got mad. What an incredible feeling that is for an author! To know I can use words on paper to stir people into such strong emotions!

MF: What are you currently working on and when do you hope to release it?

RD: I have three books I am currently working on:

Liam’s Longing: The McClusky Series Book 2 – This is a continuation of my historical fiction, Tower of Tears, which centers on an Irish family who immigrates to Philadelphia in 1820. The first book involved murder, betrayal, blackmail as well as a little romance. I will continue upon those themes while incorporating historical events into the series such as the Potato Famine, the Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution.

Zodiac Lives – This is a paranormal thriller where a child begins having nightmares and tells her mother of incidents and people from her former life. When her mother researches her daughter’s claims, she not only begins to believe in reincarnation, but she soon finds that she and her daughter are now targets for the Zodiac Killer of the 1960s. A serial killer who was never caught, he emerges from hiding to protect his identity.

I hope to have both of these out by January or February. Newborn Nazi’s audiobook is currently in production, and scheduled for release in January.

I also am working on “Mob Kids: Growin’ Up Philly Style” which is a novel that delves into what it was like to grow up in the families of the South Philadelphia Italian mob. No release date is schedule yet.

CONNECT WITH RHODA:

Website:  http://www.rhodadettore.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhodadettore
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RhodaDEttore

TITLES

nazi
Newborn Nazi (ebook, paperback, soon on audiobook)

toweroftears
Tower of Tears: The McClusky Series Book 1 (ebook, paperback, audiobook)

othertitle
Goin’ Postal & The Creek (Where Stories of the Past Come Alive) (ebook, paperback, audiobook)

shadesofblush
10 Shades of Blush: The Softer Side of Kink (ebook & audiobook)

Amazon buy links:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Rhoda%20D%27Ettore&sprefix=Rhoda%2Caps

Barnes & Noble buy links:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Rhoda-d-Ettore?store=allproducts&keyword=Rhoda+d%27Ettore

Smashwords buy links:
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/rainydal74

THE TRIAD: An Action-Packed Slice of Pre-WWII History

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The period leading up to the USA’s involvement in WWII is often overshadowed by the war itself and its explosive ending. Wars don’t suddenly erupt, however, but evolve gradually as various events transpire that lead in that direction. This exciting story is based on covert plans by the Axis powers to weaken USA leadership by assassinating key individuals and thus lessen the chance of US involvement which would hinder their likelihood of success. Their assassination squad dubbed “The Triad” has targeted Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Franklin Roosevelt. Aware of the threat, the FBI brings in Alvin Karpis, a mobster stashed away for the long-haul on Alcatraz, to assist in return for his parole. He insists on some cronies enjoying a similar benefit, which is agreed upon, and the chase begins.

Author John Reinhard Dizon’s action-packed story illustrates the connections mobsters maintain and their ability to orchestrate elaborate plans. Its fast pace never lets up, assuring a breathless dash from coast to coast as Karpis et al accomplish their mission, leaving you wondering at the conclusion just how sane Karpis really was given the fine line between genius and insanity.

BUY LINK TO AMAZON

http://www.amazon.com/Triad-John-Dizon-ebook/dp/B00NPOJ9VY

CONNECT WITH AUTHOR JOHN REINHARD DIZON

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnreinharddizonUSA

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-Reinhard-Dizon/e/B00DU9JNUQ/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnRDizon