Anyone who has read my reviews over the years will know I am a big fan of Historical Fiction. I have a few indie authors whose works I treasure and who I absolutely love reading. One of these authors is Paulette Mahurin. She has the ability to move you to tears, whilst still managing to make you chuckle at some odd coincidence of her character's . When I realised she had a new book out, well, I absolutely knew I had to read it. The Day I Saw the Hummingbird is something totally different from what I had read of Mahurin's before and yet it still had that indefinable quality of her writing that captures the imagination and draws the reader into her world.
The Day I Saw the Hummingbird follows the adventures and life of Oscar, a young, black, slave in the heartlands of Louisiana around the time of the Civil War. Oscar and his mother dream of freedom and a life of dignity and learning, but when Oscar's mother is brutally beaten at the hands of a drunken and violent overseer, it is time for the then nine-year-old Oscar to leave and seek the famous "underground railway" to the North and to freedom. Mahurin captures beautifully the times and the attitudes of the South in those days. Her descriptions of the trials and tribulations faced by the young man and the angst and pain he suffers, internally, at the treatment of his people, just because their skin is a different colour, is both moving and heartfelt. One couldn't help but be drawn into Oscar's world and feel the horrors faced by just a little boy and the courage required to survive on that long and arduous journey.
The book is written from the perspective of an elderly Oscar, in 1910, looking back at those times and reflecting, sadly, that in many ways, certainly in the South, little had changed since he'd made the long journey. One could even extrapolate and say in 2017, some things still haven't changed in the South of the United States. I know there has been some controversy in recent times about only "African Americans" can tell the "African American Story". Whilst I can respect some of the sentiment behind those thoughts, I am glad that Mahurin and others do not subscribe to this theory. As writers we must push the boundaries of our cultural and socio-economic experiences and embrace the pain and suffering of all humanity and point out injustice where we see it. It is what we do! And Mahurin does it superbly. Pain, suffering, injustice, love, friendship and all of the other myriad of human emotions do not belong to and are not confined or identifiable to a particular culture, but are shared across all of humanity and are what binds us together and makes us one race - the Human Race.
I applaud Mahurin for having the courage to write this wonderful story and as always I finish one of her books satisfied and full of thought and follow-up questions. A writer who can do this for a reader is to be celebrated and I place Paulette Mahurin right up there among the very best indie authors (or indeed any authors) out there. There was never any question of my rating for this book - 5+ superb stars all the way.
Anyone that regularly reads my reviews will know what a huge fan I am of the uber-talented Indie Author Ellie Midwood. When I heard she had a new book out, well, of course, I just had to grab it and enjoy it. That is exactly what I did with Emilia - enjoyed it!
This is a bit of a departure for Midwood in some ways - yes, the book is still set in World War II and yes the lead character is still a strong, tough, and very feminine woman, but this time our heroine, Emilia, is on the wrong side of the Nazi atrocities. A beautiful young Jewess, whose Father was too slow to see the evil in the Nazi philosophy, is caught between two impossible choices; surrender to the sexual demands of the Nazi soldiers or die. She chooses to submit to their vile needs and thus begins a succession of men who would use and abuse Emilie, but never break her.
This is not always an easy book to read - it is stark, at times horrific, but as a personal record of life under the Nazi jackboot, it is very compelling. This isn't a history book, though, it is historical fiction and as such the author has poetic license. History will tell us the liberators were often as vile in their treatment of women as the captors had been, but in this book we focus only on the Nazi atrocities.
As with all good stories, there is a strong moral to be had from Emilia and I guess that would be twofold: "If you haven't walked a mile in my shoes, don't dare to judge me." and "The first casualty of war is not necessarily, truth, but decency." One thing that resonated throughout the story, for me was the constant question Emilia kept asking herself; "Why me? Why us? (Jews). What did we ever do wrong?" Sadly, seventy years on, Jewish people are still asking that same question. Why us? What did we do wrong?
I loved this book, as I've loved all of Midwood's books and eagerly anticipate her newest book, which I understand is set in occupied France. I, for one, can't wait. A wonderful author and fully deserving of her success.
The best thing about reading Indie authors is the opportunity to discover new and exciting talent. That is certainly the case with this latest read; The Year of the Oath by Peter Stevens and Ian Honeysett.
I love historical fiction and this story, set in the turmoil and angst of the French Revolution in the late 1700's is up there with some of the best historical fiction I have read lately. Amongst French society, there are many countering influences - those who want the revolution to stop and return to the power of the Monarchy and those who don't think it has gone far enough and want liberty and franchisement for all citizens. Caught in the middle of this maelstrom is the Church, whose Clergy are soon to be required to sign an Oath of Allegiance to the terms of the Revolution. Opinions on signing are deeply divided and the Church is slowly tearing itself apart over the issue. Throw in the seemingly related murders of members of the Clergy, kidnapping, and corruption and you have the makings of a fast-paced and thrilling crime thriller. Commissaire Rouget Maison is the man tasked with solving these crimes and Maison is not one to be trifled with, even for the rich and powerful in revolutionary France.
This is a fast-paced, fascinating insight into one of the bloodiest and most violent times of our history. The authors pull no punches and the suffering, angst, and deviousness of players of the time are well highlighted and illustrated.
I am thrilled to discover that this is just one of a series of books based around the Revolution and Commissaire Maison. I will definitely be revisiting these authors and this series again in the near future. I highly recommend this read and have no hesitation in awarding the five stars it thoroughly deserves.
...and the winner is!
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
HAVE A GREAT LIFE AND SPREAD THE LOVE!
CHANGING THE WORLD – ONE READER AT A TIME