Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Pride of Poppies: Anthology ~ Review and Giveaway.

POP Banner

Sally and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this book. An anthology of GLBTQ stories set during The Great War. As with any anthology it’s like a box of chocolates, so after we chose which stories we would read it was then down to work to let ourselves be pleasantly surprised. Check out the results in our review below!

Julie Bozza is also giving away 3x $10 Amazon Gift Vouchers. So three lucky winners get the chance to top up their M/M spending power on The ‘Zon.

poppy (1)

A Pride of Poppies

81YqKIENT1L._SL1500_

Title: A Pride of Poppies

Authors: Various

Publisher: Manifold Press

Release: 1st May 2015

Genre: M/M (historical)

Overall Rating:

grey stargrey stargrey stargrey star

GR button hotpicks

Synopsis

Ten authors – in thirteen stories – explore the experiences of GLBTQI people during World War I. In what ways were their lives the same as or different from those of other people?

A London pub, an English village, a shell-hole on the Front, the outskirts of Thai Nguyen city, a ship in heavy weather off Zeebrugge, a civilian internment camp … Loves and griefs that must remain unspoken, unexpected freedoms, the tensions between individuality and duty, and every now and then the relief of recognition. You’ll find both heartaches and joys in this astonishing range of thought-provoking stories.

Sally’s and Mark’s Review

No Man’s Land by Julie Bozza

Star Rating: 4

Mark: A lovely but bittersweet story of wanting to be normal and fitting in. Drew is now 21 and wishes to enlist but his doctor and friend (lover), Henry, doesn't want him to for his own protection. Drew was born with a genetic disorder and although it is never stated exactly what during the conversation with Drew and his doctor,  there is enough to go on to make up your mind and know. Excellent writing by Julie by alluding to the Drew's problem but never stating it. Drew so wants to enlist and just be accepted as normal but this will never really be the case in this period of time. This story is extremely short but there is an art to writing such stories and this one was perfectly balanced and well rounded so the shortness did not in my opinion detract from the message being portrayed.

 

Connect with Julie

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1)

I Remember by Wendy C. Fries

Star Rating: 5

Mark: Oh this was beautiful! Absolutely beautiful!! Poetic, poignant and thought provoking all in one. Two men, James and Christopher, separated due to the war. James being able to join and sent to the front, Christopher due to a disability not able to go. But they write to each other during the whole time they are apart observing the codes of the day. They couldn’t exactly state how they felt, but because they know each other so well then being able to read between the lines they knew what they were saying to each other. James returns back from the war wounded but they carve out a loving existence for each other in the limits and restrictions of the day. A breath-taking piece of writing.

 

Connect with Wendy

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1)

War Life by Z. McAspurren

Star Rating: 3.5

Sally: An unnamed sister and brother muse over their experiences and the distance they feel from those around them.

She is working in munitions, a strong competent girl who is sincerely baffled by the preoccupations of the girls around her with sweethearts and love affairs. Her passions are devoted to the Suffrage movement. Although satisfied with her lot, she can’t help but feel a little wistful and she misses her brother, and their friend Patrick.

At the front, her brother misses her too and wonders what life could have been if the war hadn’t intervened and what is the point of life now that it has

This is a thoughtful and gently melancholic look at how difficult it is when you don’t fit in but have no words to express why even to yourself.

 

Connect with Z.McAspurren

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1)

Lena and the Swan or, The Lesbian Lothario by Julie Bozza

Star Rating: 4

Sally: This is one of the jollier stories in the collection. Lena, a strapping tomboyish girl, has taken over as postman now that he has been called up and scandalises the countryside by wearing trousers and careering around on a bicycle. The countryside would be even more scandalised if it knew that she was delivering more than letters to the prettier of the lonely and frustrated wives of men serving overseas.

Predatory and unashamed, Lena is a hoot as she boasts of her conquests to long-time friend Emily. When a spinster, and a not particularly attractive spinster, moves into the village, one might think that Lena wouldn’t be interested but even the most hardened lothario may melt for the right person.

 

Connect with Julie

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1)

Inside by Eleanor Musgrove

Star Rating: 3.5

Sally: One of the less well known aspects of war has been the internment of anyone who might be considered a security risk, even families who have been long term residents and who have never shown any signs of disloyalty.  This story focusses on Alfred, a baker whose grandfather was a German immigrant, interned in the Alexandra Palace centre. He is resigned to following routine until a new inmate is allocated a bed next to his. Viktor and Alfred become friends and gradually Alfred finds his feelings blooming.

In this information age it’s easy to find out basic information, even about things as personal and private as sexuality. But in times past it wasn’t as easy. I particularly loved the gentle innocence of both young men and the very practical steps they took independently to try to find out what was what, and the misunderstandings that this engendered.

 

Connect with Eleanor

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1) 

Break of Day in the Trenches by Jay Lewis Taylor

Star Rating: 3

Mark: An officer and a lieutenant are trapped in a shell hole in the middle of no man’s land. During their time there they speak about their hopes and fears, about their families and start to get to know one another. I liked the way the mention the unmentionable in a coded way and know what each other means by reading between the lines which would have been normal at this time. So the attraction between both MCs is there. WWI was also a class leveller and this showed through in this story too. But it’s a war and neither have time to take things further. they make their break under the cover of fog back to their trench and have to part ways. Whether they meet after if they survive is left up to the reader, but I felt this story was just lacking a little substance for me personally. Like the author has really only skimmed the surface of their feelings and not really got to grips with the issue at hand. A nice short and a solid three stars.

 

Connect with Jay

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1) 

Per Ardua Ad Astra by Lou Falkner

Star Rating: 2.5

Mark: Soaring over the trenches must seem like a much better deal than actually in them but in this story we learn about the beginnings of the RAF then The Royal Flying Corps. The descriptions about the flying and operations were well written and I could just imagine myself what it would be like to fly one of these machines. For me however the actual romance part fell unfortunately a little flat. The dynamics between the MCs, Vince and Mitchell, the gunner and pilot. When the story started it wasn’t obvious what their relationship was however as things developed it was clear that the two of them were already in a steady relationship and keeping it secret from everyone else. So for me this story was more about flying in WWI than it was about any kind of relationship or romance.

 

poppy (1) 

The Man Left Behind by Eleanor Musgrove

Star Review: 2.5

Mark: Historically WWI was also a catalyst for women’s rights and emancipation. With all the men at women had to take on the jobs at home normally done by men. Henry or Henrietta had always felt different to other girls and gravitated to playing with the boys when she was a child. Now grown-up the feelings are still the same but she thinks she is alone with them. Ultimately, she would like to join the men at the front but can’t, so in order to help the war effort she takes up work on the land helping at local farm. Here she meets Rosie and soon they discover they are not alone in the way they feel and after the first initial move is made then there is no looking back. Again a sweet story about being different, feeling different in a time that wasn’t so understanding about these things. The story was well written but just lacked some kind of dynamic for me between the two MCs. Short stories are an incredibly difficult thing to write well in my book and as nice as the idea was it just fell a little flat for me personally on the emotional level.

 

Connect with Eleanor

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1) 

Hallowed Ground by Charlie Cochrane

Star Rating: 5

Sally: Another change of pace as this first person POV story makes us privy to the thoughts of an army doctor sharing a foxhole with a chaplain during an artillery barrage. Sharing meagre supplies, huddling close for warmth, the doctor tries to keep the terrified padre’s spirits up with conversation. He encourages philosophical and theological debate as the long night passes and gradually uncovers the reason for the padre’s anguish.

I loved the character voice of the doctor in this story. It is strong, cheerful, and laconic until he needs to call upon his formidable intellect. Bravery under fire, indeed. I also liked that, while no immediate solutions were offered, it ended on a note of promise.

 

Connect with Charlie

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1) 

A Rooted Sorrow by Adam Fitzroy

Star Rating: 4.5

Sally: This gentle story about grief and mourning seen through the eyes of widowed Mrs Mercer, coping with the injury of her absent son by trying to help his friend, pleased me on many levels. Mrs Mercer, as would be expected for the time, does not know the extent of the friendship between her Simon and poor Albert, home now but horribly disabled, but the people she meets on a journey to visit Albert help her to see and understand.

For such a short story the author has packed in a lot of emotional wallop and a lot of sharply drawn secondary characters, including a number of period appropriate but benign women, unusual and refreshing for M/M.

 

Connect with Adam

WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1) 

At the Gate by Jay Lewis Taylor

Star Rating: 4

Sally: A tense story set in the claustrophobic confines of a smallish naval ship in heavy seas. Naval surgeon Kershaw heals the small hurts of his charges and talks Davis, the sub-lieutenant, through an emotional crisis while remembering happier times with Davis’s uncle, a casualty of war.

My main pleasure in this story was the skill with which the author increased the tension while keeping the tone light. Kershaw joins in a hunt for a particularly pernicious rat, copes with seasickness, jokes with fellow officers while masking his grief. I also enjoyed the fine detail of shipboard life and that the title of the story, while seeming rather arbitrary at first glance, is key.

 

Connect with Jay

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1) 

After and Before by Sam Evans

Star Rating: 4.5

Mark: I really liked this story! A bittersweet tale about how two lovers are separated due to the war and then reunited. Robert Wallace has had his legs damaged in a motorcycle accident so can’t go to the front but the house and estate is now a war hospital with him as the doctor. His lover went to the front and has now come back injured. This story really tore at the heartstrings. To think a healthy man comes back totally broken upset me and the words that he spoke upon arriving back in the hospital but not the way that was wished for “I promised you, didn’t I, Robbie?” The end of this story did have me choking up. The story is well constructed, the emotion and love between the two MCs was wonderfully done. It also had a slight E. M. Forster feeling to it due to the MCs. I immediately thought about the two MCs in Maurice, Maurice and Scudder.

 

Connect with Sam

WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1) 

Ánh Sáng by Barry Brennessel

Star Rating: 5

Sally: This story blew me away. My historical knowledge is so rooted in european history that it’s always a joy to be shown another country and another way of life, in this case in Cambodia, then under French rule. The story describes the relationship that develops between a young man who works as a waiter in a French owned restaurant and one who breeds pigs and sells pork, as unrest grows and the first seeds of rebellion are sown. Then French troops are withdrawn to fight in the Great War and a smaller local war, devastating for them both, begins.

I loved Thao and Minh, the protagonists, and their friendship, blossoming to love, despite their differences. I also enjoyed the leisurely pace of the story. It really is one to savour.

 

Connect with Barry

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

poppy (1) 

 

Purchase Links

MP-banner-02

BUY ON AMAZON

poppy (1) 

GIVEAWAY

Julie will be giving away 3x $10 Amazon gift vouchers to three lucky winners. Just enter the Rafflecopter draw below for your chance to win.

Good Luck X

a Rafflecopter giveaway

30 comments:

  1. I love the cover of the book poppies always remind us of the people who were lost in the Great Wars and how grateful we are for the one's who did return. Charlie Cochrane is one of my favourite author along with Julia Bozza so I'm really looking forward to reading the Anthology.

    ShirleyAnn(at)speakman40(dot)freeserve(dot)co(dot)uk

    ReplyDelete
  2. They all sound so amazing! After and Before by Sam Evans and looking so forward to reading this book!

    ReplyDelete
  3. All the stories sound fantastic allthough like a big rollercoster of emotions. After and Before by Sam Evans is the one I would read first.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm so new to Julie Bozza.

    I enjoyed her writing. This anthology sounds great.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Several of the stories sound interesting, but to pick one, I would choose Ánh Sáng. It sounds great and would be a new author for me.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. After reading the reviews, I couldn't decide on just one book so the ones I want to read are No Man’s Land by Julie Bozza, Break of Day in the Trenches by Jay Lewis Taylor, A Rooted Sorrow by Adam Fitzroy and After and Before by Sam Evans.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hallowed Ground by Charlie Chochrane... I love all her stories. Although all them sound really good

    ReplyDelete
  8. All sound brilliant and make me think of Thomas Barrow in the war years at Downton Abbey when he fell in love with the blind Lieutenant who killed himself :(

    ReplyDelete
  9. A Rooted Sorrow sounds like an unforgettable story.

    ReplyDelete
  10. they all sound wonderful i couldnt choose. but i couldnt bear to read a sad one right now because i recently lost my mother she died a few months ago about 3 months ago.

    ReplyDelete
  11. can the winner choose the amazon gift card for the amazon.ca site instead of the amazon.com site because the shipping is cheaper for the amazon.ca site if live in canada

    ReplyDelete
  12. Looks like an interesting anthology.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I Remember by Wendy C. Fries caught my attention.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Overall, sounds like a very good book. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I Remember by Wendy C. Fries. Mark's reviews are always thoughtful, so when he gets this enthusiastic about a story, I know I have to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. sounds like a great anthology
    I Remember by Wendy C. Fries sounds great

    ReplyDelete
  17. There are a lot of new-to-me authors, but the story that sounds the most interesting to me is Hallowed Ground by Charlie Cochrane.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love reading anthologies. No Man’s Land caught my eye along with After and Before.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love reading antho's. They give us reader's short novels from a some great writers.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I loved The Butterfly Hunter so I'd say No Man’s Land by Julie Bozza, but Hallowed Ground by Charlie Cochrane looks great too! Thanks for the chance.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Julie Bozza's two and I Remember sound fantastic. Others, as well! I've been seeing this one around and have been looking forward to picking it up. Thanks to Mark and Sally for their thoughts and to Julie for the chance at the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Julie Bozza & Charlie Chocrane! Thanks for the chance!

    ReplyDelete
  23. "Anh Sang" sounds lovely!

    --Trix

    ReplyDelete
  24. All new to me authors. I think I Remember by Wendy C. Fries sounds really good.

    ReplyDelete
  25. A Rooted Sorrow by Adam Fitzroy Sounds really good!

    ReplyDelete
  26. A Rooted Sorrow by Adam Fitzroy ...

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you all for your interest in this book, and for your comments! I'll be in touch with the three winners very soon.

    I hope you all enjoy A Pride of Poppies as much as I still do.

    ReplyDelete