Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis

Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII's Most Highly Decorated Spy

Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Life takes guts.” Lucille Ball is quoted to have said. If anyone knows anything about this statement it is those who sacrifice their own safety, comfort, and sanity for that of their country. During World War II thousands came together to do just this. Odette Sansom was one of those.

Odette Sansom is anything but average. Her childhood battles are enough to make most weep. She manages to overcome them and make it to adulthood. Her struggles during childhood may have been what gave her the strength to survive the pain she endured during her imprisonment.

1942, Sansom leaves her children behind and joins the SOE. This would have been considered unconventional at the time for a woman to leave her children and go off to war for some. She is anything but conventional. She refuses to sit in the safety of the British countryside while her friends and family struggle in France.

During SOE training, she learns special hand-to-hand combat, parachute, and weapons training. All of which are new and secret training methods at the time. Her training in the SOE mirrors the training of another unit at the time, the 1st Special Service Force Aka the Devil’s Brigade or “The Black Devil’s” as the German’s called them. (a joint unit of Canadian-U. S members, also protected by secret, activated 9 July 1942.) The training was not average by any standard at the time, even for men. For women to go through it and to excel, took guts.

Sansom is sent to France under the command of Captain Peter Churchill. He adds her to his unit when he sees her merit. They fall in love despite her being married. They complete missions in France. She gets captured by Germans and sent to concentration camps where she suffers unimaginable torture at the hands of the Germans. She doesn’t give up.

Her story doesn’t sound believable. How can one person go through so much and survive? Sansom did, but many did not. Her story is an example of one of the many untold stories of men and women who gave up everything during World War II.

In 1950, Herbert Wilcox directed Anna Neagle in the British war film, Odette. Neagle and Wilcox produced it. A title card at the end of the film quotes Sansom.

Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis is an extraordinary and detailed story of a courageous mother of three who went on to become an SOE agent, a spy, for Britain and France. This is a great read. Thank you to Anabel Jimenez at Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster, and Larry Loftis for the privilege of reading an advanced reader’s copy!

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A raw read. In Pieces by Sally Field


“I wait for my mother to haunt me as she promised she would”

I picked up a hardback copy of In Pieces by Sally Field, published by Grand Central Publishing, not knowing what to expect. A lover of memoirs, but not a complete fan of Star memoirs, I was hesitant to give it a go. I am glad I did.

In Pieces is raw, emotional and not your run-of-the-mill Star memoir. Field who took 7 years to write In Pieces, reflects on her childhood trauma with the eyes of a confused shy little girl and those of a strong woman who has found her voice. -even if that voice wavers, at times, due to its vulnerability. To have the strength to tell others in your circle about childhood abuse is a mountain to climb. To write about it for the world to see, to process it and to let the public in, even if we only see ‘pieces’ of it, takes courage.

This is not a fluff memoir. This is a kick in the gut read. This could be anyone’s story. This could be your story, your mother’s story, your sister’s, your daughter’s, grandmothers, etc… Women make up the major theme. The roles they play in Field’s early life start out the book. Center to her story is the strained relationship with her mother. As well as, her close relationship with her unique sister. This struggle continues throughout most of her life.

She touches on her marriage, parenting, failed relationships, and yes, Burt is in there too. All of this is done with a little laughter, some sorrow, questions, and even pain. It is as if she is sorting through a memory bank and taking the reader with her. In a way, she is. Photos, journal entries, magazine clippings, and other items are included as she walks her way through her past.

Most of all, this story is about mothers and daughters. The relationship between a child and mother is important. What happens when the two have a huge unspoken not so secret story? How does one forgive while the other is trying to forget or make up for their failings? This is the ultimate story.

Sure, some might roll their eyes at the thought of another Star memoir but they will be the ones missing out. Field shows us not to take everything at face value.


Until next time,


Change Me into Zeus’s Daughter: A Memoir

Change Me into Zeus's Daughter: A MemoirChange Me into Zeus’s Daughter: A Memoir by Barbara Robinette Moss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Change me into Zeus’s Daughter: A Memoir, by Barabara Robinette Moss, is one of those sleeper books. I bought it at a used books store when a huge sale was going on and it sat on my shelf for some time before I picked it up.

I found out I was sick with a rare brain disorder in Jan of 2016. After years of trying going to doctors and ED visits and being sent home, I finally had an answer. The treatment options were not promising and I was also told I was going blind and deaf. If I refused to have surgery, this would only get worse until I would no longer be able to see. It was due to this diagnosis that I started to read everything in my house I could get my hands on. I didn’t want to waste one single moment I had left with my eyesight. I love to read, books are everything to me, as is my sight, and I could not think of being without the ability to hold a book in my hand and read the printed words.

This brings me back to Change Me into Zeus’s Daughter: A Memoir. The pages were worn, yellowed with age, and dogeared. I didn’t care. I peeled the discount sticker off the cover of the paperback and squinted at the black and white photo of the family sitting on the front steps, trying to see their faces through my fading vision.

The story is not about a famous starlet, sports start or other popular people. This story is about a simple person who grew up very poor with an equally abusive drunk father, and a mother who allowed the abuse. With a large number of siblings, living in the south, with a dysfunctional family, somehow Barbara Moss brings both humor and light to living in her world. She is able to show the reader both her life as a child through the eyes of an adult, and those as a child.

This Memoir to some may seem sad, and many may not want to read books about sad or abusive stories. It would be a shame to pass up this book. Barbara Moss captured me almost immediately with her quick wit, her direct way of writing, and above all else, her determination to survive at all costs, as a child.

It was by reading this book I was given the courage to go ahead and have the surgery I dreaded. I felt if she, a simple, ordinary person, like me, could survive the things in her life that she did, then I, could gather myself up and do what needed to be done.

It took courage to write her story about her life, her abuse, and her family. I hope, if she ever reads these reviews, she will know how much her book, helped this ordinary woman find the courage and strength to do what I needed to do, after reading her book.

Thank you, Barbara Robinette Moss, for having the courage to tell your story. I find it is the ordinary, everyday people whose stories have the most effect on me, and are the most interesting.

This is a well-written book, easy to read, easy to follow and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in reading Memoirs, history, large families, poverty and abuse.


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Paris Red A Novel by Maureen Gibbon

Paris RedParis Red by Maureen Gibbon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paris Red, a novel by Maureen Gibbon and published by W.W Norton and Company is an interesting read. It is told from the point of view of a poor, 17 year old girl in 1862, who works in a silver polishing factory. She enters into a love triangle with her roommate and a man they meet on the street.

They play a little game of you touch her and then touch me for several chapters, before she leaves her roommate, and joins the man in his studio. He is a painter; an Artist, who ends up being Edouard Manet. Manet was a French painter during 19th century.

Manet’s painting, Olympia, caused great controversy when it was painted. In Paris Red, the story teller is that of his muse, Victorine Meurent. Olympia is a striking nude panting. It was unlike anything that had been painted before it.

In order to understand Paris Red, the reader has to understand a little about Manet and his famous work. It took until the end of the novel to understand who was who. I also had to use Google, because the novel does not come out and say who the young painter is for most of the book.

This is a fictional account of the relationship between Manet and Meurent. It read a lot like another book, and might have been called Fifty Shades of Paris Red, due to its content. This novel contains graphic sex including, some eyebrow raising acts that might shock those not expecting it. The vibe is similar to the other book mention; a relationship between a man and woman, based on sex, lust and control.
Paris Red is not for the modest. If the reader did not like Fifty Shades of Grey, they may not like this book, either.

What I didn’t like about Paris Red is pretty easy to guess. I dislike the over sexual nature of the book. I wish the author had included more history of the man. Instead, Manet remains a mystery for most of the book. There were a couple of sexual parts that didn’t need to be explained in such detail. I really wanted the story of them and not just some repeat of another book. I disliked how his muse was so greedy that she left her roommate; who was supposed to be part of this relationship. He had wanted both of them in the beginning. I also, found myself skipping the excessive sex to find the story.

What I did like about it was the way it flowed. Paris Red is told from the point of view of his muse. The detail in which the author describes each person and object is amazing. The novel is sensual at times and beautiful. The details of the two girl’s living area and working conditions were amazing. It brought me to tears.
Overall, this is as intense as the back cover suggests it is. It is a striking erotic work, loosely based on Manet and his muse. I enjoyed the book, once I understood the history of Manet.

A big thanks to Maureen Gibbon, the author, the publisher and Goodreads for allowing me to review this gem.

Disclaimer: This book was won after entering a contest on Goodreads 1st reads.

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RevivalRevival by Stephen King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Stephen King, the Master of horror has presented another book for us Constant Readers to read and discuss. If you are a Constant Reader, like me, your heart will jump in your throat before you even crack the spine. You might be disappointed with this one, or you might not.

Revival sounds like it has a hidden message lurking in the title. It doesn’t. If you are looking for vintage King, you won’t find “none of that ’round here.” What you will find is a mellow story with a little spark at the end.

Revival starts in a (you know where I am going with this.)small New England town in 1962. Jamie Morton is a small boy who befriends the new preacher. From that point on, their lives weaver together like a spider web. The preacher leaves town after a horrible accident and equally horrible sermon. Jamie goes from a small boy playing with his toy army men, living a picturesque American life, into a drug shooting, rock-n-roll playing loser. Jamie, down on his luck and almost at the end of his drugged out life, comes crashing into the preacher’s world. Divine interference? Nah, just King. Jamie’s life is changed forever when friend, now an ex-preacher, cures him of his drug habit in a most Kingly way. From that point forward, the story follows them both as they trudge through life.

Revival is full of glimpses of the King of old but, it is mellow. The writing felt a little forced in places and lacked the spark of his previous novels. The 1st few chapters had me pounding the table with my fist, as I expressed my elation-even if it was short lived. The Terrible Sermon is the best part of the novel, in my opinion. I even read it to others while proclaiming my joy of reading this book. Then, everything stopped. MELLOW. It got real mellow. Where was the horror? The thrill? I couldn’t find it. I kept waiting for the punchline, the bolt that would shock me into the place. It never came. The ending was a let down. It seemed rushed and restrained, as if someone edited a little too much.

This book is full of religion. Some may find that insulting, if you are a believer. But, if you are a constant reader, you will not be surprised. This was the best part, it is what kept me reading. I wanted to see what he would say next. King has a way of saying all the things I have been thinking and he hits the mark with Revival when it comes to religion, faith, and death. He also includes information on interesting books in the story that I am now seeking more about. Overall, it was a decent book. It is short, a little over 400 pages and is easy to read. It is a little bit Shelly, Lovecraft, and King rolled into one. I am glad I read it and it will sit in a place on the bookshelf with his other books- at the top with the ones without any dust.

Give it a go and let me know what you think.

~ C

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The Preacher by Donna Hughey

The PreacherThe Preacher by Donna Hughey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I won a signed copy of The Preacher by Donna Hughey after entering a GoodReads Fist Reads Giveaway.

What I liked about this book:

The presentation was nice overall. The cover has a nice feel and the text is large and easy to read. The author spent some time and included a sweet personal note to me, as well. Thank you, this meant a lot to me.

This book can be read in one day and would make a great book for anyone who likes Christian themed books. The story is funny and the characters are easy to like. I was able to visualize each of them without issues.

This book is like a candy sprinkled muffin. Everything works out and everyone is happy in the end. The Preacher would be a great book for someone who is religious. There are no racy sex scenes (not that I wanted them, I didn’t.) or foul language. It is a very ‘P.C’ book. Kudos to the author for a sweet story.

What I didn’t like about this book:
1. This is hard for me, because, I don’t like to write negative reviews. But, I have to be honest. This book has a very Christian theme. I usually do not read these types of books. The only reason I even picked this book was due to the back cover. The back cover description is slightly deceiving, as I thought this was more of a book about dark secrets and less about a preacher keeping a foreclosure from his wife. It was not what I expected when I read the back.

2. It was predictable. I was able to foretell what would happen next. There was no mystery about this story.

3. I did not like the main character, the preacher. I felt he was being portrayed as a Saint when he lied to his wife, used her money and then, asked for a loan from a large church to save his butt. (Not in that order.) I felt his wife forgave him because he is a preacher and even though he lied, he ends up happy.

Overall, this was an okay story with a simple Christian theme. This is not a bad book, just not my kind of book. I am sure there are tons of readers who will enjoy it. Thank you Donna Hughey, for the beautiful handwritten note. Thank you to Goodreads and to the publisher for giving me the chance to read and review this book.

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