#BookReview Splinter on the Tide by Phillip Parotti @Casemate_UK

Splinter on the TideAbout the Book

Having survived the sinking of his first ship, Ensign Ash Miller USNR is promoted and assigned to command one of the sleek new additions to “the splinter fleet,” a 110-foot wooden submarine chaser armed with only understrength guns and depth charges. His task is to bring the ship swiftly into commission, weld his untried crew into an efficient fighting unit, and take his vessel to sea in order to protect the defenseless Allied merchant vessels which are being maliciously and increasingly sunk by German U-Boats, often within sight of the coast.

Ash rises to the deadly challenge he faces, brings his crew of three officers and 27 men to peak performance, and meets the threats he faces with understated courage and determination, rescuing stricken seamen, destroying Nazi mines, fighting U-Boats, and developing both the tactical sense and command authority that will be the foundation upon which America’s citizen sailors eventually win the war. During rare breaks in operations, Ash cherishes a developing relationship with the spirited Claire Morris who embodies the peaceful ideal for which he has been fighting.

Format: Paperback (234 pages) Publisher: Casemate Publishing
Publication date: 5th July 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction, Military

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My Review

When Naval reservist, Ash Miller, is assigned to the subchaser, Chaser 3, he is warned by Lieutenant Commander Sims not only that the vessel will roll a lot (as he and his crew subsequently find out) but that the war is right on America’s doorstep. Sims observes, ‘This is going to be a citizen’s war, an amateur’s war, and that makes it our war.‘ Given a largely untried crew to command, Sims advises Ash, ‘Drill them, Mr Miller; drill them until they think there’s no tomorrow, and then drill them some more’.

Ash takes this advice to heart and the commissioning process that follows is relentless and takes place around the clock: taking on food and other supplies, managing the delicate art of bringing ammunition aboard, and completing unending amounts of paperwork. The cramped quarters make for uncomfortable living conditions and the rolling of the ship in anything but the calmest seas means frequent recourse to ‘barf buckets’ for most of the crew.

The Cruel Sea Penguin edition
‘So they went to war.’

Ash takes his command responsibilities seriously, advising his two ensigns, Solly and Hamp, ‘From here on out, the only thing that can relieve me of my responsibility for this ship and relieve you of your responsibility to me is if I am killed in action‘. Following sea trials, and equipped with only sonar but no radar, the crew of Chaser 3 embark on their first mission, escorting a tanker and three freighters on a four hundred mile journey. It will be the first of many such missions, all of them fraught with danger.

Soon they have their first brief encounter with a U-boat and later the reader experiences the crew’s excitement on getting their first positive contact on sonar.  What follows is a cat-and-mouse game between the subchasers and enemy submarines intent on sinking ships in the convoys, ships taking vital supplies to and fro across the Atlantic. However Ash is conscious that success against a U-boat, while sparing the lives of men aboard merchant shipping, means consigning other men, albeit the enemy, to a watery grave. ‘Killing Germans was in no way a course of action in which he would ever take pleasure, but if it were the only way to get rid of Hitler and his crazed regime, Ash knew that he would do it, and live with it until the job was finished.’  

There is a real sense of the crew of Chaser 3 becoming a family and I especially enjoyed the banter between Ash, Solly and Hamp. Time ashore is brief but the crew make the most of it, including Ash who soon forms a relationship with a woman named Claire. It’s the nature of war that romance happens at the speed of light and is made up of snatched, intense moments between people who don’t know when – or if – they will see each other again.

Splinter on the Tide introduced me to the maritime vessel, the subchaser, as well as countless other things I didn’t know before such as the fact that Nazi U-boat attacks on shipping along the US’s Atlantic coast were kept from the American public for fear of its effect on morale or that, during the war, some American companies continued to supply gasoline to Germany which fuelled enemy aircraft and U-boats. 

As well as being a gripping naval adventure story, Splinter on the Tide oozes authenticity. If you are a fan of films such as The Enemy Below, In Which We Serve or The Cruel Sea, then I think you will enjoy Splinter on the Tide as much as I did.

My thanks to Casemate Publishing for my review copy. You can read more about Phillip’s inspiration for the book here and find my pick of the historical fiction titles recently published and forthcoming from Casemate. Finally, you can read an exclusive extract from Appointment in Tehran by James Stejskal which will be published by Casemate on 15th October 2021 and is available for pre-order now.

In three words: Compelling, authentic, inspiring

Try something similar: The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

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Phillip ParottiAbout the Author

Phillip Parotti grew up in Silver City, New Mexico, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1963, and served four years at sea on destroyers, both in the Pacific and the Atlantic, before exchanging his regular commission for a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve. In addition to a number of short stories, essays, and poems, Parotti has published three well received novels about The Trojan War. In retirement, Parotti and his wife, Shirley, live in their hometown where he continues to write and work as a print artist.

BlogTour #BookReview Daughters of War (Daughters of War 1) by Dinah Jefferies @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam

Daughters of War BT Poster

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies, the first in a new series set in World War 2 occupied France. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in the tour and to HarperCollins for my digital review copy.


Daughters of War CoverAbout the Book

France, 1944. Deep in the river valley of the Dordogne, in an old stone cottage on the edge of a beautiful village, three sisters long for the end of the war.

Hélène, the eldest, is trying her hardest to steer her family to safety, even as the Nazi occupation becomes more threatening. Élise, the rebel, is determined to help the Resistance, whatever the cost. And Florence, the dreamer, just yearns for a world where France is free.

Then, one dark night, the Allies come knocking for help. And Helene knows that she cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. But bravery comes at a cost, and soon the sisters’ lives become even more perilous as they fight for what is right. And secrets from their own mysterious past threaten to unravel everything they hold most dear…

Format: Paperback (544 pages)              Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 16th September 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction

Find Daughters of War (Daughters of War #1) on Goodreads

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Hive | Amazon UK
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My Review

Told in alternating chapters from the point of view of Hélène, Élise and Florence, the author carefully delineates the three sisters’ personalities. Hélène is sensible, cautious and feels a keen sense of responsibility towards her younger sisters in the absence of their mother. Élise is impulsive, courageous but at times heedless of the risks to which she exposes herself and her sisters. Florence is sensitive, caring and has an instinctive feeling for the natural world.  At first, the sisters lead a charmed life, tucked away in their cottage and fortified by the food Florence seems to be able to create out of nothing.  They are also fortunate to have, or have come into their lives, three handsome men who offer them practical help, reassurance and often a little bit more.

It is Hugo, the local doctor, and his wife Marie, who initially experience the realities of life under the Nazis. However, everything also changes for the sisters following a brutal encounter (the nature of which may be triggering for some) which is quite different in tone from that of the book so far.  In fact, this event signals a change to a much more dramatic storyline during which the author explores in minute detail how each of the sisters respond emotionally to the often traumatic experiences they witness. The revelation concerning their mother towards the end of the book, although resolving a mystery signalled early on, may not come as that much of a surprise to the observant reader but does bring unexpected complications.

What the book does particularly well is convey the realities of life under German occupation: the violence of the Vichy-supporting Milice, the fear of reprisals for acts of sabotage by the Resistance, the shortages of food and fuel.  It’s a time of distrust, divided loyalties and uncertainty about what tomorrow might bring.  After all, how can you plan for the future when you don’t even know if you’ll be there to see it? ‘The world was cracking and splintering deep in its bowels. And people were falling through the cracks, never knowing which of them was going to meet their fate.’

Another strength of the book is its descriptions of the landscape of the Dordogne, a gift surely to the area’s tourist board.  So, through the eyes of the sisters, the reader is given a picture of ‘the languid twists of the river’ from which can be seen castles perched on high cliffs and fortified hilltop towers with old stone walls.

The first in a planned trilogy, in the concluding chapters of Daughters of War the author lays the groundwork for a number of possible story arcs in subsequent books.

In three words: Romantic, sweeping, dramatic

Try something similar: The Girl From Vichy by Andie Newton

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Dinah Jefferies Author PicAbout the Author

Dinah Jefferies began her career with The Separation, followed by the number 1 Sunday Times and Richard and Judy bestseller, The Tea-Planter’s Wife. Born in Malaysia, she moved to England at the age of nine. As a teenager she missed the heat of Malaysia, which left her with a kind of restlessness that led to quite an unusual life. She studied fashion design, went to live in Tuscany where she worked as an au-pair for an Italian countess, and there was even a time when
Dinah lived with a rock band in a ‘hippie’ commune in Suffolk.

In 1985, the death of her fourteen-year-old son changed everything and she now draws on the experience of loss in her writing. She started writing novels in her sixties and sets her books abroad, aiming to infuse love, loss and danger with the extremely seductive beauty of her locations.

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