RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

  • Senator's Assignment, The
    Joan E. Histon
    This book is fascinating and a bit weird at the same time. It's well researched, well written, full of interesting facts.
    The plot will keep you hooked till the end. Recommended to people who love historical fiction. ~ Anna Maria Giacomasso , NetGalley

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    Sweet, lyrical and intriguing. ~ Sophie Childs, NetGalley

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    There was a great deal to enjoy. The writing was fluid, beautiful, but easy to read. The historical sections felt real and alive. I could so vividly picture everything described, and I greatly enjoyed that. ~ M.L. Valard, NetGalley

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    This was a very well written novel with a complex and varying storyline which traces a family history, a budding romance, friendship and storytelling. The author really has the feel for modern day Glasgow and the India of the past. ~ Marie Riley, Amazon/GoodReads

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    Maybe this is the age of the Impatient Reader. There are stories that move at a frenetic pace, grabbing the reader and squeezing until, at sessions end, you're breathless, dazed and panting, wondering what just happened.
    Then there are the constructed sagas, brick upon brick, woven, layered and assembled into something solid that stays with you.
    Karna's Wheel is a builder. By essence, novels running parallel timelines have to be; or run the risk of losing the reader in a mire of confusing generational shifts. I feel Michael Tobert has done an admirable job in this case.
    The truth is if you are a lover of historical fiction, and I am, you sign up for the "constructed novel"; you commit to concentrate as the the background builds and acknowledge to yourself that with this genre, there never really is an "ending".
    So for those HF lovers I highly recommend this novel. It's a worthy example. ~ Brian Jeffery , NetGalley

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    This is top-class historical fiction with strongly realized characters and an emotional punch … one of the most human and engrossing novels I’ve ever read … human history at its finest – making us see the Raj not as a list of events but a succession of relationships, decisions and human frailties that accumulated in change, loss and upheaval for thousands of people. I absolutely loved the evocative description and lyrical language in this novel and got swept up in the story so much that I didn’t want to leave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough – it’s an intelligent, immersive and atmospheric read that draws you in and holds you tight until you’ve turned the final page. ~ , On the Shelf Books; a bookblog for readers

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    The Occupation of Joe not only describes the terrible aftermath of war but tells an absorbing and complex story about human relations. The author shows us the problems inherent in vastly different cultures overcoming not only language difficulties but societal
    norms. It is a time about which very little has been written but which is relevant today as we deal with immigration and racial problems. A very good read. ~ Panama P, Amazon

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    in the rubble of post war Tokyo, a young Navy lieutenant befriends a hungry young boy scavenging food for his mother and young sister. The last thing Joe expects is an emotional involvement with the child's family. Despite the language barrier, a love story delicately develops. Handled with sensitivity and skill, Baynes describes a tender, forbidden affair. This novella is a page turner that leads to a surprising, cinematic conclusion. A wonderful read! ~ Al Brito, Amazon

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    The genius of this book is in the representation of the best and worst in human beings. Joe and his fellow Navy shipmates offer the antidote to the pure, unadulterated hatred and evil of the defeated, hungry and homeless Japanese. Author Baynes describes well the full breadth of human emotion, formed in large part by living conditions and the possibility of a better life. This book should be turned into what would be a great film, with the theme that HOPE is that which gives our lives meaning. ~ Dutch Vance, Amazon

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    If you like books that show you a multi-dimensional world that sticks with you for days - this one is for you. I can’t tell you about the story without taking away from the book’s impact. And, I can’t tell you exactly how the writer does this. Perhaps the power comes from novella as an art form combined with the writer’s skill. What I can tell is this is a book worth reading and one that’s best read all the way through in one sitting. A word of warning: don’t let the first couple pages fool you into thinking you’re venturing into feel good territory. ~ Joe Gurkoff, Amazon

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    Lyrical and poignant, THE OCCUPATION OF JOE is a lovely novella set in Tokyo immediately after the Allied victory. It explores the aftermath of war from the perspective of both a Japanese youth and a young Navy lieutenant. Baynes handles the complexities of emotions and relationships with a deft and spare hand. His prose is beautiful, his characters real, and his storytelling transcendent. Highly recommend! ~ FayeReads, Amazon

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    In 111 succinct pages, Bill Baynes tells the compelling story of a young, naive man who underestimates the power of love; he denies his own well-being and that of others in his quest to fill a hungry heart. In a war ravaged setting, Baynes’ altruistic character, "Joe", valiantly attempts to overcome the adversity he encounters, leading us to the universal question of "Why me?" ~ Margaret Marshall, M.Ed., Editor, Amazonb

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    I didn’t know what to expect when I obtained a copy of Bill Baynes’ latest. Then I started reading and, to shamelessly use the cliche, I couldn’t put this one down.

    The Occupation of Joe takes place just as Japan has surrendered to the Allies in WWII. No longer needed to repair battleships, the U.S.S. Chourre, drops anchor in Tokyo Bay. When Joe, the communications officer, and his mates disembark, they encounter a city in utter ruin. Guided by 12-year-old Isamu (“Sam”) whom he meets on the dock, Joe walks the city’s ruined streets where he witnesses the massive destruction, poverty, and hunger of a city ravaged by aerial bombardment.

    Sam is drawn in as a fatherless 12-year-old boy facing a the demands of manhood early and realizing he must be the provider for his mother and baby sister. Joe is painted as an exceptionally sensitive young man who faces the plight of innocent women and children with a humanitarian’s empathy. And then there’s the language barrier. Left only to gesture, Sam and Joe must find a way to communicate. When Joe meets Sam’s beautiful widowed mother Aiko nursing her new infant, Joe is drawn ever more deeply into trying to save at least this one precious family while filling an emptiness in his own heart as well.

    Both are up against the impersonal mega-force of Occupation, where conqueror meets conquered. Occupation looms over all, almost its own character pressing down on these innocent characters, determining their fates. If Joe can only help Sam before the Chourre ships out for home, he will feel he has done something to help.

    Baynes, erstwhile AP reporter and filmmaker, writes with the urgency of a dramatist and the clean, no-nonsense prose of a beat reporter. I found myself caring deeply about these three people. I highly recommend The Occupation of Joe. ~ Tim Flood, Amazon

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    Artfully crafted, this historical novel pulls the reader right into the depths of the aftermath of WWII 1945 bombings of Japan. The characters—a young Japanese boy who is a survivor of the firebombings, his lovely mother and a young U.S. Navy lieutenant—flow into your mind, your heart and through your blood. And whether you like it or not, they remain there. Told in short declarative sentences, the dialogue mirrors the difficulty or inability of the young naval officer’s attempts to make himself understood—by the young boy and his mother—in a land and language unknown to him. And to his naval buddies who question his every move. His determination to ‘save’ just this one small family in a wasteland of despair and unspeakable poverty, reveals the small glimmer of hope that can rise out of the massive destruction of war. Heart-wrenching, real and memorable. ~ Carole Bumpus, Amazon

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    Sometimes less is more. That's the case with Bill Baynes' "The Occupation of Joe." The story is set in post-war Tokyo. It is a slice-of-life story of a US Navy lieutenant and a young Japanese boy who who connect under the most unlikely of circumstances. It is written in such a way that the reader can easily see this as an amazing movie.

    This simple, yet powerful story is told through both perspectives, chapter by chapter, reminding us that even in war, there are always two sides to the story, and that on both sides, there is common humanity that supersedes all. It is his sense of moral imperative that makes Joe help this young boy, his widowed mother, and infant sister survive.

    The book is skillfully written in direct, simple, yet highly descriptive and often poetic language. Baynes slowly builds the full impact of the story, bringing it to a heart-breaking close.

    Again, less is more. The reader doesn't need to be hit over the head with excessive detail, flowery or high-brow language. The sometimes understated story tells itself, and is emotionally-charged and has a humanistic, anti-war point of view. A must-read for lovers of historical fiction set during the World War II era. ~ Eve Visconti, Amazon

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    I loved the power of the prose. It reminded me of Hemingway's style. The story flowed so smoothly that it was impossible to put down.
    Although the story centers around a young Japanese boy, it's definitely not a children's story. Can't wait for the next book from this author! ~ Carol McKee, Amazon

  • Occupation of Joe, The
    Bill Baynes
    To view the victor and the vanquished in the aftermath of WW II, The Occupation of Joe takes us to the intimate level of individuals caught in the turmoil. Through Joe and Isamu, the book explores the tragic consequences of war. Interplaying chapters tell the story of the pair, their relationship and their misunderstandings, the need for survival and the desire to help, and the eventual outcome. The book is not long but it is thoughtfully written, leaving the reader contemplating her own humanity. ~ MJ Morrow, Amazon

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    A beautiful and well written novel that mixes historical and contemporary parts.
    The plot was moving and engaging, the characters well written and I loved the style of writing.
    Recommended! ~ Anna Maria Giacomasso , NetGalley

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    Just the book to keep you entertained during the long, dark, cold nights … Karna’s Wheel is the literary equivalent of a Russian nesting doll; a story within a story that is revealed as the plot moves forward, each one more decorative than the one before… unique writing talent … an almost lyrical style of narrative. ~ Emma Reekie, The Dundee Courier

  • Karna's Wheel
    Michael Tobert
    A beautifully written historical novel that takes place in Scotland in 1999 and Calcutta, India from 1923- 46. What a story this is! So evocative, thrilling and quirky, I absolutely loved it. The history of the Raj and the jute trade, both in Scotland and India, make for fascinating reading. The secrets that come out of his research and writing were shocking and sad, but the ending was excellent, very satisfactory. I liked all the characters; Seamus in particular is appealing and got me chuckling quite a bit. A must read that deserves to be a big hit. ~ Hannelore Cheney, Reviewer at Sidney Memorial Library, New York

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