Over the past several weeks I’ve had the privilege of reading two compelling novels from Blue Butterfly Books - Our Only Shield by Michael Goodspeed and Come Looking for Me by Cheryl Cooper. I also had the marvelous opportunity to meet both authors at a Blue Butterfly open house held in March. Both authors have crafted stories that are crammed full of action, suspense and well rounded characters.
Our Only Shield by Michael Goodspeed
Having read a number of wartime spy novels, I’m often amazed at the intricate details of the plots and the characters involved in these stories. Unfortunately at times the central characters almost seem unreal in their exploits. In Our Only Shield, the characters are all too real in the motivation and emotions that drive them. These are ordinary people trying to organize a resistance against one of the most brutal regimes in history – 1940’s Nazi Germany.
RCMP officer Rory Farrell - who had successfully undertaken a dangerous undercover mission into Germany during the Great War - is recruited by the British to become part of a group of highly secret military planners stationed in London. Unfortunately there are members of the British government who are hoping that the Nazis can be maneuvered into negotiating a settlement effectively ending the war. Rory and others in his group see an all out conflict as inevitable. They are given the task of putting together a behind-the-lines network of civilians who will wage guerilla warfare and provide accurate intelligence.
After a string of disastrous defeats and rapid expansion of Nazi held territory, Rory is sent to occupied Europe. His mission is to gather intelligence and re-establish the beginnings of a resistance movement that had been previously discovered and crushed by the Nazis in the Netherlands. Rory crosses paths with Annika Hammerstein a gifted musician who’s lost a number of family members to the occupation and refuses to sit quietly while further Nazi atrocities destroy her country. They are both caught up in a deadly battle of wits with Major der Schutzpolizei Reinhold Neumann a ruthlessly efficient Nazi police officer who is determined to crush all Dutch resistance.
Our Only Shield is packed with rich detail of Britain, Canada and the Netherlands during the early years of World War II. Michael Goodspeed shares with us an intimate portrait of what Nazi occupied Amsterdam could have looked like during the spring and summer of 1940.We also gain a better understanding of the allied war effort in its very early stages and experience the fear and frustration of those who had to struggle against the Nazi juggernaut that was quickly devouring the most of Europe. It was a race against time and in 1940 the Allies were barely hanging on.
I found myself cheering for every small step forward as Rory and Annika struggled to establish a new resistance network and hoping that despite the odds they could make their escape. It’s a wonderful read that picks up momentum right through to an exciting conclusion.
Come Looking for Me by Cheryl Cooper
Imagine if you will a spirited young woman trapped in one of the harshest environments devised by man. She calls herself Emily and she has escaped a life full of restrictions and holding few challenges. In the hopes of finding new adventure in Canada, Emily has set out on a perilous journey across the Atlantic. Instead of arriving in Canada, she finds herself caught up in the bloody warfare of opposing navies during the War of 1812.
Emily is a woman who has many secrets to hide. Considering what she has been forced to endure, it is not easy for her to trust or be trusted. Despite this she does form friendships and earns the respect of those around her. As the story progresses we begin to see clues to Emily’s true origins and a turn in events force tragedy and heartache back into Emily’s life.
This finely crafted story is populated by a full compliment of unique characters like the cold-blooded Captain Trevelyan, dedicated hard working Naval Surgeon Dr Leander Braden, Commander Frances “Fly” Austen (brother of Jane Austen), twelve year old Midshipman Gus Walby, the young sail maker Magpie and a host of others. They all provide unique voices creating a compelling story that depicts the courage of men locked in brutal warfare and the amazing determination of one woman to find a life she can call her own.
Having read a number of books about the Royal Navy during this period from authors like Patrick O’Brian and Alexander Kent, I was amazed at the amount detail that Cheryl Cooper was able to weave into this exciting story. Hours of meticulous research has resulted in a faithful often brutal depiction of life on a British man of war. This story mixes a generous amount of mystery, humor, action, suspense and unexpected romance into a colourful tale of high seas adventure.
Blue Butterfly Open House
The Breakout Team offers congratulations to Blue Butterfly Books for the huge success of their “Meet The Authors” event on March 2 nd at the Berkeley Field House on Queen Street, East in Toronto. It was a night where Blue Butterfly Books lived up to it's goal of being a reader-centered publishing house. This event provided a wonderful opportunity for authors to meet and interact with a large audience filled with avid readers.
In world where interaction between authors and writers often amounts to comments left on a website, here was a chance for readers to share some "live in person" moments with five of Blue Butterfly's authors. On hand were Douglas Bland (Uprising), Cheryl Cooper (Come Looking for Me), Michael Goodspeed (Our Only Shield), Dorris Heffron (City Wolves), and F.W. vom Scheidt (Coming for Money).
After sharing some opening remarks, Blue Butterfly's President Patrick Boyer spent some time with each author, introducing them and their books to those in attendance. It was a marvelous chance for each author to share some tidbits from their respective books.
Members of the Breakout team attending in support of Blue Butterfly Books included Inta Irwin (President of Breakout Educational Network), Robert Roy (Producer and head of the 7 Year Project) and John Richmond (Director of Community Outreach). Other guests included Norm Miller MPP (Parry Sound-Muskoka), John Denison (Boston Mills Press and Elaine Loring – known for her work as anchor of Global Television Network’s entertainment desk.
We hope that with the overwhelming success of "Meet The Authors", there will be more events like it in the near future.