Monday, August 5, 2013

Book Review and Author Interview!! Sworn Enemy by A.L. Sowards

****--4 Stars.
April 2013, 276 pages.

Book Description: June 1944--As World War II rages, the people of Eastern Europe are hopelessly trapped between two formidable forces: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. In their midst, a band of heroes works to defend against the inevitable Communist takeover. After narrowly escaping her Nazi captors, French Resistance worker Genevieve Olivier has fled to Allied territory with the help of American Lieutenant Peter Eddy. Their connection is undeniable, forged in the crucible of danger. But despite their blossoming feelings for each other, they must both finish the work they began . . .In the safety of England, Genevieve hopes to find purpose as a nurse—all the while unaware that the Gestapo still seeks the woman who slipped through their grasp. When she is called upon to resume a life of danger as a French spy, will her desire to prove herself be her downfall? Recruited by an elite special-ops team intent on thwarting the Nazis, Peter finds himself engaged in a personal battle as well—there is a traitor among his comrades. Deep in the Carpathian Mountains, Peter combats an unknown foe. The stakes are high as he fights to save the lives of his teammates. They are miles apart, yet as Genevieve and Peter fight for their own survival, they find a common well of strength in their faith—and their determination to be reunited.

My Review: I was completely amazed by this story. I've come to find that A.L. Sowards is a master at telling sides of stories that aren't overdone and commonly shared--at least, not that I've read. This is book 2, but can definitely stand alone. There were a couple of paragraphs that summed up the basic gist of book 1. However, the twists and turns in this one made up a totally different story. In some aspects, it built on Espionage, but it was definitely it's own story.

The reader sees what happens immediately following the end of book 1. Peter goes on a mission to Romania, which once again took me by surprise. I've never given any thought at all to this country during WWII. I felt that I learned so much, yet was entertained--I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Even Genevieve goes on a dangerous mission as a spy. I can't help but think about myself in the shoes of these characters and I swear I would die on the spot at some of the situations they found themselves in. Peter is so brave and tries so hard to stick to his values. He is a natural leader and is also very quick-thinking, not to mention least by the good guys. Genevieve is very brave as well and also does well at thinking and planning on the spot. Can people really do that?! I know I can't--I'm not that brave and there's no way I could endure the captures and torture and all that goes with war. I was fascinated at watching this story unfold.

I loved some of those side characters and others almost had me cringing in fear, especially when I realized that there are really some people that evil in the world.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this author's future works!!

Content: kissing (clean); war violence (not overly graphic).

Image of A. L. Sowards

About me:
I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in Moses Lake, Washington. Then I came to Utah to attend school and ended up staying. Books have always been an important part of my life. I remember writing self-illustrated storybooks at my grandparent's house when I was in elementary school (none of those made it to publication for many good reasons) and attending my first writer's conference when I was in third grade.
Another big part of my early life was swimming. I swam for the Big Bend Manta Rays, the Moses Lake Manta Rays, Moses Lake High School, and Brigham Young University. In addition to swimming, I studied Political Science and English at BYU.
Now I'm a busy mom of twin toddlers. I still love to read and I also love to write. I'm usually reading a couple books at once and working on multiple writing projects too. Other than that, my life is pretty ordinary. I'm grateful for that. I'll let the characters in my books have all the adventures.
What can you expect from my books?
A little mystery, a little history, a little romance, and a lot of action, adventure, and suspense. Primarily, I write to entertain. I also hope my books will teach readers something new about history or about life (anything from the wisdom of wearing your seatbelt to the truth that it's never too late to change). Most of my novels are set during wartime, so there is some violence, but it's not gory or excessive. I keep the language and romance family-friendly. My goal is for my writing to be thrilling, clean, and uplifting.

1. How did you decide what to write about?
One day, shortly after I had finished editing Espionage yet again, I went for a swim. I had thought I’d leave those characters alone, because they were kind of beat up at the end of the book and it would be mean to put them through anything else. But I got thinking about how much happened between D-day and V-E Day, and I wanted those characters to be involved in some of it. I thought Yugoslavia would be an interesting setting, and while I was doing research on WWII Yugoslavia, I read about how many airmen crashed in Serbia on their way back from bombing oil fields in Romania. That got me researching Romania, and the rest is history (well, historical fiction).

2. How much research did you have to do?
I’ve lost track. For me, research is an ongoing thing. I’m usually reading a WWII book of some sort, and even if it’s about the war in the Pacific, I can pick out details about the time period that would apply to my characters in Europe. I also subscribe to a WWII history magazine, so when I’m not reading books on the subject, I can read articles instead.

3. Do you base any of your characters on real-life people?
Not really. Many characters share traits with people I know, but I wouldn’t say they’re based on any one real-life person. In my head, Daniel Fisher looks a lot like Rupert Grint (the actor who plays Ron in the Harry Potter movies), and Major Baker looks like Wesley Idol from the P90X Kenpo video. Fortunately, I don’t know people as evil as most of the villains in my books.

4. What did you love best about writing this book?
I had a lot of fun writing the battle scene and editing the romantic parts.

5. What was the hardest thing for you in writing this book?
My publisher wanted me to cut Sworn Enemy’s word count by about 17%. It was so hard—that’s like cutting out every fifth or sixth word. But I learned a lot about writing in the process, and I think overall the book is better because of it. Author Related Questions: 6. When do you do your writing?
During my children’s nap time. They don’t always sleep, but we still call it nap time.

7. Do you have to have anything to write (snacks, music, etc)? If so, what?
Just my computer and relative quiet.

8. What did you do to celebrate your first published novel?
I sent copies to test readers and family members, went and looked at it in the stores, and listened to the audio version.

9. Do you have anything else in the works?
I’ve finished a third book involving characters from Espionage and Sworn Enemy, and now I’m working on another WWII spy thriller, this time with new characters. After that, I’m going to try something other than WWII. I love writing WWII novels and I have lots of ideas, but I don’t want to box myself in.

10. If you could be any character in a book, who would you be and why?
I don’t think I’d want to be a character in any book. Authors are kind of hard on their characters. Think about how many times Harry Potter almost died, and I know I put mine through the ringer.

11. What superhero power would you want most and why? I’d want the ability to stop time for everyone except me. Can you imagine how much I could get done if I could do that?

12. What book (or author) has influenced you the most? That’s a hard question, because so many of the books I read influence me in some way. It could be a useful tidbit of information from a research book, a question I get when I read a novel, or an emotion evoked in a memoir that I want to duplicate somehow in one of my stories. I started off going for a Jack Higgins or Alistair MacLean style, so I’ll leave it at that.

13. Which time period would you like to live in?
I don’t know—I’m pretty happy with my air conditioning, fast internet connection, and indoor plumbing. Now is hard to beat. It would be really cool to be a journalist during WWII though.

14. What is your dream job?
Probably what I’m doing right now—being a stay-at-home mom and writing books.

Chocolate or vanilla?

Hot or cold? Cold, because it’s not too hard to grab a blanket, put on layers, or sip some hot cocoa. But I really prefer fall and spring temperatures.

Night or day?
Depends on how tired I am. Sometimes going to sleep is the best part of the day.

Paperback or e-book?
E-books for most things. I love the highlighting feature for my research books, and I like being able to use just one hand. That, and I'm running out of shelf space for physical books.

A BIG THANK YOU to A.L. Sowards for doing this interview for me!! It's so much fun to get to know her better.

Click here to buy this book!!

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