Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Chris Karlsen and her historical romance novel, The Ack Ack Girl.
Love and War
A country under attack and the story of one woman’s fight to protect England and her heart.
1941. The German war machine has crushed all of Europe-only England holds fast. To force a surrender, the German Luftwaffe bombs cities and villages the length of the country. As the battle rages, Britain is in desperate need to put more pilots in the air.
To free up more men a new unit is formed: The Ack Ack Girls. These special teams of courageous women will now fight in the anti-aircraft stations. Determined to be part of the effort, Ava Armstrong, volunteers for one of the special teams.
Her unit just happens to be located near an RAF airfield teaming with pilots. Sparks fly, and not just from artillery, when Ava crosses paths with Chris Fairfield, a handsome and cocky pilot stationed there. But nothing is easy in time of war, not even love.
Chris Karlsen focuses on an amazing event in history that has received surprisingly little attention. As WWII drug on, some English women in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (the ATS, a branch of the women’s army) served in crews of anti-aircraft fighters.
Author Karlsen focuses on one such woman, as she takes you into her day to day life. You learn about Ava’s family history and details of the sort of cake she prefers, the cat she saves in Coventry, and her favorite songs. Karlsen lets the reader follow her emotional journey as she faces her anger at the Germans, joins the ATS, and becomes attracted to a fighter pilot. The nonchalant sexism of the day (by both men and women) is presented through conversation, as are the fears and frustrations caused by the war.
What I liked most about this book was the way Karlsen made me feel as if I walked through life with Ava. This author has an incredible ability to include sights, sounds and smells to make a scene seem real. For example, Ava doesn’t just sit down. “Careful of the peeling paint and rough wood, Ava sat in the rickety bench in front of the barracks to wait for him.” See what I mean?
I also applaud the amount of research put into this novel. From details on the women’s uniforms (and shoes!) to specifics about the tasks the women were trained and allowed to perform, the breath of information is astounding.
I did struggled a little with the style of the book. The author inserts gaps in time, with no more explanation or transition that to say “Coventry-later that day.” To me, it gave the story a feel of walking through an art gallery, looking at related and beautifully done paintings. I’m used to a book being more like a movie, where the action flows and almost everything presented moves the story along. Here, a lot of the detail seems to only serve the purpose of immersing the reader in the immediate scene, well done though that scene may be.
I’d recommend this book to many sorts of readers. Those fascinated by modern history and particularly World War Two would enjoy it, as would those interested in stories of women being allowed to step out of traditional roles, particularly during wartime. It has a romance at it’s center, but it’s also a book about female friendship.
My strongest recommendation, however, would go to anyone wanting to leave this time and place for a while and thoroughly experience another. Go — be part of Britain’s war effort. Reading this book is as close as you’re likely to get to using a time machine.
About the Author
I was raised in Chicago. My father, a history professor, and my mother, a voracious reader passed on a love of history and books along with a love of travel. My husband and I retired to the Pacific Northwest where we live with four crazy rescue dogs.
I am a retired police detective. After twenty-five years in law enforcement, I decided to pursue my dream of writing. I’ve completed a historical-time travel romance series called Knights in Time. I currently write a historical suspense called The Bloodstone Series.
I am also working on a world war two series of novella romances. The first is Moonlight Serenade and currently available. The second is The Ack-Ack Girl.
Find the Author
Buy the Book
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08VDSQGDM Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-ack-ack-girl/id1554149585 B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-ack-ack-girl-chris-karlsen/1138717450 KOBO: https://books2read.com/u/bQdOXd Thalia: (this is a German site) https://www.thalia.de/shop/home/artikeldetails/ID150770183.html Bol-de: (another German site) https://www.bol.de/shop/home/artikeldetails/ID150770183.html Angus & Robertson: (British site) https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/ebooks/the-ack-ack-girl-chris-karlsen/p/9781393715412
Yes, there is a giveaway
The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.
My Favorite Excerpt
When her mother turned around, the color had drained from her face and her eyes had a haunted look. “What is it, Mum?”
“They’re bombing Coventry. There’s a BBC reporter on site. He said dozens and dozens of planes are over the city.”
Ava sat on the sofa, listening to the live broadcast as the nightmare continued. Her stomach roiled. The mint-flavored tooth powder she’d used had tasted sweet and fresh, but now soured in her mouth.
“The cathedral is destroyed,” the reporter’s voice broke.
“Turn the sound up, Mum.”
“The sky is black with planes now. They’ve blotted out the moon.” The reporter broke into a coughing fit and then continued. “The city is aflame. It’s raining bombs. The terribleness of this night will never be forgotten. Coventry is no more.”
Eleven hours later
“Did you get any sleep?” her mother asked.
Ava shook her head. “The bombing only just stopped. They’re saying that most of the city is destroyed.”
Ava went upstairs to clean up and change clothes. When she came back down she told her mother, “I need to go. I have to see if Miss Finney is all right. I have to see if I still have a home there.”
Coventry-later that day
The train was standing room only. A blast of intense heat clobbered her as Ava stepped from the station. She found herself flashing back to the night of the blitz attack in London. Like London, hours after the last bombs fell flames still raged and painted the sky in orange and red here. Bright, hot embers filled the air, burning holes through the material of the umbrellas of those who carried them for protection.
She slowly and carefully made her way toward Miss Finney’s flat and the upstairs bedsit she let to Ava. She paused in front of the movie theatre around the corner from Miss Finney’s. The entire building had fallen but somehow the marquee remained undamaged. Perched on top of the rubble advertising, His Girl Friday. Ava had just seen the movie the previous week. She’d gone two nights in a row just to watch Cary Grant.
Chris Karlsen we appreciate your sharing your book The Ack Ack Girl with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.