Blog Book Tour (a pre-#blogmas Christmas Story) | “Royal Beauty Bright” (A Novel of WWI) by Ryan Byrnes

Posted Thursday, 7 November, 2019 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

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I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring.

It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary of “Royal Beauty Bright” direct from the publisher Blank Slate Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read “Royal Beauty Bright”:

I cannot remember when I first stumbled across the story of the truce of 1914 – however, it left quite the impression on me throughout the years. I’ve continued to find stories rooted round this phenom of WWI as well as select films – one of which I believe was released in French, which was one reason why I haven’t yet seen it as I wasn’t sure how much I would understand. Though technically I do watch foreign language films (such as those in Mandarin or Italian) but in this particular instance, I sometimes find French harder to follow as it is a language which has quite the fast clip of a pace to listen too.

Aside from those murmurs of insight, I haven’t had any direct readings about this particular moment in history which left such an endurable impression on every generations since the war era ended. It was a moment in time which no one felt could happen and yet it did. It was proving in a very humbling way there was still a heap of humanity left on the battlefield and how in at times of war, people can surprise you by their actions and the choices they make together.

Several years ago now, I made the conscience choice to re-select war dramas I am reading anchoured more into a human interest story, a romantic arc or a mystery plotting than I would continue to seek out war dramas which are more directly connected to the battles themselves. A few might slip into my readerly queues but overall, stories like “Royal Beauty Bright” are tipping my hat of interest more due to their humbling glimpse into the human condition and the enduring strength of all of us who simply want to see peace flourish in our world.

The irony of course is that this particular novel does take you directly into the heart of the battlefield – straight into No Man’s Land no less and hugs you close to where you would find the men who were serving on the front lines. However, part of me felt this would be a good choice to tuck closer to the truth of the truce and to find out might have inspired the action to host a cease-fire at Christmas; as that is what has always interested me the most – how did they choose to do that and take inaction at Christmas despite orders to do the opposite?

What also stood out to me is this a narrative with an autistic lead character and a diversely unique cast behind him – which gave further gravity to the fact not all the stories are yet known or readily told. I wanted to read this to see what the author’s vision was for the setting, the historic event itself and how he elected to have his characters in the middle of it all tell us a story which would touch our hearts and enrich our mind with their presence. It was also a selection I felt fitting as the lead-in towards seeking out #ChristmasReads & #ChristmasRomances as I seek out holiday stories which speak to me this holiday season 2019.

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Blog Book Tour (a pre-#blogmas Christmas Story) | “Royal Beauty Bright” (A Novel of WWI) by Ryan ByrnesRoyal Beauty Bright
Subtitle: A Novel of World War I
by Ryan Byrnes
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Genres: Historical Fiction, War Drama

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781943075607

Also by this author: Royal Beauty Bright

on 5th November, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 304

Published by: Blank Slate Press (@blankslatepress)
an imprint of Amphorae Publishing (@amphoraepub)

Read the story behind this women and veteran owned publishing company

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
+ #WWI war drama and  #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Ryan Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes is a St. Louis native. His first foray into writing was founding the publishing imprint, Avency Press, where he wrote one illustrated chapter book, The Adventures of Wheatail, and four young adult fantasy novels in the Son of Time series.

Since then, he has worked with a publishing company, a literary agency, and various aspiring writers seeking to self-publish. Ryan now lives in Iowa as a student in mechanical engineering and English. Between work hours, he builds Mars Rovers with his roommates, plays with cats, and watches Wes Anderson movies.

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my review of royal beauty bright:

I have never known where the courage alights inside the heart of man to embrace the uncertainty of their actions at war – such as those actions outlined by Byrnes in Royal Beauty Bright. You gathered a bit of that courage through the film White Christmas – of how it wasn’t just the men on the front who were sacrificing themselves to the war but the men in charge of them; the ones who have to make critical choices which affect all the men directly and indirectly until they either ship home or are relocated to a medical facility. In this instance, we first meet the autistic gentleman at the heart of the story itself – Luther, stepping up to his duty for volunteer patrol, which shocks his mate Rodney who just hopes to keep Luther safe before he can ship home.

In the opening pages of the novel, you see the gritty horror of war – from the depictions of the trenches to the living conditions of the men, you can feel the life they were living by how Byrnes wants you to see what those men saw whilst they were fighting to survive. The somberness of seeing how Luther was keeping his love of truffles alive in the trench and how impatient Rodney was growing short with his temper dealing with Luther – they were living in an impossible situation and neither of them knew what the outcome would be of their toils at war. They simply knew their orders and what was expected of them – and in that, a rare moment emerged where despite questioning what he personally understood as it was stated to him, Luther stepped up to take-on a duty most men would shy away from ever accepting.

To shift the perspective off the battlefield – Byrnes hugged us close to those who were living outside the battles but were closer still to the war than we were stateside. These were the families left behind in the ruts of what was left behind to be found in the townes, cities and harbours where supplies could be loaded and unloaded; where replacements could be housed or routed through – where everyday life was half stalled due to the war and progressively moving forward all the same. Byrnes gives out the smaller details – of how these communities had to harden themselves against the war itself and of making their children feel less fearful of the changes – as they constantly had to re-direct their focus and attention off what was happening round them into something resembling the normalcy their lives had lost. It was a humbling moment where a writer offset the front by showing what ordinary Mums and grandmothers were doing to do their bit in keeping the younger generations shielded as best they could be from the realities crowding into their childhoods.

The juxtaposition off of Luther onto his brother was a bit of a hard segue – as you weren’t quite expecting Jim to come into view at the moment Byrnes deposited him into the story-line. In fact, his entrance was a rather short one – although it did establish that he was going to work with the British Army Postal Service, it didn’t quite connect into the established thread of where we had first left Luther. If anything, it opened more questions which is why I was only half surprised to find us time-jumping backwards into their childhood – all the way into the late 19th Century as we arrived in December 1897. I had a feeling this story was anchoured to December(s) both past and present as the story is meant to be a full eclipse of Christmas.

I almost felt the passages of time spent with Luther and Jim’s Mum back in their home village might have been better positioned at the start of the novel. It would have given more back-history and a better rudder of understanding into Luther’s special needs as Byrnes outlines what he was like a younger child and how his brother Jim was afraid of him or at least, afraid of what he could do or couldn’t do – as it wasn’t talked about too much other than he was dearly afraid of their Mum. In her defence, she was raising two boys on her own but it is how she handled those hours and what she did when things grew out of control which I believe set a different tone than most Mums would with their children. She also was living in a generation without direct help nor advice on raising autistic children – so from that point of perspective, I felt Byrnes aptly gave us information about what she went through on a daily basis raising Luther.

The best moment I felt where Byrnes showed how Mums raising special needs children assert their power and strength to those in authority who do not respect them is how Mrs Baker (Luther and Jim’s Mum) gave that Doctor a bit of a run for his money! I would have hoped it would have affected his approach to his doctoring of others but something told me he was as closed minded as they come and given the era he lived, it might be expected but it is never easy to read.

The most gutting scene of course is what happened to Rodney in No Man’s Land and I was thankful for how Byrnes approached writing the scene itself. It could have become more visually graphic and more gruesome to read – but the way he depicted that incident – it was poetic in how it gave conscience thought to what your thinking about in those heightened moments of trauma and how if you were a person who felt obligated to protect someone – how in your own moment of crisis, your thoughts are not your own and there is something else protecting you from the pain which was surely buckling your resolve.

Rodney was raised in the same village as Luther – though the two were never quite close, their Mums were more distant themselves. Yet, here at war, Rodney had taken a kindness on Luther and had vowed to watch over the man – this is why this was difficult to read, as whenever you begin a war drama it is a bit like re-embarking through the Titanic exhibit – not knowing which ticket you’re holding in your hands – First Class or Third; what that foretells of your destiny had you been the person whose ticket is now yours for the day. You have to take it step by step and work through the story because that is what is pivotal – how everyone becomes connected to everyone else and how without understand the invisible lines which connect us, they are dearly important to respect.

The further you move into the context of Royal Beauty Bright the more you understand how this is a generational montage of persons who grew up in the same small community and found themselves at war at the same location of each other and all of them were inter-connected through Luther. They shared a similar history of knowledge of his character and in many ways, had interactions with him in a previous life before the war itself had overtaken their lives. In this regard, the novel is a time shift – where you move from the present moments at the front of the war itself and then you re-shift backwards by a few decades to reach into their past, to see how they first interacted with each other and how that laid down the foundation of how they would become reconnected in the future. To bridge into the theory that for every person you meet in life it is unknown whom of which might become the most important person you need to know lateron.

on the historical writing styling of ryan byrnes:

Byrnes has a bit of foreshadowing in how he is choosing to have Rodney speak to Luther – how he is using the knowledge of what the war will reveal lateron in the future to those who worried over the men who served overseas but with foreknowledge Rodney wouldn’t have had originally to share with Luther; at least, not in a capacity I felt he had then in the trench. It was unique moment those two shared with one another I felt as it pointedly directed you to understand what they were facing and the fears which they had to stomach despite the chaos of being at the front where enemy lines were just a stone’s throw away from where you were patrolling the lines.

It took me a bit of reading of the novel to sort out the author’s unique approach to telling this story – as they felt at first like detached antidotes of war – where you would peer into different persons’ lives momentarily seeing what they saw and understanding their memories of the war era based on what you were able to observe the time you could spend with them as Byrnes drew you closer to their world. In some ways, I still think this is a collection of shorter stories co-merging into a novel told in ‘parts’ if you will similar to a play where a lot of characters take their entrances and exits but as you knit them together, you see the larger picture of how war affected everyone on a larger scale than the locality of where they were living.

You had to smile – when it came time to read the correspondences and letters, they actually included the redactions you would normally only expect to find in the copies you’d see in person! I thought that was a touching bit of realism as generally it is only talked about passages of thought being deleted through with black marker of just cut out entirely from the pages themselves – but this novel actually shows the dark black blocked out lines within the text of the letters as if you were seeing them for the first time yourself.

A Small Fly in the Ointment: Note on Language:

The only key issue I had if anything to note is there are a lot of passages of French threading through the novel but without the luxury of piecing them together in the context of the narrative itself. French is a dearly difficult language for me and I never could find cognates to sort out what a saying in French could link to mean in English – I would have hoped these phrases and passages could have had either a translation or a reference towards what they were referencing more in-line with where they were in the text. Of course, this was the ARC I was reading – so if this was corrected in the finished copy I am not privy to that information.

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The channel on #Spotify which appealled to me as I read this novel was Lush & Atmospheric – mostly due to the Indie vibes of the selections being played, the gentle and soothing soundscapes the songwriters evoked through their musical messages and the ease in which you can listen to lyrical song against the backdrop of a war drama. I would normally select either a Classical or an Ambient Electronica channel for this kind of novel but this particular playlist hit a sweet spot of sound and immersion which merged beautifully with the story.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTFollow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating:

As this particular one has a bookaway along the route:

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this story contributed to a few of my 2019 reading challenges:

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2019 New Release Challenge created by for and is used with permission.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “Royal Beauty Bright”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Ryan Byrnes, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. 2019 New Release Challenge badge provided by and is used with permission. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, 2019 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 7 November, 2019 by jorielov in 20th Century, Blog Tour Host, During WWI, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Mary Todd Lincoln, Military Families of the Deployed, Military Fiction, The World Wars, War Drama

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