Friday, September 29, 2023

Review: Under the Java Moon + Q&A with author Heather B. Moore Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the Under The Java Moon by Heather B. Moore blog tour sponsored by Smith Publicity!

Those who know me well know that WWII books, fact or fiction is my favorite era to read about because it's a time in our history that shows the best and the worst of humanity and if not careful it could be repeated.
Under the Java Moon is one of those tales, a fictional work based on real events it's getting rave reviews including a starred review from LibraryJournal! 
I hope you enjoy the feature.

ISBN-13: 978-1639931538
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: 09-05-2023
Length: 384pp
Source: Smith Publicity for review
Buy It: Amazon/ B&N/ IndieBound



"Resonating with stories of the best and worst amidst the cruelties of war. Highlights an area less explored in WWII fiction. Excellent historical novel based on a true story will be eagerly consumed by readers interested in the era." -Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Based on a true story, this gripping WWII novel captures the resilience, hope, and courage of a Dutch family who is separated during the war when the Japanese occupy the Dutch East Indies.

Java Island, 1941

Six-year-old Rita Vischer cowers in her family’s dug-out bomb shelter, listening to the sirens and waiting for a bomb to fall. Her charmed life on Java―living with other Dutch families―had always been peaceful, but when Holland declares war on Japan and the Japanese army invades Indonesia, Rita’s family is forced to relocate to a POW camp, and Rita must help care for her little brother, Georgie.

Mary Vischer is three months pregnant when she enters the Tjident women’s camp with thousands of other women and children. Her husband, George, is somewhere on the Java Sea with the Dutch Navy, so she must care alone for her young children, Rita and Georgie, and her frail mother. The brutal conditions of the overcrowded camp make starvation, malaria, and dysentery a grim reality. Mary must do everything she can to keep her family alive.

George Vischer survives the bombing of his minesweeper but feels little hope floating on a small dinghy in the Java Sea. Reaching the northern tip of the Thousand Island would be a miracle. Focusing on the love of his life, Mary, and his two children, he battles against the sea and merciless sun. He’ll do whatever it takes to close the divide between him and his family, even if it means risking being captured by the Japanese.

Under the Java Moon highlights a little-known part of WWII history and the impact of war on Indonesia, its people, and the more than 100,000 Dutch men, women, and children who were funneled into prison camps and faced with the ultimate fight for survival.

Author Q&A

Q&A with Heather B. Moore
Author of Under the Java Moon

Question: What was it about meeting Marie (whose nickname is used throughout the book is Rita) that made you want to write her story?

Heather B. Moore: I had honestly never heard of what happened to the Dutch people in Indonesia. I'd read A Town Like Alice years ago, of course, but that takes place in Malaysia. I was fascinated by Marie's memories and how the men and boys were separated from the women's camps, and I was astounded to learn there were tens of thousands of Dutch people interned throughout the islands. It was also inspiring to learn about her father's treacherous days on the Java Sea after being torpedoed by a Japanese battleship, how he survived with his crew, and how the rest of his family also fought for survival.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about that first meeting?

HBM: Both Marie and I were vetting each other—could I write her story to her satisfaction? In 2020, I went through a similar experience with Bob Inama when I wrote a historical novel based on his experience as a Cold War spy in East Germany. So, I felt confident I could write a good story for Marie, but the question remained if she'd be happy with my portrayal. I decided to send her 50 pages at a time while I was drafting so that she wouldn't have any surprises and it would lessen her anxiety over my creative license.

Q: True life stories are often very complicated and not structured like a novel, how did you decide what details to keep and what to leave out?

HBM: I wanted to cover the full 3 ½ years that Marie was in the POW camp with her family, starting soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbor—which set the Netherlands and Japan at odds with each other—thus the invasion of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). So, this book has a Part 1 and Part 2 to help with the pacing. I ended the story where I felt there was a positive/rejoicing note.

Q: There is a lot of historical fiction about WWII, what sets Under the Java Moon apart?

HBM: This story takes place in Indonesia, and it was tricky to find any information on the POW camps that imprisoned 100,000 Dutch people. I wasn't able to find any movies, documentaries, or traditionally published books on the Dutch experience—only self-published memoirs. So, this is truly a story that has not been told.

Q: What other books and writers inspired you during the writing of Under the Java Moon?

HBM: The Defining Years of the Dutch East Indies contains detailed accounts of survivors' stories, and I felt like I was at an archaeological dig uncovering a lost civilization. Many of the stories were similar, but some greatly varied. Some of the Dutch were treated very well, even though supplies were scarce and living conditions rough. Others were severely maltreated. But it was interesting to read about their mindsets. How they could psychologically survive not knowing when the nightmare would end. People had different coping skills, but overall, the mothers caring for their children, and for the other women in the camp was really what kept everyone surviving one more day.

My Review:

Under the Java Moon
Heather B. Moore 

Heather B. Moore’s latest novel is tragic yet full of hope, it’s sad but there’s always a light shining and it’s often hard to read but it’s so necessary for the world to never forget the brutalities of this awful war. We often read WWII stories about fighting the Nazis but not often about the barbarity of Japanese to their captives. This novel is based on one of those stories, of Marie (Rita) Vischer and what she and her family suffered during the war. Moore doesn’t pull punches about the horrors these captives suffered at the hands of the Japanese who were often just as demonic if not at times more than the Nazis in how they treated their prisoners, but the Japanese unlike the Nazis who mostly targeted the Jews were equal opportunity monsters who treated all their prisoners, men, women and children worse than animals. The book is easy to understand but hard to absorb how people could have treated other people the way the Japanese did. There are so few people left who lived through this war and we can’t let stories like Rita’s fade because history will repeat itself if we let our guard down. This book is perfect for fans of WWII stories, historical novels based on facts and all fans of just really great storytelling, it’s easy to understand why Library Journal gave this novel a starred review and it should be a required read for every high school student.


Once the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor all the allied nations with interest in the Pacific mobilized but they were stretched thin fighting the Nazis and as a result were no match for the Japanese and soon one by one the Islands of the Pacific Rim fell to. The Netherland East Indies Island of Java was one of those that the Japanese occupied during the War.
The Vischer family called Java home and with war knocking on their door patriarch George found himself conscripted and soon received orders that would take him away from his family, his wife Mary, his children Rita 4, Georgie 2 and his mother-in-law to face what would soon become the nightmare of being prisoners of war and placed in a concentration camp. For the next 3.5 years this family along with many of their friends and neighbors faced atrocities and deplorable living conditions, where death and torture were the new normal and where survival was elusive.




HEATHER B. MOORE is a USA Today bestselling author of more than ninety publications. Heather writes primarily historical and #herstory fiction about the humanity and heroism of the everyday person. Publishing in a breadth of genres, Heather dives into the hearts and souls of her characters, meshing her love of research with her love of storytelling. Her upcoming book, Under the Java Moon, [Shadow Mountain] comes out September 5th, 2023.


Connect with Heather Moore at, on Instagram @authorbmoore, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn.