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review 2018-09-10 05:07
Daughter of Sand and Stone (DNF @ 25%)
Daughter of Sand and Stone - Libbie Hawker

This is not what I was expecting. Instead of focusing on historical facts about Zenobia, a little known Palmyrene empress who stood up against Rome and took back Egypt before her defeat, this is a fictionalized account of what her life might have been like. Granted, there is more myth than facts about Zenobia, and what facts exist are scant at best, so putting together any story of length would require a lot of guesswork. 

 

I never heard of Zenobia, and I was interested at first. Hawker clearly is familiar with the time and place in which this history takes place and describes it all with vivid detail. But things quickly started to drag it down.

 

I'm not usually one to quibble about POV and verb tense because certain stories and characters just work better in 1st person vs 3rd person, or present tense vs past tense. However, writing an historical fiction in present tense felt awkward, especially when paired with the 3rd person omniscient. Present tense works best with 1st person POV, which gives the story an immediacy and intimacy. The 3rd person took away the intimacy, even though we're told what the characters are thinking and feeling, and the slow pacing took away the immediacy, so it felt like the tense was constantly fighting with the story being told. Add in the random head-hopping and there was too much disparity for the story to flow.  

 

I soon found myself wishing that the story would cut through all the theorizing and get to the point. So I jumped to the author's notes at the end where she details the research she did and why she made certain narrative choices, and that was all I really needed. :D

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review 2018-01-29 04:38
Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1)
Stillhouse Lake - Rachel Caine

CW: Gruesome details of murder victims

 

This story opened with a bang and didn't really let up from there. 

 

Gina has a great life: perfect husband, 2.0 kids, house with white picket fence. Until she comes home one day to a nightmare and realizes that everything she though she knew was a lie: her husband is a serial killer.

 

Several years later, after spending life on the run from internet trolls and real crime sycophants and the families of her ex-husband's victims who want revenge any way they can get it, Gina's reinvented herself as Gwen, and her children also have new names. They're starting over in a quiet, idyllic lake town and while Gwen is paranoid about everything and everyone around her, she thinks they might just be able to put down roots here. Things are far from perfect, but for the first time she things just might have the possibility of getting better.

 

And then a body is found floating in the lake outside her home.

 

This was an interesting thriller that details just how hard it is to "disappear" in the age of internet, smart phones, GPS and social media. Gwen can't trust anyone with the secret of her previous identity, the one everyone hates without getting to know, but she does have to trust some people in order to keep fleeing when trouble gets too close. She's a woman who lives in a constant state of alert, and though she tries to shield her children from the worst of it, it still rubs off on them and affects them too. She sees hints of her ex-husband's detachment in her son and her own paranoia in her daughter. Though all her instincts are telling her to run, it makes sense why she decides that this time she's going to stand her ground.

 

The reactions of those around her also ring true and while some things do start become if not obvious then at least obviously suspicious, there's enough reason given to understand why Gwen isn't making these connections, even despite her paranoia. There are also enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing. I saw reviews that mentioned this ended in a cliffhanger - let me assure you that the main conflict that appears about halfway through the book is resolved in this book, but there's a last-minute development to hook you for the next book. 

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review 2017-10-17 04:03
Beneath a Scarlet Sky
Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel - Mark T. Sullivan

5 stars for story

4 stars for narration

4.5 stars overall

 

I loved this. It's easily the best thing that has come out of Amazon Kindle First ever, and I'm so glad I picked it up. 

 

This is a "novel" only because the author wasn't able to verify all the facts of the story that Pino Lella told him about his time in Italy during the last two years of the war. As it explains in the foreword, a lot of documents were "lost" after the war, and many people who lived through it chose not to talk about it and simply let it fade into history. Being unable to 100% verify every detail, the author decided to call it a novel, but it is a biography. 

 

As such, I can't really critique this the same way I normally would any other story. These are real people and real events. There's no ultimate struggle of good vs evil (well, there is but as we all know, humans are complicated and things aren't always so black and white) and there are no tropes to rely on or subvert. This is just what happened, and it's both inspiring and infuriating. 

 

Without giving too much away - and assuming you're not a WWII history buff and might know some of these details already - Pino Lella was seventeen when the war came to Italy, and in order to avoid being conscripted and forced to fight on the German front in Poland, where many Italians pressed into service were losing their lives, he instead "volunteered" to work for Operation Todt. All he knew about it was that it was less likely to get him killed and would keep him off the warfront. Things don't go as planned and he ends up in a prime position to work for the resistance, getting them valuable information that helped the Allied invasion. 

 

For the first third of the book, things move pretty slowly. Pino is at first hidden in the mountains near the Switzerland border and helps refugees escape over the border. When his parents bring him back to Milan, things start to pick up and slowly get more complicated. And yet, things seem to almost go too well. Then the end of the war is in sight, and that's when things really hit the fan. The writing in the last third is especially strong and emotive, and I really had to work not to cry in the car as I listened to this on my daily commute. 

 

As for the narrator, Will Damron, he takes the Kevin Costner approach to accents. I would honestly have no accent at all than to listen to a really horrible Italian accent, so I wasn't bothered by this. He does do a decent German accent though. He's very clear and easy to follow along with, and he reads at a good pace. At first, his narration was almost matter-of-fact, but he can really bring the emotions when it's called for. I would say for the most part, he's a 3 star narrator, but the ending was strong enough to bump it up to 4 stars. (And he's certainly popular with audiobooks, so he has his fans.) One thing he did do that annoyed me throughout was numbering the section breaks within the chapter, instead of just pausing for a few seconds like any other narrator would do. I never quite got used to it.

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review 2017-09-22 03:34
The Queen's Poisoner (The Kingfountain Series #1) (Audiobook)
The Queen's Poisoner (The Kingfountain Series Book 1) - Jeff Wheeler

Well, this was a strange one. This can't be considered YA, but the POV character is an eight-year old boy. Which also makes getting a woman narrator that much more strange. She does okay with the material, but her voices for the men were not the best. 

 

The story itself was pretty straightforward and includes many of the staples of the fantasy genre. There is some subversion of tropes, so that was nice, but even those weren't anything that were all that surprising. 

 

I probably would've stopped listening halfway through, but that's about the time that Elizabeth Victoria Mortimer arrived on the scene, and she's an absolute delight of a character and most of the stars are for her. Without her, there wouldn't be anyone to really care about in this story.

 

If you're looking for a story along the lines of Game of Thrones, look elsewhere. If you're looking for something light and breezy with a bit of intrigue to read on a lazy day, this might be the ticket.

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text 2017-09-09 08:11
Używane Kindle 8 znowu dostępne w Amazonie

W ostatnich tygodniach w niemieckim Amazonie brak jest ofert używanych czytników Kindle na gwarancji, dostępnych w ramach Amazon Warehouse. Jeśli już się pojawiają, natychmiast są wykupywane. Jednocześnie takie urządzenia są w ciągłej sprzedaży w polskich serwisach internetowych. Zależność, czy przypadek? ;)

 

Używane Kindle 8 znów w ofercie Amazonu (źródło: amazon.de)

 

Śpieszę więc donieść, że dziś z rana, w amazonowej ofercie, pojawiło się kilka sztuk Kindle 8. Czytniki można nabyć za 53,27 EUR (ok. 230 PLN). Jeśli ktoś woli Kindle Paperwhite 3, to przypominam, że włoski Amazon oferuje je teraz (nowe) o 20 EUR taniej. Ofertę opisałem w tekście: Kindle Paperwhite 3 taniej o 20 EUR.

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