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review 2019-07-26 18:10
The Tiger Catcher by Paullina Simons
The Tiger Catcher (End of Forever) - Paullina Simons

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.



There'll be another time for you and me.

There'll never be another time for you and me.


In what is a planned trilogy, The Tiger Catcher introduces us to Julian and his love and obsession for Josephine Collins. From the moment he sees her on stage he is captivated and can't believe when he sees her again months later across the country in a book store. Simons' has this couple's story swirling questions of fate, destiny, mere coincidence, or eons of soul searching. Written in an ephemeral tone, the sentences are shorter at times and moments with and between Julian and Josephine felt like short bursts of energy; the texture of the story takes some getting used to.


The majority of the story is told from Julian's point of view which I think hurt my personal connection to Josephine but probably works for what the author is going for in regards to the overall series structure. After Julian reconnects with Josephine, he immediately breaks up with his girlfriend and becomes consumed with her. He has a very close friend named Ashton that from the beginning is very wary of Josephine and at first you'll probably read it as jealousy; Josephine also has a friend, Zakiyyah, that reads the same way. The story takes a turn, however, and details are revealed about Josephine and the bubble Julian has been living in gets popped.


Be careful who you pretend to be.


The beginnings chaotic happiness is contrasted with the middles abject grief and Julian ends up wandering London and addicted to Klonopin as he deals with the loss of his Josephine. With the knowledge the reader now has about Josephine, there won't be much empathy for this character and Julian's views, thoughts, and emotions start to read very skewed; the beginning feeling of soulmates will be questioned. The writing style of this part made it hard for me to really connect to the characters and therefore this extended wallowing made the story drag. If you have read Simons before though, you'll know that little, seemingly innocuous details, can later have high importance, this thinking kept me locked in.


Julian was no one on a river of nothing on the way to nowhere, all because a Hmong shaman said, you want to see her again?


The later half brings in the mystical aspects that the writing style and tone were working for and the pace started to pick up again. I love when author's take real things, like the Prime Meridian and Transit Circle, and infuse them with myth while utilizing them in fantastical ways. The story shifts from grounded in reality to time travel as the Hmong shaman, Devi, Julian fortuitously or destined found his way to, tells him that while Josephine may be lost to him in this world, he can find her in another. The story then shifts to the year 1603.


But they still won't be cheering for you, Lady Mary,” Julian says. “They'll be applauding for the thing you're putting on for them, for someone else. Don't you want to be loved for the young woman you actually are?”

Don't speak to me so presumptuously about love,” she says. “And no, I want to be loved for the woman I pretend to be.”


This part of the story I really struggled with, as even though, Mary (aka Josephine) is supposed to be more immature, it makes Julian's obsession with her even more frustrating. If it is the author's intent to make you feel this way because the payoff and understanding develops in the second or third book, I suppose that is understandable since reader's go in knowing this is a trilogy but it still makes this first book a struggle to get through. This latter thirty percent or so, was all Mary being a brat and introducing the idea that maybe we can't change the threads of our fate, predestined is predestined. Heavy questions but not relayed with very enjoyable characters to read about; my relationship with even Julian became very frayed here.


The story ends with Julian leaning toward a possible cataclysmic decision. The fabric of the story and characters was a little murky at times and I wish we could have gotten to know Julian's friend Ashton better (the real love of Julian's life perhaps?). Their friendship was the highlight of the story for me and the only one that rang true. What I found missing could easily be by design because of the trilogy aspect but I'm not sure I connected with or was pulled in enough to read on in the series.






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text 2019-07-25 19:23
Reading Update: 50%
The Tiger Catcher (End of Forever) - Paullina Simons

Fate, destiny, secrets, grief, and journeys. 
Halfway through this and very curious to see where Julian is going to end up. 


The Tiger Catcher by Paullina Simons purchase link


Quinoa Taco Salad recipe

Big fan of this one and sprinkled some Frank’s Red Hot on top for kick.


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review 2018-06-12 04:31
Eleven Hours by Paullina Simons
Eleven Hours - Paullina Simons

Didi Wood, eight and a half months pregnant with her third child, heads to a mall to get out of the oppressive Dallas heat and get some shopping done. She is supposed to meet her husband for lunch at one o'clock. By 1:45, she still isn't there-she's riding down the highway at breakneck speed with a madman at the wheel. His name is Lyle, and he has abducted her from a department store parking lot. But why he's done this, and what he wants, are anyone's guess. Now the police and the FBI have to somehow track him down. And a very pregnant Didi must keep herself and her unborn child alive at any price-even as they ride closer and closer into the darkest chamber of a psychopath's mind...





POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This novel describes scenes of GRAPHIC sexual assault.


Desdemonda "Didi" Woods, nine months pregnant, is abducted while shopping at a Dallas mall. While the abductor takes her across the flatlands of Texas, Didi's husband, Rich, works with the FBI to try to reach her in time. There are time stamps at the beginning of each chapter, so the reader can keep track of how much time is passing.. but spoiler! the whole thing takes 11 hours. ;-)


So now that you know the general premise, let's dive into all the cringey, facepalm potholes in the sloppy writing here!


First off, this novel was originally published in 1998, so it understandably, laughably reads VERY 90s now. There's a lot of time (pages) spent on Didi's shopping spree prior to her abduction -- wracking up $200 at Estee Lauder, moving on to FAO Schwarz, Coach, I even had a big hit of nostalgia when she has a walk through a Warner Bros. store... 'memba them! But something about this shopping also put me off about Didi as a character in general when she mentions that her child had requested a set of wooden blocks... that's it, just some blocks... but Didi wore herself out so much buying bags of stuff for HERSELF that she couldn't be bothered to try to find the blocks at the end of the day.


Though it's not really noted anywhere in the synopsis, once you get into the meat of this story, there is a noticeable Christian Fiction lean to the tone, which only gets progressively stronger as the plot moves along. Even Rich's job in the story is "national sales manager for a religious publisher based in Dallas." To be honest, the heavy-handed preachy tone laid over the suspense just got tiresome. But weirdly, on the flip side, there's also a strong dose of profanity and crudeness to the material here.


The kidnapper character is mildly disturbing but only shows minimal physical violence for most of the story. It's mostly just bursts of verbal abuse. It's likely that you've read much worse characters in more recent crime novels. One scene that was really bothersome though was when Didi is searching for something in her purse or on her person that she could possibly make into a weapon later, "anything that might help" as she says... but chucks a paperclip at the bottom of her bag. Pages later, her tormentor makes a lewd comment toward her and it's written, "she wished she had something sharp and ragged in her hands at that moment"... oh, what? like a paperclip maybe??!


Then there's the super team of Rich and the FBI. If you watch the time stamps on the chapter headers, Didi is abducted at 1:30pm. By 4:15 SAME DAY, the police are already saying "it doesn't look good." Wow. Just throwing in the towel then, boys? Later, when Rich is conversing with Scott, one of the FBI agents, Rich pleads, "Tell me it's going to all be okay." When Scott does, Rich snaps back, "You're lying." Here, with this crew, lies Didi's hope at being saved. Precious time being wasted with this BS back and forth.


Just in general, the writing is not stellar. One line that actually had me laugh out loud at how terribly lazy it was: Didi purchasing Sun Ripened Raspberry lotion from Bath & Body Works, which... keep up now... "smelled berryish". This is the same author who went on to write the pretty successful Bronze Horseman trilogy. We all gotta start somewhere, I guess.


I'll end on a positive though. There was a conversation near the end between Didi and her abductor where he reveals why he did what he did. Not saying it made the guy innocent, but it did have me feeling a moment of honest pity for him. Around these chapters were also some moments of honest suspense that I wished would've been consistently present throughout the rest of the novel.


Note to readers: This novel contains spoilers for William Shakespeare's Othello and Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.





* In her dedication, Simons notes that this, her 3rd published novel, was dedicated to her 3rd child. She also mentions that the book was made possible (possibly inspired?) by her husband taking a job as editorial director for Wishbone Books, which required the entire family to relocate to Texas.


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review 2018-02-17 12:22
Kann mit historischen Fakten glänzen
Die Liebenden von Leningrad - Paullina Simons


An einem warmen Sommertag 1941 begegnet Tatiana dem jungen Offizier Alexander - der Liebe ihres Lebens. Heimlich treffen sie sich und träumen von einer gemeinsamen Zukunft. Doch werden Tatiana und Alexander jemals ihre Gefühle offenbaren können? Denn Alexander verbirgt ein Geheimnis, das so lebensgefährlich ist wie der Krieg, der vor den Toren Leningrads auszubrechen droht. 


Meine Meinung 

Wer sich für Liebesromane, welche in der Zeit des Zweiten Weltkrieges interessiert, hat mit Sicherheit schon von der Geschichte von Tatiana und Alexander gehört. Ich habe mich sehr gefreut, als ich erfuhr, dass diese Trilogie vom Heyne Verlag neu aufgelegt wird. Der perfekte Anlass, um die Liebesgeschichte selbst kennenzulernen.


An die 752 Seiten stellte ich die Erwartung an eine große Liebesgeschichte vor der Kulisse des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Leider konnte der Reihenauftakt meine Erwartungen nicht ganz erfüllen.


Zu Beginn des Buches lernt man die 17-jährige Tatiana und ihre Familie, um Großeltern, Eltern und die Geschwister Pascha und Dascha kennen.

Tatiana erschien mir anfänglich sehr jung und naiv. Ihren Eltern spürt man durchweg die Enttäuschung an, dass die nur einen Sohn haben. Ihre beiden Töchter bringen sie nur sehr wenig Liebe entgegen. So kommt es auch, dass vor Kriegseintritt Russlands lediglich der Sohn Pascha, welcher gleichzeitig Tatianas Zwillingsbruder in Sicherheit gebracht werden soll. Die Eltern schicken ihn in ein Ferienlager außerhalb von Leningrad.

Dascha, die 7 Jahre älter ist als Tatiana genießt ihr Leben und bändelt gerne mit jungen Soldaten an. Auch sie erschien mir naiv. Keine der beiden ahnte, welche Schrecken der Kriegseintritt ihres Heimatslandes mit sich bringen wird.


Sehr früh in der Geschichte tritt die junge Tatia dann auf Leutnant Alexander Below. Da die Reihe deren Namen trägt, ist dem Leser schnell klar, dass hier die große Liebesgeschichte auf uns wartet und sehr früh ihren Beginn nimmt.

Doch dann kommt es zu einen überraschenden Wende.

Auch Dascha will ihrer Familie ihren neuen Freund vor stellen, einen Soldaten namens Alexander Below. Für Tatia ein Schock.

An dieser Stelle sei schon zu verraten, dass es keine typische Liebesgeschichte wird. Wer Dreieckskonstellationen nicht mag, sollte sich ebenso im Klaren sein, dass „Die Liebenden von Leningrad“ eben diese mit sich bringt.

Alexander steht zwischen zwei Schwestern, obwohl er doch ganz klar nur eine liebt. Diesen Part habe ich so einfach nicht erwartet. Demnach entwickelte sich die Geschichte ab dieser Wende für mich ganz anders als erwartet.


Russland tritt in den Krieg ein und nach dem ersten Drittel des Buches konnte mich dieser mittlere Teil der Story am meisten packen. Er überzeugt mit sehr gut recherchierten Details. Die Einkesselung Leningrads, die täglichen Bombardierungen und vor allen die kaum vorstellbaren Beschreibungen der Hungersnöte des Winters 1941/1942 sind für mich das Highlight des Buches.

Da Russland tatsächlich mein Lieblingssetting in Büchern ist und ich mich sehr für die Kriegsgeschehnisse in diesem Land interessiere, kann ich sagen, dass ich die Jahre 1941 und 1942 in noch keinem anderen Roman so authentisch und erschreckend dargestellt gelesen habe.


Das letzte Drittel des Buches spielt ab Juni 1942.

Die Geschichte um Tatiana und Alexander geht weiter, allerdings bekam die Autorin leider nicht die Kurve. Vor allem die Liebesgeschichte konnte mich einfach nicht packen. Es gab den ein oder anderen Moment, in denen ich gebangt und gehofft habe, aber im Großen und Ganzen blieb mir die Romanze zu emotionslos, zu unromantisch und vor allem herrschte ein zu großes Hin und Her, welches mich immer wieder aus der Liebesgeschichte riss.


Viele interessiert bestimmt noch, ob ich die Reihe nun weiterlesen werde oder ob ich die Reihe unbeendet lasse, da mich Band 1 einfach nicht so begeistern konnte, wie gedacht. Dazu kann ich aktuell nur sagen, dass ich Band 2 bestimmt nicht gleich zur Erscheinung im Juli 2018 lesen werde, aber ich doch schon wissen möchte, ob die Autorin es im zweiten Band für meinen Geschmack besser macht.



Absolut nicht überzeugen konnte mich in diesem historischen Roman die Liebesgeschichte. Sowohl im ersten Drittel war mir alles zu verwirrend und durcheinander. Die beiden Akteure verhielten sich meiner nach wie zwei Jugendliche. Und auch das letzte Drittel war für mich alles andere als fesselnd.

Vor allem die intimeren Beschreibungen zwischen den beiden erschienen mir schlecht übersetzt und dadurch total kindisch und nicht der Zeit entsprechend.


Mein Fazit

Auch wenn dieser Roman mich nicht mit der großen Liebesgeschichte packen konnte, so waren es die historischen Beschreibungen, welche mir einen Schauer über den Rücken gejagt haben und welche ich nicht vergessen werde.

Band 2 werde ich lesen, allerdings frage ich mich hier schon, ob es wieder einen historischen Part geben wird oder die Autorin sich hauptsächlich auf die Liebesgeschichte der beiden konzentrieren wird.

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text 2017-03-08 18:45
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons $1.99
The Bronze Horseman - Paullina Simons

The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler's armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.


Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander's impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.

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