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review 2020-01-26 15:53
Dead Iron
Dead Iron - Devon Monk

Cedar was cursed as a werewolf. He is tasked with finding a missing little boy.
What sounded fairly simple, was a lot to unpack due to the multiple points of views this book had. There's (of course) Cedar, but add Mae (a witch), Rose, Jeb, The Madder Brothers (Alun, Bryn, Cadoc), Shard Lefel, Mr Shunt, you get the point. The world is an interesting one (old west, but with steam). I am happy to note the big bad gets his due, but someone else is still alive leaving a future plot line open for books 2 and 3 (I assume). (And not to forget the Holder).
Not really that interested in continuing.
For Romance-opoly Journey's End moon track

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review 2020-01-25 20:14
Silver on the Road
Silver on the Road (The Devil's West) - Laura Anne Gilman

Isobel (Izzy) was an indentured servant since the age of 2. She gains her freedom on her 16th birthday. She then opts for a Bargain (this is for life) to serve the devil (that's what he is called) as his Left Hand.
Gabriel is an experienced rider and his expertise is enlisted to help Izzy learn the ropes. The world was confusing at first- this is a re-imagining of the old west. The US exists east of the Mississippi River and everything to the west is either under Spanish protection (CA, AZ, NM, parts of TX), unclaimed (WA, parts of OR, ID), or part of the devil's territory. The US and the Spanish are trying to expand into the Devil's territory.
This had an interesting start but then got very slow. There was Something going on, but they were consistently arriving after the fact. Lots of traveling, but not actually doing anything useful. The big thing was figuring out Izzy's new role and talents. And at the end, it was still unclear (at least to me).
This is a trilogy with a few short stories too. While I liked Izzy and Gabriel, this was too slow for me and I don't care to continue.
For Romance-opoly Journey's End sun track.

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review 2020-01-25 18:27
The Life and Times of Call the Midwife
The Life and Times of Call the Midwife: The Official Companion to Season One and Two - Heidi Thomas

I just got into this series and am really enjoying it. It's a surprise though- I don't have kids and have never wanted them and this is a series about midwives. However, it's about so much more! I did a search because I think I want to read the Memoirs the series is based on and found this at my library. (I just finished season 2).
What I liked about this book with the backgrounds on the characters- some of the characters are based on real people and others a mix of totally made up vs a composite of one person. It was refreshing to see a group of people who really care about what they are doing. I thought they made things as historically accurate as possible. I liked the background of the NHS (National Health Service). Overall, recommended for fans of the show.

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review 2020-01-25 02:17
Review: Lies She Told by Cate Holahan
Lies She Told - Cate Holahan

This is definitely one of the harder mysteries that I have to review, or maybe I'm spoiled by the engrossing experience of the last mystery I read. The TL, DR version of this review: parts of it I really liked, and parts of it I didn't.

This is the first book I've read from Cate Holahan, and I can say from the get go that I want to read more from the author in the future for sure. I'm just not certain what side of the fence I fall on in reacting to "Lies She Told". It's a dual perspective story, though not in the way that you would typically find in a mystery of this scope. It's largely the story of a writer whose star has dimmed over the years (Liza Jones) and who struggles to write her next bestselling novel. But Liza throws herself into her work to distract from the fact that her life is falling apart - she wants to have a baby, but her husband is distracted by the sudden disappearance of his work partner, Nick.

The dual perspective is from the viewpoint of Beth, the heroine of Liza's story. Beth is a jilted wife who realizes her husband is having an affair as she's struggling to care for their newborn child. Beth becomes immensely jealous and wants to carve her own path to vengeance against her husband, but ends up murdering her husband's mistress with some complexities to face in the aftermath of that.

Fiction somewhat mirrors truth when Nick turns up dead in a river and Liza's husband is investigated for the disappearance/murder. The aim of the book makes it clear that the reader should question what is fiction and what is truth to Liza's life as details from Nick's murder surface. The aim of the book is fascinating and definitely something that intrigued me as I went through the story. However, there are some caveats that detracted from my experience a bit. The pacing in the story often lulled in moments where it switched between the perspectives of Liza and Beth. For a time, I found myself more immersed in Beth's perspective because she had the more compelling strength of grief and rage associated with her story (cheated lover, new mother, seeking to fill the void her husband left with his frequent departures and keeping her sanity together).

Liza's story wasn't as compelling to start (basically wanting a baby, husband more preoccupied with Nick's disappearance, and Liza wondering why she should care since Nick was a douchecanoe, though Nick and her husband lawyers who won a transgender rights case. I think as Nick's backstory came to light and the inference that his disappearance/murder possibly might've centered on a hate crime, I found myself more intrigued. Too bad it fizzled a little after that.)

As the story wove its way towards the end, the goalposts shifted a bit in terms of the whodunit to keep the reader guessing. The climax was very intense, particularly in the confrontation between Liza and her husband. However, the ending to Liza's story left me feeling unsatisfied from the experience, wanting a bit more meat than it provided for the set up. It tied up some loose ends, but not in a way that I really felt attached to. Beth's ending was a suitable one given the framework of the story and knowing where Liza's mind was by the end of the book, as well as her authorial choice to end Beth's story the way she did. But I still was like "Ehhh, that could've been a little more fulfilling."

In the end, I'm glad I read it. The writing had strong, compelling moments where it hooked me, yet the conclusion made it so the one-time read was enough for me. Definitely curious to see what else Holahan has in her bibliography.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley from the publisher.

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review 2020-01-24 02:42
Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Fadhil al-Azzawi & Jennifer Roy
Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story - Fadhil al-Azzawi,Jennifer Roy

Audience: Middle School

Format: Hardcover/Library Copy

 

The afternoon the bombs start falling, I get my highest score ever on my favorite video game.

 

Eleven-year-old Ali Fadhil lives in Basra, Iraq. He loves American television, Superman comic books, and playing soccer with his friends. When an international coalition initiates military action to stop Saddam Hussein from invading Kuwait, Ali’s life is turned upside down. Ali’s father is serving with a medical unit and his older brother (Shirzad) is left in charge of the family. Everyone in the village is depending on government rations for food and supplies. Ali’s mother even burns his comic books for fuel to cook with. 

 

The book is based on co-author Fadhil’s childhood and doesn’t shy away from depicting the war. There are some pretty violent scenes in this book, including when Ali witnesses a firing squad that kills a bunch of people (even a child his age). At one point, Ali thinks his father may be dead and he often worries about his own safety.



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