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review 2021-06-29 07:06
Just the pact
When We're Thirty - Casey Dembowski

Hannah is not sure where her life is headed as the 30th birthday arrives.  She had hoped to be at least getting health insurance from the small magazine she works for.  No such luck, as money is still tight.  When the flowers arrive, she honestly has no idea who they are from.


Will has waited for this date without really telling himself he was waiting.  The girl of his dreams is still single - and so is he.  Now is the chance to grab the one who got away.  Then when they talk it over its to his total surprise she says yes!


This was a bit of a slower book than I anticipated.  It ended up being full of little surprises inside.  The story moved along at a great pace, the couple was swoon worthy, the heat was just right and the ending just a little flatter than I hoped for.  Overall was still a great read and I would definitely pick up this author again.  I give this story a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!



***This copy was given to review by Netgalley and its publishers.

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review 2020-01-22 20:18
The Thirty Years War
The Thirty Years War - Cicely Veronica Wedgwood

War is hell, just imagine it lasting for an entire generation with armies crisscrossing the same ground again and again producing famine, depopulation, and disease all in the name of religion, nationalism, and then finally simple greed.  C.V. Wedgwood’s The Thirty Years War covers nearly a half century of history from the causes that led to the conflict through its deadly progression and finally it’s aftereffects.


From the outset Wedgwood sets the German domestic and the continental political situations in focus by stating that everyone was expecting war but between Spain and the Dutch while the German economy was on the decline due to the rise of new trading patterns over the course of the last century.  It was only with the succession of the Bohemian throne and the ultra-Catholic policies of the Ferdinand II after his election that started the war everyone knew was coming, sooner and further east than expected.  The war began as a purely religious conflict that saw the Catholic German princes led by Emperor Ferdinand crush the Protestant opposition because many of the Protestants decided not to help one another until it was too late due to political conservatism that Ferdinand used to his advantage.  It wasn’t until Gustavus Adolphus and the Swedes entered the conflict a decade later that the conflict turn slowly from religious to international and an extension of the Bourbon-Habsburg in which the former used first allies then their own troops to prevent the encirclement of France by both branches of the Habsburgs.  The negotiations for the end of the war took nearly five years and would change as events in the field would change strategies until finally allied members of the Bourbon and Habsburgs would cut deals with the other side to quickly break deadlocks and achieve peace but how it took almost six years to stand down the armies to prevent chaos.


Wedgwood’s narrative historical style keeps the book a very lively read and makes the war’s progress advancing even when she’s relating how the continuous fighting was affecting the German population.  She is very upfront with the men, and a few women, who influenced the conflict throughout it’s course from the great kings of Ferdinand II, Christian IV of Denmark, and Gustavus to the great princes Maximillian I of Bavaria, John George of Saxony, and Frederick Henry of Orange to the mercenary generals that gained in importance as the conflict continued like Albrecht von Wallenstein to finally the political masterminds of Richelieu and Mazarin.  With such a large historical cast, Wedgwood’s writing keeps things simple and straight for the read thus allowing the conflict’s long drawn out nature to fully impact the reader and how it affected those out of power.  And in describing the aftereffects, Wedgwood disarms many myths about the effects of the war that over three hundred years became considered fact.


The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgwood is an excellent narrative history of a conflict that saw the end of one kind of conflict and the beginnings of another with interesting personalities that fought and conducted policy around it while also showing the effects on the whole population.  If you’re interested in seventeenth-century history or military history, this book is for you.

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review 2019-11-18 21:42
The Thirty-Nine Steps (Buchan)
The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan

This is another entry in the "classics I never read" category. I resist the temptation to add the "Canadian" tag to it just because John Buchan went on later (much later) to become the Governor General of Canada. Nothing could be less connected to Canada than this early spy thriller.


I found this lighter than I had expected and, not surprisingly a little too macho for my tastes, though I enjoyed the rough-and-tumble journey (by foot and various appropriated vehicles) through the Scottish countryside. The grim shadow of WWI, well under way by the 1915 publication of the novel, hangs over the political events of the plot (no contemporary reader would have any trouble recognizing the assassination of a foreign leader as the trigger for hostilities).


Like the James Bond books/movies, half the fun of this book is that the events completely strain credulity; unlike the James Bond books/movies, so does the sterling character of the protagonist! There's no gambling or womanizing for Richard Hannay. In fact, I am hard-pressed to think of any woman character at all, however minor, in the novel. (Apparently the movie versions, including Hitchcock's, introduced a love interest, which in my view is entirely extraneous, if predictable for the movies).


I found the repeated threat of aeroplane pursuit and detection, which pervades Hannay's flight from the bad guys, to be interesting, mainly because of the date of the novel. This book takes place during roughly the same time period as "Lawrence of Arabia", where the dread induced by flight as a tool of war is similarly touched upon. Since the majority of this novel is "man fleeing his enemies" (think The Fugitive, except that the motives for the flight are political rather than personal), that aeroplane actually hovers a fair bit.

The 39 steps of the title are in relatively unimportant, except in the last chapter or two of the plot, helping our hero figure out where the opposing spies are about to take their leave with their disastrous information about Britain's war plans.


Apparently this novel was a great hit with the men in the trenches, presumably serving as a distraction from rather than a reminder of their real-life peril.

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review 2019-04-14 13:24
Thirty Dates Later by Caterina Passarelli
Thirty Dates Later - Caterina Passarelli




I could have laughed all night and still have begged for more. Passarelli has a gift for being hilariously funny despite being brutally honest. Thirty Dates Later keeps it light while exposing some hints of truth. Claire speaks the words we totally feel, but never dare to say. What I love is that she is never mean spirited only truthfully accurate. What begins as a bit of a joke becomes a sort of saving grace for two lonely hearts in need of something more. With characters like Alex and Claire, Caterina Passarelli proves that heart and humor can be a sexy combination when it comes to irresistible romance.

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review 2019-02-01 23:35
Lone Survivor?
Thirty-Seven - Peter Stenson

All eighteen-year-olds seem to struggle with issues of identity and belonging, but Mason Hues just might be the most extreme example. When he is first introduced as the narrator in Peter Stenson’s novel Thirty-Seven, he is not even sure which name to use. In fact, Mason began life unnamed until his adoption by an upper-class couple who raised him in a life of privilege. Mason is permanently scarred, however, after one of them repetitively abused him as he entered adolescence. Mason describes how he reinvented himself by running away at fifteen to join a “new family of his own choosing,” – a cult led by a former oncologist whose followers used unnecessary chemotherapy drugs to induce illness. The core tenet of the group (later infamously known as “the Survivors,”) was the belief that experiencing life-endangering sickness can elicit profound truth, connection and insight. Mason is dubbed Thirty-Seven, denoting the order in which he joined the cult and to completely obliterate his past. As he relates his story, Mason often refers to a book written about the cult after a catastrophic event that left him as its sole survivor and witness. Now, he is trying to start fresh once again in anonymity, having been released from a stay at a mental institution. Still struggling against the brainwashing he received, Mason lands a job at a thrift store run by a young woman with scars of her own. He becomes increasingly unsure about his life’s purpose and is tempted to reconstruct another group based on The Survivors’ ideas. This juxtaposition of identities- whether real, self-composed or assigned by others- is treated in a unique way by Stenson in this odd bildungsroman. A thoughtful premise and some unexpected twists make Thirty-Seven an interesting choice for readers who can stomach some darkness and despair. The novel would have greatly benefitted by more editing in terms of its length and grammar, and it appears overly-repetitive at times. The depictions of violence, illness and abuse are fairly graphic and those who could be sensitive to those issues might not want to venture too far into the mind of Mason Hues. Thanks to Dzanc Books and Edelweiss for an ARC of this title in exchange for an unbiased review.

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