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review 2017-10-14 00:00
Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine, 1921-1933
Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine, 192... Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine, 1921-1933 - Anne Applebaum Parking this one for the moment....... may come back to it but for now now really keeping my attention.
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review 2016-12-03 15:11
"In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine", by Tim Judah
In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine - Tim Judah

This is a grim and vivid human portrait of a society drained by years of war and corruption. “In Wartime” is a reminder that war is not only fought in the Middle East. From interviews with civilians, poets, political scientists and a wide range of people who have been caught up in the conflict Mr. Judah, a distinguished journalist, has written a timely account of life in Ukraine since March 2014.

The book opens in a taut and informative first person account as he makes his way across Ukraine, from Lviv in the west, south of Odessa, Bessarabia and Donetsk in the east, and tells the stories of people he meets and delivers a rare glimpse into the reality behind the headlines. This civil war which began in the wake of the Maiden Revolution was secondary to the fact that lives were getting worse in a country that was hardly poor, but it was a country so rife with corruption it was going to the dogs and civilians were suffering. A huge numbers of people have now fled the country, mostly the educated young, leaving in their wake and economic death.

If the author’s aim was to let us know what Ukraine feels like today, he succeeded through personal stories and a historical reality check. The main strength in this book is in its detail work, its pathos and in the violence described. Mr. Judah also explains what happened in the region during WW11 and the important connection to the present day. There is a lot to this book and is a challenge to follow the author criss-crossing the country, although at intervals the author added maps to locate us, I thought it wise to have my Atlas open on Ukraine just the same. What also piqued my interest immensely were numerous photos of people and events that were added that reinforced everything. At the end of the book we have notes of explanation and sources as references.

This book is ambitious in scope, thoughtful, effective, fast-paced and very topical.

Mr. Judah is a war correspondent that covered the Balkans wars for the Economist in the 1990’s. “In Wartime” is drawn from his experience during that conflict.

I received this book for free from “Blogging for Books” via Edelweiss for this honest and unbiased review

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review 2016-09-08 19:48
Sanin: A Novel - Mikhail Artsybashev

Translator's Note
Introduction, by Otto Boele
Principal Characters


Afterword, by Nicholas Luker
Selected Bibliography

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review 2016-06-11 00:00
History of Ukraine
History of Ukraine - Yuriy Aleksieiev History of Ukraine - Yuriy Aleksieiev Sometimes it helps to see just how badly a country's intellectuals describe their own history. This was originally published in Ukrainian and then translated into an absolutely ham-fisted English version. But I don't think the superficial nature of the content is the translator's fault.

Even if the primary audience is Ukrainians, would not the process whereby Stalin starved to death millions of Ukrainians warrant more than a paragraph? Because that's just one of the places where we are provided historical references without further explanation. The writer is a professor with a Ph.D who has served as director for any number of institutes of Slavonic Studies in Ukraine, but I am reminded, as I learn about the Ukrainian backgrounds of both Gogol and the author of Master and Margarita from other reference books, that there seems to be a pattern of Ukrainian intellectuals providing turgid detail without perspective. This author describes the first Ukrainian historians in the 17th century "trying to move from enumerating the events to their thorough understanding", but hasn't picked up the process himself. It's still far more explanation than I can get from average Ukrainians.

What's potentially valuable for foreign readers:

-- The main international trade route, the "route from the Varangians to the Greeks" started to lose its importance in the 12th century. Another book tells me that the Greeks and then the Genoese settled the Crimea, and that it was possible to navigate the river from the Crimea to the Baltics or vice versa.

-- Lithuania, then Poland overran large parts of Ukraine at one time. Ukraine is the second largest land mass in Europe, which finally explains how Lithuanians claim that they were the largest empire in Europe at one time. I've just read that Hitler's secret plans also included taking the industrial center of Donetsk, which is a source of ongoing battles as we speak. You'd think being a land with just 5% mountain would be automatically hopeless for Ukrainian defenders, until one reads in Shirer's account of the Nazis that the Swedish King and Napolean were also stopped on the endless Russian steppes.

-- The book hints that serfdom imposed by the Lithuanians may have led to the rise of Cossacks, or individual rebels fighting for independence.

-- Cossacks were first mentioned in the 15th century, guiding the Polish army against the Tartars. "A Cossack's main pursuits included 'obliging' (various trades and crafts) and 'pillaging'.

-- Cossacks are mainly glorified here, with the exception of a wayward hetman or two.

-- Kruschev was of Ukrainian descent, which apparently helped Ukrainians in some ways. Another book I have mentions that Kruschev reassigned the Crimea to Ukrainian lands.

-- In the early 19th century, meetings for Ukrainian independence were held in Masons lodges. The Mason "eye", I notice, appears on the Ukrainain 500, although it was only a Ukrainian who suggested recently that it was conspiratorial.

-- What seems like a typical 19 century process to define nationality by formalizing the Ukrainian language and recording its folkore. It having happened late in a country that was seldom independent, not even this modern professor sees it as a dubious process yet.

-- I'd always wondered what happened in Austrian history to make the Balkans such a hot spot for ethnic wars. This book suggests that the revolution of 1848 which overthrew the government of Vienna coincided with nationalist activism in Ukraine.

WWII era: "It should be mentiond that the main role in the process of Ukrainian liberation was played by the regular Soviet Army."

Under Russia, "many Jewish writers, scientists, and artists were blamed for 'cosmopolitanism'. The case of the so called 'Jewish intellectuals plot' that presupposed splitting Crimea from the USSR was set up." What? No further information provided. This book makes reference to the misuse of farm land as industrial land, which in one sense, might be the problem or argument which made Stalin's collective farms and industrialization so disastrous. But I also get a sense that Ukraine is an immense, mostly flat farm land still keen to remain tradition-bound.

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review 2016-05-06 08:03
Blog Tour w/Review - RISK OF EXPOSURE




by Emmy Curtis

Available 05/03/16

Book #6 – Alpha Ops Series

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Forever Yours



He is a trained professional—but nothing can prepare him for the hottest mission of his life. Assigned to protect his boss’s daughter, British former SAS operative Malone Garrett breaks the first rule of covert surveillance—don’t make contact. And especially don’t take your mark out to dinner, then agree to a rooftop quickie.  But now that Mal has Abby in his arms, he has no intention of ever letting her go.


Abby Baston told herself it was a hit and quit, a one-nighter with a hot, handsome stranger whose hands were trained to take action. Working undercover for the CIA, she can’t risk anything more. But when an international crisis ignites, Abby must make a call: trust Mal with her secret—and her heart—and partner up, or lose everything in a split second . . .


Get More information at: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes





He reached for her.


You can stop right there.” Her voice startled him. He dropped his arm to the covers.


I was just going to shake you awake. You’ve been snoring like a bear,” he said, swinging his legs out of bed.


She ignored his insult, such as it was. “You were supposed to wake me when it stopped snowing,” she said, also climbing out of bed and seemingly not caring a whit that she was totally naked.


He sat still, taking in the sight. Her nipples puckering in the frigid air, her tight muscles moving in glorious efficiency toward the bathroom. “It was your watch. Technically you should have woken me.”




Don’t you forget it, love.” He stood and got dressed, having dug out his Under Armour thermals from the kit bag he’d brought.


She poked her head around the bathroom door. “What? Don’t forget what?”


That I’m an ass. You’ve blackmailed me into helping you, and someone as well trained as you knows that isn’t a recipe for success.” He finished tying his laces.


She shrugged. “I trust you.”


You shouldn’t. I have a healthy regard for self-preservation and even I don’t know what I’ll do if you get in the way of that. So you’re much better off not trusting me for anything. Just a friendly PSA.” He knew he sounded like a dick, but he just couldn’t help himself.


I’m not worried. If you piss me off, or if you’re in the way of my self-preservation”—she punctuated with air quotes—“or my mission, I won’t hesitate to shoot you.” She disappeared again.


There’s one problem with that, love. I’ve got your gun.”


She didn’t reply, but he heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being charged. “Fair enough,” he said, trying not to smile at her resourcefulness. “What else have you got in there?”


Hairspray,” she said.


Awesome.” She was such a smart-arse. His sister would love her. He made a mental note that no matter what, they would never, ever meet. Ever.


She came out of the bathroom as if she’d come through a Tomb Raider portal. She wore a white snowsuit that matched his, a white knife strapped to her thigh, a white holster holding a white handgun under her shoulder, and a white shotgun on a white strap over her back.



I’m sorry. The CIA gave you all that gear but couldn’t give you a sat phone that worked? What the fuck?” Jesus. This was why he was in the private sector now. One too many times he’d been put in a sketchy situation without the right equipment. That didn’t happen anymore.


She shrugged. “I guess they thought snow was more likely than the need to use an emergency phone?” She frowned, though, as if she was only just now considering that herself.



(used with permission from the publisher)





Risk of Exposure (Alpha Ops, #6)Risk of Exposure by Emmy Curtis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the 6th book in the highly acclaimed Alpha Ops series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. This is a great series, and those who read in order will find it is easier to understand and enjoy.

Malone "Mal" and Abby meet when he cannot take just watching her anymore. He sets up a chance for her to rescue him. She takes the bait.

Abby is a CIA agent keeping watch on the Russian/Ukraine border. Her father does not know she is a fully trained field agent. He sends Mal to watch over his daughter.

The banter is so much fun in this book! The pace moves along nicely. I love the heat between these two. They really are a match with a great HEA!

***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley and its publisher in exchange for an honest review only.

View all my reviews






Emmy Curtis is an editor and a romance writer. An ex-pat Brit, she quells her homesickness with Cadbury Flakes and Fray Bentos pies. She's lived in London, Paris and New York, and has settled for the time being, in North Carolina. When not writing, Emmy loves to travel with her military husband and take long walks with their Lab. All things considered, her life is chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny. And if you get that reference...well, she already considers you kin.

Connect with Emmy at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads| Amazon


Get More information at: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes




The Alpha Ops Series:

(while books in this series are loosely connected, all function as standalones)


Dangerous Territory- Book 1- novella –only 99 cents!

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Over the Line- Book 2

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Pushing the Limit- Book 3

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Blowback- Book 4

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes



Compromised- Book 5

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes






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