logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: WWII
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-11-15 22:43
The Tower's Alchemist
The Tower's Alchemist (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #1) - Alesha Escobar

I received a free copy of this book from the Author Marketing Club in return

for an honest review

 

.

 

"British intelligence wants her spying skills. A vampiric warlock wants to steal her powers. The Master Wizards who trained her want her dead…"

 

The Tower's Alchemist, the first book of The Gray Tower Trilogy,  has an authentic WWII setting among spies and resistance fighters in Denmark, France, Spain and, of course, London.

 

The protagonist, Isabella (aka Emelie and Noelle) is an alchemist, one of the magicians working with the Allies against Hitler's Black Wolves (a kind of supernatural Gestapo). I identified with her immediately, from the very first paragraph, and stayed with her all the way through - no changes of viewpoint, thank heaven (or rather, thank Alesha Escobar). There is, however, an array of well-drawn characters surrounding her, many of whom elicit our sympathy - indeed, our love - as they struggle on against a seemingly invincible foe.

 

A great read if you are a WWII buff (I am), especially if you also suspect that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes in this world than 99.9% of us are ever aware of.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-10-30 00:51
Books I Read in October 2017
The Diamond Empire (A Diamonds Novel) - K'wan
Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel - Jesmyn Ward
Brazen - Katherine Longshore
The Longest Memory - Fred D'Aguiar
The Tragedy of Brady Sims (Vintage Contemporaries) - Ernest J. Gaines
The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah

I read 6 books in October and am pleasantly surprised. I thought I'd only read 2 or 3. Has that ever happened to you? My highly anticipated read was The Tragedy of Brady Sims by Earnest J. Gaines. It was also my biggest disappointment. I was not wowed by it and the interest I had for the build up in this short novellla wasn't and was what I thought it would be. The other shocker was Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I connected with only one of the characters (the son Jojo) and the story was a bit of multiple stories I'd read before. I didn't enjoy Salvage the Bones by her either. I think I stopped 75% through. I don't think her style of writing is for me. However, she is well regarded, loved and accoladed. 

 

The Nightingale and The Longest Memory were the "show stoppers" this month. These stories gutted me. Oh, the pain I felt. These two books I would highly recommend to anyone. It doesn't matter if you pick them up today, next month or years from now. Put them on your tbr or wishlist and read them! You won't regret it, I promise. I'm clearing out my YA shelves and have donated hundreds to date. This last purge I decided to keep some series that I started and loved, but didn't finish. Brazen (Royal Circle) is one of those I decided to keep. I had already read Guilt and Tarnish and enjoyed them. Brazen didn't disappoint. I do love historical fiction. Longshore wrote these in a style I could enjoy as well as her intended audience. 

 

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-10-30 00:43
Reading progress update: I've read 71%.
The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah

I've been listening on and off since 2016. I'm currently reading the ebook and hoping to finish by Monday. Definitely will miss this book when its over.  The Nightingale is a slow read and is reminiscent of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. They both give me the same cold, dark and ominous effect.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
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.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-10-10 14:26
The Gods Divided by Richard Sotnick
The Gods Divided - Richard Sotnick

This is the story of Ben and Olive, a couple mismatched in faith but united in love as war breaks out across Europe. There was potential for it to be the haunting story that it promises to be, but it never quite gets to that point.

 

There is no question that the author did his research. The facts of the couple's story are clearly presented, but that is the novel's most significant problem. It reads like a list of facts, a retelling of events lacking the emotions that must have been a part of them. The reader is told that Olive spent three miserable months looking for a job, but we are not there with her enduring it. We are told that she worked herself to the point that she had to be hospitalized, but we never experience her weariness or despair. Even the romance comes across much more like a torrid affair than an enduring love story.

 

The title of this book led me to believe that there would be themes of faith involved, but Ben asks early on 'what relevance is religion in today's world?' While Ben is Jewish and Olive is Catholic, their faiths do not seem to impact their worldview beyond putting up barriers to their marriage. Neither really practices their faith, but it is repeated multiple times that if it weren't for their differing faiths (and the fact that Olive is already married) that they would get married.

 

Dialog is stilted and repetitive as the author seems to be trying to tell everything just as it happened - including the chain of communication that means the reader hears everything multiple times as different people talk about it. A storyteller's skill would relate the sharing of information without restating it for every character that becomes involved.

 

In the end, a true story that should be an emotive tale was bland. I never felt any connection to Olive or any suspense involving her search for Ben (which, again, we are just told she is doing, the reader is never involved). This novel could be reworked to be so much more than it is, drawing the reader into Olive's trials and heartbreaks, but as it is written we are never fully invited in.

 

I received this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?