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review 2020-12-11 05:17
A Woman of No Importance
A Woman of No Importance - Sonia Purnell

An outstanding story from start to finish.  I listened to the audio and the narrator did an outstanding job, making an already riveting story one that I wanted to just sit and listen to, rather than serving as just a diversion while in traffic.


Virginia Hall, by any standard measure of time, accomplishment, daring, intelligence or bravery, was a heroine.  Her gender makes no difference in this distinction, nor does her disability, but both render her accomplishments during WWII even more astounding.  

Sonia Purnell does an excellent job chronicling the life of Hall, in spite of what she admits upfront was a daunting process of historical research in the face of archive fires, classified intelligence in multiple countries, and Hall's own ingrained reticence to discuss her work or accept accolades for her contributions to ending the war.  Her speculations as to what might have happened during gaps in primary sources seem few, and the writing makes those speculations clear.  She also doesn't just rely solely on chronicling Virginia's life, but covers quite a bit of the story of the French Resistance, especially in Lyon, during the Vichy government, and the Nazi take-over leading up to the invasion of Normandy.


The history is at times romantic in true Bond style, terrifying, and heartbreaking.  The details of Vichy and Nazi interrogating techniques is NOT for the feint of heart, and the post-war years for Virginia were a mixture of recognition of her talents and accomplishments, and a disgusting record of 50's misogyny.  I appreciated that the author made the effort to be accurate, not falling into the easy route of railing against all the discrimination and not giving time to those men in the intelligence and government sectors that stood up and gladly gave her the credit she earned and deserved.  Purnell tries to be balanced, and I think she succeeds brilliantly, pointing out the CIA's mistakes and their own efforts to take responsibility for them.


I'm thankful I found this book, and I'm thankful Purnell wrote it, giving men and women around the world another authentic role model and hero to look to.  I can't help but wonder, though, how Hall herself would view this fine work.  I hope, in spite of her life-long secrecy and desire to remain unknown, she'd appreciate her life's achievements as the valuable legacy they are to future generations.

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review 2019-12-26 10:10
Stiletto (Book 2 of the Checquy Files)
Stiletto - Daniel O'Malley

Not as good as the first, but definitely as rambling.  I listened to the audio, straight from the first book, The Rook and the narrator changed.  Moira Quirk does a credible job, but I listened to both too close together not to notice the difference in voices and styles and it was a bit jarring.


I was also disappointed that this story has multiple POVs and very little page time is given over to Myfanwy Thomas, even though the summary would seem to indicate she's the central character.  She is not.  Mostly this story is told from the POV of a grafter character.  Understanding came before acceptance, but once I did accept it, the story was interesting enough to keep me listening.

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review 2019-12-26 09:56
The Rook (Book 1 of the Checquy Files)
The Rook - Daniel O'Malley

Ok, I did as Darth Pendant suggested; I read the book then I watched the trailer for the new Starz series.  She's right - the trailer makes absolutely no sense.  Or, at least, based on what I saw in the trailer, has very little to do with the book itself. 


I also agree with DP that the book was good overall, but omg, the rambling backstory.  I swapped back and forth between the printed book and the audio, checked out from the library, and the audio made the rambling backstory feel, at times, interminable.  The narrator was good though.


Overall, I enjoyed it enough* that I immediately checked out the follow up, Stiletto.


*Imagine my surprise when I discovered Daniel O'Malley is an Australian author.

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text 2019-09-20 12:17
Re-reading Kate Daniels series ... Magic Strikes
Magic Strikes - Ilona Andrews

Re-reading this, I remembered it's probably my least favorite in the series, but only because pit fighting/gladiator games don't interest me at all.  Otherwise, it's an excellent read.  Although, I found the same jarring continuity error in the ebook I checked out from the library this time as I found the first time I read it, and it still jarred me out of the story completely.  I thought the bonus of ebooks was the ability to update them quickly when errors were found?


Anyway, doesn't matter.  It was a good read, with a few scenes I had to read out loud to MT, including Raphael's re-telling of how his father woo'd his mother.  I almost couldn't read it to him for laughing ... that cat got his righteous revenge.


I'm going to use this re-read for the Doomsday square on my Halloween Bingo card.  It takes place in an alternate Atlanta that could definitely qualify for post-apocalyptic.  

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text 2019-09-20 12:06
Re-reading Kate Daniels series ... Magic Burns
Magic Burns - Ilona Andrews

I didn't quite get enough Ilona Andrews last month, and being bored at work the other day, desperate for something to kill time, I remembered I have American library cards, so I went to my Libby app and borrowed the second book in the Kate Daniels series.


What I wrote in my original post is still relevant; I still think the comment Curran made about saying please and thank you before he sleeps with Kate is, to say the least, off-putting.  But I'd forgotten a lot of the plot after all this time, and had conflated parts of it with other plot-lines in the series.  Finishing it, I immediately downloaded book 3 and dived right in (I have most of the books in print, save for 2-4, which I never did buy - must remedy that).  


Delightfully, one of the things I'd forgotten was that the bad guys were sea-demons - Fomarians.  So that qualifies this book for the Fear The Drowning Deep square in Halloween Bingo.

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