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review 2020-05-31 17:42
SURVIVOR SONG by Paul Tremblay
Survivor Song - Paul Tremblay

 SURVIVOR SONG consists of the fastest 320 pages I've ever read!

 

Nats, (Natalie), is waiting at home for her husband to return from the store. This is no ordinary trip, however. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is a virus loose...a fast acting rabies virus that turns its victims, (animal and human alike) into rabid, (see what I did there?), strong, uber-violent attackers. Those infected will attack cars, humans, pretty much anything at all, and Natalie's husband is late. With Natalie being very pregnant, this is quite a scary turn of events. Will Nats' husband ever return? If so, will he be infected or not? What happens to Natalie's unborn baby? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

I started this book in earnest early yesterday afternoon, (with only part of a previous lunch hour dedicated to it previously), and I had a hard time putting it down. The main characters, the previously mentioned Natalie and her friend Ramola, were so human, so REAL, that I never doubted the actions of either one of them.

 

Unfortunately, I never doubted the bad guys in this story either. I have to admit though, that some I thought were bad guys, weren't spoiled through and through and I ended up shedding some tears for a couple of them, to be honest. Most of the others, though? I had no problem believing in them either, because all I have to do is turn on the television any time, night or day, to see them in real life.

 

As in any zombie story, (I can hear Ramola now, in her British accent "They're NOT zombies!"), the real story is with the survivors. The things they have to do, or are forced to do, to save lives or to take them. This tale is brutal in that regard-the loss of humanity, or perhaps the salvation of humanity...we never know which is which at the time, do we?

 

I got a bit of a kick that the story takes place in my home state and that I was familiar with some of the places mentioned. For me, the locations made this tale even more real.

 

The only issues I had were that I wished it was a bit longer and, though I enjoyed the denouement and the end, I would have preferred a bit more explanation. For the latter reason I deducted half a star. I don't need everything wrapped up with a bow, but some elaboration would have pleased me more.

 

SURVIVOR SONG is destined to be up there on top tens lists this year and it deserves to be. My highest recommendation!

 

 

Available July 7, 2020, but you can preorder here: SURVIVOR SONG

 

*I received the e-ARC of this book from William Morrow, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2020-05-26 19:30
A BOOK OF BONES by John Connolly
A Book of Bones: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 17. From the No. 1 Bestselling Author of THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS - John Connolly

Still on the trail of the super creepy Mors, as well as the seemingly ageless Quayle, Charlie Parker and John Connolly never seem to give us a break!

 

Quayle is still trying to put together the Fractured Atlas, and Parker is still trying to prevent it. In this volume, Parker, with his pals Angel and Louis, head off to London along with a book expert to try to figure out where Quayle will strike next. We have creepy churches, stained glass windows, (or what appear to be windows), the Green Man, some moors and so much more. We also have appearances from Charlie's daughters, both alive and dead.

 

This was a long book and it could have been 500 pages longer and it still wouldn't bother me. I never, ever get bored with Connolly's prose or Charlie's thoughts. At this point in the series, I'm expecting things to wrap up, while at the same time, dreading it. I'm hoping that perhaps the series will continue with Charlie's offspring? This is all speculation on my part, but any time now, I'm expecting one or more of these fictional characters I love to die. I'm not sure if my heart can take it, because I've been friends with them for so long.

 

I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, because I can't imagine my life without looking forward to the next Charlie Parker book!

 

My highest recommendation!

 

 

Get your copy here: A BOOK OF BONES

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book through Atria/Emily Bestler Books via NetGalley, but I was approved so late, (I didn't think I'd get approved at all at that point), I bought the hardcover! Either way, this is my honest opinion. READ THE BOOK!*

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review 2020-05-22 22:21
Bondage by Alessandro Stanziani
Bondage: Labor and Rights in Eurasia from the Sixteenth to the Early Twentieth Centuries - Alessandro Stanziani

I picked this book up with the hope of learning about how serfdom actually worked in 18th century Russia and eastern Europe, and I did learn from it, though as with a lot of academic books it seems to have been written with the expectation that only about 12 people would ever read it, all of whom are other researchers in the same or related fields. The writing is unnecessarily dense and there are a lot of unexplained references to authors that this one is apparently refuting.

 

That said, the author’s thesis is an interesting one: essentially, that in the early modern era, Europe wasn’t so much divided between states where workers were free and states where they were serfs, as on a continuum. Workers in England and France weren’t nearly as “free” as you might believe, and labor laws were actually getting stricter at the time. Workers were often required to sign long labor contracts (a year was common, much longer was possible), and there were criminal penalties for leaving before a contract was completed, with the result that “runaway” workers could be jailed, fined, or even in some rare cases, whipped. Meanwhile, Russian serfs had more freedom of movement than some sources have given them credit for, with some going back and forth between town and the estates, and some areas of the country not sending back runaway serfs at all. Serfs could also initiate lawsuits against landowners, and some won their freedom this way (generally it seems because the landowners as non-nobles weren’t actually qualified to own populated estates), though as always the poor winning lawsuits against the rich was quite rare.

 

As someone unfamiliar with the literature the author is responding to, I found the arguments related to England and France (and the general descriptions of forced labor in Eurasia and in certain Indian Ocean colonies of the European powers) more coherent than the arguments about Russia. In some places it seemed like Stanziani was being overly technical, as when he points out that the laws establishing serfdom were all really about establishing who could own populated estates rather than delineating serfdom per se. I’m unclear on why this is important. He also seems to gloss over a lot of abuses described in other sources – granted, my other reading on this topic involves popular rather than academic sources, and this book is much too technical to engage with works of that sort at all. But while he states that Russian serfdom was nothing like American slavery, he doesn’t provide much basis for this conclusion.

 

At any rate, I’m clearly not the intended reader for this book, but I did get some interesting ideas from it. I’d love to see a book on this topic that’s a little more accessible for the general reader.

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review 2020-05-10 05:30
A Life Renewed Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  A Life Renewed

Author: Olivia Rae

Genre:  Christian Historical

Release Date: April 2, 2020

In 1554, Lady Jane Grey, “The Nine Days’ Queen” was executed for high treason.

But what if, instead of feeling the blade on her neck she secretly survived?

Escaping execution, Lady Jane hides as a peasant girl in a principality in Germany. She loves the simple life and never wants to return to England. But her benefactor, a power-hungry German prince, wants to march on London and place her on the English throne again, thereby increasing his dominance in Europe. If she doesn’t agree to his plan, her beloved childhood nurse will be put to death. Desperate for help, Jane must put her trust in the mysterious spy Asher Hayes.

Asher Hayes is done rounding up Protestants for “Bloody Mary” and wants nothing more than to live a quiet life as a farmer and expunge the blood of many from his hands. Except Queen Mary isn’t done with him yet. She throws his father, mother, and sister into prison on false charges in order to force him to accept one last mission – find and kill Lady Jane Grey. But when Asher discovers Lady Jane isn’t a threat to the throne as he believed her to be, he faces a devastating decision – does he sacrifice his family for the woman who reigns in his heart?



Click HERE for your copy!
 

About the Author

 


Olivia Rae is an award-winning author who spent her school days dreaming of knights, princesses and far away kingdoms; it made those long, boring days in the classroom go by much faster. Nobody was more shocked than her when she decided to become a teacher. Besides getting her Master’s degree, marrying her own prince, and raising a couple of kids, Olivia decided to breathe a little more life into her childhood stories by adding in what she’s learned as an adult living in a small town next to a big city. When not writing, she loves to travel, dragging her family to old castles and forts all across the world.
 

More from Olivia

 

The Challenge in Writing About a Real Historical Person

I like creating a story out of a kernel of information. The idea of my new book, A Life Renewed came when I took a trip to England and learned about the tragic life of Lady Jane Grey. Her life was so disastrous, I just wanted to give her a second chance at happiness. So that’s exactly what I did when she escaped her execution instead of dying as she did in real life.

My greatest challenge in writing this book was picking a heroine that actually lived. I had to do a lot of research in Lady Jane Grey’s life and her family. It was very interesting. Lady Jane was what we would call a progressive protestant. The conflicts between the Catholics and Protestants (The beginning of The Church of England) was very real and very deadly at that time. What many people don’t know is that Henry VIII was actually against many other Protestant religions (Calvinists, Lutherans, etc.). He feared their religious influence as much as he did the Catholic’s. His son Edward was more progressive, like Jane. If he would have lived, Jane’s outcome would have been totally different. After Jane’s death, Queen Mary went on a mission to turn England back to Catholicism. In her reign she killed over 300 Protestants. Hence later in history she was known as “Bloody Mary.”
 
 

My Review

 

One of the most interesting questions to ponder is “What if?” After all, this query forms the basis of literary fiction. Adding in an element of truth serves to enhance the fascination, and thus the historical fiction genre exists. This is one of the many reasons that I love this genre and never become bored with it. While I favor the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, I enjoy reading and learning about other time periods as well, and this book is my first foray into the 1500s, at least for reviewing purposes. An era that has never particularly attracted my attention before, I must say that this was an excellent novel to pave the way!

Olivia Rae’s “A Life Renewed” kicks off her Secrets of the Queens series with a captivating tale of an alternative version of Lady Jane Grey. Instead of being beheaded, she escapes and ends up living as a peasant girl in a small German princedom, a simple life that she loves. However, Prince von Hoffbauer has other plans for her, intending to further his own cause, and English spy Asher Hayes is on an assigned mission to bring her head to Queen Mary in order to save his own family. With intrigue and romance, sixteenth-century Tudor England comes alive in this thrilling story, along with its turbulence and bloodshed. Of all the characters, I think that my favorite is Otto Werner; he wants to do God’s will but allows himself to be sidetracked, as happens to several other characters as well. As such, all of the characters feel genuine, because they each exhibit less-than-admirable qualities at times. Rae does include some Messianic imagery in the story, as when Asher says of Lady Jane, “She was either a lamb for the slaughter or a lion sent to tear all apart.”

The hatred and calculating animosity between the Catholics and Protestants calls to mind the current political landscape in America between the Democrats and the Republicans. If the seeds of division can be sown, they reap disastrous results for everyone. Author Olivia Rae does not appear to take sides when discussing the religious affiliations of those in “A Life Renewed,” and it is Lady Jane who gives the impassioned speech that so perfectly targets the heart of the issue, both then and now: “How can we profess to believe in Him if we curse one another? How can we profess to be His children if we are maiming and killing each other? How can we profess to believe in Him if we do not love our enemies as He has taught us?”  How, indeed? We should come together in Christ and strive to demonstrate His love to everyone, seeking to live together in peace whenever possible. Having been given a renewed life in Jesus, we need to extend to others the same grace and mercy that we have received, a necessity for all time periods, Tudor and contemporary alike.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

 
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away the grand prize packaged of an autographed copy of the book and a $25 Amazon gift certificate!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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review 2020-05-07 19:00
ETHAN FROME by Edith Wharton, narrated by Christopher Lane
Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton

I'm not sure why I thought this would be a pleasant, happy story. It is Edith Wharton after all!

 

I've loved her work since I first read The House of Mirth and she lived a good portion of her time in Massachusetts, which is my home state. When I saw I could listen to the audio free through Prime, I downloaded it and here I am.

 

Written in the early 1900's, the story takes place in the fictional town of Starkfield. It's one of the few tales from Wharton that does not take place in a location of high society. It's the story of a simple man, whose life plans change so that he can care for his ailing father. Rather impulsively, he marries a sickly woman to avoid being alone after his father passes. A few years later his wife's young cousin comes to stay and their lives will change forever.

 

I never expected this tale to go in the way it did. It was sad and tragic for everyone involved. It's amazing to me that Wharton was capable of packing so much into a relatively short story. Perhaps it is dated in regards to its setting, but the emotions and the characters involved are still perfectly relatable in today's day and age.

 

I have a volume of Wharton's ghost stories that I hope to read soon. In the meantime, I will be thinking of the cold town of Starkfield and Ethan's fate.

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