Book Review of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War by RF Kuang

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Book Review of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

I had heard a lot about this book from other book bloggers, so I put it on hold at the library. It took awhile, but I was finally able to pick up the book. This book had such high ratings from everyone, so I was excited to read it. What did I think? Did it live up to the hype? Check out my book review of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang to find out.

Blurb:

“When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to study at the academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who always thought they’d be able to marry Rin off to further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was now finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in the Nikara Empire—was even more surprising.

 But surprises aren’t always good.

Being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Rin is targeted from the outset by rival classmates because of her color, poverty, and gender. Driven to desperation, she discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over her powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For even though the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied the Nikara Empire for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people in the Empire would rather forget their painful history, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away.

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god who has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her her humanity.

And it may already be too late.”

My Book Review:

So, what did I think? Well, honestly, I have very mixed emotions. I kept reading. I kept turning pages, so that means something. The writing style is engaging and it sucks you into the story. I thought the character development was really good. The characters come to life on the page, and that always makes a book better because you’re invested in the characters. At the beginning, especially, I found myself routing for Rin. I understood why she wanted to do well on the test.

I’m not sure why I didn’t put this book down. It was intriguing, but more in a watching-a-train-wreck sort of way. There were many things in the content that I just didn’t like; I especially didn’t think they were appropriate for teens to be reading. While Rin was studying she would harm herself; she said the pain helped her. As a mom, I definitely don’t want my daughters or sons reading that and thinking it’s ok to self-harm. No, no, no, no.

I got that it was a military training facility, and so I understood the fighting and practicing, but what I didn’t like was the use of opioids (hence, The Poppy War). We have enough trouble right now with people being addicted to opioids; I don’t think our teens need to see fictional characters using them to find gods. I just didn’t like that whole premise, and it’s a huge part of the story.

When I read Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, I finished and felt sick to my stomach. I just felt yucky. That is also how I felt when I finished this book. It’s not happy or inspirational–it’s dark and disturbing. I was intrigued, but it didn’t live up to the hype. I especially don’t think it’s appropriate for YA. This book definitely wasn’t for me. However, if those things don’t bother you then you’ll probably enjoy it.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including dozens of “f” words. There isn’t an “intimacy.” Violence including war atrocities, rapes, murder, bombings, fighting, and the death of many characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 2.5/5

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2OM3tQF

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Jade City by Fonda Lee Twisted Prey by John Sandford  DEAD OF NIGHT by Michael Stanley
 

Book Review of Dead of Night by Michael Stanley

DEAD OF NIGHT by Michael Stanley

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Book Review of Dead of Night by Michael Stanley

I don’t know anything about rhinos! I’ve seen them at the zoo, and I know they live in Africa. That’s about it. Oh, and I know they have horns. I know that people take elephants’ tusks for the ivory, but I didn’t realize that rhinos’ horns are also in demand. Who knew that rhino horns could be sawed off and regrown? Interesting, right? I hate to admit that I learned a lot about rhinos from this fictional story! It’s quite the story too! I hope you enjoy my book review of Dead of Night by Michael Stanley.

Blurb:

“When freelance journalist, Crystal Nguyen, heads to South Africa, she thinks she’ll be researching an article on rhino-horn smuggling for National Geographic, while searching for her missing colleague. But, within a week, she’s been hunting poachers, hunted by their bosses, and then arrested in connection with a murder. And everyone is after a briefcase full of money that may hold the key to everything.
 
Fleeing South Africa, she goes undercover in Vietnam, trying to discover the truth before she’s exposed by the local mafia. Discovering the plot behind the money is only half the battle. Now she must convince the South African authorities to take action before it’s too late. She has a shocking story to tell, if she survives long enough to tell it…
 
Fast-paced, relevant and chilling, Dead of Night is a stunning new thriller that exposes one of the most vicious conflicts on the African continent…”
 

My Book Review:

Wow! What a ride! I got sucked into this book from the very beginning! Crys is one tough chick! And she’s brave…or stupid. I’m still not sure which. When she doesn’t hear back from her hopefully-more-than-friend Michael, she starts to worry. She calls into National Geographic and they haven’t heard anything either. So she goes to Africa to finish the story and to hopefully find Michael.

She should have stayed home. Going to Africa proves difficult, and puts her in a lot of danger. She has some amazing adventures, and then she has some terrifying experiences. Crys is a great character. She’s written and developed well, she’s relatable, and mostly realistic. Crys tends to act and then think, which proves detrimental in many instances, and it made me cringe. I like that she’s a strong female character. She’s smart and tough.

When she gets to Africa many other characters are introduced. They are also well written and well developed. Most of them have a hint of uncertainty about them; you’re constantly wondering if they’re the good guys or the bad guys. Sometimes they may even be a bit of both! I liked that, though. It adds a hint of mystery and tension that keeps you reading. Just be prepared—the bad guys are scary!

One of the things I liked most about this book was learning about the situation with the rhinos. I’d never really thought about rhino horns being sold on the black market. And I had NO idea that you could saw a rhino horn off and it would grow back! I learned a lot! I don’t know how much is true and how much is fiction, but it did shed some light on the topic for me. It’s sad how integrity is lacking in some people. They’ll do almost anything just for the dollars attached.

This book is fast-paced and action-packed. Crys gets herself into several sticky situations, and somehow she always ends up where the trouble is. I liked the writing style a lot; I enjoyed the descriptions of the African landscape, and thought the dialogues were realistic and unforced.

The thing I didn’t like in the book were the torture scenes. There was one scene that was brutally graphic. It was disgusting, and reading it made me sick to my stomach. I skipped some of it because it was way too graphic and detailed for my taste. There was at least one other torture scene, but it wasn’t quite as bad.

I couldn’t put this book down! It may or may not have been the wee hours of the morning when I finished this book. One.More.Chapter. I’m not sure if we’ll see more of Crys, but I hope we do! And as a side note, the authors are male. Many male authors do not write good female characters. I didn’t feel that way in this book; I thought they did a good job.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including many “f” words. “Intimacy,” including innuendos and references to rape and specific male body parts . Violence including graphic murders, fighting, a graphic torture scene, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Dead of Night blog poster 2018 (3)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2vxtxI6

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Jade City by Fonda Lee Twisted Prey by John Sandford 
 
 
 

Book Review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

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Book Review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

I graduated from Utah State University—Go Aggies!—which is located in beautiful Cache Valley, Utah. It really is beautiful. There are mountains on both sides of the valley with many fields and lots of open space. It has grown significantly, even since I attended school there. My husband and I wish we could have stayed, but there weren’t enough jobs. When Ryan Nelson contacted me earlier this year about reading his book, I had a long list of books I had already scheduled to review. Knowing it was about Cache Valley, though, I couldn’t resist. It’s taken me awhile, but I finally read it. I hope you enjoy my book review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson!


Utah-State-University-aerial-small  Utah-State-University-Old-Main-vertical-small  

 

Blurb (from Goodreads.com):

 

“When FBI Agent Alex Travis receives an anonymous phone call on a September morning in 1954, with a tip concerning the now cold case of the Cache County Bank robbery, it has his undivided attention. The tip leads Travis to the top of the secluded Green Canyon in Logan, Utah, where a young man named Jack Pepper proceeds to tell a story. It spans the two years from the time of the robbery, when he and his girlfriend, Kate Austin, stumbled upon the crime of the century for the Cache Valley. Travis must decide if he is dealing with the suspects or the victims of one of the largest bank robberies in U.S. history.

To get the answers, it will take one more trip up the canyon, to the entrance of the Spring Hollow Mine, where the daylight ends and the cold dark begins.”

 

My Book Review:

This book hooked me from the beginning. Agent Travis of the FBI receives an anonymous phone call. The caller says he has a tip about the Cache County Bank robbery, which is Travis’ case. The caller doesn’t give any information except to tell him where to meet this mysterious person. Agent Travis is perplexed. Should he trust this caller? Does he need to take back-up or is he ok to go alone? In the end, he decides to go alone.

I like Agent Travis’ character. He seems like a good, hard working, decent guy. His character is well developed and likable. I did think the part in the beginning where he is telling his wife the history of Sardine Canyon (the canyon you drive through to get to Logan from Salt Lake City) was cheesy and unnecessary. When Agent Travis meets Jack, the whole thing is still a bit mysterious, which I liked. As a reader, you don’t know if you should trust Jack or not.

Jack’s character is a bit more mysterious to start off. As you learn his story, you begin to trust him. However, in the back of your mind you’re still wondering if you should trust him or not. I liked how he was written in that way. Then later, when Kate comes into the picture, you start to see more of the full story. I liked how the plot unfolded like that. I also liked Kate a lot. Her character is also well developed, likeable, and realistic.

The whole plot line seemed mostly realistic. There were a couple of parts that I thought were a bit of a stretch, but they made it more exciting to read. I liked how it all came together in the end; everyone kind of ended up where they should have.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked reading about the canyons; it made me want to take my kids up there and do some exploring! And if you’re ever up on the USU campus, make sure you get some Aggie ice cream; it’s the best!!

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There’s some violence, though. It includes murder, an almost-rape, fighting, and the death of at least one character.)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2LTAsVt

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown  Twisted Prey by John Sandford
 
 

Book Review of Jade City by Fonda Lee

Jade City by Fonda Lee

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Book Review of Jade City by Fonda Lee

On Twitter a few weeks ago, I read a tweet by someone who said that Jade City was a life changing book. Wow! How could I not add it to my TBR pile? I want to read it if it’s life changing! So I pushed aside a few books that I should have been reading, and picked this up. I liked it, but was it life changing? Read my book review of Jade City  by Fonda Lee to find out.

Blurb:

“Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.”

My Book Review:

As I stated above, someone on Twitter posted that they thought this book was life changing. That’s quite a statement. To me, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was life changing, and I find that hard to beat. But I thought I’d like to read it to see for myself. It starts off right in the action. A couple of boys decide they want to steal some jade off of a man in a restaurant. Right from the beginning you know how valuable jade is.

As the story goes on, you get to meet the main characters. Lan and Hilo Kaul, although brothers, are very different. Lan is the leader of the clan, and Hilo is the one who keeps the peace—pretty much by showing a strong arm of violence. There are a lot of characters, and it took me awhile to figure them all out. The names are not difficult, but different, and it would take me a minute to place some of them.

Lan and Hilo have a sister. Her name is Shae. She has chosen a different path than they have, and has chosen not to wear jade or be a part of clan leadership. There are other characters, but these are the most important characters. I thought the author developed the characters very well. They each had individual personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and flaws. You could tell they were family, yet they were their own selves. I liked that they each had their own voice.

The story felt a bit confusing at times, but overall it flowed well, was exciting, and very unique. I haven’t read a book with a similar story line, and I always like that. It does take a minute to figure out the workings of the clan and the layers of leadership, but once you figure it out you’re good to go. Although there was a lot of fighting, there was also strategy and smarts behind the clan’s actions.

Part of the story reminded me of a line in The Incredibles. It’s when Syndrome has Mr. Incredible cornered, and he says, “I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can be superheroes. ‘Everyone’ can be super! And when everyone’s super…’no one’ will be.” That same philosophy comes into play in this book—only with jade. If everyone can safely wear jade, then what will happen to the clans? Will they be needed or important? Will they still hold the power they now do? I found that aspect to be quite interesting and thought-provoking.

Did I find this book life changing? No, I didn’t. I did enjoy it though. I liked the characters a lot, especially Shae. Hilo was a bit too intense for me, but I also liked Lan a lot. Anden was also an interesting character. I felt bad for him, but I also didn’t. It was weird. He’s in a difficult place, but at the same time, he has a hard time accepting who he really is instead of where he’s come from. That whole thing was also quite thought-provoking.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including many “f” words. “Intimacy,” including scenes, innuendos, and prostitution. Violence including war atrocities, murder, bombings, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3.5/5 (I lowered my rating from 4 because of all the profanity and graphic “intimacy” scenes.)

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Oujuvi

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak   Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
 

Book Review of Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

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Book Review of Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

I have so enjoyed reading the Proper Romances. Yes, some of them are a bit cheesy, but I like not needing to worry about improper situations popping up. It’s refreshing to read stories without the distraction of the profanity as well. This is a fun one; I like the steampunk twist to it. I think it adds a fun and different angle. And you know I love a good retelling of the fairy tales! With all that, I hope you enjoy my book review of Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen.

Blurb:

“Doctor Isla Cooper is cursed. Literally. Each night, at the stroke of midnight she falls into a deep sleep from which she cannot be awakened for six hours. To make it worse, the curse has an expiration date—after a year, she will fall asleep forever. And the year is almost up.

In a desperate attempt to find Malette—the witch who cursed her—Isla blackmails her way onto Daniel Pickett’s private airship bound for the Caribbean, only to discover she’s traveling with three illegal shapeshifters and the despicable Nigel Crowe, a government official determined to hunt down and exterminate every shapeshifter in England. Isla and Daniel must work together to keep the identities of the shapeshifters hidden while coming to terms with their own hidden secrets, and their blossoming attraction to each other.

Filled with suspense, intrigue, and plenty of romance, Kiss of the Spindle is a steampunk Sleeping Beauty story. It is a race against the clock as Isla and Daniel try to hunt down the elusive Malette before Isla’s death-like sleep becomes permanent.”

My Book Review:

I’ve always loved Sleeping Beauty, and this book is a fun twist on that well-beloved story. I like the writing style of the book. It flows well, is easy to read and understand, and is a fun, entertaining read. The characters are well developed. I thought the author did a good job of making them realistic. They each have their strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and talents. I liked that there was a hint of mystery in each of them at the beginning, and that you learned more about them as the story went on.

The steampunk aspect of the book adds a fun twist. I liked the descriptions of the airship, the telescribers, and the automatons. If I could really have my way I’d have a Samson to clean my house, do my laundry, and drive my kids everywhere. Haha! Wouldn’t that be amazing? It’d be like having your own personal butler or something. I’m all for that!

I liked the story line as well. It was creative and unique, which I’m always glad about! I thought Isla’s curse could have been a little worse, but I understood how it affected her job and livelihood. It still could have been a few more hours or something, though. I thought it was sweet how Daniel worried about her so much. The side stories with the other characters were interesting, and the twist of how they fit together was a bit surprising. It’s comical that all the men fall for Isla. You feel like you could mop the floor with their drool. Come on boys! Pull yourselves together! I liked that Isla is a strong female character, but she also has her vulnerable moments.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. It’s a fast, easy, entertaining read. It’s not going to solve the world’s problems, but it will give you a few min of respite from those problems. It’s a bit cheesy in a few parts, but I love a bit of cheese with my romance, so it’s fine. If you’re looking for something deep and mind blowing, this isn’t your book, but if you’re looking for a fun beach or summer read, look no further!

Content Rating PG+Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity in this book. There’s no “intimacy” except for some kissing. It does include some violence as they fight a massive shapeshifter.)

Recommendation: YA and up

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2KK4U4A 

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Beauty and Clockwork Beast COVER my fair gentleman  the secret of the india orchid
 

Book Review of The Heat Is On by Helen Bridgett

The Heat is On by Helen Bridgett

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Book Review of The Heat Is On by Helen Bridgett

Have you ever had one of those years where everything seems to be going great and then it suddenly falls apart? That was my last year. Everything was going well until my son got sick. Super sick. After a year, he’s finally recovering. It’s a very slow process, but he’s doing so much better. Then to top it off, we’ve had to fix cars, replace several appliances, and get a new furnace and water heater. Yep, it’s been a year! We’ve learned so much though! We’ve grown closer together as a family and we’ve all grown a lot individually. In this book, things are going well for Angie. She co-owns a business that she loves and is doing great. She has a handsome boyfriend, an amazing daughter, and great friends. And then the business across the street opens and everything starts falling apart. I hope you enjoy my book review of The Heat Is On by Helen Bridgett.

Blurb:

“Angie Shepherd is back and this time she means business!

Life is perfect for Angie Shepherd. Her dreams of becoming an entrepreneur have come true, business is booming, and her best friend Patty is back in town. So when the opportunity of investing in a luxury hotel comes up, it seems like a no-brainer. It’s all going swimmingly until a rival travel agency opens up across the street. Before long, The Mercury Travel Club is undercut, double-crossed and in deep trouble. It’s time for Angie to up the stakes. But with costs mounting up, sales going down, and her personal life suddenly in freefall, can Angie and her friends weather the storm?

Witty and charming in equal measure, this feel-good novel shows that when the going gets tough, the tough definitely get going.”

My Book Review:

Sometimes when everything is going really well it makes me nervous. Ok, this can’t last forever, right? What’s going to happen? It’s easy to get anxious and fearful, but then when something does happen, you realize you’re stronger than you thought. You realize you lived through your nightmare and it’s ok. That’s what Angie has to do in this book. She needs to make it through and come out stronger.

I enjoyed this book. It’s a fun, entertaining summer read. I think it’d be perfect for sitting next to the pool or ocean, kicking up your feet, and drinking something cold. This book is well written, has the perfect touch of humor, and has a fun cast of characters. The characters are very well developed. They each have their own identities, personalities, and voices. I thought the author did a good job of bringing them all together. They have their strengths and weaknesses, their talents and flaws, and their good and bad times. As a reader, it makes you feel like you’re one of the gang. They’re realistic and easy to relate to. Most of them are likable too.

I don’t know anything about the travel industry, and I kind of didn’t realize that travel agencies still exist. Yes, I hate to admit that I thought people planned their own vacations via Expedia and Hotwire. Or, maybe that’s just me. When my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Cancun twenty years ago (yes, we just celebrated twenty years!) we used an agency, but it’s not there anymore. After reading this book I may need to look and see if there’s one by me. I’d love to relax and let someone else take care of the details. After this year, I need a vacation!

The plot, although not action-packed, was interesting enough to keep me reading. There were a few twists and turns, and a few tense moments. The one thing I didn’t like was the title. I still don’t get it? This book also has a lot of spelling and grammatical errors. If you see the publisher, please tell her to call me and I’ll help her out! (Blue Pen Proofreading) It doesn’t really fit the book or its style. I thought it came together well in the end, but I could have used a few extra pages to see how one of the excursions turned out. I want to go to the library in the woods! So much so, in fact, that I did a few quick google searches and found a pic of it. Isn’t it enchanting? It’s a real place! Right now I really wish I could go there!

eas-mor-library

Photo Credit: That’s How the Light Gets In

This is a quick, fun read. It’s not based on complex submarine terrorist plots in Russia (like my last read), so it’s kind of a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to read and understand, and is pretty clean. I feel like I have a bunch of new friends, and I definitely have a few places I want to visit now!

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (Thankfully, there is no profanity in this book! There isn’t any violence either. There are a few discussions about “intimacy,” a couple of scenes where it almost happens but not quite, and several innuendos.)

Recommendation: 18+

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a fee copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2MUGxO3

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

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Book Review of Red Agenda by Cameron Poe

Red Agenda by Cameron Poe

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Book Review of Red Agenda by Cameron Poe

I don’t know much about submarines, but I know I don’t want to ever go in one! Can you say SCARY? My husband wants to go on a cruise and I can’t even get myself to do that! I like land. I like land a lot. Being in the middle of the ocean scares me so much, and then being in a metal contraption under all that water is even scarier! There are way too many things that can go wrong. Now, what happens when a Russian sub goes missing? That thought is a little scary too! Where is it going? What’s the plan? Find out more in my book review of Red Agenda by Cameron Poe.

Blurb:

“The most sought after commodity in the world is power, and when money is no object, power is up for grabs. Desiring autonomy, one small nation develops an unlikely plan to procure a nuclear-powered submarine. If all goes as intended, the Middle East will destabilize and the OPEC Alliance will crumble. Yet as money might buy power, there’s no guarantee that it buys loyalty. So when the submarine breaks the ocean surface it doesn’t travel to the Middle East, it sails for Russia, in an attempt to return the nation to its Soviet roots.”

My Book Review:

When I was a teenager I read The Hunt for Red October, and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read a book about submarines since then, and I think it was high time! Although I don’t know much about OPEC or the old Soviet Union, I enjoy a good story. There were several plot twists and turns, and there was a good hint of mystery as to what would really happen.

Most of the characters are well developed. One of them is way over-the-top, almost to the point of being comical. The others characters have some strengths and weaknesses, and they seem much more realistic. I liked George, Nick, Marina, Jim, Dan, Sharon, and a few others.

  I thought it was fairly well written. It was a little hard to follow because it quickly and often jumped from one group of people to another. The only thing that let you know of the switch was a little missile. Consequently, it would take a minute to figure out who you were reading about. There are also a lot of characters in many different places, and it was all a bit difficult to keep track of at times. There were also quite a few errors that an editor and proofreader could have helped fix.

I liked how the story all came together in the end, but thought that there were still a few holes. You do eventually figure out how all the pieces fit together, and it’s quite the tale! I liked how the author used all the different military technologies with subs, destroyers, helicopters, tanks, etc. If you like a good military/political/action/mystery/adventure story, this book is for you! Overall, I liked it. Sometimes it’s nice to try a different genre for a change.  

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including many “f” words. “Intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. Violence including war atrocities, murder, bombings, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2zdLIH7

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Twisted Prey by John Sandford  America Uber Alles by Jack Fernley 
 

Book Review of The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

Book Review of The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a Holocaust survivor living life after the war. I’ve read several books about people’s stories during the war, but it usually focuses on the war, not after. Consequently, I have not taken the time to think about how living through an ordeal like that would affect their daily lives. Now that I think about it, it would be difficult. To have been treated so poorly and to have seen so many die around you would definitely haunt your dreams. It affected Peter enough that it made living difficult for him. His story in the book was my favorite. Find out more of what I thought in my book review of The Lost Family by Jenna Blum.

Blurb:

“In 1965 Manhattan, patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its brisket bourguignon and impeccable service, and to admire its dashing owner and head chef, Peter Rashkin. With his movie-star good looks and tragic past, Peter, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the most eligible bachelor in town. But Peter does not care for the parade of eligible women who come to the restaurant hoping to catch his eye. He has resigned himself to a solitary life. Running Masha’s consumes him, as does his terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camp while his wife, Masha—the restaurant’s namesake—and two young daughters perished.

Then exquisitely beautiful June Bouquet, an up-and-coming young model, appears at the restaurant, piercing Peter’s guard. Tough she is twenty years his junior, the two begin a passionate, whirlwind courtship. When June unexpectedly becomes pregnant, Peter proposes, believing that beginning a new family with the woman he loves will allow him to let go of the horror of the past. But over the next twenty years, the indelible sadness of those memories will overshadow Peter, June, and their daughter, Elsbeth, transforming them in shocking, heartbreaking, and unexpected ways.

Jenna Blum artfully brings to the page a husband devastated by a grief he cannot name, a frustrated wife struggling to compete with a ghost she cannot banish, and a daughter sensitive to the pain of both her own family and another lost before she was born. Spanning three cinematic decades, The Lost Family is a charming, funny, and elegantly bittersweet study of the repercussions of loss and love.”

My Book Review:

This book hooked me at the beginning. I loved the writing style, the descriptions, the story of Peter, and the focus on the food. Peter’s story grips you to the core. I can’t imagine losing my family in the way he did; it would devastate me. Peter seems like such a good guy. He struggles, but who wouldn’t in that situation? And his struggles stem from something terrible, so you empathize with him. June seemed like the perfect person for Peter. It was fun reading about their courtship and how June was able to help Peter start afresh. I really loved this part of the book.   

And then it all went downhill. Part two skips to 1975 and is told from June’s point of view. Wow. She’s… (I’m speechless when I try to explain her.) She’s not a nice person, I’ll just say that. I can understand how by this point she probably thought that Peter should have been able to overcome some of his grief. I get how hard it probably was for her with a husband who was pretty closed-off. That would be very difficult on a marriage. However, that does not excuse her actions.

At this point the book took a very uncomfortable turn. I didn’t like it at all. In fact, it made me very uncomfortable. June’s character became extremely unlikable, whiny, selfish, and…awful. I couldn’t relate to her or her actions at all. I understood that what she had wasn’t maybe what she had envisioned for herself, but come on! Life is unpredictable. Grow up and take responsibility.

I also understand that life for women in the 70s may still have been a little more controlled by men. I get that Peter didn’t seem to listen to her concerns. However, she could have handled things much differently. She could have made life better for her family.

And just when you think the book can only get better, it gets even worse. You skip to 1985 and get to hear Elsbeth’s story. This part is VERY disturbing—even more than June’s story. What is going on? With a closed-off father and an awful mother, Elsbeth is doomed. Seriously. She is messed up. Don’t let your children anywhere near this part of the book. Yes, it is that bad. The things she does are some of my worst nightmares for my daughters. She has no self esteem, she looks for love and affection from all the wrong places, and she doesn’t have great friends.

Elsbeth hears opposite messages from her parents, and you can tell she’s confused. It is EXTREMELY uncomfortable reading this part of the book. If I hadn’t been reviewing it, I would not have finished. If Ms. Blum was going for shocking, she got it.

I was so disappointed and appalled. The first part of the book was so good! I had high expectations for the rest of the book and didn’t expect it to go the way it did. At all. Sometimes that’s a good thing. This time, no. I wish the book had ended after part one. I would have given it 4 stars for sure. Between the unlikable and hard-to-relate-to characters, the content of the story, and the characters’ actions, the last two-thirds of the book were a huge disappointment.

Not only that, but it was uncomfortable to read. Sometimes uncomfortable is good because you can learn from the moment. For example, it makes me uncomfortable to read about how slaves were treated in the U.S. In that case it’s okay because at least I can learn from the past. The uncomfortable in this book is not like that. In my opinion, it’s jarring just to be jarring. I didn’t like it. This book had so much potential. Unfortunately, it did not live up to that potential.  

Content Rating RContent Rating: R (There is quite a bit of profanity in this book, including many “f” words. There’s a lot of “intimacy,” including descriptive scenes, innuendos, oral, and discussions about it–including pornography with a child. Also included are eating disorders and other adult themes.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 2/5

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner
 
 

Book Review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

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Book Review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

If I could go back in time and live for a week anywhere I wanted, I’d choose Victorian England. Of course, I’d be picky and choose to be a wealthy person. I’d love to walk the sprawling gardens of the grand estates. It’d be amazing to dance at the balls and wear the beautiful gowns. Just for a week, I’d love to write with a quill pen and ride in carriages. What do you think? Where would you go? I love the Jane Austen era, and am so excited about this book! I hope you enjoy my book review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean.

Blurb:

England, 1813 – Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as ‘silly and ignorant’, Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation.

When her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners – and for the first time feels liked and respected.

However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings conspire to ruin Kitty’s reputation. Accused of theft – a crime worse almost worse than murder among the Georgian aristocracy – she is sent back home in disgrace. But Kitty has learnt from her new experiences and what she does next will not only surprise herself, but everyone else too.

Based on Jane Austen’s much-loved characters, this is the story of one young woman’s struggle to overcome the obstacles of her time and place and truly find herself.

My Book Review:

Oh, how I love Jane Austen! I know several friends who cannot stand her writing (you know who you are…), but I love it. I love the crafted language. I love the detail in the characters and their descriptions. It may bore some people, but I love that the stories are NOT action-packed. The people are the main focus, and I love how the stories play around the people and their experiences and thoughts.

What does that have to do with today’s book review? Well friends, I think we may have found a book that is as close to a Jane Austen as we’re going to get in today’s world! Today’s books are marked by action. My own kids have been sucked in, much to my chagrin! If it’s not one action scene followed by another, it’s boring. Well, they’ll be bored if they read this book, but I loved it!

The language was very well crafted. I read it on my Kindle and it turned out to be a good thing because of all the definitions I had to look up. My kids asked if I felt stupid needing to look up so many words and I definitely said, “No!” I loved it! They think I’m weird, for sure. I may not be the “cool” or “hip” mom anymore, but that’s ok with me. I’m smarter because of it.

The time Ms. Kablean took to develop the characters showed off. Each of them were well developed, realistic, and unique. Each had his or her own personality that was different from everyone else’s. They had their own voices. And they each had their own journey to take in the story. I loved watching them grow and come into themselves as the story went along.

I’ve read all of Jane Austen’s books, and have loved them. This book comes as close as I think I’ll get to more Jane Austen stories. They may be Carrie Kablean stories, not Jane Austen stories, but the feeling is the same. The crafted language is very similar, and the attention to detail is mighty close. The only thing I didn’t love was the title. It was not my favorite; I think it could have been better. Other than that, I loved this book. I just got caught up in the feeling of the story, the language of the story, and the characters’ lives.

If you like Jane Austen books, and even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s not fast-paced or action-packed. It’s not about the superhero that swoops in to save the day, or the super powers, it’s about life and the people in it. It is about truth, friendship, trust, love, care, concern, honesty, values, and family. It’s about falling in love and having your heart broken, and it’s about picking yourself up, learning from it, and moving forward. Life. I loved it.

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There is some brief sibling fighting, along with talk of gambling and stealing. One character does die-you don’t see it, you just hear of it after.)

Recommendation: YA (12-18) and up

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2lCwZeW

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack Check Me Out by Becca Wilhite  Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
This book review is dedicated to my good friend Andy who passed away this week after a six year battle with brain cancer. He leaves my dear friend Betsie and their three beautiful daughters behind. He was an amazing guy and will be greatly missed. Love ya Andy! 
 
 

Book Review of America Uber Alles by Jack Fernley

America Uber Alles by Jack Fernley

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Book Review of America Uber Alles by Jack Fernley

I have always loved studying about the American Revolution. It’s one of my favorite topics to learn about. I have read 1776 by David McCullough several times, along with Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis and a few others. Usually I read the nonfiction history books. This time I thought it might be interesting to read a historical fiction book about it. What did I think? Was it a good choice? Find out in my book review of America Uber Alles by Jack Fernley.

Blurb:

“What if America was based not on the Declaration of Independence, but the values of Mein Kampf?

Germany, April 1945. As the Russians close in on Berlin, a lone plane flies into the city. On board are General Robert Ritter von Greim and the Nazi flying ace, Hanna Reitsch, summoned by Hitler to his bunker. There, the Führer reveals Germany’s secret weapon – a weapon he believes will win the war for the Nazis and change the course of history for ever.

America, December 1776. George Washington and his army are close to collapse, the War of Independence is almost lost. The British army scent victory, aided by the arrival of extraordinary German mercenaries. However, when the Germans offer the Americans secret intelligence to allow a surprise attack on their supposed allies, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems. Who are these Germans and what are they fighting for?

Fast-paced, thrilling and thought-provoking, America Über Alles imagines a world in which the American War of Independence becomes a struggle for democratic values against fascist ideology; perfect for fans of SSGB and The Man in the High Castle.”

My Book Review:

When you know and love a topic really well, it’s difficult to keep an open mind. It’s hard to accept new ideas about it, even if they’re fiction. Even though you’ve never met the actual players, you feel like you know them. You know their thoughts, behaviors, and values, and nothing can change your opinion of them. That’s how I feel reading this book. I’ve studied a lot about the American Revolution and its key players. Accepting many of the points in this book is pretty much impossible for me. I tried though.

The first half of the book dealt mainly with battles and war tactics. The author did spend time building the characters. Many of the important characters are introduced, and some of them you get to know really well. I felt like many of the characters were well developed and realistic. He also tried to show the relationships between many of the characters.

The author also spent a lot of time building up to why the people would accept a new way of thinking. Although I hope I would see it for what it was, I could see how people would embrace the thought of it. I don’t think they’d fully embrace it if they knew the actualities of it, but it’s happened before. It had to be a very subtle change over time.

The second half of the book had a definite change in tone. This half of the book focused more on the people in the Revolution. For much of the second half I hated the book. I seriously could not wrap my head around anyone going along with any of it. I found it scary how fast people changed their whole belief systems. With everything I’ve read about the Founding Fathers, I could not see how any of them would accept this.

The soldiers are a different story. They were suffering hardships, and they were a ragtag band of soldiers. Unfortunately, I could see why they would like the idea of being fed, having shoes, uniforms, and a nice place to sleep. However, I also didn’t see why they would fight for Nazi values after all they’d been through. Trading one form of tyranny for another isn’t a great option.

Towards the end of the book I started not hating the book and just disliking it a lot. I truly could not see any of the Continental Congress or Founding Fathers just standing by or accepting the Nazi values. Once again, I didn’t personally know any of them. However, my brain can’t comprehend them allowing someone else to plow over their ideals. The American Revolution, along with its values, cause, and purpose is too ingrained in me to accept anything less.

Just when I thought it all might be ok, the book ended. Yep, just up and ended. Nope, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It could have used another twenty pages or so to finish things off. It left off with a lot of holes. There were many things that I thought should have been explained, but I was left hanging. That disappointed me, for sure.

Overall, it was ok for me. Maybe a non-American would have an easier time accepting it as a possibility. I guess I did find it interesting to think about how perfectly everything came together in reality. It could have just as easily gone the other way. What would life be like now if it had?

Content Rating RRating: R (There is profanity in this book, including many “f” words. There’s also some “intimacy,” including scenes, innuendos, and discussions of rape. There is quite a bit of violence including war atrocities, murder, bombings, hangings, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2M6vOja

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick  1776 by David McCullough   revolutionary summer by joseph ellis