Showing posts with label Historical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Historical. Show all posts

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The blurb describes this novel as being ‘a small story’. It is…but it’s a small story over a big number of pages! Five hundred and sixty-two of them, in fact. It did require a bit of a commitment from me, but it was worth every single moment.

It’s told in quite a unique way and narrated by Death. As the book is set in Nazi Germany, Death was pretty busy. The story focuses on Liesel, a nine-year-old, fostered by a family living in Himmel Street. And she steals books.

It’s a beautiful story evoking a multitude of emotions amidst the tragedy that was Nazi Germany that saw the deaths of six million Jews and many, many others. By contrast you have a touching relationship between Liesel and her foster parents…her foster ‘papa’ in particular. Then there's the awkward, but tender friendship between Liesel and her peer, Rudy. This is a story like no other, crafted in an original style.

Ultimately, I rather enjoyed the fact that it was a long book. How many times have you reluctantly reached the end of a book with that mixture of joy to have finished a good story but sad to have to leave the world of the characters you love therein? It was rather comforting to know that for many pages, I wouldn’t be leaving the very endearing Liesel and the wonderful voice of Death.

Read it. Just read it.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Read The Best of Our Spies by Alex Gerlis


This is a gripping, WW2, espionage thriller that really captivates. It’s one that starts at a pretty brisk pace and doesn’t once slow down. It gathers momentum and climaxes at breakneck speed. 

It’s an intricate tale of intrigue, bluff and double bluff. It’s a tale of love, deception, courage, tragedy, horror and loss. 

Nathalie Mercier, a young nurse, is sent to France by British Intelligence to work with the French Resistance shortly before D-Day. She leaves behind a new husband, Owen, also working closely with the Royal Navy Intelligence, who wonders if they will ever see each other again. But the seemingly na├»ve, industrious and dedicated Owen has been underestimated by his superiors, and he discovers a web of deceit and lies from people he trusted and loved. He has to find his wife, at all costs. 

Gerlis is master storyteller. The characters are well defined and totally credible, and you care deeply about those you are intended to. The facts of the Second World War period have been meticulously researched, and the horrors of that dreadful time woven into the story with skill, to produce an atmospheric and riveting novel.

Whilst I would dearly love to accredit a five-star rating to this book, Gerlis' editing is as unremarkable as his skill as a storyteller is irrefutable. There are countless errors (words missing, spelling, punctuation and some bad grammatical errors), but it’s a testament to the quality of the story and writing (for the most part) that I can still attribute a healthy four stars. The book appears to be well accepted, so I fear future professional editing may well be bypassed. I’ll just hope.

This was an unexpected reading pleasure. Historical novels, though not excluded from my reading, are less favoured, but this certainly grabbed my attention, and I had no option but to neglect my daily chores and use matchsticks to prop my eyes open in the small hours of the morning. The end had to be reached as quickly as possible! Highly recommended.

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Complicit by Gillian E. Hamer Epub

This was a compelling story that kept my nose firmly between the pages…I did actually guess ‘whodunnit’ before the revelation, but it didn’t mar my enjoyment at all, although I felt ten chapters dedicated to a war some two millennia earlier were rather boring and unnecessary. The relevance of the war to the plot could have been woven into the story in other ways.

Descendants of the Druids involved in that war hold secrets that one person wants to know…badly. So badly, in fact, that serial killings become the urgent focus of three detectives. A killer is at large who will stop at nothing to unearth these very closely guarded secrets.

It was a surprise to me to discover that this book is actually the third in a series, so I was particularly impressed how well it stood alone. The characters and plot are well developed (perhaps just a tad muddled towards the end). I also had to suspend disbelief…Druids might have had ‘seers’ in their midst in 60 AD…but in the twenty-first century? I don’t think so.

For all that, it was a gripping book and deserves a five-star rating, but sadly, the editing wasn’t up to scratch. Grammatical errors, some odd phrases verging on Malapropisms and a bunch of punctuation faux pas (too much reliance on software editing) means I have to knock a star off.

Notwithstanding, I like this author and will certainly hunt out more of her books.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

One Hospital Nightmare by A. P. Kasch


This novella was a little bit bland, despite the hint that the ‘nightmare’ of the title indicates some suspense, perhaps, and/or horror. 

After visiting his friend, Jared, in hospital, Nick finds himself in the same hospital after careless driving causes him to crash his car. His stay is from boring: the nurses put a new spin on ‘attentiveness’, time seems to move agonisingly slowly, if at all, and how on earth is he in the middle of a Comanche Indian battle that happened a hundred and seventy years earlier? The lines between reality and nightmare become rather blurred for Nick. He needs to find a logical explanation. Was it the medication having some sort of weird side effects?

The characters were rather one-dimensional, the dialogue a bit stilted and the historical fiction seemed a little too detached from the story—almost incongruous.

It was neatly ended, but it just left me thinking, ‘oh, okay’ rather than, ‘wow, that was a good story’.

If you like a marriage between modern-day hospital mystery and historical fiction, you may like this. It’s certainly an easy, short read, so you don’t have to invest too much time in it. For me, it just lacked a little 'oomph'.

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