Fantasy · Fiction · Historical · Romance · Young Adult

Blood and Sand

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Title: Blood and Sand

Author: C.V. Wyk

Performer: Brittany Pressley

Length: 8 hr, 58 min, 58 sec

Series: Blood and Sand, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by MacMillan Young Listeners

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I really enjoyed the first half of this book because I thought the author did a great job introducing the time period, setting, and characters.  The second half of the book is where she started to lose me.  I would say that this book is more strongly categorized as historical fiction rather than fantasy.  I typically enjoy both genres immensely, but I hesitate to even call this fantasy.  It’s more like unrealistic historical fiction.  The only thing that could qualify this series as fantasy was how preposterous the fight scenes were in the second half of the book.  One scene in particular, the most pivotal in terms of driving the direction of the story, was a monumental disappointment because quite frankly it made no sense.  The fallout of this particular scene was equally disappointing.  A lot gets thrown at you at the end, and the puzzle pieces just fit together too perfectly to be realistic.

All criticisms aside, I think that Wyk is a talented writer and I enjoyed enough things about this book to continue with the series when the next book is published.

Finally, I thought the reader for this eAudiobook had a nice voice, but in my opinion wasn’t well suited for this particular book.  I’ve heard her narrate other books and liked those performances far more than I did this one.  Perhaps this is because I did not care for the character voices and accents she chose for some of the main characters, particularly Attia.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical

Realm

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Title: Realm

Author: Alexandrea Weis

Page Count: 397

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 14, 2019 by Vesuvian Books

Format: eBook

Review: I first off want to state that although the cover art for this book is gorgeous, it is highly misleading.  Roxana was not in any way a warrior princess.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  She spent most of her time sequestered away in baggage caravans and palace quarters.  Her entire life was mostly dictated by others, and though a lot happens in the background, not much actually happens to her until the end.  I will, however, say that this book was well researched.  Some creative liberties were taken, but it seemed that for the most part, the author adhered to what experts speculate happened to the real Roxana and her family.  For some reason I was not really expecting this and thought that this would be a looser adaptation of historical events.  In a way this was a pleasant surprise, because I learned more about an intriguing woman from the past, and it made me interested in conducting a little bit of research on my own.  History buffs will really enjoy this book, but those looking for a thrilling adventure will probably find the pacing to be too slow.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Historical · Non-fiction

The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
Title: 
The Lost City of Z

Author: David Grann

Page Count: 352

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2009/Doubleday

Format: eBook

Review: I will read anything and everything written by David Grann. He has such an amazing writing style, so it’s very easy to get caught up in his work. In the Lost City of Z, he talks about Percy Fawcet and his multiple trips into the Amazon and then goes and tries to recreate the route he was taking when he disappeared. The book alternates between both tales: the past and the present, meaning you aren’t stuck too long on one specific part of the story.

I quickly got swept up in the exploration of the Amazon and the charting of the unknown, and it’s easy to see why Grann frequently writes about people obsessed: he can get into that mindset himself and tell their stories in ways that make the reader feel it too. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever suffered from wanderlust and loves to explore.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Historical · Non-fiction

DOUBLE REVIEW: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

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Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Page Count: 262

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 4th 2018 by Harper (first published January 27th 2018)

Format: Paperback

Review: I loved this book. It’s heartbreaking and awe-inspiring and wonderfully written. It’s a quick read, which is good because you don’t want to get stuck in that mindset for too long, since it’s about Auschwitz.

Lale’s story is one of immense hardship and Heather Morris tells it very well. It also makes you wonder what you would do if put in his position. He was a remarkable man, and I really enjoyed reading about him.

Lale, as the title suggests, was a tattooist at the concentration camp. His job was to etch numbers on the arms of the new prisoners, and what first grabbed me about him was how he tried to be gentle with Gita’s when she came into his line. He did not know her but he felt the need to make this process as easy as possible, to the point where he almost got in serious trouble for going so slowly. Sometimes it’s the small things that endear someone to you so much.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

 

Review: This is an incredibly moving book, and it is no wonder that it is a best seller (it had over 80 holds in my library system at one point!).  This book is a very quick read, so I recommend reading it in one sitting if you can.

As you can imagine, the content of this book is incredibly sad.  My stomach was churning literally the whole time I was reading it.  It is through a series of miracles, both large and small, that the main characters, Lale and Gita, survive.  Honestly I don’t know if I could have made it through the book without knowing that in advance.

This is one of the rare cases that instant love between two people in a story does not make me roll my eyes.  It is literally love at first sight for these two, and though they know very little about each other, it is a love so pure it makes your heart ache.

There is one particular scene in this book that stands out to me and I think it really encapsulates the heart of this story.  Lale comes across a single flower while walking to his barracks one day, and the mere sight of it gives him pause.  It is such a rare sight to see something so delicate and beautiful that he can’t help but stop and marvel at it.  In my mind, this flower is symbolic of the love between Lale and Gita.  It is the one beautiful thing blossoming in a landscape of unimaginable horrors.

After reading this book it is hard not to believe in the concept of soul mates.  It is unlikely that these two would have met under any other circumstances, and it is even more unlikely that they would have both been able to survive the atrocities committed against them.  Yet they did meet, they did fall in love, and they did survive.   This was a story that needed to be told, and I am so glad it has reached such a wide audience.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Historical · Non-fiction

How to Remove a Brain

Title: How to Remove a Brain

Author: David Haviland

Page Count: N/A

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: July 2017/ Thistle Publishing

Format: eBook

Review: This was a fun, quirky read. It’s full of interesting stories and tidbits about medical history, including, of course, how to go about removing a brain. Each chapter is broken down into multiple stories relating to one overall theme, meaning it can be read quickly, which is always nice.

David Haviland managed to write the exact amount needed for each topic, never going too far or coming up short. The reader is given the relevant information and can go on to read more on their own time if they want, which means the book isn’t bogged down with too much needless information.

Haviland debunks popular medical myths and discusses how they most likely started. He also finds the obscure fact in order to keep you on your toes.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes medical facts, history, and stories and wants a quick, fun read.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical · Romance · Young Adult

Lovely War

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Title: Lovely War

Author: Julie Berry

Page Count: 480

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 5, 2019 by Viking Books for Young Readers

Format: eBook

Review: In the past I have enjoyed both books relating to Greek mythology and World War I/II.  Never before have a read a book that combines both themes.  It is an interesting concept, and I gave the book an extra half star in my rating for originality.

There were parts of the story I really enjoyed, however, there were also parts that I felt fell short of my expectations.  This story is meant to be a sweeping romance, intertwining three sets of lovers, but I did not feel swept away by any of the couples.  It is a very sweet story, and I greatly enjoyed the historical aspects.  The two mortal lovers are struggling through a very dark point in history, World War I.  This is a less common setting than the more commonly discussed World War II.

Trench warfare is truly heinous, and I think the author did a good job of depicting how wretched and traumatizing fighting in this war was.  I was less of a fan of the insta-love that sprang up between the two mortal couples.  I know that war has a tendency to heighten emotion, but the complete and utter devotion that the couples felt towards each other upon meeting was a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around.

I was not at all a fan of how the author incorporated the mythological aspect of the Greek gods into the story. To be honest, it didn’t really seem as well constructed as the rest of the story, and it did not really add much to the plot other than an introduction of the mortal characters.  I think the story would have read equally well if this portion of the story had been eliminated entirely.

In the end, I can safely say that I liked the story but did not love it.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Historical · Non-fiction · True Crime

The Lady in the Cellar

Title: The Lady in the Cellar

Author: Sinclair McKay

Page Count: Unknown

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 30 October/ White Lion Publishing

Format: eReader

Review: I really enjoyed this book. Sinclair McKay has an amazing writing style, bringing the historical mystery to life and giving enough background information without it feeling like you’re being bogged down with too much information.

The mystery is so engaging and kept me guessing the whole time, which is not something I can say about too many mysteries these days. They tend to be predictable and the twists and turns aren’t actual twists and turns. This one had me at the edge of my seat, so definitely no complaints there.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good yet quick read.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star