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Dominion by C J Sansom

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Dominion

Dominion

1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers, and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk. As the long German war against Russia rages on in the east, the British people find themselves under dark authoritarian rule: the press, radio and television are controlled; the streets patrolled by violent auxiliary police and British Jews face ever greater constraints. There are terrible rumours too about what is happening in the basement of the German Embassy at Senate House. Defiance, though, is growing. In Britain, Winston Churchill’s Resistance organisation is increasingly a thorn in the government’s side. And in a Birmingham mental hospital an incarcerated scientist, Frank Muncaster, may hold a secret that could change the balance of the world struggle forever. Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance, is given by them the mission to rescue his old friend Frank and get him out of the country. Before long he, together with a disparate group of Resistance activists, will find themselves fugitives in the midst of London’s Great Smog; as David’s wife Sarah finds herself drawn into a world more terrifying than she ever could have imagined. And hard on their heels is Gestapo Sturmbannfuhrer Gunther Hoth, brilliant, implacable hunter of men . . (from Goodreads)

It’s been a while since I’ve read a real good alternate history book. This one really got me turning the pages and got me wanting to stay up late to finish it (despite it being about the size of a tome).

So the book is mostly told in three different character narratives. David, Frank, or Sarah. The three characters have issues of their own, (David and Sarah sharing a personal tragedy) each of them having their own way of developing their character throughout the story. Suffice to say, all three of them are stronger than how they started off in the book. Frank, I would have to say, ends up being the strongest one of them all. Of the three I’d have to say it’s a close tie between Sarah and Frank as my favorite. Frank especially, after all that he goes through and with a superb background story. I liked Sarah a lot because although she was going through so many marital issues with David, she got it all together in the end and was able to face the danger and she managed to save face and stand head to head to Natalia (whom I found rather odious and extremely unlikable). Good for Sarah, on top of that instead of breaking down like a poor sod with her marriage issues she met them straight on and told David exactly how she felt. Sarah darling, I’m holding a torch for you.

David would be my least favorite character – but a step above Syme and Natalia (oh goodness, yes I put Syme and Natalia in the same boat here). He was okay until this thing with Natalia come up and he suddenly became a likeable very helpful and loyal character to a lovesick poor twit who behaved like a dumb cow. Get over it buddy. You have much more IMPORTANT things to do but noooooooo you got the one track mind going on here (the scene with saying goodbye on the boat just about had me wanting to push David off of it. Seriously!?! your wife is looking at you and while she’s surviving on her own without any help from you, you’re too busy looking for Natalia arrghhh!!! You don’t deserve Sarah!!!!!!)

The plot overall was excellent and well written. It gives a good alternate history of a ‘what if’ scenario and does it well. It nice both sides (German and Resistance) are portrayed here. I sort of felt sorry for Gunther, but on the other hand I didn’t because he was your typical Nazi with those silly political views which induces eye rolling throughout certain parts of the book but you can also feel a sort of weariness in him as if he’s really tired of it all.

The author’s note in the back provides good insight and information that deserves a walk through. Overall I was very pleased and happy with the book and am glad I had the opportunity to read and review it. Greatly recommended and I’m definitely going to check out C J Sansom’s other works.

I give it a 9.5 out of 10.

Thank you so much for the review copy! I apologize the review is late!

Written by Karoline

March 26, 2014 at 7:43 am

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

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Sweetly

Sweetly

As a child, Gretchen’s twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch’s forest threatening to make them disappear, too. Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They’re invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion. Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past — until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn’t gone — it’s lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak’s infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is. Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry. (From Goodreads)

The story was good at first. The mystery aspect of the story and the scary moments were well done and gave me the heebie jeebies. I was sort of hoping for a sequel to Sisters Red but knew this wasn’t the case as I read the summary before so I was mildly disappointed. Although it’s nice to see fairy tale retellings.

What’s guaranteed is your sweet tooth will start to crave the various delicious sweets and desserts listed all throughout the book. You’ll want to raid a sweet shop after reading this book. They’re told in descriptive detail and it’s very well done.

Although that aspect of the writing was good, I have to say I didn’t really enjoy reading the story that much. It was slow paced and I found it quite dry in some parts. Gretchen wasn’t much to be intrigued about. Also even the romance between her and Samuel just didn’t have enough to get my attention. So the ending went out with a bang but it just wasn’t enough to make up for such a dry book.

Needless to say I was disappointed. This could have been better. Sure, I feel like grabbing a handful of candies and cupcakes and there were moments of scariness but there characters didn’t really engage me and I didn’t find this a page turner. Take it or leave it. Lovely cover though!

I give it a 5/10

Written by Karoline

March 19, 2014 at 8:14 am

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

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VespertineIt’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause. (From Amazon.ca)

This was an okay book. Certainly not the best, but it had it’s moments where it did engage me as a reader. The book had some gothic overtones and the setting of the story (which was Victorian but in the USA era) was interesting – which kept my curiosity going. I really enjoyed reading about Amelia because she didn’t care what others thought of her or what society thought. She did whatever she wanted to do despite the consequences.

I really liked her paired up with Zora. They were like two kindred spirits and made an interesting duo to read. The other characters were also pretty good. I’m trying to figure out whether Nathaniel is some other worldly creature, or just someone with paranormal powers. I was a bit confused there (I’m sure that’s probably explained in the other two books)

What bugged me about this book is, it went at such a great pace, and then halfway through the book it slows to the pace of waiting for the entire carton of molasses to empty. It goes SUPER SLOW. Almost to the point where I wanted to give up the book. I’m not sure why it became this way, after being halfway in the book you’re then set back on pace and the book gets interesting in the end. In fact it’s the ending that makes up for the snail’s pace. Sort of.

Worth a read and if possible, try and work your way through the snail trail in the book. The ending makes the reading worth it. Otherwise if you don’t have the patience, you might as well pass this one by.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

 

Written by Karoline

February 19, 2014 at 7:48 am

The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy

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The Soldier's WifeAs World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship and her family safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger. (From Goodreads)

The main thing that I really enjoyed about this book was although it went at an enormously slow pace it was the detailed writing that made it really good. The story itself was also really good, despite the theme being bleak and only gets much more bleaker towards the ending. The writing throughout the book was very well done I especially liked the descriptions of the island, despite the war theme, the island was separated from all that and really seemed like a beautiful place to be.

The beginning of the book goes pretty slow. Well, the pace is actually pretty slow throughout, however it’s fitting because it’s like living on this island, time seems to go slow since it’s not really directly involved in the war (not so much as other countries that is). It picks up a little through the second half although not considerably.

The characters in the book seem to be very well done. Vivienne and Gunther together just seemed to fit well. I’d rather hoped the outcome would have been different for the both of them but their endings were very well done and realistic in accordance to the time period of the story.

Despite the slow pace of the book, it’s still worth a read. The bleak theme and the idyllic setting is an interesting contrast but provides a good balance between the two. It’s a well written dramatic plot that will stick with you even after you finish the book.

I give it a 9 out of 10

Written by Karoline

February 5, 2014 at 7:00 am

The Hidden by Jessica Verday

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The HiddenAbbey knows that Caspian is her destiny. Theirs is a bond that transcends even death. But as Abbey finally learns the full truth about the dark fate that links her to Caspian and ties them both to the town of Sleepy Hollow, she suddenly has some very hard choices to make. Caspian may be the love of her life, but is that love worth dying for? Beautifully spun, emotionally gripping, and irresistibly romantic, The Hidden will leave you breathless. (From Goodreads)

I loved The Hollow and The Haunted. Both stories were well written with rich detailed settings, beautiful descriptions, and the characters were also very well done. Overall those two books were excellent. So. Of course my expectations for The Hidden were high as I assumed it would be just as awesome as the first two.

Okay. So the romance between Abbey and Caspian was beautifully written. They were just about perfect together. They had the chemistry going and Caspian was such a sweetheart (the tuxedo moment anyone?). It was like the ideal boyfriend that just about every girl would love to have.

Now we get to the sticky parts. I’m not sure what was going on in the third and final book but why was there so many new elements introduced??? it just seems a bit late to be introducing these new plot hooks and characters isn’t it? why wasn’t this in at least the second book and not crammed all in the conclusion? It just seems like these new characters were created just for the sake of convenience.

((Warning, spoiler ahead. Stop if you haven’t read the book yet))

Then we come down to the part where it really gets a bit ugly. Abbey had everything going for her. EVERYTHING. Except of course choosing between the boyfriend and a life owning your own store with massive opportunities ahead. I can’t say agree with her choice. Seriously? I understand you love the guy so much and you’d do anything to be with him (literally…like dying). Is that really a wise choice? Sure Caspian’s a great guy but to throw away all that, die just to be with him? I was at a massive mind blowing standstill between the feeling of: ‘did that just really happen?’ ‘you seriously chose to die to be with your boyfriend?’ and then the feeling of: ‘I can’t believe you did this, what the…MOTHER FATHER GENTLEMAN, did you actually do what you just did’ to slapping the book closed and cursing for a good solid few minutes non stop.

No I did not agree with her choice.
And this is why I’m starting to hate it when a series is about to wrap themselves up. Everything is rushed just to finish this book, slap in some strange new elements and rush everything in the last novel only to end it this way. Gee. Thanks for making me wait for an ending that feels like a giant slap in face when I greatly enjoyed the first two books.

why have endings to such great trilogies become so…..bad????

I give it a 4/10

Written by Karoline

January 28, 2014 at 9:36 pm

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

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The Other CountessIt’s 1582 and eighteen-year-old Will Lacey’s family is in trouble. After years of wasteful spending, his late father has run Lacey Hall to near ruin. Tasked with marrying his family back into fortune, the new Earl of Dorset is all set for a season at court to woo not just the Queen but potential brides with his jousting skills. But when Ellie – a strong-willed girl with nothing to her name but a worthless Spanish title – catches Will’s eye, he faces a bigger battle than he could ever have anticipated. (From Goodreads)

I really enjoyed the storyline in this book. It wasn’t that heavy on the history although the setting was well done. It was the characters that did the trick with this book and the romance. Now I’m not a romance type of reader but the romance aspect of the story was nice and sweet and went well hand in hand with the story as well.

There’s lots of chemistry between the main couple really helped this book come along. Besides Ellie and Will, the other characters were very memorable (Jane and James, Diego are great examples).

Usually with this type of historical fiction you have a nice blend of political intrigue, this story, doesn’t have that – but it’s good, because it’s not needed. However Edwards adds in the conflict between Catholics and Protestants to give it a more historical feel to it but not so overwhelming on the history lesson – which is great since this book caters to Young Adults.

Wonderful read, and with a beautiful ending. I know there’s two more books after this so I’ll be sure to pick them up. This was a great read with characters that are well done and memorable. It’s a sweet romance without it being cheesy and silly. It’s worth reading even for those who aren’t into romances like I am.

I give it a 10/10

Written by Karoline

January 21, 2014 at 8:12 pm

The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

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The Night EternalIt’s been two years since the vampiric virus was unleashed in The Strain and the entire world now lies on the brink of annihilation. There has been a mass extermination of humans orchestrated by the Master—an ancient vampire possessed of unparalleled powers. The future of humankind lies in the hands of a ragtag band of freedom fighters—Dr. Eph Goodweather, Dr. Nora Martinez, Vasiliy Fet, and Mr. Quinlan, the half-breed offspring of the Master who is bent on revenge. It’s their job to overturn this devastating new world order. But good and evil are malleable terms now, and the Master is most skilled at preying on the weaknesses of humans. Now, at this critical hour, there is evidence of a traitor in their midst. . . And only one man holds the answer to the Master’s demise, but is he one who can be trusted with the fate of the world? And who among them will pay the ultimate sacrifice—so that others may be saved? (From Goodreads)

I liked the first two. This one I can’t say I’m too happy with the ending. I’d have to say at least the mood for the setting and the feeling throughout the book was pretty good. The violence and horror aspect of the book makes the setting have a post apocalyptic feeling so this part of the book was well done too.

The background story of Quinlan was also good. Although I can’t help but think the whole angels and Old Testament muck is just that. Muck something much more interesting could have been thought up but no. We have to go back the same past ideas that have been rehashed and reused over and over. I wasn’t interested in that. On top of that, the romance aspects and that horrible excuse of a love triangle with Eph, Fet and Nora was just terrible and unnecessary.

In fact the majority of the characters in this book just took a downturn for the not so interesting and blah. Eph becomes emo and whiny to the point where reading about him makes you want to cringe. Nora is okay but she suddenly becomes this besotted lovesick twit with Fet and they’re so bloody mismatched it wasn’t worth reading. Let’s not get started on Zack either. Oh my. Did I ever wish he would be choked to death by one of these vampiric beasts. Was he ever a waste of pages.

To top it off, the ending just didn’t do it right for me. When I read that, I nearly wanted to close the book in utter disgust but kept going a little more only to find more snippets of stupid Nora and Fet. Oh for crying out loud, I raved and loved the first two books only to get a real good slap upside the face with this drivel? Most disappointing final book in a series. Ever. This one just took that award by storm.

The only thing I liked? was Quinlan and the dark mood that set the setting and feeling for the book. Yet the rest of the characters just killed the story. I only finished it because it’s part of a series and a small part of me wanted to see it until the end. Disappointing, and sad to see it go a great series end this way.

I give it a 3 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

January 14, 2014 at 9:23 pm

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