Innovative Use Of Both Duology And Story-Within-A-Story. There is so much to like about this book, but I suspect that later reviews will hit all you need to know about just how strong at least one of the two romances here is – one is clearly one of those life-altering once-in-a-lifetime loves which we mostly see play out via two books, the other romance is a more contemporary (40 years ago anyway, which is still more recent than the 80 yrs ago for the first romance) tale of two people coming together via unusual circumstance. But it is truly the duology/ story-within-a-story structure that I want to highlight here, as this is what truly propels this book and makes it everything that it eventually becomes. I’d never seen this particular approach done – yes, there are other books with stories-within-stories, but this was truly the first time I’d ever encountered a duology done this way, and Davis manages to make all *three* books – the duology plus this actual book we’re actually reading “in real life” – truly compelling due to the nature of how she has crafted this. Simply superb, and truly, truly well executed. And yes, the actual romance aspects of this are well done, as are the heart-wrenching dramatics. You want a book for “Most Anticipated of 2023”? This very book had better be on that list. Very much recommended.
This review of The Echo Of Old Books by Barbara Davis was originally written on December 23, 2022.
For this blog tour we’re looking at a WWII action tale built more for guys, without the emotional impact of similar works in women’s fiction. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Last Of The Seven by Steven Hartov.
Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:
Slow Start Builds To Action-Packed Finish. This book is one that starts with an intriguing mystery – a man shows up at a British post in the northern Africa desert during the Africa Campaign of WWII wearing a German uniform and claiming to be British – and builds a bit slowly and at times seemingly disjointedly – random flashbacks to this soldier’s memories from Jewish persecutions in Berlin – to a bit of a romance middle and then an action packed final mission reminiscent of most any WWII movie. Overall a solid war tale for guys, with a lot of the emotional punch of women’s fiction WWII historical fiction largely removed in favor of showing people actively being blown apart or shredded by machine gun fire. Recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher’s details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Last Of The Seven by Steven Hartov”
For this blog tour we’re looking at a moving portrait of a loving daughter trying to understand her tortured artist father… and a protective sister trying to prevent her artist brother from becoming too haunted by the war they are living through. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Girl With The Scarlet Ribbon by Suzanne Goldring.
Moving Portrait Of Tortured Artist And Loving Daughter. This is an interesting dual timeline historical, one in which a man is at the center of both timelines… and yet his own perspective is never once actually included in the narrative. And yet despite this, the book does *not* come across as misandristic at all, as the two perspectives we *do* get – the man’s older sister in WWII Florence and his daughter in 2019 – are both seeking to understand him in their own ways. Thus, this book actually becomes an interesting look at how the experience of war ultimately shapes lives in so many divergent ways. While little of the horrors are shown “on screen”, some are, including a few murders, torture with a cigarette, general abuse, and a rape attempt (that may or may not be successful). Also discussed is how the Jews of the area are rounded up, gang rapes (alluded to but not directly shown), and how a citizenry can live with themselves not stopping either. So truly a lot of horrific stuff – and even after the Allies “liberate” the city, at least a few pages are devoted to the continued deprivations. Truly a well rounded look at a difficult and trying period – and the modern story of a daughter trying to understand the messages her tortured father left behind are solid as well, without having quite the horrific impact of the WWII scenes. Very much recommended.
After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Girl With The Scarlet Ribbon by Suzanne Goldring”
This week we’re looking at a particularly timely – though not *quite* complete – look at the history of one of the most important human rights – up there with the rights of property and of defending said property. This week we’re looking at Free Speech by Jacob Mchangama.
One Of The Most Thorough Histories Of The Field I’ve Come Across. This is exactly what the title here says – easily one of the most thorough histories of the concepts of free speech I’ve ever seen, from their earliest incarnations into where the two competing versions came into their own in Athens – more unlimited, though not without certain hypocrisies – and Rome – more elite controlled and even, as the title notes, into the realm of social media, Donald Trump, and even (with a few scant sentences) COVID-19. Timed a bit interestingly (and without any way to know beforehand) so close to the Neil Young / Joe Rogan spat over Spotify, this is truly a strong history for anyone who claims to promote the ideal, one that shows that pretty well everyone who does or ever has has been a hypocrite to some degree or another regarding the topic. Indeed, if any real critique can be had here, it is that Mchangama, even while noting the cenorious actions of social media giants of late, fails to note that corporations can have a chilling effect on the free speech of their employees and those they do business with (hello, Spotify and too many businesses to list here). Though he does at least touch on the idea as it relates to modern academia and yes, cancel culture. There are also a few throwaway lines late re: “fact checkers” and COVID “misinformation” that are more YMMV level on, but which in the end aren’t substantial enough to warrant a star deduction over. This is, again, absolutely a book that anyone who claims to love free speech should absolutely read. Very much recommended.
One Book. Two Stories. Both Compelling. This is a story with a LOT going on and a LOT of intricacies that it seems most (at least those on Goodreads so far, about 5 weeks before publication) miss out on touching on. This is effectively *both* a historical fiction (which I think it will ultimately be marketed as) of a young Jewish girl in WWII who leaves a diary behind (where does that ring a bell? 😉 ) *and* a modern day psychological drama. Valpy does a remarkable job of bringing a sensuous and visceral understanding of both periods of Casablanca and Morocco, and both periods and their relevant issues – WWII / Nazis / Resistance / Operation Torch and modern shipping conglomerates / expats / refugees / immigrants – are shown in a degree of realism not often seen. Truly, either story could have been expanded a bit more – perhaps by extending out the later chapters of both – and stood equally well as standalone books. Which is high praise, as few dual timeline historical fiction books can pull this off, in my own reading experience at least. Truly a remarkable book, and very much recommended.
This review of The Storyteller of Casablanca by Fiona Valpy was originally written on August 16, 2021.
Engaging Account Of Oft Overlooked Era. The period between D-Day (and the summer of 1944 generally) and the Battle of the Bulge (again, and winter 1944-45 generally) is one of the more overlooked eras of WWII, particularly in the zeitgeist of at minimum Americans. (I cannot speak to what Europeans think/ know, as I’ve never been closer to that continent than off the coast of the State of New Hampshire.) Here, King sets out to tell the tales of this overlooked period via numerous first hand accounts and other sources, showing through the eyes of the people that were there what was happening and through the other sources of history what was going on around those events. This is one of those books that will serve as a wakeup call to those who romanticize this particular war and these particular soldiers, as King makes the point quite well – and repeatedly – that given the pervasive and frequent abuses from *all* sides, there truly were truly few innocents involved in any angle of this, certainly of the adult (and even teenager/ young adult) variety. Even knowing that both of my grandfathers were there among some of these very events (both would survive the Bulge itself), I find King’s prose and commentary compelling here. He does a tremendous job of truly showing just how horrific this period was on *everyone* involved, not just the soldiers and not just the victims of the Holocaust – though he does indeed cover many of the horrors both of those groups saw in this period as well. Truly an outstanding book, and one anyone interested in WWII needs to read. Very much recommended.
This review of Driving Back The Nazis by Martin King was originally written on April 25, 2021.
Space. Nazis. In The Future! I didn’t think there was much new ground that The Modern Day Master of Science Fiction, Jeremy Robinson, had left to cover. I was wrong. He hadn’t covered space Nazis in the future yet, and that has now been corrected in truly awesome fashion. This one has everything you would expect from a tale of late 80s Special Forces soldiers being thrust 1,000 years into a future where the Nazis eventually came back, destroyed Earth… and are trying to take over the entire galaxy. Some Firefly, a good dose of WALL-E, and a few key callbacks to other previous Robinson books (easily explained in context, but then you’re going to want to go read those books too 🙂 ). And a pair of significant cameos at the end that could signal that Robinson is FINALLY about to give us another Avengers Level Event soon! All told, one of Robinson’s more fun books to date, which is saying quite a bit, and very much recommended.
This review of ExoHunter by Jeremy Robinson was originally written on August 12, 2020.
Riveting and Illuminating. Despite being one of those “know a little about a lot” types, I fully admit that prior to reading this book, I didn’t know much about the Bismark or its sinking. I knew that it was the pride of the Nazi German Navy during WWII, that it was supposedly the most deadly ship afloat, and that it was sunk in a famous naval battle. Thus sums up my knowledge of the topic prior to reading this book. Yet Konstam does a deep dive into the full history of the Bismark and the events leading to its demise, and he does it in a very readable fashion almost akin to watching an actual movie about it. Thus, this naval historian – not exactly a group known for their readability outside their own circles – crafts a tale Tom Clancy would be hard pressed to top, even were he still alive. Truly excellent work. Very much recommended.
This review of Hunt the Bismark by Angus Konstam was originally written on August 24, 2019.
The End of the Beginning. This was an excellent tale of Dane Maddock and Uriah ‘Bones’ Bonebreak’s final mission as US Navy SEALs. As with the Star Wars prequel series, everything we have known that was specific to this era and would not continue into the next is resolved, while the things that do continue into the next era are set up nicely and alluded to hilariously. Truly an excellent tale that does all that it needs to do yet never feels burdened by the load at all, doing it all organically within the story itself.
This review of Bloodstorm by David Wood and Sean Ellis was originally published on April 12, 2019.