Still every bit as devastating as when I read this book a few years ago, when it had just come out.... Mr. Zusak carefully weaves his story, helping u...moreStill every bit as devastating as when I read this book a few years ago, when it had just come out.... Mr. Zusak carefully weaves his story, helping us to fully empathize Liesel and her life to this point. We feel her pain and her fear as she struggles to accept that her life has just improved. We feel her frustration when she wants to read but stubbornly tries to pretend as if she already can.
Her fascination with books is visceral - it calls to those of us who also love books and are fascinated with them. Since I mostly read e-books now, re-reading these passages as she describes the smell and feel of the books... wow.
As always, I wish I could change the story's ending... but alas. That's part of what makes this book so powerful. It's a great way to help young adults (12+) to feel and understand the events of World War II and why it's so important for us to not forget, but to always remember, the inhumanity that man is capable of against his fellow man.(less)
It was kind of nice to have a "break" after the intensity of the previous book... This one is set in good ol' Hollywood USA. J (Jane) Mercedes Chadwic...moreIt was kind of nice to have a "break" after the intensity of the previous book... This one is set in good ol' Hollywood USA. J (Jane) Mercedes Chadwick is a twentysomething producer who's currently producing a film with a gay storyline based on a true story and real people... and a group calling themselves the Freedom Network, which is really a front for a group of men with lots of guns who have a very narrow view of freedom. And they don't appreciate the son of an uberconservative judge that they idolize being featured as "gay". Enough so that one or more of them is an active threat to Mercedes.
Enter Troubleshooters Inc! The studio currently filming Mercedes' picture hires Tom P's firm to provide personal security for Mercedes. But she's got a reputation as A Party Producer, and she's not about to go quietly... Enter Cosmo, the quiet one. He's currently on leave from active SEAL duty; Cosmo's mother fell and broke both her wrists, and he took care of her until she got a bit too active for him; he's now hired nurses to handle her care. But Cosmo is at odds... so he asks Tom for something to do. And Tom assigns him to the team guarding Mercedes, which includes Tess, Nash, Murphy, and more.
Mercedes' brother, Robin, is an up-and-coming actor that she's hired to play Hal, the son of the revered judge who's so closeted and confused about his sexuality, it takes a war and an openly gay man (Jack) to bring him out. Which mirrors Robin's real life; he masks his confusion and pain in alcohol and meaningless, mindless sex with lots of women. It's not until Robin meets Jules Cassidy that he realizes that there might be more to his "finding himself". Which gets really confused when Jules' ex, Adam, shows up; turns out Adam realizes that Jules is associated with a production that might just get Adam a plum starring role as Jack and jump start his acting career in L.A. Is Adam only using Jules or does he really want to get back together with him? It's a heartbreak and a half for everyone involved, especially Jules.
The Cosmo-Jane (Mercedes) story was refreshing. Sure, these two people have their own issues. Cosmo doesn't usually talk to anyone. But he finds he can talk to Jane. And he can see through the persona that she tries too hard to keep in place - the one that should bring her fame and fortune in the eyes of Hollywood. I like these two together - a lot. I just don't know what will happen when the book fades to black. Seems like her lifestyle is going to demand a lot more of the Mercedes Party Girl persona to keep her on top, especially if this movie is a hit. How does that fit with Cosmo's plan to stay with the SEALs a few more years and then join Troublshooters Inc?
But I really appreciated that neither Jane nor Cosmo pulled any BIG MISUNDERSTANDING or threw loads of anger or self-loathing around at the other. I appreciated the maturity of two adults with a mutual attraction figuring it out... navigating the waters, so to speak. It felt very real and mostly drama-free. For a change - hallelujah!
The Adam-Jules-Robin triangle is a new one... and it's done well. I didn't sense any real change in Ms. Brockmann's style as she tells the story about confusion, love, identity crisis, betrayal, and more. Because, really, people are people; love is love; and people do strange things to push love away or to try desperately to get it. And that's what we see with Adam, Jules, and Robin.
There's a heart-rending twist with Murphy in this story... but I don't want to do spoiler tags. Just that my heart goes out to him. I'm glad that Tom, Kelly, and others were involved and hopefully able to help Murphy to heal in every way that he needs to heal.
The spark is still there between Deck and Sophia, who are both inadvertently pulled into this story. It makes me wonder if Brockmann meant for them to become the next Alyssa-Sam storyline - the lovers we pine for her to get together... finally! But it feels all too soon for Sophia, and Deck is obviously not ready to confront his own reality and feelings. So I'm sure it'll pick up in another book.
For the lightness of this book, there are sure some rough times in it. And the WWII story isn't told in flashbacks, but rather through the film progression. I enjoyed Jack a lot. And I really liked how he helped Adam, Robin, and Jules. Jack is a great role model for a man who doesn't apologize for who and what he is... he lives his life and takes what he can from it without regret. (less)
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book.... Some of the GR reviews that I've scanned indicate that some readers feel it's a "pity party...more4+ stars
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book.... Some of the GR reviews that I've scanned indicate that some readers feel it's a "pity party" book, and I suppose, in some ways, it is. But it's about real emotions, even if those emotions seem to be about pity.
IMO, this book is about the price of not speaking up and asking for what you want - or taking it. It's about living too much in your head and not enough living. And, wow, that speaks to me.
Mary Lou - Sam - Ihbraham I know that this is supposed to be one of the two "side stories" in the book, but it's on my mind the most. It was easy to see Mary Lou as just some slut who tricked Sam into marrying her. It was easy to see Sam as the victim of that. But, I'm really, really glad that Ms. Brockmann didn't allow us to stay there. While it might have been annoying at first, I came to appreciate Mary Lou's point of view.
Yes, ML made some mistakes. She thought that bagging a SEAL meant a HEA - a far cry from her life thus far. And, in her favor, ML is a great mom to Haley. If she weren't, it would so much easier to hate her. But the truth is, ML's done a good job raising Haley and keeping a house together, essentially on her own. Because, yep, Sam's been more absent than present; even when he's there, he's not really engaged. Sam is in straight survival mode, and that's not right.
I was really, really, really glad when Jazz called Sam on it - on not being there, for either Haley or Mary Lou. OK, maybe Sam's not in love with Mary Lou, but SAM made the CHOICE to marry Mary Lou. No one forced him to do so; it's all wonderful that Sam felt obligated to "do the right thing", but in who's eyes? How was making a bad situation worse doing the right thing for anyone? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: My dad, when in the Marine Corps, was given the advice by one of his superiors that "You don't sleep with anyone you can't see yourself being married to."
Seeing ML's POV made it clear that Sam wasn't even trying. And that's sad - no, it's cruel. As a SEAL, Sam does things every day that he'd rather not do, and yet, he does them. I'm not saying that Sam should have forced or faked love; but he should have TRIED. Mary Lou tried, in her own way: she attended AA meetings regularly; she got a part time job; she cleaned, cooked, and did the laundry; she tried to do things to make Sam happy, even if she was overly insecure and overly sensitive at times. Sam didn't try. And that really makes me angry at him.
And on the reverse side, Mary Lou didn't ASK Sam for what she needed. She nagged. She did. She thought he'd know that what she was doing was for him. And while, in a way he did, ML wasn't being the person that Sam knew before they were married. He knew that she was acting, not living. And she wasn't asking for what she really wanted.
Of course, the whole set up with who the bad guy would be... well, let's just say that for it to be Ihbraham would have been too easy and obvious. Ihbraham was obviously a great guy. He took a lot of things in stride. And realizing that Ms. B had to have written this book not long after 9/11, she did an excellent job at putting a human face on Muslims and those of Arabic descent; Ihbraham wasn't al Queda or a Jihadist simply because of his faith or his race. He was a decent guy doing his best to create a living and a life for himself. He was one of the only friends that Mary Lou had - willing to be there for her when no one else was.
And THAT'S ANOTHER STORY: The wives/girlfriends of the SEALs... Yes, in that situation, I probably wouldn't have befriended Mary Lou, either. But, again, seeing things from Mary Lou's POV showed that's not right. No one had to be her bosom buddy; but to extend some sort of friendship to her and to at least attempt to include her... wow. So easy to just flip the Bozo/Bimbo switch and walk away from someone.
Joan and Mike Muldoon Finally, we discover that Muldoon has a personality under all that perfection! He seemed like one of the dullest guys around... nice to know that there's more to the guy than what we've seen so far. His attitude about how he doesn't have to pursue women, they come to him was more than irritating. In this book, I get to see how and why. Ms. Brockmann does a great job of showing us that men can and are relegated to sex symbol status as much or more than women. And men in uniform - officers in uniform - are even more susceptible. Look at how Joan viewed the Admiral (not Larry), LT (Tom Paoletti), and even Jazz at first! They were man-candy to her. So it was easier for me to see how Muldoon, who sometimes still saw himself as that fat nerd kid, would both use and feel used for his looks.
This romance happened FAST. I know, they all seem to, with the exception of Kelly and Tom - they at least knew each other before starting up hot and heavy. And I realize that the urgency and nature of the circumstances of the book - her brother, Donny, the Pres's daughter, Brooke, and the attempted assassination of the President (which was really just crowd terrorism) can bring two people together and forge a bond that can be seen as eternal love. It's tough, 'cuz is it, really?
I have hope for Joan and Mike, mostly because Mike wants it to work. Joan is the Every Woman - she's fairly attractive, smart, ambitious, good at her job... but she's not drop-dead gorgeous. She's got her own body image issues and emotional intimacy issues - some because of her own parents, some because of her brother, and some just because it's not easy to be a modern, independent woman and yet still be seen as desirable. It can be tough to need another person (a man) when as women we're so pushed to not need anyone but ourselves. That's Joan's life. But Muldoon finally get's it. He fumbles and bumbles his way through realizing that without asking - without taking - what he wants from Joan, he'll never get it.
Vince and Charlie This is the ULTIMATE in not asking - not taking. It wasn't until the book was virtually over that Vince realized he hadn't been living his own life for the past 60 years. He was living James' life - Charlie's dead husband's life, or what Vince thought his life would have been.
Heartbreaking. Pure and simple. Not only that Charlie (Charlotte) had never verbalized to Vince how she really thought and felt about James and then about Vince, but also that Vince never asked. Wow.
Their story was a mixture for me - sometimes heart wrenching, sometimes puzzling, and sometimes simply seeming to break up the flow of the story. It was memorable because of the history of the Frogmen - the UDT, which ultimately became the SEALs. ============ Lots of lessons for me in this book. Perhaps not for others. But I'm one of those people who can easily live in her head. And when there, it's easy to forget that living in my head isn't LIVING. It's easy to dream, to hope, to want... but until you ASK or TAKE or DO, nothing changes.
When Mary Lou finally realizes what she wants - to be loved and accepted, she has to let go of some of her previous prejudices. She has to weigh whether being friends and possibly lovers with Ihbraham is more important than the color of his skin, his differences. That her vision of the "perfect" life (with a Navy SEAL) wasn't so perfect - it was her head's version of perfect. ML might not be my cup of tea, but her life's been drastically different than mine has been. I might not approve of the choice that she and her sister Janine made to get pregnant so that Sam would marry her. But where they've been and what they've lived through - well, that was the way that they thought. That was their version and vision of what would be a HEA. (Again, living in the head and not really living.)
Vince spent his LIFE loving a woman he was convinced only loved him as her 2nd choice - in place of her 1st husband, whom he saw as a hero. Vince pushed aside himself and his own bravery and life. Wow. And, unfortunately, as much as his wife truly loved him for him and not as a 2nd choice, she never made that clear. Both of them allowed the ghost of James to disrupt their lives, simply because they didn't discuss him honestly.
And this is where Muldoon comes in. He realized in a very real way when Joan pawned him off (or tried to) on Brooke, the President's daughter, that he didn't want to be anyone's consolation prize... 2nd choice. And he knew that he had to make Joan see that she wasn't a 2nd choice simply because she didn't look the way that she thought she should to be with a "god" like him. Or because she was older than he was.
It's obvious that this book's ending sets us up for what's next: Mary Lou leaves Sam with a quickie note and divorce papers. But she's running. She's afraid that Ihbraham and/or his brothers were involved in the terrorist attack. And she knows, unfortunately, that her car was the means by which those weapons got smuggled onto the base. That's going to come back to haunt both Mary Lou and Sam. I can't even imagine what it'll do to Sam and possibly his career.
I expect we'll learn what happened to Ihbraham because of that very investigation. And that Donny was right - the aliens were watching. Just not aliens from outer space - aliens in the sense that they're foreigners from outside the U.S.
While it's easy to see this book as a pity party, that's only the surface. Human beings get caught up all the time looking at and living regrets. We forget to do what Ihbraham and, obviously, AA tells people all the time: Live NOW - this moment, this day. Tomorrow and next week and next year will come and take care of itself. You can life the NOW right now. And you can do whatever you want to or need to do right NOW. And to me, that's an awesome reminder. Which makes this book an awesome book.(less)
While I really liked Troubleshooters book 1 and was OK with book 2, this book - book 3 - was really something! As friends here on Goodreads told me, T...moreWhile I really liked Troubleshooters book 1 and was OK with book 2, this book - book 3 - was really something! As friends here on Goodreads told me, THIS IS THE BOOK! This is where many of the characters we've been introduced to finally "gel", and we're thrown into another nail-biting mission for SEAL Team Sixteen.
The only issue I had with this book was that, at first, I didn't realize that Helga was reminiscing about the past. And I got really, really confused!!! But the device that the author uses works, once the reader understands it. See, Helga is slowly succumbing to Alzheimer's Disease - she's slowly losing her ability to remember the present, although the past is like yesterday to her.
I learned about WWII Denmark - plenty of things I didn't know, such as the Danish didn't put up with the hatred of Nazi Jews. In fact, almost all of the Danish Jews safely got away to Sweden, because the country and its people didn't allow the Germans to force the Jews to wear the yellow stars or have their rights and property taken away. It was refreshing to learn... and it made me wonder why I didn't know such things before.
As for the romance(s)... well, there's nothing that I like more than seeing Alyssa (Lys) Locke and Roger (Sam) Starette together. And I finally understand why it takes so long for these two to get together... in book 6. Ugh - sad, but true.
As for Teri the Helo Pilot and Senior Chief Stan... touching, funny, heartfelt... all the nice things about romance. Although I thought I might have to knock their heads together!!! Thankfully, there are those around them willing to step in and guide the way.
The "heart" of the story is that terrorists take over a flight coming out of Athens that carries over 120 Americans and other assorted passengers. Many of the passengers are young college students in a touring band. While everyone's life changes forever, one of the students, Gina, has the most life-altering experience that started in the Athens airport when she encountered a crying American girl who claimed to have lost her passport & ticket for that same plane. Turns out that girl was Karen, the daughter of a U.S. Senator. When the hijackers take the plane, somehow they discover Karen was to be on that plane. Gina, who's the only one who really knows what happened to Karen, realizes that unless someone claims to be Karen (who's not there), the hijackers/terrorists will kill everyone aboard, one by one. So Gina pretends to be Karen.
Luckily for Gina, Max Baghat an FBI agent expert in hostage negotiations (and that we met in book 2), picks up on her story and flawlessly handles her. But he's dealing not only with "we don't negotiate with terrorists" from the U.S., but also from Israel. See, the terrorists want Osman Razeen released from the U.S. (we met him in book 2) and another of their leaders released from jail in Israel. But Israel doesn't ever negotiate. Helga is there are a representative, but... she's more intrigued by meeting her childhood friend's son, who turns out to be Senior Chief Stan.
Quite a book! I felt for Gina especially... it's not an easy book by any means. I hope that we get some glimpse into Gina's future - maybe? While Max is too old for her, a part of me wishes that they'd get together in the end...(less)
IMO, not quite as good as the 1st book. I think it's because the stories behind the stories about Meg and John (Nils) were stretched out unt...more3.5+ stars
IMO, not quite as good as the 1st book. I think it's because the stories behind the stories about Meg and John (Nils) were stretched out until the end of the book. And it was tough to see Meg putting herself deliberately into harm's way, asking for Nils' help and then lying through her teeth. She's a smart cookie, no doubt... but is she really *that* smart (view spoiler)[ to figure out how to get the GIK terrorist out of the embassy by using the SEAL team? (hide spoiler)] Meg didn't think everything through, that was clear and realistic; but some of her actions were tough for me... perhaps because I'm not a mother. I can relate to a mother doing anything to protect her child, but to actually believe that Amy and her grandmother, Eve, would be unharmed and alive... I suppose that's the only thing that kept her going, and the terrorist group knew that.
The back story about Meg, her husband Daniel, and John Nils was interesting at first. It got a bit old, though. And Nils' story? I can't say that it mattered that much to me, in the end; he wasn't quite what everyone thought he was. OK, so who is?
As usual, I *loved* the WWII story that Eve told to Amy and Bear during their captivity. It was clever and with enough twist to keep you interested and impressed. I'm sure there are many such stories that exist which many of us might never know. I, personally, didn't know this story about Dunkirk and the boats that rescued the British soldiers and spirited them away to safety. Then again, I'm not a WWII buff - I just find it interesting that in the glut of movies and stories about WWII, I've not heard or glimpsed a story about this event.
As for the story with Sam/Roger and Alyssa... well, it was rather unsatisfying. I looked ahead and found that they are featured in book #6, so obviously, these two aren't done. It's just sad that they decided to go their own way now. Seems as if they might have saved a lot of heartache coming up. Then again, don't we all do things like this? Not grab onto what's right in front us, because we're afraid? Sam obviously isn't going to rush Alyssa, and she obviously won't be rushed. And I get that Alyssa's focused on her career and concerned that a relationship, especially with a SEAL that she might very well work with in future, could derail that career. But in the end, does a career warm your bed at night or your heart?
In many ways, the kidnapping thing just seemed really strung out over too many pages. The action takes place in a matter of days, but reading it, it felt as if it were weeks. And while I'm sure Nils will get a dressing down by Paoletti, it's tough to imagine that even positive results at the end of the "mission" would be enough to keep Nils from losing something - rank or perhaps his place on this particular team? But I'm not in the military, either, and I suppose that sometimes the end does justify the means in cases such as these.
One thing this book made me want to do, though, is learn a few more languages!!!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This little gem of a story ALWAYS brings tears to my eyes! It's such a lovely, bittersweet, unexpected story! Diana G fills it with characters we know...moreThis little gem of a story ALWAYS brings tears to my eyes! It's such a lovely, bittersweet, unexpected story! Diana G fills it with characters we know or have only heard about - both past and present in the Outlander series.
This is the story of Roger's parents, Jerry (Jeremy) and Dolly (Marjorie) Mackenzie and WWII... Jerry is a Spitfire pilot, approached by none other than Frank Randall (yes, Claire's 1st husband) to fly on a photo mission in Poland. But while practicing with the new cameras, Jerry's plan goes down in Northumberland, in a circle of standing stones. Suddenly, Jerry finds himself in what seems like another place and time - which he is.
Struggling to survive, he meets 2 rough-looking fellows, one of whom seems to know him well. They help him find his way back to the standing stone and back to his own time. Jerry somehow manages to find his way to London, only to discover that he's "returned" 2 years after he left and has been declared missing in action and presumed dead. Jerry has to find Dolly and their small son, Roger.
But a bomb attack begins, and Jerry takes shelter in the nearby bomb shelter - the tube. In a heart-wrenching scene, Jerry and Dolly lock eyes minutes before the stairs that Dolly is on crumble to dust. Dolly launches wee Roger into the air towards his father...
If you're an Outlander fan, you must read this story!(less)
This book has it all! Four short stories by Diana Gabaldon - all wonderful in their own way. And while it might not be obvious why these stories were...moreThis book has it all! Four short stories by Diana Gabaldon - all wonderful in their own way. And while it might not be obvious why these stories were grouped together in one book, as you get to the new story (A SPACE BETWEEN), you can see the pieces come together... but only if you've been paying attention to the names and characters from the previous short stories and have a background with the Outlander series. (Doesn't hurt to have a background with the Lord John Grey series, either.)
BEWARE - there might be unmarked spoilers in this review! If you haven't read all the Outlander books, you might want to skip this; if not, you were warned!
1. A LEAF IN THE WIND OF ALL HALLOWS: The story of Roger Wakefield MacKenzie's parents, Jerry (Jeremy) and Dolly (Marjorie) MacKenzie. Jerry is a WWII pilot who just happens to be in the right place at the right time when British Intelligence officer Frank Randall needs another pilot to fly over Poland and take pictures of the German concentration camps.
But when Jerry is practicing with the new cameras over Northumberland, his Spitfire goes down... in a ring of standing stones... near All Hallow's Eve. Jerry finds himself in a strange place and time, where there are no roads or buildings where they ought to be and suspicious folk who'd rather beat him and steal from him than help him. Could that be because he can't understand a word they say, and vice versa?
After wandering around for awhile, stealing food and clothing where he can, he ends up captured and locked into an outbuilding. But 2 mysterious men - 1 of whom seems to know him quite well - rescue him and send him back to his wife and son through the same stones.
Jerry makes his way to London, only to discover it's two years after the day he went through the stones. While trying to find his wife, Dolly, and their small son, Roger, another bombing attack starts. Jerry hurries into the subway - one of the bomb shelters - only to see his wife with wee Roger in her arms on the stairs above him... and the stairs are collapsing. Dolly, smiling through her tears and radiant as ever, throws the wee boy into his arms, just as the stairs finally crumble from another fierce shake of bombs... ================ This is such a beautiful, bittersweet story. It makes me cry every time. Jerry and Dolly obviously love one another very much, despite being separated by war. You get the sense that they have the same kind of fiery-fierce love that Jamie & Claire have, just in another place and time. Which is brought home all the more when it turns out that Frank Randall is the British Intelligence officer who meets Jerry and recruits him. Frank has to visit Dolly to tell her of Jerry's death... And wee Roger, who reminds me so much of Jem!
The ending of this story is so sad, and yet, it's hopeful and happy, too. (view spoiler)[Because we see Dolly & Jerry together again, at last! And we know that the grown-up Roger has had the chance to see his father and know him, even if for only a day. The hug that Roger gives to Jerry is bone-crushing, in more ways than one. (hide spoiler)]
2. THE CUSTOM OR THE ARMY (A Lord John Grey story): This story takes place just after Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier", during Voyager before Jamie & Claire are reunited, and just before Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner. In it, Lord John Grey finds himself in Canada, after a party incident with electric eels and a challenge to a duel! But there, Lord John finds an old friend (and lover) who needs his help to bring charges against another officer. This is important, because the crux of this story is finished in Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner; in that book, Lord John continues his crusade to get the culprit, while dealing with his feelings and need for Jamie Fraser. Lord John is mixed up in a court martial and somehow, in the amazing Battle of Quebec, where soldiers scale the impossible walls of the Quebec cliffs to surprise the French general and win the day. Lord John also makes the "acquaintance" of an Indian who becomes rather important to him... and is even mentioned in latter Outlander books. (Hoping for more info about Manoake and Lord John, either in MOBY book 8 or in another Lord John story. Lots left there to explore.)
3. LORD JOHN AND THE PLAGUE OF ZOMBIES (A Lord John Grey story): This story takes place during Voyager, after Jamie is in Helwater and after their adventure in Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner. Lord John is sent to Jamaica to deal with a slave revolt. Or is it? The soldiers and locals claim that zombies are causing the revolt. What part does the mysterious Mrs. Abernathy play in all of this? As he digs deeper, Lord John discovers there's more than meets the eye at work here....
4. THE SPACE BETWEEN: This is the NEW story. All the others have been published as either solo works (now) or as part of an anthology. But this story is brand-spanking new.
It's the story of Michael Murray, Ian and Jenny's middle boy, who has been apprenticing with Cousin Jared in France at Fraser et Cie, the wine & spirits company. Michael has just lost his wife, Lilli, and had been home to Scotland for his father's funeral. Poor Michael is weighed down in grief. Luckily, he has a task to keep his mind somewhat occupied: he's escorting Joan Mackimmie MacKenzie to France to join a convent.
Joan is Leoghaire's second daughter, and Jamie's step-daughter. Joan has wanted to become a nun all her life, despite never knowing or seeing a nun. But Joan has her own secrets... she's afraid she's got the same malady as Joan of Arc - she hears voices that tell her prophetic things to say to others... and she can tell when someone is going to die soon. Joan thinks that in joining a convent, perhaps she can get some perspective on this "gift": is it a curse from the devil, himself, or a gift of God? Is it angels or demons speaking to her? What is she to do with this gift?
Joan's new order is headed by none other than Mother Hildegard, Claire's friend from Dragonfly in Amber. Joan has a letter to Mother Hildegard from Claire; but Joan's French isn't quite up to speed, and she inadvertently says that she's Claire's daughter, rather than step-daughter (of sorts).
That small mistake leads the Comte St. Germain (no, he's not dead!) to mistake Joan as the daughter of La Dame Blanche - a woman he never wants to meet again. But the Comte (who's given name is important) has been madly pursuing his sorcery ever since his mysterious "resurrection". He teamed up with a female sorcerer (whose name is important) in France for awhile; she told him about time travel and stones... The Comte has discovered a type of "light" around people and things that tells him if they're like he is - can travel or not. And the Comte has been trying to travel into the future; he's traveled a bit into the far past and even into his own past.
When the Comte hears that "the frog" or Master Grenouille (French for "frog" has been looking for him, he's afraid and excited. It was this man (Master Raymond) who gave him the Dragon's Blood that seemingly took his life in the court of King Louis XIV. But the Comte is intrigued by what Master Raymond might want of him and wants to ask his own questions. When Raymond tells the Comte that he's looking for "his lost daughter", the Comte thinks that she must be Joan - the daughter of La Dame Blanche.
Thus starts an intriguing mystery that entangles Joan, Michael, Mother Hildegard, the Comte, and Master Raymond.... ======= My only nit is that THE STORY ENDED!!! I wanted so much more - but that's the way Diana Gabaldon's writing is - I always want more.
This is a clever story that amazes me, especially the way that Diana says she writes - in scenes, not in outlines. Perhaps that gives her a wider range of freedom with her characters and new stories, but I have NO IDEA how she keeps things wrapped so neatly together!
I caught her "hint" within this story, but even so, it was nice to have a not from Herself at the end to confirm it... just in case her readers didn't pick up on it.
Also, pay attention to the Comte's dealings with a certain young whore... that answers a few questions that arose in my mind during Echo In The Bone - namely, how did the Comte have other heirs? (view spoiler)[I also found it delightful that Fergus's eldest is named Germain! Since I was paying attention to names, this one finally hit me. How ironic, right? (hide spoiler)]
AN AMAZING BOOK!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
4.5-5 stars (And 5 stars is really, really hard for me to give!)
What can I say? This one was FAB! Loved that there was more of a light-heartedness fee...more4.5-5 stars (And 5 stars is really, really hard for me to give!)
What can I say? This one was FAB! Loved that there was more of a light-heartedness feel to the book most of the way through. Sure, the situation in the jungle for Ken/Savannah, Alex, Molly/Jones isn't "light-hearted", but there was something other than intense gloom and doom at all times.
I'll have to come back at another time and really review this book... not feeling well today.
I want MORE of Rose's and Hank's story! I always love the WWII flashback stories as much or more than the present-day stuff, but this one was, amazing! And even better that Rose wrote a book that she was narrating for an audio book and that virtually everyone involved with the book is reading at one point or another. Great way to move that story along. I really want to know more about Rose and Hank after the war. All we know from Savannah is that her grandpa is dead....
Wonder what happens with Jones next?
I had a theory that perhaps George was closer to Alex than we thought. But Rose put an end to that at the end of the book.
The Max-Alyssa stuff is... fascinating, and yet, it hurts my heart. Max, because he really is hung on Gina, and Alyssa, because of all the Sam stuff. Sam and his wife? Wow - don't get me started! My dad was a marine, and he often said to me that even when using protection it was drilled into him that you don't sleep with someone you can't see yourself married to. I only wish Sam had taken that to heart. (Good thing to live by, too.) If I didn't already know that Sam and Alyssa have another shot in book 6 (or after), I'd probably be ready to kill someone over all of this. What great angst!
It'll be hard to top this one for me, but I'm hoping that Ms. B does it! (less)
What a book! I want to rate it lower, just because it tortured me. But I can't do that, in all fairness. There was so much tragedy, such darkness... a...moreWhat a book! I want to rate it lower, just because it tortured me. But I can't do that, in all fairness. There was so much tragedy, such darkness... and then such wonderful, beautiful moments in this book!
I wondered why the author took so many years to write the 2nd book? Did she intend to end with the 1st book and leave their story there... then get besieged by fans to give them the next part of the story?
The back-and-forth in both times and points-of-view was sometimes jarring. Sometimes it felt out of place. I wasn't quite sure what all of it had to do with the present story. Was it pieces of the back story that the author had from writing the 1st book and she wanted to throw in here? Sometimes, it added to the characters and understanding them; sometimes it just seemed random.
I wasn't sure I could endure this book... it's not for the faint-at-heart, certainly! The descriptions of war and torture... The teasing of whether Tatiana will believe that Alexander is really dead and move on with her life... (less)
Not to be obvious, but this is a very Russian book. Well, it's written by a Russian author, so that makes sense. But you can see and feel and read the...moreNot to be obvious, but this is a very Russian book. Well, it's written by a Russian author, so that makes sense. But you can see and feel and read the Russian-ness of the people and the war.
Germany has invaded Russia, despite an anti-aggression treaty between them, and despite Russia splitting Poland with Germany. Hitler has broken with Stalin.
Tatiana (Tania, Tatia, etc.) is almost 17 years old. She lives with her mother, father, twin brother Pasha, sister Daria (Dasha), and her father's parents. When the announcement comes that Russia is at war with Germany, her father sends Tatiana out to buy food. But Tatia is young and naive; she thinks there's plenty of time. And so she finds herself wandering about town and finally buying her favorite ice cream and eating it on a bench - not worried about what's going on around her. She sees a Red Army soldier across the street, watching her. The soldier crosses the street, talks to her, and ends up following her. Tatia is intrigued by this man, this Alexander Berlov. She's too shy to do much more than hope that he'll follow her. But finally, she gets herself lost, and they begin to talk.
Alexander helps her to buy the food she needs from the officer's PX store, and he even decides what to buy. Then Alex and a buddy, Dimitri (Dimi), help Tatia take the food and supplies to her home. As it turns out, Alexander is the very soldier that her sister Dasha exclaimed to her just that very morning that she (Dasha) is in love with. Tatia doesn't know what to do, but she's incapable of hurting her sister, no matter how much she wants to explore this connection with Alexander.
And so the love story begins...
It's a harsh story of war, of loss, of unhappy families dealing with lessening food rations, longer work hours, and fear. It's the story of when the Germans bombarded Leningrad, effectively blockading the city and leaving its citizens to starve and freeze to death. It's the story of a light in the darkness: Tatiana. She freely gives herself away to everyone and everything, despite how they treat her. And yet, can she give herself to Alexander?
Tatia forces herself and Alexander into an impossible situation where Alexander (Shura) can only see Tatia if he pretends to be in love with her sister, Dasha. Despite how Alexander tries to show Tatia over and over again how much he loves her (even going after her when she tries to rescue her twin from a boys camp that's right at the front of the fighting). You feel their love... their tension... the horridness of being separated, even for family's sake.
I wanted to scream at Tatiana, and yet, it's who she is.
The 2nd part of the book was much better... and then, of course, it all gets worse again. Because Alexander has a secret - one that he's only told to Tatia and Dimitri. Except that Dimi has ulterior motives, that involve Alexander getting them both out of Russia and to America. Because of the secret, Dimi can and does blackmail Alexander at every opportunity; he also makes moves on Tatia and any girl that Alexander seems interested in. Except Dahsha, which surprised me. But Dimi is out for himself and himself only. Tasha describes him as a parasite that needs a strong host; Alexander is that host.
The theme of the poem of The Bronze Horseman runs through-out the story. And being Russian, the poem speaks of two lovers who must sacrifice everything for the better of the other (my paraphrase). As the reader, you keep hoping that Alexander and Tatia can escape the inevitable - the sacrifice. But you know better.
All I can say is that the foreshadowing is amazing... and the author doesn't flinch from bringing about what is "right" and "necessary" for this story - for their love. There is some justice. There is love and light. But there is also loss and bitterness and loneliness... aching... pain. As I said, it's a very "Russian" story. At one point, the author mentions that Tatia's favorite dress was made by the French, which makes it a dress of love. Had it been made by the Americans, it would have made her happy; by the English, she would have been able to do the stip-upper-lip stuff; by the Russians, she would have agonized. But because it was made by the French, it was a dress of love. So much packed into so few words! And so much foreshadowing the importance of that very dress - the dress that Alexander first saw Tatia wearing.(less)
This might be one of my favorite Dorothy Martin books! It's slow moving, as they all are, but there was more of a "thrill" in this book for me... more...moreThis might be one of my favorite Dorothy Martin books! It's slow moving, as they all are, but there was more of a "thrill" in this book for me... more revelations about close friends and what happened in Sherebury during WWII. (less)