Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Book Review: War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard book cover and review
War Storm is a rather imposing book, but when you've read the previous three books, it's a no brainer.

Spoilers if you haven't read the series. Stop now. Cal and Mare are apart after Cal gives up Mare because he wants to be a King. But they can't be totally apart, because they have to work together to defeat Maven.

So, I don't want to spend a lot of time relaying each move -- you can read War Storm for that. They work together to get enough support to go after Maven, but Cal and Mare's relationship is strained. Especially given he is betrothed to Evangeline. But the battle seems to go their way, and then it doesn't.

The multiple points of view make the story interesting and easier to read. But this is a loooooong book. It kept my interest, and I had to finish it because I needed to know. And that's the goal of the author, right? You have to read it. But I felt a kind of resentment for dragging it out.

So, I have mixed feelings. It was well written, easy to read, and interesting. So why am I complaining? I don't know.

The Red Queen Series is one of my favorites. The characters are intriguing, and I really became attached to them. The whole Reds vs. Silvers concept is well done. I liked the world and the writing. Who cares how long the books are? (I keep telling myself that...)

If you have read the series, like I said, you have to read War Storm. If you haven't read any of them, start with Red Queen and see what you think. I think it is worth it, and teens love these.

Published by Orion, February 21, 2019
Copy obtained from the library
662 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Audiobook Review: The Whistler, by John Grisham

The Whistler by John Grisham, book cover and review
I haven't read a Grisham for quite a while, and I must say I'm a little disappointed in The Whistler.

Lacy isn't a police officer or even a detective. She investigates corruption in judges. She is approached by a man with an unbelievable story of corruption by a sitting judge that is extensive in its scope. This judge is apparently being paid massive amounts of money by a casino run by an Indian tribe in Florida. This is in return for her favorable judgments on all things related to the construction and running of this massive project.

This has been going on for years and involves a previously unknown crime organization run by a man who has lived for years without an identity. No social security number, no address, and not many people even know what he looks like.

An intriguing story that becomes quite dangerous for Lacy and her partner. The FBI eventually gets involved. The investigation and entrapment of these criminals is interesting. But my disappointment stems from the fact that The Whistler isn't at all "a high-stakes thrill ride" as advertised in the blurb. It isn't without some violence, but I expected all this tension and danger at the end, and it never materialized. The last 20 minutes of The Whistler is a listing of who was indicted and on what charges. Then an account of the sentences handed down.

The narrator, Cassandra Campbell, does a great job. I totally don't remember anything about her voice, and as I write this, I couldn't even remember if it was a male or female narrator. That's a good thing. I don't like to be distracted by the audio.

The Whistler reads like a true-crime exposé, and that isn't what I expect from Grisham. He writes well, and I won't give up on him. Hopefully, The Whistler was a fluke.

Published by Doubleday, 2016
Audiobook obtained from the library
384 pages

Rating: 3.5

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Book Review: The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper book cover and review
As I wait for the release of the new season of The Crown, I decided to experience The Royal Nanny to satisfy my thirst for all things related to the royal family.

The novel is based on a real person, Charlotte Bill (nicknamed Lala), the nanny to the Duke and Duchess of York's children beginning in 1897. So those are the Duke and Duchess that became King George V and Queen Mary, grandparents of the current Queen Elizabeth II.

The story starts out dramatically as, upon her arrival, she gets the current head nanny fired because she is abusing the children (David and Bertie--the Duchess was pregnant with Mary at the time.) Instantly, Lala is promoted to head nanny. If you are keeping track, David is the one that abdicated the throne for Wallis Simpson. And Bertie becomes King George IV and father of Queen Elizabeth II.) So she is the nanny to two future Kings of England.

The lives the children (and their nanny) lead is interesting and unusual, of course. It is astounding to realize that all of the monarchs of England were pretty much raised by their nannies. Think of the influence. Lala's influence was a good one. She tried unfailingly (and without much success) to change David's belief that he was deserving of special treatment, lauding over everyone. A true example of the "born with a silver spoon in his mouth" idiom. He was a little tyrant and didn't think much of his younger brother Bertie. Not that their father helped much. He, also, was a tyrant and didn't show much affection for his sons. They did get spoiled and loved, however, by their grandparents.

The Duchess went on to bear four more children, the cornerstone of the story being the last child, Johnny, who had severe epilepsy and potentially some sort of autistic disorder. As Johnny's seizures get worse, Lala and Johnny are banished to a small house on the Sandringham estate (where the children spent most of their childhoods.) Lala truly loved Johnny as her own and resented that he was mostly hidden from the public and not included in most of the family activities.

Lala's personal life, including a romance, add to the story, although this part is not necessarily historically accurate. Harper describes the lives and settings of The Royal Nanny so that you can understand the trials of Lala's position, as well as that of some of the other servants and of course, the children. The Author's Note gives some detail about the facts and embellishments of the story and includes an interesting note about the current royal children. It seems Prince William and Duchess Catherine decided their children would not have a nanny, but quickly changed their mind after the birth of their first child. It seems the reality of their royal duties just take too much time to be able to care fulltime for their children.

If you are at all interested in the royal family, I highly recommend you add this one to your list.

Published by William Morrow, 2016
EBook purchased
384 pages

Rating: 4/5

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