Book Review: The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff @PamJenoff @parkrowbooks

The Kommandant’s Girl
Pam Jenoff
Park Row Books, December 2018
ISBN 978-0-7783-0879-9
Trade Paperback

Pam Jenoff is a wonderful writer. Here she tackles a serious, emotionally dangerous deep penetration into relationships that occurred during world events which continue to haunt and influence our lives.

Three weeks after her marriage to Jacob, Emma Bau, nineteen, watches German tanks and troop carriers roll into her Polish town. Through a series of circumstances she goes to live in Krakow with a Catholic woman and must conceal her Jewish roots. Soon, the Polish resistance pressures her to take advantage of her circumstances to work for the local Gestapo office, headed by a handsome, young Nazi. They become a couple.

The questions raised thus get to some of the fundamental beliefs and attitudes we have about that period. Were there good Germans in that service who tried their best to mitigate the policies of the German occupying forces? Did anyone on the other side ever show compassion or should they all have been irrevocably condemned? Was every member of the Polish resistance a “good guy—or woman”?

The author plumbs some of these questions while offering a thoughtful, careful and in-depth novel. Its scenes move rapidly through the countryside, the characters are deeply and well-conceived, the rollercoaster of danger ridden by the characters is often mesmerizing. Read this satisfying novel and if you enjoy it as much as I suspect you will, find other excellent novels from this author.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2021.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles @skesliencharles @AtriaBooks

The Paris Library
Janet Skeslien Charles
Atria Books, February 2021 (delayed from June 2020)
ISBN 978-1-9821-3419-8
Hardcover

I started this book without high expectations. I’d already read one book set in Paris during the Nazi occupation, this year. It was a good book, well executed, well written, a good plot. Heart-rending, as most books on this subject are. What are the chances this one could compare?

Well, let me say right off, this one went directly onto my “Best Books Read This Year” list.

It’s 1939 in Paris. Young Odile Souchet, who is fluent in English, has gotten the job she always wanted at the American Library in Paris. She loves the people she works with, and after refusing a string of suitors her father presented as possible husband material, discovers true love at last. But then the Nazis occupy Paris and the American Library and their mixed bag of subscribers, including a good many Jews, are in dire danger. An American woman with whom Odile has become best friends takes a job at the library as well, hiding during the occupation in plain sight. But then she does the unthinkable and Odile’s anger and sense of betrayal knows no bounds.

Forty years later the reader discovers Odile has moved to a little town in Montana State, USA. There she befriends a girl who has lost her mother to cancer and is angry and bewildered when her father marries again after only a few months.

Together, Odile and Lily help each other grow and forgive and discover what makes a true family.

This is the best kind of book, one where you learn something and do it the easy way. By which I mean by becoming involved with the characters and absorbed in their stories. Especially with a story as meticulously researched, plotted, and executed as this one. You’ll find your emotions, your intellect, and your heart involved. And it doesn’t hurt a bit that you’ll learn some important history along the way.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, September 2020.
http://www.ckcrigger.com
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Five Days, Five Dead: A China Bohannon Novel

Book Review: The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond @ctrichmond @Scholastic

The Only Thing to Fear
Caroline Tung Richmond
Scholastic Press, September 2014
ISBN 978-0-545-62988-1
Hardcover

Zara’s plan to keep her head down and just plod through life is not working out. Partly due to the fact that she was not raised that way. Largely because of the perplexing, unwanted attention from Bastian. Not just any Nazi, the son of a colonel knows better than anyone that Aryans do not mingle with “sub-humans”. Although she’s not Jewish, to the Germans, as “half-breed stock”, she falls into the same category. Fit for only factory or farm work. Certainly not for fraternizing.

Zara’s earliest memories are of her mother and Uncle Red leading the local Alliance, all efforts into eradicating the Nazi-rule. She could not wait to be old enough to join them. Before she could reach the coveted age, though, a mission went terribly wrong and Uncle Red’s attitude was adversely affected. Compounding an already complex matter, in her grief and frustration, Zara’s power emerged. No one was more stunned than she was to discover that she was an Anomaly.

Select Germans had been gifted with powers enabling them to conquer the Allies so many years ago. The remaining Anomalies serve in an elite division of the Nazi military. When the rare non-Aryan Anomaly is discovered, things are a bit different. That poor soul will be taken to a laboratory to be studied, tested and ultimately dissected.

Zara has two huge secrets to keep if she hopes to stay under the radar of the suspicious Germans. Having Bastian hovering, bugging her, may just be the last straw. Aryans speak to her people for only a handful of reasons, none of them good. Most worrisome; they would never, ever feign interest in the Alliance—even as a sick joke.

She may not know what Bastian is truly up to, but Zara does know that she’s no time for the likes of him. There are brutal deaths to be avenged and one very last chance for her to convince Uncle Red that she belongs with the Alliance.

It’s no wonder I’ve seen The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond on so many students’ To-Read lists. This fast-paced, action-packed, Sci-Fi story of ‘what if’ is simply stellar. And, I absolutely love the atypical ending, which was not gratuitous, but rather allowed the narrative to wrap up a bit more naturally, with an authentic feel.

Reviewed by jv poore, December 2019.

Book Review: Jaguar by C. A. Gray

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Author: C.A. Gray

Narrator: Melissa Williams

Series: Uncanny Valley Series, Book 3

Publisher: Wanderlust Publishing

Released: Sep. 14, 2018

Length: 9 hours 48 minutes

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

The Silver Six have blown the Renegades’ underground compound to bits, killing several of Rebecca’s best friends in the process – and to her horror, the boy Rebecca had convinced herself she loved for all these years was the one to betray them all. At the same time, General Specs, the company Liam was once slated to inherit, has developed a super intelligent robot called Jaguar which is quickly becoming godlike in her omniscience. As the remaining Renegades flee to their last bastion of safety in the Caribbean, Liam makes his way back to London, in a last ditch effort to convince his father to destroy Jaguar before it’s too late.

Rebecca, meanwhile, finally understands her own heart: she never loved Andy. He was merely a “safe” choice who would never require anything of her. Liam, on the other hand, exasperating as he was, had seen past her defenses. All of his teasing and provoking had been his attempt to get her to be real with him – but the more he made her feel, the further she had retreated. She had even substituted her companion bot Madeline for real, deep human friendships, and for the same reason: she’d been avoiding love to protect herself from another loss like the one she had experienced when her father was killed for the Renegades’ cause. Ironically, she only realizes this once Liam is on his way to a similar fate. But she’ll be damned if she lets him go without a fight.

This high stakes conclusion to the Uncanny Valley Trilogy envisions a world not too far off from our own, in which super intelligence is a reality, humanoid bots have supplanted human power and influence, and there are eyes watching and reporting our every move. If humanity is to survive, the Renegades will have to galvanize support across the globe, under the radar – and it will require every last bit of ingenuity they possess. But is attempting to outwit a super intelligent being really the answer? Or will it require something much more fundamentally human?

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By day, C.A. Gray is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) with a primary care practice in Tucson, AZ, and she writes medical books under her real name (Dr. Lauren Deville). She lives with her husband, with whom she maintains a facetiously contentious movie review blog, and travels as often as they can get away. When not writing or seeing patients, she does yoga, drinks red wine while eating dark chocolate, and consumes audiobooks like there’s no tomorrow!

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Narrator Bio

Melissa lives with her family, including two dogs and a cat, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Denver, Colorado.

After having a corporate job for most of her life, and as a self-proclaimed introvert, she decided to leave corporate America to work from home. Voice overs had always tugged at her heart as something she would like to explore, so she attended some classes and landed with a company that taught her how to break in to the industry.

Loving to read, she explored the fast growing world of audiobooks and fell in love with it. She has ten audiobooks under her belt and is currently working on the 11th. Understanding that she should always be learning how to improve her skills, she is currently working with Sean Pratt.

When not talking to herself in a padded room, she can be found walking her dog, singing or fishing the Arkansas River.

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Those of us who have been reading science fiction and watching the old classic movies for longer than we may care to admit have harbored a not-so-secret concern that someday we would be confronted with robots who are not only sentient but super-intelligent and in a position to take over the world. In the Uncanny Valley Trilogy and especially Jaguar, Ms. Gray has brought a fresh approach to this concept.

Rebecca and the rest of the Renegades are living on the edge of such a doomed future and are really the last bastion against the Silver Six and Jaguar but they now need to spread their fight to other parts of the world. The AIs have been very successful at convincing people that having them in charge is best for all but there’s another, perhaps more dangerous, threat in Jaguar, the most self-aware and powerful AI ever.

This conclusion to the trilogy is thought-provoking, especially regarding our very real proclivity for believing the lies of those in power when they speak to our desires and fears but this is not the entertaining part of the story. Rebecca and her colleagues have to face up to personal issues, betrayals and life-threatening danger and Ms. Gray never lets the tension ease.

Once again, Melissa Williams brings life to an already exciting tale and I have to say she’s been an important element in my enjoyment of the Uncanny Valley Trilogy. I hope to hear more from her in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2019.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by C.A. Gray. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Giveaway

Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Uncanny Valley Series Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card
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Book Addict

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Jazzy Book Reviews

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Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm

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The Book Junkie Reads . . .

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Book Review: Savior by AJ Eversley

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Title: Savior
Series: The Watcher Series, Book 3
Author: AJ Eversley
Narrators: Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Publication Date: March 8, 2019

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Savior
The Watcher Series, Book 3
AJ Eversley
AJ Eversley, March 2019
Narrated by Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobooks

The explosive conclusion to the Watcher Series will decide the fate of the entire human race.

Sawyer has been a Watcher. She’s been a Carbon. Now she must become their Savior.

With the inevitable return of Coleman looming, Sawyer knows their army is not enough. On a journey to convince an ally to join their war, Sawyer discovers why the stars have placed the fate of the human race in her hands. And she’s not alone.
Kenzie is her enemy. He is wrong and ruthless, and he’s tried to kill Sawyer more than once. Yet she still can’t stay away. Both drawn to each other in a way neither can explain, they must learn to trust one another as well as themselves if they want to survive. And soon, Sawyer will find she must trust in the stars to protect her and put her faith in others if she wants to live.

Find out who will survive, and if they can save humanity from a future painted black, in the epic conclusion of the Watcher Series.

To get the most enjoyment from this book, I highly recommend reading the trilogy in order as this is really not a standalone. I’m glad I listened to this one so soon after the second volume because the pace is very fast and the interaction among the primary characters is intense; it helped not having to try to remember details from the earlier parts of the story.

While Sawyer and Max are certainly important, it’s Kenzie who held my attention the most this time. He’s truly a tortured soul and wondering how things would turn out for him…and Sawyer and Max…was more than a bit agonizing but I have to say I wish there wasn’t so much of the now-commonplace love triangle. With so much going on in the fight to save the world, the romantic elements were just a distraction.

Being perceived as the “savior” is uncomfortable for Sawyer but at least she’s finally accepted that her life will never be what it was before she learned the truth about herself and her world. Almost despite herself, she really is the last hope, so to speak.

I appreciated the way Ms. Eversley brought things to a close and don’t feel any lack in the ending. Ms. Stephens and Mr. Campbell rounded out their narration of the trilogy quite nicely and, in my opinion, had much to do with my enjoyment of the tale. I won’t be unhappy if these three collaborate again on another story in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2019.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrators

Chelsea Stephens has a long time love and appreciation for the performing arts, with experience in on-stage acting, singing and voice over. Her love for reading books and the pursuit of the story led her to narration. She enjoys unfolding characters and bringing listeners into new worlds. Chelsea is an experienced voice actor with a talent for mystery, fantasy and YA novels. She’s a mom to a gaggle of young ones living in the Midwest with her lumbersexual husband.

Website // Twitter

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Steve Campbell’s first priority as a voice-over artist is to convey your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining and insightful manner; not distracting from your message, but enhancing your words. It is his personal goal to help your audience engage with the text in an immersive and memorable way.

As a techie with a passion for performance and a love of the written word, the voice-over industry called to Steve. He is now fortunate enough to be living his dream of audiobook narration from his home studio, in Calgary, AB, Canada.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Spotlight on Savior by AJ Eversley

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Title: Savior
Series: The Watcher Series, Book 3
Author: AJ Eversley
Narrators: Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Publication Date: March 8, 2019

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Synopsis

The explosive conclusion to the Watcher Series will decide the fate of the entire human race.

Sawyer has been a Watcher. She’s been a Carbon. Now she must become their Savior.

With the inevitable return of Coleman looming, Sawyer knows their army is not enough. On a journey to convince an ally to join their war, Sawyer discovers why the stars have placed the fate of the human race in her hands. And she’s not alone.
Kenzie is her enemy. He is wrong and ruthless, and he’s tried to kill Sawyer more than once. Yet she still can’t stay away. Both drawn to each other in a way neither can explain, they must learn to trust one another as well as themselves if they want to survive. And soon, Sawyer will find she must trust in the stars to protect her and put her faith in others if she wants to live.

Find out who will survive, and if they can save humanity from a future painted black, in the epic conclusion of the Watcher Series.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrators

Chelsea Stephens has a long time love and appreciation for the performing arts, with experience in on-stage acting, singing and voice over. Her love for reading books and the pursuit of the story led her to narration. She enjoys unfolding characters and bringing listeners into new worlds. Chelsea is an experienced voice actor with a talent for mystery, fantasy and YA novels. She’s a mom to a gaggle of young ones living in the Midwest with her lumbersexual husband.

Website // Twitter

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Steve Campbell’s first priority as a voice-over artist is to convey your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining and insightful manner; not distracting from your message, but enhancing your words. It is his personal goal to help your audience engage with the text in an immersive and memorable way.

As a techie with a passion for performance and a love of the written word, the voice-over industry called to Steve. He is now fortunate enough to be living his dream of audiobook narration from his home studio, in Calgary, AB, Canada.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: Carbon by AJ Eversley

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Author: AJ Eversley

Narrators: Chelsea Stephens, Steve Campbell

Length: 8 hours 55 minutes

Series: The Watcher Series, Book 2

Publisher: Author AJ Eversley

Released: Dec. 10, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction; Young Adult

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Strangers become allies. Lovers become enemies. And a destiny formed before birth unfolds.

Sawyer spent most of her life hunting the very thing she has now become. No longer the Watcher she once was, Sawyer struggles to make sense of her new identity. Though she now has the powers of a Carbon, she is also tied to the control Coleman has over all of his creations.

Desperate for help and answers, Sawyer travels to the United Isles with Max in search of an ally. Not only must she learn to harness her new abilities, she must find a way to mend a broken heart…if her past doesn’t kill her first.

The epic journey continues, and the war for the human race draws ever closer. Join the resistance in the next chapter of the Watcher Series.

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AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreadsInstagram

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Narrator Bio

Chelsea Stephens has a long time love and appreciation for the performing arts, with experience in on-stage acting, singing and voice over. Her love for reading books and the pursuit of the story led her to narration. She enjoys unfolding characters and bringing listeners into new worlds. Chelsea is an experienced voice actor with a talent for mystery, fantasy and YA novels. She’s a mom to a gaggle of young ones living in the Midwest with her lumbersexual husband.

WebsiteTwitter

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Narrator Bio

My first priority as a voice-over artist is to convey your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining and insightful manner; not distracting from your message, but enhancing your words. It is my personal goal to help your audience engage with the text in an immersive and memorable way.

As a techie with a passion for performance and a love of the written word, the voice-over industry called to me. I am now fortunate enough to be living my dream of audiobook narration from my home studio, in Calgary, AB, Canada.

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Review

In my review of the first book, Watcher, I mentioned that I thought the beginning was a bit slow-going and I also felt that way about this book. I do want to emphasize that the pacing didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story; it just caught my attention.

Much has happened in Sawyer’s world, both her own personal existence and the larger world in which she lives. Coming to terms with her life as one of the Carbons she used to hunt is difficult, to say the least, but she’s also learning—and testing—her new-found abilities as a Carbon. What is really intense is the change in her relationship to those who mean something to her and Kenzie’s painful response to her is certainly understandable. Interestingly, Sawyer has become more appealing, with a softer side, now that she has been torn away from everything she’s always known and that growth in her psyche is what I found to be most compelling about this episode. Now that she has a new raison d’etre, a new target if you will, the action is really picking up and I can’t wait to start the next book.

Narrators Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell continue to bring Sawyer and Kenzie, as well as other characters, to life and both have good tonations and pacing. They are a pleasure to listen to, so important in audiobook storytelling, and they are a large part of why I want to continue with the trilogy.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 6, 2019.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by AJ Eversley. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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Giveaway

Giveaway: 3-month Audible Membership

Watcher Series Giveaway: 3-month Audible Membership

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Mar. 5th:

Lilly’s Book World

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Mar. 6th:

Buried Under Books

Mar. 7th:

T’s Stuff

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Mar. 8th:

Turning Another Page

Mar. 9th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Mar. 10th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Mar. 11th:

Lomeraniel

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