About Hannah

I'm a 20-something Gemini living in central Ontario, Canada. I love love and being involved in my community, reading, playing the piano and flute, and watching too many movies/tv shows to admit

Girl Last Seen (Nina Laurin)

Two missing girls. Thirteen years apart.

An intense psychological thriller for readers of I Am Watching You, The Luckiest Girl Alive, and All the Missing Girls.

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Girl Last Seen is a fascinating thriller told from the perspective of an unreliable narrator… sidenote: that phrase is so funny. When I first saw it on my reading challenge list I was perplexed over what it meant. I could only think of the narrator of an audiobook … one who wasn’t so good at his/her job, who mispronounced the characters’ names? Then I realized, it is the character telling the story, s/he is the narrator. And Laine(y) is a perfect example of this.

Annnd, getting back on topic…

Lainey is a mess. She had a disastrous youth, even before her kidnapping, but she has not healed or adapted well at all. She has abandonment and trust issues, intimacy problems and is a drug addict. Although not recognized as an alcoholic in the story, she also uses hard liquor to drown out her inner demons. She believes she is a fuck-up and that she can never be good because of what happened to her.

Lainey experiences severe emotional and behaviour disorders. As the main (and only POV) character, she is difficult for most readers to relate to but her past trauma is very easily believed as a result.

I’m not sure what it was that bothered me, but I had the hardest time getting through this audiobook. Halfway through I switched to the physical book and finished it in one sitting!

Always remember that if you are having trouble with a novel, maybe something so simple as changing the medium will help.

In Girl Last Seen, Laurin takes a very commonplace core idea of a thriller and writes it from a completely new perspective – one that I haven’t seen anyone else approach before. This helped keep the book fresh in a genre that is exploding with bestsellers right now. I can’t get into the specifics without spoiling it so I will leave it at that.

I did know who was behind the mystery in the end, and there was no one else I ever seriously considered. I wish it had been written with a few more levels to make it harder to discern the identify of the person.

Girl Last Seen is a easy-to-read gripping thriller that is written by a stellar new Canadian author.

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xx

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The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle is a novel from Philip K. Dick. It has been turned into a stellar television series on Amazon Prime. There are currently two seasons available for viewing (as of April 2018).

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This is a dystopian alternate history set in “America” 1962. It posits that the Axis forces won WWII and that the continent is now divided between the Japanese Pacific State (western side of continent) and the Great Reich (the rest of the continent) with a slim band of neutral zone between the two territories.

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This is such an imaginative show. I have often wondered what would have happened if history had gone the other way. I love that there is a show exploring this (and incredibly thankful it is only on TV)!

The Man in the High Castle is Amazon’s most streamed show. So that must mean lots more people than just me enjoy it 🙂

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The main part of the story follows two characters: a woman from the Pacific States (Juliana) who gets pulled into the Resistance, and Joe, a man from the Reich with questionable allegiances.

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It is startling to see some of the most iconic images from the free world turned into Nazi symbols. The American flag, Times Square …

The Man in the High Castle is a drama. It does have some humourous parts and the violence is manageable, but the material can be heavy at times.

One of my favourite quotes:

You’re about to die horribly but your hair is fine.

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I started watching this series on a whim the other night because I was bored and the weather was bad. Well, ice and freezing rain pretty well had me stuck inside all weekend and I binged on both seasons. This show is completely addictive. It has a tendency towards cliff-hanger endings – both for individual episodes and seasons – so you will constantly find yourself clicking on just one more episode.

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There is an element of mysticism or other-worldliness to this show which greatly surprised me. The storyline takes on more meaning towards the end of the second season and starts to become more clear why they included it, but I still think I would have preferred the show without it.

What strikes me most about The Man in the High Castle is how complicated each character is. They all have multiple levels. I approached the show thinking that the Nazis would be the antagonists and the Resistance would be the protagonists, but it is much more complicated than that. Even the Nazis who do terrible things are softened in the show by their love for the families. And the “freedom fighters” come across much more strongly as terrorists.

Everything is not as it seems. No one is all good or all evil. We are just different shades of grey.

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xx

Covert Game (Ghostwalkers #14)

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Despite the death of a traitor and key conspirator, the plot to use the GhostWalker experiments to undermine the security of the U.S. by foreign interests still exists. The GhostWalkers themselves must race against the clock to neutralize the danger.

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I really liked the couple in this book but overall I didn’t like the book itself. I just feel like nothing happened for most of it.

I have been frustrated with this series lately anyway, which didn’t help. There are four different Ghostwalker Teams but they interact very little. As a reader, I fell in love with the original team we were introduced to but there hasn’t been an update on them in YEARS. There seems to have been a trend in recent books to only write about a handful of Ghostwalkers, even within a team. There are members of Team 4 who were not included in this book, or who only showed up for a couple of chapters. I miss the camaraderie that was displayed in earlier books where more characters were included.

I did enjoy reading about Zara and Gino and I appreciate that their relationship is different from many of the others. It is hard for me to relate to warrior women heroines all the time, which Feehan has often written in this series, because that is not my personality at all. Zara is much closer to how I am.

This book was ok for me, but not one that I plan to read again. I am glad I waited to borrow it from the library, rather than purchase the more expensive hardcover price placed on the kindle version.

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xx

Awakened by Sin (Crime Lord #4)

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Carmen Pyre had it all until her husband was murdered by a madman who threatened everyone she loved. Now that her husband has been avenged, it’s time to move on… she just doesn’t know how.

Two men who fill her husband’s former roles offer to help her move forward with her life. Should she choose the dangerous new crime lord who will feed her dark cravings or the man who will anchor her and give her the deepest desires of her heart?

WARNING: Dark themes, cliffhanger, books must be read in succession!

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THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!

The first three books of the Crime Lord series were about Lyla and Gavin and this is the first book that is told from Carmen’s POV (her story will be continued in the next book). But hands down, Awakened by Sin is my favourite book in this series by far.

It is different from most romance novels in a couple of ways.

Firstly, the leading lady has two suitors who are vying for her attention, and she is attracted to both (although much more serious about the one). This is not a book with cheating in it, and the relationship(s) are not the focus of the story.

Carmen’s is pretty much the only POV character in the story and she is still grieving the loss of her husband, Vincent. Although it has been nearly three years since he was murdered, Carmen still suffers overwhelming grief and guilt over it and bounces from one obsession to the next, trying to keep her mind occupied. Despite these efforts, she still enters periods of depression and self-destructive behaviour on a regular basis, seeming to display manic-depressive behaviour.

As I mentioned before, the romantic relationship forming between Carmen and her man is not the focus of Awakened by Sin. Of course, it will develop in the next book(s) because it IS a romance, but expect a slower burn with few emotional entanglements at first.

Ms. Knight excels at making her reader feel compassion and empathy for her characters. Carmen is the most relatable so far; her emotions are so honest and human, that it is impossible not to connect to her feeling of loss, even though her life is so far removed from normality.

I read this book in a day and I CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on the next. I seriously pray the author will have it available by the end of summer at the latest!

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xx

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport

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They were the Princess Dianas of their day—perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses—Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov—were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle.

Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. With this treasure trove of diaries and letters from the grand duchesses to their friends and family, we learn that they were intelligent, sensitive and perceptive witnesses to the dark turmoil within their immediate family and the ominous approach of the Russian Revolution, the nightmare that would sweep their world away, and them along with it.

The Romanov Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia, World War I and the Russian Revolution. Rappaport aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections. It is a book that will surprise people, even aficionados

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I listened to this audiobook on the advice of my friend, Ewa, who has been talking about it since Christmas. And I am using it as one of the categories on my 2018 Reading Challenge 🙂

The Romanov Sisters is a clearly written and detailed account of the lives of the four sisters and the little Tsesarevich from the time of their births until their deaths during the Russian Revolution.

Listening to their story changed many of the perceptions that I had – and clued me in to how many of those stemmed from the Disney film Anastasia – but also created duelling portrayals of Tsar Nicholas II in my mind.

Nicholas II and Alexandra lived rather modest lives in terms of possessions. Their daughters shared bedrooms with single size beds, and were not over-run with presents, although what they did have was of very high quality. Alexandra was much more heavily involved in her children’s upbringing than was common among the aristocracy of Europe at the time, even breastfeeding her children which was unheard of. The main theme throughout the entire book is the deep love shared between these seven people, and it is tragic that it eventually led to their deaths.

The Imperial Family was not well suited to governing the country. Nicholas and Alexandra would have been far more content to remain minor royalty and retreat into a quiet, idyllic life with their children than to be on the international stage. Their love for each other and their family led them to make many decisions that sacrificed image, popularity and power in Russia, further destabilizing an already tumultuous autocracy. Their ends certainly indicate the necessity of Royalty to remain visible and (at least somewhat) accessible to the masses, even at the sacrifice of privacy at times.

The last Tsar of Russia was pious, deeply religious and professed a deep and unfaltering love for his wife and children. Many accounts point to his being a moral man who was just unsuited to ruling. And yet, he showed little understanding of, or compassion for, his suffering peasantry and is the man behind mass jailing of political dissidents, pogroms and Bloody Sunday.

Whatever decision Empress Alexandra made, it was the wrong one. She was either too formal and withdrawn from the Russian people; too heavily involved in raising her children; too pious; too unwilling to open herself up to the innate mysticism of Russian orthodoxy and everyday life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Russian culture, yet too willing to accept the mystical and mistrusted Rasputin into her inner circle. During WWI, when she and her eldest daughters became nurses and worked daily in hospital with wounded soldiers, many considered it sacrilegious and a betrayal of Russian Imperialism for the Tsarina and Grand Duchesses to be working so closely with those of lower stations in improper circumstances.

The environment was poisonous and it is hard to imagine whether there could have been any other outcome for Russian Imperialism, even if Nicholas and Alexandra did everything differently.

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xx

Hostage (Criminals and Captives #2)

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I NEVER KNEW WHEN HE’D COME TO ME. ONLY THAT HE WOULD.

I’d never even kissed a boy the night I met Stone. The night I saw him kill. The night he spared my life. That was only the beginning.

He turns up in my car again and again, dangerous and full of raw power. “Drive,” he tells me, and I have no choice. He’s a criminal with burning green eyes, invading my life and my dreams.

The police say he’s dangerously obsessed with me, but I’m the one who can’t stop thinking about him. Maybe it’s wrong to let him touch me. Maybe it’s wrong to touch him back. Maybe these twisted dates need to stop. Except he feels like the only real thing in my world of designer labels and mansions.

So I drive us under threat, until it’s hard to remember I don’t want to be there.

Until it’s too late to turn back.

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Hostage is a loose sequel to the first Criminals & Captives book, Prisoner. However, each can be read independently of one another.

Stone is darker than Grayson (from book 1) but I found that the book was actually a bit lighter. There was more mystery and intrigue in it than in the previous one, as the gang is trying to identify a couple of the key men who ran the human trafficking ring they were trapped in as children. There is none of the on-the-run shenanigans that our first couple went through.

Hostage is a very slow burn romance. When the hero and heroine first meet, she is 16 and he is a decade older. Although intrigued in (and attracted to) each other, the physical aspect of their relationship is not explored until Brooke is an adult. During this period, they only meet a few times, months apart, as Grayson keeps track of her.

There are also a few scenes of struggle and physical restraint that made the story hawt!

There are three main points that have caused me to rate this book as four stars instead of five.

Potential Spoilers ahead!

Firstly, the idea that Brooke’s parents were able to so well hide their destitution while still living the high roller lifestyle publicly is pretty flimsy. At one point it states her mother is working double shifts in a bakery in the next town to keep up appearances in their social circle, but this would never escape notice for long, though it apparently does in the book. The family is on the edge of ruin for years while hiding it from everyone.

It is entirely possible I suppose, but I found that the level of disbelief I was asked to suspend was too much.

Secondly, the identity of Keeper was obvious to me early on.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the ending was way too easy and “light”. Everything just fell together perfectly for the characters. I wish Stone and his boys had roughed Brooke up a little bit in order to get the identity of Keeper out of her. There are tons of dark romance novels out there with interrogation scenes (my favourite is reviewed here!) and it would have been something much more real for the couple to have to work through. As it was, the ending was kinda wah-wah for me. Certainly not dark.

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xx

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

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I will be back to my regularly scheduled posts on Thursday. I hope everyone has had a great weekend, whether you were celebrating something or not. Today I will have my entire family over for a meal so I am busy scrubbing and cooking, and very thankful I took some holidays for an extra long weekend!