Sawcat's Book Blog

Rose Under Fire

Rose Under Fire - Elizabeth Wein, Sasha Pick 4.5

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife - Meg Elison 2.5

The String Diaries

The String Diaries - Stephen Lloyd Jones 4.5

Sisters of the Bruce, 1292-1314

Sisters of the Bruce, 1292-1314 - J.M. Harvey 3.5


Jackaby - William Ritter 7/10

The Story of Medieval England from King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest

The Story of Medieval England from King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest - Jennifer Paxton This was the first one of these that I've tried, and I really enjoyed it for a brief history of Medieval England.If you like historical fiction, but don't have the patience to read a history on a given time, this would be perfect for you. It gives you the important players for the different periods, and what they are best known for. There are some breaks to cover significant themes, like chivalry. A nice little reference work. If I had a complaint, its there are seperate supporting materials you get if you get it through Great Courses that you don't get with the Audible version, but if you are big on the period, you probably know where to find some of them.

Genghis: Birth of an Empire

Genghis: Birth of an Empire - Conn Iggulden 3.5*

Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel  - Cassandra Clare Definite improvement on the original series. entertaining enought but I don't love it. seems more of a borrow from the library if want to continue. 3.5

Speaks the Nightbird

Speaks the Nightbird - Robert R. McCammon this book is in desperate need of editing. it is way too long. the first quarter of the book or so does not pertain to the plot of the book. It establishes the element of illness for a character, which could have been done in another way, in much less time.


Conversion - Katherine Howe Conversion by Katherine Howe is a return to the style she used in The Physik Book of Deliverance Dane, a novel which I love. Conversion is a young adult novel which blends a retelling of The Crucible, the real history of the Salem Witch Panic, and a touch of high school drama. The Story is told through Ann Putnam, one of the accusers during the Panic, and Colleen Rowley, A modern teenager in her senior Year of high School in Danvers. The voices alternate between the Colleen and the trials of a girl trying to get into the college of her Choice, with interjections from the past with Ann making her confession about her role during the trials. The way this is done the reader can see the ultimate connections Howe is heading towards, without prior Knowledge of the Crucible or more than a passing knowledge of the history of the Salem Witch Trials.

There is enough of the teenage drama to make the comparison to the historical period, but not too much that people who easily tire of the drama will be turned off by it. The book is well written and was more enjoyable for me than Howe’s last book, which was a straight historical fiction, and not the dual time line I enjoyed so much. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to someone who wants something related to witch trials, and not heavy in the fantasy aspect.

The Fall of Five

The Fall of Five - Pittacus Lore I'm hoping the next one. it seems like they are dragging this iut with 5 books, and however many novellas.
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare This book did not live up to hype I've been hearing about the series. None of the kids interested me at all, and I found Alec and Jace to be obnoxious at best. Only the adults really caught my attention, and they are few and far between.

Jump Cut

Jump Cut - Ted Staunton First off, this doesn't seem like a series you need to read in any particular order. Each of the seven books tell the story through one of the grandsons, and the novels overlap each other in time. You'll get more if you read several, especially if you read ones about siblings. Spencer is Bunny's brother, so he gets quick messages about Bunny's task (Ink Me).This was a very fast, middle grade read. The story is gender neutral, which is great. There are elements that will probably attract boys more, and some that will draw girls more. But it was the gangster part of the story line that really kept the story moving along. One thing I liked most was that Spencer seems to be more of an introverted character, and not the stereotypical boy who likes sports and showing off. If you are looking for a contemporary middle grade novel that is not romantic in nature, you should check this out.
The Rook  - Daniel O'Malley, Susan Duerden Have you ever wondered what you would get if you took Men In Black, The X-Men and MI-5/Spooks and mashed them all together? Then Daniel O'Malley's The Rook is the book for you. O'Malley created a world where occasionally people are born with special skills, such as one person's consciousness sharing four bodies, or the ability to don a protective skin. These people are trained to use or control their abilities, and a secret agency (The Chequy) helps to control and end any hazardous threats that may be caused by people with unique abilities. The world is a blend of your favorite espionage stories with your favorite science fiction tales.Myfanwy is one of these people with special abilities, but we learn things at the same time as Myfanwy, who recovers her past through a series of notes and letters left by herself, before she lost her memory. The result is being dropped into the middle of the action, however I found some of the letter chapters a little slower than the present. By the middle of the novel, the use of the letters drops of dramatically and the pace really picks up.I really enjoyed entering this world O'Malley created in The Rook and would love to read or see more set in this world.
The Tiger's Wife - Téa Obreht I had a bit of trouble getting into this novel. I liked her writing style, but not necessarily the "plot". I use the quotes because it is no means a straight forward plot as the blurb might lead you to think. Natalia is on a medical run to an orphange when she learns that her grandfather died, supposedly on his way to meet her. Interspersed between the present day accounts of the aid trip and recovering her grandfather's belongings, she tells the readers various stories. Growing up during the civil war. A tiger escaping the City Zoo during World War II, who made its way to the village Natalia's grandfather grew up in and met the woman who would be known as the Tiger's Wife. Her grandfather's repeated encounters with the deathless man.I didn't find these stories terribly interesting at first (probably due to my lack of interest in contemporary set novels), but then a quote on the back of the book caught my eye. This quote from the Washington Post reviewer mentioned magical realism in the novel, and that gave me a bit of an 'A-ha!' moment. Once as I started to think of it more like a magical realism novel, I enjoyed the story a little bit better. Don't expect to find the kind of magical realism in this like in an Alice Hoffman novel, or in a Sarah Addison Allen novel. Only really one of the story lines can really be said to have magical elements to it. But its not a strong enough magical element to balance out my feelings towards contemporary set novels.Being a contemporary novel aside, one thing that didn't work for me was all of the stories feel disjointed. The Red Garden is made up of a collection of stories centered around the garden. The stories in The Tiger's Wife either happened to or had a minor involvement of Natalia's grandfather. It was rather like when my grandmother starts telling stories from her youth- they could include her, ones she saw or ones she was told, but they bounce around at will, drop off at any time, and she picks them back up later. The stories might be interesting, but they kind of lose me being broken up so much.I would definitely try more from Obreht, especially if she ventures into the historic period. I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway for an honest review.
The Rose of Sebastopol - Katharine McMahon, Josephine Bailey 2.5 starsI enjoyed the story that is woven through The Rose of Sebastopol. We get a sense of what people at home heard and thought of the war, but also what it was like living and working in the war zone. It is told in dual narrative, with the primary narrative told during the Crimean War, and the secondary narrative consists of Mariella's memories of past events. If you have trouble following multiple timelines, this book may give you difficulty. Part of Mariella's tale of past events can be of her life just before she heads to Italy, from when she meets Henry, and later when she meets Rosa. Eventually the "present" timeline, and the rememberances of life just before she leaves for Italy catch up together, so there is one less time frame to keep track of. Since I had an audiobook, I missed having a printed copy that I could flip back and check at times.One biggest problem with this audiobook how the chapters end. I would be sitting, listening happily along, and expect the chapter to continue, except it goes launching into a new one. I am not sure if the author wrote it that way, or if the narrator read it in a way where the phrasing sounded like the chapter should continue instead of stopping. This might not have bothered me much, except that I would say at least half of the chapters in the novel ended that way. The other major problem I had with the book is Mariella's voice. When she would get to thinking about how Henry is, or where Rosa was or some decision she has to make, she starts to sound whiny, weak and spoiled. I simply can't stand whiny, weak female lead characters, and this began to get to me. It may have been exaggerated, since I was listening to the book, but not seeing it in print, its hard to say how much. It may also be done to exaggerate the difference between Rosa and Mariella, since Rosa is decisive and fearless, but if this is the case, it could have been done so Mariella didn't sound so weak.Some of the events covered in the last disk or two seemed hurried, and thrown in almost like an afterthought when compared to the long period in getting to the Crimea and looking for Rosa there. Some of these events would have made the story more interesting, in terms of the characters and their relationships with each other, but being hurried in near the end, they felt more contrived.

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