While not quite as captivating as the first book in the series, Insurgent did answer some questions and certainly left me curious for the final installment. There is a good deal more conflict brewing here, specifically between the factions (and the factionless) and between Tris and Four. Roth doesn’t shy away from a huge body count, and I must admit, a few of those deaths were quite satisfying. At this point, it’s difficult to decide who to root for. Loyalties are divided, the establishment is in shambles, and the overall purpose of the Divergent is still ambiguous. I can only hope Allegiant doesn’t disappoint.
OK, people, I’m giving away a copy of this book and I have to INSIST that you leave a comment below to enter to win because it was AWESOME! Contest ends midnight Saturday, March 8.
This is alternate history at its absolute finest. Sansom has imagined a wholly terrifying world where Nazi dominance in Europe is still at its peak in 1952. He presents the following scenario: what if the British surrendered to Germany after their defeat at Dunkirk in 1940? Churchill was never Prime Minister, America never joined the war, brutal conflict between Germany and Russia is crippling the continent, and there is a Resistance movement in England. It’s really a terrifying idea.
The driving plot focuses on Civil Servant, David Fitzgerald and his former schoolmate, Frank. Frank has learned a terrible secret that drove him to madness and sent him to an asylum. As a Resistance spy, David is recruited to rescue him. But the Gestapo is hot on their trail and they will stop at nothing to capture Frank and his secrets for themselves.
I think the most successful aspect of this book was the character development. While Sansom did an amazing job creating this alternate universe, it was his characters that kept the momentum going throughout the 600+ pages. He develops rich back stories for Frank, David, his wife Sarah, the Nazi thug hunting them, and various other Resistance members who help them along the way. The result of Sansom’s deft skill at writing complex characters and conceiving this dramatically different world is a stunning, intense novel. I adored this book and it will be at the top of my recommendation list for 2014.
I received a complimentary copy of this book via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.
Imagine realizing you have been stranded on Mars and the rest of the universe thinks you are dead. Freaky idea, right? That’s exactly what happens to Mark Watney and from page one, his misadventures are addictively engrossing. As a mechanical engineer and botanist, Mark has the skills to defy the odds and survive his ordeal and his narrative in the form of log entries is clever and endearing. You don’t need to be versed in all the science-y lingo; Mark is good at dumbing things down. He extols the wonders of duct tape, a miracle product that NASA can’t even improve on: “Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped.” There were so many funny one-liners, harrowing experiences, and smart commentary that I was utterly captivated by Mark’s story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
Bonus quotes (that I couldn’t include on other review forums because of the language):
- “I am pretty much fucked.” (first line of the book)
- “I wonder how the Cubs are doing.” (single log entry)
- “My asshole is doing as much to keep me alive as my brain.”
- “Hell yeah I’m a botanist! Fear my botany powers!”
- “All systems use standard [CO2] filters (Apollo 13 taught us important lessons).”
I work in a very cut and dry corporate financial environment which doesn’t inspire much creativity. However, I am fortunate that I can spend my free time immersed in books, blogging about books, collecting books, etc. I can by no means complain about my paying profession; good salary, decent benefits, saving for retirement, flexible schedule. We endure the drudgery of a 40 hour work week so that we can enjoy our time away from work doing the things we love. And I most certainly take full advantage of that.
But it’s also important to allocate free time for bookish pursuits. And since I am a creature of habit, I have general routines that fit my daily life perfectly. Morning train ride (1 hour) is typically dedicated to nonfiction or a new hardcover. Breaks (including rides up and down the elevator) are for fiction. Train ride home (another hour) is typically fiction. I don’t tend to read at home in the evenings because there are so many distraction (The Hubs, TV, computer, cooking), unless it’s a book I’m completely engrossed in and I have to tune everything out. Weekends are different and more difficult to structure depending on what’s going on. Damned domestic obligations. But I try to invest some of that time in either reading or writing.
I am also fortunate enough to be able to do the following things on the sly at the office (during downtime, of course): browse my reader and keep up with fellow bloggers, draft reviews and throw them up on the blog when I get home, prepare blog posts, and peruse Goodreads. I admit, I get away with a lot, but I’ve never been reprimanded, so…
Though I don’t get paid for what I do in the bookish universe, I certainly reap the rewards, i.e. FREE BOOKS! Many of you know I have OCD tendencies, and I track my acquisitions in a couple of different spreadsheets. One of them tells me the source of books and what I would have paid if I had spent full MSRP cover price for them. So far the tally (since 2009) is something like this:
- 173 books came from VinE
- I’ve won 25 from Goodreads
- 72 books from publishers, BEA, and tours
- Total books acquired for free: 270
- Total “value” $6,418.98
When I first started reviewing as a hobby in 2007, I had no idea that so many opportunities would become available! I truly feel privileged. I could expound on that though, but I will leave it at that. Life is good.
This remarkable book details the courageous efforts of the men and women who tirelessly worked to preserve and conserve the historical artworks and monuments of Europe during WWII. Mass destruction and looting by the Nazis required a tenacious group of individuals who had to overcome frustrating circumstances to save art. Often they were unpopular in their mission and had to challenge the status quo to fulfill their mission. One great example presented was when soldiers tasked with setting up Eisenhower’s office in Paris used valuable items from the palace and the Louvre. A Monuments Man put a stop to this plunder, declaring, “General Eisenhower would be personally embarrassed if it should leak out that he was using protected works of art for military purposes contrary to his explicit orders. And wouldn’t the German propaganda office have a holiday if it could report that General Eisenhower had appropriated art objects from Versailles for his personal use?” These men often had to resort to rhetorical shaming to perform their duties. They were not just fighting Nazis, but the indifference or ignorance of Allied Troops.
I learned so much about the extent of how the culture of Europe was saved by so many selfless and determined individuals. I appreciate books that present history in an approachable manner and this was pure enjoyment from start to finish.
Another more comprehensive book about the subject is The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. Nicholas.
Welcome to a new feature, Bestie Banters. My BFF Rachel and I read Divergent together this week and shared our thoughts via e-mail conversation. Since we live 2 states away, reading a book in tandem is a fun thing activity we can do from a distance. We hope this becomes a more regular topic. WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Julz: You’ve seen my review. What was your overall opinion of the book?
Rach: Overall I was happy with the book, how it kept me engaged, and how the ending lead me right into the next installment. I would have been interested to learn a little more about the factions that did not star in the book, and how they would have played into this revolt. I know the ending leads us to a new faction for the second book, but I still felt like maybe they could have played a larger role in Divergent. My only real gripe was how Tris did not seem to be able to move past her insecurities and continued to waver back and forth between what she knew and what she should live. However I can rationalize that she technically tested across multiple factions so her wavering is not completely uncalled for. I was completely taken in by the last 200 pages of the book and really enjoyed how everything came together.
Julz: I was a little put off by Tris’s wavering, too, but I’ve come to accept that’s just her 16-year-old indecisiveness. Was it just me or was her face always flushing, her stomach always unsettled, and her palms always sweaty?
Rach: I definitely kept forgetting she was only 16. If I were the rest of Dauntless I may have had her medically evaluated for a serious hormone imbalance for the amount of time she spent with a red face and sweaty palms.
Julz: What faction do you think you would belong to?
Rach: I feel like I would have tested Divergent, but in having to chose a faction I would have gone with Dauntless. Not the current day Dauntless full of violence and betrayal, but the Dauntless that use to exist. I loved the manifesto that Will recited “We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another”, and I think that’s where I would most likely place myself. However, I do see aspects of myself in almost every faction, which is why I believe my tests would have been inconclusive. How about you? What faction would you place yourself in?
Julz: I would definitely not be Dauntless, I’m not badass enough. I hate to say it, but I would probably be Erudite because of the learning and the books. But my hippie side might be Amity. Not necessarily for the do-goodiness, but the more laid-back lifestyle.
Rach: What do you think of Caleb? I still don’t have a clear understanding as to why he chose Erudite. Did he choose on behalf of his family to gain insight into the revolution? Does he truly walk with the Erudite now and just chose to run with his family to avoid death?
Julz: Great point, I hadn’t really put that much thought into Caleb’s decision. I assumed he was just curious with a thirst for knowledge that was previously unavailable to him. Maybe their mom filled him in on her secrets and he did it on her behalf to have an insider advantage. I do think he is more allegiant to his family than to his new faction. Perhaps we will see him as a double agent in the upcoming books.
Did you hate Peter as much as I did? And are you so pissed that they have to drag him along even though he can’t be trusted?
Rach: I despised Peter. When Tris ran into him back at Dauntless my first thought was, “Dammit – why couldn’t he be a zombie and get killed.” I am hoping that somehow they are able to glean some viable information from Peter once they reach Amity and really sit down to figure out how they move forward into this revolution.
Another thought that came to mind last night when I finished. I know Tris & Four are able to resist the serum, however, didn’t it also include a tracker? If they are not controlled by the serum can the Erudite still track their location and target them? Or did I just completely make that part up? What about Peter? I know that they saw him as an ally, but I find it hard to believe they would leave an initiate completely up to his own thoughts so soon after becoming a member.
Julz: You’re right, that escaped my notice. They will all be tracked. I wonder if they will find a solution to that once they’re in Amity. I was not as surprised about Peter being given such a primary role in the revolt despite being newly initiated because of his murderous ambition. I wonder if he schmoozed Eric in any way…
Obviously, we’ll learn more about the war that necessitated the factions and more about their purposes and their stance in the upcoming conflict. What are you anticipating most?
Rach: I am really looking forward to how the other factions play into the war. Have other factions always had an underlying desire to revolt but could not by nature? I’m also very curious to see the reaction of Amity once the small pack arrives – will they be viewed as bringing the war close to the peaceful sector, or will Amity see this as an opportunity to really exploit their peaceful state of mind? Tris’s friend Robert from Abnegation also transferred there so I think it will be interesting to see how they interact once they arrive.
Julz: I’m really looking forward to seeing how Amity life is and how the fugitive group perceives it.
Funny side note, I could not pronounce Abnegation in my head. I kept mentally referring to it as Agamemnon. Any funny quirks for you while reading?
Rach: Ha! I’m glad you asked. I always said Aphrodite when I read Erudite.
Stay tuned, Rach and I will be starting Insurgent on March 3rd, so we will have another installment of Bestie Banters in a couple of weeks!
(The photo is from several years ago, but it’s one of our favorites!)