Pearl Harbor Day 2019

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The day before I was a happy-go-lucky kid, didn’t have a care in the world. Got up that morning, and here I was right in the middle of a whole war.

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~ Pvt. Robert Newkirk U.S. Army Company H, 21st Infantry, Hawaiian Division ~

Russian Sector: The Complete Story

I’ve shared a few of Pete’s stories, but Russian Sector is particularly special to me because historical fiction from this time period and in this setting isn’t something I ordinarily would read. Yet Pete’s serial absolutely captivated me and had me eagerly anticipating each new episode. That is the mark of a true storyteller!

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This is all 27 parts of my recent fiction serial, in one complete story.
It is a long read, at 35,000 words.

Berlin, 1945.

Inge was crying again. I knew she was hungry, so I tried to make her forget, by pulling a funny face. It wasn’t working this time, so I just hugged her instead. I didn’t know if it made her feel better, but it muffled the sound at least. I wondered how long it would be before Mummy got home. And I was hoping she would have managed to find something to eat. When my sister finally stopped sobbing, she looked up at me expectantly.
“Manfred, will Mummy be home soon? I’m starving”.

The Russians had got to our street two days after my tenth birthday. There had been no cake of course, but Mummy had given me a scarf, wrapped in newspaper, and she had found…

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Eight Will Fall, by Sarah Harian ~ 4.5 Stars

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Thanks to Edelweiss and Henry Holt for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: Available Now

352 Pages

Synopsis: In a land where magic is outlawed, eight criminals led by seventeen-year-old Larkin, are sent on a mission to kill an ancient evil that plagues their kingdom. Descending into an underground realm filled with unspeakable horrors, Larkin and her party must use their forbidden magic to survive what lies in wait, teeth sharp and jaws deadly.

As she fights for her life, Larkin finds a light in Amias, a fellow outlaw with a notorious past. Soon Larkin and Amias realize their fates are entwined. The eight of them were chosen for a reason.

But as the dangers multiply and her band of felons are picked off one by one, Larkin must confront a terrible truth: they were never meant to return.

I need to start by saying Eight Will Fall will not be to everyone’s taste. To say that it’s dark is putting it mildly. I consider myself pretty hardened against blood and gore, but some of the scenes here had me cringing. Without giving way too many spoilers, let me just say that several instances of flaying are involved. Blech! Just thinking about it gives me the heebie jeebies! That said, the goriness isn’t gratuitous and it’s all part of the story. Which leads me to the phenomenal world building which is one of the most creative and original I’ve come across in recent memory. While the idea of “magic users” being ostracized by their society isn’t new, the entire magic system involving empaths isn’t something I’ve seen before. And, as Larkin and her team make their way deeper into the underground realm, I felt this growing sense of claustrophobia and outright dread that went beyond the monsters they encountered. Eek! Just thinking about it as I write this review is sending chills up my spine, and I read this book a week ago!

Larkin and her team are the type of flawed characters that I love. They start off perhaps not making the best decisions, but as the dangers they face increase, so does their friendship and trust among one another. Unfortunately, this makes it even more heartbreaking when some of them die. The romance between Larkin and Amias isn’t a major part of the story, but it was sweet and added to my constant state of anxiety as the author made it clear almost from the beginning that no one was safe.

The story itself grabbed me immediately and never let go. It’s action-packed and the fast pace is aided by a few surprising twists. I did think that although the bittersweet ending wrapped everything up nicely, it felt a little rushed. I read somewhere that this was originally planned as a duology before being scaled back to a standalone, so perhaps that explains why.

Overall, Eight Will Fall is a near perfect hybrid of dark fantasy and horror. Because of the more gory scenes I discussed earlier, I do not recommend this to anyone younger than sixteen. Otherwise, for those who like these two genres and have strong stomachs, I encourage you to try this. I guarantee it will be a memorable read.

 

 

Dead to Her, by Sarah Pinborough ~ 4.5 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: February 11th 2020

400 Pages

Synopsis: Being the second wife can be murder…

”Once a cheat, always a cheat,” they say. Marcie Maddox has worked hard to get where she is after the illicit affair that started her new life a few years ago. But her world of country clubs, yachts, and sumptuous houses in Savannah, Georgia, isn’t easy to maintain, no matter how hard she tries. Nor is keeping her husband, Jason, truly interested. So, when Jason’s boss brings home a hot new wife, from his trip to London, the young Mrs. William Radford IV isn’t quite the souvenir everyone expected. Sexy, drop-dead gorgeous and black—Keisha quickly usurps Marcie’s place as the beautiful second wife. But when Marcie sees the extra spark in the room when Keisha and Jason are together and their obvious magnetic attraction, the gloves come off.

Revenge is best served cold, but in the steamy Savannah heat, blood runs so hot that this summer, it might just boil over into murder.

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Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive. ~ Sir Walter Scott

By the time I was halfway through Dead to Her, I thought I had everything figured out, but as this is by Sarah Pinborough, I really should have known better. This story is filled with a plethora of twists, unreliable characters with unknown motivations, and a juicy ending that caught me completely by surprise. Lies, secrets, and betrayals are all set against the steamy backdrop of Savannah. And underneath the backstabbing drama is an interesting exploration of race and white privilege, with a little voodoo thrown in. It’s all a bit crazy and unrealistic, but where in less skillful hands, this easily could have been a hot mess, Pinborough as always, adeptly juggles her numerous murky characters with a myriad of flavorful plot elements. Fans of the author will not be disappointed in Dead to Her and I guarantee that this will appeal to a wide audience of new readers as well.

 

 

David Bowie’s Holiday Duet With Bing Crosby! “The Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth!” The Inside Secrets Of This Holiday Classic!

I was planning on featuring this as my first “Lovely Lyrical Lines” post of this month, but John beat me to it!

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David Bowie Croons With Bing Crosby!

Talk about one of the most unusual musical duos of all time! Legendary Musical Artist David Bowie sang a holiday duet with one of Hollywood’s legendary crooners – Bing Crosby!

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Bing Crosby is a holiday favorite – due to his classic films “Holiday Inn” and “White Christmas” – two of my favorites…see more of my top holiday classics here:

https://johnrieber.com/2016/12/11/love-actually-del-griffith-fra-gee-lay-counting-down-the-nine-greatest-holiday-movies/

As for “Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth”, before I share some secrets about this song, it’s time to watch the incredible video, which begins with a nice conversation between the two before it heads into musical magic…

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The Secrets Behind The Magic!

As I researched this story, I came across a couple of fascinating stories about the recording of this song. First, this took place in September 1977 – when Bowie was at the top of the charts for songs such as…

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Heartwarming Holiday Commercials ~ Pt. 2

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During the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a commercial from Xfinity dropped that I’m pretty sure made most of us forget the balloons, bands, and bad lip syncing. E.T. has come back and reunited with Elliott (actor Henry Thomas), and what follows is enchanting. One word of warning: you may want to have some tissues handy.