Review: Daimones (Daimones Trilogy #1) ~ Massimo Marino

DaimonesISBN ~ 978-1478347101
Publisher ~Booktrope Publishing
No. Of Pages ~ 330 pages
Links ~ Amazon

Your entry into an exciting Space Opera: the death and re-birth of the human race.

Nothing could have prepared them for the last day. Explore the future of humanity in Massimo Marino’s sci-fi debut, Daimones, an apocalyptic tale that feels like it could happen tomorrow. You may never sleep through a windstorm again.

Death swept away the lives of billions, but spared Dan Amenta and his family, leading them to an uncertain future. When merely surviving isn’t enough and the hunt for answers begins, memories from the past and troubling encounters lead Dan to the truth about the extermination of the human race. Distressing revelations will give new meaning to their very existence.

Early humans shaped the future and seeded a plan millions of years in the making. Now survivors must choose: Endure a future with no past or fade away into a past with no future?

4 Thumbs-UpI’ll get this out upfront, if you’re looking for an ‘end of life as we know it’ book that checks the blocks by featuring zombies and all their accompanying mayhem, this is not the book for you.  However, if you are looking for a novel in this genre that makes the possibility of such things happens you need to read this.

Having read all three books in this trilogy, and actually delaying my review until I had not only read them but owned them, I am only going to be featuring book one, as this is a good place to start.  I may at some point in the future review the other two. I’m also going explain my reasoning behind giving this book a 4 thumbs review, even though it could have quite easily gained that extra thumb; it was the main protagonist and his actions well into the book, he disappointed me so much that I felt he was the cause that I could not award this novel 5 thumbs.

The main protagonist in this book is a man such as any you may meet in the place you live; he has a job that he promptly loses in the first few pages, a loving wife and an adoring daughter.  His only knowledge of the events that happen in the course of the book are gleaned from movies he’s watched, this in itself makes him and his family real.  Most people reading this book will only have Hollywood to pull from when it comes to dealing with events such as these, and actually having the character in a book state this makes them, and their subsequent actions (to a point) believable and acceptable.  The main character is written well and given all the traits we find in those we come into contact with on a daily basis.  I felt a connection with this man and his family, but that all changed after his misdeed and I found myself wondering if his previous actions had been based on deception and insincerity too.  His spouse, although as well written and detailed as the main character became, at times, very wearing on my nerves and I felt that I really wanted to give her a good shake to make her wake up to what was happening.  The daughter of the family was written to portray perfectly that resilience children seems to have in the most difficult of situations; after her initial shock over events she quickly became an integral part of the survival of her family, more than her Mother did in some cases.

This book started out with events that we read about in the newspapers each day, and set the tone for a thoughtful look at what is rapidly becoming a worn out genre.  Setting the book in an area other than North America was refreshing and also an indication that should terrible things happen, they are not just going to affect the residents of the continental United States.  I thoroughly enjoyed the locations and reading about them took me back to the time we spent in this area, so much so that I felt an ache over the devastation described to some of these beautiful places.

If you are looking for an ‘intelligent’ take on the end of humanity, this is definitely a book that you will want to read.  It is not fast paced and full of gory action, but lays things out as it could be.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and, if not for the bad life choices made by the main character, if would definitely have made a 5 thumbs rating.  If you want to find out whether he redeems himself, you will have to read all three books.

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Review: The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust ~ Edith Hahn Beer, Susan Dworkin

Nazi officers wifeISBN ~ 978-0349113791
Publisher ~  Abacus
No. Of Pages ~ 305 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Harper Collins

Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman studying law in Vienna when the Gestapo forced Edith and her mother into a ghetto, issuing them papers branded with a “J.” Soon, Edith was taken away to a labor camp, and though she convinced Nazi officials to spare her mother, when she returned home, her mother had been deported. Knowing she would become a hunted woman, Edith tore the yellow star from her clothing and went underground, scavenging for food and searching each night for a safe place to sleep. Her boyfriend, Pepi, proved too terrified to help her, but a Christian friend was not: With the woman’s identity papers in hand, Edith fled to Munich. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi party member who fell in love with her. And despite her protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity secret.

In vivid, wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells of German officials who casually questioned the lineage of her parents; of how, when giving birth to her daughter, she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal her past; and of how, after her husband was captured by the Russians and sent to Siberia, Edith was bombed out of her house and had to hide in a closet with her daughter while drunken Russians soldiers raped women on the street.

Yet despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith Hahn created a remarkable collective record of survival: She saved every set of real and falsified papers, letters she received from her lost love, Pepi, and photographs she managed to take inside labor camps.

On exhibit at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents form the fabric of an epic story – complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.

3 Thumbs-UpI always feel that when reading about this period of our history, the Holocaust and its accompanying literature should be taken in small pieces due to its intensity and the emotions it can bring out in the reader.  This is one small piece that was worth reading but it wasn’t as mind-blowing as other true accounts I have read.  I actually feel a little guilt at only giving 3 thumbs to a book written about a holocaust survivor, as each survival story is remarkable in and of itself, but this book didn’t capture me in the way others have, and I found the Author really hard to connect with.

With that said, this book opened my eyes to a part of the Holocaust I had heard of, but never really read anything about; the story of a Jew in Nazi Germany living as a non-Jew, or as they were known a ‘U-boat’.  This book gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘living with the enemy’.  I was totally immersed in the paperwork and rationing involved in Germany at this time, and along with the presence of mind required by the Author to remember who she was at any given moment, and to keep her cool when questioned I found myself pulled more into the era and life then, than I was towards the Author herself.

The evidence of how the Author had to harden her emotions to everyday events, something that she still carries with her today, was apparent in the way in which this book was written.  Events were put on the page in a very matter of fact manner and with very little emotion, this also spilled over to others mentioned in the book, as they came across as one-dimensional and with little to no depth.  This made it very hard to figure out their personalities and the motivation behind their actions; but maybe I was looking for too much in what is an account of an extraordinary life.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Holocaust fiction as they might find a viewpoint on this period they had not read before.

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Review: The Lifeboat ~Charlotte Rogan

lifeboatGrace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she’d found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

4 Thumbs-UpPut aside some time and make sure you won’t be disturbed when you pick this debut novel up.  Yes, it’s that good, but not quite good enough to receive 5 thumbs from this reviewer, and I’ll explain why later in the review.

This book makes you think, and re-evaluate everything you think you would personally do when faced with a survival situation; will you become someone you don’t recognise or will you be able to stand firm in your moral and ethical beliefs?  This novel was a page turner from the very first, it made me really think and wonder how I would react in this kind of dilemma, and do I know myself as well as I think I do.

Character development is so subtle in this book that it almost appears there is none at all.  Given the changing nature of each of those featured within its pages, the Author does an outstanding job of making all them credible and believable.  The reader learns a little of their background, and the events that brought them to the place the book is set in and, sometimes, this makes the course of action they choose to take just a little bit harder to understand.  As I said it makes you question your own motives in certain circumstances, and certainly makes you gasp as you read the decisions these lifelike and 3 dimensional characters make.  The only downside to the characters was actually the main protagonist; she is the narrator for the story, and an unreliable one at that.  Whether this is a deliberate action on the part of the Author I’m not sure, but if it was I’m not convinced that this was the right way to bring the story across.

The story itself is very well written and carefully told.  Not only does it have all the elements required of a captivating survival story, it is peppered with all the ingredients of a mystery novel; intrigue, lies, misdirection, motives and manipulation.  This brings me to the reason I couldn’t give this novel a five thumbs rating – the ending.  After all the ups and downs the Author takes the reader through in earlier pages, the ending came across as being rather flat and lacklustre in my opinion.  I was expecting yet another twist, which led to a conclusion to the book that was just as unexpected as other incidents, but this was not the case and I felt cheated in some way about this.

I would highly recommend this book to lovers of all genres, as there is something in it for every reader.

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Review: Souvenirs ~ Keith C. Chase

SouvenirsIn the cold October of 1944, as the American Army struggles to capture the German City of Aachen, Sergeant Richard Grant struggles desperately to keep his six remaining squad members alive.

Every moment of their lives contains a new vision of death and the horror of war. Other squads begin to believe that Grant’s men’s obsession with removing ‘souvenirs’ from dead and captured German soldiers explains their daily survival.

Inexplicably lucky, Grant and his men however, believe the act of collecting a souvenir bestows them another day of survival in battle.

The men suddenly realize their luck may well be borrowed time, payable in full. Their sanity is stretched to the breaking point as their sense of protection withers

5 Thumbs-Up

This is a debut novel for this Author, although it was originally self-published in the 90’s and only recently came to the eBook arena.

World War 2 is contains a vast well of inspiration and events for Authors to pull from, ranging from the Home front in the countries affected to the ‘boots on ground’ troops on the frontline.  In this novel the Author chose to depict the day-to-day struggles of the ground troops, the ways in which they endured the arduous tasks they were confronted with and also the schemes they devised to keep themselves ‘sane’

In developing the characters in his novel, the Author has done an outstanding and meticulous job of humanizing them and making the reader not only care about their well-being but, from the comfort of home, cheer them on in their efforts to return to that home safely. As in all wars that are fought mainly by young men, this novel covers that perfectly as even the ‘old soldiers’ in the unit we follow are young in age.  Through skilful writing the Author shows us the inner feelings of these young men in awful situations; their worries, concerns for one another, concealed cowardice and overt bravado.  Even in the heat of battle, these soldiers are imbued with a sense of compassion and empathy for the enemy.  The Authors own experience as a Marine Corps veteran shines through in his depiction of these tired and weary men.  The reader is made to care so much for the characters in this book that, when one of them dies, as is the nature of war, the reader experiences a sense of loss and can actually grieve whilst continuing on with the rest of the unit.

It is apparent when reading this novel that it has to be, in my opinion, one of the most accurate and heavily researched World War 2, European Theatre of War books I have  read since ‘The Thin Red Line’ by James Jones.  Although taking place in a different theatre of war, this book easily holds its own, and is a brilliant counterpoint to Norman Mailer’s ‘The Naked and The Dead’.  In both novels, the reader is drawn in by the characters, and the combat scenes make the pulse race.  This Author, unlike many who write in this genre, does not limit his storyline to combat scenes, he also effectively covers the downtime between conflicts, bringing the mind-numbing boredom and lows that the sudden stop of adrenaline causes, alive in all its misery.

I feel that this novel should be made compulsory reading for anyone who is in, or has ties to the modern-day Military community, as reading about how the troops would replace worn out clothing items and boots, essential for them to complete their mission, made me want to send out care packages in much the same way I did my Husband during his combat tours.  As a social commentary of war in that era, this novel serves to show those in the Military today that they really do have a good life, even when deployed.  The feelings this novel evokes in the reader is all down to the exemplary way in which it is written; it pulls no punches and makes no excuses for revealing this side of humanity in all its gritty and unsavoury detail.  The only criticism I have about this novel was its ending; the summation rather detracted from all the drama we had been subject to and actually served to take away some of the impact it made.  I would have preferred an abrupt ending, as war does tend to end abruptly in the field, and be left wanting more.  However, the fact that this novel evokes so many emotions and responses in the reader went some way to appeasing the disappointment I felt over the ending.

I would highly recommend this novel to all lovers of the historical novel genre, and also those who like to read non-fiction World War 2 books.  Because of the nature of the topic, I would probably recommend it to an age group of mature young adults upwards.  I am eagerly awaiting the next novel from this Author and, personally, feel that this one would make an excellent movie.

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