Thursday, June 11, 2015

Liebster Blog Nomination

I've been blogging for a couple of years now, and I've only just recently put in the effort to connect to the wider book blogging community. I've come across some amazing bloggers and great networking sites that allows us all to connect with one another.

I was more than surprised when I logged into my Goodreads account and discovered that I had been nominated for The Liebster Award by fellow blogger Danielle Smith over at Reading, Writing and What Not. 

I'd never heard of The Liebster Award, so I immediately took to Google and discovered that this is a recognition from my book blogging peers that my blog is read, valued, and followed. The Liebster Award nomination is a part of blog networking, so the nomination comes with its own set of rules which include submitting my own nominations for the blogs I follow and answering some writing related questions as well as posing some questions of my own for the bloggers I nominate.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review: "Paper Towns" by John Green

I was in a dark place. All I was reading was Soviet Union historical fiction and crime novels for an external website I'm writing reviews for in addition to my own. I was seeing the worst in humanity. You'd think after reading as much as I do that I would know that when I get caught in these reading funks the best medicine is generally Young Adult Fiction.

There's something refreshing about YA lit, and I turned to John Green to help pull me from my reading malaise. This was quite possibly the best decision I could have made. I'm familiar with Green from The Fault in Our Stars (you can read my review for that here). I knew Paper Towns wasn't supposed to be as sad as Stars, but I certainly wasn't expecting some of the surprising laugh out loud moments I had while reading this story. I would find myself with a smile on my face, if not from the humor, then from the sense of understanding the adolescent process of self-discovery.

Now, this is only my second John Green novel, but I find that he is an incredibly talented writer in that he is able to elevate the typical adolescent experience by using literature in his stories to serve as plot points and help with character development. As an admitted bibliophile, English Lit major, and general enthusiast of all things relating to reading - this is a very special thing for me to encounter in his work. I know I'm not alone.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book Review: "The Secret Speech" by Tom Rob Smith

In this sequel to Child 44, British author Tom Rob Smith picks up with Leo Demidov three years after he's established the Homicide Division within the KGB, formerly the MGB. The Homicide Division is not held in high regard, but Leo cannot conscientiously work for the government doing anything else after the events in Child 44. 

The first scene in the book is actually a significant flashback to when Leo first started his work with the MGB. It is this scene that informs much of what transpires in The Secret Speech, and provides additional background for Leo. Initially, the link is unclear, but as events unfold the reader is pulled into the know. It's hard to forgive him for his blind obedience, but Leo's character is still pursuing his redemption; an arc that I imagine is resolved in the final book of the trilogy.

The speech referenced in title refers to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 address admitting Stalin's crimes. The speech is anonymously dropped off at a print press, deposited into every teacher's mailbox, and leaked through various other methods. At a time when propaganda and fear held the Soviet Union together, the speech was viewed as a serious threat. A threat that soon becomes clear when dead bodies start to turn up. Leo's team begins an investigation into deaths of previous MGB officers and other high ranking officials seemingly linked to crimes named in the speech. The speech is used as a catalyst to create social unrest, exposing these men who condemned their comrades to the gulags, torture, and death. It's clear that there is an underground movement taking place in an attempt to exacerbate the dissolution of the Soviet Union.