Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Wolfsangel by Liza Perrat

Disclaimer: The author has kindly sent me a copy of Wolfsangel in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): 1943. German soldiers occupy provincial Lucie-sur-Vionne, and as the villagers pursue treacherous schemes to deceive and swindle the enemy, Céleste embarks on her own perilous mission as her passion for a Reich officer flourishes.

When her loved ones are deported to concentration camps, Céleste is drawn into the vortex of this monumental conflict, and the adventure and danger of French Resistance collaboration.

As she confronts the harrowing truths of the Second World War’s darkest years, Céleste is forced to choose: pursue her love for the German officer, or answer General de Gaulle’s call to fight for France.
Her fate suspended on the fraying thread of her will, Celeste gains strength from the angel talisman bequeathed to her through her lineage of healer kinswomen. But the decision she makes will shadow the remainder of her days.

MY OPINION:

As summaries tend to be, the above summary/blurb for Wolfsangel is somewhat misleading, since the main focus of the book is not really the love story but Céleste’s life in general. However, this is actually a good thing.

First of all, I loved the way Liza Perrat associated the title, Wolfsangel, with three different elements in the novel (I am not telling you which, as it would spoil the story.)

I have struggled through the first third of the book, unsure about how to feel about Céleste. She starts as a naive girl who wants to escape the boring country life, and despite resenting the presence of the occupiers in her village, she does not fully comprehend what the occupation and war really mean. Unable to understand her mother’s detachment and conflicting actions, Céleste seems sometimes justifiably defiant, but at other times unnecessarily petulant.

Thus, the relationship between Céleste and her mother is rather stereotypical at the beginning, as is the presentation of other village characters and a Jewish family. Yet, as the novel progresses, Liza Perrat develops these characters into life-like ones, the sorts one could have met and perhaps still can in many common rural and semi-rural places around the world.

As Céleste gets caught in the middle of balancing the ostensible obedience to the rules of the occupation and her work for the resistance, she matures, although at the expense of great personal suffering and loss. From a moody and sometimes ignorant young girl, she turns into a person of integrity and inner strength, despite some of her foolish and not well-thought-of actions.

The presumed love-story between Céleste and a German officer was the element of the novel that seemed the most off to me in terms of believability. It may have something to do with the fact that initially we get to know Céleste from what she (for the novel is written in the first person) tells us, instead of shows. Hence, I could not believe her supposed feelings for Martin. To me, it all seemed just an infatuation, not love; after all, they do not really know each other at all. The fact that Céleste did not realize that was perhaps the only thing I missed in the novel and which would provide a full closure.

Nevertheless, Wolfsangel has some initial struggles with the characters’ presentation and the slightly too strong a telling mode, but when it catches its footing, it becomes a gripping read. The writing is a bit rough around the edges, but it somehow fits Céleste, a not-so-simple country girl, and as the events started piling up, I sped through the book, unable to put it down. In the end, Wolfsangel made me cry. And to me a book provoking such a strong physical reaction from me is always a good thing.
To conclude, I can say Wolfsangel is an overall a good, satisfying read. It may seem a bit simple and have some shortcomings, but the whole makes a lasting positive impression.

RECOMMENDATION: Wolfsangel is a compelling WW II novel. Although it presents the war from a rather limited point of view of a French farm-girl, it is all the more interesting for that very fact, for showing the war from a female perspective and from the perspective of a person who is not yet set in her beliefs.
4 stars

Note: Another plus side to the book is that even though Wolfsangel is the second book in L’Auberge des Anges series, it can be read as a stand-alone, since the series is only loosely tied together by a few elements, one of them being the setting.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Bout of Books 9.0 Updates

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

UPDATES

I’ll also update on Twitter as @StrangeNewWords and on Goodreads. See my goals here.

Monday, January 6:
Books I've been reading today: /
Number of pages I've read today: 0
Total number of pages I've read: 0
Today in six words: Day one was a complete failure.

So, I’m not even linking this up. I had so much work to do I don’t even know where the day went. I stopped by Twitter in the evening, just about 10 minutes into the twitter chat (totally by accident, I wasn’t aware it was happening right then) but then both tweetchat and tweetdeck were glitch-y and I wasn’t feeling well enough to deal with the moody tech so I just stared at the timeline for a while and then gave up.

Tuesday, January 7:
Books I've been reading today: Girl in Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold (16),
                                          Pleasure of a Dark Prince (IAD #9) by Kresley Cole (37)
Number of pages I've read today: 53
Total number of pages I've read: 53
Today in six words: I read, that’s something, isn’t it?

Yeah, I read. If I had time I’d probably sped halfway through Pleasure of a Dark Prince. Or read a chapter more of the other book. Maybe my problem with reading is that I want to read everything at once? Because bedsides liking both these book and wavering which one I should read more, I have been having strong urges to start rereading The Silmarillion. If only I had time to do nothing else but read. I visited a few blogs, too, but I still wasn’t up to any challenges due to not enough time. (There is never enough time.)

Wednesday – Sunday, January 8 - 12:
Books I've been reading: /
Number of pages I've read: 0
Total number of pages I've read: 53
In six words: Major fail. Getting sick. Life sucks.

Yeah, I’m completely failing due to a) work doesn't understand there’s a readathon going on, b) I’m having a half-cold and c) people are making me upset. So, in the little free time I had I turned to fanfic for comfort. So, I did read about 15 – 20K, but not books. Whatever.

WRAP-UP:

Total pages read: 53
Anything else done: /

Basically fail of all fails. But foiling at Bout of Books is the least of my concerns right now, because I’m in the middle of an extremely difficult and worrisome situation, which will hopefully be resolved this week. So, positive thoughts are welcome. Stay awesome, my fellow participants, as I’m sure you are, I just couldn’t really find out how this time around.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Bout of Books 9.0 Goals

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

MY GOALS:

I’m still trying to not over-stress myself since this is supposed to be fun, so my goals are once again minimalistic:

  • read every day (yes, I have no number of pages goals)
  • participate in at least one challenge
  • participate in one twitter chat
  • visit at least one two blogs each day and comment
  • Books to read/finish:

  • Girl in Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold
  • but I think I’ll start with the next IAD book. 

    Of course, I might have a bad week (wouldn’t be anything new), and fail miserably, but maybe not.

    What are your goals?

  • Wednesday, January 01, 2014

    2014 Challenge

    This year, I'm going a little bit differently about challenging myself. Considering the disastrous reading last year, I'm starting with small goals to keep the pressure low, but I might up them if I see I'm doing well.

    So, to begin with I'm challenging myself to read 12 books. I guess even with my recently slow reading I can read a book a month. And rereads and books not translated into English count as well.


      CHALLENGE RECORDS:

      Books are listed in order of reading (with the level of strangeness, see my rating system); those reviewed are linked to their reviews and also listed under Book Reviews tab.
      1. Wolfsangel by Liza Perrat (4)
      2. Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold (3)
      3. Obstacles by Chris Reardon (1.5)
      4. Pleasure of a Dark Prince (IAD #9) by Kresley Cole (4)
      5. Demon from the Dark (IAD #10) by Kresley Cole (4.5)
      6. Dreams of a Dark Warrior (IAD #11) by Kresley Cole (4)
      7. Lothaire (IAD #12) by Kresley Cole (4.5)
      8. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien - reread (5)
      9. The Plantagenet Prelude (Plantagenet Saga #1) by Jean Plaidy (3)
      10. Loki: Nine Naughty Tales of the Trickster by Mike Vasich (3)
      11. The Fall of Arthur by J. R. R. Tolkien (4)
      12. Second Sight (The Arcane Society #1) by Amanda Quick (3)
      13. The Revolt of the Eaglets (Plantagenet Saga #2) by Jean Plaidy (4)
      14. Grave Sight (Harper Connelly #1) by Charlaine Harris (3.5)
      15. The Heart of the Lion (Plantagenet Saga #3) by Jean Plaidy (4)
      16. Loki by Mike Vasich (2)
      17. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente (2)
      18. The Prince of Darkness (Plantagenet Saga #4) by Jean Plaidy (3)
      19. Eternally Dark by John Amory, Jenna Jones, TA Moore and BA Tortuga (4)
      20. Grave Surprise (Harper Connelly #2) by Charlaine Harris (3)
      21. An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly #3) by Charlaine Harris (4)
      22. Grave Secret (Harper Connelly #4) by Charlaine Harris (3.5)
      23. Vanishing Acts by Jodie Picoult (5)


        Happy New Year!

        Happy New Year 2014

        May all your wishes some day come true,
        - if not all, a few will do.

        When life gives you poo
        And makes your thoughts blue,
        Remember: I am here too.

        Even if we both have no clue,
        We are stronger when two.

        Time will all misfortunes undo
        And make everything new,
        There is nothing you can’t get through.

        But at the end of it, no matter who
        It is that is you, be just that - you.

        From the bottom of my hear to all of you who read this blog and stick with me through rough patches and reading and blogging slumps: Happy New Year! Many good books, good people, and good times!

        (I did the above rhyming at 1.30 a.m. but what the heck, right? Smeško, ki mežika)

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