Take Me Back to Russia: The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

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The Firebird (Slains #2)

By Susanna Kearsley, narrated by Katherine Kellgreen

Released June, 2013 by audible.com

Around 16 hours

Genre: Historical fiction, Historical mystery

Four and a half stars

 Nicola follows a young girl named Anna who leads her into the past on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.

Susanna Kearsley’s The Firebird isn’t your typical historical fiction novel. Taking place both in the past and present, Kearsley takes you from London, England to Scotland, all the way to Russia where the story really takes off. This story maybe considered a sequel to The Winter Sea, but this novel does not have to be read in order to follow the story line of The Firebird. I actually haven’t read The Winter Sea, and I was able to still enjoy the novel.

The story focuses around a woman called Anna Jamison (among other last names) during the time where Jacobites were fighting to reinstate King James as the rightful owner of the crown. Yet, it is how the story focuses on her that is interesting. Nicola, and her companion Rob, both have the ability to see the past; Nicola by simply touching an item, the reason of the quest in the first place when a dying woman tries to sell a family heirloom known as the firebird; Rob’s is more powerful where all he has to do is concentrate. Ultimately, you are following two great story lines. You read about Anna’s past, but not exactly through her eyes per se. There is no I felt, this happened to me etc, only with Nicola’s present story line.

This novel kept me on my toes. And for all you romantics out there, the end is a douse. I can’t tell you why, but there may have been a long awe coming from me. I truly enjoyed listening to this. So much so, I know I probably wouldn’t have been as engrossed if I read it instead of listening. The narrator, Katherine Kellgreen was truly incredible. The accents she did were fabulous. They were spot on. Her Scottish ones were great. I couldn’t help but laugh at some of them. Although I haven’t been to Scotland yet, I have a feeling they were pretty accurate.

Every part of this novel felt real and authentic. As I have been to Russia before, it was great to “revisit” the country. Honestly, it is the second book I read this year about Russia. And, I’m not complaining. Both got really high ratings from me.

I would highly recommend this book. Although it started slow, once I hit part two, I was hooked. I listened for over nine hours straight! The second and last part were both are four- five hours give or take minutes. And, I enjoyed every single minute of it. And, if you are like me and love cultural historical fiction, this is one book you don’t want to miss. If you are more of a fan of love stories, still pick up this novel. Like I said, the end is a big awe inducing moment. I enjoyed everything I learned while reading this. I definitely think I would listen to this book again. Maybe skip some of the first part, to be honest. If you stick through the first fifty or so pages, all the rest you will breeze through. Really it all picks up once Rob is introduced and they start their journey together.

If you are an audible member, make this book your monthly choice. I did, and there are no regrets. With other audio sites, I am unaware of it is the same narrator. Check first is my recommendation. Katherine Kellgreen’s narration of this novel is not to be missed.

“Hiding the person you are,’ he said, ‘won’t make you happy. I never hide who I am. What I am.” 

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It’s Monday! What are you reading? A weekly Wrap up

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As per usual, It’s Monday is a meme sponsored by bookjourney.wordpress.com. Check out her blog and the others participating. Maybe you will find more books to add to that growing TBR list of yours.

Now, it’s Monday again. My does the week go by fast. I am going to be very busy this month. Lots of cool posts and literary adventures. This Saturday I will be going to the Lit Crawl NYC in NYC. It will be my first time going. As I am not a drinker, I am more looking forward to the bars that involve writing stories, even literary trivia. Pictures and reviews will be posted, of course.

I am always participating in one of my first blog challenges, Tackle Your TBR Shelf read-a-thon  co-sponsored by http://tressaswishfulendings.blogspot.com and http://burgandyice.blogspot.com/. I am looking forward to that. You can see my kick off post here. https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/tackle-your-tbr-read-a-thon-kick-off/

This week I posted a few book reviews, as well as a book to movie review.

https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/fallen-angels-nephilim-and-rephaim-what-could-go-wrong-shadows-the-rephaim-1-by-paula-weston/

Shadows by Paula Weston the first book in this debut author’s series The Rephaim. Two books are currently available for you to buy. It is a YA Fantasy book, similar to The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. So, if you readthat series, or the spin-offs Clare wrote, you may want to give this book and series a try.

Speaking of The Mortal Instruments. I recently went to see that film. And, no surprise there that I was disappointed. You can read my full review at https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/they-did-what-how-the-movies-destroyed-the-mortal-instruments-city-of-bones/

I also read Just One Day by Gayle Forman. This is also part of a series, but only a two parter. The second book, available in October is called Just One Year. Can I tell you have excited I am over it’s upcoming release? My review can be found here. https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/all-you-really-need-is-just-one-day-by-gayle-forman/ It is a quick YA novel that is as engrossing as endearing. It isn’t your typical YA book because there is country hopping, self-exploration that is realistic, but there is a cute guy. There must be.

Then, there was The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford. This was a cute YA novel that takes place in Russia, where an American exchange student meets a cute Russian boy that changes her world. My review can be found here. https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/love-in-the-time-of-the-cold-war-the-boy-on-the-bridge-by-natalie-standiford-book-review/

Currently, I am struggling with reading Sideshow of Merit by Nicole Pietsch. The cover is a little creepy, and doesn’t really coincide with the novel itself.

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I am thinking of putting it on my DNF shelf. The cover is strange, but the novel is slightly disturbing and just as confusing as seeing a neck on the cover.

Happy Monday and Happy reading!

-indiereadergirl0329

Love in the time of the Cold War: The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford Book Review

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The Boy on the Bridge

By Natalie Standiford

Published July, 2013 by Scholastic Print

Genre: YA Historical fiction, YA realistic/romance

Arc copy via netgalley

Four and a half stars

It is January, 1982 and the Cold War is at its peak.  Nineteen year old Laura Reid, and a select handful of Americans, are studying aboard in St. Petersburg, Russia at the Leningrad. Naive Laura did not know what to expect; especially with her chosen semester taken place during the winter term where Russia is not the warmest of places. Americans are both mistreated and admired. Walking in to get food, the purveyors will bark that they are busy with no customers in his or hers store. Gypsy women surround the bridge by the university, holding bundles that are supposed to be babies that never age or change size. They want every last penny an American has. Laura is no exception. Alone, the gypsies become Laura’s future muggers until a young man comes along.  Surprise!

Meet Alexei Mikhailovich Nikolayev, or Alyosha for short. What starts off as a rescue mission, saving this unfamiliar American girl from Gypsies who are trying to mug her, to a love story. Everyone but Laura Reid suspects something as Alyosha starts to take up a majority of her time, as they always do. He is handsome, trying to learn English, and soon to be the love of Laura’s life.

While the two become closer and more intimate, the riskier their relationship becomes. KGB, prison, being unceremoniously brought back to the US. There are dangers, suspicions, and more that make this a relationship that most couples would retreat from. With all of Alyosha’s black market clothes, books, and music,  it starts to become easy to question him. The last person who wants to is Laura.

Standiford writes a captivating story; so captivating, I hated letting go of it. I couldn’t stop reading until I had to. As I have been to Russia years, it was nice reading about the sights again, remembering the places I saw. This is a fast read that left me with my mouth open, wanting to scream, “That’s it?” I enjoy when books do that to me. This book was no exception. The only disappointing thing about this book was there was no part two. Yes, concept is not wholly original. We have seen it in books before, and movies. Native falls for American.  Secret plans for Green cards, maybe? There was something completely sincere about this novel. It is realistic, and actually beautiful.  The language was simple and fluid. When Laura is hit with a surprise, the reader is, too. It is hard not to feel it all. If you enjoy young adult novels that don’t go your traditional route,  that includes foreign places, historical setting and time, and a more realistic love story, pick this up when you can. I loved this book. I hope you do, too.

Happy reading!

-indiereadergirl0329

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