The Ventriloquists

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

While this book started out a bit slow, it picked up and I found the concept and carry-out to be really interesting. The continuation of the storyline flowed well and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the perspective but didn't find myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. For me, that's a teller. If I'm not itching to get back to it when real-life takes me away from it, it's going to be middle of the road for me. While it was interesting and overall a good story, it didn't pull me in.
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Rating:   2 stars

As much as I love reading historical fiction about little known episodes in history, especially WWII history, this book didn’t hit the mark for me.   There were too many characters, and I was unclear who the narrator was most of the time.  The story was interesting, but told in a very convoluted way.   I felt like the author would gotten the point across better if the plot had been simplified.

This is the story of a group of people in Occupied Belgium who were forced by the Germans to print a copy of a propagandized version of the popular paper, Le Soir.  They were instructed to publish propaganda about all the horrible things the Allies would to the population when upon their arrival in Belgium.  The theory is that if the Belgians are scared enough, they will fight against the Allies when they arrive to liberate them.   This group agrees to print the paper.  Note though that their only other alternative was to be executed.   Then they decide to ALSO print a parody edition of the paper, a ‘faux’ Le Soir, that will tell paint the Germans in their true light while poking fun at them.    

The story of how the ragtag bunch produces both papers is told in a rambling, confusing way.  I thought that the story was too long, and often times I didn’t know who was speaking.  If the 11-year-old character ‘Gamin’ was speaking as it appeared most of the time, I didn’t understand how she was present for all the conversations.   There was too much dialogue which dragged out the story.  This book could have benefited from a sharpened and well-used editing pencil.  It’s sad to me that the potential was there, but the book didn’t quite succeed as I’d hoped.

‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Harlequin – Trade Publishing, Park Row; and the author, E.R. Ramzipoor; for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I had a really hard time trying to follow this book. With such a large cast of characters with names and nicknames, it requires a lot of careful attention. I’m sure this will be a hit for other readers, but it just wasn’t for me.
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I love historical fiction especially stories about WWII, Nazis, and resistance. So I was really looking forward to reading this book. It has a really promising premise as I have not read anything about journalism or newspaper related during the WWII. Unfortunately, after trying two times to get through this book, I bailed on it. The storytelling feels fragmented and scattered. I have no idea which character is talking at the moment and I spent a lot of time re-reading the previous pages. It was a real struggle for me and I couldn't get past the first two chapters.

***I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from Harlequin - Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed in this review are my own and was not influenced by the author, publisher or any third party.***
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3.5 Stars. The premise of this book was so exciting to me. I am always fascinated to read a story about WWII that is lesser known, and the story of Faux Soir was one of those to me. It was so interesting to read how a resistance group in Brussels made an attempt to thwart how the Nazis used propaganda to convince people of not only their ways, but that they were winning when they were not. Unfortunately, as much as I loved what the story was about, I had a really hard time getting through this due to how the writing was framed. The story felt very clunky and all over the place, making it hard to follow the characters and what was happening. Thank you to Harlequin and Netgalley for the ARC.
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I prefer not to use a certain word in any of my reviews, and the word is, “unfortunately”, but for this one, I’m going to have to use it. After reading the description of this book, I was so looking forward to reading this, but not so much once I got into it. I am a WWII History follower and I had not seen or read anything about this caper that is based upon true events. 
Here it comes, the, “Unfortunately”, I got lost in this one. I think a lot of my confusion had to do with the complicated names of the characters was hard to follow, plus the large number of characters involved, and the switching of times and places. Sometimes the conversations were the old adage of he said, she said, he said, etc. and by the end, I didn’t know who had said what. I did find the history behind each one of the participants in the task at hand and the nicknames they assigned to each one added an entertaining touch. But I got so bogged down with details I started missing the point of where we were going. I’m giving this one 4 stars because the research was remarkable and it may have been impossible to present this in-depth story in a different style without leaving out key events, but it just didn’t work for me. 
This one comes in with 4****s. I thank Harlequin/Park Row and Net Galley for allowing me the privilege of reading this book for my honest review
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Stick with this, even though the going may be tough at times, for an interesting story about a little known chapter in WWII history.  Helene/Gamin, the narrator of this lengthy novel comprising short chapters, is one of the street vendors for the official Nazi paper in Brussels.  It's a job she needs because she's basically got nothing but then she meets Marc Aubion, who has boldly decided to create an alternate satiric paper.  This might not seem like much but it really is. This rag tag band of writers and printers risked their lives to throw attitude in the face of their occupiers.   I learned a bit while reading this.  There are indeed too many characters initially and it is hard to keep track of them but once you settle in, it's a good read. I note that there are some historical errors (umm, the US was in by 1943- how did an editor miss that?) and that it would have benefited greatly from some paring.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.  This is a big debut and I'd like to see what Ramzipoor has up her sleeve next.
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Based on actual events that took place in German-occupied Belgium in 1943, E.R. Ramzipoor has brought to life the risks, impossible odds, and the life or death decisions of a group of resistance fighters.
The German military instructed the writers of the local newspaper, Le Soir, to write articles turning the citizens against the Allied Forces. The parties involved agreed to print a farce copy of the newspaper that would actually make fun of the Nazis and their leaders. Even though they knew this decision would cost them their lives, they agreed to attempt the impossible.
Written with the impending deadline looming, and then detailing the impending doom of all involved parties upon the circulation of the newspaper, the author has done a beautiful job bringing to life the love, fear, and determination of the Belgians during the German occupation. At times a bit confusing to follow, this is an entertaining and engrossing read, bringing to life the past heroes of a terrible time in history.
(I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks so much to Harlequin-Trade Publishing/Park Row and NetGalley for making it available.)
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I think this is another case of it's not the book, it's me. I feel like a lot of fat could have been trimmed from this book, making it less dense, but it's still a good overall story. I just lost track of the characters within the first 100 pages.
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Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s entire world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network publishing dissident underground newspapers.

I love historical fiction and this one did not disappoint. 

I was intrigued right off the bat after reading the synopsis for this book. Having read many historical fictions that take place during WWII, it was refreshing to read one that doesn’t solely focus on the Holocaust. In this case, the story highlights a group of rogue journalists and resistance fighters who risk their lives to not only undermine the Reich but bring power back to Belgians and give them a reason to smile and laugh again.
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I have tried numerous times to finish this book, but I just can’t do it.  Half the time, I’m unable to tell which character is speaking, and by the time I figure it out, I have to go back and reread it to get back to the context of the story.  After trying four separate times, I’m just giving up.
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No, no and no. After reading most of the other already published reviews here, I realize I will fall into the "not going to like it" group. The idea sounded marvelous. Then I did some reading and saw that the whole edifice on which the story is hung - namely that the Nazis forced the hand of the resistance writers who then decided to write the satirical edition of the newspaper - is false. Okay, so it will be one of those stories that is based on the truth. Only the writing is often clunky and awkward and the start of the book is filled with scenes that strained my belief. Yeah, I wanted to like it but I just couldn't. Now if someone would only write a true account of what happened - that I'd probably read.
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Given the wide range of ratings on The Ventriloquists, it appears it's one of those books that you either love or really don't like it.

I was so excited when NetGalley authorized me to read and review this book. I love historical fiction, and when it's based on true events, even better!! Sadly, this book was not a good match for me. It just didn't work for me in so many ways:
- the beginning was very confusing to me. So many characters introduced in a short time span, not making them come alive (yet, or since it was a DNF for me, not sure they ever did). 
- I kept having to reread the beginning to try to figure out who was who and what the heck was going on. 
- the pace was very slow. I kept waiting for it to pick up, or for me to care about the characters.

When I was still struggling after 100 pages, I just closed it and put it aside. 

If the publisher's blurb catches your attention, please don't let my review keep you away from the book. Your experience may be totally different than mine. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin/Park Row for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions here are my own.
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*Book received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s entire world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network publishing dissident underground newspapers.

Aubrion’s unbridled creativity and linguistic genius attract the attention of August Wolff, a high-ranking Nazi official tasked with swaying public opinion against the Allies. Wolff captures Aubrion and his comrades and gives them an impossible choice: use the newspaper to paint the Allies as monsters, or be killed. Faced with no decision at all, Aubrion has a brilliant idea: they will pretend to do the Nazis’ bidding, but instead they will publish a fake edition of Le Soir that pokes fun at Hitler and Stalin—giving power back to the Belgians by daring to laugh in the face of their oppressors.

The ventriloquists have agreed to die for a joke, and they have only eighteen days to tell it.

Told with dazzling scope, taut prose and devastating emotion, The Ventriloquists illuminates the extraordinary acts of courage by ordinary people forgotten by history—unlikely heroes who went to extreme lengths to orchestrate the most stunning feat of journalism in modern history.

This was a great concept with poor execution. The book is far longer than necessary, some basic history facts are incorrect (America in WWII), and the chapters are short with strange point of view choices. All of these issues would have been easily solved by a decent editor.
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This book caught my eye because its historical fiction. Although I normally enjoy the genre, something about it just wasn't super compelling and I felt like I had to push through it. To no fault of the author, it just wasn't the right read for me! I would recommend it because taste varies between readers and you never know, your okay read could be somebody's new favorite!
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This book was slightly difficult to read with the awkward script on the Kindle (awkward spacing and crunched together format).  That made for a different reading experience vs. reading the final copy.  But the story is interesting, the characters were comical/likeable/or unlikeable, and the story kept moving along.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to review this book.
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Historical Fiction classification drew me to this book.  However, through no fault of author E.R. Ramzipoor, it failed to hold my attention.  I could not connect with the characters and subsequently lost track of their inter-relations.  Did not finish.
.
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The fact that this book is based on true events is just fantastic. It is such an original WW2 story, which is honestly so necessary since the field is truly inundated with stories from this period. I love a good story based on true events, and the Ventriloquists further shows that sometimes fact is truly more crazy and unexpected than fiction.
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A ww2 historical fiction must. Based on actual people and facts. E.R Ramzipoor gives it all in The Ventriloquists. A must read for anyone that loves ww2. I love any novel that makes me need to research the facts. I completely got wrapped up in the story and had to know what happened.
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Based on real characters and real historical events, this novel tells the tale of Nazi-occupied Belgium and misfits who were rounded up and tasked with creating a propaganda publication for the Reich.  Under the guise of creating this publication, what they actually created was a fake version of Le Soir that poked fun at the Reich and Hitler himself.  The characters are unforgettable and the tale will break your heart.
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