"The Wind is Not a River" is a WWII Historical Fiction - one of my favorite genres. And what made this book unique was the area of the war it covered"The Wind is Not a River" is a WWII Historical Fiction - one of my favorite genres. And what made this book unique was the area of the war it covered - The Aleution Islands. I never even knew that the Japanese had a presence in those islands during the war.
Told in two perspectives, "The Wind in Not a River," is the story of John Easley, a reporter who wants to tell the world about the war happenings in Alaska, and his wife, Helen, who goes on a journey of her own in search of her husband who disappears during his quest.
The writing really puts the reader in cold, barren land of the Aleution Islands. Payton did a good job of painting a picture with words of an unforgiving land and the dire circumstances Easley finds himself in after parachuting out of an airplane shot down by the Japanese.
Through both characters the reader can experience the horrors of war and behavior that can only be understood under that kind of stress.
So why 3 instead of 4 stars? I felt that the story became a bit tedious toward the end. I saw the direction the story was going and simply got anxious for the plot to move along.
And then the ending, although realistic, wasn't quite what I wanted. I can't fault an author for ending their story the way they see fit, but I was still left thinking really? After all that the characters and the reader struggled through, this is the end? It was just a tad disappointed.
If you like WWII historical fiction, this book is worth the read just to learn more about the occupation in Alaska. It is not a well know or much discussed story....more
Wow! I could not put this book down. I read it while cooking dinner, styling my hair, exercising (okay, that's not so unusual. I do read all the timeWow! I could not put this book down. I read it while cooking dinner, styling my hair, exercising (okay, that's not so unusual. I do read all the time while on the StairMaster or elliptical). I thought the story was extremely well executed and gripping.
"Some Boys" is the story of Grace, a popular if bit rebellious high school junior. While attending a party (the parents-worst-nightmare kind of party) Grace is raped by the school's most-popular Lacrosse team member, Zac. Beginning 30 days after the attack, Grace is facing bullying, shaming, name-calling, and essentially total rejection by the entire school. No one can believe that she would accuse Zac of such violence. After all, he's such a great guy, every girl's heartthrob, smart, athletic, outgoing...he would never do such a thing. She's lying because he dumped her.
Sharing a school detention with Ian, Zac's best friend and fellow Lacrosse team member, Grace slowly finds an ally. Told in both perspectives, Grace's and Ian's, we follow the emotional turmoil of both characters as truth is revealed. Blount did a wonderful job putting the reader quickly into the heads of both Grace and Ian, making the journey personal.
I cannot say enough about how well I thought the story was executed. And while some other reviewers have a less than favorable opinion of Ian, he was my favorite character. Here is a young man who is just learning what it means to be a man, when he's confronted with the idea that his best friend may be a rapist. While he liked Grace, he struggled with what it would mean to him and his friendships if he believed her. Blount executed with skill the ups and downs, good behavior and bad, of a boy trying to navigate such a volatile situation.
Grace, while being a strong-willed young woman, is understandably shaken by the attack. And the attacks continue in a different way when she is at school. It is a sad state to know that the portrayal of bullying and shaming that she suffers after her accusations against Zac are not uncommon, in fact, they are very real in our culture. My heart ached for her.
Blount has tackled a difficult subject with skill, fleshing out the myriad of attitudes that often are projected onto the victims. If she had dressed differently....if she had not gone to that party, because that's what those parties are all about...if she had fought back....if she had...if she had... Is it because we don't want to believe that one person could so violate another without cause that we try to put the blame back on the victim? And why is it that we think men are so weak that they can't control themselves if a woman shows some skin? This very subject has been the topic of discussion in my house many a time as I raised six daughters.
I had only two complaints about the book. One is the amount of offensive language used. I say this understanding full well that the use of the f-bomb and other words are the norm in today's high schools. Whenever I have mentioned the foul language in school hallways to my teenage children, they roll their eyes and say, "We hear it so often we don't even notice." I also realize that Blount was creating a typical high school in her story. That being said, I don't believe the author was being gratuitous in it's use, but I take issue in general with the f-word being used as an all purpose word. I didn't factor that in in my rating, because I didn't believe it was gratuitous. But I still didn't like it.
The other complaint I have with "Some Boys" is a scene where Grace lectures a boy as he enters school about his weakness to his hormones. While the characters perspective was honest, the execution on the author's part was invasive. I didn't feel like I was listening to a high school girl anymore, but listening to a grown woman lecturing on how a girl dresses and a boy's reaction to that. And then when the situation is turned on it's head, it was hard to switch back to the idea of being back in high school. I think Grace as a character was able to make the point without the page long lecture.
Overall, I thought the book wonderful. Yes, the ending was a bit Pollyannish, things often do not work out in such a neat and tidy manner. And yes, I wish there had been a little more about rape crisis counseling. But the story wasn't about what should be done, it was about the journey. It was about a young woman dealing with a horrific crime against her when no one believed her, and a young man as he really emerges into manhood and realizes that standing up for what is right, although not easy, is essential.
Truly this book deserves a solid 3.5 stars. "The Avery Shaw Experiment" was just a fun, fun read. A little predictable, but still....I found myself laTruly this book deserves a solid 3.5 stars. "The Avery Shaw Experiment" was just a fun, fun read. A little predictable, but still....I found myself laughing out loud as I read. That doesn't often happen.
"Experiment" is a silly little YA romance with lots of charm. For those who are sensitive to language, there is some, but nothing too strong. There is also references to teenage sex - but absolutely nothing in the storyline itself.
If you're looking for a frothy, amusing read - this is it. You'll love the characters. Love the growth that they make and cheer for love and science....now I've got you wondering, don't I? :)
I don't normally read psychological thrillers. I get all worked up and uncomfortable as I read them. In this case it was hard for me to believe a persI don't normally read psychological thrillers. I get all worked up and uncomfortable as I read them. In this case it was hard for me to believe a person could be so consumed with revenge that they would do anything to ruin someone else's life. But, regardless of my misgivings, the premise of "Disclaimer" pulled me in.
After moving into a new house, Catherine finds a book that she doesn't remember ordering. She puts it on her night stand and quickly begins to read only to find out that this book is about her...about a secret she has been keeping for twenty years. And so begins the unraveling of Catherine's life.
Imagine what that would be like? To begin reading a book and then to find out you are major character inside?
As most thrillers are, this one was a page-turner. Mostly because I knew that the story in the 'book' wasn't the real story and I wanted to find out what really happened twenty years earlier. Unfortunately, by the time I got to that point in the story I was so fed up with the characters that I just wanted the story to end.
It's told from multiple points of view, third person Catherine, first person Steven Brigstocke. Other people are given a POV but it's usually an interpreted viewpoint by Catherine and Brigstocke.
There are several red herrings...the promise of a dead body that ends up a huge disappointing. (Well that's if you're into dead bodies.) A purposeful misleading of the reader on the subject of some compromising photographs. Catherine's husband, Robert, behaves like Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde. His abrupt personality change is so out of character that it's difficult for the reader to understand his reaction to the 'book.'
I also found the story just frustrating. One conversation could have saved Catherine months and months of grief...saved her family tons of heartache...and preserved her reputation as the capable and intelligent film director she was. There were moments when I just wanted to throw the book across the room. (of course that would have been my e-reader and not a good idea) because I wanted Catherine to open her mouth. Her reluctance to set the record straight defied belief. When everything you have is on the line, wouldn't you offer up an explanation?
The writing was good. The idea interesting, but just not very well executed. Going back to my romances now....more
I'm having a hard time thinking this book is a novella. At 60 pages (not nearly enough length to make this story credible) it's more like a long shortI'm having a hard time thinking this book is a novella. At 60 pages (not nearly enough length to make this story credible) it's more like a long short story.
The premise of a dismayed rock star hiding his identity and a young self-sacrificing country girl isn't new. But I think if given the time, this could have been a great romance. Both characters had enough troubled background (managing to be revealed in just 60 pages) to give enough material for misunderstandings and complications and a wonderfully touching fall into love. As it is, the reader is rushed from troubled Derrick Cordell trying to over come drug and alcohol addition to sweet but guarded Janey who watches over her younger brother, protecting him from their alcoholic mother. The two meet, fall in love, and then are faced with the trials that fame brings along. The problem is, Janey's fall into love is so against her character that it is hard to swallow. Derrick (who becomes Eric...but be careful because on an occasion or two the names get confused) seems like a nice guy but who can tell in such a short time?
So much happens in such a rush it's hard to keep characters straight and even harder to get to know them or care what the outcome is.
If Tate wanted to turn this into a full fledged novel, I think she has a great story to work with. But in this medium, for me, it just doesn't work....more
"Lovestruck in London" is a relatively clean (there is a smattering of strong language), sweet, romance.
I liked that the romance was developed slowly"Lovestruck in London" is a relatively clean (there is a smattering of strong language), sweet, romance.
I liked that the romance was developed slowly and into a real relationship before all the kissing started. I liked the characters and especially Lizzie's family - what a hodge podge of personalities! I eally liked the setting in London, and even a small part in Scotland. I have been both places and Schurig described them so well it made me want to return.
The plot was a little predictable, but most romances are. The element of fame and it's challenges were handled well. And it had a happy ending, but not overly saccharine.
If you're looking for a quick, sweet, beach read...this one would be a good pick....more
Certainly in the minority, but this book only rates an "it was okay" rating from me. It's not that the story of Joe Rantz wasn't interesting - it was!Certainly in the minority, but this book only rates an "it was okay" rating from me. It's not that the story of Joe Rantz wasn't interesting - it was! What a powerful story of overcoming adversity, putting the past behind, and making something of your life regardless of the crappy hand you were dealt. The problem was all the peripheral story thrown in.
Brown could have gone a long way truly focusing on the story of the nine boys in the boat instead of pulling in details of world history (that was interesting by itself, but told in the detail that Brown gave it simply slowed the real story to a snails pace.) I would have loved to learn in the same detail given to Rantz about the other boys. I don't know, maybe their stories weren't as interesting. Maybe Brown couldn't fine enough material to really make the story about all the boys. Maybe the book could have just been shorter.
If you removed the monotonous lists of details given in every description ( 7 seemed to be the magic number...yes, I counted!) Or took out moments in history that while important to history were not important to this story (Krystalnacht) or the many cliches, ( fought tooth and nail, shot the bull ) the story would have been tight, compelling and even a page turner.
It doesn't help that you know the ending. While Brown did a good job describing the actual races, by the time you got into the mind-numbing detail of the Olympics the race for the gold became anticlimatic.... the reader knows they won! (no spoiler, I promise.) So why drag out the details? If Brown's goal was to make the reader feel like they were there, immerse them in the Olympics, he failed. We have front row seats to the Olympics through television these days. A less detailed, or maybe unusually details description would have made the experience there more immediate.
And can I just ask....did we need to know about a squirrel searching the ground for snakes and looking to the air for hawks? How does the author know that's what the squirrel was doing? Why is that important? Why should we care? Was there some metaphor in that? I know I am sounding snarky, but this book is 412 pages long (feels longer) and as I listened to it (maybe it would have come across better if read) I wondered if Brown just wasn't throwing in detail just to make the story long enough to be a novel.
And while the information about Hitler's rise and the propaganda going on during the time period was interesting, I felt like there was some judgement being made about naive Americans. How were these college age boys supposed to understand what was in the works in 1936 Germany? And what could they have done about it had they known?
There was a nod to Laura Hildebrand with mentions of Louis Zamperini and Seabisquit. And while there have been comparisons made about "Boys in the Boat" and Hildebrand's work, believe me when I say there is no comparison. "Unbroken" and "Seabisquit" read as novels, where as I felt that "Boys in the Boat" was more like an overwritten magazine article.
And I won't even ask why Jesse Owens barely received an honorable mention. Was he not a big part of the 1936 Olympics?
I will say that I will watch next year's summer Olympic rowing races with a lot more interest and understanding. Brown did succeed in explaining the demands and strategy of the sport.
Overall, I suggest you pass on this book. It will probably be a movie in a few years. On film all the fluff will be removed and the real story will be highlighted. ...more
To be upfront....I didn't finish this book. I tried. I persevered through pages upon pages waiting for a story to start and finally after 200+ pages dTo be upfront....I didn't finish this book. I tried. I persevered through pages upon pages waiting for a story to start and finally after 200+ pages decided there wasn't really a story to tell.
"One Hundred Years of Solitude" would require that of me to finish. :) But seriously, the writing was interesting, even poetic at times, but I never became invested in the characters. Their names were difficult to pronounce and several of them had the same names. It was difficult to keep straight who the current narration was about.
I know this is considered a classic and on all those 100-books-you-must-read lists, but it wasn't my cup of tea.
While I enjoyed reading "Bird in Hand," I was saddened by the premise. "Bird in Hand" could be considered a second chance story...or a story on how toWhile I enjoyed reading "Bird in Hand," I was saddened by the premise. "Bird in Hand" could be considered a second chance story...or a story on how to ruin a friendship...or simply a study in what people believe about marriage.
"Bird in Hand" is the story of four people, Alison, Claire, Ben, and Charlie. As the story opens Claire and Ben are married as are Alison and Charlie. Claire and Alison have been friends since childhood. The two couples have been friends since college. Life for all has marched on bringing success as well as disappointment. A car accident brings to head a myriad of emotions and the revelation of betrayal.
While I liked Christina Baker Kline's writing, I wearied of all the internal dialog from each of the characters. I'm sure that Kline did that in order to really know and understand the characters, but for me, it threw off the pacing of the story.
And at first, I was thrown off by the flashbacks interspersed throughout the novel. I read the book on an e-reader, and it just isn't easy to flip back and forth to see what was happening when. But by the end of the story, I thought it was quite clever of Kline to lay out the story as she had. The flashbacks work back in time while the present works forward. By the end of the book, the present feels like it has met up with the past. The reader is left thinking that perhaps, now, what should have happened from the start will finally come to pass. If you think about it, that is a unsettling proposition. People make choices everyday of their lives. If the important choices (Who to marry, where to go to school, work, live, ect.) are only supposed to play out one way, what happens when a person chooses contrary to that plan? Will life automatically rectify the situation? And at what cost?
The romantic in me wanted a different ending. The ending wasn't bad...but wasn't satisfying either. The book is hanging with me. I keep wondering what will happen to these characters a year or two down the road. Will what appears to should-have-happened really bring the characters happiness? Who knows. Maybe Kline should consider a sequel.
A good read. Some language. Some intimacy. Would recommend to those who are okay with that....more
If you're looking for a quick read, this is it. Only 148 pages with clean, concise writing.
"A Cup of Tea" is a novel set at the beginning of WWI in NeIf you're looking for a quick read, this is it. Only 148 pages with clean, concise writing.
"A Cup of Tea" is a novel set at the beginning of WWI in New York City where social classes and stigmas are firmly in place. An innocent attempt to help someone in need leads to an affair of the heart and ultimately tragedy.
While it's an interesting story, I didn't care for the writing style. It was too concise, too impersonal. And there were point of view issues throughout the entire novella. I had a hard time when phrases like "the day in question" were used to talk about the present day and what was occurring. To me, that phrase is used with mysteries and in reference to a time in the past. So when I encountered it, (it is used several times during the story)I was always thrown out of the current thread and wondering what I missed.
There was little emotion in the writing and when the tragedy occurs, my thoughts were, "Oh well...kinda saw that coming."
The story ends rather abruptly without much detail and rather unsatisfactorily. I think this could have been so much more....more
I actually finished this book a few days ago. I decided to wait a few days before reviewing because I had mixed feelings about the book.
This is one ofI actually finished this book a few days ago. I decided to wait a few days before reviewing because I had mixed feelings about the book.
This is one of those occasions when I wish that Goodreads had half-star ratings. (Would give it a 2.5 rating) While I liked this book, overall I felt that it lacked something. I couldn't put my finger on it, but having sat on it for a few days, I think I can express what it was.
"The Children of Darkness" is a dystopian novel of a country that rebelled against the darkness caused by technology and regressed back to a society with little if any modern conveniences and where the economy seemed to run on a barter system. The ruling government cares for it's people by providing a strict set of laws to live by according to "The Light." When compliance is met, each community is given medicine to help them overcome illness and disease. Anyone caught with "radical" ideas was taken for a "teaching" where they learn the evils of the old society and how darkness came to rule.(a bit hunger-gamish but without the violence) The overall outcome of these teachings was fear - instilled so deeply that the person who was "taught" is never again quite the same.
The three main characters, Orah, Nathaniel, and Thomas, go against the ruling vicars and on an adventure to discover secrets of the past society.
I have to commend Litwack on the construction of the new society. He did a good job of creating a believable world that has essentially gone backwards 150 years from what we know today. His characters were well defined, with hopes and aspirations that not only make them strong, but played into their weaknesses as well. There is a bit of a love story between Orah and Nathaniel. And Thomas makes for a very complex character being the only one of the three who has experienced a "teaching."
The writing was good. Litwack has an easy, descriptive style which worked well.
What didn't work for me in this story was that what started out as a YA novel within a few chapters started to feel like middle-grade. I don't know if the author was trying to keep the content clean or if perhaps it really was meant to be middle-grade. But after a sprinkling of something "dark," the rest of the content hinted at danger, adventure, and trouble, but never quite delivered. It was as if all emotion was tempered to the point of non-existence. I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did. The one moment when I thought, "Finally...we're going to get some real drama!" actually deteriorated into another non-event when the corrupt government official went soft on the protagonists. What could have been high drama felt more like a newspaper reporting than a suspense novel.
Will I go on to read the rest of the series? Probably not. Litwack failed to engage me enough with the characters to make me want to invest in another novel.
Just a so-so read, but a good one to introduce middle-grade readers to the dystopian market.
"A Thousand Acres" is a modern retelling of Shakespeare's "King Lear." And although adapted well, the story just didn't quite hold the same drama or c"A Thousand Acres" is a modern retelling of Shakespeare's "King Lear." And although adapted well, the story just didn't quite hold the same drama or compelling characters of a Shakespeare work.
In fact, there wasn't one character in this story of three daughters and their father in rural 1970 Iowa that I really cared about. That being the case, I didn't care who got the farm or even bit the farm! I found the ending anti-climatic and felt like I was pushing myself just to get to the end.
I did gain a greater appreciation for family farmers and the challenges they face in trying to keep their farms profitable. Next time I drive through the Midwest, I will be looking for the buildings and farm houses that were described in the book. The ability to describe the area and give the reader a sense of time and place was a certain strength of the writing.
This was my first book by author, Jane Smiley, and it will most likely be my last. While her writing style was good, the story just wasn't executed well enough to make me take another stab at her work....more
"Between Husbands and Friends" is cliche women's fiction. Two best girlfriends who share hopes and dreams, secrets, family and ofMy rating 2.5 stars.
"Between Husbands and Friends" is cliche women's fiction. Two best girlfriends who share hopes and dreams, secrets, family and of course one has a big secret that could destroy the entire friendship. Nothing in this book surprised me. I will admit to a tear in the middle as one of our 'friends' deals with a tragedy, but other than that....I yawned.
Even though the story is told in first person, I had a hard time really liking Lucy (one of the dynamic duo) and liked her friend Kate even less. Both seemed caught in the trappings of their New England life, all the expectations of living in their small town, and not too concerned with the emotional health and well-being of their families. I have a hard time relating to women who think nothing of a one night stand--as if it's just something women need to do in order to be happy. Of course, when their infidelity is revealed (which it must be in a cliche women's fiction) lives fall apart (as they should) and families are destroyed.
I did find the book's treatment and explanation of Cystic Fibrosis interesting. I actually know someone who suffers from the disease and was pleased to read more about it. And I also appreciated that actions did have consequences. The poor choices made by both Kate and Lucy didn't pass without some repercussions, even if it was years later.
Thayer does have some lovely writing skills. There were a few paragraphs that discussed the idyllic dreams of women when expecting a baby. And although I didn't have those same dreams when I was expecting my own children, I could certainly relate to the sentiment. That type of writing makes me feel a camaraderie with the author and women everywhere.
The ending was hopeful, but not overly sweet. I always like that.
Overall, just a so-so read. This was my first Nancy Thayer book, and sorry to say, not one that would make me look for another of her titles....more
Yes, you are seeing correctly. I have given a book a 5 star rating. I finished this book yesterday and just keep thinking about it and thinking aboutYes, you are seeing correctly. I have given a book a 5 star rating. I finished this book yesterday and just keep thinking about it and thinking about it. To say I LOVE this book is an understatement. Starting from page 2 (I was confused by the prologue which I went back and read twice before the end of the book. It made more sense every time I read it.) I was drawn into the story, drawn to the characters, and could not put it down. I woke in the middle of the night thinking...I gotta read more!
"The Orphans of Race Point" covers about 25 years of history in the lives of the main characters, Hallet and Gustavo (Hallie and Gus.) Starting with an event that draws them together as 9 year old children, and leading them through romance, tragedy, faith, imprisonment, forgiveness, and ultimately a true and honest ending - although not the one I would have chosen.
If I had any complaints about this story it would be the use of some Portuguese that I didn't quite understand. But it wasn't too much to deter me from the story. Most of the words, (I didn't know exactly what some of the food referred to was,) I could figure out the meaning by context. And as for the food - the reader may not know what it is, but you will be convinced it's delicious.
All the characters, main and secondary, are well defined with no one being all black or white. Each one has their strengths and their flaws. Each one acts according to the awareness of those qualities. There were moments when I wanted to reach into the books and literally shake Gus....how could he be so naive. But that was part of who he was, and as a reader I had to accept that this would be his behavior given what he had experienced in his life and what he promised to do because of those experiences. Secondary characters still haunt me - one in particular (not saying who because I hate even hints of spoilers.) But I have thought and thought about the motivations of this character and how they must have reacted to other events in the story and I'm left feeling almost sick. There is nothing graphic - it's just speculation about this character.) We hear from several different points of view within the story. At first I wasn't sure I liked an abrupt change in POV about 3/4 through the book. But I understand why Frances chose to go that route and ended up really liking the character. (I guess she becomes a third main character - name is Mila.)
The plot line is a roller coaster. I cheered. I cried. I wrung my hands. I cheered again. I applaud the idea that a person's search for faith can be treated with a realistic and matter-of-fact approach. I applaud that subjects like domestic abuse can be addressed in a similar manner. Nothing was glorified, and characters were not vilified because of their weaknesses or glorified because of their goodness. Consequences of behavior drive this story and no one is exempt.
There is some offensive language in the book, but it was so in character and not at all gratuitous that I had no trouble with it. There are also scenes of intimacy, but very much of the fade to black sort.
I highly, highly recommend this book. It is well written, well conceived, and will leave you thinking long after you are done. Well done, Patry Frances!...more