Early in the twentieth century, Rachel and Sam Rabinowitz find themselves left in a Jewish orphanage after a tragedy left them without a mother, and aEarly in the twentieth century, Rachel and Sam Rabinowitz find themselves left in a Jewish orphanage after a tragedy left them without a mother, and abandoned by their father. Told they were the "lucky" ones, the siblings were separated right away, Rachel going to the Hebrew Infant Home in New York City and her brother going to an orphanage for older children. While at the Infant Home, Rachel and the other orphans become the test subjects for a series of medical experiments. Some of these experiments include being subjected to x-ray treatments that left the little girl permanently bald, and had repercussions into her adult life.
Orphan #8 is a harrowing story of a woman who, while seeking love and acceptance, learns the terrible truth about her past.
As a fan of historical fiction, there is nothing that makes me happier than to learn something new. The story of the medical experiments conducted on these poor children actually happened, and I am grateful to Ms. van Alkemade for shedding light on this dark piece of American history. In addition to this storyline, the author takes Rachel's character and shows how she came to terms with her homosexuality, and the problems she faced in a society that demanded it be hidden. I'm not certain it fit well with this book. At times it seemed forced, and might better have been the main storyline for another novel.
Still, it was a powerful and moving story, and a fine first novel for Kim van Alkemade. Many thanks to Harper Collins for sending me an advance review copy of the book. Orphan #8 will be available for purchase on August 4, 2015. 3 1/2 stars....more
From the opening lines Andy Weir captured me and reeled me in:
"I'm pretty much f***ed. That's my considered opinion. F***ed. Six days into what shoulFrom the opening lines Andy Weir captured me and reeled me in:
"I'm pretty much f***ed. That's my considered opinion. F***ed. Six days into what should be the greatest month of my life, and it's turned into a nightmare."
Okay, the character Mark Watney uses the "f" word right off the bat, but if you were in his situation, you might use it, too. For the record, I don't recall him using profanity for the rest of the book, if that helps you.
Mark Watney is an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars when his crew makes a hasty retreat from the planet, assuming that Watney had died in a catastrophic accident. As you will learn throughout the novel, Watney is no stranger to catastrophe, but he's also a genius and pretty darn lucky as well.
The novel is about Watney's struggle to survive on Mars, and author Weir keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time, cheering him on. He also keeps you laughing with Watney's sarcasm and wit. I'd give this book 4 four stars, but the writing style is a bit too simplistic to merit the full four. Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable book! 3 1/2 stars....more
In honor of the new BBC series based on Winston Graham's Poldark novels, I decided it was time to finish reading the series. I thought I had finishedIn honor of the new BBC series based on Winston Graham's Poldark novels, I decided it was time to finish reading the series. I thought I had finished it decades ago, only to find out that Graham managed two write two more prior to his death in 2003. Lucky for me, because the 11th in the series, The Twisted Sword, was fabulous.
The book opens in the year 1815, when Ross Poldark is sent to Paris by the English government, to observe the political situation there. The family immerses themselves in the Parisian lifestyle, excited for an Easter reunion of extended family and friends. Then Napoleon Bonaparte, escaping from his island prison, returns to Paris and France is thrust into another war, with England opposing the returned dictator.
The Twisted Sword is a page-turner, with far more excitement and heartbreak than I would have thought possible for the 11th novel in a series of 12. There's never a dull moment with the Poldarks, and Winston Graham proved a seasoned novelist with a gift for storytelling. Loved it! 4 1/2 stars!...more
In the introduction, the younger Bush tells of a visit he had with the famed historian David McCullough. During the course of their conversation, McCuIn the introduction, the younger Bush tells of a visit he had with the famed historian David McCullough. During the course of their conversation, McCullough relates that one of the biggest disappointments of written history was the fact that John Quincy Adams never wrote a biography of his father. The unique nature of a father/son relationship which shares the rarest of the positions – President of the United States – offers possible insight to historians that typical biographies cannot. Thus, McCullough urged George W. Bush to write the biography of George H.W. Bush.
McCullough was correct – it was important to write such a book, but given the nature of the U.S. political scene, and possible state secrets, 41: A Portrait of my Father, does little to compare presidencies or provide any unique insights into how they both handled tough situations.
What it does say is this: George H.W. Bush was a man of values and morals, treated everyone with respect, and was esteemed by everyone who knew him. The fact that his political career survived Watergate intact is a testament to that fact. The high standards he expected of himself was also expected of his family, and the younger Bush showed how he adopted these principles throughout his presidency and beyond.
All in all, it’s a nice tribute from a son to a father....more
I never thought I'd love any Western themed novel. But then I read Mary Doria Russell's Doc. Her portrayal of John Henry "Doc" Holliday was more thanI never thought I'd love any Western themed novel. But then I read Mary Doria Russell's Doc. Her portrayal of John Henry "Doc" Holliday was more than memorable. It took me away on a wonderful adventure in Dodge City, Kansas, eagerly reading about the learned dentist with a notorious reputation. I knew upon reading Doc that a sequel had been planned. For nearly two years, I patiently waited until this spring for the release of Epitaph.
Epitaph is a narrative of the events leading up to and beyond the gunfight at the OK Corral.
"To understand the gunfight in Tombstone, stop - now - and watch a clock for thirty seconds. Listen to it tick while you try to imagine one half of a single minute so terrible it will pursue you all your life and far beyond the grave."
Yes, Doc Holliday is still with us, but her primary focus this time is Wyatt Earp. Also playing a lead role are the Earp brothers, and author Russell does a fine job crafting these characters. I appreciated her development of Wyatt Earp, who strives to be the good man his father was not. Wyatt's difficulties lay in the locale he sought to bring him success. Tombstone, Arizona in the 1880's was just about the most lawless place on the planet. No matter how upright and full of integrity Wyatt Earp wanted to be, his character was bound to be shaped by the events that happened daily in Tombstone. I believe Mary Doria Russell was successful in connecting these traits to turning points in Wyatt Earp's life in Tombstone and beyond.
Russell is also to be commended for her research - not just of the events in Tombstone, but how surrounding, greater events had their impact. American politics had a tremendous impact on the Earps, and Russell was wise to point this out. Partisanship, fueled by a biased media helped shape public opinion about the brothers. US foreign policy regarding the property rights of our Mexican neighbors helped to fuel criminal behavior in the area. Outrage at the President's assassination brought concern over shootings to the forefront of people's minds.
With Epitaph, Mary Doria Russell continues to present a tradition of narrative stories with gripping plots and eloquent writing. It is a marvelous work and she has more than earned her spot on my list of favorite authors....more