Ooo... I liked this one! An unreliable narrator, an underworld of crime and speakeasies, a bewitching character, narrative inconsistencies, an obsessiOoo... I liked this one! An unreliable narrator, an underworld of crime and speakeasies, a bewitching character, narrative inconsistencies, an obsession and so much more!
Set in the Roaring 20s, plain homely Rose Baker works as a typist in a police precinct. She lives dismally in a shared room with a nosy landlady and a pretentious roommate which is a step-up from her life in an orphanage. Her future seems predictably bleak which seems to be fine with Rose since she has never known anything different. The day that Odalie Lazare gets hired as the new typist, Rose's future begins to take a new direction. Right away, Rose is both repelled and obsessed with Odalie and, in no time at all, Rose is willing to bend rules in order to get Odalie to notice her and eventually befriend her. Odalie takes Rose on as a friend, roommate and accomplice without ever revealing a single fact about her own past. Under Odalie's wing, Rose enters the underground world of speakeasies, luxurious living and criminal behaviours. She gets swept along into Odalie's world, knowing that she is doing wrong but helpless under Odalie's spell. Until all goes wrong.Throughout her narration, Rose alludes to the fact that she is being forced to recount the details of her life and her relationship with Odalie. She is trying hard to get the chronology straight and be truthful with the facts. I loved it all. I loved the intense attention to details and the long, drawn out descriptions of life in the 20s. I loved the uncertainty about both Odalie's and Rose's current situations. I loved the glitz and glamour. I love how everything quietly unraveled for Rose. But I really wonder about that final page. That final surprise. Rindell tries to offer up a plot twist that will shock her readers and make them question everything they just read. But it simply didn't work, causing me to reduce my stars to 4. ...more
When the US military initiated a Special Operation program which would allow women to fight on the Front Lines, there was a flood of applicants. TheseWhen the US military initiated a Special Operation program which would allow women to fight on the Front Lines, there was a flood of applicants. These driven women had to prove themselves able to perform at the highest levels of physical ability, stress and cultural understanding in order to be selected to train as a Cultural Support Team (CST). They became enablers for the Rangers' teams who perform midnight house raids in Afghanistan, specifically trained to question women and children and to unearth critical information about the men who lived there and the influence of the Talibhan. Lemmon follows the paths of approximately 6 of the first cohort of CST women during their training and in their roles during their 8 month deployment. Their stories begin with their reasons for being part of the military, their disappointment when they realize the limits of women's involvement in the fight and the routes they follow to become part of the CST. Once they are selected for the CST, Lemmon continues to follow their missions. When Ashley White and two Ranger teammates are killed in action, the whole CST program is brought into question as the media demands to know why women are fighting alongside Rangers on the Front Lines. This book makes it clear that these women choose to be involved at this level of the war and that they are very aware of the risks they take on each mission. They also know that their role is critical since they are able to access information that men simply cannot access. With a journalistic eye, Lemmon gives a concise history of women's roles within the military, the decision to create the CST and the repercussions of the first CST death. She waffles between making this team of women seem 'tough as nails' like their Ranger teammates and delicately feminine, in their interest in wedding gowns. She tries to give us a glimpse of the intense drive of each CST but tries to make them approachable at the same time. Occasionally, it feels forced, awkward and redundant. But the story is an important one to tell and Lemmon does it well. ...more
This is a quick, concise response to the sham that is Greg Mortenson, the CA Institute, Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools. Krakauer was one ofThis is a quick, concise response to the sham that is Greg Mortenson, the CA Institute, Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools. Krakauer was one of millions of donators who was ripped off by this shyster. Once Krakauer got an inkling of financial mismanagement, he fell into his role of investigative journalist and researched every aspect of the CAI and Mortenson as its chairman. What Krakauer discovered is sickening. As I read, I gasped aloud over and over at the discoveries made and the mistreatment of both people and finances that has gone on for two decades. Highly recommended to anyone who has read Mortenson's books or to anyone who donates to charities....more
What a strange combination of feelings I have upon closing this book. Mortenson laughingly portrayed himself as the big, loud American, bumbling his wWhat a strange combination of feelings I have upon closing this book. Mortenson laughingly portrayed himself as the big, loud American, bumbling his way crassly into an unknown culture, which made me dislike him and his obnoxious ways right from the start. Knowing ahead of time that Mortenson's school building business was a sham, I had trouble trusting any of the facts revealed here. I did, however, enjoy learning a bit about the history of Pakistan and it was fascinating to learn about pre-9/11 business transactions. Reading this at the same time as reading I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban gave me a strong understanding of what Pakistan used to be like and what it is like today. The desperate need for education, especially for girls, is evident in both accounts but Mortenson shows that progress was being made before the war in Afghanistan and Malala shows that such progress has halted and reversed. Above all, I am struck by the bizarre choice of voice that Mortenson used to relay his story. The book is supposedly written by Mortenson, yet he chose to write about himself in the third person. More striking than that is that much of the narrative is told in the present tense. "Mortenson says" is perhaps the most common phrase within the book. Do you tell stories about yourself in the third person present? Only Jimmy in Seinfeld does this. It is very off-putting as it feels like Mortenson is interviewing himself and praising himself for a job well done. A heavy handed editor could have turned this convoluted and wordy memoir into something worthwhile....more
When a child's dismembered body is found beside the railway line in a remote Russian town, the Russian authorities declare it to be an accidental deatWhen a child's dismembered body is found beside the railway line in a remote Russian town, the Russian authorities declare it to be an accidental death. According to them, murder is not a possiblity since all crimes are prevented before they occur in the Stalinist era. But this child's body reminds MGB official Leo Demidov of an investigation into another 'accidental' death of a child months earlier. The similarities are too many to ignore. Unable to gain government approval for further investigation, Leo must satisfy his hunch about a serial killer on his own, going underground and risking his life to unveil the truth. He risks his position, his marriage and his life while trying to unravel the puzzle of these murders. This thriller was a true page turner while also fitting into the historical fiction genre. The poverty and starvation that existed in the 1930s is palpable and the fear of government and paranoia in the 1950s is nerve-wracking. Citizens lived with the expectation of being caught and punished for any action and knew that no one would stand up for them or defend them, even if innocent. Smith tells a gripping tale. I listened to this audiobook and loved it. The narrator, David Boutsikaris, was exceptional, with his careful pauses and emotionless Russian accents. As usual, I highly recommend the audiobook version....more
All the way through this book, I had the feeling that I had read it before. So many scenes, lines, poems and nonsense were familiar but I have no recoAll the way through this book, I had the feeling that I had read it before. So many scenes, lines, poems and nonsense were familiar but I have no recollection of ever reading it. Amazingly, the 92 pages seemed to go on endlessly with no plot, character development or purpose. There were a few chuckles here and there - mostly with the hatter/hare tea and the king's comments - but most of it was lacking, in my mind. I guess there are reviewers here who will analyze the literary wonder of accurately capturing of a child's thoughts and the complex psychology of children's feelings of growing up but still wanting to be small but, to me, a child would have little patience for this. I'm not quite sure what I expected so I am not disappointed. ...more