- WA, USA
- member since September 25, 2009
Book Concierge reviewed a book.
“Audio book narrated by Jim Frangione
Bernie Little is a private investigator who is having some financial difficulties. So when he’s asked to investigate a missing teenage girl, he agrees to take the case. Bernie doesn’t work alone, however; he has a wonderfully intelligent canine...”
“Audio book narrated by Jim Frangione
Bernie Little is a private investigator who is having some financial difficulties. So when he’s asked to investigate a missing teenage girl, he agrees to take the case. Bernie doesn’t work alone, however; he has a wonderfully intelligent canine partner – Chet. The case is a bit of a puzzle: there’s no ransom demand to indicate kidnapping, but Bernie (and Chet) doesn’t believe the girl ran away.
This is a delightful mystery told from the dog’s perspective. I love how Chet gets sidetracked with smells and tastes. I also love how single-minded he can be when he’s helping his beloved Bernie. There’s plenty of action, but little violence. Chet has a chance to “ride shotgun” in Bernie’s Porsche and even on the back of a motorcycle!
Jim Frangione does a wonderful job narrating the book. I love the way he brings Chet to life. I’m not a dog lover, but I sure do love Chet. I’ll definitely read another in this series.
“One of the major strategic campaigns during WWII for American bombers was to destroy oil fields in Romania. These oilfields were vital to supporting the Axis and, thus, fiercely protected by the Germans. Routinely American airmen were shot down during these strikes. For those fortunate to go...”
“One of the major strategic campaigns during WWII for American bombers was to destroy oil fields in Romania. These oilfields were vital to supporting the Axis and, thus, fiercely protected by the Germans. Routinely American airmen were shot down during these strikes. For those fortunate to go down over Yugoslavia they were greeted by villagers showering them with kisses, sacrificing the comfort of their beds, and eating only after the American’s had eaten even though there was barely enough for the residents to eat. With language barriers, and the political instability in Yugoslavia, airmen were typically wary of such greetings, but eventually it became clear that there was a concerted effort to protect American airmen and to gather them in one safe location until they could be rescued. Unfortunately, for these men, the Chetnik leader protecting them, Mihailovich, was in a high stakes game against Marshal Tito for control of Yugoslavia. As Mihailovich desperately tries to get word to U.S. officials that there are hundreds of airmen behind enemy lines, the Allies have decided to throw its support behind Tito even though Tito was a staunch Communist. Eventually, the OSS (precursor to CIA) organizes an arduous rescue mission and over six months rescued 512 airmen from behind enemy lines.
I’m completely torn over my feelings about this book. First, it is an excellent, rarely discussed, story and you just can’t help but appreciate the lengths the people of Yugoslavia undertook to protect these men. The Balkans have an incredibly complicated and divisive history. Maybe this is part of it. But, Mihailovich, even though it is apparent the men in this book have unwavering faith in him, was tried and convicted as a war criminal. Maybe there were trumped up charges by his opponent, Tito. But, there are people who continue to maintain he killed 60,000 in his own ethnic cleansing scheme. I have a real problem with the fact that Freeman didn’t present opposing viewpoint of Mihailovich. If you are going to write history there needs to be some semblance of analytical objectivity. It is also crystal clear that Freeman is not a fan of the British. I can understand the men feeling this way after some of the incidences shared in the book. But, Freeman goes on to say the British SOE and the OSS (pre-cursor to CIA) were equals, and with all the history he gives on the OSS he never mentioned that SOE helped establish and train OSS agents. So, I hesitate to fully swallow that it was the British’s fault that the Allies turned their back on Mihailovich. If Freeman is 100% accurate, and Churchill eventually recognized that supporting Tito was the biggest mistake of WWII, then, after reading this story, Mihailovich is one of the most tragic figures in history. Further, following this premise, one of the biggest historical “what ifs” would be how would supporting Mihailovich have altered the tumultuous 90’s in the region? What is clear is, that for this moment in time, over 500 Allied airmen and their descendants credit Mihailovich and the hospitality of the local residents to their existence.
Anyone interested in a video interview of the radioman involved in the rescue can view it at http://vimeo.com/10542693
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Monkey Davies reviewed a book.
“A quick and disturbing read - the simplicity of the language (possibly due to it being translated into English) allowing the story to race along at a fair whack, and a gripping storyline which kept me keen to find out what happened next. Quite a lot of the appeal of this was due to the contrast...”
“A quick and disturbing read - the simplicity of the language (possibly due to it being translated into English) allowing the story to race along at a fair whack, and a gripping storyline which kept me keen to find out what happened next. Quite a lot of the appeal of this was due to the contrast between the mundane lives of the characters - a husband whose wife goes missing, a journalist, the police - and the horror underlying this all. It wasn't the most complicated or literary book I've read in the genre, but it did feel like a writer of some promise.”(read full review)
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Michael E reviewed a book.
“This was a perfect follow-up to recently reading Berry’s Jayber Crow. It gave me a chance to revisit the fictitious farming community of Port Royal in north central Kentucky, which barber Jayber Crow considered as a form of heaven. In this tale, published four years later in 2004, Hannah...”
“This was a perfect follow-up to recently reading Berry’s Jayber Crow. It gave me a chance to revisit the fictitious farming community of Port Royal in north central Kentucky, which barber Jayber Crow considered as a form of heaven. In this tale, published four years later in 2004, Hannah marries into a clan of farmers in Port Royal at the onset of World War 2 and finds her version of bliss there. She records her memories, reflecting back from a point where she is an isolated widow at age 78. Her gospel is of love, and thankfulness:
There is no “better place” than this, not in this world. And it is by the place we’ve got, and our love for it and our keeping of it, that this world is joined to Heaven.
Hannah assumes a lifetime “membership” in an extended family and their neighbors who work together and help each other. They cleave to her through her loss and grieving over her first husband, Virgil, a “missing in action” casualty at the Battle of the Bulge. And they come round several years later in support of her love and marriage to Nathan Coulter, one who survived the war, but who would never talk about the horrors he experienced in Okinawa beyond saying, “Ignorant boys, killing each other.”
The world events impinging upon the home front had dual effects. On the one hand, the war had a way of making their rural life seem small: Our minds were driven out of the old boundaries into the thought of absolute loss, absolute emptiness, in a world that seemed larger even than the sky that held it.
Paradoxically, it also reinforced the value of their special island of sanity and caring. For Nathan: He had come back after the war because he wanted to. He was where he wanted to be. As I too was by then, he was a member of Port William. …members of Port William aren’t trying to “get someplace.” They think they are someplace.
They build up a family farm together and raise her daughter with Virgil and two sons of their own. The story Hannah revisits of her courtship with Nathan is movingly rendered, a part of the path to be bound into community: Love in this world doesn’t come out of thin air. It is not something thought up. Like ourselves, it grows out of the ground. It has a body and a place.
Whereas the novel Jayber Crow had a focus on the assaults upon traditional agrarian ways after the war due to the rise of agribusiness, Hannah Coulter dwells on the decline of family farming due to the next generation of children taking up work in cities. While she maintains a fervent hope that one of her grandchildren will take over the farm, her memory alone is a way to keep her people and their way of life alive:
When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive.
This is the seventh of eight independent novels of this place, a record supplemented by dozens of short stories. I can see how it is considered by some as a special distillation by Berry of what Port William has to teach us. Given that the community seems a lot like that of his own rural origin in Kentucky and of the site of the homestead he established in his 30s, it is natural that he uses his stories to illustrate the vision behind his essays and activist work. I imagine many of my Shelfari friends would find this book too bland for its want of dramatic plotting or might object to violations of the rule of “telling instead of showing”, given how Hannah sums up so much in broad strokes. There is a message pointed to by the story, but does that make it preaching?
For me, I don’t feel preached at, but more like the beneficiary of the poet in Berry. Judge for yourself in the following passage:
One of the happiest moments of my walks is when I get to where I can hear the branch. The water comes down in a hurry, tossing itself this way and that as it tumbles among the broken pieces of old sea bottom. The stream seems to be talking, saying any number of things as it goes along. … If our place has a voice, this is it. And it is not talking to you. You can’t understand a thing it is saying. You walk up and stand beside it, loving it, and you know it doesn’t care whether you love it or not. The steam and woods don’t care if you love them. The place doesn’t care if you love it. For your own sake you had better love it. For the sake of all else you love, you had better love it.
My rural background and appreciation for Berry’s advocacy of small farmers perhaps makes me more receptive to the paean for a disappearing way of life than others. The rhythms of the seasons determine so much about the rhythms of life in this community, and it makes a nostalgic song I love to hear. As a reader, I feel a sense of bounty, which is vividly focused in this passage:
You look around presently, and it is summer. It has been dry for a while, maybe, and not it has rained. The world is so full and abundant it is like a pregnant woman carrying a child in one arm and leading another by the hand. Every puddle in the lane is ringed with sipping butterflies that fly up in a flutter when you walk past in the late morning on your way to get the mail.
Book Concierge reviewed a book.
“Teddi finds a broken chair and her life’s calling in a ditch near her Kentucky farmstead when she is only 10 years old. As soon as she graduates high school, she leaves the farm and her family to build a successful career as an antiques dealer in Charleston SC. But her brother Josh’s...”
“Teddi finds a broken chair and her life’s calling in a ditch near her Kentucky farmstead when she is only 10 years old. As soon as she graduates high school, she leaves the farm and her family to build a successful career as an antiques dealer in Charleston SC. But her brother Josh’s disappearance sends her into a tailspin. Blaming herself, she cannot let go of the hope that he is somehow still alive in the wilderness he loved.
This is decent Southern women’s fiction. We have a conflicted heroine – strong, intelligent, hard-working but deeply bruised and distrustful, who seems to live from one glimmer of hope to another (though they may come years apart). She has a retinue of loyal friends and colleagues who shore her up when she’s feeling down, and the occasional stranger performs acts of kindness (or gives her the opportunity to do so). She’ll find love in an unexpected encounter, but will have difficulty trusting him with the secrets of her family. I definitely like that Hoffman does not go on at length about the characters’ physical attributes.
Hoffman moves back and forth in time, revealing the story in dribs and drabs. This is a difficult style to pull off successfully and there were a few times when I wished the story were more linear. I really liked Hoffman’s earlier work Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, but I think she may have been trying a little too hard in this novel. Still, there’s something about the way she reveals the dynamics of a complex relationship that draws me in:
We kept our eyes cast downward at the supper table. The sound of forks scraping across plates was unbearable, as was the thunder created when Daddy stomped snow off his boots on the back porch. A sheet of paper towel being torn from the roll was startling.
These things became the language of a family ripped apart.”
It may not be the best work of fiction, but I kept turning pages, and finished the book in two days, so there was definitely something about it which kept me engaged and interested.
Monkey Davies reviewed a book.
“I really liked a lot of this. Coupland's style is clever and witty and often very beautiful, and I thought this book captured the lives and thoughts of a group of teenagers in the late seventies and how they are affected by one of their number falling into a coma - making incisive comment on...”
“I really liked a lot of this. Coupland's style is clever and witty and often very beautiful, and I thought this book captured the lives and thoughts of a group of teenagers in the late seventies and how they are affected by one of their number falling into a coma - making incisive comment on fitting in, dropping out, losing and finding meaning in life, meeting challenges and avoiding the world. This made for a very bleak assessment of the world in places, but I liked that.
For the first two thirds of the book I was hence thinking 'I really like this - Douglas Coupland is sticking to his wonderful writing style, without going too weird like he has done in some of his other novels'. Alas, the last part of the book does [SPOILER ALERT] descend into a ludicrous twist of a post-apocalyptic ending, chucking quasi-religious garbage at the story to balance out the bleakness and seriousness of the first two thirds of the book.”
“During a site selection visit the consultant and I were driving from one site to the next. Making a bit of small talk before giving the "dog and pony" show I asked if she was headed back to Atlanta immediately. She shared that, no, she was in town for a couple of weeks. One of the things on...”
“During a site selection visit the consultant and I were driving from one site to the next. Making a bit of small talk before giving the "dog and pony" show I asked if she was headed back to Atlanta immediately. She shared that, no, she was in town for a couple of weeks. One of the things on her agenda was a book signing. I asked her if it was an industry book. She laughed and said, "no, it is actually a children's book." We got so wrapped up in book discussion that we realized we had made it to the next site and had not discussed business. After our official business concluded she asked if I would like a copy. I was intrigued by the concept she described I was practically begging for a copy.
The title hearkens back to oral tradition when a grandfather tells his grandson there are two solves constantly battling for power and attention. When asked which one wins, the grandfather replies, "the one you feed." What follows is forty six concepts important, regardless of religion, to society. From "Abundance" to "Worry", Horton provides within each chapter is a story that exemplifies the concept. At the conclusion of each chapter is an opportunity for discussion and encouragement for journaling. Two of my favorites are "Perfection" and "Different".
If you are a primary school teacher or a children's librarian, I highly recommend you look at the work. Horton has some interesting ideas for public programs if you are interested. If you would like her contact information I'd be happy to pass it along. I waited until after our project was completed to read and review so there would be no chance of bias on my part.”
““We all have a choice. All of us.” That’s the central theme in Light Between the Oceans, but it is deeper than the quote by Frank. It’s the moral dilemmas in making some decisions, what drives our motivations, how we live with the consequences, and how our decisions impact others, even those we...”
“ “We all have a choice. All of us.” That’s the central theme in Light Between the Oceans, but it is deeper than the quote by Frank. It’s the moral dilemmas in making some decisions, what drives our motivations, how we live with the consequences, and how our decisions impact others, even those we may not immediately recognize.
Tom Sherbourne has returned from the Great War a broken man, living out survivor’s guilt to its fullest extent. Even before the seminal moment on Janus, Tom is guided by his conscience and a strong sense of order through rules, “You could kill a bloke with rules, Tom knew that. And yet sometimes they were what stood between man and savagery, between man and monsters.” Yet, when he falls in love with the impetuous Isabelle, Tom thinks he may be given a second chance at happiness. It seems that way until a dinghy washes ashore the lighthouse island where the two are making their home with a dead man and a surviving baby.
The story is well constructed, and in and of itself deserves a 5 star rating, but Stedman uses some literary devises absolutely brilliantly bringing about a much fuller experience than simply a well told story. The backdrop of Janus Rock, an isolated lighthouse island in southwestern Australia makes the perfect setting, with everything a lighthouse stands for, in the events that will unfold as a result of the couple’s fateful decision. Finally, Stedman weaves a variety of psyches and life philosophies into the story showing how competing interests, even with the best of intentions, creates a great deal of conflict.
I’ve read a lot of people with sympathy towards Isabelle. I recognize the pain she was in when they made the decision on Janus. But, Tom’s absolute love for Isabelle is what moved me the most. The lengths he was willing to go to protect her and his steadfastness to the end brings me to tears thinking about this review. Oh wow…..I have to grab the tissues again.
*****End of Spoiler******
The best and most emotional debut novel I’ve read since Kite Runner! Best fiction work I’ve read this year. I do hope this will not be Stedman’s last work.