Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown

Life wins again, Dear Bloggites. :-/  I finished this book in October when it was the actual Books & Broads Book Club monthly choice, but am just now able to write this review.  The October Book Club book choice was The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James BrownI must admit, I was leery about reading this one because it was yet another book set in WWII and has Hitler as a feature due to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Fortunately, I rallied on and found that I loved this book!  My goodness, I was so surprised at what I read in this book because most of the Book Club members did not like this book and a few did not read it (yet).  I did go into this book thinking of it as a story about relationships through hard times thanks to the lovely Alice who enjoyed this book (I believe it was Alice, if not, please do not flog me friends).

Going into the story with the focus on relationships, I had the proper eyes to read this book and see all the amazing things about this story.  Daniel James Brown shared this amazing non-fiction story told from the eyes of one of the key members of the rowing team that fought their way to the Olympics against all odds.  While the author does go into a lot of technical elements of rowing and how the boats are built, I enjoyed reading the information because I am always loving to learn new things about the world around me.

The story focuses on nine young American college boys who joined the college rowing team.  All the boys are from many different walks of life and on different journeys in their lives, but managed to form a bond so tight that it dissolved the differences between them and forged the similarities that affected them throughout their lives.  These young men worked hard to obtain the right to go represent America in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and once there, won the gold medal against Hitler’s massive rowing team.

Throughout the novel, you are taken on an emotional journey of love, fear, joy, hate, and insurmountable dedication to achieve the dreams of these young men – a better life and a gold medal from the Olympics.  The relationships that the author highlighted throughout the novel between the boys and their family and friends, gave an intimate insight into life in the 1930s and how Americans lived during the depression and WWII.

The only fault I found in this book was that there were times that the technical repetition of how to row a boat throughout the book became a little daunting, but I believe it served a purpose to get the reader in the minds of the boys while rowing the boat as a team.  Overall, I loved this book and recommend it to those who love a real life, feel good story.

I give The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown 4 out of 5 Bookmarks! 🙂  Happy Reading, Dear Bloggites!  Smooches!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki

Join me in my journey back to the past, one-month past.  Here is the September book choice for the Books & Broads Book Club.  September’s book was The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki.  Let’s celebrate, Dear Bloggites, because I am now in the current month on my book reading!  No more catch up!  I am very glad, too, because all this darn war talk gives me a brain ache.  That being said, October’s book is during WWII, yep, you guessed it, during the reign of Hitler-AGAIN!  I digress, that is for another day, today is about The Traitor’s Wife, Benedict Arnold to be exact.

The Traitor's Wife by Allison PatakiEven though it was during the Revolutionary War, I did not mind it so much because it did not focus on the war itself like many of the other books I have reviewed, but instead focuses on the people involved with Benedict Arnold and how is betrayal may have played out.

The Traitor’s Wife is a story told by Clairabelle, the handmaid of Peggy (I KNOW) Arnold.  The story follows the life of Peggy and her family as witnessed by her handmaid leading all the way up to the ultimate betrayal by Benedict Arnold and how he was swayed by his wife’s influence to commit this traitorous act.

The story started out slow but once it picked up, I was hooked.  The novel was written in the third person (Can I get a HALLELUJAH!?) and flowed well from one time-frame to another.  There was a lot of history on the founding of America and discussions among the characters in the book about the goings on in America.

Allison Pataki did a great job creating complex characters and providing historical information while playing on the possible personalities of the known people in the book.  The imagery was very good, especially on the different clothing Peggy Arnold was so fixated about.

Reading my name over and over was rather unnerving, especially with such a manipulative person as Peggy Arnold was, and I was disappointed in the ending because I felt justice was not served fully with the people involved in the betrayal of America.

I give The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  If you like reading about the early growth of America or the Revolutionary War, you will enjoy this book.

Happy Reading! Smooches!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

This book review is on the Books & Broads Book Club August book choice: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  I must start off with the disclosure I have told you many times before, Dear Bloggites, I dislike reading war books, no matter the subject of the book, if it involves war, I can almost guarantee I won’t care for it (7 out of 10 times).  With that being said, (or written), here goes.

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyThe Lilac Girls follow three different women during the invasion of Germany and into WWII.  The three ladies are: Caroline Ferriday, an America socialite living in New York; Kasia Kuzmerick, A Polish teenager; and Herta Oberheuser, a young German doctor.  Caroline is a New York socialite who becomes involved with a French actor that is married.  Kasia lives a standard teenage life in Poland hanging out with her friends.  Herta is an up-and-coming female doctor trying to make her way in the world of only male doctors.  Once Germany invades Poland, the three lives are thrown into a whirlwind of fate that will ultimately cause their lives to cross in the most unexpected way.

Premise sounds really good, right?  You would think this was an exciting book to read and delve into, yes?  NO! NO! NO!  I was so beat down by this book and the war, yet again, as it went along.  Martha Hall Kelly writes the book from each point of view alternating chapters and it is written in first person (don’t get me started).  Now, the first person, I get (begrudgingly) because it allows the reader to fully engage in each woman’s personal life and thoughts on the world around them.

The downfall of the alternating points of view is that the author lost her rotation and you went from reading one woman, to the next woman, then the third balancing the alternation to reading one woman, to reading the next woman, then the next woman again, then finally the third.  This messed up alternation of chapters can confuse and break the reader’s engagement in the storyline.

The author did a good job in really ensuring her historical facts were correct and did give a disclosure on what was true events versus her freedom of imagination in the book.  I did appreciate that disclosure because so many times people will take great freedom with the facts of a historical work they are writing, that the reader, if unfamiliar with the time period, may actually believe all the events in the book are real.

If you are a historical fiction fan or a WWII fan or are fascinated with Hitler’s reign, this book is for you, but if not, I do not recommend you reading it.

I give The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly 2 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading! 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Hello, Dear Bloggites!  I am back!  This book review is over the Books & Broads Book Club choice for May.  I am getting closer to the current month and I hope to finish June-October in the next five days.  I know, big challenge, but I am up for it now that I got my reading groove back on. 🙂

The Secret Wife by Gill PaulMay’s Book Club choice was The Secret Wife by Gill Paul.  I was dreading this one because it was once again a historical fiction novel set in the years 1914-2016.  Now, not all the years were touched like that last novel we read, but most of them were a chapter in the book.  Gill Paul wrote this book in a toggle effect between past and present which I am not a big fan of, but it was in the third person so that softened the blow.

The Secret Wife is about a love found, lost, and found again between Grand Duchess, Tatiana Romanov, and a Calvary Officer, Dmitri Malama, as well as, about a woman, Kitty Fisher, who has left her husband after he cheated on her and caused her to go to America and start to uncover the true story of her Great Grandfather, Dmitri.

The backdrop of the story is the war between Russia and Germany and the unrest of the citizens under the Romanov rule.  Dmitri and Tatiana first became acquainted when he was wounded in battle and she was assisting all the nurses to care for the soldiers who were brought in from the battlefield.  As the book toggles back to present day, you follow Kitty and her struggle to come to terms with her husband’s infidelity while finding out more secrets as she renovates her Great Grandfather’s cabin.

Gill Paul did a great job at creating complex characters which pulled at the reader’s emotions.  You rooted for true love to win out for Tatiana and Dmitri while rooting for Kitty to come to terms with what she actually wants to do with her life.  The imagery was well written for the readers and Gill Paul stayed true to what was known from historical documents while taking liberties with the “What if?” questions of the people you were reading about.

I enjoyed reading this novel and am always enthralled with the history of the world as I read these types of novels.  I may not be a hardcore Historical Fiction lover, but I think I am growing a crush on it. 🙂

I give The Secret Wife by Gill Paul 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Tribe by Sebastian Junger

Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.  It’s time for that to change. ~Sebastian Junger

This quote above pretty much sums up the purpose of the book I am going to review.  Tribe (On Homecoming and Belonging) by Sebastian Junger is about how our society lives in an individualistic mindset which has caused many of the divides in America today.  Tribe compares the mindset of several American Indian tribes and their social infrastructure that is based on an egalitarian system.  The author also compares the mindset of soldiers who are in the midst of war and their mindset which reflects that of the America Indians and how this mindset makes it hard for Veterans who are back from the war trying to fit into the individualistic mindset of today’s current society.

tribe-by-sebastian-jungerI had never heard of this book until one of the Awesome Books & Broads Book Club friend came to me and showed me the book saying she thought of me when she saw the title because I always reference the Books & Broads Book Club Members as My Tribe, the ones who get me, warts and all, but still accept me into their fold.  I asked her if I could read the book and return it back to her at our next meeting and she agreed to let me borrow it, and man am I so glad!  As all of you know, Dear Bloggites, I come from a family of military that reaches back many generations, so I have a soft spot for Veterans and their plight of trying to fit in once their tour is over.

Sebastian Junger’s book, Tribe, talks about how the world has changed and evolved over the years and while technology and all the current information we have access to is good for the economy, it hurts the unified mindset that founded this country.  People used to live to help care for each other and worked to ensure all members of society are taken care of from the youngest to the oldest and all other walks of life in between.  But with the growing economy and knowledge, people’s views turn from the care of others to the care of themselves and so the separation begins thus causing a divide within the society we have worked so hard to create.

Tribe discusses the habits and mindset of the American Indians and the history of early America and how the mindset has changed and warped into the current “me” society we see.  Sebastian Junger discusses the mindset of the military soldiers that are fighting war first hand and how their mindset is much like the America Indians where the belief is everyone receives equal parts and everyone gives to the members by doing their fair share of the work to ensure all members return and none are lost.   Junger also touches on how Veterans have a hard time leaving war from the mindset of we are all equal parts in this world to return to society and it’s mindset of we are all individuals who only take care of ourselves and no one else.  This lack of feeling useful for the Veterans tend to cause any form of PTSD to feel worse because of their need to feel useful in a world that seems to have no use for them anymore.

I really enjoyed reading this book and it made me want to do my part in helping to integrate Veterans back into society by hearing their stories while at war and helping make them feel like they are needed still even though their tour is over.  Everyone wants to feel needed and when our need is not met, we flounder and feel less of a person than we would if we were providing a use to the world around us.  I am currently going through this with the loss of my Father, a Vietnam Vet, who just past a couple of months back.  I was by his side being useful every day practically 24-hours and at the end, 24-hours a day until he passed away.  Now I am floundering trying to find my way again because my life and world was put on hold, willingly and gratefully, to be there for my Dad and care for him.  This book touched my very core and I feel so much better after reading it because it gave me a call to action to do something to help fill the void of my life, a void that was left when my Dad passed on.

I give Tribe by Sebastian Junger 5 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Go read a copy, it will change your world for the better after you do! 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Encouragement

Terrorism Shall Not Defeat The World

Stand with Paris“Terrorism has become the systematic weapon of a war that knows no borders or seldom has a face.” ~Jacques Chirac

“Terrorism has once again shown it is prepared deliberately to stop at nothing in creating human victims.  An end must be put to this.  As never before, it is vital to unite forces of the entire world community against terror.” ~Vladimir Putin

“Interest does not tie nations together; it sometimes separates them.  But sympathy and understanding does unite them.” ~Woodrow Wilson

“The terrorists are fighting freedom with all their cunning and cruelty because freedom is their greatest fear – and they should be afraid, because freedom is on the march.” ~George W. Bush

We all have heard about the latest terroristic attacks in Paris, France.  Living through 9/11, my heart is breaking for all those affected in France and any Country that has suffered at the hands of terrorists.  I don’t understand how some person or groups of people can hate so severe, so intense, and so inhumane as to kill innocent people and attack countries.

Hate is a foreign emotion to me.  I have always looked at the best in all situations, no matter how severe.  My inane mindset can only sit in utter shock and sadness at the latest attacks.  I know France will rally as a nation while many other nations, the United States being one, will reach out and give support, love, and comfort.

This is twice I have had to witness and experience mass deaths from terrorists and that is two times too many.  How has this world degenerated so much that a human life is less important than a cause?  How has humanity delved into such a cesspool of hate and selfish mindsets that the wellbeing of others mean nothing?  How can people learn to live with love and understanding to ALL human beings in the world and start working together as one?

My brain refuses to allow this negative experience to change my hope in humanity.  I will not allow terrorism to defeat me, Dear Bloggites!  The World will not allow terrorism to defeat it!  France will rebuild stronger and more united, just as America came together to rebuild and unite after 9/11.

Be Kind to One Another because in the end, we all have to live in this world together.

~4-Ever, P