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review 2017-10-15 20:21
Edith Cavell: Faith Before the Firing Squad by Catherine Butcher
Edith Cavell: Faith Before the Firing Squad - Catherine Butcher

This biography is concise and inspiring. It features a woman who would not have expected to have her life story interest others, but that is part of what makes Edith Cavell so compelling. She is the sort of woman we all hope we would be if circumstances challenged us the way they did her.

 

Edith's faith was a significant element of her life and story, and it is included appropriately in this book. From the day she was born until the day she died, the love of God and promise of heaven guided Edith's actions. She did not wish for recognition, only to help others. "When Reverend Gahan said, 'We shall always remember you as a heroine and a martyr,' she replied, 'Don't think of me like that, think of me only as a nurse who tried to do her duty.'"

 

The author demonstrates how Edith became the kind of woman who would selflessly assist others, even when she knew she was endangering herself. This vicar's daughter, governess, and nurse grew up with the desire to serve a vital part of her character. Not that she is portrayed as unbelievably perfect. Mistakes and faults of character are also explored to give readers a comprehensive picture of who the real Edith Cavell was.

 

She was an intelligent woman with a servant's heart who willingly gave up her lives for others. Even when Edith knew she was being spied upon by Germans, she continued to help those trying to escape. When she knew the next person she helped might be preparing to betray her, she wouldn't take the chance of turning away someone who truly needed her. Once she was convicted of her 'crimes' she worried only about those she was leaving behind.

 

The recent 100th anniversary of Edith's execution has stirred up renewed interest in her, and she is a woman worthy of remembering. Her strength and courage in the face of deceit and violence is an inspiration to us all.

 

I received this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.

 

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review 2017-10-10 14:26
The Gods Divided by Richard Sotnick
The Gods Divided - Richard Sotnick

This is the story of Ben and Olive, a couple mismatched in faith but united in love as war breaks out across Europe. There was potential for it to be the haunting story that it promises to be, but it never quite gets to that point.

 

There is no question that the author did his research. The facts of the couple's story are clearly presented, but that is the novel's most significant problem. It reads like a list of facts, a retelling of events lacking the emotions that must have been a part of them. The reader is told that Olive spent three miserable months looking for a job, but we are not there with her enduring it. We are told that she worked herself to the point that she had to be hospitalized, but we never experience her weariness or despair. Even the romance comes across much more like a torrid affair than an enduring love story.

 

The title of this book led me to believe that there would be themes of faith involved, but Ben asks early on 'what relevance is religion in today's world?' While Ben is Jewish and Olive is Catholic, their faiths do not seem to impact their worldview beyond putting up barriers to their marriage. Neither really practices their faith, but it is repeated multiple times that if it weren't for their differing faiths (and the fact that Olive is already married) that they would get married.

 

Dialog is stilted and repetitive as the author seems to be trying to tell everything just as it happened - including the chain of communication that means the reader hears everything multiple times as different people talk about it. A storyteller's skill would relate the sharing of information without restating it for every character that becomes involved.

 

In the end, a true story that should be an emotive tale was bland. I never felt any connection to Olive or any suspense involving her search for Ben (which, again, we are just told she is doing, the reader is never involved). This novel could be reworked to be so much more than it is, drawing the reader into Olive's trials and heartbreaks, but as it is written we are never fully invited in.

 

I received this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.

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url 2017-10-05 12:29
Kazuo Ishiguro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature 2017
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
When We Were Orphans - Kazuo Ishiguro
An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro
A Pale View of Hills - Kazuo Ishiguro
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall - KAZUO ISHIGURO
The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Unconsoled - Kazuo Ishiguro

   

Yey!  I wasn't totally enamored with The Buried Giant and Nocturnes (and I've yet to read The Unconsoled and An Artist of the Floating World), but I'm a fan of his on the basis of Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day, and When We Were Orphans alone.

 

Congratulations, Mr. Ishiguro!

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review 2017-10-01 01:00
500 Years of Protest and Liberty: From Martin Luther to Modern Civil Rights
500 Years of Protest and Liberty: From Martin Luther to Modern Civil Rights - Nicholas Patrick Miller

The upcoming 500th celebration of the Protestant Reformation has spawned numerous books focusing on the impact of the movement on particular facet of history.  500 Years of Protest and Liberty: From Martin Luther to Modern Civil Rights by Nicholas P. Miller is one of these books in which the author’s articles for Liberty are reproduced in an anthology to chronicle a link between Luther to MLK Jr.

 

The book is divided into four sections surrounding a central theme each reproduced article in that particular section can be related to.  The section introductions and the articles are all well written and fascinating reads especially for those interested in freedom of religion and separation of church and state issues.  However in relation to the subtitle of the book, I found the overall flow of the book did not link Luther to MLK Jr.  The first and fourth sections definitely link Luther and to the present-day, but the third seemed to be just its own thing though very informative while the second is somewhere in-between.

 

So while the focus of showing a progression from Luther to MLK Jr., it thought it faltered enough to impact my overall rating, I still recommend this book to anyone interested in freedom of religion and separation of church and state issues.

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text 2017-09-23 15:03
Reading progress update: I've read 357 out of 357 pages.
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

Finished; full review to come as part of my next bingo update.  Right now, my head is still too much in a whirl, brimming with the names and information that Edwards has crammed into it.

 

The book's final chapters explore specific topics and methods of narration pioneered by some of the classic crime writers: psychology -- the forerunner of thrillers and suspense novels such as by Minette Walters, and Ruth Rendell in her Barbara Vine identity --, serial killer stories, inverted mysteries (think "Columbo": you know whodunit; rather, the thrill lies in the cat-and-mouse game between the killer and the detective), and irony as a narrative method; as well as taking a look at some writers that, despite having published one successful crime novel, never wrote another (nicknamed "singletons"), as well as at the major early to mid-20th century represetatives of crime fiction in the U.S., on the European continent, and in South America (well, really just Argentina) and Japan; and finally, the books that stylistically built a bridge towards the crime writing of the second half of the 20th century, as well as today.

 

My reading lists culled from the book, for those who are interested, are up to chapter 15 at present:

 

The "100 Books" specifically presented -- and

Other books mentioned:

Part 1: Chapters 1 - 5

Part 2: Chapters 6 & 7

Part 3: Chapters 8 - 10

Part 4: Chapters 11 - 15

 

... with the lists covering the final chapters due to follow once I've caught up on my bingo reviews -- and some real life stuff that is interfering with my reading pleasure at the moment.

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