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review 2017-11-22 12:43
Ordinary People ★★★★★
Ordinary People - Judith Guest

I wish I had the skill to truly analyze what makes the difference between a book where the author tries to manipulate the reader’s emotions and only gets an “hmm how sad” from me, or worse, eyerolls, and a book that has me glued to the pages and leaking tears. All I know is that this is one of the latter.

 

In spite of a story that is almost all character, with almost all events taking place within those characters’ thoughts and emotions and in their interactions with one another, and in spite of a present-tense, stream of consciousness writing style that might have annoyed me in another author’s hands, this story of a family fragmenting and reforming in the aftermath of tragedy absorbed me completely and wrung my emotions inside out. It’s been a while since I had a good cry over a book, and it was deeply satisfying.

 

Vintage paperback, picked up from my public library’s gimme shelves, where they make unusable donated books and culled books available to the public in return for a suggested monetary donation.

 

I read this for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, square 4: Book themes for Penance Day: Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher or priest as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what). In this book, members of a family are struggling with their sense of guilt or failed responsibility in the aftermath of tragedy

(Con over surviving when his stronger brother drowned and Cal over somehow failing his son when he attempted suicide).

(spoiler show)

 

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review 2017-11-22 09:10
Death Comes By Amphora - Roger Hudson

Athens,461 BC. A young man comes to Athens only to find that his uncle has died under mysterious circumstances. Pretty soon it is clear that murder is the keyword and the hunt for the culprit(s) starts in earnest. Athens is in turmoil, two factions,the radicals,with Pericles as a leading figure(who believe in a distribution of power among the entire population, except slaves(!)...)and the aristocrats,heads of military families and so on..(who believe that only a very few, and very well connected, are entitled to lead,to take decisions. ..)are at daggers drawn. History,of course,tells us which action did eventuality win and consequently led to Athens Golden Age and to something called democracy. 

The historical aspect of the story is very well researched. But,because it is such a dominant part of the story,the mystery story tends to be put aside. After a while one is no longer sure there is a mystery at all and it becomes a tad long winded. A firmer editing might have been a good idea. 

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text 2017-11-21 21:40
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 8 - Hanukkah - and Square 3 - St. Martin's Day
The Shaman Laughs - James D. Doss
The Devil's Acolyte - Michael Jecks
An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro
A Darker Shade: 17 Swedish Stories of Murder, Mystery and Suspense Including a Short Story by Stieg Larsson - John-Henri Holmberg

Tasks for Hanukkah: Light nine candles around the room (SAFELY) and post a picture. –OR– Play the Dreidel game to pick the next book you read.

Assign a book from your TBR to each of the four sides of the dreidel:

נ (Nun)
ג (Gimel)
ה (He)
ש (Shin)


Spin a virtual dreidel: http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm
– then tell us which book the dreidel picked.

 

OK, here we go:


נ (Nun)     =  James D. Doss: The Shaman Laughs
ג
(Gimel)  =  Michael Jecks: The Devil's Acolyte
ה (He)
      =  Kazuo Ishiguro: An Artist of the Floating World
ש (Shin)
   =  John-Henri Holmberg (ed.): A Darker Shade

 

 

Alright -- Ishiguro it is.  And this will also give me my book themes for St. Martin’s Day (square 3): Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR– a story where the MC searches for/gets a new job. –OR– A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR– A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).

 

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review 2017-11-21 21:20
A Morbid Taste for Bones
A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters

This was a fun read. And I might just have found my favorite literary monk in Brother Cadfael.

 

[Source]

 

He is a man of the world, who turned to priesthood in his later years, he isn´t the most pious monk, he is keenly aware when one of his brethren is full of BS, he is a topnotch matchmaker, he is an amateur sleuth and on top of it all he is Welsh (don´t ask me why, I really like that about his character).

 

So in this novel there is a small town in Wales, a murder, a lot of monks and relationsships are at stake or are formed and Cadfael is in the midst of it all, trying to untangle all the mysteries and problems that arise on this journey. And I enjoyed every second of this book and I can´t wait to read the second novel in the series.

 

 

16 Task of the Festive Season: Penance Day (Square 4):  Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher, priest or other representative of the organized church as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).

 

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review 2017-11-21 18:52
Nadya's War
Nadya's War - C.S. Taylor
Third Book for the 16 Festive Tasks- Square 3- WWII
 
 
Nadya has earned the nickname of Little Boar as a pilot within the Russian Red Army’s 586th all-female fighter regiment during World War II for her fierce determination and charging the enemy. Nadya dreams of becoming an Ace pilot and bringing pride to her family for her service during the war.  However, when an aerial fight leaves Nadya as the only survivor and with burns and trauma, she struggles to fly again.  Nadya soon finds herself addicted to morphine and able to fly, bent on revenge to shoot down the German Pilot who killed her friends.  She also finds herself under investigation with a very dangerous man.  With the help of her friends, her mechanic Karla and new partner, Alexandra, Nadya continues to fly and come closer to becoming an Ace as well as shooting down the German pilot.  
 
Nadya's war pulled me into the world of female pilots during the war.  While I was aware that women from several countries fought in the war, I did not know about the Russian all-female fighter regiment.  Nadya's point of view was very interesting, since she is very eager to prove herself, but does not fall in line with Stalin's values; primarily, Nadya is still religious.  The aerial fights drew me in the most, I could see the details of the planes and feel the adrenaline of the maneuvers.  The characters that made of the regiment were all interesting, however, I do wish some of the others were fleshed out more.  Nadya was steadfast in her beliefs, to the point of being boorish, earning her a nickname.  At points she did seem immature, although, like many of the others fighting in WWII, she was very young.  The romance that was introduced was very surprising, especially for Stalin's Russia, this was ok with me, but didn't seem to have enough of a prominent role.  The story arc seemed to be lacking something for me, I felt like I was waiting for something that didn't happen.  Either the romance or the revenge story needed to come to a head in a bigger way.  Overall, an intense story of women fighter pilots in World War II.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
 
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