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Search tags: non-fiction
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review 2018-09-23 02:01
AGAINST ALL ODDS - FROM THE RUSSIAN FRONT TO FREEDOM IN IRELAND
Against the Odds: Survival on the Russian Front 1944-1945 - John Stieber

"AGAINST THE ODDS" is a story that seems too incredible to have been real. But as the saying goes: Truth is often stranger than fiction. And so, it was with John Stieber, who, along with his older sister Erika, had been born in Czechoslovakia, the son of an engineer who had served bravely in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War. Stieber's father, owing to his engineering expertise, was given an opportunity to work in England during the mid-1920s. As a result, Stieber's family lived in England for several years. Stieber himself states that English came to be his first language, though both his parents were native German speakers. (Both Stieber and his sister would acquire fluency in both languages, which later proved advantageous to them during the early postwar years.)

Stieber's father completed his contract and returned to Czechoslovakia in the early 1930s. Stieber struggled to learn Czech in school and admits that he didn't enjoy his time in school there very much. His time in Czechoslovakia proved to be brief, because his father's employer had another job assignment for him to undertake, this one in Ireland. Stieber came to love Ireland and would live there for about 6 years. Sometime in 1939, his parents decided to enroll both Stieber and his sister into secondary school in Germany. With war being declared in September, Stieber and his sister would be stuck in Germany for the duration. (Their parents remained in Ireland, which they later made their home.) 

After Stieber completed his studies, he was called up to serve in an anti-aircraft battery in 1943. He also served in the National Labor Service (Arbeitsdienst). Early in the following year, age 18, Stieber entered military service with the Fallschirm-Panzerkorps Hermann Göring and is sent to the Russian Front, where over the next year, he has many harrowing experiences and escapes death on several occasions. Indeed, Stieber would emerge from the war as one of the few men in his unit to survive and avoid being placed in a POW camp. 

I very much enjoyed reading this memoir, which I highly recommend to anyone who loves human interest stories.

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text 2018-09-23 00:45
Reading progress update: I've listened to 1025 out of 1350 minutes.
Lethal White - Robert Galbraith,Robert Glenister

 

Well, good for you, Robin.  This was long overdue.  I hope this time you're going to really go through with it.

(spoiler show)
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text 2018-09-23 00:05
Reading progress update: I've listened to 1000 out of 1350 minutes.
Lethal White - Robert Galbraith,Robert Glenister

"Geraint was representing me at that event and it will go the way it always goes in the press when it all comes out.  It will have been my fault, all of it.  Because men's crimes are always ours in the final analysis, aren't they, Mr. Strike?  Ultimate responsibility always lies with the woman -- who should have stopped it.  Who should have acted.  Who must have known.  Your failings are really our failings, aren't they?  Because the proper role of the woman is carer, and there is nothing lower in this whole world than a bad mother."

Well, well, Joanne.

 

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text 2018-09-22 22:51
Reading progress update: I've read 20%.
Angelfall - Susan Ee

This story has a tangy, fresh feel to it - not an easy thing to achieve in a YA post-apocalyptic novel. We've all read about the end of the world so often now that if it were to happen tomorrow it would feel like a reboot.

 

What Susan Ee has done is to avoid the kick-ass smart-mouthed heroine model and give us something grittier: a seventeen-year-old girl who has lived for years with a mentally disturbed, often violent and then remorseful mother, who is motivated to valour against the odds to try and save her crippled little sister from her evil angel kidnappers.

 

The writing is... robust.

 

Here's a sample. Our heroine and her mother are hiding out in a deserted start-up office in Silicon Valley when intruders break in. Our heroine goes to look for her mother. She tells us:

 

"I find a man lying in the hallway leading to the kitchen. His chest is bare, his shirt torn away. Six knives stick out of his flesh in a circular pattern. Someone has drawn a powder-pink lipstick pentagram with the knives at the end of the points. Blood bubble up from each of the knives. The man is all eyes and shock as he stares at the ruin of his chest as though unable to believe it has anything to do with him.

 

My mother is safe.

 

Seeing what she did to this man, I can't help but wonder if that's a good thing. She has purposely missed his heart, and he will slowly bleed to death.

 

If we had been back in the old world, the World Before, I would have called an ambulance despite the fact that he had attacked my mom. The doctors would have fixed him up, and he would have had all the time he needed to recover in jail. But unfortunately for all of us, this is the World After.

 

I step around him and leave him to his slow death."

 

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review 2018-09-22 18:54
The Silver Shoes
The Silver Shoes - Jill G. Hall

Anne has been struggling in a long-distance romance with long-time boyfriend, Sergio.  Anne is an artist based in San Fransisco and Sergio a New York City designer.  Anne wants Sergio to buckle down and commit to the relationship, but that may not be where either of their hearts lie.  On a trip to New York, Anne picks up a pair of antique rhinestone shoes.  With the shoes comes a strand of pearls and a hidden picture of two flappers wearing just those shoes.  The shoes inspire Anne to create several art pieces as well as think about her situation with Sergio.  In 1929, Clair, the original owner of the shoes, admires the footwear from the window.  She knows her father would never let her own them.  Although, Clair finds a friend in a performer, Winnie, who introduces Clair to speakeasies and uncovers Clair's hidden talents.  When Clair's life seems to be controlled by everyone but her, Clair's father pushing her into an arranged marriage with an odious man named Farley and not allowing her to continue her college education, the stock market crashes.  Clair decides to carry on and follow her heart becoming the provider of the family by secretly performing in  a Broadway Review.  When Anne learns of the woman behind the shoes, she takes a page from Clair's book and decides to follow her heart. 


A beautifully written dual-timeline story of two women learning to follow their hearts.  I enjoyed both Anne and Clair's characters and their willingness to strike out on their own, even if it took a lot of convincing.  The quick flow of the chapters with switching points of view between Anne and Clair kept my reading at a good pace.  Clair's story stole my attention as I was pulled in by her spirited nature and willingness to strive forward in life despite everything thrown in front of her.  The ambiance of 1929-30 shown through with the extravagance of hotel living,  debutante balls, speakeasies, FBI raids and the devastation felt after the crash. Anne's story was a slow journey to self realization that took more time to reel me in.  Both women are wonderful examples of determination and perseverance in times of strife. 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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