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text 2018-01-13 02:03
In the Blood of the Greeks (Intertwined Souls #1) - DNF @ 32%
In The Blood Of The Greeks (Intertwined Souls Series Book 1) - Mary D. Brooks

Just not feeling this one. The writing is technically good but not very engaging. The story idea is interesting and intriguing - a young resistance fighter and the daughter of an SS officer work together to help Jews to escape Greece - but the writing is so ... matter-of-fact and clinical that there's no real emotion to anything. I'm having a hard time wanting to finish this book, much less go onto to read the others in the series, so this is my stopping point.

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text 2017-12-27 18:46
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 7 - International Human Rights Day

Tasks for International Human Rights Day: Post a picture of yourself next to a war memorial or other memorial to an event pertaining to Human Rights. (Pictures of just the memorial are ok too.)

 

Anógia village, Crete: the Andartis (resistance fighter) monument near the museum to the village's destruction in WWII.


Crete was occupied by the German military in the 1940s, fierce resistance by the local population notwithstanding. During one particularly memorable episode (later the subject of a book and a movie both titled Ill Met by Moonlight), a joint group of Cretan resistance fighters and British intelligence operatives, led by Major (and writer-to-be) Patrick Leigh Fermor -- in the movie, portrayed by Dirk Bogarde -- and Captain W. Stanley Moss (author of the book Ill Met by Moonlight), abducted German Major General Heinrich Kreipe near his home in Heraklion and marched him all the way across the Psiloritis mountains to the south coast of Crete, from where he was eventually shipped off to Egypt. He spent the rest of WWII in a British POW camp.

Patrick Leigh Fermor's evocative account of their struggle across the slopes of Mount Ida has come to particular fame for its "Horace Moment" -- his trademark poetic description of the moment when he and the German general realized that they had both enjoyed the same sort of profoundly formative, classical humanistic education and, as a result, had come to share the same values. Here it is, as taken from a Report written for the Imperial War Museum in 1969 and as published in Words of Mercury (2010):

"Everything ahead was a looming wilderness of peaks and canyons, and in the rougher bits it would be impossible for a large party to keep formation, or even contact, except at a slow crawl wich could be heard and seen for miles. The whole massif was riddled with clefts and grottoes to hide in. We must all vanish into thin air and let the enemy draw a total blank. [...]

We woke up among the rocks, just as a brilliant dawn was breaking over the crest of Mount Ida which we had been struggling across for two days. We were all three [i.e., Stanley Moss, Leigh Fermor, and their captive] lying smoking in silence, when the General, half to himself, slowly said:

'Vides ut alta stet nive candidum
Soracte ...' **

I was in luck. It is the opening line of one of the few odes of Horace I know by heart (Ad Thaliarchum, LIX). I went on reciting where he had broken off:

'... Nec iam sustineant onus
Silvae laborentes, geluque,
Flumina constiterint acuto' **

and so on, through the remaining five stanzas to the end.

The General's blue eyes swivelled away from the mountain-top to mine -- and when I'd finished, after a long silence, he said: 'Ach so, Herr Major!'*** It was very strange. 'Ja, Herr General.' As though, for a long moment, the war had ceased to exist. We had both drunk at the same fountains long before, and things were different between us for the rest of our time together."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

** You see how high Soracte stands, bright with
snow, and no longer do the straining forests
support the burden, and the rivers have
frozen with sharp frost.
 
*** "Oh, I see, Major!"

 

 

Leigh Fermor unfortunately doesn't mention, however -- at least, in the published version of his account -- that inter alia by way of retribution for Kreipe's abduction, as well as in retribution for a number of other acts of resistance, the German military, later in 1944, annihilated the entire village of Anógia (from where the group had embarked on their climb across the mountains), killing every single one of its several 100 souls and reducing the whole village to ashes. It was only in 2009 (65 years later), after having lived there for a number of years and slowly gained the population's trust, that German artist Karina Raeck was able to take a major step towards reconciliation by opening a museum commemorating the village's destruction and by creating, together with the village population, a large artistic display in memory of its resistance fighters on the Nida Plain above the village; likewise entitled "Andartis."

 

Anógia after its 1944 destruction by the German military.

 


The "Andartis" monument on the Nida Plain, created by artist Karina Raeck and the villagers of Anógia in 2009.

 

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review 2017-12-05 21:37
A ripping good read recommended to lovers of WWII historical fiction in a naval setting and atmospheric thrillers.
Jonah - Carl Rackman

I write this review on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you want to have your books reviewed, check here. I know I am one of the members, but it is a great team) and I thank Rosie and the author for providing me an ARC copy of the book that I freely chose to review. Although I had read great reviews of one of Rackman’s previous books, Irex, I had not read his work yet but I was eager to check his new novel, especially as it came greatly recommended by other reviewers from Rosie’s team. The novel did not disappoint. It is a thriller set (mostly) in a US Navy destroyer in the Pacific during WWII. Moby Dick is one of my favourite novels (depending on the moment you ask me, my favourite) and I do like a story set at sea, although I’m not an expert on the topic. As we read the novel it becomes clear that the author has researched the historical period and the setting well and he is skilled at making readers get under the skin of the characters and share in their experiences and settings. Although some of the nautical terms might not be familiar to us, we can easily guess from the context, and we share in the heat, exhaustion, tension, anxiety, fear, and camaraderie. The setting of the novel, the destroyer, apart from being a confined space is a microcosms where we can find men from all walks of life, career navy men, enlisted men, older and younger men, some who’d never even seen the sea and others from long nautical tradition, and men from a variety of religions, ethnic backgrounds, and regions of the USA. These men are thrown together to fight a war under extreme circumstances and when we meet them they have all experienced things we would not wish on anyone. The story is written in the third person, mostly from the point of view of Mitch Kirkham, “Lucky” Kirkham, a gunner who seems fated to survive when everybody around him dies. Early in the book, we witness another example of his good luck (by that point he had already earned his nickname following a battle in Okinawa where he was one of the few survivors), but unfortunately, not everybody sees things the same way, and he gets bullied and victimised, accused of being a coward. To add to his difficulties, strange things start happening on the ship. Some of the men start experiencing unusual things, there is paranoia, violence, deaths, and the weirdest explanations are suggested. His peers insist that Mitch is a Jonah (they believe he is bringing them bad luck or worse and want to throw him overboard), and his life becomes increasingly complicated. The narrative of what happens in the ship (mostly from Mitch’s point of view, although at times, often when he is out of action, we also share in the point of view of a few other characters, like the medic of the ship, or the second in command), is interspersed with flashbacks (or memories) of incidents of the past of some of the men in the ship, usually those that end up right in the middle of the action. These snippets give us a better idea of what these men were like at home, in their real lives, when they were not cogs in the Navy machine, and they provide clues as to the psychological make-up of the characters (and also make us wonder what they might all have in common). Although the novel is mostly action-driven, we get brief glimpses into the men’s personalities and motives that add to the complexity and to the enjoyment for those of us who like well-defined characters. As a psychiatrist and somebody who enjoys psychological thrillers, I started wondering about the situation and coming up with my own theory from early on (no, I won’t share any spoilers). Yes, I was right; although the nitty-gritty detail is not fully revealed until the very end of the book and it is… Well, if you like conspiracy theory books, I think you’ll be pleased. It is also very believable and that is the scariest aspect of it. I had to do some research of my own after reading the book, because although I had read about some aspects of the story (it is not based on real events, but it realistically portrays the life of navy men at war and the way the Navy operated), I did not realise the extremes to which these men were subject to. The book is not only vividly written, intriguing, and tense, but it also deals with many important topics, such as survivors’ guilt, PTSD, war and fighting, the treatment of the combatants, experimentation, and the use of attention-enhancing drugs and its dangers. And yes, as a Moby Dick lover, I did particularly enjoy the end. As mentioned, the book is well researched and there is a glossary of terms and also an author’s note to explain the background to the story and clarify which aspects are based on truth and which have come out of the author’s imagination. I’d recommend it to lovers of historical fiction, especially set in WWII, people who love atmospheric thrillers, within a naval setting and to anybody who enjoys a ripping good read.

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text 2017-12-05 17:30
Books I Read In October and November
The Diamond Empire (A Diamonds Novel) - K'wan
Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel - Jesmyn Ward
Brazen - Katherine Longshore
The Longest Memory - Fred D'Aguiar
The Tragedy of Brady Sims (Vintage Contemporaries) - Ernest J. Gaines
The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah
An Extraordinary Union - Alyssa Cole
A Hope Divided (The Loyal League) - Alyssa Cole
Perennials - Julie Cantrell
Driver's Seat (Penguin Modern Classics) - Muriel Spark

I read six books in October and five books in November. I'm pretty pleased about my progress. There were a few books that I thought I'd love and a few that I was unsure of that after reading became favorites. Here are the reading results:

 

 

5 Star Reads

 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

 

*I listened to most of it on audio and then switched to the ebook. This book is worth all the hype. It is an unforgettable read. I will definitely re-read this book and I highly recommend if you enjoy WWII books and stories about family.

 

 

The Longest Memory by Fred D'Aguiar

 

*This was definitely a hard read. There's family betrayal, heartbreak and the harsh realities of plantation life. The characters in this book will stay with me for some time.

 

 

4 Star Reads

 

The Diamond Empire by K'wan

 

*Crazy characters, violence and deception all play into great entertainment. I love this series and can't wait for the next book. K'wan knows how to keep you captivated, on edge and panting for that next read.

 

An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League) by Alyssa Cole

 

*Absolutely more than I anticipated. I loved the premise, characters and the writing. This book has interracial love, familial love and characters that stand for what they believe in. Another that I highly recommend to lovers of romance and historical fiction. Alyssa Cole is an author I will continue to pick up.

 

A Hope Divided (The Loyal League #2) by Alyssa Cole

 

*Loved it! Just as great as the first, but I fell in love with Socrates (Ewan). Marlie and Ewan had their own personal struggle, but manage to fight for what's most important, love.

 

Perennials by Julie Cantrell

 

*I listened to the entire book by read-to-me function on my Kindle Fire during the seven hour ride to Las Vegas. Perennials is what I call a slow burn. There's much going on throughout the book, but it all comes together like an intricately weaved  fabric at the end. I love family books. This book was heartbreaking and sweet.

 

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

 

*I'm trying to clear out the last of my YA books. I read the first two books in The Royal Circle trilogy and enjoyed them so, I decided to read Brazen before I donated it. I'm finding that the YA books I purchased are truly written for a very young audience and I can't read them. The writing is too juvenile in language and tone. However, I was able to read this and enjoyed it. It was a fun engaging read.

 

 

3 Star Reads

 

The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark

 

*Okay, but completely forgettable read. I would've preferred someone to have just told me the story and saved my money and time.

 

Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

 

*Another okay read that I had too high expectations. I get the parts about the importance of traditions with the tea ceremony, but even that wasn't enough of a grab to save this little book. Someone could've just told me the plot and I could've skipped it.

 

 

None Rated Books

 

The Tragedy of Brady Sims by Ernest J. Gaines

 

*This definitely didn't turn out the way I thought it would. It's strange it's a book in my opinion. I don't read short stories, but I would call this one. I'm baffled and don't have much to say. Another book I could've skipped.

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

 

*This is the third book that I've tried to love by Ms. Ward. I just don't think we get along. The first book I read of hers was Salvage the Bones. After I tried The Men We Reap. I found it to be slow and melancholy to the point of distraction. My mind would wonder while reading the words. I get the point of the books or what's trying to be conveyed. I just don't enjoy the process of getting there. I find her books have the same formula. Therefore not agreeing with my tastes. Many readers love Ms. Ward and she's won numerous awards. I'm sure she'll continue with much success and I do wish her well.

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review 2017-11-25 12:30
Review: Through Waters Deep (Waves of Freedom #1) by Sarah Sundin
Through Waters Deep - Sarah Sundin

I love it when a historical romance takes on the forgotten parts to well-known history and Sarah Sundin excels at the forgotten history. This is the story of young US Navy Ensign Jim Avery is stationed in Boston on board the USS destroyer Atwood, a boat built at the Boston Naval Yards where his childhood friend Mary Stirling works as a secretary to the civilian head of the naval yard. They meet up several years after graduation when the Atwood would begin escort duties. Although Mary had a small crush on Jim in high school, he only had eyes for her best friend who happened to be the girlfriend of his best friend. So Mary kept everyone as a friend but didn't once pursue anything more from Jim. Life at the Academy and in the early days of his naval career matured Jim, who is still an easy-going guy and natural people-person. Now with those mature eyes he sees Mary in a different light but doesn't want to be seen as the goofy guy she knew in high school; his pursuit of her is slow and methodical, and doesn't seem to make a dent in her friendship with him.

 

Meanwhile, the war in the Atlantic is heating up and American lives are being lost long before we officially entered the war. Tensions are high at the naval yard between interventionists and isolationists and sabotage is happening with increasing frequency, putting Jim and his sailors in peril on a routine training mission. Mary is smart and has the skills and intuition to suss out the true villain. All while trying her damnest not to fall for Jim and get over her fear of public speaking/attention.

 

I could not put this book down! The pages flew and I just wanted more of this realistic world and the characters that inhibit it. The action scenes were intense but the characters were smart and kept their wits about them. The story takes place over the course of 1941 (starting in March and ending on December 7th) so the reader needs patience as the romance is slow building and angsty without being dark. I love how the author weaves actual history (such as the Lend-Lease agreement with Britain, the constant changes to the draft, and how lingering feelings from the Depression color some of the characters' viewpoints). It is an inspirational story, but the religious aspect is interwined with the characters and not shoe-horned in, so it feels very natural to the story. The book also passes the Bechdel test; Mary often talks to her female friends about her investigation and they help her see different angles, and Yvette (a college friend/roommate and French refugee) and Mary often speak of the war and the politics while riding the train or subway on their way to do some shopping.

 

One quibble I had with the story was the naval jargon, but I just skimmed most of that. Can't wait to read the other two books in the series.

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