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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Johnny got his gun by Dalton Trumbo


This was no ordinary war. This was a war to make the world safe for democracy. And if democracy was made safe, then nothing else mattered--not the millions of dead bodies, nor the thousands of ruined lives...This is no ordinary novel. This is a novel that never takes the easy way out: it is shocking, violent, terrifying, horrible, uncompromising, brutal, remorseless and gruesome...but so is war.

I picked up this book after reading about it in the novel Names on a map by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

I am almost lost for words on this book and am struggling to put down my thoughts. A very powerful read and one I would say everyone should go out and read it, especially the Leaders of the World and anyone deciding to go to war.

Just imagine you "survived" but had no legs, arms, mouth, nose, eyes, face or hearing but your brain was perfectly in tact and working overtime. Unimaginable, but somehow in this book, the author got me to get inside this character.

Just read it and weep, as the saying goes.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan


Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

A slight twist on the usual Titanic type what happens when the boat sinks type movie. This was about what happens to the people in the lifeboat after the boat is sunk and gone. It covered many moral dilemmas that surfaced in the long period that the survivors had to spend on the lifeboat before they were saved. I also liked the twist of the legal case after they were saved which shows that no matter where you are or what circumstances you find yourself in, you have to still obey the law or face the consequences.

I was torn between giving this book a 3 or 4 out of 5 as it was an entertaining read. I eventually settled on a 3 because I just felt it could have been down a lot better. There were some unnecessary parts to the story and slightly to many characters to keep a track of. Some parts were also slightly unbelievable but, then again, I have not been stranded on a lifeboat for an extended period of time so who knows if that is just because of my lack of that experience. The character development of a few main characters could have been better as I did not really feel anything for any one of the characters. I have just read a couple of novels that have had outstanding character development so, perhaps, my standards are now higher.

A good enough read and should make an ok book group discussion.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dawn by Elie Wiesel

Dawn (The Night Trilogy, #2)

Elisha is a young Jewish man, a Holocaust survivor, and an Israeli freedom fighter in British-controlled Palestine; John Dawson is the captured English officer he will murder at dawn in retribution for the British execution of a fellow freedom fighter. The night-long wait for morning and death provides Dawn, Elie Wiesel's ever more timely novel, with its harrowingly taut, hour-by-hour narrative. Caught between the manifold horrors of the past and the troubling dilemmas of the present, Elisha wrestles with guilt, ghosts, and ultimately God as he waits for the appointed hour and his act of assassination. Dawn is an eloquent meditation on the compromises, justifications, and sacrifices that human beings make when they murder other human beings.

I felt a bit misled by Goodreads when I picked this book up to read. It is listed as #2 in The Night Trilogy and after reading Night I just had to read the so called second book in the trilogy. It is not a direct second book of a trilogy. I am not even sure if it is Fiction or Non-Fiction (like Night).

That aside, it is another example from this author where less is more. 102 pages that again you read through hardly taking a breath.

The story itself does really make you think about the futility of war and quite angry with the resistance behind trying to set up a new Israel. A lot of killing went on in the name of their beliefs and while, one should stand up for ones beliefs, it seems rather a double standard. On the one hand criticising others for killing in the name of their beliefs while doing so yourself! A very deep matter of debate that I won't get into in this review.

Beautifully and simply written.

Night by Elie Wiesel


Night A terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of his family...the death of his innocence...and the death of his God. Penetrating and powerful, as personal as The Diary Of Anne FrankNight awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again

What a powerful book. Short, sharp and to the point. No over-dramatisation, no made for movie dramatic storyline, just one boys account of his time in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

The author won the Nobel Peace prize (not sure what for yet) and this book is one of the best I have read about the concentration camps of World War II.

He does not try to make a hero of himself, in fact, he choses to point out the times when he was a coward and did not stand up for his father and fellow man.

He does not waste a single word on unnecessary scene setting or descriptions. 115 pages that you read in one go barely taking a breath.

Defending Jacob by William Landay


Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

An interesting book. I don't think he is the best author in the world as the book seemed to be written in very long hand as if it were full written records of the court procedures and happenings. This is probably because the author is an ex District Attorney and he is used to putting every last detail down on paper. It still flowed fairly well, despite this, and you got used to the wordy style once you got sucked into the story.

The story itself seemed, at first, to be nothing new but as it developed, it opened up many layers and provoked many thoughts in this reader.

Spoilers here in white, highlight to read- It gave one thought as to how far you would go to protect your own child, even if the evidence and your own gut feelings pointed towards him being guilty and an evil person as well. It then flipflopped from how much you would do to protect your child to would you be able to get rid of your child if you knew he was, inherently evil and would continue harming (and killing) innocent people. I nearly gave it a 3 as there were some parts that I did not quite believe, like Jacob's dad getting rid of the knife and some other cover ups he did, they just did not seem to fit with his character as an assistant DA- end spoiler

Like I said it was a novel that sucked you in and kept you reading"just one more chapter" as I was intrigued as to where it was going and what was gong to happen. I think it will provoke some good discussions at tonights book group.