And then they vanished…..

Rage

I’m not sure what happened to the poem from Wednesday and todays book review, but I am working to get to the root of the problem.

Thank you for your patience while I solve the mystery.

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Memorial Day Weekend

memorial-day-2015-images-pictures-wallpapers-photos

This post is in memory of Army SPC Justin O Penrod who died Aug. 11 2007 aged 24, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Arab Jabour, Iraq, and those who were killed alongside him Sgt. Scott L. Kirkpatrick, Sgt. Andrew W. Lancaster and Staff Sgt. William D. Scates.  Please keep their Families in your thoughts and prayers this weekend.

As you can all imagine, being a Military family this is one of two big weekends in our Household.  So in order to honour the commitments my Husband and I have, there will be no reviews either today or Monday.  Normal service will be resumed on Wednesday 27th May.

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Wednesday Poem: Sunset Haiku Trio ~ Andrea Dietrich

Japanese_flag_painting

Sunset Haiku Trio

bright rays of yellow
ride the rolling ocean waves. . . .
sun is hanging ten

sun spreads marmalade
on a toasty warm evening. . . .
the sky eats it up

day ends at the beach
twilight spills orange delight
onto the water

Andrea Dietrich

Review: Hickies, a Novella, and Four Short Stories ~ Jerry DePyper

HickiesISBN ~ 978-1470006778
Publisher ~ Createspace
No. Of Pages ~ 172 pages
Links ~ eBay, Amazon, Bokus

Human clones will soon be living among us. Ever wonder what that might be like? Will they look and act like everyone else, or will there be something missing, some barely noticeable oddity?

At some point in the future, you might find yourself working or studying right next to a cloned human, and not even know it. Until something bizarre happens. For all you know, your best friend or the one you live with might be a clone. Who knows? You might be a clone yourself.

This may sound like science fiction, but the mood of Hickies is more philosophical than high-tech or scientific. The futuristic theme becomes a mere stage upon which to explore the depths of the human psyche and soul, and to inquire into what it means to be human.

In this volume, the fictional work Hickies is complemented by four other short stories, all by the same author, and all of which may be represented as one layman’s ruminations and as simple forays into the fields of psychology and moral theology.

4 Thumbs-UpThis novella disturbed me in some very uncomfortable ways, it made me examine whether there is a possibility that, regardless of race or species, history could very well have a habit of repeating itself.  If the thought of the ghettos and labour camps of World War II make you uncomfortable, this may not be the book for you; regardless of that there is one thing this book will make you do, and that is think deeply about the world we now live in and the relationship between religion and science.

At first I was a little bothered by the fact that the characters had no real depth and substance to them, but as I continued reading I realised that this omission may very well have been a deliberate act on the part of the Author.  So little is known about the personality, traits and general reality of human cloning that by omitting any of the things that go into making us what we are the Author adds to their topic very nicely, and this leads to more questions being asked of themselves by the reader; How would I react?  Would I support them in my Community?

The downside to this novella for me, and the reason it didn’t get the five thumbs it may have, were one, the typos I came across which should have been easily picked up by a competent proof-reader and two, the novella becoming very religion based and preachy towards the end.  Rather than continuing the possible reasons behind what it means to be human, I felt that the Author was telling me that if I did not have religion in my life it was pretty much not a life.  I am not sure if the Author let their personal feelings on this subject enter the book but, for me, it felt as if the novella suddenly turned into a recruiting tool for the Catholic Church.  However, this did not make me miss the connection between the plight of the clones and the aid from the Church and those same connections that were made between Church and the Jews in WWII; this was not the only comparison to be found, and to reveal others would spoil the book for future readers.  Apart from the two points mentioned I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and finished it in a single day due to its engrossing nature.

I would highly recommend this novella, and the accompanying short stories which I have not reviewed here, to anyone is interested in psychology, philosophy and science or anyone looking for a good read that is not going to take days to complete; it would also make a good addition to any book club reading list due to the discussions it could foster.  I will definitely be reading more from this Author as I am interested to see how their style and technique develop as they become more proficient.

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Review: Skull Session ~ Daniel Hecht

skullISBN ~ 978-1582344966
Publisher ~ Bloomsbury USA
No. Of Pages ~ 496 pages
Links ~ iTunes, Amazon, Daniel Hecht

Despite his brilliance, Paul Skoglund hasn’t held a steady job for years, partly because of his Tourette’s syndrome. When his eccentric, wealthy aunt asks him to take on the repairs of her magnificent hunting lodge, he is in no position to refuse. But then he finds that the rambling old house has been savagely vandalized: he discovers a scene of almost superhuman destruction, a violence mirrored by a series of disappearances and grisly deaths haunting the region. Paul delves into the wreckage, wondering what dark passion—and what strength—could cause such chaos. As state police investigator Mo Ford pursues the mystery through official channels, escalating events force Paul deeper into his family’s past and into the darker aspects of his own nature.

4 Thumbs-UpThis is an interesting book on many levels, and had me hooked from the first page and, as much as it may seem that this would be an automatic 5 thumbs review, there were parts of this novel that pulled it down to a 4 thumbs rating.

The main protagonist suffers from Tourette’s syndrome which in itself is an unusual choice of malady to use in a protagonist.  However, it works well with the subject matter of the book and, through the struggles the main lead has with his condition the reader learns a great deal about this illness; and this is where the book lost its 5 thumbs, at times there is so much neurological information it slows the narrative down, and that really affects the novel overall, but it did make me wonder if the Author had not had personal experience in some way of Tourette’s.  Back to the main character; it is safe to say that this man has his plate full dealing not only with his own problems but those of his son who also has issues, what kind I am not saying as it would spoil the experience of reading the book.  The reader is often taken inside the mind of the main character and is able to experience the world he lives in and the events that happen to him through his eyes.  This serves to make him a very real person with great depth and, at times, it feels as if the reader is right there with him in this world.

When I first started reading this I assumed it was going to be a purely neurological thriller, and was quite happy to accept this; however, as I soon found out, I was totally wrong.  With a skilful hand the Author turns this book into a cross-genre novel covering everything from horror to supernatural urban fantasy with stops at the psychological and medical arenas along the way.  It may sound that this leads to what is a very disjointed read, but each of the genres are woven seamlessly together making this an easy, if not very fast paced, read.  For the die-hard horror fan out there, the ‘scary’ portions of this book may seem a little tame, but with everything that this book has going for it, it really doesn’t matter in my opinion.

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Wednesday Poem: John, Duke of Marlborough ~ Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

mary wortley

John, Duke of Marlborough.

When the proud Frenchman’s strong rapacious hand
Spread o’er Europe ruin and command,
Our sinking temples and expiring law
With trembling dread the rolling tempest saw;
Destin’d a province to insulting Gaul,
This genius rose, and stopp’d the ponderous fall.
His temperate valour form’d no giddy scheme,
No victory ras’d him to a rage of fame;
The happy temper of his even mind
No danger e’er could shock, or conquest blind.
Fashion’d alike by Nature and by Art,
To please, engage, and int’rest ev’ry heart.
In public life by all who saw approv’d,
In private hours by all who knew him lov’d.

Mary Wortley, Lady Montagu 1689-1762

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Review: My Own Story ~ Emmeline Pankhurst

my own storyISBN ~ 978-1784870409
Publisher ~ Vintage Classics
No. Of Pages ~352 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Project Gutenberg

The great leader of the women’s suffrage movement, tells the story of her struggles in her own words.

Emmeline Pankhurst grew up all too aware of the prevailing attitude of her day: that men were considered superior to women. When she was just fourteen she attended her first suffrage meeting, and returned home a confirmed suffragist. Throughout the course of her career she endured humiliation, prison, hunger strikes and the repeated frustration of her aims by men in power, but she rose to become a guiding light of the Suffragette movement. This is the story, in Pankhurst’s own words, of her struggle for equality.

3 Thumbs-UpLet me first explain my reasoning behind the three thumb review; I found this book to be a strangely impersonal account of Mrs. Pankhurst’s life.  It read more like a diary of the main events of the WSPU (Suffrage movement) in the lead up to the outbreak of World War I.  This made it extremely difficult for me, as a reader, to get a handle on what she was really like as a person, or the opinions of others of the movement of which she and her sister, Christabel, were such a big part of in England; this in turn had me doing further research at the library and on the internet to fill in the gaps.

Giving an explanation of what propelled her out of the normal role of women in her time, into a political arena is an interesting and eye-opening journey into what it was like to be female in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s, and this was one of things that kept me reading this book.  This book is a snapshot into a turbulent time in British history, and may be an eye opener for those who read it and are not acquainted with the nuances of that time.

One thing I became aware of whilst reading this was the tremendous hardships and deprivations these women went through to secure the vote for women.  They were humiliated, beaten, force-fed and denigrated in a way that not even the worst of criminals were at the time, all because they wanted more control over their lives and things that ultimately affected the way they lived.  This in turn led me to consider the women’s movements today and how they regard the role of women in the twenty-first century; there really is no comparison and it made me grateful for the freedoms I do have as a woman today.

I was disappointed that this book ended with the advent of World War I as I would have felt it would have added to the account if there had been an endnote saying what happened to the WSPU and their campaign for Women’s Rights after the end of the war; this was one part of where my extra research came in.

Despite its short comings this is a good read, and I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning about the origins of feminism and treatment of women in the United Kingdom.

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Wednesday Poem: Wedlock: A Satire ~ Mehetabel Wright

marriage of heaven and hell by Nancy Farmer

Wedlock: A Satire

Thou tyrant, whom I will not name,
Whom heaven and hell alike disclaim;
Abhorred and shunned, for different ends,
By angels, Jesuits, beasts and fiends!
What terms to curse thee shall I find,
Thou plague peculiar to mankind?
O may my verse excel in spite
The wiliest, wittiest imps of night!
Then lend me for a while your rage,
You maidens old and matrons sage:
So may my terms in railing seem
As vile and hateful as my theme.
Eternal foe to soft desires,
Inflamer of forbidden fires,
Thou source of discord, pain and care,
Thou sure forerunner of despair,
Thou scorpion with a double face,
Thou lawful plague of human race,
Thou bane of freedom, ease and mirth,
Thou serpent which the angels fly,
Thou monster whom the beasts defy,
Whom wily Jesuits sneer at too;
And Satan (let him have his due)
Was never so confirmed a dunce
To risk damnation more than once.
That wretch, if such a wretch there be,
Who hopes for happiness from thee,
May search successfully as well
For truth in whores and ease in hell.

Mehetabel Wright

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Review: What Do You Do with an Idea? ~ Kobi Yamada, Mae Besom (Illustrator)

IdeaISBN ~ 978-1938298073
Publisher ~Compendium Inc
No. Of Pages ~ 36 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble

This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It’s a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s just getting started.

4 Thumbs-UpEveryone at some time in their life has been told that an idea they’ve had is going nowhere and to let it go, only to see it realised by someone else further down the road.   This children’s book, aimed at the 4-8 year old age group, takes that and runs with it in a way that a reader of any age can grasp and take onboard.

As we all know though ideas do not go on to become great things on their own, and this book offers a way for parents to talk to their children about how they can nurture and grow their ideas, just like the boy in the book.  This book opens the door for what could be a great discussion between those involved with it, the parent and child or just two like-minded adult readers, and what is there not to like about a conversation that has been set into motion by a book.  .  My reason for the 4 thumbs review is that I just wanted more; I wanted to see what the idea grew into and how it really does take just one person to start making a change.

The Authors idea to give life to an idea was genius and the use of an egg as the idea even more so.  Combine this with simple but beautiful prose and delicate illustrations and you have a perfect example of what you can do with an idea.  It has been a while since I read and reviewed a children’s book, and I am so glad that I picked this one up to read.  This is a book that is all about creativity, giving to wings to soar and caring for it in a world where no one else seems to care.  Another part of the book I really like was the way in which the only colour in the book, at the beginning, was the egg.  As the idea was cared for and grew, this colour started radiating to other parts of the world, until it finally exploded at the end, so even if the words may be difficult for some children to understand, the way in which they were translated in the illustrations would help immensely.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever had an idea and has been told it’s just a ‘dream’.

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Review: The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust ~ Edith Hahn Beer, Susan Dworkin

Nazi officers wifeISBN ~ 978-0349113791
Publisher ~  Abacus
No. Of Pages ~ 305 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Harper Collins

Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman studying law in Vienna when the Gestapo forced Edith and her mother into a ghetto, issuing them papers branded with a “J.” Soon, Edith was taken away to a labor camp, and though she convinced Nazi officials to spare her mother, when she returned home, her mother had been deported. Knowing she would become a hunted woman, Edith tore the yellow star from her clothing and went underground, scavenging for food and searching each night for a safe place to sleep. Her boyfriend, Pepi, proved too terrified to help her, but a Christian friend was not: With the woman’s identity papers in hand, Edith fled to Munich. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi party member who fell in love with her. And despite her protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity secret.

In vivid, wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells of German officials who casually questioned the lineage of her parents; of how, when giving birth to her daughter, she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal her past; and of how, after her husband was captured by the Russians and sent to Siberia, Edith was bombed out of her house and had to hide in a closet with her daughter while drunken Russians soldiers raped women on the street.

Yet despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith Hahn created a remarkable collective record of survival: She saved every set of real and falsified papers, letters she received from her lost love, Pepi, and photographs she managed to take inside labor camps.

On exhibit at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents form the fabric of an epic story – complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.

3 Thumbs-UpI always feel that when reading about this period of our history, the Holocaust and its accompanying literature should be taken in small pieces due to its intensity and the emotions it can bring out in the reader.  This is one small piece that was worth reading but it wasn’t as mind-blowing as other true accounts I have read.  I actually feel a little guilt at only giving 3 thumbs to a book written about a holocaust survivor, as each survival story is remarkable in and of itself, but this book didn’t capture me in the way others have, and I found the Author really hard to connect with.

With that said, this book opened my eyes to a part of the Holocaust I had heard of, but never really read anything about; the story of a Jew in Nazi Germany living as a non-Jew, or as they were known a ‘U-boat’.  This book gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘living with the enemy’.  I was totally immersed in the paperwork and rationing involved in Germany at this time, and along with the presence of mind required by the Author to remember who she was at any given moment, and to keep her cool when questioned I found myself pulled more into the era and life then, than I was towards the Author herself.

The evidence of how the Author had to harden her emotions to everyday events, something that she still carries with her today, was apparent in the way in which this book was written.  Events were put on the page in a very matter of fact manner and with very little emotion, this also spilled over to others mentioned in the book, as they came across as one-dimensional and with little to no depth.  This made it very hard to figure out their personalities and the motivation behind their actions; but maybe I was looking for too much in what is an account of an extraordinary life.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Holocaust fiction as they might find a viewpoint on this period they had not read before.

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