Today I review a book I’ve been reading in my local book club.
First, the official blurb:
All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn’t touch her?
All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?
All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?
Three Women is a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions.
At first this was a hugely eye-opening, addictive read that offered painfully blunt and honest insights into the mind of three women whose sex life is quite different from the norm. The book is utterly fascinating and despite some very explicit language and disturbing scenes almost un-put-down-able.
However, as the stories progressed I felt that it became repetitive and borderline gratuitous in the portrayal of these women in a way that they just confirmed the depth of the women’s obsession with looks, men, sex and eating. Many descriptions of sexual encounters were unnecessarily lengthy, time I feel could have been invested in a development of the characters and maybe showing them a way out of their demises.
The psychological insights, the thought patterns and connections with early child hood experiences to what might be called abnormal sexual behaviour were brilliant and addictive but after I finished the book I felt sad and wasn’t sure the author did more than spy on and use these women rather than help and encourage them.
Do I have more sympathy for them now that I have had a glimpse into their inner thoughts?
Certainly, although I would have sympathy for them before and what I learned was barely ground-breaking new.
Do I agree with them being victims (of mostly men)?
To some extent yes, their lives were shaped by others, often at an age of innocence. But does that free them of accountability? I’m not so sure.
Do I know more about how to help these women, should I meet similar types in my life?
Unfortunately I’m not so sure about that either.
Would I recommend this book?
Yes and no. It’s powerful, informative and well written but many readers may be put off by the explicit sex and the raw and often uncomfortable scenes.
The book certainly provokes dialogue and raises awareness but there were opportunities lost for me. I may be wrong about this but there remains a sense of exploitation that I cannot shake off.
T.M. Charles-Edwards: Wales & the Britons 350-1064
immensely detailed and thorough study of seven centuries of British kingdoms
and their neighbours
easiest book to score, this is the first part of a history of Wales and, for
many people, it will be a specialist reference text. I got a huge amount from
it (hence the 5*) but that does not mean to say there are not difficult, highly
academic sections. It is also costly but will take you at least twice the time
it would to get through your average read. Furthermore, you don’t have to be
Welsh; there is everything here: the development of England, the kingdoms
before Scotland, Ireland’s influence on the western shores, the Isle of Man,
even the Hiberno-Norse.
chapters present a survey of ‘post-Roman’ Britain: from the Manaw border
between Gododdin and the Picts through Rheged, North Wales – where the
Voices of the Second World War: A Child’s Perspective by Sheila A Renshaw
Voices of the Second World War: A Child’s Perspective is a collection of firsthand accounts from people who experienced the Second World War from all over Europe: stretching from Russia to the Channel Islands, and Norway to Malta.
While some children appear to have been hardly aware of the war, for those who lived through bombing, occupation, deprivation, starvation and fear, the memories remain with them even today.
The accounts have been relayed according to their perspective at the time and the contributors were happy to share their experiences and memories, keen in the knowledge that they were being documented as personal chroniclers of one of the twentieth century’s most catastrophic events.
Sheila Renshaw grew up in an RAF family and the joined the WRAF after leaving school, later receiving a commission and marrying an RAF pilot. She travelled extensively with the services and brought up a family of two daughters.
She was inspired to write this book having talked to a neighbour who lived in the U.S.S.R. during the Second World War and who had never told her story to anyone before as she didn’t feel anyone would be interested. Amazed at what she’d heard, Sheila began to wonder how many other stories were out there waiting to be told…
Thanks to Rosie Croft of Pen & Sword for providing me a paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review. (Note that it is also available in ebook format).
I have talked before about the importance of remembering the past, especially the experiences of individuals who never make it into official history books. The movement to record the memories of the everyday lives of anonymous people, including mass archives, has helped bring history closer to everybody and has also helped us understand what the war was like for the general population.
This book goes a step further and collects the memories of people who were children during WWII, in many European countries (and also one in Egypt), in a variety of circumstances: some from countries that were invaded (the Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia…), neutral countries (like Sweden), there are also several accounts from the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, and the Channel Islands (the only part of the British Isles occupied during the war), quite a few from the UK, and also from Germany and Italy. There are some common threads and themes throughout the different chapters, most of them dedicated to only one child’s memories, although there are some chapters which collect several shorter accounts. In occupied countries there are horrific accounts of the cruelty of the invading army, particularly reprisals against anything perceived as resistance or disobedience, and, after the allied victory, the repercussions for those who were seen as having collaborated with the invading forces (especially women who became “friendly” with German soldiers), some truly harrowing accounts of survivors of incredible hardship (Sara’s account of her and her sister’s survival in Auschwitz is heart-breaking, especially because they lost all of their immediate family; Nadia, from Ukraine, experienced plenty of hardship but she recounts how it could have been even worse, if not for the kindness of some of the people she met along the way)… There are plenty of stories of children being evacuated (mostly in the UK), and also of the families who received those evacuees. Inventive mothers creating delicious recipes out of little food, schools that kept going no matter what, rationing books, joining the war effort by collecting newspapers, scrap metal, glass…, growing vegetables, going to the shelter, experiencing bombings first-hand, memories of the Barrage balloons, the sounds of the anti-air-raid guns, the all clear… In Germany and in many of the occupied countries, children remember the worry of not knowing what might happen, the need to be careful as you never knew who might overhear what you said, who was a friend or an enemy, and the terrible consequences if the wrong word reached the wrong ear. German children also mention the shock and utter disbelief when they and their families learned what had been happening in the concentration camps, although the older children were aware that Jews and dissidents were arrested or disappeared with little explanation. One of the children pointedly says that nobody admitted knowing anything about it, but it is clear from the experiences of some of the children in occupied countries that, at least to them, it was not such a big surprise.
There are also light moments, accounts of friendly German and Italian soldiers (especially at the beginning of the war), a German surgeon who saved the life of the father of one of the narrators (who was 2 y.o. at the time), children fascinated by the planes, looking for souvenirs among the debris, joining groups like the Cubs or the Brownies, meeting new people and experiencing a different kind of life in the countryside, the victory parties… I particularly enjoyed the account by Anne, from York, that reads at times like Huckleberry Finn (she saw life as an adventure, no matter what, and I hope she still does). I was moved by first-hand accounts of the Coventry bombings, and happy to read about what had happened to all those children and where they were now.
The book also includes photographs. These are not photographs of the children whose stories we are told, but they are black and white photos of the era, mostly of children, relate directly to some of the stories we read about, and help us recreate the atmosphere of the time as we read the book.
As the author explains in the introduction, which sets up the scene and provides a brief but useful background to the stories, during the war, the main consideration was the physical wellbeing of the children rather than the emotional impact some of the decisions the adults took on their behalf (like evacuating them) could have. Now, in hindsight, it is easy to see what an influence these events had on the lives of all those children. And, as a society, we should never forget what the long-term consequences of a war are on all those involved.
I recommend this book to everybody. Although some of the accounts are tough to read, I think books such as this one should be read to (and by) children, with their parents supervision if they are very young, as a way to help them connect to history, and by adults, because we must remember what happened (and what is still happening in many places) and work hard to avoid it in the future.
I’ve read an earlier version of this book by Robert Mwangi and enthusiastically reviewed it on this blog and conducted an interview with the author. Now a publishing company has picked the book up and after a make over released it.
This is quite a thrilling ride through a young man’s short time before planning to leave Kenya for a scholarship in America. While his excitement about a brighter future and a love interest lighten his life, there are darker tones with disappearances in the nearby jungle. These force him into action despite the tight timing.
Interspersed into this suspense are scenes of great cultural interest to this reader: rituals, philosophical reflections on the tensions between heritage and modern living and old beliefs being tested in the 21st century.
Above this, the young man’s coming of age is reflected in the theme of finding out the true meaning of his traditional name.
“Whisper in the Jungle” is a very enjoyable and engaging read that made me look forward to the next book and the glimpse into the character’s next adventure.
Deep in the African jungle where even the bravest are afraid to venture, lies a truth that will propel James through his probable American journey, if he can come out alive. James an African lad has been awarded a soccer scholarship to go to America and becomes the envy of his village. His girlfriend Janny is however skeptical of what a long distance relationship can do to love. But when Janny vanishes, James plunges into the mysterious forest at the risk of his life and his American Dream. Love transcends all.
Today another book club review. First the official blurb:
You may not wish to think about it, but one day you or someone you love will almost certainly appear in a criminal courtroom. You might be a juror, a victim, a witness or – perhaps through no fault of your own – a defendant. Whatever your role, you’d expect a fair trial.
I’m a barrister. I work in the criminal justice system, and every day I see how fairness is not guaranteed. Too often the system fails those it is meant to protect. The innocent are wronged and the guilty allowed to walk free.
I want to share some stories from my daily life to show you how the system is broken, who broke it and why we should start caring before it’s too late.
It took me a long time to get into this book. The first few chapters read like an introduction into the legal system and are filled with definitions and legal terminology. While some of this is quite interesting and informative, the book cover promises hilarious and anecdotal writing.
There’s far less of that and the tone of the barrister is at times arrogant and very unlikeable.
I’m glad I persevered, though, because gradually the anecdotes and the flaws in our legal system take more centre stage and make for more rewarding and fascinating reading.
Towards the end much of the educational sections pay off as we get to understand innate biases and problems of our justice systems: freaky statistics, such as higher sentences before midday (hungry judges), how lack of funds really does influence your chances of winning a case and how miscarriages of justice do not guarantee adequate compensation.
So if you free your mind from the wrong expectation that you are about to read a hilarious book you might find quite an insightful and interesting read.
I recently joined a lovely local book club where we drink a lot of wine and talk a lot. Here is my review of a book we read there recently.
But first the official blurb:
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of the American Dream. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. Until one day they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.
Devastated and unmoored, Celestial finds herself struggling to hold on to the love that has been her centre, taking comfort in Andre, their closest friend. When Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, he returns home ready to resume their life together.
Given the praise for this book I may have started it with too high expectations. For several chapters I was waiting for the story to take off but neither did I feel the mutual attraction of the couple, nor did I get into the long back stories of them and their families.
By the time the drama set in I was less engaged with the characters as I would have liked.
The injustice done to them, the blatant bias in court and their terrible tragedy won’t leave you unmoved, though. In that it is an important wake up call that these things do happen and aren’t just fabrications of the press.
As the marriage drifts apart through the forced separation it’s difficult not to feel sorry for both characters. Yet – to me – they also became quite unlikable and annoying as the story progressed, however understandable their actions and demises were.
It is by no means a trivial story but I was glad when I had finished it and it didn’t stay with me as much as I would have expected from such an emotive topic.
DO NO HARM, the medical thriller box set featuring “The Healer” (probably my favourite of my books) has not only managed to become a No 1 Amazon bestselling book, but last night made it as a USA Today Bestseller.
Thank you all for your support and congratulations to all the marvellous authors in the collaboration!
This collection of 17 medical thrillers was written by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-selling authors. I found it to be an eclectic collection …..entertaining, exciting and scary at times. What I didn’t expect was to think about legal, moral and ethical questions along the way.
I was expecting medical thrillers, for sure, but the wide range of topics is mind-boggling, to say the very least. Some of the topics covered in the collection that truly amazed me are: robotic surgery, organ transplants, harvesting of organs, PTSD and its effects on our wounded warriors, implants used as listening devices, genetics and bio-terrorism.
As if those topics aren’t sufficient, the reader is allowed to enter into more questions posed by the authors…Does ‘motive, means and opportunity equal guilt’? I loved the quote from Isaiah 26:19 in one of the novels. Outstanding.
The reader will be transported to many foreign countries including Syria, Guatemala, North Korea, and the Congo to name a few.
This collection is of superior quality and the writing is superb. I truly enjoyed the fact that I had to think about ethical and moral questions along the way. Thought provoking read for me.
There are NO SPOILERS in this review. So far, I have only read Unlawful Harvest by P. D. Workman and Shatter Proof by Judith Lucci in this box set so my review is only for those two stories. Given the caliber of literary talent contributing to this collection, I have no doubt that these stories will all be riveting medical thrillers enjoyed by anyone partial to this genre.
UNLAWFUL HARVEST by P.D. Workman and was captivating from the very beginning. The main character, Mackenzie Kirsch, will take you on an emotional rollercoaster of a journey as she must transform herself from a pampered trust-fund socialite into a self-aware, effectual medical sleuth to discover the truth about what happened to her beloved sister. While this story does deal with the unsavory subject of unsanctioned organ harvesting and transplanting whereby the wealthy are able to buy organs at the expense of the exploited poorer populations of the world, there is no graphic violence nor are there gruesome descriptions which some might find repellent. The absence of offensive language and explicit sex scenes may also be appreciated by many readers. I enjoyed the fast pace of the story which kept me flipping pages late into the night. It is one of those books you just don’t want to put down until you have read the very last word. If you enjoy suspense, intrigue, family drama, spell-binding imagery and great character development, you will absolutely enjoy reading this story.
SHATTER PROOF by Judith Lucci is another enthralling tale for which you should probably be prepared to stay up late as you will likely feel compelled to read all the way to its conclusion. This story is the first in an upcoming series that introduces the reader to a wonderful lead character named Dr. Sonia Amon. She is not some super-human warrior amazon, but she is an amazing blend of courageous, skilled, intelligent, vulnerable, driven, and compassionate. Dr. Amon is a recently retired Army physician who is affiliated with the Army War College and Walter Reed Hospital along with serving on committees for the WHO and NATO to help rebuild the infrastructure of medical care in the Middle East. Did I mention she also runs covert ops for the CIA? Having been raised in Syria by her Syrian father (a high-ranking member of ISIS), she has the appearance and language skills that, combined with her scientific and medical background, make her an extremely valuable asset for chemical and biological weapons threat assessment. If that hasn’t piqued your interest yet, I don’t know what will. This story has so much to offer in the way of insights to the lives of our military personnel stationed in war-torn, terrorist-infested areas, the hardships of life in the Middle East, the overwhelming need for basic medical care, the imminent threat of outbreaks of infectious diseases, the constant threat of attack in the form of anything from simple gunfire and grenades to dirty bombs to chemical and/or biological weapons. Dr. Amon takes the reader on an action-packed adventure to her hometown in Syria where she is trying to establish desperately needed medical clinics and gather intel for the government concerning imminent threats from ISIS all while enjoying an all-too-brief visit with her fiancée (an American military officer) and evade capture by her loathsome terrorist-affiliated father. What a ride!
Do No Harm includes the following novels:
Death Hub by Ed Dasso: Jack Bass, MD, discovers that new medical technology can work wonders…if it doesn’t kill you first. Jack is working feverishly with two of his favorite past students to figure out what is behind the chaos of medical technology gone crazy. Then stop it. But, is it a bigger issue than anything they could have imagined?
Shatterproof: A Sonia Amon MD Thriller by Judith Lucci: Newly retired Army physician and War College Professor Sonia Amon returns to war-torn Syria to open several village medical clinics and save lives – until is seems she can’t save her own…
Overdose by Uvi Poznansky: Months after recovering from coma, Ash discovers that the man who performed her brain surgery has a questionable medical experience and a dark past. Should she expose him, at the risk of becoming vulnerable to his revenge?
Two Hearts Unspoken Targets By Tamara Ferguson: Battling PTSD, wounded warrior Air Force Captain Zachary Logan experiences flashbacks of a gruesome murder. Can he keep his new love and autistic son safe when they’re all singled out by the killer?
Fatal Limit by Inge-Lise Goss: Hospital affairs turn deadly when an untraceable toxin kills a scorned lover, spurring a private eye to search for a devious killer
The Gamma Sequence by Dan Alatorre: Geneticist Lanaya Kim has evidence that a series of seemingly unrelated deaths were murders and not accidents, but coming forward with what she knows could make her a suspect or reveal herself to the unknown killer.
Unlawful Harvest by P.D. Workman: When MacKenzie Kirsch set out to find out why her sister Amanda was so ill, she had no idea of the dark world of organ transplantation her amateur investigation would lead her into.
Justice For All by Chris Patchell: A brutal attack. A survivor left for dead. When DNA evidence cracks a cold case, can Assistant District Attorney, Elizabeth Holt, find the justice she’s looking for?
Savage Art by Danielle Girard: FBI profiler Casey McKinley survived a brutal attack by the notorious serial killer known as “Leonardo” for his penchant for dissecting his victims as DaVinci once did human cadavers; now he’s back and she must catch this clever killer before he can unveil his ultimate masterpiece–her.
Only Wrong Once by Jenifer Ruff: After two worrying deaths on opposite sides of the country, operative Quinn and CDC agent Madeline unearth a terrorist plot to trigger a lethal pandemic. Can the pair stop imminent catastrophe?
The Healer by Christoph Fischer: When advertising executive Erica Whittaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, her only hope becomes controversial healer Arpan – but can she trust him with her life and could their respective pasts catch up with them before time runs out for Erica?
Outcome, a Novel by Barbara Ebel: A woman and her dog flee for their lives during a major hurricane, but what happens next is far worse.
If a Tree Falls by Robert I. Katz: Richard Kurtz thought that covering for another surgeon in the West Virginia mountains would be a pleasant way to spend a few weeks…until fifteen bodies are discovered in a shallow grave.
Maya Hope by Timothy Browne: A doctor stumbling through life and a North Korean bioterrorist plot; the two collide in an unforgettable tale.
Viable Hostage by Audrey J. Cole: When Malorie’s roommate goes missing, no one seems concerned about the wayward medical student’s mysterious disappearance–until another student’s partial remains wash ashore a Seattle beach…
The Marburg Mutation by Allen Kent: When word circulates through international terrorist channels that a weaponized strain of the deadly Marburg virus is to be auctioned to the highest bidder, an elite counter-intelligence team races potential buyers to destroy the Marburg mutation and prevent a global catastrophe.
The Savant of Chelsea by Suzanne Jenkins – After the death of her mother, New York surgeon Alexandra Donika travels to New Orleans to face the secrets and tragedies of her youth when a mystery is solved, leading on a journey to madness.
HBS Author’s Spotlight Book Showcase is for Author James Moushon. He is the self-published Mystery Author of the Jonathon Stone Mysteries. Also, James is a Short Story writer and an Author Advocate. James is the creator of the industry blogs: The Indie Author’s Corner, the HBS Author’s Spotlight and the HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle.
Jonathon Stone and Chuck Chun are assigned to escort a witness from the Philippines to LA to testify against her terrorist husband. After an air marshal is killed in flight, Jonathon and Chuck go on high alert.
The CIA team finds out there is a professional hit contract on the witness and it is non-exclusive. The twists and turns of the op lead the two into the Islamic World of terror.
Excerpt from Operation Key Witness
The white clouds were floating by the plane’s window as I gazed at the greenish-blue ocean below. I loved to fly. Being a pilot was a life-long dream. Being a CIA special agent was my reality. Even the simplest ops were filled with danger.
Fellow agent Chuck Chun was sitting in the aisle seat. We had flipped for the window seat and Chuck had lost. Several hours earlier we had departed from Manila, headed for Los Angeles. This trip was not a pleasure trip. It was all business. Chuck and I had a very special package to deliver to the states. Sitting between us was a dark-haired woman, in her mid-thirties, with very rough features. This woman’s name was Jullian Husin. She had been a part of a terrorist cell operating in the Philippines.
For some reason, she had a change of heart. She was going to testify against her estranged husband, who is the leader of the terrorist group in Manila.
I smiled at her. She lowered her head and continued staring at the back of the seat in front of her.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“You are safe with us,” I continued.
She looked up at me. “You don’t know that. They have ways to reach anyone they want.”
She spoke remarkably good English. That was all she had said since we had picked her up from the authorities.
“You speak good English?”
She half-way smiled. “I was born in the US.”
We hadn’t been told that in our briefing.
“I went to school in Michigan, just outside of Detroit. That’s where I met my husband.”
“What is his name again?”
“Habib. Habib Husin.”
She looked down again.
Just then I heard the ring from my sat-phone. Chuck pointed down at my bag under the seat in front of me. I’d almost forgotten we had brought that along. Our cell-phones had no reception here but our satellite phone was active almost anywhere. I fished it out of the bag.
God, I missed caller ID.
“Wiley, here. I have something important.”
“Can you hold on for a minute? I need to change locations.”
I squeezed by Jullian and Chuck and headed for the galley at the rear of the plane. It would be safer to talk there. The meal service was going on so there was only one flight attendant in the area.
“What you got, Wiley?”
“Russ wanted me to pass this on. A maid at an apartment complex in the San Pedro area just found a male body. He had been dead several days, according to the police.”
“My condolences to the family. Why are you telling me this over a secure line in the middle of an op?”
The flight attendant looked at me. I must have raised my voice.
“No, Jon. This guy had your witness’ itinerary and flight number written in a notepad. The police are still searching his apartment. His name was Oscar Hammel. He was on one of our watch lists. He’s a gun-for-hire. The FBI is there now.”
“Wiley, you might want to alert Homeland. He probably was going after our witness. We were to turn over Jullian Husin to the FBI when we landed.”
“Well that sounds like good luck,” Wiley said.
“What do you mean?”
“An assassin with the itinerary gets wacked before he can carry out the contract.”
“Wiley there is an old saying in Blackjack, no matter how good a hand you have, you never know if you won until you see the dealer’s hole cards.”
There was silence on the other end as he digested what I had just said. Then a response, “I will let you know what the FBI comes up with.” I smiled at the flight attendant who was making coffee in the galley and headed back to my seat.