Quantcast

Puckster’s Christmas Hockey Tournament by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illustrated by Kelly Findley

Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Paperback, 24 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Puckster’s Christmas Hockey Tournament by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illustrated by Kelly Findley, is a story about reaching your goals and remembering that family and friends are the most important parts of our lives. Puckster helps out Canada’s National Junior Team, organizing their sticks and water bottles to ensure they are prepared for the game.  He’s getting ready to travel with the team for the championship game, and his family and friends are to meet him there on Christmas day.

While the message is good and clear, children who are unable to read the story on their own may find there is too much text to follow.  While the pictures are cute, there is little action in the story and a lot of exposition.  My daughter listened to the entire story, though I would stop reading the text to have her identify the animals in the pictures to keep her attention on the book.  She said after reading it that she didn’t like when Puckster pretended to be Santa Claus by pasting wet paper towels to his face.  She said that was not nice, though she may not have understood that he was trying to do something nice for his friends.

Puckster’s Christmas Hockey Tournament by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illustrated by Kelly Findley, is a cute little book about what family and friends mean to us and how they should always be important.  This book, however, is a little bit beyond what my daughter is ready for, but would be good for kids ages 5+.

About the Author:

Lorna Schultz Nicholson is a full-time writer who has published over 20 award-winning books, including Roughing! and Northern Star. Her nonfiction book, Home Ice, was on the Globe and Mail bestseller list for many months and was a top selling sports book during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Lorna divides her time between Calgary and Penticton, where she and her husband share their homes with their crazy Mexican dog, Poncho,and a whiny bichon-shih tzu Molly.

The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli

tlc tour host

Source: St. Martin’s Press and TLC Book Tours
Hardcover, 320 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli is about learning how to change direction when the path you’re on no longer suits, makes you miserable, or merely a new opportunity presents itself.  Part environmental cause, part journey to happiness, Soli creates a multilayered story with deeply flawed characters who not only create havoc in their own lives but in the lives of others.  She brings to life the dream many corporate drones dream of, running away to paradise, but even that is fraught with contradiction and disappointment.

“As was her new habit, Ann got up early and walked to the far side of the island where the camera was.  She sat behind it and stared at the view that it stared at, a veritable Alice behind the looking glass.  It was the real thing and its abstraction.  She felt she was on the verge of some grand truth while being suckered at the same time.” (page 150 ARC)

Ann and her husband, Richard, must face the reality that their business partnership with Javi, El Gusano, is a pipe dream dragged down by their philandering, spendthrift partner who expects their assets to shoulder the debt burden.  As they flee Los Angeles in search of an escape, they end up on an island near Tahiti with no WI-Fi or outside connections.  Soli examines the idea of perception — the view we have of our lives as we live them and the view that we have of those lives when on vacation or examining our chosen path.  The two views either can be nearly identical or they can be vastly different.  It is up to ourselves to change the courses we choose and to create the lives we want.  While there will always be an obstacle that challenges us, we must be inured to rise up and take the horse by the reins.

The irony of The Last Good Paradise is that the only paradise we will have is the one we make ourselves.  It is not a place that can be arrived at by plane, bus, or train, but a sense of peace from within ourselves that must be fought for and cultivated over time.

About the Author:

TATJANA SOLI lives with her husband in Southern California. Her New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, won the 2011 James Tait Black Prize, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a New York Times Notable Book. Her stories have appeared inBoulevard, The Sun, StoryQuarterly, Confrontation, Gulf Coast, Other Voices, Third Coast, Sonora Review and North Dakota Quarterly. Her work has been twice listed in the 100 Distinguished Stories in Best American Short Stories.

Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair: An Empowering Fairy Tale (Growing with Love) by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Richa Kinra

Source: Loving Healing Press
Paperback, 24 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair: An Empowering Fairy Tale (Growing with Love) by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Richa Kinra, is a new twist on an old fairy tale.  Cinderella still has a mean stepmother and step-sisters, but rather than the able-bodied beauty of the other tale, Cinderella is bound to a wheelchair.  While her injury or disease is not explained, it is clear that her step-sisters still view her as a threat and are still insecure.  While they make a bargain with her so that she can make them beautiful jewelry and she can go to the ball, a fairy godmother (Monique) is still needed to get her there on time to meet the prince.

The little girl and I read this one together, but as there was a lot more text than she was used to and few pictures, her mind wandered quiet a bit.  The illustrations reminded me of those coloring books from long ago and the kids had to color them in.  It’s pencil and colored pencil look makes it easy for kids to relate to, and the fairy godmother’s transformation of the wheelchair into a flying chair was unique and fun.  What was most enjoyable here was the fact that Cinderella was able to get out of her stepmother’s home on her own and start her own business and get her own accessible apartment.

Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair: An Empowering Fairy Tale (Growing with Love) by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Richa Kinra, has a great message for kids that they can do and be anything.  In particular, girls do not have to wait for a prince to rescue them, as long as they are willing to work hard and strive to meet their goals.

About the Author:

Once a teen runaway, Jewel Kats is now a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. For six years, Jewel penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps Howard News Service (USA) and The Halifax Chronicle Herald. She gained this position through The Young People’s Press. She’s won $20,000 in scholarships from Global Television Network, and women’s book publisher: Harlequin Enterprises. Jewel also interned in the TV studio of Entertainment Tonight Canada. Her books have been featured in Ability Magazine (USA) twice. She’s authored eight books-five are about disabilities. The Museum of disABILITY History celebrated her work with a two-day event. Jewel has appeared as an international magazine cover story four times! Recently, her work was featured in an in-depth article published in “The Toronto Star”. Jewel’s work has also appeared as an evening news segment on WKBW-TV and on the pages of “The Buffalo News”.

Crow-Work by Eric Pankey

Source: Milkweed Editions
Paperback, 71 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Crow-Work by Eric Pankey is a collection that pushes the boundaries, rooting itself in the now to seek out the past and more.  The past is so far back and unreachable, yet many of us stretch ourselves as far as we can to reach the past only to fail.  Returning again and again to the birds and the fox, Pankey weaves verse anchored in nature so that it can reach out for artistic beauty and something more ethereal.  Like the crow cleaning up after death and failures, Pankey is searching through the detritus looking for the something of beauty or hope.  There is a shadow hovering in this collection, weighing down the narration — a sense of depression that lingers.  In “Crow-Work,” the crows are “scavenging” what they can efficiently after thousands of innocents have been slaughtered by a comet.

Pankey examines the fault of memory and its inability to maintain the true nature of the past, but there is always that longing for something that has been gone.  “If he’s my brother he’s a faded forgery,/Fleshed out in dust motes, an embodied loss,” the narrator explains in “My Brother’s Ghost.” And in “Depth of Field,” “Once, to my footfall/On an icy wooden bridge/Carp surfaced, expecting to be fed,/Hovered a moment,/Then descended into the murk.//”  The narrator is looking for that thing of beauty to anchor himself in the moment so that he too does not descend into the murk.

The Other Side of the Argument (page 43)

But she prefers the morning glory,
How slowly its bloom unfurls,
How its curl of vine
Catches the flaw in masonry
First, then the crosshatch
Of kite string we hung
From the porch
As a makeshift trellis,
How it needs only a foothold
To fill half the day with blue.

However, these poems are not all darkness, as a young boy sits on the edge counting the seconds as he turns the pages of a book he does not want to end in “Beneath Venus.” The narrator of these poems also reminds the reader that s/he is not the one that alters the space or brings change, but that the space changes them, especially as readers interaction with the poems themselves. There is a continuous, inner struggle in Crow-Work by Eric Pankey, but it is a struggle with which we all can relate. Another contender for the Best of 2015 list.

About the Poet:

Eric Pankey is the author of nine collections of poetry. TRACE, published by Milkweed Editions this year is the most recent. Two new collections, DISMANTLING THE ANGEL, and CROW-WORK are forthcoming. He is the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University.

WET by Toni Stern

Source: Wiley D. Saichek Publicity
Paperback, 76 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

WET by Toni Stern begins with poems close to home and the latter half of the collection is about the wider world as the narrator explores contemporary life.  Some of these poems display humor, like in “Greetings Issa!” where the narrator speaks to a spider and assuages her fears that she could be squashed with a broom.  In “Turn Off,” the narrator laments the deaths of insects she watches flying into the lamp even as she continually attempts to get engrossed in a book that is clearly not grabbing her attention.  Other poems read like lyrics from songs, which makes sense given her history as a songwriter with Carole King.

From "Natural Resources" (page 58)

In this winter of 2013-14
California's stricken,
a drought-ridden
Eden.

Edible California,
I am your homegrown daughter,
I fill my mouth with water,

bittersweet.

Stern’s verse is vivid on the page and lyrical, particularly in “Jamming” — a poem that could remind readers of The Beatles more whimsical songs like “I am the Walrus.”

From "Jamming" (page 38)

Ragged euphorbias
tall as a man,
weather this tight-fisted,
iron-poor land.
Pink floribundas
jockey for space,
poise and predation
adorn every face.

Stern is open and honest in her poems, and had fun with her verse and rhymes. Each poem brings a freshness to its subject. “True Love” was one of my favorites because it demonstrates in so few words what true love ought to be.  WET by Toni Stern is delightful, fun, and energized.

About the Poet:

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Toni Stern enjoyed a highly productive collaboration with singer/songwriter Carole King. Toni wrote the lyrics for several of King’s songs of the late ’60s and early ’70s, most notably “It’s Too Late,” for the album Tapestry. Listed among Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” the top-selling album of its day, Tapestry has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide, received numerous industry awards, and, in 2012, was honored with inclusion in the National Recording Registry to be preserved by the Library of Congress. Rolling Stone named “It’s Too Late”—Tapestry’s biggest hit—as one of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

In 2013, King performed the song at the White House. “It’s Too Late” also features in the hit Broadway show and soundtrack album Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Stern’s music has been recorded by many artists, including Gloria Estefan, Barbra Streisand, Faith Hill, Amy Grant, Andy Williams, the Carpenters, the Isley Brothers, the Stylistics, Helen Reddy, Dishwalla, Drag On, and many others. She has published several illustrated books and has also enjoyed success as a painter, studying with Knox Martin at the Arts Students League in New York. Wet is her first volume of poetry. She lives with her family in Santa Ynez, California. Photo credit: George Scott

 

 

 

 

 

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller (audio)

Source: Audible
Audio, 9+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller, narrated by the same, is a memoir about reading and books.  It begins with the “List of Betterment,” on which he lists books he has talked about in the past or claimed to have read, but has not.  These books reflect the type of person he envisions himself to be. He reads 12 of the 13 books completely and is awed by them, but to complete the list and be “like” Mr. Darcy and have integrity, he must complete Of Human Bondage as his penance, or so he tells his wife.

“It would be a good thing to buy books if one could also buy the time to read them; but one usually confuses the purchase of books with the acquisition of their contents.”

There are a number of footnotes in the book, which the audio calls attention to with an audible ding so that readers do not become confused.  However, because of these footnotes, it may be easier for readers to see them on the page, but I didn’t mind the alerts and digressions since most of us digress in traditional conversation and that’s what many of these footnotes seemed to be.

“A love of books and a love of reading is not the same thing,” Miller says, but even so, he is seriously enthralled and expands his list of books. Of particular interest to me were his comments on One Hundred Years of Solitude, which is the first book I quit after not quitting any books in 2014. His comments rung true to me, though he also piqued my interest in the overall meaning of the novel and perhaps renewed my interest in returning to it at some point.

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller, narrated by the same, is a fantastic read on audio or in print or ebook for any book lover and reader. Many of us are reading to escape our lives, but what if we read deliberately? Would we be able to achieve our goals and what books would be on your list of betterment?

About the Author:

Andy Miller is a reader, author, and editor of books. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Esquire, and Mojo. He lives in the United Kingdom with his wife and son.

 

 

 

 

A list of betterment (or books I wanted to read):

  1. Persuasion by Jane Austen (read in 2014)
  2. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  4. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  5. Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
  6. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  7. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
  8. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (I started this in a read-a-long, had a baby, and never got back to it — it’s been 3+ years; I may have to start over!)

Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg, illustrated by Madeline Gobbo

Source: Diary of an Eccentric
Hardcover, 240 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations by Mallory Ortberg, illustrated by Madeline Gobbo, provides the right amount of literary humor from classics like Jane Eyre to modern characters like Katniss and Peeta from the Hunger Games.  Readers can turn to this little gem again and again for a good laugh.  Text messages are sometimes completely off the wall, but totally in character with either the fictional people or the authors who send the texts.  However, readers will garner more enjoyment from the conversations if they are familiar with the books and authors involved.

From “Wuthering Heights” (pg 114-119 ARC)

“i love you so much i’m going to get sick again
just out of spite

i’ll forget how to breathe

i’ll be your slave

i’ll pinch your heart and hand it back to you dead

i’ll lie down with my soul already in its grave

i’ll damn myself with your tears

i love you so much i’ll come back and marry your sister-in-law

god yes

and i’ll bankroll your brother’s alcoholism

i always hoped you would”

Some are visited more than once in text conversation, particularly Hamlet, and those conversations are fantastically done.  It’s fun to see Regan and Goneril fighting via text, as it is also humorous to see Heathcliff and Cathy profess their love for one another in the most Gothic ways possible.  There are others that could have been better, like the one for William Carlos Williams.  While readers will see the intent to play off of his famous poems, the text conversations could have been more inventive.  And the text conversation with John Keats was uninspired, though it recalled his famous poem Ode on a Grecian Urn.

What readers will love about the book is the use of modern technology and text-speak as classical writers and characters could use them with both their antiquated notions and points of view mixed with a more modern sensibility in some cases.  Ortberg has clearly given her imagination free reign here, and while in most cases, it pays off with a chuckle or a snicker, there are some cases where it falls flat. Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations by Mallory Ortberg, illustrated by Madeline Gobbo, is a fun little bit of humor to cheer you up on a gloomy day.

About the Author:

Mallory Ortberg is a writer, editor, and co-founder of the feminist general interest site The Toast. She previously wrote for Gawker and the Hairpin, where she met Toast co-founder Nicole Cliffe.

Silent Flowers edited by Dorothy Price, illustrated by Nanae Ito

Source: Library sale
Hardcover, about 40 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Silent Flowers: A New Collection of Japanese Haiku Poems edited by Dorothy Price, illustrated by Nanae Ito, is gorgeously illustrated and focuses on a lot of traditional haiku poets and their poems, which focus on the seasons, nature, and humans in nature.  There are about three haiku per page, English translations only from the likes of Basho, Buson, and Issa.

“Sacred music at night;
Into the bonfires
Flutter the tinted leaves.” — Issa

I was reminded reading the introduction to this book of Suey’s comment about defining poetry or what a proper definition would be.  Price mentions in the introduction that Wordsworth, another poet, defined poetry as “emotion recollected in tranquility.”  I’m not sure that helps much.  What I’ve loved about haiku is its ability to recognize something unexpected in nature and describe it in a way that illustrates something of the spiritual. I’ve written some horrible haiku but I still love the form and I think its one of the easiest to learn and teach, even if the poems are no where near as good as the old masters.

“The moon in the water;
Broken and broken again,
Still it is there.” — Choshu

A haiku by Basho about a butterfly is accompanied by a wonderful depiction of the butterfly among the orchids, and it is seamlessly incorporated with the poem on the page.   Silent Flowers: A New Collection of Japanese Haiku Poems edited by Dorothy Price, illustrated by Nanae Ito, won me over with not only its beautiful imagery in verse, but also its gorgeous, black and white illustrations.

The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson

Source: Penguin Random House
Paperback, 416 pgs
I’m an Amazon Affiliate

The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson is a phenomenal look at the racial prejudices that continue to hold tight in Mississippi, Alabama, and elsewhere, even after then end of WWII when black soldiers fought bravely against the Nazis.  Joe Howard Wilson is returning home as a decorated hero after losing not only men in his unit, but one of his good friends, L.C.  He’s musing on his visit with his father, Willie Willie, who taught him so much and worked with their white employer, Judge Calhoun, to ensure he was educated enough to get out and make something of himself.

Gotcha!

Joe Howard Wilson jerked and his hands went straight to his face, and then to his body, for his gun.  Groping. Feeling. Saying his prayers.  Checking to make sure that he was awake and what had happened in that forest in Italy, all the killing was over.  Checking to make sure it wasn’t happening now.”  (page 1)

Joe is a young man still coping with the loss of friends, only to find that the prejudices he dealt with growing up are still present and an additional pressure he has little patience for after serving for his country overseas.  When Regina Robichard, a young attorney still waiting to hear if she passed the New York bar, is called down to investigate the death of a WWII veteran a year later, she finds that the south is not as black and white as she expects it to be.  She’s sent south with a mission from Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP to investigate the matter.  Regina, the daughter of a relatively famous black female activist, is idealistic and tentative in her approach to those she encounters, particularly M.P. Calhoun, who wrote her favorite book — The Secret of Magic.

“The air in the depot smelled just like everything Southern he remembered.  Even inside, no matter where you were, there was always a hint of the earth and the things that died on it.  You could not get away from the scent of things, from the richness of them, if you had lived, like he had lived, so near to the ground.”  (page 8)

Through a neatly woven narrative, Johnson creates a tapestry of the south that depicts not only the racial prejudices present in the south that are held onto tightly even after WWII, but also the deep connections between the whites and blacks within the small community of Revere, Mississippi.  Like all relationships, at first blush racial prejudice is hatred of the other, but looking deeper Johnson demonstrates that there is a love underneath the comments of “mine” and “our” used by whites in reference to blacks in the community.  Revere is a town that is in transition whether it likes it or not, and in many ways, the change is too quick for some and not quick enough for others — especially those like Peach Mottley who see Regina as the catalyst they need.

The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson is gorgeously told, and it is riveting from the first page.  Readers will develop an instant connection with not only Joe Howard Wilson and Regina Robichard, but with the other major and minor characters as they continue to navigate the social constructs that are the same and yet changing.  The fairy tales that peek around the realities of the South provide hope of a new world, but they also are endangered by those who wish to halt change in its tracks.

I haven’t been this blown away by a book in a long while, and this one is a must read and a definite contender for the Best of 2015 list.

About the Author:

Deborah Johnson was born below the Mason-Dixon Line, in Missouri, but grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.  After college, she lived in San Francisco and then for many years in Rome, Italy where she worked as a translator and editor of doctoral theses and at Vatican Radio.  Deborah Johnson is the author of The Air Between Us, which received the Mississippi Library Association Award for fiction.  She now lives in Columbus, Mississippi, and is working on her next novel.  Check out her Website.

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess Panda Tea Party by Jewel Kats, Illustrated by Richa Kinra

Source: Loving Healing Press
Paperback, 52 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Princess Panda Tea Party: A Cerebral Palsy Fairy Tale by Jewel Kats, Illustrated by Richa Kinra, is a fairy tale in which a stuffed panda comes to life to help young Michelle find the self-confidence within to achieve her goals and brush off the insults and meanness of the other girls in the orphanage.  The illustrations will remind older readers of the pictures that once accompanied our own fairy tales.  Rather than have the typical beauty and able-bodied young girl as the protagonist, Kats has a smart protagonist with cerebral palsy.  Josephine is the mean girl in this tale, and Princess Panda is the fairy godmother.

“Panda Bear Princess patted the beautiful horse.  The pink pads of her stuffed paw tapped at his sides twice.  Just like that, magical wings appeared.”  (page 20)

Michelle merely needs more self-confidence.  While she is different and has many physical challenges, she comes to realize that there is more to her than what is on the surface.  The toy she’s been longing for at the Salvation Army store, which she finally has the money to purchase, is ready to help in any way she can.  While the story text is a little long, my little reader who is only three was riveted by the magical story and the pictures as I read to her.  She loved how Michelle found the strength, with the help of Princess Panda, to practice and achieve her goals despite her physical limitations.  One of her favorite parts of the story was the beautiful Princess Panda and her magical powers — no surprise there.

The Princess Panda Tea Party: A Cerebral Palsy Fairy Tale by Jewel Kats, Illustrated by Richa Kinra, is a story about overcoming challenges, and while there is no explanation of what cerebral palsy is or how it occurs, the book can become a stepping stone for parents and kids to learn about the disease.  Parents should be prepared to answer questions about Michelle and her disease and to teach their own children that making fun of those who are different is not only mean but also makes them look bad in the eyes of others.

About the Author:

Once a teen runaway, Jewel Kats is now a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. For six years, Jewel penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps Howard News Service (USA) and The Halifax Chronicle Herald. She gained this position through The Young People’s Press. She’s won $20,000 in scholarships from Global Television Network, and women’s book publisher: Harlequin Enterprises. Jewel also interned in the TV studio of Entertainment Tonight Canada. Her books have been featured in Ability Magazine (USA) twice. She’s authored eight books-five are about disabilities. The Museum of disABILITY History celebrated her work with a two-day event. Jewel has appeared as an international magazine cover story four times! Recently, her work was featured in an in-depth article published in “The Toronto Star”. Jewel’s work has also appeared as an evening news segment on WKBW-TV and on the pages of “The Buffalo News”.

War’s Trophies by Henry Morant

Source: Author Henry Morant
Paperback, 246 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

War’s Trophies by Henry Morant is a tumble in the jungles of Vietnam, Seattle, and in the minds of Vietnam War veterans dealing with latent post-traumatic stress.  Lieutenant Jeremy Hall is a new man on Captain Stephan Wozniak’s unit in Vietnam, and the captain is none too pleased about it.  As part of an intelligence unit, Hall realizes that these missions are not always sanctioned and that what happens on these missions are kept hush-hush for more than one reason.  Through a series of chapters that alternate from 1986 and 1966, Morant takes readers on a journey into the fog of war; he fleshes out the corruption, killing, and the only brand of justice that can be found on the battlefield and parallels it to the cutthroat business of the newsroom.

“Today’s talent lacks sophistication.  There was class to this one.  Kids and punks today think a drive-by with an ejaculation from their Uzi or a sawed-off is a big deal.  They don’t take the time to learn how to do someone by hand.  Even the mob has had to import pizza men from Sicily to get any style.  Someone with a sense of craftsmanship, pride in their work.  Besides, there isn’t anyone around here smart enough I’ve run into who could break into the federal courthouse the way this phantom did and do a kill.”  (page 18)

Although both of these men have left Vietnam’s jungles far behind, what happened in the heat of battle has stuck with them over the last 2o years and refused to let go.  These men must prepare to do battle once again in the concrete jungle, and just like Vietnam, there are many casualties — some of them innocent.  Morant’s characters are complex in their emotions and while Hall and Wozniak are similar in build they are foils for one another, which makes their imminent squaring off all the more dramatic.

War’s Trophies by Henry Morant is a wild ride into the darker side of war and its effects on the soldiers who fight them — do they succumb to corruption and greed at all costs or do they cow to the pressure of the mission and commit unnecessary murder.  How strong can a soldier remain under the constant barrage of bullets, bombs, and fear?  Morant has written a thriller that will keep readers turning the pages.

About the Author:

Henry Morant has been a soldier, sailor and mountain climber and still seeks adventure in the Salish Sea and along the waters of the east coast of the United States. He often can be found at the Schooner’s Wharf bar in Key West, on a sailboat or in a kayak or rower. His first book is War’s Trophies, a thriller based on murder and robbery during an intelligence mission during the Vietnam war and two former army officers’ cat-and-mouse battle for deadly revenge that begins in Vietnam and resolves 20 years later in Seattle.

 

 

 

 

After the War Is Over by Jennifer Robson

Source: HarperCollins
Paperback,
I am an Amazon Affiliate

After the War Is Over by Jennifer Robson follows closely on the heels of Somewhere in France (which I read in 2014) and takes a wide look at how the world look after WWI.  Charlotte Brown, friend to Lilly Neville-Ashford in the first book, sees first hand the results of war at home, as veterans are denied pensions and their families are forced to scrape by on what little work is still available for women.  Through alternating chapters between the time after WWI and when she first found work after completing university with the Neville-Ashford family and befriended not only Lilly, her student, but also her brother, Edward, readers are taken through England as it prospered and as it sustained heavy losses because of the war.  The losses are not just physical, but emotional and psychological for the men returning from war, as well as their families.  There are monetary losses and there are losses of freedom — in the sense that women lose their jobs to returning men and men lose many of their physical abilities during the war and must adapt to a new reality.

“Women always put themselves last.  Either it was the mothers she visited in the slums of Scottie Road who only ate after their husbands and children had had their fill, or it was the women from Huskisson Street who, after cleaning and cooking for days, were left with the rag end of the delicacies, with scarcely a slice of cake to share between them.” (page 145)

Even though this is considered a follow up to the first book, Robson offers enough background about the first book that this could be read as a standalone without any problems.  The main focus here is the aftermath of war, the changes for both men and women in a new world, and Charlotte’s ability to cope with her new reality and still strive to improve the world around her, even in small ways.  Readers who enjoy social change and movements will be swept up in the struggles of these families, just as Charlotte is.  Charity is looked on as a handout by many, but Charlotte’s push to have society lend a helping hand to each neighbor on their own is just what this society needs.  Rather than compete or judge others in the neighborhood, she insists on compassion.

Robson’s characters are dynamic, and Charlotte is strong willed and motivated in her efforts.  When she meets a personal challenge she does take a step back, but she soon realizes that the best medicine is to tackle it head on.  When Lilly and Robbie re-enter the picture, so does Edward, and this stirs up feelings in Charlotte that she hadn’t addressed and is still unwilling to admit to even herself.  There’s even a great Jane Austenesque moment in this one that Robson mimics so well.

After the War Is Over by Jennifer Robson is a sweeping novel about life after the war because the immediate casualties of war are not the only tolls countries, communities, and families will be expected to take.  Charlotte is a forthright, strong woman in a changing world, but she’s well aware that change cannot happen on its own or at the hands of one woman.  She needs help, as we all do, and to generate change is to work together.

About the Author:

Jennifer Robson first learned about the Great War from her father, acclaimed historian Stuart Robson, and later served as an official guide at the Canadian National War Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France. A former copy editor, she holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from the University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and young children.  Connect with the author on Facebook.