Sunday, June 21, 2015

Book Reviews / June 2015

Fighting for Justice, set in Mississippi, brings together a father whose wife ran off and left him with a very precocious 5 year old daughter and a charity worker who has been abused by her now dead by suicide fiance.
Add to this mix, the villain of the piece, an outrageous caricature of a southern belle whose daddy gives her everything as well as some bit players and you have a group of the some very shallow characters and one of the trashiest story lines I have read in years (ever?).
It was such a train wreck I couldn't put it down. Admittedly I speed read the last 8 chapters to its inevitable and predictable end.

Would appeal perhaps to those who like day time television soaps or Hallmark Channel movies.
If not, don't waste you time on this one!
Out of the Storm was free on Kindle and came with good reviews.
Set on a desolate part of the Great Lakes coast line in a lighthouse in the mid 1800s it turned out to be a run of the mill romantic novella with transparent plot and little character development.
A quarter of the way through, I gave up and looked for something with a little more substance.
Read it at your peril!
The Italians at Cleat's Corner Store by new Australian resident author Jo Riccioni is two stories linked by an Italian family. The first is their life in a small Italian country village just before and during World War II. In the second the father and the two sons have emigrated to UK immediately following the war to work on a farm near a small English village. The father had worked the same farm as a prisoner of war and returned to make a better post war life for the brothers.   

An interesting set of characters and an enthralling story line. The comparison between life in the two villages is central to the story, so different but so much the same with both villages exhibiting permutations of hierarchy, community and solidarity.
It is also a love story with the flat leather lace-ups wearing, pale legged and a frizzy copper haired Connie aching to escape the conservative English village life. She is intrigued by the two Italian brothers.
Which one will she choose? The outgoing, ambitious and flirtatious Vittorio or the serious, sometimes sullen and artistic Lucio.
For me a 'couldn't put down' which was read in a few days.
In her 60s Marilyn Berman quits her post retirement job, fits out a small camper van, buys a sat nav and heads out of Atlanta to travel around North America.
No timetable, no plans.
In Traveling the Two-Lane she describes her journey on roads less traveled, hiking through natural wonders, visiting small towns off the beaten track and the many cultural attractions of these and the bigger better known cities. As well she introduces us to the interesting characters she meets on the way.
It is a mouth watering experience for any reader with the travel bug.

But she also takes time to reminisce about her family life and her struggle with her homosexuality from a very early age. This was a time when being gay was not only illegal, but also considered a mental illness.
She had a loving mother and father who, despite a business failure leading to bankruptcy, made sure she completed her tertiary education.
But she can never tell them about the double life she leads. Both eventually succumb to dementia.
The author received her PhD in Communication Disorders from the University of Michigan. She was a faculty member at Indiana University before accepting a position as Supervisor of Speech Language Pathology at the VA Medical Center in Atlanta and, later, as Chief of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology at the same hospital.
Marilyn's Travel Map
This is a story of a personal journey through life told with humor, honesty and humility.
It is also a reminder of the many difficult personal journeys that it has taken to bring gay rights and gay marriage to their current level of acceptance. It is still a mystery to me why the latter is such a political hot potato in Australia with a public approval rating of around 70%. But in recent weeks it looks as though sanity might prevail with legislation to change the Marriage Act gaining momentum.
This book is highly recommended.

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