Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Book Reviews / October 2016

10% Happier was selected by the co driver for its meditation discussion.
She thought I might be interested to read it solely because it included the author Dan Harris's journalistic background.
He is a correspondent for ABC News, an anchor for Nightline and co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America.
Harris has reported on a series of events such as a number of USA mass shootings and has covered various natural disasters around the world. He has also reported on combat in Afghanistan, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank and has made six visits to Iraq.

Domestically, Harris has led ABC News' coverage of faith, with a particular focus on the evangelical movement. He scored one of the first interviews with former pastor Ted Haggard after his sex and drugs scandal.
The book covers all this and his early life dealing with drug addiction and an infamous on-air panic attack on June 7, 2004.
With the help of various mental health professionals, religious leaders, self-help gurus and news industry mentors, he stopped using drugs and discovered the benefits of meditation as a cure for his anxiety.
I must admit I skimmed over the more woo woo parts of the book but enjoyed his career story.
It's a great insight into the competitive nature of the main stream media, particularly TV current affairs, today.
Linda Greenlaw was featured in the 1997 book 'The Perfect Storm' and the subsequent 2000 film adaptation.
She was the first female sword-fishing boat captain on the American East Coast and has written a number of best-selling books about life as a commercial fisher. The Lobster Chronicles is one of them.
In this book she has given up her deep sea fishing exploits and returned to her place of birth, the Maine island of Isle au Haut to fish for lobster.  

This is an interesting story not only about the ins and outs of lobster fishing and the industry as a whole but also the politics and relationships of a very small and somewhat eccentric island community. It is also a another chapter in the author's life journey which continues in subsequent publications.
I enjoyed this book immensely although the author seemed to be in a hurry to finish the book with the final chapters seemingly disconnected.
It's just after the Civil War and straight laced Aurora from Boston travels to Montana to help her uncle document Crow Indian Culture. She meets up with a mixed Mohawk European race major in the US Army whose job it is to protect the wagon train heading west.
She is smitten. So is he.
Jonah's Woman could easily be called 'Sex on the Prairie'

In between graphic couplings there is an Indian war brewing due to the skulduggery of white ranchers wanting to take over Indian land with the help of corrupt army officials. The on again off again relationship between heroine and hero due to his experience of a life of discrimination fills out the rest of the story.
A pretty lightweight book with shallow characterization and extremely predictable plot.
But it's always a gamble and you take what you get with the free offerings on Amazon.
George Thring was orphaned at a very early age due to an incident at a lion safari park.
He is a boring man stuck in a boring job where he is continually put down and exploited.
One day he leaves work and just drives to nowhere in particular finally running out of petrol. Rescued from his predicament, he ends up in a small village of on the eve of their Elvis Festival long weekend.
Here among the quirky population he finds love, gets himself in trouble with an over zealous police officer as well as involved in a bizarre bank robbery.
He also eventually 'finds' himself.

I quite enjoyed this book despite having to suspend belief many times throughout the tale. It is humorously and well written. We just might see a bit of ourselves in George Thring without trying too hard.
Another freebie from Amazon and a good one.
It's the dark days of World War II in Great Britain and a wounded officer from the Tobruk campaign returns to London to take up an desk job to help plan the allied invasion of Europe.
By chance he is corresponding with an American lady exiled by choice in a small Irish village. Intrigue is fermenting there due to IRA plans to unite the two Irelands while the British are distracted by the war.

Cardigan Bay is romantic historical fiction set in great part in neutral Ireland during the war which was an environment conducive to IRA and subversive German activity. It also deals with the lead up to D-Day and the internal plot to kill Hitler by the Schwarze Kapelle.
The circumstances of the relationship between the two main characters may be a little far fetched but the sub plots have substance although it does seem that everyone is talking too much to one another about what was surely, at the time, classified information eg. goings on at Bletchley Park. And the number of passages of religious propaganda adds nothing to the story.
Despite all this it was an enjoyable easy read that manages to capture the essence of the times in rural Ireland and war torn London.

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