Friday, March 6, 2015

Are There Any Books Written About This? Why not?!

Do you have that thought? Or another favorite of mine "Someone should write a book about that, I feel like that would be awesome". I started keeping track of things that should be books. If there happens to be books about this stuff, please please pass it on to me, because I want to read it!

Here's the couple that I remembered long enough to write down:

Apparently a bunch of anarchists were blowing stuff up not long before WWI,which was one of the things (besides the  assassination) that put the wheels in motion for our first World War. Wouldn't that make for an interesting book?

With the first World War there came injuries the likes of which no one had ever seen. This included a lot of face injuries (trench warfare = hell). I'm curious about facial reconstruction, prosthesis development. Like, that had to be risky and uncomfortable and awful. I can't believe people with face injuries didn't die from from infection and loss of blood. I don't mean to be insensitive about people's sufferings, it's just that this had to be some of the first surgeries and processes of the time.

It seems like there were soldiers from neutral countries fighting in armies in WWII. I think there were some Finns that fought for the Germans? Also there were apparently Siberians that fought for Stalin that rode reindeer, who doesn't want to read that book?

(I was watching a lot of the Military channel there for a couple of weeks, so pardon the weird theme...)

Do you remember that horrible day when that plane crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland? (And when I say crashed I mean sabotaged by terrorists and brought down.) Is there a book about the city, like how there was this little town and then this terrible thing happened and media converged from around the world and the trial and everything? That hand to be surreal for the residents.

But I guess when it comes right down to it:

Anyone else have a list like this?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rapid fire book reviews #4

Silent Sister - This book wasn't bad, I think it just wasn't really my taste. Sometimes these types of mysteries are just hohum for me. Having said that, I thought the main character and all of the feelings that she expressed were totally authentic feeling and relatable. This book just appeared in my mail and I don't know where it came from so if I promised someone somewhere a whole review somewhere I'm sorry.

Neighbors - I like WWII books that have a really tight focus, like that highlight one particular group or area or what have you. So this book is all about one tiny village in Poland where "one half of the killed the other (Jewish) half". It wasn't Nazis who did the killing. It was people they'd known for their whole lives. It was incredibly well researched, short in length and heartbreaking. Humans are capable of terrifying things. Also, poor Poland. They've had a lot of crappy stuff happen.

Unruly places, lost spaces, secret cities, and other inscrutable varieties - This book is all really short little essays about a variety of "non places". This includes cities that aren't inhabited anymore due to catastrophe (Chernobyl, land poisoned by environmental problems), islands that aren't on any maps, and all kinds of things. The short stories are nice for little bites of reading!

Yes, Please - Amy Poehler's memoir. I liked that she is really honest about her past and what she feels like her failings are. I love that her and Seth Meyers are BFFs. I didn't enjoy it as much as Mindy Kailing's or Tina Fey's books but I still enjoyed it.

Silver Screen Fiend - Patton Oswalt's film addiction memoir.He isn't joking about being addicted, like this consumed his whole life. I wanted to just adore this book, but I ended up just liking it. Got some good film recommendations though!


Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Review: "The Invisible Front" by Yochi Dreazen

Mark and Carol Graham were kind of your normal military family. She followed him around the world with each new assignment, from Germany to Korea and all around the United States. They had 3 kids, Kevin, Jeff and Melanie. All of the kids were close, probably due to the fact they constantly had to change schools and often only knew each other. This was a family where military service was seen as one of the highest callings you could have.

Jeff always knew he wanted to be in the military. He was friendly and gregarious, but also an incredibly hard worker and very smart.

Kevin was also very smart, but was more reserved and introspective. He didn't know if the military life was the one for him, but some pressure from his family and the fact that the ROTC would cover his schooling in exchange for some military service made him go that path. Kevin suffered from depression and mood swings. Mental illness ran in both Mark and Carol's families, but it was never really talked about.

Kevin hangs himself just as military career is about to start. Jeff dies in Iraq about a year later.

This is obviously emotionally devastating for the remainder of the family. What makes an already terrible situation worse is the different way that the family is treated after each of the boys deaths. Jeff's funeral is attended by hundreds of people, he's called a hero, people say the Graham's should be proud. When Kevin died people were less supportive, especially a few of his ROTC instructors who told his parents that Kevin was a coward and was probably in hell. (Yeah, said that to his parent's faces.)

Mark and Carol's eyes are opened to the problem that the military has with dealing with mental illness and it's treatments. If your superior officers find out that you go to therapy it could negatively affect your career. If your peers find out you could be ostracized and even harmed. Military suicide is not a small problem. In 2004, 67 soldiers committed suicide; in 2005, 87. And that doesn't even take into account when a soldier harms others (I think everyone can remember at least one incident of hearing a soldier that shot their spouse, maybe others and then themselves.) Mark and Carol begin several different initiatives to help soldiers get the help that they need, even though Mark knows that he will ruffle many feathers and that it could negatively affect his career (he does and it does).

One thing that the author only talks about in the epilogue is the link between military sexual assault and military suicide. We will probably never have accurate numbers about these incidents because so many sexual assaults go unreported for fear of reprisals. I'd be interested (and probably really saddened and disheartened) to know more about this.

 (On a side note, women who serve in the military are , I don't even know. They need all of our respect and help when and if they need it. I could never be in the military so the women who are brave enough to face the dangers they do will always have my humble thanks and utmost gratitude. Rock stars.)

Basically here's what it boils down to:

- The stigma against mental illness needs to stop. It prevents people from getting the support and the help that they need in many cases. This doesn't just include the people who are sick but their family and friends as well.
- Human beings need to be decent to each other, it's really not our strong point but we need to try harder.
- The attitude in our armed forces needs to change. If you have PTSD you're not a "coward" or a "pussy". You're someone who has been traumatized and needs help. The Graham family is working so hard to make this a reality.

You know how sometimes you read a book and the subject matter is hard and frustrating but the book is well written and you learn so much that you're so glad you read it? This is one of those books. 4 out of 5 stars.

* I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books*

Friday, February 27, 2015

Wrap up of Lost Book Club and looking forward to March!

Thanks everyone for hanging out with me for LOST book club month! I think my favorite reads were "Are You There God it's Me Margaret" and "Jurassic Park". If for no other reason than I feel like they are more modern staples that I hadn't gotten around to reading, and might not have otherwise.

Let's talk about March! March, with it's hope that winter is almost on it's way out. March on the blog will include:
-A book about not ignoring your natural instincts that keep you safe!
-A graphic novel about a totalitarian England and a masked man who wants to change it!
-A list of books that don't exist that I want to read!
-...and much much more!

Do join us, won't you?

Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend everyone.See you in March.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lost Book Club - " The Chosen" by Chaim Potok

It all starts with a baseball game in Brooklyn. Reuven and his Modern Orthodox classmates play a baseball team made up of Hasidic classmates. There is a boy on the Hasidic team named Danny who can really swing at the ball. There's a lot of animosity flowing between the teams and when Danny wails on a ball so hard and fast that Reuven doesn't even have time to get out of the way it was obvious that the Hasidic team was "out to murder". Reuven is wearing glasses when he catches the ball with his face, specifically his eye.

Reuven is in the hospital for a long time recovering where he listens to the DDay invasion in Normany over the radio. One day Danny comes to visit and apologize but Reuven is having none of it! Reuven tells his father of Danny's visit and get's a strong reprimand from him, because Danny asked for forgiveness and didn't receive it.

Danny comes back to the hospital to try again and a burgeoning friendship is born. The boys hang out more and more.  Danny has a complicated relationship with his own rabbi father, where his father only talks to him if they are discussing the Talmud. Reuven thinks this is cruel, and it becomes kind of a sore spot between them. 

(I don't know enough about the different kinds of Judaism to speak intelligently about the differences between them so bear with me). Reuven's dad wants him to grow up and be a university professor like he is; however the older he gets (and through discussions with his own and Danny's father) he decides he wants to be a rabbi. Danny is expected to become a rabbi, because it's a position that is passed down through the family. Danny is incredibly smart and well versed in religion but he is fascinated by Freud and Darwin and psychology (all books that he reads on the sly).

It's a story about change; boys growing into young men, the birth of the nation of Israel, the end of a war, the death of a president and about a dozen more. While I don't think that I would read this book again, I think that it was a really interesting snapshot of a certain people and time and place and I'm glad I read it. A high 2.5 stars out of 5.

What does this have to do with LOST? Uh, I'm going to stretch here and say that the two boys are like The Others and the survivors. They occupied the same space for a long time without knowing each other, violent confrontation ensued but then they had more things alike than they had different? .....?...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

#truthtrain #bloghonest and book blog community

We interrupt this previously scheduled LOST book club month to talk about something thats going on in the book blogging world right now. (That's the problem with theme months)

There's a lot of talking going on about plagiarism, what the difference is between shaming and accountability, pressure and responsibility. If you have missed some of these conversations do some searching on twitter with the hashtags #truthtrain and #bloghonest.

I'm new to the book blogging world (1 year in October) and one of the best things about book blogging is the other book bloggers. In my experience, the book bloggers I've come into contact with are funny, smart, honest, kind, good souls. Even people that I disagree with on things like religion, politics, and other hot button issues have blogs and personalities that I enjoy. I am so fortunate that these are the people I experience in the book blogging world.

Thank you to the people who put in the effort. People who take their limited free time to read and review books that are clogging my "to be read" pile. People who think of creative posts that inspire me to do more than "just" review books. People who offer encouragement and sympathy on social media when you're in a slump or when life is not going your way.

Not all people are like this. People steal. People are petty and crappy.People have egos the size of Montana. It saddens me to see the toxicity of these kind of people spread into the lives of the kinds of bloggers I know.

If you're a blogger and you're feeling like you can't keep up with the schedule that you have set for yourself this is what you do: you post something that says "Guys, I need a break, I just can't do this right now." No one will be angry, everyone will understand. When you are done from your break, people will be happy to see that you have returned. The answer to your burnout is never, ever, ever, taking someone elses work and passing it off as your own.

I wish I could be more eloquent like others who have written on this topic. But what it boils down to is:
- Taking personal responsibility and not just apologizing, but doing whatever it takes to make things right is not just good, it's what has to be done.
-Protecting yourself and your work is not "bitchy" or "mean". It's protecting something that you have created and it's always okay.
-Treat each other with kindness. There's enough terrible things on the internet and the world that if we can make book blogging a refuge of support and love why wouldn't we do that? (But negative reviews are still okay :) because those have their place too)

To close, here's a picture of a corgi pretending he's a turtle because when I feel sad corgis make me feel better.

The Corgi That Fell in the Mud
Buzzfeed is a wealth of corgi pictures. Among other less useful things.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lost Book Club - "O Pioneers!" by Willa Cather

What a surprise, my friend Willa Cather finds a way to show up on the blog, even in LOST book club month! "O Pioneers!" is the first book of a trilogy, the last book is My Antonia . It's a similar setting and feel but it's not like you are following the same people, they can very easily be read by themselves as stand alones. This book is apparently on a few banned books list though I have no idea why (oh yes, because people who ban books have a tendency to be ridiculous, that's why).


The main focus of the book is the Bergson family. They (of course) live on the prairies of Nebraska, and it's not a good time on the prairie. Several years of poor farming are forcing a lot of people to give up their farms and leave. The father of the Bergson family dies and they find themselves at a crossroads. Do they pack it in now like so many of their friends (including the Linstroms, who come up again later)  or do they continue to try to squeak by? The daughter, Alexandra insists that they stay, and that they even mortgage their own farm to buy up the land that people are selling. Her brothers and her mother (somewhat surprisingly) listen to her and they stay. It was a good choice!

16 years later the farm is a booming success. Though of course, as we know, a booming success does not mean personal happiness. Alexandra hasn't married, her main concern being the well being of the farm and her two brothers. The one man that she likes, Carl Linstrom, gets run off by her petty brothers. And she keeps having weird dreams about death. Which there are a fair amount of deaths in this book, some natural some not.

This book has ruptured appendixes, people shot in a jealous rage, the proper care and feeding of hogs, failed gold prospecting and more! I was trying to decide if I liked this book more or less than Antonia. I liked that it focused on a wider range of people. I disliked Alexandra's dumb brothers. But sometimes Antonia was really obnoxious. I liked the Cather writing style in each. So I guess I like them both the same! 3 out of 5 stars!

What does this have to do with LOST?: Well, there's a love triangle. And also people felt pretty isolated out on the prairie, I'm sure it felt like a deserted island at times!