(Review) Letters to Doberitz by Derek R. Payne

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Publisher and Publication Date: Austin Macauley Publishers LTD. October 31, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir. World War I.
Pages: 224.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: For readers of World War I and military books.

19 black and white illustrations

Amazon
The Kindle price is $4.49

A FIRST novel from Derek R. Payne

 

Summary:
Letters to Doberitz is a memoir of Derek R. Payne’s family during Word War I. This is the story of his grandparents and great-grandparents. The story represents life in England before World War I and during the war years; it also shows the remarkable story of men who fought in the battles of World War I. Another key feature is the after effects of combat on a battle weary man. The family holds a large selection of black and white photographs from this period. His grandfather learned a new art by painting over the black and white photographs adding watercolours. Payne considers the photographs a “window” to their lives.

My Thoughts:
Letters to Doberitz is an excellent resource for any reader interested in World War I. In the first few pages, I was shown how people felt about the looming war in early 1914. It also shows the work environment, dating, and parent to children relationships. I especially loved a panoramic view shown through strong description of street life. In addition, a speech given to the people in the Bristol town square about the war.
William Payne joined the war early. He was a young man with a driven focus. If the book had only been about him I’d have enjoyed reading it, but the book includes his father’s story.
Additional reasons why I loved this book:
•It was interesting to read about the enlistment process and combat training.
•The first battle, The Battle of Mons. The thoughts of the soldiers who were still in training, and how they heard the battle had not gone well. This point adds to the tension.
•The departure for Belgium, and the first sighting of this country. Through Will’s eyes I understood better about how all the combat ready men must have felt. He’d lived in the same place all his life and he’d embarked on a first trip.
•The trench line. This part of the book, the battle in the trenches, is a crisis point in the book. The nighttime thoughts and perspective. The waiting of when the battle will begin. The anticipation and tension of when the shells hit and are brought in to closer range. The shock wave of the blasts from the guns. The chaos of bombardment. All the sights, sounds, and feelings of being there are brought to life. I feel this is the strongest feature of the book.
•I was most interested to read about how men were treated for “shell shock.” This is what PTSD was called in World War I.

Shellshock2

Photograph is from Wikipedia and not from the book. Photograph taken from a field station at Ypres, Belgium, 1917. 

 

(Review) Winter Loon by Susan Bernhard

 

39344131Publisher and Publication Date: Little A. December 1, 2018.
Genre: Fiction. Coming of age story.
Pages: 333.
Source: Kindle Unlimited program through Amazon. Free e-book/ Kindle copy.
Rating: Very good.
Audience: Readers of coming of age stories where the narrator/character is a boy to young man.

This ebook is available for free through the Kindle Unlimited program.

Summary:
Wes Ballot is in his mid-teens when his mother died. His father left soon afterwards. Wes went to live with maternal grandparents who are like strangers to him. Wes is an only child. His mother was an only child. He has lived a chaotic and poverty stricken childhood. His parents fought. His grandparents fight. And, he is a young man who has been deeply affected by the heavy weight of anger, unforgiveness, abuse, addictions, and unspoken words in the family.
The time period is the late 1970s. The place is rural Minnesota.

My Thoughts:
If the above summary depresses you the book certainly will. Of course, I feel the book is well-written; and the book shows a hard side of life that many readers can relate to.
Several reasons why I loved this book:
•Susan Bernhard writes a perfect voice and persona of a young man. I feel that writing a story about a young man is difficult from the perspective of a female writer. But, Bernhard hits it great with Wes in Winter Loon.
•Bernhard is a wonderful storyteller. The mood and setting of winter, a winter lake, and the northern state of Minnesota. The icy cold of the environment casts a perfect stage for the icy cold of the family.
•Wes is an only child. He is alone in his thoughts. He is alone in his fears. He is alone in his home. Even though he had a mother and father, they are distracted and lost in a dysfunctional world of alcohol.
•I’ve read that in living through the hard times in life we either become bitter or better. Wes’s parents and grandparents became bitter. The story will reveal what Wes becomes.
•From the first page, I became attached to Wes. I wanted to bring him home and feed the young man. I wanted to make sure he had a safe place to grow-up.
•I’m happy to state several of the characters who are (solid and dependable) friends of Wes are Native Americans. Through their stories, I understand the plight and life of Native Americans.
•A few of the quotes stayed with me long after the book was read.
“So much went unsaid between them, like words didn’t matter when their contempt for each other was clear.”
“I would come to know the cold of my grandparents house and felt it that first day.”

(Review) Blackout, Book 3 of Dark Iceland by Ragnar Jonasson

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Publisher and Publication Date: Minotaur Books. Originally published in 2011. Published in the English translation 2016.
U. S. edition, August 2018.
Genre: Mystery, detective.
Pages: 272.
Source: Library.
Rating: Very good.
Audience: Readers of mystery/detective stories.

Books in the series of Dark Iceland:
Nightblind-Book 1
Snowblind-Book 2
Rupture-Book 4
Whiteout-Book 5

It’s confusing about when the books were published in English versus when they were published in Iceland.  The order in Iceland is Snowblind 2010, Blackout 2011, Rupture 2012, Whiteout 2013, Nightblind 2014.

Author page at Amazon: Ragnar Jonasson.

The books were written in the Icelandic language and later translated to English for publication.

Website for Ragnar Jonasson.

To give you a little info on the country of Iceland. The population in 2017 was 341,284. The country is 39,769 square miles. The capital and largest city is Reykjavik. Iceland is a Nordic Island, and a Scandinavian country. For further information: Britannica.

Summary:
An American art student traveling in Iceland discovers a dead body near the road. Ari is the police inspector for the case. A woman named Isrun is the journalist who is to covering the story. Other police inspectors are Tomas and Hlynur. During the investigation, the personal stories of characters are explored.

My Thoughts:
Until now, I’ve not read a book about Iceland. It’s a bit of a mystery to me. An island that has the name of ice in it. A place that seems so remote and sparse in information from the news, I had to read a book about this country, even it’s a work of fiction.
I still don’t know how to pronounce the names correctly.
The focus of the book is solving the crime of a man who was murdered and found near the roadside. However, I loved the personal stories of the journalist and police inspectors. The characters are dimensional, because they are shown for the imperfect humans they are; both their positive and negative traits are shown.  They each carry burdens and scars from their past.
A theme that runs through the book is the work of criminals goes on everywhere. Iceland is considered a country where violent crime is rare. However, the story shows evil manifests everywhere.
There is a secondary mystery story. I love it when there are secondary/understories amongst the main story. This keeps me even more interested in the reading the book.
Through the descriptive scenes, I was given a visual picture of what Iceland looks like.
The closure of Blackout left me with both a sense of unanswered questions but a deep sadness. A sadness because not all of the characters have happy endings.
I’m definitely interested in reading more Ari Thor Thriller books in this series.

(Review) Running from Mercy: Jonah and the Surprising Story of God’s Unstoppable Grace by Anthony J. Carter

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Publisher and Publication Date: B&H Publishing Group. 2018.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Story of Jonah.
Pages: 192.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: Christian readers.

Amazon

Amazon page for Anthony J. Carter.

 

 
9781535902458_1Summary:
The story of Jonah the prophet is familiar to us. It’s full of unforgettable images, ironic twists and turns, and dramatic encounters between humanity, nature, and God. Most importantly, it is a microcosm of the human story. Your story. My story. The story of Jonah.
In these pages, you will meet a prophet not so different from yourself. The prophet’s rebellious spirit is astounding, but more astounding still is the surprising grace of God. The same God who relentlessly pursued Jonah and who relentlessly pursued the Ninevites is pursuing you. May this story cause you to rest in his unstoppable grace.

My Thoughts:
As a child in Sunday school, the story of Jonah and the whale was popular. The fascination of a whale swallowing a man and the man surviving was shocking. As an adult, I don’t hear of the story of Jonah taught to adults. When I saw this book available for review I jumped at the chance to read and review.
In the introduction, Anthony J. Carter states Jonah was a real person, and Nineveh was a real place. The story of Jonah has at times been whisked away as possibly-surely not true. Jesus referred to the story of Jonah in Matthew 12:40-41. Carter ends the introduction by reminding the reader we are all runners like Jonah. We too are rebellious.
What I loved about this book:
•All four chapters of Jonah is taught chronologically.
•God’s attributes are taught. For example: Omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and mercy.
•Jonah’s deep sleep is compared to our deep sleep in regards to ignoring God’s calling in our lives. This is a significant point. “This rebellious sleep illustrates Jonah’s spiritual numbness.” Page 25.
•Jonah’s sin is a teaching point: “You and I need to understand that our sin rarely, if ever, affects only us.” Further, God will reveal our sin eventually. “God reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him.” Daniel 2:22.
•One of my favorite sections is on prayer. “The will of God will always get done-not yours, not mine, but God’s will. And what is God’s will? Part of God’s will is that men and women pray. God brought Jonah to his knees. And that is where God delights to bring all of us. Jonah prayed.” Page 67.
•Page 88 defines the attribute of God, mercy. “Mercy is the goodness and compassion of God in the midst of misery.” But people must willing confess their misery and sin in order to experience God’s mercy and grace.
•My favorite reason I loved this book: Jonah is not just a story for children who will sit in a chair and listen without knowing they can ask questions. Jonah is a story for grown-ups who ask questions, read and study God’s Word; and understand why the book is much more than a story about a big fish, it is the story of God’s patience, mercy, and grace.

All Scripture references are from Bible Gateway.
biblegateway