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Archive for February, 2019

Nonfiction Review – Grateful American

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise

Review by Mirah W (mwelday)

 

 

I’m going to be honest with you from the start, PBSers. I am a huge Gary Sinise fan and I have been for years. I am unapologetic in my promotion of the Gary Sinise Foundation and for Gary’s professional endeavors. As an active duty Navy spouse, I have immense respect and admiration for Gary and his charitable works to support military service members and first responders. So when I learned of his book last September, I immediately pre-ordered it. In December, I had the opportunity to join Gary’s launch team for his book and I was so very excited to do my part to support this new endeavor. I did receive an advance reader copy; however, all of my opinions about Grateful American and this review are my own opinion and my own words.  Now, of course, with that being said, my opinion may not be totally unbiased since I am such a fan.

In my reading of the book, I think there were two defining moments that catapulted Gary into what has become a true life of service. First, was his portrayal of Lt Dan Taylor in the movie Forrest Gump. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 1994, you’ve heard of Forrest Gump (“Run, Forrest, Run!”). Veterans responded positively to Gary’s portrayal and embraced him with respect as one of their own. Second, was the attack on our nation on Sept 11, 2001. That event propelled Gary to reach out to the USO and volunteer.  He went on his first USO tour in 2003 and his life was then on a course that would eventually lead to hundreds of concerts with the Lt Dan Band and numerous other endeavors to raise millions of dollars for initiatives to support veterans, first responders and their families.  And the incredible thing is that raising millions of dollars is just tip of a magnificent iceberg of service.

I know I mentioned earlier in this post that I was an unapologetic fan of Gary’s and this book has only increased my deep respect for him. I know it may sound incredibly cheesy, but I feel a sort of kinship with Gary. He went on his first USO tour in 2003 and that is the year our family became a Navy family. Our families were both impacted by Sept 11, 2001 in a way that would change the trajectory of our lives. We each chose lives of service after that tragedy, just in different ways and both being equally important.

Even though I am a fan, I won’t blow smoke about the level of quality of this book. Please, listen to me…this is a great book. If you think you know about Gary, I promise there will be new revelations in this book (one of my favorite insider bits was about his character on the TV show CSI:NY). Gary knows how to tell a story. He grabs your attention with the first few chapters about his early life, how he finds acting and the founding of The Steppenwolf Theater. He brings you further into his life by telling the reader honestly about the trials he experiences professionally and personally. His heart is on the pages of this book and you can just tell it is sincere. Gary injects humor and humility into his story and there is something for everyone in the book. There is something for the wayward teenager, the hopeless romantic, the spiritual, the volunteer, the service member, the first responder, the family of a veteran or first responders, the movie/television buff, the military historian…I could go on and on.  The only slightly less-than-positive thing I could say about this book is that the last few chapters read as a list various projects and events; but this really can’t be helped given the magnitude of Gary’s endeavors and desire to cover everything.  And even with these ‘lists’ there are personal stories of those involved that continues to give the book heart.

The thing I probably like most about Grateful American is it is of singular purpose. Gary Sinise conveys his message clearly on every page. And what message is that? It is quite simple, Gary Sinise is a grateful American and he has gratitude and respect for those that defend his country and make his life of freedom possible. I can’t recommend this book heartily enough…5 stars!

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – Maigret’s Failure

Monday, February 25th, 2019

 

Maigret’s Failure by Georges Simenon

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

An obnoxious meat king, Ferdinand Fumal, has leaned on the Minister of the Interior to lean on our hero Maigret to help Fumal. Maigret meets Fumal and recognizes him as the bully, coward, and sneak back in his native village of Saint-Fiacre. Since Fumal claims he has received anonymous death threats, Maigret has to help the butcher baron, though it is clear to everybody that knows Fumal that, as they say in Texas, Fumal needs killing.

We get a glimpse of the social milieu wherein Maigret grew up (turn of the century rural France). Simenon gives us a portrait of an unsettled household – for all their money and comfortable stuff, Fumal’s domestic circle roils and churns in sinister ways. “Balzac without the length,” said Marcel Aymé of Simenon.

 

 

 

Free Book Friday Winner!

Sunday, February 24th, 2019


 

The Winner of the Brand New Copy of

American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus is:

 

Brenda H. (shackgirl)

 

Congratulations! Your Book will be on the way to you soon!

Thank you to everyone who entered!

 

 

Free Book Friday – American Ghost

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

 

 

 

American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus

The award-winning journalist and author of The Beekeeper’s Lament attempts to uncover the truth about her great-great-grandmother, Julia–whose ghost is said to haunt an elegant hotel in Santa Fe in this spellbinding exploration of myth, family history, and the American West. The dark-eyed woman in the long black gown was first seen in the 1970s, standing near a fireplace. She was sad and translucent, present and absent at once. Strange things began to happen in the Santa Fe hotel where she was seen. Gas fireplaces turned off and on without anyone touching a switch. Vases of flowers appeared in new locations. Glasses flew off shelves. And in one second-floor suite with a canopy bed and arched windows looking out to the mountains, guests reported alarming events: blankets ripped off while they slept, the room temperature plummeting, disembodied breathing, dancing balls of light. La Posada  – “place of rest” had been a grand Santa Fe home before it was converted to a hotel. The room with the canopy bed had belonged to Julia Schuster Staab, the wife of the home’s original owner.  She died in 1896, nearly a century before the hauntings were first reported. In American Ghost, Hannah Nordhaus traces the life, death, and unsettled afterlife of her great-great-grandmother Julia, from her childhood in Germany to her years in the American West with her Jewish merchant husband. American Ghost is a story of pioneer women and immigrants, ghost hunters and psychics, frontier fortitude and mental illness, imagination and lore. As she traces the strands of Julia’s life, Nordhaus uncovers a larger tale of how a true-life story becomes a ghost story and how difficult it can sometimes be to separate history and myth.

ISBN 9780062249203, Paperback

There are currently 12 members wishing for this book.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this Blog post. You must be a PaperBackSwap member in good standing to win.

We will choose 1 winner at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

You have until Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 12 noon EST, to leave a comment.

Good Luck to everyone!

 

Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!

 

 

 

 

Free Book Friday Winner!

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

 

The Winner of the brand new copy of

 

Robert Ludlum’s The Janus Reprisal
by Jamie Freveletti is:

Debra J. (homemakerdeb)

 

 

Congratulations! Your book will be on the way soon!

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Free Book Friday – The Janus Reprisal

Friday, February 15th, 2019

 

Robert Ludlum’s The Janus Reprisal
Jamie Freveletti

 

With U.S. intelligence agencies wracked by internal power struggles and paralyzed by bureaucracy, the president was forced to establish his own clandestine group–Covert-One. It is activated only as a last resort, when the threat is on a global scale and time is running out. — THE JANUS REPRISAL — It begins with a terrorist attack. Covert-One operative Colonel Jon Smith is attending a conference in The Hague on infectious diseases, together with leading scientists and political figures from around the world. Without warning, the conference hotel is consumed in a bloodbath. Smith is caught in the crossfire and barely escapes . . . but not before discovering a picture of himself and two other targets in the pocket of one of the shooters.

But the hotel is not the only location under attack in The Hague. Bombs are going off at the train station, the airport, and the International Criminal Court, where Pakistani warlord Oman Dattar is being held while he’s tried for crimes against humanity. In the resulting chaos, the prisoner escapes.

Dattar nurses a special hatred for the United States and its allies. With his freedom, and access to a mysterious new weapon, Dattar puts in motion a murderous, ambitious plot to exact his revenge and bring down the West once and for all–unless Covert-One can stop him.

 

ISBN 9781455521708, Paperback

To enter, simply leave a comment on this Blog post. You must be a PaperBackSwap member in good standing to win.

We will choose 1 winner at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

You have until Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 12 noon EST, to leave a comment.

Good Luck to everyone!

 

Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!

 

 

 

 

Fiction Review – Ashenden

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

Ashenden: the British Agent by W. Somerset Maugham

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

These short stories are based on the author’s experiences as a spy during WWI. Prospective thrill-seekers are clearly warned off in Maugham’s introduction. He says, “The work of an agent in the Intelligence Department is on the whole extremely monotonous. A lot of it is uncommonly useless. The material it offers for stories is scrappy and pointless; the author has himself to make it coherent, dramatic and probable.”

The stories here have verbal dueling and furious thinking but are without car chases, gun play, or stuff blowing up. The fantastic characters would be familiar to readers who like John “Greenmantle” Buchan, such as the Hairless Mexican, femme fatale Giulia Lazzari, and hardcore Teuton Mrs. Caypor. In contrast to the earnest tone of writers like Buchan, Maugham writes in his usual bemused tone, always tolerant of flawed human nature.

I’ve read more of Maugham’s stories and novels than is perhaps healthy. I think, in terms of characterization, dialogue, and Maugham’s favorite themes (like abused love a la Of Human Bondage), these stories rank with his best like Cakes and Ale, The Narrow Corner, and The Razor’s Edge. Finally, for those into history of genres, with these stories Maugham unwittingly invented the genre of sophisticated espio-fiction, which Eric Ambler, John Le Carre and Alan Furst, among many others, later did so well.