Hello This issue of BookBrowse Highlights takes a military tack with a featured review of Thank You For Your Service, in which David Finkell follows the lives of several soldiers he met in Iraq (while writing The Good Soldier) as they return home bearing the scars they incurred - both visible and invisible. We also look at The Dogs For Defense program, our back-story to A Man of His Own by Susan Wilson, which comes highly recommended by our member-reviewers.
Our members have also been reviewing The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed, the story of Katie O'Toole, the thirteenth child of a family living in the Pennsylvania wilderness in the late 18th century who's captured by "savages".
In addition to these features, you'll find previews of notable books publishing soon, recommended reading for books set in Italy and the opportunity to win copies of Thursdays in The Park by debut novelist Hilary Boyd, a touching, romantic tale of new attraction and old loyalties.
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Each month we give away books to US resident members
to read and review (or discuss). Members who choose to take part receive a free book (including free shipping) about every three months. Here are their opinions on two recently published books: The Spirit Keeper
by K. B. Laugheed
Publication Date: 09/24/2013
Historical Fiction, 352 pages Number of reader reviews: 19
Readers' consensus: BookBrowse Members Say
"Katie O'Toole the 13th child from a poor, dysfunctional family is offered an unusual way to better herself. When her home is raided by Indians she is taken captive by two who claim they have been searching for her. They believe she is the Creature of Fire and Ice a spiritual source that will benefit their people. Instead of going back to her abusive family, Katie decides to go with them. Her journey of self discovery is compelling. The Spirit Keeper
is a fascinating tale of love, loss and adventure." - Lora G. (Niceville, FL).
"Being a fan of James Fenimore Cooper's Mohican books, I looked forward to going back to that time, and The Spirit Keeper
does not disappoint." - Gary R. (Bolingbrook, IL)
"I hope this is the first of many by Ms Laugheed. She has created a fun and compelling story with a strong heroine and vast travels across unsettled lands. There are many important themes, including the power of communication both practiced and withheld, the transforming influence of belief, and the peaceful logic of the divine natural world." - Molly B. (Longmont, CO)
"The only problem with this book was that it ended! Does Laugheed plan a sequel? I enjoyed every moment of the book and will recommend it to my book club." - Robin F. (Tucson, AZ)
"Wow! I loved this book so much! I have read books before about settlers being captured by Indians but this book is by far the best one I have ever read." - Anne J. (Saint Paul, MN)
These are 7 of the 19 reviews for this book. Read all the Reviews Buy at Amazon
A Man of His Own
by Susan Wilson
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 09/24/2013
Novel, 320 pages Number of reader reviews: 21
Readers' consensus: BookBrowse Members Say
"So much more than what I had expected... Using different points of view, Susan Wilson, with great simplicity and understanding, has written a heartwarming story of pain, complex relationships, and believable conflict resolutions. This is much more than a dog story, though Pax is a major force in the story and its outcomes. It is a story of WWII and how it changed the lives, personalities, attitudes, and futures of Rick, Francesca, Keller, and Pax. It is a story of love--rebuilding and renewing past love, finding love, unrequited love, and, of course, unconditional love. And it is a story of healing and the incredible role Pax plays. Bravo!" - Marie A. (Warner, NH)
"This is a great period piece informing the reader that PTSD is not just an Iraq/Afghanistan injury, but something experienced by many past war veterans. I also appreciated learning about the training and use of K-9 Corp. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. and believe it will lead to some very interesting book group discussions." - Debra P. (Belmont, NC)
"I especially felt that Pax the dog was written with great understanding of how a dog thinks and behaves." - Pamela D. (Wheaton, IL)
"There are dog books and there are dog books and this is one that soars to the top of my list." - Vicki O. (Boston, MA)
"I found it difficult to finish this book - not because it isn't a good read, but because it is so well done that I sometimes had to put it aside for a while to let my emotions settle down." - Diana W. (Shelbyville, TN)
"Wilson has written a book that I will recommend to anyone wanting to know more about the bond between service animals and their companions." - Nan G. (Mazomanie, WI)
These are 6 of the 21 reviews for this book. Read all the Reviews Buy at Amazon
Book Club Chat
Meet Sharon Lucas of The Reading Divas, a seventeen member, all-women book club based in Bowie, Maryland. Sharon, the founding member and President of the club, shares the reasons for The Reading Divas' local focus and how that has grown into a yearly community event.Read the Q&A
Below is part of BookBrowse's review of
Thank You for Your Service
by David Finkel
Hardcover (Oct 2013), 272 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
In 2007, author David Finkel, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist for The Washington Post, spent several months as an embedded reporter with the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, (also known as the "2-16 Rangers"), as they deployed to Baghdad during the Iraq War. His experiences and observations while there became the basis for the book, The Good Soldiers. Finkel's latest, Thank You For Your Service, follows the lives of several soldiers he met while in Iraq as they return home bearing the scars they incurred - both visible and invisible - during the war. The male soldiers featured here are a subset of the ones Finkel covered in his earlier book.
He explores in depth the effects Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TMI) have had on the soldiers and their families, and the high rate of suicide among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (23 per 100,000 active duty soldiers in 2011). According to the Pentagon, the military rate of 18.5 suicides per 100,000 service members in 2009 was up
from 10.3 suicides per 100,000 in 2002 - an 80 percent increase. A comparable civilian suicide rate rose by about 15 percent in the same period.
Finkel's focus becomes clear early in the book: Nearly two million Americans were sent into the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of them came home okay and have moved forward into untroubled lives, but the best estimates suggest that anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of them will have psychological issues to contend with - chronic anxiety, ongoing nightmares, suicidal thoughts, varying degrees of depression...Every war has its after-war, its consequences and reminders, and the consequences and reminders of Iraq and Afghanistan will be some five hundred thousand mentally wounded veterans, a number significant enough to affect American social policy, medical care, even the broader economy, for decades.
Beyond the Book
At BookBrowse, we go 'beyond the book' to explore interesting aspects relating to each book we feature.
Here is a recent "Beyond the Book" feature for A Man of His Own
by Susan Wilson
Dogs For Defense
On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the USA entered the war. The value of dogs in the military had been proven many times, particularly during WWI, as they were used by the European armies as sentries, message-carriers and fox-hole clearers (of rats before the soldiers entered.). Although there were relatively few military dogs in the USA at the time, the need for them was clear.
A private citizen came to the rescue. Mrs. Alene Erlanger, a well-known, highly respected poodle breeder based in New York, created the Dogs for Defense program. The American Kennel Club supported her idea. For the most part, the public reaction was positive and people were eager to send their dogs to be a part of the war effort. Even Hollywood got involved in the Dogs for Defense program. Greer Garson sent Cliquot, her poodle; Mary Pickford sent Silver, her German shepherd; and Rudy Vallee sent King, his Doberman. It is estimated that 40,000 dogs were sent over a two-year period, and about 10, 000 of these were accepted for full training.
Initially about 30 different breeds were allowed into the program. Dogs had to be between the ages of 1 and 5 years and weigh at least 50 pounds. Color was a consideration too. More easily camouflaged colors - greys, blacks and browns - were required and dogs with white markings were rejected because they would be too easily spotted. Through trial and error it became clear that the best age to train a dog was around 18 months old, and the most trainable breeds were German Shepherds (excellent nose, strength and courage), Belgian Sheepdogs (exceptionally alert, intelligent and loyal), Collies (alert, fast and able to endure), Siberian Huskies and Malamutes (feet well adapted for ice), and Doberman Pinschers (like the German Shepherds, powerful nose, speed, power and agility).
Henry Stoecker, a trainer at Alene Erlanger's kennel and Elliot Humphrey, a well-known trainer for the Seeing Eye organization, helped develop the training program. In June 1942, the US Military took control of the training program at the Remount Branch, Service Installations Division, which had previously obtained horses and mules for military service. A few other training camps were set up for specific training purposes. Camp Rimini, which was just outside Helena, Montana, had enough snow throughout the year to train sledge dogs, and Cat Island (barrier island off the Gulf Coast) in Gulfport, Mississippi had a tropical climate which made it ideal for training dogs for the Pacific battles.
The dogs were trained in eight categories:
- Sentry Dogs: Helped with guard duty at arsenals, ammunition dumps, ration depots, and water works. Their main job was to warn of intruders.
- Attack Dogs: Used by the Coast Guard for the capture of trespassers.
- Tactical Dogs: Accompanied soldiers in combat situations. Different than the other training categories, this was experimental, using camouflage and gas masks.
- Silent Scout Dogs: Trained to detect scent on the wind, and give a silent warning when enemy troops were approaching.
- Messenger Dogs: Delivered messages on the battlefield, and were trained by two trainers, who used the dogs' innate desire to please both by running from one to the other.
- Casualty Dogs: Aided the medical corps in finding wounded soldiers.
- Sledge Dogs: Located downed airmen in the Army Air Forces in deep snow areas.
- Pack Dogs: Transported up to 40 pounds of gear such as small machine guns, ammunition and food. Only a few were trained and it is unclear whether any carried out their duties in war.
Thursdays in the Park
by Hilary Boyd
Publication Date: Oct 2013
Enter the Giveaway
Buy at Amazon
From the Jacket
In this touching, romantic tale of new attraction and old loyalties, Jeanie is on the brink of turning sixty, and the man she's been married to for more than half of her life has abandoned the marital bed.
When Jeanie's husband George retreats from his conjugal duties, she is deeply hurt and very confused: Has she done something wrong? Is he in love with someone else? Her pained bewilderment turns to anger as he remains unable, or unwilling, to provide answers.
The bright spot of Jeanie's week is Thursday, the day she takes her granddaughter to the park. There, one day, she meets Ray-age-appropriate, kind-hearted, easygoing, and downright sexy. In short, he is everything that George is not.
As her relationship with Ray begins to blossom and she begins to think that her life might hold in store a bold second act, she begins to wonder if she has the courage to take a step off the precipice of routine and duty and into the swirling winds of romance.
"[A] ... tender and intriguing love story.... Boyd is as canny as Joanna Trollope at observing family life and better than Trollope at jokes." - The Daily Mail
"Puts the 'sex' back into 'sexagenarian." - The Times
"A warm and well-written case for love affairs in later life." - Daily Telegraph
"A sincere tale of late-in-life love. ... Boyd's delicate rendering of Jeanie's interior grounds the novel, and readers will root for her to finally get her own. ... A poignant love story featuring refreshing characters in their 60s." - Kirkus Reviews
"A poignant portrait of a stale marriage and the ties that bind couples together." - Chicklit Club
5 people will each win a hardcover copy of Thursdays in the Park.
This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only, unless you are a BookBrowse member, in which case you are eligible to win wherever you might live.
Enter the giveaway here
Blog: Top 2013 Book Club Recommendations
There's nothing worse than being stuck with a bad book for your book club. Actually, there is something worse - being the one responsible for choosing it!
To save you from Book Club embarrassment, we've just posted a dozen carefully selected books personally recommended by our reviewers. All have recently published in paperback, or will publish in paperback before the year end (and all are also available as ebooks). You can browse through an excerpt of each so as to decide which are right for your book club. You can also read a a range of review opinion for each book (and, if you're a member, BookBrowse's full review and backstory). All but one also has a handy printable reading guide.
Read the blog
Oct 02 2013:
Herman Koch's novel The Dinner (published in the U.S. by Hogarth) has reached a milestone: it is now the most translated modern Dutch novel. According to the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the book has been sold in 37 countries, and will be published in 33 languages, which is a...(more)
Oct 02 2013:
Tom Clancy died yesterday, October 1. He was 66. The bestselling author's career began with the publication of The Hunt for Red October, originally published by the Naval Institute Press before being acquired by Putnam in 1984. The book went on to be a blockbuster movie, introducing the...(more)
Oct 01 2013:
Scribd, a digital distribution, document storage and book discovery platform, is launchng a subscription e-book service that will give users access to an unlimited number of books for $8.99 a month. The all-you-can-read service can be accessed by all smartphone, tablet and laptop device platforms...(more)
Sep 26 2013:
According to the just released results of the National Endowment for the Arts 2012 Survey, last year 54% of American adults read a work of literature or a book (fiction or nonfiction) not required for work or school. However, adults' rates of literary reading (novels or short stories, poetry, and...(more)
Sep 20 2013:
In the first half of the year, total net book sales fell 4.5%, to $5.491 billion, compared to the first half of 2012, representing sales of 1,196 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. Adult hardcovers and ebooks were up, as were...(more)
Sep 20 2013:
A growing number of Amazon.com warehouse workers are suing the online retail giant and its contractors for requiring them to undergo time-consuming and unpaid security screenings in order to do their jobs. In their proposed class-action suits, workers say they spent at least 40 minutes...(more)
Sep 20 2013:
Staples and RadioShack have removed the Amazon lockers from their stores a year after introducing the program. The program was aimed at customers in cities worried about the safety of packages being delivered to their doorstep or lobby - allowing them to pick up from a store instead. Staples and...(more)
Read these news stories, and many others, in full
Featured Reading List:
In September 2013 BookBrowse hosted a discussion of Elizabeth Fremantle's excellent first novel, Queen's Gambit
, about Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's clever, charismatic and last wife. Elizabeth joined us to answer questions about her book and her research.
Read the Q&A
In September 2013 BookBrowse hosted a discussion of Tracy Guzeman's debut The Gravity of Birds
, in which histories and memories refuse to stay buried; and in the end only the excavation of the past will enable its survivors to love again. Tracy joined us to answer questions about her book and her research.Read the Q&A
Solve this clue
"T A Other F I T S"
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S O O A Half A D O T O
Six of one and half a dozen of the other
The difference between two options is negligible
This expression is first recorded in English in the 1836 novel The Pirate and The Three Cutters by Frederick Marryat:
"I knows the women, but I never knows the children. It's just six of one and half-a-dozen of the other; ain't it, Bill?"
Chapter IV: The Leak
The expression has its counterparts in other languages, such as the French c'est chou vert et vert chou - "it's cabbage green and green cabbage".