war

Review: A Separate Peace

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A Separate Peace Book Review
3 of 5 stars to A Separate Peace, a novel written in 1959 by John Knowles. I suspect if I were to re-read this “classic” again now, it has a chance of getting a higher rating; however, I’m not in a rush to prove the theory. I have a few good memories of the story, some a bit “blah,” but overall… it was a decent book. When I read The Secret History last year, I had vague recollections of this being somewhat similar, though the topics are quite different.

At the core, this is a coming-of-age story focused on Gene and Finny, two polar opposite boys at a prep school around the time of WW2. An accident occurs which may have been deliberate, thus becoming the focus of the story. As a result of the accident, one of the characters suffers an injury that prevents him from continuing on his path to the Olympics. Friends take sides. Families wonder. But the friends try not to question it. Until other people force them to. And in the end, there is pain, death, forgiveness and unexpected consequences.

The book is a good juxtaposition of lifestyles and choices. It makes you think about what you’d do in such a situation. How far can one person be pushed? And when you do something wrong, do you tell anyone, especially if you can get away with it? Lots to teach young adults, learning to make their own decisions and set a path for their life.

I enjoyed the story, but I would have preferred a more modern setting. I’m not a fan of excessive sports or war, and these were two central themes in the book, which ultimately led me to feel partially disconnected. But the parts inside the character’s head, questioning motives, being psychological in their analysis, were the ones worth reading.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The White Feather Murders

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The White Feather MurdersMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to Rachel McMillan‘s The White Feather Murders, her third historical cozy in the “Herringford and Watts” mystery series. This book was a tough one for me to review as I had a hard time staying focused, but I did like the story-line. Something about it said “keep trying” but ultimately, in the end, I wasn’t too keen on it.


Why This Book?

After joining NetGalley last month, I looked for books I could read immediately through automatic requests, as I needed to increase my review % and receive newer releases I wanted to read. When I saw the description of this book, and the cover, I thought it would be a good new series to read, even though I usually start with Book 1. It landed in my queue and I read it over the last few days.


Story

The book (and I assume the series) takes place in the early 20th century in Toronto, Canada, just prior to England entering World War 1. There is a lot of tension in the air over whether immigrants from Germany and Italy are truly becoming Canadian citizens, or if they are secretly helping their home countries back in Europe. (Sounds familiar, eh?) Everyone was suspected of being an alien enemy!

Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts DeLuca are “lady detectives” who have become popular for solving crimes in the last few years, and they are called in by Miss Mueller, a German-Canadian woman, who fears for her brother’s life. He’s being beaten and harassed because he is German, even though he supports England and Canada in the war. The local police and the Mayor tolerate Merinda and Jem’s investigations, probably more than expected for the time period when women were foolishly not allowed to do much except mind the home and children; however, the corrupt Mayor really thinks both are frustrating and troublesome.

Suddenly, several men they know are found dead with a white feather strewn across their bodies. And then the German boy they were investigating is found dead with the same type of feather. But it’s when a car rams into Merinda and Jem that they realize someone is after them. Their families try to get the ladies to stop investigating, but the women are determined to solve the crime. And in the end, they do. But the path along the way is dangerous and misleading, especially when corruption lurks behind every stone they turn over.


Strengths

The story feels real and the setting is clear. You feel a connection because this happened, even if you don’t hail from Canada.

It’s good to see two female leads, especially in historical fiction. Their actions feel accurately depicted.

The book has several small story arcs supporting the main investigation, which helps create a more robust world to read about.


Why I Struggled

There were too many characters who weren’t properly described or given enough distinction. I often felt confused as to who was on which side, finding myself skimming a few pages now and again to get to the end.

I never connected with the characters. The book felt too plot-driven with little focus on likability for the plight other than knowing it was unfair. I wanted the underdogs to win because that’s just who I am, but it wasn’t the writing that drove me to that conclusion.

I had high hopes but it felt too flat. I would have liked to see more drawn out scenes to help me understand why certain things happened. It was as if in the matter of one page, a body was found, they decided who did it and moved on.

I still don’t understand the end and how the killer just gave up. I won’t give away spoilers, but it must have been an old-fashioned villain’s way of doing things. Not what I expected!


Final Thoughts

Overall, the book had some good parts, and I wanted to like it more. I don’t think I’ll go back and read the rest of the books, but I might check out reviews on each of them, and this one, to see what I am missing. I admit I read more quickly than usual, and didn’t stay invested in it like I normally do. It may have been my fault that I didn’t like it that much.

On a side note, I watched the “Julie Bowen” episode of “Who Do You Think You Are” this week… as I love my genealogy. And she was researching two ancestors; one from Civil War days and one for WW1 where her great grandfather ran the national office of the American Protective League where they registered “alien enemies.” Reading about it in a book (in Canada) and watching it on TV (in America) happening at the same time nearly a century ago… made me think… we never learn our lessons, do we?

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Seville Communion

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The Seville CommunionMy rating: 3+ of 5 stars to Arturo Pérez-Reverte‘s The Seville Communion, a Spanish-to-English translated thriller novel with a very intriguing story about the Catholic church, corporate corruption and love. This was a good book, and I’d recommend it to fans of the genre or of translated novels; however, it could have packed even more of a punch, which is why it falls somewhere between a 3 and 4.


Story

Father Quart works in a special research unit (IEA — Investigation for External Affairs) within the Catholic church, and he is sent to Seville, Spain, where someone has hacked into the Pope’s personal computer to leave a message about helping a church about to be demolished. Quart, a young and handsome priest who follows the rules, finds himself torn between a lustful woman, different sides of the church and a town divided in what to do about the church. The land was deeded to the church hundreds of years ago as long as mass is said every Thursday in someone’s honor. But when a ruthless corporation and corrupt town government want to sell the land to make more money, everyone’s lives are in danger. The business man’s wife is in the papers for cheating on him and the priest who runs the church is suspected of murder. Who’s playing games and what’s really going on beneath the surface? Quart finds out in the end, but he never really knows who to trust.


Strengths

The cast of characters is dynamic and complex. Within the church, you’ve got very different types of priests, and each one makes valid points about why their way is the right way. The woman having an affair almost makes you root for her to be successful against her husband, and her husband even comes off as respectable and honorable at many points. The 3 villains who have been hired to kill the priests are laughable and vivid. The lead priest, Father Quart, has a lot of depth, and you feel his struggle throughout the novel. I’m still unsure why he remains a priest, but it adds great conflict in his story and the church’s story.

b>Suggestions
The plot is very strong, but it is purposely revealed in small amounts to draw readers in. It works, but when you get to the last 50 pages, it unwinds rather quickly with very little backstory given to support why each person made the decisions they made. It is believable, yet you want more to help drive home the complexity of the story and the need for everyone to get what they wish for. With some tweaking and a few additional story points, this would be a very strong novel.


Final Thoughts

For fans of thrillers and those with interest in the Catholic church, this is a great read. It certainly says many good things and many bad things about the church, and there is a lot of history about Spain to draw comparisons and conclusions about what really happened in the early 20th century. The language is beautiful and the messages are vivid. Very few translation issues if anything to even comment on. I’d read more by this author… definite style!

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