Friday, August 16, 2013

31. The Boy's in the Boat

By: Daniel James Brown
Rated 5 Stars

This is one of the two really outstanding non fiction books I read recently.  I come from generations of farmers and I grew up listening to "how bad things were during the Depression"  But this is a book about more than just a story about overcoming hard times but about what we are made of and what we can accomplish if we really make up our minds to do it.

Publisher's Summary

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Daniel James Brown's robust book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.
The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together - a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.
Drawing on the boys' own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times - the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam's The Amateurs.

America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction

By:  John Steinbeck
Rated 5 Stars

I haven't read many books lately but the few I had have been very enjoyable.  I have been diligently working on my quilt and listening while I read.

I bought America and Americans because 1) I like John Steinbeck's writing, 2) I wasn't aware he had written any  non-fiction, 3) it was written in an era that particularly interests me and 4) there are a bunch of snobby reviews on amazon about it that infer it would be over the head of any but the most  discerning readers.  

I am probably one of the most non discerning of readers but could never resist a challenge.  Beside Steinbeck was writing about my "times."  I miss the America I grew up in. 

The country and our society have changed dramatically in the years since the date it was published that it probably really does feel dated some young readers but for me it provides a picture of the times when I was young, and tells of the values of the time that I grew up in. Not all of them were laudable but at least I did not feel like an alien which I often do now days.  Every once in a while I look at my little black dog and remind him "Hobbs, we're definitely not in America any more."

Publisher's Summary

More than three decades after his death, John Steinbeck remains one of the nation's most beloved authors. Yet few know of his career as a journalist who covered world events from the Great Depression to Vietnam. Now, this original collection offers a portrait of the artist as citizen, deeply engaged in the world around him. In addition to the complete text of Steinbeck's last published book, America and Americans, this volume brings together for the first time more than 50 of Steinbeck's finest essays and jouralistic pieces.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Between the Lines Series

By Tammara Webber
Audio Books

This series follows the lives of a group of Hollywood actors who meet during the filming a remake of Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice into a modern day version called School Pride. During the course of this series the readers follows the cast members as they film the movie, party, cope with constant media attention and paparazzi, fall into and out of love and cope with revelations from the past.  

All four of the books in this series are very well written and it held my interest all the way from book 1 through book 4.  And the very best part for me is that there are no explicit sex scenes I have to fast forward through.  The book is plenty steamy but the author is smart enough and skilled enough that when her characters climbed into bed they were making love not hooking up. Except for Reid of course, because he really was a bad boy until he . . . .  Oh, sorry - no spoilers allowed here.   Anyway, this author really is very good and I will continue to buy as many of her books she cares to write.

Between The Lines is Book 1 of this series and I'm giving it a 5 star rating. This book has two narrators.  Reid Alexander, Hollywood heart throb and bad boy and Emma Pierce an up and coming young actress.  Most of the main and some of the secondary characters are introduced in this book which covers the actual filming of the movie.

Where You Are is Book Two and my least favorite of the series.  But I am still giving it a 4 Star rating because a) it isn't the books fault I didn't like it as much as the others; and b) because it sets up the story for much of  the rest of the series.  This book has four narraters, Reid, Emma, Graham and Brooke.  Reid and Brooke are scheming, Graham and Emma are trying to build a relationship.

Good For You, Book 3 in the story is where Reid gets his comeuppance. It's narrated by Reid and Dory.  Dory is introduced in this book and is my absolute least favorite character in the series.  If you read the reviews for this book you will discover that a lot of people like her.  But she is just way to goody-goody for me.

Here Without You, Book 4 in the series is where Reid gets his act together, Brooke completely redeems herself, and Dory comes out way better than she deserves.

So that's it.  I don't think I've written a single spoiler *phew*  This was a fun series to read.  I highly recommend it.