Monday, May 16, 2016

Some books I've been reading...

I've been doing a bit of reading lately, and here are some of the books, which as you can see are quite varied!
All books are available from Amazon.

Title: The Summer Escape
Author: Lily Graham
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I wanted to be Ria!!
It was funny, sensitive and full of great characters. Great descriptions.
Ria is such a lovely character who impulsively goes to Crete to escape a terrible job and the rut she had found herself in. There, she changes her life and starts living again, surrounded by helpful and kind people.  Of course she falls in love with the dashing male lead in the story, but who wouldn't? He was the kind of guy that makes you feel good.
Excellent summer read.

Title: Chickens Eat Pasta
Author: Clare Pedrick
In the vein of Under the Tuscan Sun, this autobiography drew my attention as I've always wanted to go to Italy, or France, buy a house and do it up and become part of a village life. Clare does this and I was excited to read her story.
I did feel the first part of the story was a bit stilted and sometimes confusing with all the names and people. I would have liked to learn more about her doing up the house and her struggles to adapt, as it seems much of her life was helped by having money and good Italian friends - without that I doubt she would have found it so easy. At times the story concentrated more on what she was eating and what other people were doing than her own story. Some elements were glossed over too readily.
However, it was an interesting read, and I'm glad it all worked out for her in the end.

Author: Fiona Joseph
Published by: Foxwell Press UK
Year: 2015
Pages: 251
ISBN: 9780957093454
Sub genre: WWI 1915 Birmingham England.

A novel inspired by the female workers at Cadbury Chocolate Factory, the novel centres on three female characters and their stories through this difficult time.
Leonora is the character that has drive and determination to be a forewoman of her section at the factory. However, her manner is cold and her spine unbending when it comes to matters outside of the factory. Although a hard worker, she finds herself overlooked for promotion and this makes her increasingly bitter.
Jessie is a married worker at the factory, whose husband is housebound after an accident at his work. Jessie is the breadwinner, but finding life outside of the home opens Jessie’s eyes to another world where she can be free to find new interests. Sadly her new found freedom creates problems in her marriage, which is suffering under the pressure of her long hours at the factory and her husband’s long convalescence and his struggle to regain his focus and independence.
Finally we have Mary, the boisterous and fun-loving woman who has a sense of family duty and a bucketful of courage. Her adventurous nature gives her an instant friendship with Jessie but earns the disapproval of Leonora.
It takes the climatic events in each of these three women’s lives to make them realise that what they were striving for, isn’t always easily attainable.
Leonora has to learn humbleness to truly understand her role at the factory and in her life.
Jessie must learn compromise and forgiveness to find the happiness she seeks.
While Mary learns that her eagerness to make things right isn’t always the correct way to do things and sometimes you have to let others help you.

Comforts for the Troops is a gentle and interesting read. I enjoyed the three women’s situations. Although I felt at times that each story could have had a little more depth. I would have preferred more back story to each woman. Apart from Mary, we know nothing of Leonora or Jessie’s background really, just the odd comment, but nothing substantial.
 In general though the plots worked and the story flowed. The story set in the Cadbury’s chocolate factory was unique, as everyone has heard of Cadbury’s chocolates. I can tell the author did her research and put much effort into getting the historical details correct.
I give Comforts for the Troops 3 stars.

Author: T.C. Kuhn
Published by: Amazon UK
Year: 2015
Sub genre: WWII 1942 Manila.

The Kimono Song is set in Manila in 1945, but with flash backs to 1942. The story starts with the main character, Captain Helen Williamson, a nurse in the U.S. Army Nursing Corps, going on a bus journey after the war has finished, and it is during this bus journey that she reminisces about the last three years of the war.
In 1942 with serving in a military hospital for America soldiers, Helen suffers a personal loss, however, her grief has to be put to one side as the Japanese Army sweeps across the Philippines, capturing the hospital. Helen and her fellow nurses are taken to a prisoner of war camp. There, they are kept for three years until the Allies defeat Japan and the prisoner of war camps are liberated.
During the three years incarcerated, Helen and her fellow prisoners have to deal with the brutality of her capturers, the primitive conditions, the lack of medical supplies, the bland diet of limited food and subsequently the numerous deaths that result.
Despite the harsh conditions, Helen manages to find solace in her work nursing the ill and infirm in the make-shift hospital inside the walls of barbed wire.
Although hating the Japanese that rule them, there is one man, Ito, who comes to take charge of the camp, and with whom Helen learns to respect and a friendship grows.
Ito, having experienced years of working in Hawaii, understands the Westerners, and Helen in particular, he finds intriguing. He asks her to treat his soldiers and she agrees, hoping she can convey information back to her own people. Unintentionally, they find their feelings towards each other grow. Helen is in mourning, Ito is missing his wife. There are consequences of their actions.
I don’t want to spoil the ending for readers and so I won’t mention any more of the story line, only to say that I found the ending of the camp flashbacks to be satisfactory.  It worked well. Knowing the history of Japanese officers after their defeat I accepted the plotline as totally plausible.
However the ending of the story as a whole, (one year after the war finished) I found less agreeable.  I didn’t understand Helen’s actions, the whole reason for her bus journey through a war torn country to visit someone, who didn’t need visiting and which I feel was a little cruel. But, that is my opinion and others may feel the ending is completely correct to the tory and characters.
That said, I did enjoy this story. I believe the author did well with the research, and the characters were three dimensional. I found at odd times the American dialect to be a little over the top when spoken by the G.I.s who Helen encountered on the bus journey.
Overall, The Kimono Song is a book worth reading. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys WWII fiction. Also I think the cover suits the story, which is always nice to see.
I give The Kimono Song 3 stars.

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