Thunder in the Mountains by Daniel J. Sharfstein

Thunder in the Mountains; Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard and the Nez Perce War by Daniel J. Sharfstein; 2017; $29.95; 613 pages; W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY; 978-0-393-23941-6; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Belmont; 9/18/17-10/1/17

Why did I read this?  I have always been a fan of Chief Joseph and always to learn more about the people that we have displaced.

An interesting story of two men who lived parallel lives during a time of great change.  General O.O. Howard, founder of Howard University fought in the Civil War on the Union Side and then headed up the Freedmen’s Bureau during reconstruction.  He believed in the betterment of the freed slaves but did not believe in that same equality for the indigenous people of America.  Chief Joseph was one of many leaders of a band of Nez Perce peoples. He was not the War Chief that conducted the war, he came to be acknowledged as the leader after the War Chiefs died.  I did not realize that the battles took place over such a vast territory.

There is more information here than needed, especially on C.E.S. Wood, the generals aide. I wish the book would have concentrated on more just the actual action and not be so much biography of the palefaces that threatened a way of life, disingenuously ignored laws and treaties, and lied.

Grade B

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid; 2017; $26.00; 231 pages; Riverhead Books, New York, NY; 978-0-7352-1217-6; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gresham; 9/7/17-9/10/17

Why did I read this?  It was recommended by someone and it turns out that it will be the Everybody Reads book for next year.

Two young people in an anonymous Middle Eastern country, which is going through a civil war, fall in love and have to deal with religious fundamentalist and family.  As they grow closer and the war draws closer to them they hear of doors that will take you places.  Doors that will take you through space to somewhere else.  Their relationship ebbs and flows as they past through multiple doors and have to deal with their own attitudes about some things and relationships with others as they pass through the doorways.

This looks at refugees and how they relate to those around them and how those who live in the lands they seek refuge in view them.

I have a problem with magical realism stories so it was not something that I really got into.

Grade-B

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar; 2017; $25.00; 171 pages; Cemetery Dance Publications, Forest Hill, MD; 978-1-58767-610-9; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 9/2/17-9/2/17.

Castle Rock is the scene of another eerie adventure.  Gwendy is given a box that dispenses chocolate animals that curb your appetite and much more.  It also dispenses mint 1981 Morgan Silver Dollars and has multiple buttons on it which do bad things, Gwendy pushes one button one time and something awful happens.  Over time the box is nothing more than a presence in her life, one that she doesn’t even acknowledge for years but still feels its effects.

Grade B

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett; 2016; $27.99; 322 pages; Harper, New York, NY; 978-0-06-2491794; purchased from Multnomah County Library, Title Wave Used Bookstore; 8/13/17-8/18/17

Why did I read this?  Because it is the September selection of the Corner Reading Society.

An affair leads to two blended families on opposite coasts of the United States.  There is no animosity between the six kids, they just hate their parents, particularly the ones who had the affair.  There are several time jumps in the book from childhood to adulthood that show how the relationships have changed over the years.  The story of the family becomes a novel and changes many of the familial relationships. That part of the story remains me of what happened with Pat Conroy and his family after Pat wrote The Great  Santini.

Grade B

Clear by Fire by Joshua Hood

Clear by Fire, A Search and Destroy Thriller by Joshua Hood; 2015; $26.00; 339 pages; Touchstone, New York, NY; 978-1-5011-0571-5; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Northwest; 7/29/17-8/2/17

Why did I read this?  I read somewhere that this was comparable to the Brad Thor and Vince Flynn books so I decided to try the series.  This is the first book and I am currently reading the second.

Some generals have decided that the U.S. is not doing enough to contain terrorist in the Middle East so they decide to strike out on their own to upset the apple cart enough that the U.S. will be pulled into full scale war.  They go against all the rules of engagement, the Geneva convention and all that is moral.  One soldier stands against them and he is put on a watchlist and a kill order is put out against him.  He forms a strange group of supporters who help him put down the current plan, but someone higher up is pulling strings and the commander on the ground is pulling strings.

Grade-B, there is something out about the main character.  I didn’t really find myself pulling for him or even completely liking him, like Mitch Rapp and Scott Horvath.  Rapp and Horvath have a clear motivation and mission but I didn’t feel that here.  Hoping the second book is better.  A couple of the secondary characters would have been a better choice for the main character.