Love, War and Misunderstanding

shadow of stoneShadow of Stone, Book Two of the Pendragon Chronicles by Ruth Nestvold;2013;$13.95; 503 pages; Red Dragon Publishing; 9781493627301; purchased from Amazon.com;7/21/15-7/24/15

This is the follow up to Yseult which uses the well know story of King Arthur as a jumping off place.  This book follows Yseult after the death of her great love and her husband.  She is engaged in a great deal of political intrigue in this volume, but also finds that a friendship can turn into a true love.  She also finds that misunderstandings can throw a huge monkey wrench into a relationship if they are not dealt with quickly.  There are lots of life lessons to be learned from the story.  My favorite line from the story, Of course I am right, I’m dead.  It is hard to summarize the story without giving too much away.

Grade-A

Did I enjoy it?  Yes, I did.  I am going to be looking for more of Ruth’s work to read and see how her other genre stuff is.

What is with the title of the review?  There are several love stories within the story and war is the backdrop for the entire story and misunderstandings abound between multiple characters.

 

 

Found something that he didn’t expect.

Lost in America, A Dead End Journey by Colby Buzzell; 2011; $24.99; 291 pages; Harper, New York, NY; 978-0-06-184135-4; 956.70443 B922L; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Midland;4/24/14-4/26/14

Colby Buzzell, is the author of My War and in this volume he tries to recreate Kerouacs’ On The Road.  Never having read On The Road I can’t make a comparison.  Colby is torn between staying on the road or returning to his wife and newborn son.  He stays in Detroit for a while and makes some friends, he explores what used to be a major city and today is one of the most derelict cities in the United States.  Just saw a Detroit suburb offering vacant lots for a dollar apiece today (5/1/14).  He encounters all types of interesting people as he travels across the country.  He says he is looking for America but what he is really looking for is himself.  As he encounters all kinds of people he makes a choice that will affect the rest of his life.

Did I like it?  It was a moving look at someone trying to put things in perspective, to figure out what his past meant, what he wanted his future to be.  It is well written and often brutally honest.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  After the death of his mother and the birth of his son Colby Buzzell sets off on a drive across the United States looking for something.  He is not really sure what he is looking but I don’t he expected what he found.

Mohammed O’ Malley

Soft Spots, A Marine’s Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by Clint Van Winkle; 2009; $14.99;213 pages; St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, NY; 978-0-312-60296-3; 956.70443 V2853s; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 4/20/14-4/21/14

Clint Van Winkle combines his tour of duty in Iraq with his travails through the Veterans Administration and his life with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  We see how the specific events of his tour in the war combine to contribute to his own PTSD, which wasn’t wanting to go hurt others or himself but were a feeling of rage, guilt and shame mixed together.  This is one of the best explanations I have seen of the effects of PTSD and the ineffectiveness of much of the Veterans Administrations Medical Departments.  He so effectively communicates that it is pretty close to walking alongside him.

Did I like it?  Yes it was very engrossing and compelling.  I often read more than I intended at a setting because it was so good.

Grade-A+

What is with the title of the review?  While Van Winkle was on patrol one time they came across a light skinned red headed Iraqi child, whom they referred to as Mohammed O’Malley.  He stood out from all of those around him and I think sometime that is how vets feel about themselves, they are part of our society but they think they stand out.

Bushit

The Good Soldiers by David Finkel; 2009; $26.00; 287 pages; Sarah Crichton Books, New York, NY; 978-0-374-16573-4; 956.7044342F4999; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Woodstock; 4/17/14-4/20/14

David Finkel was embedded with the 2-16 Battalion in 2007 and 2008 as they fought in their own private corner of Iraq.  Each chapter begins with a quote from the Commander in Chief and then contrasts that with the reality of what was actually happening to the soldiers of the 2-16.  During the 15 months they were in Iraq 14 boys (average age 19) were killed and 75 were awarded the Purple Heart.  During this time they saw terrible things, they had terrible things done to them and they faced horror constantly.  They were trying to be morally centered when those they were fighting often chose not to be.  They were constantly asking themselves what is the definition of a good soldier.

Did I like it?  Yes it was one of the best books I have read on the war that shows the day to day life of the grunts on the ground was like.  It also showed the inanity of one side trying to follow the rules when the other side had no intention of it.

Grade-A+

What is with the title of the review?  Each chapter begins with a quote from George W. Bush about the way things were going in Iraq, the reality for the grunts turned those quotes into Bushit

as with any collection

Fire and Forget, Short Stories from the Long War edited by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher; 2013; $15.99; 234 pages; Da Capo Press, Boston, MA; 978-0-306-82176-9; Short Stories; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gresham; 4/15/14-4/17/14

This is a collection of short fiction with the common theme of the war in Iraq.  These are mostly by veterans of the war and a military spouse, including one of the first woman to see combat in the United States military.  One of the stories is told in the style of the Choose Your Own Adventure books from the 80’s.  One of the stories was familiar as I had read it in Phil Klays’ Redeployment,  I had read books by several of the other authors during my recent reading of several books about the war in Iraq.

Grade-B

Did I like it?  Most of the stories were pretty good, however there were a couple that weren’t so good.

What is what with the title of the review?  Usually any collection of stories or of anything has its highs and lows and this collection definitely does.  Several of the stories are excellent but there are one or two which were not very good.