In spring of 1918, World War I was underway, and troops at Fort Riley, Kansas, found themselves felled by influenza. By the summer of 1918, the second wave struck as a highly contagious and lethal epidemic and within weeks exploded into a pandemic, an illness that travels rapidly from one continent to another. It would impact the course of the war, and kill many millions more soldiers than warfare itself.
I've read books and seen documentaries in the past about the Influenza Pandemic and always found it fascinating. For some reason, I was in the mood to read more about the subject and this book showed up on Audible as a new release. I like the narrator, Jim Frangione, so I purchased without reading the description in detail.
The book started off well but seemed a little simplistic in its explanation of early humans. It became more detailed and specific in the discussion of virus and bacteria but still read like it was written for someone who'd never heard the words before. The same was true about his explanation of World War One. This made me wonder about the author, led me back to the book description in Audible and that is when I noticed the book was written for 11 to 14-year-olds. Explained a lot.
It was interesting enough I decided to keep reading and once he started relaying the specifics of this pandemic, where it started, how it spread, how awful contracting the disease was, including personal comments from survivors, family members of those who died, the doctors and nurses who tried to help, the book really picked up. He included extremely graphic and disturbing descriptions of exactly how this flu attacked the body and ultimately killed a person. Far more so than I had read in books written for adults. Gory, but educational. He also touched on how the pandemic affected the war, ultimately becoming a deciding factor, how it was treated and interpreted in countries across the world, not just in North America and Europe, which was very interesting. And most fascinating to me every time I read about it - how it traveled from country to country, continent to continent.
He ended with a discussion about what researchers have done in the last 100 years to learn more about this specific virus, what world organizations are involved in the process and how they have used their research to try and minimize flu epidemics we see now. He compared it to more recent viruses such as Bird Flu and finally discussed attempts to recreate a super virus in the lab and how controversial and dangerous that was.
My main takeaway was that I was a child of the Cold War. I remember fallout shelters and emergency preparedness drills. But I don't think teachers or parents ever told me in minute detail about the physical effects of radiation poisoning, how it would attack the body, how painful it would be or the true devastation of a nuclear war. I did not grasp how terrible the consequences would be or how close we came to suffering them. If they had, I can't imagine how scared I would have been.
If I was an 11 to 14-year-old reading this book about the horrors of this flu pandemic, the threat, and chances of another pandemic and the fact that we were creating super viruses in labs that were capable of as much devastation, if not more so, I don't think I would sleep at night for months.
11 to 14-year-olds today must be a lot more inured to violent and painful attacks on humans than I was. This book seemed awfully graphic to me for that audience.
On the other hand, if an adult knows little about this pandemic and wants a brief but substantial overview, this would be a good place to start.
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history - performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life. So Tom moves back his to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher - the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city's history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him.
I was really looking forward to this book. I was a big fan of Haig's book The Radleys. And this got so much good prepress I was excited to read it. Unfortunately, as so often happens, prepress is deceiving. This book focuses on a man who looks around 40 but is actually closer to 500 years old. Evidently, there is a small group of humans who do not age at the same rate as everyone else, who loosely band together to protect each other and their secret. Tom Hazard, the main character, discovers the group when he finally gets a doctor to believe how old he is, and then the doctor is promptly killed because of the knowledge. Tom reluctantly buys into the group, their secrecy and how they manage to hide in plain sight. He also helps with the occasional dirty work, which can include murder. He does this because he is hopeful the group can help him find his real daughter who he believes has the same condition and has been alive almost as long as he has.
Unfortunately, the plot seemed to take the title literally. It moved so slowly, it was difficult to detect movement at all. I can handle slowly developing plots and I can handle plots that focus on a very depressed person. But I can't handle slow plots about depressed persons. It just wears me down. Haig is a brilliant writer of prose and can make the most unbelievable story believable. But this story could have been told in about half the time and would have been twice as good.
Mary Mallon was a courageous, headstrong Irish immigrant woman who bravely came to America alone, fought hard to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic service ladder, and discovered in herself an uncanny, and coveted, talent for cooking. Working in the kitchens of the upper class, she left a trail of disease in her wake, until one enterprising and ruthless "medical engineer" proposed the inconceivable notion of the "asymptomatic carrier" - and from then on Mary Mallon was a hunted woman.
While Typhoid Mary isn't exactly a sympathetic character, she did spread the disease even after she knew she was doing so after all, initially, she was treated horribly. There was still a great deal of skepticism about the theory that an asymptomatic person could still spread a deadly virus, and even the theory itself would likely have not made itself known in the working classes, yet the doctors seemed shocked that she was reluctant to turn herself into a guinea pig for them.
However, by the end of the book, it was difficult to find any sympathetic characters. I think the only thing I took away from this fictionalized version of a real life was that Typhoid Mary deserved to be quarantined, but the doctors and "engineers" who treated her were no more redeemable than she was and probably deserved the same fate. I don't know how accurate my view is based on this book. The characters were dry, one dimensional and shallow. But whether they actually were or if that is how the author portrayed them, I don't know. Can't really recommend this book.
A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in an elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors.
A beautifully written book about how one views the world. It is as large or as small as we choose to make it and for the Count, who spends 30+ years a prisoner inside one hotel, the world is very large. He may be the single most optimistic character in any book I've ever read, making Mary Poppins seem like a downer. Nevertheless, it shines.
It is clear that Amor Towles loves words. And while he often takes 40 words to say what could be said in 10, I can't begrudge him the excess because each word is so perfectly curated and placed. Also, the narration of those words was spot on. Beautifully read.
Unfortunately, while I have the imagination to accept that a prisoner could carve such a remarkable life out of two rooms in the attic of a grand hotel and the friends he makes through the years, it is harder to accept this premise when we know that going on outside the hotel is a country ruled with an iron fist by Stalin, a series of unsuccessful five year plans, starvation, overcrowding, the disappearance of friends and family through deportation, imprisonment or death. Oh, and World War II. No matter how grand the hotel is, it could not have been fully insulated from the despair surrounding it. This made the book ring untrue to me and kept it from being close to perfect.
A dashing stranger sweeps Lady Gwendolyn Rowle onto the dance floor. She is living every woman's fantasy until she discovers who her romantic waltz partner really is: Viscount Andrew Jamison - the man who killed her husband.
... Who Didn't Write This Book
My Lord Murderer makes me really appreciate Stephanie Laurens. I am an erratic reader of romance novels. My problem with them, especially historical romance is that the heroine is usually an insipid addle brain. By the end of most books, it is difficult to see why on earth the hero would waste a moment, much less the rest of his life on a such a stupid, vacuous character. That is why I appreciate Stephanie Laurens books. The underlying plots might be impractical or unbelievable, but there is always a plot, a storyline distinct from the will she/won't she tug of the heroine. The ratio of sexual activity to everything else might be extremely high, but at least the reader has proof that the characters like and desire each other. In most of Lauren's books the heroines are as equally strong and intelligent as the heroes and while they do still act irrationally at times, so do the men.
My Lord Murderer was the perfect example of a plot totally dependent upon the idiocy of the heroine. If she isn't ridiculously gullible and prone to making the exact opposite of the decision any reasonable woman would make, then there is no point to the book. It is totally implausible that the hero would desire her, another woman would be her friend or her family would tolerate her. This is the kind of book that gives romance's a bad name. A silly waste of time.
Benjamin Vecchio escaped a chaotic childhood and grew to adulthood under the protection and training of one of the Elemental world's most feared vampire assassins. He's traveled the world and battled immortal enemies. But everyone has to go home sometime.
I love the Elemental World Elizabeth Hunter created, first in Mysteries, then in World and now in Legacy. I am a very selective reader of fantasy. Much of it is too complicated. I get so bogged down in the world building and trying to keep track of who has what kinds of special powers, I lose track of the plot. But Hunter got her World right in her very first book, she added some unique twists to widely recognizable fantasy types, didn't over complicate it, made the characters engaging and entertaining and included libraries and books as central to the plot line. And the humor.
This is the 4th story in the Ben and Tenzin line, following the conception and launch of their lost artifacts recovery business. The only possible thing that could muddy up the Elemental Legacy series is the relationship between Ben and Tenzin. Hunter seems to realize this and while there is an attraction, she is proceeding cautiously so far. Seeing them as anything more than good friends, tempting as it sounds, might just hit the wrong note. The difference between them is so vast and the fact that she knew him when he was quite young, might make a relationship hard to swallow. Not sure why I feel that way.
This was a great plot, it kept me guessing, the mystery and the planning kept me engaged. As usual, there was lots of humor. I wish some of the other characters from prior books were more involved. I really liked the introduction of Ben's high school sweetheart. Her budding friendship with Tenzin and relationship with Gavin was great. I hope she shows up in future books.
I still miss Dina Pearlman narrating these books. But Sean William Doyle does a good job.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The Radleys is a moving, thrilling, and radiant domestic novel that explores with daring the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, what it costs you to deny your identity, the undeniable appeal of sin, and the everlasting, iridescent bonds of family love. Read it and ask what we grow into when we grow up, and what we gain - and lose - when we deny our appetites.
This is my first Matt Haig book. I've read fiction books in the past where it seems obvious that the author had written a perfectly normal book and their editor said "Vampires are popular, add a vampire to your story." So they do, but it adds nothing to the plot and just gets in the way.
This is not a vampire book, although the Radley family are all vampires. The author expertly uses vampirism to make a very human point. This is a book about belonging, finding your place and fitting in. The price some people pay to fit in, to be perceived as normal or regular, the damage that causes and the toll it takes. And it is about the danger of secrets. And finally, it is about accepting what makes you different. There are probably other real physical conditions or disabilities the author could have used to make the same point, but electing to use vampirism as what sets the Radley's apart keeps the story from being maudlin or depressing. The writing is crisp, the plot moves quickly, although the end drags on a bit too long. The characters are well developed, the good people are sympathetic, the bad people are not.
I really enjoyed the occasional quotes from the fictional Book of Abstinence, a guide for Vampires who want to abstain from their true nature. It is patterned off of every 12 step guidebook that has ever been published.
The narration was superb.
I recommend this book.
Clarence Darrow is the lawyer every law school student dreams of being: on the side of right, loved by many women, played by Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind. His days-long closing arguments delivered without notes won miraculous reprieves for men doomed to hang.
Well done. I have listened to it several times. It opened my eyes to some history that gets little attention the period of time from about 1889 to the start of World War I.
The majority of Etsy customers are online walk-ins that find a shop or product while browsing pages through a search engine. As legitimate web pages on their own that you can manipulate, your Etsy page is open to being optimized for search engines. You've got your fantastic product and your shop ready, too, but now you want the customers. With this book, you will learn in several simple steps how to corner your chosen area of the vintage and homemade market and rise to the top of the Etsy search engine.
Short and to the point. Told me what I needed to know to improve my listings.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Bushwhackers adds to the growing body of literature that examines the various irregular conflicts that took place during the American Civil War. Author Joseph M. Beilein Jr. looks at the ways in which several different bands of guerrillas across Missouri conducted their war in concert with their house- holds and their female kin who provided logistical support in many forms.
It repeated a few points over and over. The narrator was over dramatic in the reading.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful