Sunday, June 30, 2013

BOY 30529 : A MEMOIR
by Felix Weinberg

When Felix Weinberg was twelve years old, his idyllic world fell apart. His family was Czech and quite respectable. That meant nothing to the Nazis when they invaded. Felix's father had already left for England hoping that he could arrange to have his wife and two sons emigrate there. Unfortunately, it was too late. Over the next several years, Felix would survive five concentration camps and a Death March. He lost his mother and his younger brother in the camps. When he was finally liberated, Felix would reunite with his father in Britain. 
For a sparse book (165 pages), there's enough information to give you an idea of what happened during the Holocaust. The writing, though, leaves a lot to be desired. It's dry and slow-going. There's also numerous editing problems with missing words and misspellings. 
So many books on the Holocaust have been written during the past thirty plus years and only a select few have been highly readable. This book is not one of them.
Not recommended.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

 by Ben Downing

Don't believe any of the reviews for this book.  Exhilarating, a page-turner, entertaining, engrossing, is absurd. I only got to page 40 and could no longer stand the book. Janet Ross was supposed to be this dynamic, Victorian woman who for the last sixty years of her life lived in Tuscany immersed in the agriculture. Sounds a bit dry, doesn't it? I like to read books about obscure subjects and if they're written well, they can be quite fascinating. Unfortunately, this one doesn't cut it. There's so many peripheral characters that abound (who cares about them?) that you can't get your head around right in the beginning and never seems to stop. It was all rather boring.
Not recommended.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

by Tim Parks

Tim Parks has lived in Italy for thirty-two years. Coming from England, you wonder why he ever left. He doesn't seem to have one nice thing to say about either Italy or the Italians.
The first section of the book he drones on and on about acquiring train tickets with all their nuances. (You get excruciating details.) Parks talks about the interesting people he meets on the train: gypsies (the women beg), immigrants, prostitutes, etc.
I stopped reading at page 60.
What's a shame is that Parks has written quite a good many books, both fiction and nonfiction. Years ago I read his Italian Neighbors and that was wonderful. I don't know what happened. Maybe his style of writing changed.
If you're planning a trip to Italy, there are many other good books that tell you what trains to take or you can just go to for priceless information.
Not recommended.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

by Carol Shaben

On October 19, 1984, a Piper Navajo commuter airplane carrying nine passengers crashed in a remote area of Alberta, Canada. Four people survived: the pilot, Erik Vogel, a well-known politician, Larry Shaben (the author's father), a policeman, Scott Deschamps, and a criminal, Paul Archambault, who Scott was escorting. The weather was really bad but the pilot was under so much pressure, he thought that if he didn't fly the plane he would lose his job. For fifteen hours they huddled around a small campfire to await their rescue. Two of the men were in really bad shape and didn't think that they would make it out alive. It would be Archambault (the criminal) who would take care of them all.
Into the Abyss seemed like it was going to be a very exciting book. Nope. There's way too much information concerning the four men especially in the aftermath. (This is where I stopped reading.) Who cares? If you're an aviation aficionado and enjoy all the leaden details about small planes, you might actually think it's neat. I could have done without it. 
The author's writing is plodding. Of course, she has to use similes and they're ridiculous. I found a word not spelled correctly: she used "disorientated" instead of "disoriented." For a journalist, this is egregious.
So, don't be fooled by the cover.  It's not all it's cracked up to be.
Not recommended.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

by Patricia Volk

Audrey Morgen Volk (Patricia's mother) was a narcissistic, upper-middle-class New Yorker, a control freak where everything had to be just perfect.
Elsa Schiaparelli (known as Schiap) was an international fashion designer whose creations made the world gasp in shock.
When Patricia was ten years old, she read Schiap's autobiography and it transformed her. Both of these brilliant and opinionated women showed Patricia how to be a woman and to follow her own course.
Shocked  is about a mother-daughter relationship that at times can be excruciating to read. I, at first, thought the book was wonderful because the author is quite a wordsmith. After a while, it started to drive me crazy. You can only take in small doses at a time. The information about Schiaparelli is totally unnecessary and adds nothing. You don't really get a sense of how Patricia was transformed by either woman. As for Patricia's mother, Audrey, you keep reading about how beautiful she was. There are pictures at the end of each chapter and many are of Audrey and she is not beautiful nor pretty.
Too much rambling and not much substance.
Not recommended.