Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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Originally published on  November 11, 2013.

3/5 stars.
ebook, 492 pages.
Read from July 24 to August 27, 2013.

I read this novel for a book club and for whatever reason I thought that this was a holocaust survivor story so it was a nice surprise to find out that it was about American bomber planes and the Japanese as I had not read any biographical content on this part of the war.

I have to admit there was something about Laura’s writing that took me a bit to get used to. I found the first few chapters long and way too drawn out and it took me a little bit to get used to her sentence structure for whatever reason. With that being said, I became very involved and captivated with the story and the characters after the first few chapters. I also appreciated the amount of effort that Laura took in collaborating this remarkable story. It must have been such an honour and a pleasure to interview Louie.

I honestly still can’t get my head around the amount suffering Louie and his comrades were subjected to after being captured by the Japanese. How does someone go on in those conditions? The resilience displayed by Louie and his friends still amaze me. What I don’t understand is how a someone can cause that much pain and discomfort to another human being. I am glad that near the end Laura included some of the perspectives of the tormentors, specifically the Bird, not that it validates at all what they did but it is despicable to me the things that some people can convince themselves of. I recall feeling as vengeful and angry as Louie did in the novel though I don’t know if I found the same peace as Louie at the end. I want people to be punished for their crimes and I don’t feel like the Bird ever was.

I really appreciated that the book continued on after Louie finally made it back home to his family. So many war related stories stop once they’ve reached the safety of home but while one battle has ended another one begins. So I’m very thankful that Laura was able to provide insight into the PSTD that these men experienced and how they were able to overcome that final battle.

Grey Cats by Adam Biles

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4/5 stars.
Read from February 20 to 22, 2013
ebook, 101 pages.

Another little throwback review to a great indie read that I discovered almost 2 years ago today as part of an Author/Reader discussion on the TNBBC.  I wrote my thoughts out immediately on the novel as I was little taken back by the small, but awesome book.

 I feel the need to read this book again even though I just finished it. There was so much going on in this short novel that I fear I didn’t fully absorb it all. Having said that, wow! Adam Biles you are a master with words. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic and unique metaphors that followed this intriguing plot and I truly appreciated the style and talent of the writing. It was refreshing!

This story is philosophical, humourous, tragic and inspiring. The narrator (who is never actually named, nor did I noticed until it was brought up in discussion) goes out at night in his home of Paris to track down his girlfriend, Melina. She regularly goes out like this and up until now the narrator has never asked why, as she is a night person and he is a day person. While out looking for his lover he is shown a whole other side to the Paris he knows by day. The descriptions and scenes are carnival and dream like and they take the reader on a roller-coaster experience that has a shocking ending.

“In ze night, all ze cats are grey.”

This quote, found in the book, I feel describes the narrator and why he is unnamed, as well as Melina and the rest of the lost souls in the Paris night world. They’re hiding in shadows away from themselves and their past  the night to search of an identity among others in similar situations in which, the narrator in the end, finds himself through Melina.

I also found this book strikingly and peculiarly romantic. The narrator delves into the feelings and details of his relationship with Melina while he is out trying to find her in this world he is not familiar with. He goes over her flaws, how they met, why they work well together and ultimately in the end how much she means to him. These reflective portions of the book felt like the only grounded part of the story as they stepped away from the dream-like adventure he is partaking in. I found that I was able to catch my breath, so to speak, from the rest of fast paced plot in these portions.

Overall a highly recommended novella for anyone looking for an awaking read by some fresh talent!

Over to You by Roald Dahl

3/5 stars.
ebook, 164 pages.
Read from December 16 to 24, 2013.

This collaboration of stories emphasizes Dahl’s experiences as a flying ace for the RAF during World War II. I imagine that Dahl used many personal references and emotions in these stories, though from what I can find, from my very brief internet search, nothing specific has been directly referenced in the stories. Please feel free to comment if you know of a specific experience that has made it in one of these stories.  Additionally, I also wonder if writing these stories was a method he inadvertently used to deal with his own dreadful experiences in the war. Regardless, his renditions of the flying ace at war are detailed and provoking.

Beware of the Dog was by far my favourite in this collaboration as it brought a situation to my attention that I would not have even considered, having never been a solider, and the sheer terror that would follow. The character in the story finds himself in hospital and he isn’t sure what has happened, though he believes his plane has crashed. The nurse then proceeds to tell him where he is but other warning signs tell he may be elsewhere, like in enemy territory. In typical Dahl style, the reader is left not knowing if the main character is indeed in enemy territory or if he is just delusional and paranoid from the plane crash.

Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to see a more adult side to their favourite childhood author or anyone interested in WWII experiences.