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The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
by Heidi Durrow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bigotry Comes in All Colors, 15 Sept. 2013
Rachel, 11 is biracial. Her mother is Danish and her father is black. Rachel spent her early childhood in Germany and did not give her rich racial heritage much thought. She is brown in coloring and her eyes are blue. When Rachel and her family are struck by tragedy after moving to the United States, Rachel is sent to live with her paternal grandmother in Portland, Oregon. The neighborhood in which Rachel's grandmother lives is predominantly black.

Once in Portland, Rachel is literally hung up between two sticks. She is the target of insider bigotry. Other black kids pull her hair and accuse her of having delusions of Caucasian superiority because she does not fit a racial mold. The age old racist claim of "thinking one is white" simply because they don't use bad grammar and street argot or act like an unflattering stereotype is one that irks me to no end. It is one thing to adjust one's speech accordingly, but NEVER dumb down for anyone. Using good grammar and demonstrating a good vocabulary is one good way to command respect.

While I'm at it, good grammar and a large vocabulary is not exclusive to ANY race. There is NO legitimate reason to deed over one's right to speaking the Lingua Pura to others lest they be ostracized or targeted for attack for not using street argot. I have always believed that bad grammar and street talk is a DEPLETION of language and a form of shackling oneself to stereotypes and carry overs to a bad time in history when knowledge and learning were denied to blacks. I feel very strongly about this and I will admit that I never liked street talk and feel that it does not speak to class. Trying to enforce other members of a particular group to speak and act in stereotypical ways is the modern day equivalent of slavery. Willfully choosing ignorance reflects badly on whoever makes this choice and sadly reinforces negative racial stereotypes. I don't feel these insider racist claims and demonstrations of insider bigotry is helpful to anyone. Again, since I do feel passionate about this, I believe that shackling oneself to an atrocious bygone era and upholding ignorance does nobody any favors.

Rachel naturally feels like an outsider among her family and peers. Because she is clearly biracial, she defies all stereotypes. During Rachel's early years in Germany, she was simply accepted and gave no thought to the fact that she was the daughter of an interracial couple. Most people, including those who are "identifiably" black are a mix of other races as well. Race is a congenital condition. Race has nothing to do with how one talks, dresses, speaks or what cultural influences they enjoy. Sadly, people often want to label others and that confines people into places where they just don't fit. That is ENFORCING beliefs on others and trying to categorize them in simplistic terms when people are NOT simplistic; they are complex!

Durrow, who shares an Afro-Danish history with her character, Rachel has written a brilliant story. (Model Melyssa Ford also shares an Afro-Scandinavian ancestry.) Black, white, how about both? Most people are! Most people are the products of MORE than one race! Family secrets and family dynamics as well as the place for race are discussed candidly and realistically. Rachel is branded as "light skinned-ed" which is bad enough, but to add insult to injury her peers ride her for "talking white." Since when is it white to use good grammar and eschew street argot? That claim has always struck me as asinine to the nth degree.

Rachel herself has some similar feelings as she cringes at her grandmother's "dialectical" speech. Readers learn about Rachel's parents and their social attitudes. Although part of this story takes place in the 1980s, it remains relevant and the socioracial issues resound to this day.

I could identify with Rachel. Being branded a race is bad enough, but when it is prefaced with "light skinned," it adds insult to injury. The tacit message is that people often feel a need to define members of the black race by their skin tone. Non-blacks who use this term raise the question of if they feel that members of the black race who are less ethnic and/or lighter in appearance are more acceptable overall. I have never liked the term "light skinned" because I never saw the need to define or identify a person by their skin tone. Archie Bunker comes in all colors. Bigotry, ironically enough, is an equal opportunity form of ignorance. Bigotry is not limited to any one group and the targets are also not limited to just one group. Hair is a very trenchant issue among many blacks and Rachel learns this the hard way. Other girls pull her long hair and make catty comments about her appearance. There is also a classist assumption about hair texture: the less ethnic one's hair is, the "better off" that person is viewed. (Just watch Chris Rock's 2009 movie Good Hair.) There is also the very real issue of internecine bigotry. Often blacks who are less ethnic in appearance are targeted by other blacks who try to pigeonhole them and charge them with having delusions of superiority. That is downright asinine! It's all bigotry, any way you toss the dice. How can anybody claim to know what another thinks? And for a group with a history of being targeted based on the color of their skin and general appearance, it is damned ironic and very upsetting that there is a faction who practice this kind of insider racism replete with ridiculous racist ideas.

This is a very good book that is serious, topical and in your face. Yeah, it will evoke strong reactions in readers. That is because it covers issues that many feel strongly about, more often than not for having lived through some of these race based targeting methods. It is something that many people can relate to, particularly if they lived with insider bigotry. Rachel herself grows and her view of the world naturally changes with time and maturation. Again, this is a book that is a much needed work as these are issues that sadly still exist.

Michael Jackson's 1991 hit "Black or White" is definitely the soundtrack of this book.


George Harrison: That's the Way God Planned it
George Harrison: That's the Way God Planned it
by Kevin Roach
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem!, 10 Sept. 2013
I loved this book. Kevin Roach has plainly researched the French and Harrison families and previously unpublished photos and documents have been included. You get a clear picture of the two families who created George Harrison.

Louisa Woollam, George's maternal grandmother is repeatededly called "Louise" throughout the book. Other books report her name as being Louisa, her fourth child and third daughter Louise, a variation of Louisa is plainly her namesake.

Harry Harrison and Louise French were reported as having married in May of 1931, although most other books and documents record the Harrison-French union as having taken place in May of 1930. Their first child, daughter Louise was born three months after the Harrison-French union on August 16, 1931. Roach discloses that the marriage, which did not take place in a church was because Louise was already expecting their daughter. Louise herself confirms this in her book My Kid Brother's Band a.k.a. the Beatles

Readers are treated to stories about the various members of the Harrison and French families. Readers see a picture of Harry's father, Henry Harrison who died in 1914 during WWI at Mons. (Hunter Davies' mentions this briefly in The Beatles: The Authorised Biography. All Davies says is that Henry Harrison was killed in Mons and that his widow, Jane was "put off services" and "didn't want her son to enlist.")

Bonus treats include stories about the lives of the Harrison and French families and readers get a sense of both sets of George's grandparents and great grandparents. I loved the parts about the church Louise French attended for many years. The church was lovely and a most welcome addition to and a very important part of the French/Harrison story. A devoted Catholic, Louise had all 4 of her little Harrisons baptized at Our Lady of Good Help, their neighborhood parish. Each Harrison child's baptismal certificate is included, along with those of Harold Sr. and Louise French. An interesting aside: Louise and her children's baptismal certificates are written in Latin and the names inscribed on each are Latinized. Harold Sr., who was not baptized in a Catholic church had a baptismal certificate written entirely in English.

An additional aside: the two oldest Harrison children, Louise and little Harold were baptized on the same day. Lou was nearly 3 and her brother little more than a newborn at the time. (George's Catholic roots stayed with him and bore fruit. He kept a beautiful statue of Mother Mary on his grounds at Friar Park.)

Another treat was the painting of the lovely house and garden where Louisa Woollam grew up. Gardening and a love for flora ran on both sides of the Harrison-French families and it should come as no surprise that George loved gardening and saw himself as a gardener. There is a lot of Louise French in George - he was Harold Sr. from the eyes up and Louise French from the nose down. In 1965, Louise told her son's fan club members that she thought George looked like her dad, a tall man from Ireland. An avid gardener herself, Louise chafed at the move from her original home with Harry to the famed home in Speke because she was displeased with the way many neighborhood kids trampled her garden. In 1965 when George bought the senior Harrisons a lovely home in Appleton, he made sure there was plenty of land for them to garden, much to their delight.

This book is a gift that keeps giving. Readers will thank Kevin Roach for his tireless contributions and research and George's sister Louise and their cousin Anthony French for their invaluable input and contributions. Thank you!


George Harrison That's The Way God Planned It.
George Harrison That's The Way God Planned It.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem!, 10 Sept. 2013
I loved this book. Kevin Roach has plainly researched the French and Harrison families and previously unpublished photos and documents have been included. You get a clear picture of the two families who created George Harrison.

Louisa Woollam, George's maternal grandmother is repeatededly called "Louise" throughout the book. Other books report her name as being Louisa, her fourth child and third daughter Louise, a variation of Louisa is plainly her namesake.

Another question was when Harry Harrison and Louise French were reported as having married in May of 1931. All other books and documents record the Harrison-French union as having taken place in May of 1930. Their first child, daughter Louise was born over a year later on August 16, 1931. Roach suggests that the union, which did not take place in a church was because Louise was already expecting their daughter. No place else has this ever been suggested or reported. That is a question as to why and how this was stated in this book.

Readers are treated to stories about the various members of the Harrison and French families. Readers see a picture of Harry's father, Henry Harrison who died in 1914 during WWI at Mons. (Hunter Davies' mentions this briefly in The Beatles: The Authorised Biography. All Davies says is that Henry Harrison was killed in Mons and that his widow, Jane was "put off services" and "didn't want her son to enlist.")

Bonus treats include stories about the lives of the Harrison and French families and readers get a sense of both sets of George's grandparents and great grandparents. I loved the parts about the church Louise French attended for many years. The church was lovely and a most welcome addition to and a very important part of the French/Harrison story. A devoted Catholic, Louise had all 4 of her little Harrisons baptized at Our Lady of Good Help, their neighborhood parish. Each Harrison child's baptismal certificate is included, along with those of Harold Sr. and Louise French. An interesting aside: Louise and her children's baptismal certificates are written in Latin and the names inscribed on each are Latinized. Harold Sr., who was not baptized in a Catholic church had a baptismal certificate written entirely in English.

An additional aside: the two oldest Harrison children, Louise and little Harold were baptized on the same day. Lou was nearly 3 and her brother little more than a newborn at the time. (George's Catholic roots stayed with him and bore fruit. He kept a beautiful statue of Mother Mary on his grounds at Friar Park.)

Another treat was the painting of the lovely house and garden where Louisa Woollam grew up. Gardening and a love for flora ran on both sides of the Harrison-French families and it should come as no surprise that George loved gardening and saw himself as a gardener. There is a lot of Louise French in George - he was Harold Sr. from the eyes up and Louise French from the nose down. In 1965, Louise told her son's fan club members that she thought George looked like her dad, a tall man from Ireland. An avid gardener herself, Louise chafed at the move from her original home with Harry to the famed home in Speke because she was displeased with the way many neighborhood kids trampled her garden. In 1965 when George bought the senior Harrisons a lovely home in Appleton, he made sure there was plenty of land for them to garden, much to their delight.

This book is a gift that keeps giving. Readers will thank Kevin Roach for his tireless contributions and research and George's sister Louise and their cousin Anthony French for their invaluable input and contributions. Thank you!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2013 8:54 PM BST


When They Were Boys
When They Were Boys
by Larry Kane
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Day, Sunshine!, 26 Aug. 2013
This review is from: When They Were Boys (Hardcover)
"In my life, I've loved them all." -- John Lennon, 1965 from "In My Life"

The Beatles have been an important staple in my life for the majority of my life. When I say I love the Beatles, I mean I REALLY love them!

Larry Kane was the only American reporter who flew with the Beatles during their US tours. This book is an excellent, full picture of the boys' lives and readers get a sense of each Beatle and the people who shaped him. (Larry Kane's favorite Beatle is John. He disclosed this when he spoke at the 2003 Chicago Fest for Beatle Fans and boy, he is an EXCELLENT speaker and raconteur! I heard the man speak 3 times and I even have an autographed copy of Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 and 1965 Tours That Changed the World).

I had a bit of a giggle when Larry Kane said that George was "the spitting image of his father, Harold Sr." True, George did have the paternal traits of the Harrison ears; the deep set signature Harrison eyes and the thick wavy hair. The bulk of his beauty came from Louise French and the men in the French family. He was Harold Sr. from the eyes up and Louise French from the nose down and he had the lean, ectomorphic French build from the men in the French family.

I also had another giggle when Kane claimed that Yoko met John's Uncle George, which we know never took place. The man died in the 1950s, years before John even met Yoko!

Then there was Kane's claim that there was rivalry between Paul and Stu over who was bassist. Kane claims that Paul wanted Stu ousted from the group as he wanted to be the sole bassist. That has never been suggested anywhere else and that claim appears to be a fallacy. The three "core" Beatles were all guitarists before Stu entered the picture and many have said that Stu's guitar skills were rather limited.

As for poor Pete Best, he was not the greatest drummer under Here Comes the Sun. He can be heard on the Beatles' Anthology 1 and his timing left a lot to be desired. Tony Sheridan, a very early pre-Beatles and Beatles' insider also noted that Pete's drumming was not teriffic and he did not strive to improve. Naturally the Best family found their version of Pete's ultimate dismissal from the group more palatable. They claim he was fired. Sheridan was an objective party and I would certainly put more stock into what he said than what the Best family said. Sheridan was also a noted musician during the early days of rock and roll. Add to it is that if Pete's performance and displays of irresponsibility, e.g. missing rehearsals, showing up late and reported conflicts with other members, then how on earth could he reasonably expect to stay in the group? And if he was not doing well in 1962, he would have been left behind for sure by 1965 when the Beatles' music entered the Experimental Phase. As another reviewer on the U.S. boards noted, I, too am glad Pete got his day in the sun with monetary recognition from the Anthology releases, but even so that doesn't mean he belonged as the Beatles' drummer. Yeah, he deserved his long overdue nod, but no, I don't think the Beatles should have kept him on for the reasons they themselves have given.

Readers get a broader and fuller picture of the other members of the Quarrymen, the Beatles' first incarnation as a band; the unfortunate Pete Best who was sacked in 1962 to be replaced by Ringo Starr and the people who were part of the Beatles' touring days of 1964 - 1966. Readers also get treated to stories about the Beatles' trips to Germany in 1960 and 1961 and learn that Harold Sr. was "livid" upon George's being deported in 1960 due to being underage. The Beatles' friends in Germany, Astrid who gave them their iconic beautiful coiffure and Jurgen, famous for his early photographs of the "pre-Fabs" and also Klaus Voormann, who would later draw the cover for their 1966 "Revolver" album are fully "introduced" to readers. An excellent Beatle biography is like the 1966 Paul McCartney classic, a genuine "Good Day Sunshine."

Larry Kane is a truly gifted writer and writing a good Beatle biography that stands out among the plethora of good Beatle books is not easy to do, but he did it. I am an inveterate, hard core Beatle fanatic and have been one since I was tire high to a Ford Falcon and a Ford Galaxie. The Beatles were with me, every step of the way. In my life, I've loved them all and always will. Larry Kane tells how each member of the band including the early players in their early line ups and their evolution to the Beatles, the Fab 4, the Moptops, the WORLD's NUMBER ONE BAND who influenced EVERY aspect of culture and not just pop culture brilliantly and masterfully.

It is a treat to read Larry Kane's accounts of his days as a reporter with access to the World's Greatest Band. He has, as another U.S. reviewer rightfully pointed out earned his title as the World's Best Beatle Biographer. Be sure to read Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 and 1965 Tours That Changed the World and listen to the bonus CD that come swith it and his biography of John Lennon. I promise you that you will not be disappointed! Larry Kane is here to stay!


Apologize, Apologize!
Apologize, Apologize!
by Elizabeth Kelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.67

1.0 out of 5 stars These Characters Put the DYS in DYSfunctional!, 26 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Apologize, Apologize! (Paperback)
I admit that I really didn't like this book and I disliked most of the characters, other than the atrociously named protagonist, Collie Flanagan and his delightfully excentric grandfather, Peregrine, nicknamed the Falcon. (I love falcons and other birds of prey).

Here is the story: Collie was born on November 22, 1963 a day eternally linked with the assassination of President Kennedy. He was named Collie because Lad, the title character in the 1962 movie "Lad: A Dog" was a collie. Good thing that maudlin movie wasn't about a Dandy Dinmont Terrier or an Aafenpincher or he might have been named Dandy D or Aafenpincher. His poor brother fared no better - born on August 3, 1964 he was named Bingo after an Irish Setter AnaÔs once had. (Too bad he wasn't named Ringo after the Beatle.) Their mentally ill mother AnaÔs beats her husband and generally is an androphobe. She punishes her children because they were born boys and her brother is just as bipolar and eccentric as she is, only he at least is a tad nicer. That isn't saying much. Collie's prodigal brother Bingo lives the spendthrift life - casual sex by middle school and a list of expulsions from prestigious prep schools in the U.S. and Canada. I just could not like Bingo.

Bingo and AnaÔs fared miserably as well. They both became literary casualties in 1983. One wonders what took this author so long to kill them off. The pen really IS mightier than the sword.

Again, I readily admit that I didn't like this book, but read it because it was like a train crash - you stare in horrified fascination. Any mother who expresses outright hatred for her children is certainly not a likable character. AnaÔs was described as bipolar and her behavior supports that diagnosis. She is also a thoroughly hateful and reprehensible character. As another reviewer on the U.S. boards noted, AnaÔs lavished love and praise on Bingo and their relationship appeared to be quasi-incestuous. The husband is an alcoholic known for getting drunk and acting a fool and the uncle is just plain weird. His idea of fun was to quiz Collie on trivia. The only part I liked was learning certain terms for groupings, e.g. a kettle of hawks, a rhumba of rattlesnakes.

The Falcon, while to his credit appreciates fine birds is a rich old buzzard who does not appreciate his grandchildren. He and AnaÔs butt heads; she was on the emotional and social plane of a teen rebel. AnaÔs is the picture of stunted emotional growth and remained firmly fixed in adolescent rebellion. She repudiated all he espoused such as a good work ethic and a sense of parental responsibility. The Falcon rightfully "coolly framed AnaÔs in contempt." AnaÔs also "madehating her father her life's workand study, her daddy doctorate." This book, as another reviewer astutely noted, the Flanagan wealth does nothing to buy this dysfunctional band of literary misfits happiness (or as Paul McCartney wrote in 1964, "Can't Buy Me Love.") There is a real PAUCITY, rather a DEARTH of love in this weird story. An astute reviewer on the U.S. boards notes that this book has failed to "be imbued with mad humor;" it is just plain mad. And maddening.

This is a ridiculous story populated with ridiculous characters and just isn't funny. As another U.S. reviewer noted, this book crashes and burns and is NOT the source of a "rare gift." The characters were just so unappealing that I was not able to summon up any sympathy or liking for them.

This book's soundtrack could well be the Doors' "Break on Through to the Other Side."


Me Too
Me Too
by P Cleaver Bill
Edition: Paperback

1.0 out of 5 stars For the Birds!, 29 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Me Too (Paperback)
Twins Lydia and Lorna Birdsong, 12 are very different. Lydia is described as having a head "stuffed with brains" and constantly taught and drilled by her intellectual father. Lorna is cognitively and developmentally a toddler and lives in a nearby institution. The girls' father walked out on their mother twice a decade earlier when the girls were 2 and again when they were 3.

Their mother is a shadow figure who works in a factory. The institution closed due to adverse circumstances for the summer and Lydia is responsible for her sister. You don't get much of a sense of the twins' mother. Lydia tries teaching Lorna with middling results. When Lorna refuses to go along with one of Lydia's lessons, Lydia calls her cruel names. Lydia has delusions of curing kids "like her sister" and having an angel statue erected in her name for her "good works." Real altruism seeks no return and Lydia is just kidding herself. She's rude, bossy and demanding and I really didn't like her at all.

I did like her friend, a Native boy named Billy-Frank Blue, also 12. They had fun together until Lydia took on the responsiblity of her twin sister. She becomes crabby and even more domineering and even the kind Billy-Frank jumps her ship. He had always been a loyal protector, even going toe-to-toe with his own sister, Rucelle when she said she didn't want her brother to marry Lydia lest they have children "like Lorna." Rucelle, newly married became Rucelle Blue Bell. The names - Birdsong, Blue, Bell - you have to have a bit of a giggle. Then there are the Dragoo sisters, spoiled rude girls with a sense of social entitlement who mock Lorna, thus incurring Lydia's wrath.

At the end of the summer, Lydia understandably loses her last friend; Lorna returns to the institution and the girls' father's whereabouts remain unknown. I have intensely disliked this story since I was a child and still do. Lydia was for the Bird(songs).


Mother's Helper
Mother's Helper
by Maureen Freely
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Atrocious Stinker!, 9 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Mother's Helper (Paperback)
This is a very weird story. Laura, 18 is the protagonist. She is a freshman at a local college who was hired by the Pyles to care for their three children, Sarah 10 (her age is given as 8 in the middle of the book and magically she becomes 10 again); Bess, 6 and Nathaniel, 4. Kay Pyle is overly permissive with the children, allowing them to act out sexually and has sexually themed conversations with them. Bob Pyle, a former professor turned lobbyist of sorts tries to be an adult in this household of weird characters. He is described as having brown eyes; later in the book, his eyes are are blue and then later revert to brown. Editing, anyone?

The children are left to run freely. The only "punishment" if you will is when they are told to go to the Thinking Room, a closet in which they are told to think about their behavior. Sarah is truly vicious; Bess, timid and Nathaniel, yearning to belong. The children share a bedroom in the basement and Nathaniel still has a crib. They play such games as Mate, wherein they create hybrid words, e.g. "what do you get when a fish mates a plant? A plish!" "A dog mates a cat? A Dat!" Nathaniel goes so far as to try to mate their dog and cat to create the fictitious "dat."

Sexual talk and adult sexual behavior is pushed onto those children. It's not as though the kids came in with questions, KAY would talk to them about adult sex and pushed sexual talk on them quite frequently. At one point in the book, the kids lock Laura and a male visitor in the Thinking Room and refuse to let them out until they consummate their "relationship." The whole thing just makes one wonder why this was permitted in the first place.

Over time, the Pyles go their separate ways. Kay becomes involved with a group of women, two of whom are partners. She keeps the intercoms in the house on at all times and the children are free to listen in on adult conversations, particularly those involving the partners and their sex life. Kay is open with them to a fault, even telling Sarah that had she waited to have her first child, Sarah might not exist and Bess would be the oldest, but "I still would have called you Sarah." The women are equally bizarre and so is the magazine they want to create. Melissa, the most dislikable one on the bunch becomes even more so when her partner jilts her. I didn't like Melissa at all and felt it served her right.

The whole book was ludicrious and surreal. Laura remains on the periphery of the group of women except in one memorable evening when Kay calls for a rage night. Kay's mother in law rightfully told Kay that never had she ever "seen a woman so bent on destroying her children as Kay." The magazine group and Laura sit at the table and each woman vents to the one sitting beside her all the things in her life that made her angry. Melissa, ever her dislikable self turns on Laura although Laura is not her assigned target. She blames Laura for turning the children against her. Melissa was the one who caused a lot of strife. In one unforgettable scene, Nathaniel squirts his water pistol on the work the women have done for the magazine. Melissa snatches the gun telling Nathaniel it's a "penis substitute." That is hardly the thing to tell a 4-year-old. (That is an example of pushing and projecting adult sexual knowledge and motives onto a child.)

Bess' 7th birthday party was also surreal. She forgot to pass out invitations to her classmates, so Kay throws a party together at the last minute with Violet and two girls from Brussels who are living in the area. Had Kay been thinking, she would have called Bess' teacher to be sure Bess handed out the invitations in time. The sisters think very poorly of Kay and her obvious adulterous romance with Martin. They snicker and make rude remarks. Only the Pyle children's paternal grandmother is the reasonable and stabilizing voice. She was the only character I liked.

To make a bad story even worse, there is bigotry. Bess has a playmate named Violet who is black. Violet's mother worked for Bob. Kay makes a point of not saying she won't scold Violet because of her race. Her friends criticize Violet's mother and make racist comments about her and Bob when they become a couple.

Kay also hooks up with someone. Martin, her laywer friend becomes her new love interest. She even told Nathaniel to come to her bedroom where she was sleeping with Martin. She also encouraged Nathaniel when he wanted to pretend he was a released sperm en route to new life. The Pyle children have a very adult knowledge base of sexual matters and to make things even worse, the girls tackle male visitors and punch their privates. Stupid Kay just puts up silly little memos on her bulletin board advising against this instead of putting a freeze on the behavior in question.

Their sexual aggression gets even more out of hand. Sarah and Bess play a sexual game in the bathtub called "marshmallow" and to make a bad thing even worse, the girls terrorize Nathaniel and threaten to hurt his privates. Laura stops them in time, but not before some damage is done. Sarah bares her fangs and claws and Laura is her avowed enemy for stopping her "ceremony" involving her brother and a knife. Nathaniel is traumatized to the point where Kay decides not to let him join the girls in trick or treating with Bob, who was picking them up. Why the girls were allowed to go after they maltreated their brother is a mystery. Sarah was allowed to rule the household in spoiled, tyrannical fashion with impunity.

You can't help but feel sorry for the children. There is one casualty in this book and Bob Pyle has been more or less relegated to an infrequent visitor. Kay maligns him to their children and generally sets a bad example for them. She flaunts adult sexual matters such as affairs; details and has no sense of adult-child boundaries. Instead of discipline, they are allowed to run free and wild. At various points, the three of them run around the house naked. Sarah is an especially cruel child and Kay bends over backward to win her over. Sad, really.

Laura is just a tragic figure. She did earn a modicum of respect when she stood up to Sarah, a rude little tyrant with a real sense of entitlement. Gently put, I didn't like this book and certainly cannot recommend it.


Breaking the Silence
Breaking the Silence
Price: £1.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let Every Voice Be Heard!, 13 Jun. 2012
Diane Chamberlain is a gifted author and this is a truly stellar book! I literally could not put it down.

Set in 1998, Laura Brandon, 40 is coping with the death of her father, Carl Brandon who was a gifted astronomer. He leaves with her a deathbed request, which is to check in on a woman named Sarah Tolley. Ms Tolley is a widow in a nursing home and she has the beginning stages of Alzheimer's.

Curious, Laura tries to figure out her father's connection to Sarah Tolley. Her husband Ray, champion for the rights of homeless people and her daughter Emma, 5 round out her current family. Laura's mother died in 1966 when she was 8.

Ray is adamantly opposed to Laura visiting Sarah. She refuses to back down and goes out to meet the mysterious Sarah Tolley. They immediately form a bond and Laura learns a lot about Sarah's past. Sarah had been married to a lovely man named Joe Tolley and her late Aunt Jane had a crippling case of agoraphobia. As a nod to her aunt, Sarah becomes a psychiatric nurse and has many horrific tales to share about the hospital in which she worked in the late 1950s. She also had a daughter named Janie who was born in April of 1958 whom she is trying to locate.

When Laura returns home, she is greeted by a mute and traumatized Emma. Ray had shot himself to death and left a very unsettling note. In dealing with the aftermath of the man's suicide, Laura has to help Emma work through her trauma. Emma stopped speaking when she found out what Ray had done.

Eight months slog past and Emma still isn't speaking. Emma's therapist is very encouraging and even invites Sarah to join them for Emma's sessions, which turns out to be a good thing. Emma has developed a real terror of men and think all they do is scream and shoot themselves. She won't even play at a friend's summer house when the girl's father is present.

Again, Sarah Tolley might have more insights as to what caused Emma's fears to segue into more fears. She and Emma bond.

So does a man named Dylan Geer. He receives a call from Laura, literally out of the blue and denies the claim she makes. He has a successful hot air balloon touring business and he wants to keep his life attachment free. His current girlfriend is a selfish whinebag named Bethany. More than once I wanted to kick Bethany in the shins. Laura counters Dylan's anger by sending him a picture of Emma. Once he sees that picture, the world changes for him.

"Breaking the Silence" is a masterpiece. Sarah's tales of horror about atrocities committed on psychiatric patients in the 1950s bleed over into 1998, which is when this story is set. She is the glue that binds Dylan, Laura and Emma as well as Emma's very astute therapist. Their stories are heartwarming and this book might make you cry. Just a warning.

At the risk of sounding corny, I am going to miss these characters. This book gets nothing but accolades from me.

The Fifth Dimension's 1967 classic "Up Up & Away" could be the soundtrack of this book.


Barefoot
Barefoot
by Elin Hilderbrand
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Circle in the Sand, 12 April 2012
This review is from: Barefoot (Paperback)
I enjoy Elin Hildebrand's books, even though these common denominators exist: the Nantucket setting, emphasis on sand and a local male who becomes a love interest. Even so, I enjoy her books and good chick lit is worth it every time.

Vicki Stowe, 32 and her sister Brenda Lyndon, 31 are spending their summer on Nantucket, of course with Vicki's friend Melanie in tow. Vicki's two children Blaine, 4 and his gruesomely named brother Porter,* an infant are on this trek. In fact, readers are introduced to the trio when Melanie nearly trips at the airport with Vicki's kids. (Having Porter as a surname is one thing, but to inflict that name on a hapless baby is an entirely different matter.)

Luckily, Island resident Josh Flynn, 21, and a summer employee at the airport is taken by the trio. He dislikes his job and is only doing it to help defray the cost of his senior year in Vermont. He has an unrequited crush on Brenda as, according to her character, men seem to do.

In fact, Brenda was fired from a teaching post at a small university for having an affair with a student who was one year her junior. To make matters worse, Brenda was being sued because in a childish fit of pique, she threw her esoteric book at a Jackson Pollack painting, causing minor damage. She acted a fool at her hearing and ultimately hurt her own case. The university staff were made up of a cadre of very dislikable people. Brenda's hearing was also comprised of dislikable people, including the traitors, one of whom was a faculty member who turned Brenda in. Sadly, Brenda's area of expertise was so narrow as her entire academic life and career in academia revolved around a rather obscure book.

Melanie's husband Peter was involved in an affair with a rather dislikable woman named Frances. Melanie walks out on Peter and their house in Connecticut to take Vicki up on her offer to spend the summer on the Island. Vicki and Brenda's mother believe, to a humorous degree that "Nantucket sand between your toes" is a panacea. Melanie is pregnant, finally after several years of unsuccessful in vitro attempts.

Vicki has been diagnosed with lung cancer and believes, to a certain extent that Nantucket sand really IS a panacea. She has a delightful medical team at the hospital on the Island and her husband Ted, who comes to visit later in the book is a truly good person.

So is Josh Flynn, whom Brenda commissions to babysit Vicki's boys. Josh bonds with them and to a certain extent identifies with them as he lost a mother under very traumatic circumstances some 10 years earlier. He also has a former girlfriend with nothing to recommend her. In fact, Didi is such an odious character that you just can't like or sympathize with her. She extorts money from Josh; has a fatal attraction on him; threatens him and is involved in a number of questionable activities. Many was the time when I wanted to kick Didi in the shins and I was so glad when Josh made it plain to her he was no longer interested in her. What I found hard to believe was when Didi, who had a job at the Admitting Desk at the hospital where Vicki was being treated made snide comments about Vicki's possible death and for threatening Brenda on another occasion. She should have been reported ASAP and fired even sooner. I had an EXTREMELY adverse reaction to Didi and thoroughly detested her.

I was not overly fond of Brenda either and wanted to kick her in the shins a few times. I thought she was very selfish, self centered and self serving. I didn't like the way she treated Melanie and said mean things about her when Melanie could hear them. Although the results were good, I didn't like the way she advertized for baby sitters without consulting Vicki. Sixteen months Vicki's junior, she had long been an antagonist to her sister. One part I found a tad implausible was Vicki's reported response and behavior to Brenda shortly after Brenda was born. Her behavior sounded far advanced for a 1-year-old and more believable from a child at least twice that age.

I loved the men in this book for the most part. Brenda's boyfriend was just delightful. A brilliant, kind man from Australia, John Walsh brought a fresh insight into the story. Josh was a very kind and unusually mature young man who was able to provide support on an adult level and be a kind and responsible example/caretaker for the Stowe boys. He was incredibly kind to Vicki, knowing how seriously ill she was.

For anybody who has ever lost a loved one to cancer and/or who has cared about somebody going through chemo and radiation treatments, you might cry when you read about Vicki's ordeal. George Harrison died from lung cancer. A relative died from cancer. This book is so on target that readers will come away thinking about it long after they have turned the last page.

On a tangential note, I didn't like the cover. I am tired of feet, toes and sand instead faces being shown. The cover just was not aesthetically appealing. However, the UK cover is much more appealing as you see people and where they are instead of just feet.

I would recommend this book to anybody. Belinda Carlisle's 1988 "Circle in the Sand" could be the soundtrack of this book along with Tom Chapin's "All My Life's a Circle."

*Dr. William G. Porter, an oncologist who is acknowledged in this book had a literary namesake.


A Summer Affair
A Summer Affair
Price: £4.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Footprints in the Sand, 12 April 2012
This review is from: A Summer Affair (Kindle Edition)
Claire Crispin Danner, glass blower extraordinaire is married to a hard working man and is blessed with 4 children, J.D., 10, Ottilie, 8, Shea, 4 and Zack, 1. While she appears to have it all, she has 2 voids in her life - her husband's strong stand on her going into her workshop to blow glass and her own unfulfilled aspirations. She also wants to spice up her love life. Add to it Claire carries a guilt complex where her son Zack is concerned. Had she not gone into her ultra-hot workshop to blow glass, she would never have fainted and delivered the baby prematurely. Her husband, while seemingly a nice guy is a bit of a caveman and does not appear to have any cultural interests.

An accident a year earlier (2007) set the wheels in motion for everyone's collective lives to change. A friend named Daphne, mother of Heather, 16 and wife of billionaire Lock Dixon, who is directing Nantucket Children's Gala was injured in that accident. Daphne suffered from permanent cognitive impairment. Lock, by then married in name only commissions Claire to chair the Gala. Chair Claire agrees as she felt guilty about Daphne's accident and resulting personality change. Even the Dixons' daughter avoids Daphne and attends a boarding school.

Lock also commissions Claire to create an extraordinary chandelier. Claire has to sneak out to her workshop to create this masterpiece. She is also sneaking out to see Lock, with whom she has an affair.

They meet regularly in his office and other private venues, living by the credo of discretion. Claire's friend Siobhan, mother of two tween boys is the only person other than her parish priest in whom she confides her adulterous affair. Naturally, neither approve and this strains Claire's relationship with Siobhan.

Add to their list of woes is a company thief who has been skimming funds from the Gala events for years. Claire's sneaking around and creating her mega-masterpiece in secret all underscores the theme of secrecy in this story.

With regard to the affair and the chandelier, there were no surprises there. Claire's flair for glass blowing easily reminds those who read The Island. Readers will recognize parallels between India's husband's gift for sculpting and Claire's flair for glass blowing and the metaphoric importance in their respective art media. I did like the inclusion of a meal with Paul McCartney included as a prize in the Gala. Even so, I thought the story was as light and frothy as whipped cream in Ovaltine. Dark background with a light touch. I also thought the story was quite predictable.

As another reviewer on Amazon US notes, the cover is not the greatest. I'm tired of toes, feet, sand, towels and no showing of people's faces. After all, the adulterous couple did conduct the better part of their affair in an office and didn't leave any footprints in the sand, so to speak.

The Shangri-Las' 1964 classic "Walking in the Sand" could be the soundtrack of this book.


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