Sunday, March 13, 2011

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You...

The Read-a-Thon is coming!!! I think this will be my sixth RAT, but I've lost track now...I'll have to go back through the blog and check. This is my favorite event in the Blogosphere, and I can't wait. Now I just have to see if I'm scheduled to work First Appearances that weekend, so I can get someone to cover.

If you want to sign up, go here.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: Loon: A Marine Story by Jack McLean

I'll be honest, when I received this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program, I couldn't remember why I requested it. It's a book about Viet Nam, and I am not a reader of war stories. My grandfathers were both war veterans, but neither my parents nor any of my sisters were in the military. I have no real interest in the military or reading about war. I actually dreaded reading the book.

Until I opened it and read the first few pages.

I couldn't put it down. I started it last night before bed and finished it about a half an hour ago. I haven't sped through a book that fast in recent memory. The book isn't too long, about 250 pages, but it is intense, and it will keep you turning the pages. I was enthralled. It's a fictionalized memoir, I guess you could call it. The events are true, but some of the dialogue was created by the author, since it would have been all but impossible to recall the exact details of conversations held 40 years ago.

The book tells the story of McLean's enlistment in the Marines and his subsequent tour of duty in Viet Nam. McLean came from a place of privilege, private school and money. The kids in his graduating class went to college to avoid the draft, but McLean actually signed up for service. The story details his basic training, his first assignment in supply school, learning computerized inventory systems, and his eventual shipping off to Viet Nam to see action "in the shit."

I'll say it again, I was enthralled. Not being a reader of war stories, I haven't read anything about the Viet Nam war. My senior year English teacher in high school lived through Viet Nam and read us snippets of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, but that was the extent of my knowledge of the war. I don't even remember learning that much about it in history (except the mention of the domino effect theory in the book did ring some bells).

I'm so, so glad I read this book. It was touching and scary and fascinating, all in one. I cried at several points during the story. I give it five out of five Whatevers. LOVED it. I recommend this to just about anyone: those who remember Viet Nam or those who, like me, need to learn more about it. It is pretty scary, so it's not for young kids, but other than that, go for it.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Review: Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott

This is the third and final book in Louisa May Alcott's trilogy which began with Little Women, the story of the four March girls. In this installment, Plumfield has become a part of Laurence College, and both boys and girls are being educated there together (a somewhat revolutionary idea for its time). The book tells the sweet stories of the men and women we have already met in previous books, as well as a few who are new to us, as they try to ready themselves to face the world.

I loved this book, in which Alcott lets her feminism shine through in the speeches and lectures of Jo Bhaer and the other characters. I love hearing her preach to her society of the time, exhorting them to allow women an education, and teaching them that a mixture of study and activity is best for young minds and bodies, rather than just locking students in a room all day for study, while neglecting their physical selves. Some might find the books a little preachy, but I enjoy the old-fashioned talks that Jo had with her boys. That kind of advice is out of fashion now, but it would be useful for some to hear.

I liked this novel better than Little Men, probably because the children were older and in college. I'd give it five out of five Whatevers, and recommend it for anyone who likes an old-fashioned read.