Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand | Jorie's Store @ Amazon

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 

Title: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Author: Laua Hillenbrand, Narrated by Edward Herrmann
ISBN: 9781415962763
Length: 13 hours, 56 minutes
Publication Date: November 16, 2010
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Biography, History, Word War II History, Military History
Source: Harris County Public Library Digital Media Catalog

Goodreads

Reasons for Reading: I wanted to read Unbroken ever since I watched a “CBS Sunday Morning” segment about Louis Zamperini and Laura Hillenbrand. Soon after, I won a Nook Tablet and, thus, began my journey of requesting and re-requesting Unbroken until I finished it in 2014. I’ve checked out both eBook and eAudio of Unbroken from HCPL’s Overdrive.

Summary: Wild and crazy Louis Silvie Zamperini seemed unstoppable. His hi-jinx earned him a reputation in his hometown of Torrance, California while his amazing speed gave him a ticket to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He went on to become an Army Air Forces bombardier. He fought in the Pacific Theater. His bomber crashed in the Pacific Ocean in May, 1943. Many believed Zamperini and others on board died in the crash.

Unbeaten, Zamperini rose to the surface of the ocean and pulled himself onto a life raft. He and two other crew members survived the crash. The three floated, awaiting help. Ultimately, Japanese fighters discovered the castaways. The journey continues, testing an unbreakable spirit.

One Thing I Learned from this book: One real threat to humanity was the pseudoscience of eugenics, “the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population” (Wikipedia, 2014).  To discover more, click on the following linked phrase – Eugenics – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

What I Liked: I liked Zamperini and his rough and tumble family. I easily slipped into his world as Hillenbrand set the scene well. I’ll admit this fits under the heading of  “stranger than fiction.”

What I Disliked: I wanted a little more between the last chapter and the penultimate chapter and the epilogue. As this may spoil the ending, I will not say anything more about the ending.

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17

A Few Notes: I finished reading Unbroken a short while before our hero’s passing in July. To see previous posts about the subject of Unbroken, check out the following links:

For more, check out the following sites:

Laurie Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe


Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle | eBranch Harris County Public Library

(Written 31 January 2013)

Title and Author(s): Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle & Grace Conlin (Narrator)

Release Date: May 9, 2006
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ISBN:  9781455100132

Duration: 13 hours, 39 minutes

Reasons for Reading: I wanted another eAudio. Also, I wanted something very different from Black Like Me. When I saw a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, I felt I’d achieved that. All I remembered about her was that she was an artist that one of my sixth grade teachers said painted whatever she saw around her. While I found this simplistic, I felt there must be more to Georgia O’Keeffe. So, I checked it out via HCPL Overdrive and ultimately listened to it on my Nook Tablet.

Summary: This book takes on the true story of the American iconoclast – Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe marched to the beat of her own drummer perhaps from the beginning. Her larger than life story, bigger than some of her canvasses, draws interest.This artist lived nearly a century, one marked in change and evolution. Just the roles she played throughout her life – woman, artist, muse, lover, wife, friend, etc don’t begin to define her.

One Thing I Learned from reading Laurie Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe: O’Keeffe was the namesake of her maternal grandfather – George Victor Totto, a Hungarian count who came to the US in 1848.

What I Liked:  I liked that the author expressed herself in an objective way. Lisle portrayed O’Keeffe, warts and all, as the saying goes. She also described O’Keeffe’s mercurial ways very well.

What I Disliked: I blame myself for this. When I read about a visual artist in the future, I must skip an audiobook. I truly must see the pictures. While this encouraged me to browse online for O’Keeffe’s art, it was rather inconvenient listening to this on my work commute.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Georgia on my Mind- Ray Charles – YouTube

Setting: Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Hawaii, Chicago

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For more on Laurie Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, check out the following sites:

Ann Brashares’ Sisterhood Everlasting


Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares | LibraryThing

Brashares, A. (2011). Sisterhood everlasting: A novel. New York: Random House. 9780385521222

A few years ago, I read all four of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. Later, I read 3 Willows, perhaps an extension of the aforementioned series. When I recently stumbled upon Sisterhood Everlasting on Amazon, I quickly requested the book through HCPL.

Warning: This review is meant for those who have read all the previous novels ONLY.

Brashares picks up the story of the four best friends – Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget, ten years later. They’re all grown up and leading seperate lives. Carmen plays a character on a TV show and lives with her producer fiancé. Lena teaches art at RISD and wonders about what life would’ve been like had she been with Kostos. Bridget lives with her boyfriend Eric in San Francisco. When Tibby invites Lena, Carmen, and Bridget to a reunion in Greece, all the sisters are estatic. However, this is a moment which changes their lives irrevocably.   

While I found the climax of this book devastating, I read the whole book. When I made it to the last pages, I felt relieved. Still, I’m not crazy about some of things which took place. Perhaps I’m too fond of happy endings sans tragedy.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song : These are Days – YouTube (Natalie Merchant)

Places : New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Greece, Australia

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For more on Ann Brashares’ Sisterhood Everlasting, check out the following sites:

J.D. Robb’s In Death Series


Ericksen, S., & Robb, J. D. (2004). In Naked in death. Brilliance Audio on compact disc. Grand Haven, MI: Brilliance Audio. 9781593558284

Ericksen, S., & Robb, J. D. (2004). In Glory in death. In Death, #2. Grand Haven, Mich: Brilliance Audio. 9781593558314

McMurdo-Wallis, C., & Robb, J. D. (2001). In Immortal in death. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books. 9781402515385

Robb, J. D., & Ericksen, S. (2006). Rapture in death. Brilliance Audio on compact disc. Grand Haven, MI: Brilliance Audio. 9781423313533

Robb, J. D., & Ericksen, S. (2001). Ceremony in death. Grand Haven, Mich: Brilliance Audio. 9781423313717

With a new car and a new CD player, I once again became  an “audiobook reader.” So, I chose to give Nora Roberts’ turn as J.D. Robb a shot.

The “In Death” series offers a bleak look at the future. The main character is Eve Dallas, a thirty-year old NYPSD (New York Police and Security Department) lieutenant in the year 2058. Before we become depressed though, I’d like to say Dallas’ world is a phoenix rising from the ashes of the Urban Wars a few decades before Naked in Death. Technology is grand and inspiring and people regularly do business “off planet.”

Lt. Eve Dallas investigates homicide on (and off) the mean streets of New York City. She’s a phoenix herself; having been found as an eight year old girl on a Dallas, Texas street with a broken arm and covered in blood.  A social worker names her “Eve Dallas.” Before this, she lived with her abusive father that she only recalls in the aforementioned nightmares.

Eve grows up in the foster care system. As an adult, Eve joins the police force in 2051. While working on a homicide case involving murdered licensed companions (legal prostitutes), Eve meets Roark, an Irish multi-millionaire, who romances her.

As anyone can see, I’ve continued with the series and I’m working on the fourth book, Rapture in Death. Having read Nora Roberts, J.D. Robb would be my preference. There’s continuity, the futuristic aspects, and a bit of grit. While I hope there are no events such as the Urban Wars, I look forward to traveling to Mars and parents receiving government paychecks for being parents.

I strongly recommend reading these in order.

Three out of Five Pearls

Word Bank: Check out the Glossary on J.D. Robb’s site.

Places: New York City, Dallas, Texas, East Washington, New Los Angeles, Ireland, Mexico, Mars, “Off planet”

For more on J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series, please check out the following sites:

Jonathon Franzen’s The Corrections


A nuclear family seemingly enjoys Christmas Dinner.

A nuclear family seemingly enjoys Christmas Dinner.

*1001 Books Book

Franzen, J. (2001). The corrections. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

 

When I saw this book in the 1001 Books tome and Arukiyomi’s review, I found myself drawn to the cover. The jacket offers the viewer a glimpse of a traditional late 1950s to early 1960s family gathered for a holiday meal. Looking closer, I saw part of a happy boy’s face and the full shot of another boy’s face; this one not so perky. In fact, he looked burdened with displeasure. Although the book is quite thick (about 600 pages), I read The Corrections pretty rapidly.

The Lamberts appears as the typical dysfunctional, American family in which each member seeks out some sort of fix for whatever ails him or her.  Published just before 9/11, the Lamberts of the Midwestern St. Jude want correction. Alfred Lambert, the father, now suffers from the isolating dimensia that is Parkinson’s Disease. His wife, Enid, is riddled with shame and anxiety.

They have three grown children; Gary, Chip, and Denise. All three kids live in the Northeast. Gary, the oldest, looks to be a successful Philadelphia banker with a wife and three sons. Yet, Gary may unravel due to possible clinical depression and paranoia egged on by his wife, Caroline.

Chip is Alfred and Enid’s second son. While Chip was on his way to tenure at a Northeast college, he was forced to resign after his affair with a student. Now, he writes and looks for correction in working for a Lithuanian mob boss. He feels his parents are the source of all of his problems.

The youngest is Denise, a beautiful and competitive chef in Philadelphia. She’s also a divorcee and under the constant pressure from Enid to marry a nice, young man. Enid believes Denise to be having an affair.

Enid wants desperately for all of the Lamberts to gather at their home in St. Jude for one last Christmas. Alfred is getting on in years and surely they will be moving to be closer to their children. Well, whether or not any of this happens is anyone’s guess . . .

One major theme in this socially critical novel is reflected by the title – correction. It argues that the next generation is to learn from the preceding one what not to do. As that old saying goes, “Learn from your parents mistakes.” I can buy this to a certain extent. Yet, as reviewer Arukiyomi said of this very book, I also find that Jesus’ death is the ultimate correction. Yes, there’s still need for atonement and redemption but this takes a more Divine Intervention if you ask me. However, I saw many of the characters turning to narcotics, alcohol, sex, etc, etc in order to treat the challenges they faced. Ultimately, I still debate whether or not the Lamberts really were “cured” in the end. Some appeared to doggedly accept their plights while others became satisfied without admitting they had problems.

I liked parts of this book. Even as much distance Gary, Chip, and Denise try to put between themselves and their parents (physically, mentally, emotionally) they are still tethered to Alfred and Enid. This is just life. Another thing which amused me was how Franzen referred to Chip’s former employer as D—- College.

I found much of it reminiscent of Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Both books have dysfunctional families with three children – the two eldest being boys, the youngest – a girl. While Tyler seems to keep a respectful distance when it comes to certain aspects in her characters’ lives, Franzen is much closer and much much more personal.

I found that Franzen firmly grasped the characters of Gary, Enid, and Chip. I didn’t know what to make of Denise. Not for the obvious reasons, but she seemed quite male. Alfred truly put the hysterical into hysterical realism.

Places: St. Jude, American Midwest, Philadelphia, New York, American Northeast, Lithuania, Eastern Europe

Three Out of Five Pearls