Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Don't You Know There's a War On?

By Avi

It's World War II and Howard Crispers is eleven years old and lives in Brooklyn, New York. He and his best friend Denny both have fathers off serving in the war, so naturally the two boys are very caught up in all the drama of that time. They believe their public school principal is a German spy.
One day, Howard is late getting off to school and he sees the principal on the street. Normally, the principal is the first one to arrive at school in the morning and so seeing him sets off all Howard's alarm bells and he follows the man to see where he is going. He ends up eavesdropping on a conversation between the man and an unknown woman. To his consternation, he hears that his very own teacher is slated to be fired, for reasons unknown.
Thus begins Howard's and Denny's campaign to save their teacher from losing her job, against the background of the United States in the depth of World War II.

This was a pretty good story, even though it is intended for children. The end of the story is very much like that of real life endings, bittersweet.

No Time for Sergeants

By Mac Hyman

It's World War II and Will Stockdale hasn't received the four letters sent to him from the draft board and now they are coming to forcibly remove him from his rural home with his father and stick Will in the military.
Will is not reluctant to go but his father puts up a fight, the end result of which is that Will goes but with a reputation for trouble-making, a reputation that will dog him from the very start of his time in the military.
Will is a sort of yokel superman, expert at shooting pool, strong enough to bend steel with his bare hands, and able to drink experienced drinkers under the table. But really he is an amiable guy who just wants to get along with people but whose lack of experience and understanding constantly cause him to get into trouble. But, despite the ill will of his superiors in the military, Will keeps coming out on top.

This was an amusing book. Will is a sort of unbelievable character, with his powers and abilities so much greater than that of his fellow humans. But the fixes he gets himself into and out of are well worth the read.

Monday, January 30, 2017


By Neil Ravin

William Ryan has just started his internship at a prestigious New York City hospital. A young man of strong principles, nevertheless he becomes involved with a beautiful, successful but married cardiologist. He also has a series of on again off again romantic entanglements with nurses and a patient being treated for recurring bouts of cancer.
However, his principles do cause him to fall victim to hospital politics and jeopardize his blossoming medical career.
But mainly this book is more about being an intern in a big city hospital and less about Ryan's less-than-satisfying romantic life. It has lots of medical details, some of it quite gruesome. Because, unlike horror stories, the horrors of illness are reality.

This was a pretty interesting story. But if you are  the least bit of a hypochondriac, avoid this book. There are just too many disturbing descriptions of the many ways your body can screw you over.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries -- What Am I Doing in the Pits?

By Erma Bombeck

Erma Bombeck was a humor columnist who wrote about the joys and chores not only of parenthood but of coping with life in general. Her columns appeared in numerous newspapers and were collected into book form, including this one, which was the second of her books.
I suppose her humor can best be appreciated by those in the throes of parenthood, who no doubt will see themselves in her depictions. But even those who are not yet or who may never be parents will still probably enjoy her amusing columns. Though a bit dated by now, she still makes for a diverting read.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch

By Haywood Smith

Lin Scott is recovering from her divorce, which left her destitute. She ends up moving back in with her parents, a sorry situation as far as she, a woman in her fifties, is concerned.
Tension is high at home. Her mom is a bit controlling, her dad is fading into senility. Her alcoholic brother also lives there as does her elderly aunt and uncle. The uncle is also senile and off his medication.
Lin was a wife and mother. Her husband was successful and she never had to have a job outside of the home. She has never used a computer, she never graduated from college and she has arthritis, so a job where she has to be on her feet is out. But somehow she has to figure out a way to support herself. Relying on her elderly parents is not fair to them even though they are glad to have her back home.
She lucks into a job when she stops by the local drugstore. One of the clerks has collapsed and been taken to the hospital and won't be fit to return to work for many weeks. Since Lin used to work at this drugstore when she was a high schooler, she steps in to lend a hand and lands a temporary job. She is also going to night school, studying to get a real estate license.
Things are definitely looking up for Lin and the hunky new owner of the drugstore is more than just a little interested in his new employee.

This is an okay story. It is mainly about Lin finding her way in her new situation, with a little romance thrown in. There is also a political subplot that I found completely boring and uninteresting. Also, a one point early in the story, it is revealed that Lin's parents are having money troubles but that is never dealt with beyond a few mentions. Plus, even knowing this, she still lets her mother pay for the real estate course. Also, Lin dreads moving back in with the parents because they are such a pain to live with. But they don't seem to be that horrible in the story and her judgment of them as difficult is not really illustrated.
I think the story has quite a few gaps and would have been more interesting without the politics story.