Audio-book review: The Last of the Doughboys

  Title: The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and their Forgotten World War Author: Richard Rubin; read by Grover Gardner Publisher: Blackstone Audio, 2013. Hardcover by Houghton Mifflen, 2013. 528 pages. Source: Library digital resources Publisher's Summary: In 2003, 85 years after the armistice, it took Richard Rubin months to find just one living American veteran of World War I. But then, he found another. And another. Eventually he managed to find dozens, aged 101 to 113, and interview them. All are gone now. A decade-long odyssey to recover the story of a forgotten generation and their Great War led Rubin across the United States and France, through archives, private collections, and battlefields, literature, propaganda, and even music. But at the center of it all were the last of the last, the men and women he met: a new immigrant, drafted and sent to France, whose life was saved by a horse; a Connecticut Yankee who volunteered and fought in every maj

Middle Grade Monday: Stepping on the Cracks. An Audio-book Review.

Title: Stepping on the Cracks Author: Mary Downing Hahn; read by Rachel Dulude Publisher: Audio-Go, 2013. Original publication 1991 by Clarion Books. Source: Library digital resources Publisher's Summary: Margaret and her best friend Elizabeth both have brothers fighting the war against Hitler; like everyone else they know, they are filled with feelings of patriotism. Margaret and Elizabeth support everything about the war: the troops, the reasons for going to war, even the food rations. After all, this is the good war and the Americans are the good guys. But the girls are also involved in their own personal war at home. Gordy Smith, the worst bully in the sixth grade, teases and torments them, and Margaret is scared to death of him. But when Gordy and his pals Toad and Doug grow bolder than ever, Margaret and Elizabeth come up with a daring plan to get even. That’s when the girls discover a shocking secret about Gordy that turns their lives upside-down and draws them i

Friday Flash: The Center Does Not Hold

Two weeks ago Chuck Wendig was having a blue fit or something, and issued a flash fiction challenge based on William Butler Yeats' poem, The Second Coming. In particular, around that key line, "Things fall apart; the center does not hold." Work on Death By Adverb is keeping me from putting as much into my flash fiction this month as I might, but I played around with the theme (a week late), and ended up with more of a dystopian vignette than a story, and only about 625 words. But here it is, for what it's worth. It might appear to contain some political commentary. The Center Does Not Hold Things fall apart; the center does not hold. Was it better when everything stayed in its place, and the magnetic pull of the god kept everyone in tight orbit around their station? My grandfather says it was, but I think Grandmother is less certain. Maybe that’s because she says that her place used to be a bit cramped and uncomfortable. I used to think she meant she had to live in

Sexism and the Writer of the Purple Prose

 I had a yen the other day for a western to read, and grabbed up a copy of Zane Grey's The Call of the Canyon. This isn't a proper review of the book, but more a rant about it.   The Call of the Canyon, by Zane Grey, originally published 1924. I like Zane Grey. Some of his books have very strong female characters, even if they are all destined for matrimony (he was, after all, writing romances, in both senses of the word). I also expect his novels to focus on the male protagonist, and may at times feel impatient with this. So it was kind of exciting to realize that this book stuck pretty well to the viewpoint of the female protagonist. So far so good. But after he paints Carley as a rather modern young woman, independent (in part because she's lucky enough to be independently wealthy), he starts repositioning her as selfish and self-indulgent. Fine. But what's not fine is the reason why: she doesn't want to "fulfill her destiny" as a wife and mother, subsu

YA Audio: The Children of Willesden Lane

Title: The Children of Willesden Lane. Beyond the Kinderstransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival. Author: Mona Golabek; read by Lee Cohen Publisher: Hachette Audio, 2016. Originally by Times Warner, Int., 2007. 288 pages. Source: Library digital resources Publisher's Summary:   With the raw emotion of The Diary of Anne Frank, Mona Golabek's powerful memoir is a poignant story of tragedy and triumph in a time of war. Famed concert pianist Mona Golabek shares the inspirational true story of her mother's escape from pre-World War II Vienna to an orphanage in London--243 Willesden Lane. 'The music will give you will be your best friend in life.' With these words--the last she would ever hear from her mother--ringing in her ears, young piano prodigy Lisa Jura boarded the Kindertransport and headed for safety. Amidst the dozens of Jewish refugees trying to make their way in war-torn London, Lisa forms indelible friendships, finds romance,

Photo Friday: Hanging with the Elephant Seals

Last weekend we did a little excursion to A ñ o Nuevo State Park to see what the Elephant Seals were up to. Turns out it's "juvenile haul-out" season, and there were a lot of youngsters on the beaches. It was also just a kind of cool day for a hike. The fog was sitting right on the coastline, so that we walked in and out of the sun and fog. Not much of a story here, but some photos. Looking back through the fringes of mist. We passed a really pretty pond on our way to the beach. Pelicans were almost as numerous as elephant seals. The birds and the marine mammals ignored each other, occupying neighboring spaces but not competing. After a walk of about 1 1/2 miles, we reached North Point, where the seals congregated on the beach. From a distance you could think it was driftwood, if not for the sound effects. Seals on the beach, pelicans on a low rock just offshore. For the safety of all concerned--even a yearling elephant seal outweighs an adult human by a fair

IWSG: It's NaNo Time, and I'm Not

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means IWSG time! Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to drop in on our awesome co-hosts for October: Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and, well, me!  This month's question: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be pub