31 July 2014

A Painful Encounter...

Sometime in the wee morning as I returned home from walking Mac...Some nasty yellow jacket attacked!
With Mac's allergies (we almost lost him once) I am only too happy to say I found myself the only target.
Perhaps it was the car's vibrations as my son started our SUV to go to town which threatened them but in the end it matters little. That sting was not pleasant!

You might well ask where did it came from...Well, for weeks now we have known of a nest located under the porch, well buried in the ground betwixt two pylons and we have yet to figure out how to reach it. It seems the only way will be to remove part of the porch...Sigh...

We love the wildlife and feed one and all but this is one of God's creatures I wish to be gone as soon as possible.

At least our favourite pup is fine albeit my scream and stomping might well have take a toll on his nerves!
Never mind the fact I was so loud ex-RAF flyboy jumped out of bed faster than I have seen him doing in quite awhile...Still springy for 75!

A bit of research led me to find out it is always best to treat a yellowjacket nest at night (45 minutes after sunset or later) when most of the workers are back in the nest. "Just know that if you treat during the day many of the workers, perhaps as many as 60 or 80 percent, may be out of the nest during your treatment. On occasion, workers and brood in a treated nest will survive and the nest will reactivate in a couple of days..."

Big sigh...

The only way out of the house is through the porch...I wonder how long Mac can wait before he has to go out again...

 photo ed0f8156-8603-4d8e-bee8-b1f523aea315.jpg

Pleaaaase Mum! Not too long I hope...

28 July 2014

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Book review

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (May 6, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476746586
  • Also available in KINDLE format


From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

(Les remparts de St Malo)

My thoughts:

To date the literary world encompasses many talented authors but as you know, there are always stars shining higher in any firmament and this work of fiction is by far one of the brightest! 

Anthony Doerr has successfully shaken any empathy we might experience with the volume of novels published in one given year! This is a novel you shall enjoy for its rich visual depth, each sentence bringing to mind another picture and a wealth of feelings guaranteed to make you feel you found a treasure here at last!

Doerr's words palpates as if he immersed himself in the very soul of his protagonists. In turn Marie-Laure and Werner leave the reader no alternative but to read yet another page and witness their attempts to survive another day in a world gone absolutely mad. 

Through young blind Marie-Laure is perceived a wealth of sensations hidden behind the veil of darkness, sound, smell and touch highlighted against the backdrop of Malacology and Conchology....

Young Werner is the German orphan who yearns for his place in the exalted life promised by the new Fascist Party and their idolized leader. 
As a chosen Cadet for Essen's National Political Institute of Education he is challenged to brutal extremes as he discovers a brand new world of unimaginable sciences. 
His skills in Trigonometry will take him from the Fatherland to Poland, Ukraine, Austria into the hellish Russian winters and finally into the ruins of St Malo, France.

"All Winter the Germans drive their horses and sledges and tanks and trucks over the same roads, packing down the snow, transforming it into a slick bloodstained ice-cement, And when April finally comes, reeking of sawdust and corpses, the canyon walls of snow give way while the ice on the roads remains stubbornly fixed, a luminous internecine network of invasion: a record of the crucifixion of Russia."

From Paris's world of Natural Sciences to the destruction of St Malo we follow a young girl caught in a whorl of events which ultimately will see her cross Werner's path, reminding us we are all like sea shells washed ashore, rolling with the tides to rest eventually on far away beaches...

A stunning work of fiction ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE brims in physical details of lives touched in countless ways by a senseless war and spanning lifetimes. Featuring short chapters this magnificent novel is to be savoured without rushing and don't be surprised if you are sorry to see those two little words: "The End". 
Let us hope Mr. Doerr will soon grant us another literary gem!

5 Stars (Only because there are no higher rating!)

Note: You'll have to read the novel to find out why the photo above was included in this post!

Warning: Due to adult thematic contents and some strong language, recommended for mature readers only.

(Photo source Google)

Meet the Author:

(Photo source thesundaytimes.co.uk)

Anthony Doerr's books have been NY Times Notable Books, an American Library Association Book of the Year, a 'Book of the Year' in the Washington Post, and he has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the Story Prize, the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award, and the Ohioana Book Award three times.

Doerr's stories have appeared in lots of magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. His new novel, All The Light We Cannot See, was published in May, 2014. 

Visit his website

(Photo source Google)

Note: This was a library loan (albeit a copy has already been placed on order for my shelves!) and all opinions are mine only. 

26 July 2014

The Englishman's Daughter by Ben Macintyre, Book review

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (January 12, 2002)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374129859


"I have a rendezvous with death, at some disputed barricade." Alan Seeger, 1916

In the first days of World War I four soldiers, left behind as the British army retreated through northern France under the first German onslaught, found themselves trapped on the wrong side of the Western Front, in a tiny village called Villeret. Just a few miles from the Somme, the village would be permanently inundated with German troops for the next four years, yet the villagers conspired to feed, clothe and protect the fugitives under the very noses of the invaders, absorbing the Englishmen into their homes and lives until they could pass for Picardy peasants. 

The leader of the band, Robert Digby, was a striking young man who fell in love with Claire Dessenne, the prettiest maid in the village. In November 1915, with the guns clearly audible from the battlefront, Claire gave birth to Digby's child, the jealous whispering began, and the conspiracy that had protected the soldiers for half the war started to unravel.

Never before told, The Englishman's Daughter is a harrowing tale of love, duplicity and their tragic consequences, which haunt the people of Villeret eight decades after the Great War.

Source: The First Meeting by Lucien Jonas

My thoughts:

A small French village where life seem to be unchanged throughout the ages is the dramatic background for much of the story behind The Englishman's Daughter and the protagonists actual people. 

Ben Macintyre has done a singular job of recounting what is believed to have happened in this little place in Picardie during WW 1.

Separated from their regiment during the 'Grande Debacle', a fair amount of British Expeditionary Force soldiers were stranded behind enemies lines. Some were taken prisoner, others found themselves at the mercy of whomever would lend them a hand. In this case, the villagers of Villeret united despite ancient family feuds, much jealousies and petty gossips to protect these brave men at all cost. It became a source of pride to hide them from the Huns.

With their country now occupied by the Germans and thousands of refugees on the road, most Frenchmen in the region found themselves deprived of the most elementary of supplies with troops billeted in their homes and officers in nearby chateaux. Meanwhile the German army pursued, looted and massacred. Priests were shot, hostages bayoneted, homes and towns destroyed including across the border, the precious Louvain library in Belgium, where more than two hundred thousands books were torched!

Nothing went unchecked by the Germans, requisitions - sometimes absurd ones - were constant, penalties for resisting, death and yet as Macintyre conveys, some British soldiers were actually hiding under the very nose of the enemy, sometimes just above their head or inside a large wardrobe!

As life settles for all of them, villagers warm up to invaders whom as individuals are seen as more courteous and human than as a whole. At the same time, now disgruntled villagers sees the hiding soldiers as just more mouths to feed and times are desperate, supplies extremely limited.

A couple of years go by, liaisons happen as it often does in times of war and when one of the village girls gives birth to a little girl, the British soldiers are quickly seen as an added burden to the villagers' already precarious lives. 

The rest is history: whatever the reason, an unknown party denounced the soldiers to the Germans. Following their arrests, they were sentenced to death and summarily shot.

The whole story might have well been forgotten by many if not for the author being invited to the very same village where a plaque commemorating the execution site was then unveiled. Amongst the ceremony's attendants was an elderly woman who told him one of the soldiers was in fact her father. 

What follows is what makes this novel a remarkable record of the lives of a handful of soldiers fighting for God and Country until they were separated from their ranks.

You quickly get the impression Macintyre has done an impressive job to recreate the stressful atmosphere of a small village where life seemed unchanged, and which faced with yet another invasion found their own way to survive another day.

Impressive notes, selected bibliographies and many photos are included in the book!

If you are looking for the guilty party, I can only say you will have to decide for yourself once you are acquainted with all the facts as provided by the author. 
In the end, it matters little in my opinion who did what...In times of war, right and wrong are never clearly defined. The story however needed to be told and Macintyre honoured these events by commemorating a small part of history.

5 stars!

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed...

~The Soldier~ 
(Rupert Brooke)

Meet the Author:

BEN MACINTYRE is writer-at-large and associate editor of the Times of London. He is the author of Agent Zigzag, The Man Who Would Be King, The Englishman's Daughter, The Napoleon of Crime, and Forgotten Fatherland. 
He lives in London with his wife, the novelist Kate Muir, and their three children.

Note: This was a library loan and all opinions are mine only!

25 July 2014

The Butterfly And The Violin by Kristy Cambron, Book review (And Giveaway Info)

  • Series: A Hidden Masterpiece Novel (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 8, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401690595
  • Also available in KINDLE format


A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.
Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.
In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.
A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.
As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

(Photo source HERE)

Note to Readers: Additional information on the orchestras of the Holocaust (HERE)

My thoughts:

On one end, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN is an emotional tale of one young woman faced suddenly with the horrors of a concentration camp. 
Adele is Austrian by birth and a young prodigy in Vienna's society but when the war reveals its cruel side, she pledges to help those who are hunted despite the many risks. 

The daughter of a high ranking officer of the Reich, Adele has lived a sheltered life until she is caught and sentenced to Auschwitz for her crime. There she is just another prisoner, her exceptional musical talent put to the test as she is chosen to be a part of the camp's orchestra playing as new prisoners disembark from the daily convoys made of Jews, Gypsies, Romanies and political dissidents. Life suddenly depends entirely on her ability to play whilst others are 'selected'. 

Kristy Cambron does an excellent job in describing the tremendous emotional shock the young Adele suffers as she is thrown in the depth of despair, abandoned by her family in the aftermath of her betrayal, her life at the mercy of her brutal captors.

We now go forth to the second part of the story...An art dealer haunted by a portrait of blue eyed Adele she once saw when she was only 8 years old. 

Sera James' story interwoven in Adele's felt somewhat stale in comparison. I imagine the author aimed for a mystery based on the elusive portrait of Adele but the overall effect pales as the protagonists of the first outshines by far the second.
Perhaps the author's emotions were more involved in the WW 2 tale as shown in the bittersweet ending for "The Butterfly". It bespoke of hope in a world shadowed by the ashes of millions of souls.

Either way, it is only a matter of opinion and readers should take a moment to check this debut novel. 

Note: Divided as I was, I would give 5 stars for Adele's story but only 3 stars for Sera's thus I must settle for 4 stars!

Landing page:

Meet the Author:

Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with the WWII era since hearing her grandfather's stories of the war. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and received the Outstanding Art History Student Award. Kristy writes WWII and Regency era fiction and has placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and is a 2013 Laurie finalist. 

Visit her website (HERE)

Kristy Cambron is running a GIVEAWAY on her website so here is the link for readers to get the opportunity to enter!

The Butterfly and the Violin

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from LITFUSE as part of it's promotion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.