My eyes better but not normal. These are books I read before my eye problems.
Two light readings of mystery novels, both continuations in a series I mentioned last time. Mary Connealy’s Pride and Pestilence [Thorndike Press, 2009], #2 iin Maxie the Mouse Mystery. The only thing harder to write than a popular first novel is a popular second novel, especially in a series. This certainly isn’t the Great American Novel but I liked this better than the first in the series because there’s less emphasis on the silly mouse and more emphasis on a mystery. I’m Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley [Thorndike Press] is a successful entry into a very difficult category of Christmas book in a popular series, typically a fun but forgettable book. That’s true here but it’s still a well-written novell with an interesting main character and an emphasis on science.
The Grain Brain Cookbook by David Perlmutter [Little, Brown and Company, 20144] is a cookbook to a book I didn’t read but this book has a summary of the current gluten-free obsession with modern wheat. I find their argument silly and ill-founded but I have a daughter that’s truly allergic to wheat since childhood and I’m trying to eat lower-carb so I still cruise the GF books. My daughter wasn’t impressed with the cookbook, finding the recipes typical, but she is also paleo and allergic to dairy, which I’m not. I liked the book because it’s use of dairy made it more do-able to my daily menu. Nice pics, always a plus in cookbooks.
From the Land of Silent People [Doubleday, 1942] by Robert St. John, a WWII correspondent for the Associated Press who witnessed the fall of Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete. The most fascinating part of the book is that is was written immediately after his escape from the clutches of the Nazi’s, who weren’t fans of his writings. Thus, he didn’t know the outcome of the war and especially of the takeover of East Europe by the Soviet Union. It’s quite heartbreaking to read of the national pride of, say, Bulgaria, when you know the country will see be a satellite slave nation of the Communist empire or read of the beginning of the Yugoslav resistance when you know that Tito turned out to have cooperated with the Nazi’s while playing up his role of hero resister. I was also struck by the similar circumstances of his desperate escape through the treacherous mountains of Yugoslavia in cars that often slid off the roads into ravines or hung precariously over icy precipices. It was reminiscent of the charming Mrs Polifax series. Remember when she escaped from Albania over the Yugoslav mountains?
There’s no charm in this book, though. People were tortured and murdered and families were in despair to leave, but few were that fortunate. The bombing by the Luftwaffe to soften up the area for infantry and tanks is chilling, as is the evacuation of Greece and Crete by the British, a sad chapter of the Brits, who tried to have an impact everywhere and by land, sea, and air, only to be outplanned and outnumbered by the Nazi’s in the early phase of the war. Wee can never forget that not only did the United Kingdom fight alone against the Nazi’s for more than a year and fight for nearly two year with the weakest of allies of France , Poland and the Low Countries but when Hitler attacked Russia, that nation promptly demanded assistance from its pitifully overstretched former enemy, the UK. Stalin and his troops were allies of the Nazi’s, Mussolini’s Italy and Imperial Japan until the moment Hitler turned on Russia. How many British or members of the Commonwealth died because of the Russian-Nazi alliance There’s no way of knowing.
This is an excellent book by a brutally honest writer, well worth your time but it helps if you know some WWII history and geography.