Personal Wartime Experiences

In this volume of the series Threads of War, Volume II, Jeremy Strozer looks at war as it is played out in ways we don’t generally think of. Each story has two parts. The first is a factually based account of an incident that happened. The account is referenced for those who want to investigate further. The second is a story of humans trying to exist in a hostile environment that is war. The stories are fiction as thoughts and feelings are ascribed to people who did not survive. Those experiences exist in Strozer’s mind and the author brings them to life in a very entertaining way.

I give the novel five Amazon stars in part because of the pleasing structure and way of presentation, in part because of the referencing which accompanies factual accounts, and finally for the interesting fictional presentations which lend human coloring to a dehumanizing experience.

Following are my immediate comments and reactions to each story.

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Fictionalized Facts

At first, it looks like there is a certain arrogance in the title and subtitle of this work. Threads of THE WAR by Jeremy Strozer has the last two words capitalized indicating that this war was truly “the war to end all wars.” While that was the popular sentiment describing WWI, veterans of later wars and different forms of sacrifice might take issue with the presumption made by this title. Just in case the reader misses the message, the subtitle claims this work is a collection of historical short stories that are personal truth-inspired flash fiction of “The” 20th century’s war. Putting those possible claims aside, it is valuable to read the author’s introduction. Strozer has a different definition of “The War,” one that stretches from 1898, powers through WWI and WWII, and concludes with the residual after effects that still flare up around the world today.

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Horrible Truths

Orphan Girl by Indika Guruge has an arresting title and front cover. I assumed that the author was a non-western writer and looked forward to an account of life in orphanages and how children accommodated and changed as they grew up to an age when they would leave the orphanage. How would their experiences affect their post-orphanage life? How would they remember their experiences? This is not that book. This is a story of terrible tragedy, bravery, and an almost unbelievable tale of tolerance for pain and abuse. In the tradition of historical fiction, facts are presented which are indisputable. Fiction is created by the author as logical dialogue and character feelings are expressed that could not possibly be known by the author. Some dialogue might be backed up by interviews of friends, teachers, and substitute parents. Other dialogue must be created through author empathy. The author does an excellent job drawing the reader along a path leading to a terrible ending. I should have known better when I read the subtitle: “The story of an abandoned child’s tragic fate as a migrant worker in Saudi Arabia. Inspired by a true story, In memory of Rizana Nafeek.” (loc 3-5).

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What Does Mrs. Charbuque Look Like?

When describing the good points of The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque by Jeffrey Ford, the list is long and begins with the attention-getting cover. On the edition I downloaded from Instafreebie, an attractive woman dressed formally in what might be thought of as Victorian-era clothing leads me to believe this is a historical novel. The subtitle, “The Soul is a Dark Canvas,” makes me think there is a psychological element. A blurb from the Baltimore Sun says there is Art History, cool. It is not my strong interest but I like discovering new information. “Hitchcockian suspense,” the phrase doesn’t roll off the tongue but I am a fan of Hitchcock. “Pynchonesque augury,” seems a bit over the top and I don’t like Pynchon. With four pluses and one negative, I am going to read this. Also, I got it from Instafreebie. It sells for USD 6.99 on Amazon with no caveat for a KU read. The cover here is the Amazon cover.

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Religion or Myth?

I read Dream On by Erik Carter in an advance copy form. I was happy that I did not find typos and evidence of poor editing as is sometimes the case with advance copies. I was even more happy that this was a pleasant read with an interesting premise that held my attention throughout the novel. Carter points out in a beginning author note that the novel centers around a controversial religious theory and the author points out a source for further research. As I began to read, I expected that there would be some huge religious-based revelation that would produce chaos across cultures. But there is more to it than that.

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Children at War

Children To A Degree by Horst Christian has a subtitle on the cover which might not attract the general reader. “Growing Up Under the Third Reich,” can evoke a reaction of “ho-hum, another apologetic story of WWII Germany.” Some might think it is a work of complete fiction. As the author points out (turn the page) this work of fiction is based on a true story. I found this on sale at Amazon for USD 0.00 as of 10 December 10, 2017, and was pleased to note this is the first in a series of four about WWII and Germany even though it was published third in the series and subsequently renamed as Book 1. I look forward to reading the remaining three books in the series.

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Samurai Links

I like the discovery possibilities that come with Amazon Samples. Most times they are good value and since I am in one of my positive moods (inspired by this sample) I won’t waste my time (or yours) with going into the negatives. Except for one and it is my fault, not Amazon’s. In a fairly short period of time, my unread samples list rivals my currently-I-am-really-going-to-read-this-next list. To attack this problem, I dedicate my Kindle Paperwhite to (mostly) Sample reading and I’ll leave the lengthy stuff to the Kindle apps on my laptop. Facing strident phone calls from my friendly Yamaha dealer to report for periodic service with my bike, I packed my book reader along with the intent to get through several samples during a lengthy bike service procedure.

Daughter of the Samurai by Etsu Sugimoto made my enforced confinement at the dealership too short. I was amazed that I finished the sample and still had time to return and review several points that provided me new information while making me smile at the skill and adroitness of the author’s expression. This was a great start to the day. I am unfamiliar with Japan, its history, its language and its culture. Anything I know about Japan comes from cursory observations provided by mass media which means that this sample provided a culture shock, although a pleasant one.

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