Friday, July 8, 2016

TLC BOOK TOURS and REVIEW: The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan

Synopsis

From the author of the acclaimed The Curiosity comes a compelling and moving story of compassion, courage, and redemption

Deborah Birch is a seasoned hospice nurse whose daily work requires courage and compassion. But her skills and experience are tested in new and dramatic ways when her easygoing husband, Michael, returns from his third deployment to Iraq haunted by nightmares, anxiety, and rage. She is determined to help him heal, and to restore the tender, loving marriage they once had.

At the same time, Deborah's primary patient is Barclay Reed, a retired history professor and expert in the Pacific Theater of World War II whose career ended in academic scandal. Alone in the world, the embittered professor is dying. As Barclay begrudgingly comes to trust Deborah, he tells her stories from that long-ago war, which help her find a way to help her husband battle his demons.

Told with piercing empathy and heartbreaking realism, The Hummingbird is a masterful story of loving commitment, service to country, and absolution through wisdom and forgiveness.


Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by William Morrow
ISBN 0062369547 (ISBN13: 9780062369543)


About the Author

Stephen P. Kiernan is a graduate of Middlebury College, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. During his more than twenty years as a journalist, he has won numerous awards, including the Brechner Center’s Freedom of Information Award, the Scripps Howard Award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment, and the George Polk Award. He is the author of The Curiosity, his first novel, and two nonfiction books. He lives in Vermont with his two sons. 

Check out the author's website
Like the author on Facebook.





My Thoughts
All I knew at the beginning was that the first two nurses assigned to the Professor had not lasted twelve days, and now it was my turn.
Deborah Birch is a hospice nurse assigned to tend to Professor Reed in his final weeks or months. The Professor is known for being a bit...difficult. He's already gone through several hospice nurses, and Deborah doesn't hold out much hope that she'll last much longer. Even sweet Nurse Sara with her positive and upbeat personality only lasted three days with the Professor.

So what chance does Deborah have with Professor Reed?

But as it turns out, the Professor seems to have taken a liking of sorts to Nurse Birch. And at the end, he shares with her his yet unpublished final book about a little known story from WWII and a Japanese pilot by the name of Ichiro Soga.

Through the sharing of his book, the Professor is helping Deborah to better understand her husband Michael, who is an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD. As the Professor tells Nurse Birch...
"Whether the warrior is Ichiro Soga or your husband, regardless." The Professor shrugged. "First you must understand his weapons."
I really liked Nurse Deborah Birch. She is calm and level-headed and straight-forward. She is a woman of compassion and understanding, but she doesn't pull any punches.

Professor Reed is cantankerous, but I actually really liked him as well. He reminded me a bit of a family friend that just passed away at 93 years of age. Presenting with biting remarks and a sharp mind that is hard to contend with, even in his advanced years, he can be a handful. (Actually now that I say that, I realize he reminds a little bit of my father, but "meaner".)

I liked the author's writing. It is very easy to read, yet there is some depth to it. I was impressed with the research that must have gone into this story.

I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:

Tuesday, June 28th: BookNAround
Thursday, June 30th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Thursday, June 30th: Kritters Ramblings
Friday, July 1st: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, July 5th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, July 6th: she treads softly
Thursday, July 7th: Bibliotica
Friday, July 8th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Monday, July 11th: Literary Feline
Tuesday, July 12th: 5 Minutes For Books
Wednesday, July 13th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Thursday, July 14th: Into the Hall of Books
Monday, July 18th: The Book Diva’s Reads

My final word: I enjoyed this book. The characters were likable and fleshed out. The writing I found to be insightful and compassionate. It's an easy read, but not too easy. It includes an interesting peek into World War II, as well as hospice care and therapy, and the sufferings of our soldiers returning home with PTSD. I was a little nervous going in, but actually wound up liking the book quite a lot. I think I will be recommending this one to my book club.

Buy Now:

HarperCollins
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
IndieBound

My Rating:






The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.  

ON MY RADAR (7-8-16 edition): Books that have hit my radar...

Here are some books that have recently hit my radar and set off my alarm bells...

The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world’s surface for three centuries. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world’s greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?

This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin, to Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria and Lenin.



The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

The Year of the Runaways tells of the bold dreams and daily struggles of an unlikely family thrown together by circumstance. Thirteen young men live in a house in Sheffield, each in flight from India and in desperate search of a new life. Tarlochan, a former rickshaw driver, will say nothing about his past in Bihar; and Avtar has a secret that binds him to protect the choatic Randeep. Randeep, in turn, has a visa-wife in a flat on the other side of town: a clever, devout woman whose cupboards are full of her husband's clothes, in case the immigration men surprise her with a call.

Sweeping between India and England, and between childhood and the present day, Sunjeev Sahota's generous, unforgettable novel is — as with Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance — a story of dignity in the face of adversity and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.



Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

Friday, July 1, 2016

ON MY RADAR (7-1-16 edition): Books that have hit my radar...

Here are some books that have recently hit my radar and set off my alarm bells...

Barkskins by Annie Proulx

From Annie Proulx—the Pulitzer Prize-­ and National Book Award-­winning author of The Shipping News and “Brokeback Mountain,” comes her masterwork: an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about the taking down of the world’s forests.

In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, RenĂ© Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a “seigneur,” for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters—barkskins. RenĂ© suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years—their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions—the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse.

Proulx’s inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid—in their greed, lust, vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope—that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable and compelling American writers, and Barkskins is her greatest novel, a magnificent marriage of history and imagination.



Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery.

Stretching from the wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration to twentieth-century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi's novel moves through histories and geographies.



The North Water by Ian McGuire

A nineteenth-century whaling ship sets sail for the Arctic with a killer aboard in this dark, sharp, and highly original tale that grips like a thriller.

Behold the man: stinking, drunk, and brutal. Henry Drax is a harpooner on the Volunteer, a Yorkshire whaler bound for the rich hunting waters of the arctic circle. Also aboard for the first time is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation, no money, and no better option than to sail as the ship's medic on this violent, filthy, and ill-fated voyage.

In India, during the Siege of Delhi, Sumner thought he had experienced the depths to which man can stoop. He had hoped to find temporary respite on the Volunteer, but rest proves impossible with Drax on board. The discovery of something evil in the hold rouses Sumner to action. And as the confrontation between the two men plays out amid the freezing darkness of an arctic winter, the fateful question arises: who will survive until spring?

With savage, unstoppable momentum and the blackest wit, The North Water weaves a superlative story of humanity under the most extreme conditions.
 



The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

An astonishingly inventive and terrifying debut novel about the emergence of an ancient species, dormant for over a thousand years, and now on the march.

Deep in the jungle of Peru, where so much remains unknown, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist whole. Thousands of miles away, an FBI agent investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery. Unusual seismic patterns register in a Kanpur, India earthquake lab, confounding the scientists there. During the same week, the Chinese government “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country. As these incidents begin to sweep the globe, a mysterious package from South America arrives at a Washington, D.C. laboratory. Something wants out.

The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake.