The Mathews Men were brave men during WWII


25982831During World War II there was a small group of U.S. men that participated in the war who people didn’t hear much about.  These men risked their lives over and over taking equipment and supplies on ships to the men fighting in Europe.   The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-boats by William Geroux highlights the brave men from the small community of Mathews County, Virginia.

The German U-boats were stationed so close to the United States shoreline that people on the shore could see them.  They got so close the U-boats would torpedo ships coming out of the Mississippi River in the Gulf.  While the merchant marines navigated from the U.S. or the Caribbean to Europe, they did not have much support from the U.S. Government.  Politicians, including the president, didn’t think there were many U-boats near the U.S. shores.

What is shocking, is how many U-boats were in the water and how many ships they sunk.  The U-boats would attack the ships, watch the sailors abandon ship and then approach the lifeboats to find out the name of the sunken ship for their records and would then offer help to the sailors.  The Germans would give them food and water and tell them where the nearest shore was located.

Once the Mathew Men survived a U-boat attack, if they survived, they would get right back on another ship and risk their lives.  The sea was all they knew and they felt a ship was where they needed to be.

I learned so much fascinating information about the men from Mathews County.  It’s so shocking how the government didn’t give these ships protection and help.  Thousands of ships and sailors lost their lives trying to aid the soldiers of World War II.  This was such a well written book that had a lot of information that everyone should know about.

Book Description:
One of the last unheralded heroic stories of World War II: the U-boat assault off the American coast against the men of the U.S. Merchant Marine who were supplying the European war, and one community’s monumental contribution to that effort

Praise for The Mathews Men

“The German U-Boat war against American merchant men was deadly and dramatic—in World War II, the U.S. Merchant Marine had twice the fatality rate of the U.S. Navy. William Geroux has unearthed a fascinating tale of one small coastal town caught in the thick of the fight, and he tells it with a sharp reporter’s eye and a real feel for the heroic men who went down to the sea in ships.” —Evan Thomas, author of Being Nixon and Sea of Thunder

Mathews County, Virginia, is a remote outpost on the Chesapeake Bay with little to offer except unspoiled scenery—but it sent one of the largest concentrations of sea captains and U.S. merchant mariners of any community in America to fight in World War II. The Mathews Men tells that heroic story through the experiences of one extraordinary family whose seven sons (and their neighbors), U.S. merchant mariners all, suddenly found themselves squarely in the cross-hairs of the U-boats bearing down on the coastal United States in 1942.

From the late 1930s to 1945, virtually all the fuel, food and munitions that sustained the Allies in Europe traveled not via the Navy but in merchant ships. After Pearl Harbor, those unprotected ships instantly became the U-boats’ prime targets. And they were easy targets—the Navy lacked the inclination or resources to defend them until the beginning of 1943. Hitler was determined that his U-boats should sink every American ship they could find, sometimes within sight of tourist beaches, and to kill as many mariners as possible, in order to frighten their shipmates into staying ashore.

As the war progressed, men from Mathews sailed the North and South Atlantic, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and even the icy Barents Sea in the Arctic Circle, where they braved the dreaded Murmansk Run. Through their experiences we have eyewitnesses to every danger zone, in every kind of ship. Some died horrific deaths. Others fought to survive torpedo explosions, flaming oil slicks, storms, shark attacks, mine blasts, and harrowing lifeboat odysseys—only to ship out again on the next boat as soon as they’d returned to safety.

The Mathews Men shows us the war far beyond traditional battlefields—often the U.S. merchant mariners’ life-and-death struggles took place just off the U.S. coast—but also takes us to the landing beaches at D-Day and to the Pacific. “When final victory is ours,” General Dwight D. Eisenhower had predicted, “there is no organization that will share its credit more deservedly than the Merchant Marine.” Here, finally, is the heroic story of those merchant seamen, recast as the human story of the men from Mathews.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Does your father’s past affect your life?

21936844Jonathan Sweetwater has it all.  A wife he loves, two beautiful children and an amazing job that gives him privileges like playing basketball with Michael Jordan.  What he didn’t have was his father, Senator Percy Sweetwater, in his life since his 9th birthday.

Jonathan is the main protagonist of My Father’s Wives by ESPN’s Mike & Mike co-host Mike Greenberg.  The title first made me think this was about polygamy but actually it is about Jonathan wanting to learn more about his dead father, so he sets out to meet all of his father’s wives and ask them questions about his father.

One day Jonathan arrives home early from work to change his clothes before picking up his kids from school.  While home, he sees his wife Claire having an affair in their spare bedroom.  This sets into motion Jonathan visiting his father’s five wives to find out more about his father.  What he doesn’t expect to find along the way is himself.

This story takes place in about a week or 2 of Jonathan’s life.  He travels all around the United States and to London to meet these women who he’s never met before.  I found this story very fascinating and well written.  Mike surprised me with how enjoyable this book was.  I found myself pulled into Jonathan’s life and I cared about what was happening in his marriage and in his life.  This book is well worth the read.

Book Description:

The co-host of ESPN’s Mike and Mike follows up his New York Times bestseller All You Could Ask For with this poignant story of one man’s search to understand himself, his marriage, and his father

“Mike is as clever, astute, and perceptive as he is brilliant. . . . I can’t wait to see what he does next.”—Jane Green, author of Tempting Fate

Jonathan Sweetwater has been blessed with money, a fulfilling career, great kids and Claire, his smart, gorgeous, sophisticated wife. But there is one thing Jonathan never had: a relationship with his father.

Percival Sweetwater III has been absent from his son’s life since Jonathan was nine years old. A five-term U.S. senator, now dead, Percy was beloved by presidents, his constituents, and women alike, especially the five women who married him after Jonathan’s mother.

Jonathan hasn’t thought about Percy or the hole he left in his life for years. Dedicated to Claire and his family, he’s nothing like his serial monogamist father. But then Jonathan discovers evidence that everything in his marriage may not be as perfect as he thought. Hurt and uncertain what to do, he knows that the only way to move forward is to go back.

On this quest for understanding—about himself, about manhood, about marriage—Jonathan decides to track down his father’s five ex-wives. His journey will take him from cosmopolitan cities to the mile-high mountains to a tropical island—and ultimately back to confront the one thing Jonathan has that his father never did: home.

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A Man Called Ove brings out many emotions

18774964On I have 17 books on my all-time favorite list but only a handful occupy the top slots.  A Man Called Ove (oo-vah) by Fredrik Backman has taken over the top spot and may never be removed from that spot.  It takes a special book to be on my all-time favorite list.  They must do one of the following: make me fall in love with the characters, scare the sh*t out of me, make me think, make me smile and snort with laughter, make me have questions at the end so that I want to have a discussion with the author and books should make me so emotional that my dog has to comfort me because I am sobbing so uncontrollably.

A Man Called Ove hits many of these components.  It made me smile, it made me want to smack characters on the back of the head, it made me snort with laughter, gasp in shock and it made me sob with happiness and sob with sadness.  Just telling people they have to read this book brings tears to my eyes thinking about Ove and the other cast of characters.  So to say I absolutely loved this book doesn’t explain how much this book touched me.

All the characters are well developed and very entertaining.  Ove (oo-vah) is such a grumpy man he reminds me of a combination of men in my life, past and present.  He thinks everyone should follow the rules and he will make sure you do.  He doesn’t care what people think, he is going to tell them what to do because he knows how things should be done.  The book starts out with Ove trying to buy a computer.  He is so frustrated not understanding what the salesman is telling him and the salesman is so flustered by Ove’s gruffness that Ove is passed to a manager who doesn’t want to deal with him.

Then Ove meets a couple trying to back up a trailer where no vehicles are allowed.  Patrick, who Ove calls the Lanky One and his wife Parvaneh, who Ove calls the Pregnant One don’t seem to notice Ove’s grumpiness or abruptness.  Parvaneh gives back to Ove what he gives.

“What the hell are you doing?” Ove roars at the woman.

“Yes, that’s what I’m asking myself!” she roars back.

Ove is momentarily thrown off-balance.  He glares at her.  She glares back. 

Backman does such a great job with dialog that at times I snort with laughter and reading bits and pieces to family members made them laugh.  For example after the Lanky One can’t seem to get the car to straighten out, Ove tells him to get out of the car.

“Go and stand where you’re not in the way.”

The Lanky One nods, slightly confused.

“Holy Christ.  A lower-arm amputee with cataracts could have backed this trailer more accurately than you,” Ove mutters as he gets into the car.

I totally fell in love with all of the characters and didn’t want the book to end.  I’m still not ready to let these characters go.  I listened to the audiobook with actor George Newbern doing a fantastic job narrating.  I have since bought the book and plan to read it over and over.  Please take the time to meet Ove and the cast of characters who come into his life.  You will not be disappointed and you will be glad they came into your life.

Book Description:
Meet Ove.  He’s a curmudgeon – the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window.  He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him ‘the bitter neighbor from hell.’  But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness.  So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul.  All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Grave Echoes will have you on the edge of your seat

grave-echoes-2-11-15-ghostlyTo me, a good murder mystery doesn’t give away the criminal until the very end.  It will make you change your mind on who you think the killer really is.  In Grave Echoes: A Kate Waters Mystery by Erin Cole, I was sitting on the edge of my seat.  First I thought it was one Kate’s sister’s boyfriend, then I thought it was the witch then I thought it was Kate’s boyfriend.  I kept bouncing back and forth between the different characters trying to figure it out.

Kate Waters is a woman of science, a geologist who suffers from narcoleptic visions.  Visions that have already happened and visions that are going to happen.  The story opens with Kate’s sister Jev running of the road and dying.  Did she lose control of the car or did someone murder her?  Was someone chasing her and could someone have saved her.

Kate finds a key among Jev’s belongings that was found on the floor of her car.  She also finds out that her sister was involved with the occult and possibly black magic.  While this is all going on, her job is taking her to a volcano that wants to erupt and Kate and her teammates have to go up and fix different monitoring equipment.

This story is packed with suspense, intrigue and the author was able to reach into her characters and bare their souls.  Erin Cole draws the reader in swiftly, and doesn’t let up.  She brilliantly blended a great mystery with seemingly normal events, and intertwined elements of the paranormal to create a story so life-like that it demands your full attention.  This is a must-read murder mystery with a paranormal twist.

Book Description:

The nightmare is real… Kate Waters suffers from narcoleptic hallucinations, which recently involve her unreachable sister, Jev, and a mysterious key.  When Kate receives the terrible news concerning Jev’s fatal car accident and acquires the strange key from her visions, she unlocks her sister’s world of perilous secrets involving witchcraft, poltergeist, and a heartless killer determined to get back what is his. The danger lies in whom to trust.  Terrifying paranormal encounters, a trailing wolf, and an attempted murder of one of Jev’s friends, forces Kate to turn to the one she fears most, the priestess of Jev’s coven, Thea.  She challenges Kate’s beliefs and provides her vital clues about her sister’s murder, but will Kate overcome her fears before anyone else dies?  To do so, she will have to trust in a world where the possibilities are unbelievable and the consequences are deadly.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat


Take a ride through space in the Proximity trilogy

24555337A good sci-fi story makes you believe there really is other life forms on different planets and they can come to Earth and be among us without us knowing it.  Or the story pulls you into space and become a part of the alien encounter. The Proximity trilogy by M.A. George brings you into the lives of an alien culture who look like humans and are able to blend in really well with humans as long as you don’t see their ears or their blood.

Palta’s family left their planet, Ononti, to avoid being killed in an uprising.  Palta Capal was born in America shortly after they arrived and her mother died giving birth to Palta.  So Palta has learned her family history and about the planet of Ononti only through stories told to her by her older sister, Sabela and her father.

In the first book, we are introduced to Palta, who is 118 years old, and her family living comfortably in New Mexico.  She has been working in medicine, specializing in Infectious Diseases because the human species captivates her.   One of her co-works is Eric (Aeron), who she has a huge crush on.  One day at work she comes across Aeron injured and is shocked to see he has the Ononti orange blood and realizes that someone else from her home planet is on Earth.  Each Ononti resident has a special power and Palta uses her healing powers to save him, which weakens her.  When she awakens, he has disappeared.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00044]Because of Eric, Palta thinks someone from Ononti is hunting them.  With the help of Sabela, her human brother-in-law Dominick and her father, Palta searches to find out who else is on Earth from Ononti.  They soon realize that Earth’s very existence is at stake and the whole group must pull together to save the planet.  It turns out Aeron and his sister Emma are Ononti royalty and the group join forces to stop the invaders of Earth and return Aeron and Emma to Ononti so they can take back leadership of their home planet.

Relativity starts where the the first one leaves off.  The group heads to Ononti so that Aeron can take his rightful place as the King of Ononti.  They need to defeat Bito Obo who is using mind control to control the people of Ononti to serve him and overthrow Aeron and his rule.  Palta is now on her home planet but doesn’t feel at home since she has only lived on Earth.  She must learn a new language, learn the Ononti way and must learn how to use her power of healing along with a new found power.  This book does not slow down like some middle trilogy books.  There is a lot of action that will take you on a ride.  Even though Palta is in a strange place where she is a little lonely, she still comes across as a strong Character and does everything she can to protect the ones she loves even if her ideas aren’t very safe or smart.

18194506Vitality is a great ending to the Proximity trilogy.  Palta is now married to Aeron and their battle with Bito Ono, her father’s brother, is still going strong.  Bito Ono uses mind control and has someone stealing other people’s powers for him to make him strong.  Palta can now sense if someone is around, she can talk to someone with her mind and can control another person’s mind by putting a thought in their mind making them think it is a reality.  This is the type of mind control that Bito Ono possesses.  I wish I could have spent more time with some of the other characters as this one is mainly about Palta and Nangi.

M.A. George does a great job of spreading the story through the three books and wrapping everything up at the end.  There are several great characters in this trilogy like Nangi who is super old and has all kinds of powers, some of his own and some he has taken from people.  He and Palta have a unique relationship as he helps her learn how to use her powers in a curmudgeon kind of way.  There is action, space travel, family situations and a little bit of romance.

M.A. George does an amazing job with describing where the characters are and who they are so that you feel as though you are right there with them, feeling and experiencing everything with them.  If you like science fiction and young adult fiction, then pick up this trilogy and enjoy the ride.

Book Description:

Proximity: She’s an alien whose home world doesn’t even know she exists.  He just inherited a planet, and now he’s running from it.  She has spent a lifetime hiding in plain sight.  He wants to escape the spotlight.  Her touch can heal.  His wounds are deep.  Two hearts, two planets collide. It’s the perfect union.  Except the part where the world’s about to end.

Relativity:  No matter the planet, Palta Capal is an alien.  She’s lived a lifetime where she never belonged…but relocating to the “home world” she’s never seen has her feeling more like an outsider than ever.  Teetering between the thrill of newfound love and the despair of family loss–not to mention the looming threat of global war–Palta doesn’t need any more excitement in her life.  But what she needs and what she gets are two entirely different things.

Vitality: Palta learned long ago not to expect a “normal” life. She’d settle for one free of close encounters with supernaturally-gifted homicidal maniacs.  Apparently that’s too much to ask.  Join your favorite Onontian royal family, as they settle into life at the palace…only don’t get too comfortable, because things are about to take a hair-raising turn.  Vitality is the gripping third installment in the Proximity series.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Lose yourself in this Nicola Italia literary romance

24490051I enjoy a good literary fiction/romance story that takes me back in time through the written word.  When I feel like I’m transported back in the 1600’s, 1700’s or 1800’s, then I know it is a good book.  Nicola Italia is the type of writer who can pull the reader back in time and onto the streets of different cities.  The reader feels the bumps in the dirt roads as their carriage races along the streets of Paris or London.

In The Sheik’s Son, Italia introduces the readers to socialite Sophie who has been educating herself on what is happening in Paris.  She has been writing pamphlets under a false name to educate people about the injustices happening in Paris.  This sounds like everyday postings on the internet right now, but back in the 1700’s women did not speak up and no one spoke against the monarchy unless they wanted to be imprisoned.

Her pamphlets start making people think she is a revolutionary and is against the monarchy, not what she was trying to accomplish.  The pamphlets have also caught the eye of the authorities who are trying to find the writer.  One person who has shown interest in Sophie is Sebastian, the secretary to the Duke but is also the Sheik’s son.  Sebastian and Sophie have an attraction as does Sebastian’s sister Leila, and his best friend.  Leila is determined to lose her virginity and wants Sebastian’s friend to help.  Things start to heat up with the authorities and Sophie is in danger of being caught.

Italia is great with filling her stories with descriptions that help the reader easily visualize the characters and the locations.  You can lose yourself in her stories as you lose track of time.  This is the second book by Italia I have read and I really enjoy her writing.  I look forward to reading more of her books and I encourage you to pick up one of her books if you like historical romance.

Book Description:

Mysterious Sebastian Fairfax lives a life of ease as secretary to the British Ambassador in France. Living in Paris before the revolution, the handsome foreigner cuts a dashing figure and is respected by men, admired by women.

One evening, he becomes intrigued with an intelligent young woman named Sophie Gauvreau, whom he meets at a celebrated salonist’s home. Though the auburn-haired beauty attracts his attention, she is not what she seems. Educated and privileged Sophie has secretly started writing revolutionary pamphlets under a pseudonym as France teeters on the brink of disaster.

When Sebastian discovers her true identity, he tries to warn Sophie of the danger she has embarked on, as an Inspector has been dispatched to discover the writer’s true identity. Sebastian agrees to marry the reckless beauty to keep her safe from harm.

Though Sebastian desires the redhead in his bed, the saucy Sophie accepts his help but places one condition on their marriage…it will be one of convenience.

As the two intelligent and strong willed people come to terms with their feelings for each other, France slides into a revolution. As the firstborn son of a great Arabian Sheik, Sebastian will do what he must to keep his wife safe and in his arms.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Things are not what they appear in Just Breathe

23474174Lately I’ve been very lucky with the books I have won, received from publishers or requested to read by authors I have never heard of before.  Each time I read one of these books, I have been pleasantly surprised.  Just Breathe by Kari Lynn is one of those surprises.  This is Lynn’s first novel and she does an outstanding job.  I was quickly pulled into the life of Keira and her family from the start.

Keira and her older twin siblings have moved from Wisconsin to Oregon to live with their aunt and uncle after their parents have been killed.  The kids are junior and seniors in high school and start at the new school a few months into the school year.  On the first day, Keira quickly becomes friends with Ashlyn and Katie making her transition at the new school easier.  Keira then meets David and falls madly in love.

Keira has a hard time sleeping and only gets a few hours at a time.  She also forgets to breathe when she is in a nervous situation, which has caused panic attacks in the past.  Now that she is in Oregon, she hears a voice in her room.  A voice that sounds familiar to her but she can’t quite pinpoint who it is.

It is soon revealed that there are witches and vampires in the world and they are a lot closer than you think.

Lynn pulled me into the story immediately and I had a hard time putting the book down.  This is a very well written book that will pull you into the story.  There are times when the story goes really fast and times when it slows down.  I really liked Keira’s brother Justen, he was such a nice guy to Keira.  It would have been nice to have had more of him in the story.  This is such a good book and worth the read.  Pick it up and enjoy the ride.

Book Description:

After the death of her parents, sixteen-year-old Keira is forced to leave her childhood home to live with her aunt and uncle whom she never met.  One night a voice wakes her from her troubled sleep, a voice that cannot be placed.  A voice that cannot be unheard.

Amid settling into her new life she meets David, an attractive charming senior. His confidence and mystery engage and consume her.  Keira tries to escape her haunts but finds herself battling with anxiety.  She learns she doesn’t live in the world she thought she did.  She isn’t who she thought she was.  Her thoughts no longer feel as if they are her own and all too often she can’t breathe.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat