Tag Archives: Simon and Schuster

Book Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Are you sleepingAfter reading several non-fiction books, I was more than ready for a good work of fiction. My selection from Simon and Schuster, Are you sleeping by Kathleen Barber had arrived a couple weeks earlier and was sitting atop of my must-reads

Are you sleeping is the story of Jo Borden, who has successfully kept a secret from her circle of friends including her boyfriend. Successfully that is until an Internet blogger starts to investigate her past, more specifically the death of her father who was shot years before by the son of the neighbour. Claims are made that the young man convicted 12 years previously was incorrectly jailed for a crime he did not commit. It is an explosive accusation that attracts attention through social media and chat rooms until the mainstream media picks up on story.

While the mystery of the murder of Jo’s father is creating waves, Jo makes waves herself with the unravelling of her made up life story for the past 10 years. The unravelling includes a name change, a family that had not been talked about and the death of a mother, a death that is complicated by a lie of a death that took place a decade earlier.

Jo, really Josie Buhrman, is confronted with her reality, a reality that contradicts her new comfortable life in New York. Back into her life is a twin sister, Lanie, a former boyfriend and her now dead, for real, mother Erin Buhrman. Add the family history of neighbours, students and the intrusion of Poppy Parnell and podcasts that bring the murder of Chuck Buhrman and the drama surrounding the Buhrman family in that tragic time more than a decade ago is back in the local spotlight.

Are you sleeping, Barber’s debut suspense novel, published August 2017, has combined different mediums in the story to tell the tale of the Buhrman’s, the murder of Josie and Lanie’s father and the sudden death of their mother Erin Buhrman. Barber’s use of social media, and a transcripted podcast in the novel allows the reader to learn the background of the Buhrman family without the family drama getting in the way – until that drama is needed to bring a resolution about a mothers disappearance and a father’s death.

Are you sleeping grabbed me from the start, and held onto me until the near end when truths are discovered and by that point there was no turning back. In the end, Barber smartly allows Poppy Parnell to provide the epilogue to Are you sleeping.

Are you sleeping is a smartly written suspense with well-composed twists in the plot. For suspense lovers this is a must read! For others I offer a strong recommendation to pick up this novel from Kathleen Barber, not only for you but your book loving family and friends.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

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Book Review: Could it happen here?

IMG_20170928_0848160It has been an often asked question following the election of Donald Trump as the US President November 2017, Michael Adams’ book put the question front and centre “Could it happen here? Canada in the age of Trump and Brexit”.

While the title suggests a global perspective, the majority of the information provided by Adams focuses on Canadian and American polling and statistical information. Where does Adams get his research? He does it, the research – or more to the point, his company Environics does the polling and research. What Adams has done is pull the relevant information together and present numbers to make suggestions on the likelihood of Canada experiencing a Trump/Brexit moment.

If you like numbers and love the analytics of numbers you’ll enjoy this read. It reads like a press release at times, meaning for me having to review the numbers a few times to understand the message.   The message is important here, Adams does not go out of his way to make predictions, but present the statistical information to track probabilities in the different chapters.

Could it happen here does cement one fact for me; Canada and the US are extremely different in historical make up, social divisions and the reasons for the differences. This does add up to make the case that Canada’s Trump/Brexit moment is an extreme event and would need more stars aligning than were needed in the US. Our political makeup of three major parties almost guarantees we won’t see red baseball caps on most Canadians.

While the book deals a lot with Trump, it addresses Brexit and the likelihood of Canada wanting its Brexit moment. This year’s NAFTA renegotiations (a by-product of Trumpism) are the example. It was not any demand from Canada to tweak the trade agreement. In Parliament the Liberals and Conservatives are congratulating each other for the Canada European trade agreement. Canadians support these deals because we have been able to maintain Canadian institutions like supply management in the deals. Adams makes a big point that Canada’s immigration is generally supported by all parties and Canadians. The drivers that ended in the Brexit just don’t exist in Canada today.

Michael Adams presents the information that will allow the reader to make a personal conclusion to the question we’re faced with on the cover. But through the polling information and statistical data we see that when looking at the US, the UK and Canada, if you looked back populism seemed most likely in the US. For me, I’ve thought that America’s rise in populism began with the loss of Mitt Romney’s White House bid in 2012. Romney was no John McCain and no George Bush (both of them). He seemed to be as far from the common republican as you could be. But here is the problem, Trump has the wealth of Romney, however where Trump succeeded and Romney failed was that Trump spoke to the grassroots of republicans – Romney didn’t. The base of republican support doesn’t waiver, as it doesn’t with the Conservative Party of Canada. Populism in the US won the 2016 election because of an elitist candidate’s message to the base. Trump convinced the base hen was like them, though the lifestyle he lived was as far from them as anything could be.

Comparing a conservative base in Canada with the American provides substantial evidence that in Canada the rise in populism will be much more difficult. The key information that supports my idea is that Canadians don’t want a leader that doesn’t bend and avoids compromise. Americans and Canadians are opposites in this. Adams points out that a 2011 Environics survey 58% of Canadians want a leader that will compromise, 54% of Americans desire to have their leader to stand firm.

There are other reasons for me believing that Trumpism cannot succeed in Canada; a three party electoral system, our social and economic systems and dare I say it, our “Canadian Values”. There will however always be the wildcard of the voter themselves. Hillary Clinton found this out, the voters are fickle and if you lose their trust you cannot win.

Could it happen here? presents Canada vs. the US vs. Europe in a compact presentation. It also surprises the reader with the similarities between three. Similarities that do make you raise an eyebrow and go hmmmm.

 

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

 

Book Review: “The Jersey Brothers” – A Compelling Page Turner

Jersey Brothers

If I were to draw a Venn diagram describing “The Jersey Brothers” there would be four circles intersecting with a larger circle that would be the war in the Pacific. While the war is in the forefront of the Mott-Cross family, it is merely the backdrop for all that takes place as three brothers and a mother fight for country and survival.   Do not get fooled thinking that The Jersey Brothers is the navy version of “Saving Private Ryan”. The Jersey Brothers reads like a well-crafted novel, but is a fact-based account of brothers Benny, Bill and Barton along with their mother Helen and their struggles that was 70 years in the making.

Sally Mott Freeman, daughter of brother Bill, researched and wrote The Jersey Brothers over ten years. She wisely leaves out observations of family relationships until the end in her epilogue. Using the information from Navy records, letters, diaries, accounts from fellow Navy Prisoners of War and until 10 years ago an unopened box of documents, letters and photos belonging to her Uncle, Barton Cross, The Jersey Brothers is a very compelling read. The facts surrounding the battles in the Pacific and the behind the battlefront activity is a history buff’s dream. From Pearl Harbour to Hiroshima and the end of World War II in Japan, Mott Freeman tells a brave story that leaves you pulling for an ending that everyone has fought for, but this is a war story.

The loyalty of the three men is tested by not being not only being able to know where the others are, but also by a loyalty to their mother who is suffering under the cloud of Navy protocol, privacy and the Navy’s number one priority of winning the War in the Pacific. While there are the personal accounts of suffering, depression and injury, the war goes on and The Jersey Brothers provides an account of actions by leaders in the White House, the Army and the Navy. Readers are given the backroom deliberations and arguments at sea and on land, the destruction of American battleships and the loss of tens of thousands of American soldiers. Reading of the Pacific War was a new experience for me – my knowledge was very limited, I started reading The Jersey Brothers as the 100th Anniversary of Battle of Vimy Ridge of The Great War was being commemorated in Canada and France.

Through many pages, I found myself hoping for that happy ending, only to be emotionally dragged through setbacks and disappointments. While in real life these events may need us to sit back and rest before moving forward, Mott Freeman drives us forward onto the next pages. Whether it’s Helen and her correspondence to government officials, her comfort in her garden or how her sons endure the ups and downs of the war, The Jersey Brothers is about the bond of family and the efforts each take to keep the ties alive through distance and desperation.

The Jersey Brothers takes us back, as a reminder that if at all possible a war on that scale, or any scale should never be fought again.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.