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Interviews | April 8, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Gabrielle Zevin: The Powells.com Interview



Gabrielle ZevinThe American Booksellers Association collects nominations from bookstores all over the country for favorite forthcoming titles. The Storied Life of... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

    Gabrielle Zevin 9781616203214

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Customer Comments

Jeffrey Bluhm has commented on (16) products.

The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau by Alex Kershaw
The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau

Jeffrey Bluhm, March 29, 2014

This excellent novel gives an overview of the Allies' southern approach to Germany in WWII, starting in Sicily and following the 157th US Infantry Regiment through Italy, France, and finally Germany, including Dachau, before they end the war in Munich. The story primarily focuses on Felix Sparks, a 2nd lieutenant who rises through battlefield commisions to colonel, but ranges in perspective from squad to corps, and even army, level as needed to forward the narrative. The book provides a good overview of the lesser known aspects of the U.S. presence in Europe, most closely following Sparks as he rises from a humble upbringing through the ranks on the basis of merit. The combination of personal account, with both tactical and strategic perspectives, makes it well worth adding to a WWII reading list or book collection.
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All Clear by Connie Willis
All Clear

Jeffrey Bluhm, March 24, 2014

Review is for both Blackout and All Clear. Complaints first:
1. More historical fiction than science fiction: There is an underlying time travel/science fiction element to the books, but 95% of the content is about living in England during the years before and during WWII - Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks.
2. Total content of the two books is 25-50% too long - for example, when a character is faced with a dilemma, the reader doesn't need to hear them think through every ramification of every option they have, every time; as another example, when our heroes are escaping from a 7-story building, it isn't necessary for the author to take us through every floor, with the thoughts and concerns of each character on each floor.
Overall, however, the books are highly readable, and since many chapters end in cliffhanger fashion, the story does keep one's interest. Characters are likeable and believable. And as historical fiction goes, the information is fascinating - I'm a big fan of history, and these books gave me a comprehensive appreciation of the dangers and sacrifices of the people of Britain during WWII, which lasted much longer for them than it did for American and Americans.
The time travel element is also flawlessly executed, though you should keep the first novel handy as you read the second, to go back and reference chapters that, at the time you first read them, don't seem to fit the story. It's not linear, and keeping notes as to who is who, and when, will serve you well.
So if you dont' mind the occasional thought of "C'mon, get on with it", these can be very enjoyable books.
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Blackout by Connie Willis
Blackout

Jeffrey Bluhm, March 24, 2014

Review is for both Blackout and All Clear. Complaints first:
1. More historical fiction than science fiction: There is an underlying time travel/science fiction element to the books, but 95% of the content is about living in England during the years before and during WWII - Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks.
2. Total content of the two books is 25-50% too long - for example, when a character is faced with a dilemma, the reader doesn't need to hear them think through every ramification of every option they have, every time; as another example, when our heroes are escaping from a 7-story building, it isn't necessary for the author to take us through every floor, with the thoughts and concerns of each character on each floor.
Overall, however, the books are highly readable, and since many chapters end in cliffhanger fashion, the story does keep one's interest. Characters are likeable and believable. And as historical fiction goes, the information is fascinating - I'm a big fan of history, and these books gave me a comprehensive appreciation of the dangers and sacrifices of the people of Britain during WWII, which lasted much longer for them than it did for American and Americans.
The time travel element is also flawlessly executed, though you should keep the first novel handy as you read the second, to go back and reference chapters that, at the time you first read them, don't seem to fit the story. It's not linear, and keeping notes as to who is who, and when, will serve you well.
So if you dont' mind the occasional thought of "C'mon, get on with it", these can be very enjoyable books.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No



Redshirts 1st Edition by John Scalzi
Redshirts 1st Edition

Jeffrey Bluhm, February 22, 2014

Clever tale about the experience of being one of the poor bastards fated to wear a red shirt in a Star Trek-like universe. I was disappointed that it wasn't as funny as the reviews had led me to believe, certainly not a par with, for example, Douglas Adams. However, the plot is clever, the characters are engaging, and there is humor, just more tongue-in-cheek than laugh-out-loud. The three codas at the end, told in first, second, and third person, from the perspective of various minor characters from the main story, was an unexpected and nice surprise (though not for you after reading this review, sorry).
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Devil Said Bang: A Sandman Slim Novel by Richard Kadrey
Devil Said Bang: A Sandman Slim Novel

Jeffrey Bluhm, February 18, 2014

Continues the saga of James Stark started in "Sandman Slim". This novel is effectively two novellas - the first part takes place in Hell, where Sandman Slim is the new Satan, and has to not only figure out how Hell functions but then make the system serve his needs. The second part transpires when he returns to LA, where he confronts more supernatural challenges, with familiar companions from the earlier books. You'll want to read the series in order, to be able to follow the various plots and subplots, but the creativity and non-stop action that were present in the prior books continue in this one. Aside from the original and creative ideas, and flawed but engaging characters, if I could have a superpower, it would be to craft metaphors like Richard Kadrey does in this outstanding (and continuing) series.
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