Gerry B's Book Reviews

Harry’s Last Stand: How the World My Generation Built is Falling Down, and What We Can Do to Save It, by Harry Leslie Smith

Need a reality check? Then this is the non-accusatory read for you! 

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As ‘Black Friday’ quickly approaches, with people already camped out to get first dibs on the latest bauble or gadget, I thought you might enjoy this perspective on life until you pick up your credit card bills next month. J
Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

‘As one of the last remaining survivors of the Great Depression and the Second World War, I will not go gently into that good night. I want to tell you what the world looks like through my eyes, so that you can help change it…’ ~ Harry Leslie Smith
In November 2013, 91-year-old Yorkshireman, RAF veteran and ex-carpet salesman Harry Leslie Smith’s Guardian article – ‘This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time’ – was shared almost 60,000 times on Facebook and started a huge debate about the state of society.

Now he brings his unique perspective to bear on NHS* cutbacks, benefits policy, political corruption, food poverty, the cost of education – and much more. From the deprivation of 1930s Barnsley and the terror of war to the creation of our welfare state, Harry has experienced how a great civilisation can rise from the rubble. But at the end of his life, he fears how easily it is being eroded.

Harry’s Last Stand is a lyrical, searing modern invective that shows what the past can teach us, and how the future is ours for the taking.

Harry Leslie Smith is a survivor of the Great Depression, a second world war RAF veteran and, at 91, an activist for the poor and for the preservation of social democracy. His Guardian articles have been shared over 60,000 times on Facebook and have attracted huge comment and debate. He has authored numerous books about Britain during the Great Depression, the second world war and postwar austerity. He lives outside Toronto, Canada and in Yorkshire.

*Note to copy writers: While your trendiness is noted – converting most everything into a mnemonic – the problem being that only you and a handful of others know what the hell you are talking about. Communication is still a two-way process.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it, and Harry Leslie Smith represents nearly 100 years of history in his seminal book, Harry’s Last Stand: How the World My Generation Built is Falling Down, and What We Can Do to Save It [Icon Books, June 5th 2014].

Browsing some of the reviews already published, I notice that the majority of them make some reference to disregarding the opinions of seniors as being outdated.

Overlooking the other issues with this way of thinking (e.g. stereotyping), it is also illogical. Who best to ask other than someone who has ‘bin der, and done dat’?

This is Leslie Smith’s point as well, and so, in a non-proselytizing way he sets out to tell you his story: from first fighting a war against tyranny, and subsequently the battles to win old age retirement benefits, social assistance for the poor, and universal health coverage, to name a few. No sooner had these been achieved, in whole or part, when the entire scenario changed with the social revolution of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Old, tried and true standards, were tossed in favour of mass consumerism that the corporations quickly embraced with an array of slick new gadgets to addlepate the public even more – a world of never-ending bliss with the newest model of automobile, TV, or smart phone.

Individuals like Leslie Smith, having been raised according to stricter standards, could see the banality of all this, of course, but as the other reviewers have already noted, his opinion (and others) were considered outdated and irrelevant in the face of such wonderful entertainments and gadgets.

To his credit, Leslie Smith does not assign blame to any one or group; rather he lays out his observations for everyone to see, in terms everyone can understand, together with his manifesto for the future.

This is inspirational reading. It is like sitting down with ‘the old man of the mountain’ for a chat about the real realities of life that seemingly are lost on modern society. Highly therapeutic and recommended. Five bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 74,312

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Thalidomide! Canada’ tragedy.

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

November 24, 2014 Posted by | Autobiography, Military history, non GBLT, non-GLBT, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Lover’s Knot by Donald Hardy

A masterfully crafted and delivered story.

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Click on the cover to purchase.  Also available in Kindle format.

Click on the cover to purchase. Also available in Kindle format.

Story blurb: Jonathan Williams has inherited Trevaglan Farm from a distant relative. With his best friend, Alayne, in tow, Jonathan returns to the estate to take possession, meet the current staff, and generally learn what it’s like to live as the landed gentry now. He’d only been there once before, fourteen years earlier. But that was a different time, he’s a different person now, determined to put that experience out of his mind and his heart….The locals agree that Jonathan is indeed different from the lost young man he was that long ago summer, when he arrived at the farm for a stay after his mother died. Back then the hot summer days were filled with sunshine, the nearby ocean, and a new friend, Nat. Jonathan and the farmhand had quickly grown close, Jonathan needing comfort in the wake of his grief, and Nat basking in the peace and love he didn’t have at home.

But that was also a summer of rumors and strange happenings in the surrounding countryside, romantic triangles and wronged lovers. Tempers would flare like a summer lightning storm, and ebb just as quickly. By the summer’s end, one young man was dead, and another haunted for life.

Now Jonathan is determined to start anew. Until he starts seeing the ghost of his former friend everywhere he looks. Until mementos of that summer idyll reappear. Until Alayne’s life is in danger. Until the town’s resident witch tells Jonathan that ghosts are real. And this one is tied to Jonathan unto death.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have a special place in my reader’s heart for an English country novel set in a small, rural town, with history dripping from every greensward. Somehow they are made for one another. So, when I read the lead-up to Lover’s Knot by Donald Hardy [Running Press, December 22nd 2009], I was hooked.

Donald Hardy’s bio (… no relation to the ‘Hardy Boys’) says he lives in California, but his writing style (particularly in his description of Cornwall’s ancient countryside) is British to a ‘T’.

The characters are well developed and credible, as well, from the reasonably well-adjusted Jonathon to the troubled Nat, his shrewish girlfriend, Rose, and Jonathon’s faithful (and ever-so-patient) friend, Langsford-Knight.

Briefly, Jonathon is sent to spend a summer at a cousin’s farm where he encounters Nat, a young farmhand. Being of more-or-less similar ages, a friendship if struck that grows more intimate until it culminates in sex. However, Nat is already involved with a harpy girlfriend who is a study in shrewishness, and as things deteriorate Nat is written out of the story by falling off a cliff.

Fourteen years later, Jonathon returns to Trevaglan Farm as owner, with Langsford-Knight for company. During the interim, Jonathon and Langsford have maintained a friendship that all but verges on romance. Albeit, neither have had the nerve to say so, or take it to the next step.

Once at the farm, however, strange things begin happening to Langsford until it appears his life might be in danger. This leads to the ferreting out the sinister mystery that ultimately resolves the story.

From personal experience, I can say that juggling a supernatural element with more conventional aspects of a story is no mean fete, and so I give Mr. Hardy for a job well done. Four and on-half bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 74,129

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Sir Isaac Brock – Canada’s Hero

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

 

November 17, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

Raising Cade (Cade & Alan #1) by Jonathan Penn

We shall remember. From Gerry B Books

We shall remember. From Gerry B Books

 

A tender story of coming together and recuperation.

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raising cade - front coverCade Bishop is a 22-year-old sophomore at Duke University. He has a brilliant mind, but he’s behind his peers due to a horrific incident that happened on the night of his high school senior prom. It took him two years to recover.

Alan Troxler joined the Marines right after Nine-Eleven and served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, until an IED abruptly ended his military career. “Retired” at age 30, Alan has come home to North Carolina to start a new life.

These two are an unlikely couple at best—each is determined to make it on his own, and neither wants to be coddled. Together, they put their own unique stamp on a classic Hurt/Comfort tale. Life can get complicated, and sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s hurt, and who’s giving comfort…

 

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I fear my comments are brief, this evening. I am in the middle of preparing for my annual migration south, tomorrow, and I still have a myriad of things to do. However, I did want to commemorate Remembrance Day with a novel that did it justice, and I think I have found just the thing.

I chose Raising Cade, by Brett Jones [Jonathan Penn, 1 edition, November 4, 2014] because it was about the aftermath of ward, and the coming together of two ‘wounded’ people: even though one of them had never been to war.

It spoke of tenderness, and the fulfilling of a need that both men sought in different ways.

The writing is solid, and the character development is progressive and credible. Both very well done.

There are a few things that I would like to have seen done differently, but it is otherwise are tender story of coming together and recuperation. Four bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 73,927

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  Sir Isaac Brock – Canada’s Hero

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Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

November 10, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Afghanistan, Gay fiction, Gay military | Leave a comment

Bad Boy: Naughty at Night (Bad Boy: Naughty at Night #1) by Jamie Lake

Well worth a read.

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bad boy - coverKindergarten teacher by day, sensual masseuse by night, Peter Davidson never thought things would get so tough that he’d need to give out sensual massages in secret in order to make ends meet. But when the school slashes his hours in half and with no other jobs available in town, he stumbles across the opportunity when fiddling around on an online dating site and a rather handsome older gentleman offers him money.

What he thinks will be a onetime thing turns into a booming business at night, and Peter promises himself he’ll only do it long enough just until he gets caught up. He has nothing else going on in his life, after all.

Handsome, classy and educated as he is, Peter still hasn’t met The One. Until, that is, he meets Chip – the parent of a new student, who turns out to be more man than he’s ever dreamed of.

What will Chip say if he finds out what Peter is doing on the side? And, what’s worse, what will the school say when they find out this teacher has been a very bad boy?

Length: Approximately 65 pages.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I started with #1 of this series, Bad Boy: Naughty at Night (Bad Boy: Naughty at Night [ Jamie Lake, June 25, 2014] by Jamie Lake, because the caveat said the series ended in cliff-hangers. It does, so be advised.

Jamie Lake is a prolific writer, with more than a dozen books to his credit, but this is the first read for me. The plot is good, but not a barn-burner when it comes to originality. Peter Davidson is a kindergarten teacher by day and a masseuse/callboy by night. He is handsome, well-educated and entertaining, but in spite of these attributes he still hasn’t found ‘Mr. Right.’

Then, along comes Chip, a detective, single father, and all-round nice guy, and inevitably Peter falls for Chip and vice versa.

Now, the problem arises as to how to hide the extracurricular activity from Chip and the school: A sort of man-out-but-job-in-closet scenario.

There is also a good deal of sex, but it never takes over the story – A big plus for me.

Although there are a few editing issues, the story-line flowed with enough interest and momentum to keep most readers engaged. In addition, there are quite a few laughs along the way – the banter between Peter and Chip is clever and crisp – so, altogether, it has something for everyone. Well worth the money. Four bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 73,729

***

Interested in Canadian history?

Want to know more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post:  John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll … Canada’s gay governor general?

logo - gerry burnie books - couple - croppeed

       

 

Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

 

 

 

November 3, 2014 Posted by | a love story, Fiction, Gay fiction | Leave a comment

   

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