Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 10 Books I Read in 2009

Top 10 Books I Read in 2009:

  1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  2. A Note in the Margin by Isabelle Rowan
  3. The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts
  4. Full Circle by Michael Thomas Ford
  5. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
  6. Spine Intact, Some Creases by Victor J. Banis
  7. Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas
  8. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  9. The Reader by Berhard Schlink
  10. The Rest of Our Lives by Dan Stone

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Title: Auschwitz
Author: Laurence Rees
Publisher: Public Affairs (in USA); BBC Books (in UK)
Genre: Non-fiction, World War II History
ISBN: 978-1-58648-357-9

Reviewed by Michiel Korsmit (my husband)

Great book for everybody interested in the Nazi’s “final solution of the Jewish question.”

The book Auschwitz covers a lot more than the title implies. It gives a deep insight into how the Nazis handled their Jewish question, as well as the treatment of Gypsies, Russian POW’s and other not-wanted or low-life considered populations.

It describes how the Nazis’ top leaders developed their strategy from Jewish emigration in the 1930’s, to forced slavery and extermination in the 1940’s. Also, it tells how the Jewish populations in several European countries were treated by their governments and fellow countrymen. From the heroic Danish population who managed to save almost their entire Jewish community, to the sell-out of the Jews by the Hungarians and Slovaks.

But of course the main line in the book is Auschwitz – how this concentration camp started as a regular Nazi concentration camp for Polish political prisoners, where, of course a lot of brutality and killing occurred, but in the early stages Auschwitz wasn’t anywhere near as notorious as other Nazi concentration camps. However, under leadership from Auschwitz camp commander Rudolf Höss, Auschwitz would through the years develop into the factory of death for which it is now famous.

The book has a lot of interviews with people who were both imprisoned in Auschwitz, as well as with Nazis who “worked” at the camp. The focus on the human aspect of this book makes it an easy read. Since the book is so complete, I can recommend this book to everyone with an interest in this part of history.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Rest of Our Lives

Title: The Rest of Our Lives
Author: Dan Stone
Publisher: Lethe Press (2009)
Genre: Fantasy, Gay Romance
ISBN: 978-1-59021-147-2
Website: www.firstadream.com

The best word to describe Dan Stone’s first novel is “fun”. I usually don’t read a book in one sitting, but this novel was so engrossingly entertaining and fun that I could not put it down until I finished. Also, I usually avoid fantasy or paranormal books like the plague, but another reader’s comments piqued my interests and I’m glad that I put aside my fantasy-genre prejudice, at least temporarily, and bought this book.

This endearing novel is about two polar-opposite witches. Colm, the sometimes clueless, reserved, elemental witch, with all too human foibles, is able to freeze time. Aidan, the quintessentially hot, red-blooded man with a fiery personality, is a well-practiced elemental witch capable of heating things up. When fire and ice meet, the adventures begin. Aidan teaches Colm how to use his gift, and the sparks immediately fly. Colm cannot resist the handsome, outgoing Aidan, and drops his guard and falls in love. The proverbial fly-in-the-ointment comes when Colm and Aidan find out from Aidan’s intuitive aunt that the two of them have been finding, and falling in love with, each other for several millenniums, with Colm always left broken-hearted. Will Colm break the pattern of heartbreak by leaving Aidan for good, or will he believe in the power of love and magic that the two of them are truly soul mates? Will Colm follow his head or his heart?

This is an exceptional first novel that had me literally laughing out loud. The love Colm and Aidan have for each other is palpable and heartwarming. The minor characters are eccentric and fit with the story perfectly.

My only complaint is that the story kept me up to the early morning hours and deprived me of sleep! I’ll be looking forward to reading this talented writer’s next novel, and I hope I don’t have to wait too long to do so. If you’re looking for a fun, entertaining romance, you can’t go wrong with The Rest of Our Lives. Therefore, I give The Rest of Our Lives my highest recommendation.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spine Intact, Some Creases

Title: Spine Intact, Some Creases
Author: Victor J. Banis
Publisher: Borgo Press
ISBN: 978-1434402073
Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoirs
Website: http://www.vjbanis.com/

Victor J. Banis should be hailed a hero for the battles he fought and the trails that he blazed, and every writer should be grateful for all that he has done. He deserves an apology from the Federal government (especially the USPS) for the way he was treated. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, where all men are supposed to be created equal, the government’s treatment of Banis is embarrassing and appalling.

With a trumped-up obscenity charge and trial threatening to send him to prison, and an ongoing possibility of prison for what he was writing, Banis fought back and won.

For me, any American with a social conscience should be furious over the treatment this man endured at the hands of the government – and I for one certainly am outraged.

I don’t normally read non-fiction, but I’m glad that I read Spine Intact, Some Creases. The title alone was humorous and a bit intriguing. Banis effortlessly blends very poignant moments with hilarious tales, and keeps the reader turning the pages. I often read a few paragraphs of this downright, hilarious and laugh out loud funny book to my husband, and he found the stories just as funny as I.

I give this book a very enthusiastic thumbs up. Without a doubt, Spine Intact, Some Creases was the best book that I read in 2008. Buy this book – you won’t be disappointed. Mr. Banis is even posting several chapters of this book on his website - http://www.vjbanis.com/. Read a few of the chapters and then don’t delay ordering your copy. Out of 5 stars, I’d give this book at least 6 stars, so take my recommendation – this is a great book.

Through it all, Mr. Banis kept writing, and thankfully he keeps writing, and his fabulous works are still being published.