Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Feature: Command Influence by Robert A. Shaines

Command Influence: A story of Korea and the politics of injustice

Command Influence: A Story of Korea and the Politics of Injustice by Robert A. Shaines
Publisher:Outskirts Press
Publish Date: November 22, 2010
Paperback, 430 pages

I have started this book, but I am running behind as usual after a busy holiday season and first few days back to school for my boys.  So I thought I would let you know more about the book today, review to follow in the next week.

About the Book:
George C. Schreiber was a twenty-five year old second lieutenant in charge of an Air Police guard unit in Pusan, Korea. A year earlier, in 1951, he had innocently been teaching fifth and sixth grade children in Brookfield, Illinois. A year later, he was convicted by a general court-martial of premeditated murder. The unconscionable injustice made no sense to twenty-three year old Air Force lawyer Robert A. Shaines and Schreiber’s story has haunted his thoughts ever since. Command Influence chronicles Shaines’ first hand observation of the dramatic events leading up to the trial of Schreiber and two of his contemporaries and shows how he, Schreiber and others became pawns in a power game among ambitious and vindictive men eager only to please those who could advance their military careers. This series of events would ultimately involve the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Governor of Illinois, the President and the Supreme Court of the United States and bring about a change in the law which would reach the highest levels of government. A fascinating tale of military and legal history, Command Influence is also a captivatingly personal vindication of the conscience of the author, who comes to understand that he and Schreiber were a couple of dedicated, but naive and trusting young fellow officers whose lives and characters became permanently shaped by these events. Both were victims in their own ways.

About the Author:
Robert A. Shaines is a practicing attorney in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He was awarded the Korean Service Medal in 2010 by the President of the Republic of Korea. His next book is a work of fiction based on his experiences working for the Defense Nuclear Agency in the former Soviet Union from 1992 to 1996.

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***I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  I do not receive money for my amazon links since I live in NC (something about some law), so they are up purely for my readers to have a place to check out the book.***

Book Review: The Radleys by Matt Haig

Publisher: Free Press
Publish Date: December 28, 2010
Hardcover, 384 pages

My Review:

A fascinating look at the family life of vampires. The Radleys is about a family where the parents are abstaining vampires who have chosen their life and also chosen not to tell their children they are vampires. The children are teenagers who barely fit in at school and both can't figure out why they are so different from others. Because of the treatment at school, the brother and sister are close and I liked that aspect. Recently a new girl has moved to town and has befriended Clara and Rowan, the brother has a crush on the new girl. Then the unthinkable happens and it is revealed to the children that they are vampires. Enter the dad, Peter's brother Will and life is turned upside down in the Radley household.

I think what made this book stand out to me is the fact that it is more about the family life and dynamics than it is about any event in the book. When Will shows up the family is in turmoil, secrets are revealed and Clara and Rowan start to question who they are even more. Helen and Peter are in turmoil as well, dealing with the life of abstaining, but still feeling the need to be a vampire. The book spoke to me on many levels with the family situation.

I also liked that there is humor interspersed with the darkness of the book. Watching the Radleys trying to keep up the front of being normal was hysterical at times and sad at others. I think anyone can see some of themselves while reading this book even though we as readers are not vampires (or are we?) ;)

Written in short chapters about different members of the family, I really enjoyed getting a look into each of their lives. It is fun to see the perspectives of the teenagers as well as the parents all in one book. Even though I read this in the middle of the busy week before Christmas, I had a hard time putting it down to get things done. If you want a different and entertaining look at vampires and families then this is the book for you.

My rating: 4.5/5.0 

About the Book:
Just about everyone knows a family like the Radleys. Many of us grew up next door to one. They are a modern family, averagely content, averagely dysfunctional, living in a staid and quiet suburban English town. Peter is an overworked doctor whose wife, Helen, has become increasingly remote and uncommunicative. Rowan, their teenage son, is being bullied at school, and their anemic daughter, Clara, has recently become a vegan. They are typical, that is, save for one devastating exception: Peter and Helen are vampires and have—for seventeen years—been abstaining by choice from a life of chasing blood in the hope that their children could live normal lives.

One night, Clara finds herself driven to commit a shocking—and disturbingly satisfying—act of violence, and her parents are forced to explain their history of shadows and lies. A police investigation is launched that uncovers a richness of vampire history heretofore unknown to the general public. And when the malevolent and alluring Uncle Will, a practicing vampire, arrives to throw the police off Clara’s trail, he winds up throwing the whole house into temptation and turmoil and unleashing a host of dark secrets that threaten the Radleys’ marriage.

The Radleys is a moving, thrilling, and radiant domestic novel that explores with daring the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, what it costs you to deny your identity, the undeniable appeal of sin, and the everlasting, iridescent bonds of family love. Read it and ask what we grow into when we grow up, and what we gain—and lose—when we deny our appetites.

About the Author:
Matt Haig has written 6 novels for kids and grown-ups.  Find out more about him at his webpage below.


***I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  I do not receive money for my amazon links since I live in NC (something about some law), so they are up purely for my readers to have a place to check out the book.***