Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Minis: The Comforts of Home by Jodi Thomas, War by Sebastian Junger

Here are two very different reads, one is very comforting as you can see by the title, the other is not. However, both are excellent books and have much to offer. As different as they are, one made me think of the other.

The Comforts of Home by Jodi Thomas

Harmony, Texas is a town full of great characters perfect for heartwarming stories and touching romances. In The Comforts of Home, Jodi Thomas reached an almost perfect balance for me in her telling of those stories and the creation/development of those romances. As in Harmony, there's more than one story being told, and the small community as a whole becomes part of that telling. Old friends return and new characters are introduced to provide freshness to this contemporary series.

Highlighted in this third book is Ronelle, the ultra shy, almost invisible Harmony postal worker, and Marty Winslow, an ex-skier going through a tough and dark period of adjustment after an accident that left him in a wheelchair. Theirs is a beautiful growing relationship that signals a rebirth for both Ronelle and Marty, where they begin to see each other strictly as a man and a woman. I thoroughly enjoyed them. Then of course there are Reagan and Noel, who is back in Harmony. These two young people are growing up and it's a wonder to see how far Reagan has come since that first introduction. And of course one of my favorite characters, Tyler is also back playing the knight in shining armor and hoping to finally talk his Kate into a happy ending. Ohhh, and I loved Denver's yearning and love for Clare and his hopes for more than just the secretive explosive affair they've been conducting for over a year.

Of course I hoped for more of an ending to some of these wonderful stories, and felt lucky that there's a happy ending to two of them. The fourth book of the series, Just Down The Road is releasing in 2012, and I'll be waiting for it impatiently. I need to know what happens to the wonderful people of Harmony. Grade A- (Berkley, November 1, 2011-Kindle Edition)


War by Sebastian Junger

Sebastian Junger's prose and writing style in War was gripping enough to basically haul me into reading this book in one sitting. His focus is on the brutal experience of soldiers/grunts, and the bond created while in combat. How not only their training, but that bond keeps them fighting and going back into danger, and how the excitement of combat effects their lives there and later on. All are thoroughly examined while Junger follows a single platoon from Battle Company through a harrowing and brutal 15-month tour in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley (2007-2008).

Mr. Junger is surprisingly and refreshingly apolitical in his approach to the story as are the soldiers. Well documented are the battles and patrols, the men's deprivations, loyalty, grief, love, edginess, tension, as well as the excitement and highs from combat and the boredom that sets in throughout their time in the Valley. The soldiers become individuals to the reader, and after a while I wanted to put faces to the names. Of course I had to watch Restrepo, the 2010 Sundance Film Festival award winning documentary by Sebastian Junger and the late Tim Hetherington to do just that. It helped watching the documentary after reading the book.

My one problem with the book itself is in the way it's organized, it doesn't flow well at times and at others it becomes repetitive. Particularly when Junger is using sections of his research about combat soldiers to make his point. Regardless, War is a fascinating read as the reader gets a journalist's perspective on the soldier/grunt's daily experience of combat, and much, much more. Grade B+ (Twelve, April 23, 2010-Kindle Edition)


  1. I haven't read anything by Jodi Thomas but her books always sound so good.

    The latter sounds amazing albeit heavy material. Those types of stories are so important, but I have a hard time putting myself to the task of reading them. I want to raise my awareness, but at the same time I want to spare myself the sorrow. That sounds so weak... :-/

  2. Just finished the Thomas and really enjoyed it! That series has grown on me. :)

  3. Oh Christine, I think you would love Thomas' style. I think it was Nath who described it as "gentle," and I agree with her. It's sweet and heartwarming, but overly so. I've enjoyed both her historical and contemporary romances so far. :)

    As far as War goes, it's a fantastic book in many ways. Truly. So is the documentary. However, I know it's not for everyone and that's okay. Really! ;P I've had the book in my TBR for quite a while and I finally read it (note that it was released quite a while ago). Now, if only I could find the fortitude to read The Good Soldiers! I WILL read that one too! Personal challenge. *g*

    Leslie, isn't this series just getting better? I'm glad I didn't give up after reading the first book. I think I liked it a bit better than you did? Don't remember, but I do remember we had some of the same concerns. However, this book really did it for me. :)

  4. PS: Christine, I meant to say "not overly so."

  5. Jodi Thomas definitively has a different writing style, right Hils? I'd say gentle, delicate...

    I'm so glad we agree on the grade for this one! I loved the Ronelle/Marty storyline! Can't wait to see it continue in the next book!! :)

    Gabe and pregnant Liz was funny as well :) I'm glad Tyler finally came on top! :) and seriously, I think Reagan and Noah will forever have a special place in my heart :)

    The only thing that I didn't care for in this book was Denver and Claire. I still haven't warmed up to Claire.

  6. Nath agreed. Thomas' style is definitely different. I really like it. :)

    I'm glad we agree on this one too. I loved Ronelle/Marty! They were my favorite couple in this story. And, I can't believe I forgot to mention Gabe. He was SO funny about Liz's pregnancy... *g*

    Oh, and I liked Denver/Clare. But I think it is because of Denver and the way he feels about her. The relationship from her POV is lacking -- and it shows. For me this series is getting better... great read!


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