The Comforts of Home by Jodi Thomas
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
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)