Tag Archives: Derek B. MIller

Book Review: The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller (3/5)

9 Apr

I added this to my list after thoroughly enjoying my first Miller book, Norwegian by Night but before enjoying my second, American by Day. I knew this one would be different but I don’t think I’d gathered how different. I’m not sure if that affected how much I enjoyed it but I think it was pretty significant, unfortunately.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller

Other books by Miller reviewed on this blog:

Norwegian by Night (Sigrid Ødegård #1) (and Book Club Reflection)
American by Day (Sigrid Ødegård #2)

Summary from Goodreads:

1991. Near Checkpoint Zulu, one hundred miles from the Kuwaiti border, Thomas Benton meets Arwood Hobbes. Benton is a British journalist who reports from war zones in part to avoid his lackluster marriage and a daughter he loves but cannot connect with; Arwood is a mid-western American private who might be an insufferable ignoramus, or might be a genuine lunatic with a death wish–it’s hard to tell.

Desert Storm is over, peace has been declared, but as they argue about whether it makes sense to cross the nearest border in search of an ice cream, they become embroiled in a horrific attack in which a young local girl in a green dress is killed as they are trying to protect her. The two men walk away into their respective lives. But something has cracked for them both.

Twenty-two years later, in another place, in another war, they meet again and are offered an unlikely opportunity to redeem themselves when that same girl in green is found alive and in need of salvation. Or is she?

I guess a war novel isn’t much of a stretch from a police novel so I shouldn’t be surprised by the topic here. What felt very different is that the Ødegård stories are funny and lighthearted at times while this one never gave me that feeling. It was always very serious and the situation Hobbs and Benton wind up in is never lighthearted. It’s very deadly and doesn’t seem as defined as the other Miller books I’ve read. I never got a read on Arwood and it bothered me. I didn’t understand what he was after and her personality type was not one I’d run into before and I couldn’t find any sympathy for him. I didn’t connect well with this book.

As I said, Arwood didn’t feel real to me. He was really aggressive in a way I haven’t encountered and that didn’t make me comfortable. He had me on edge the whole time. Benton seemed more human, but he was really different from me and it kept me from connecting. Marta was a bit more relatable to me because I understood her logic and determination a bit more than the other characters and I could sympathize with her a bit. But because she wasn’t one of the two major characters, it wasn’t enough for me to really connect with the book.

Marta was smart. She was able to negotiate the alphabet soup that is the aid agencies in a recovering region. She knew who to call and who was fighting with who and how to make things happen. I had a lot of respect for her and the way she made things happen when she shouldn’t have been able to make them happen.

Charlotte was the only character I related to. She was helpless to do anything to help her dad but she wanted to do something. I think that feeling of helplessness is shared with the current COVID-19 pandemic situation. We want to do something, we want to help, but we can’t. We get updates and news but nothing substantive happens. She felt like her world was falling apart and she couldn’t do anything to fix it. Right now, I really get that.

Derek B. Miller
Image via Twitter

I thought the hostage situation in this book was well written. Arwood was very aware of how fear could be used to make their situation worse and was always logical about how he and Benton were being treated. He knew what to do to give them the best chance possible. It was a good contrast between how Benton reacted and how Arwood reacted that made the scene interesting.

The way Arwood left the book bothered me. We got a lot of bits and pieces of his life between 1991 and 2013 and I didn’t see how they built him the personality he had in the later segment of the book. He seemed really impulsive and vindictive for someone in his field and it was hard to fathom the extent of his anger and determination. I found Benton’s ending appropriate and fitting. Arwood left me more confused than I had been when he was still in the book.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Will Damron. He did a fine job but nothing that stuck out to me. His voice sounds like other male narrators I’ve listened to before and I could swear I’ve listened to him but his name doesn’t sound familiar. Maybe he just sounds like someone else. He did well with the accents for all the international players in this novel. And I didn’t feel his female voices were at all demeaning.

This book has been called the modern Catch 22 and I can see why. Some things in war are not as serious as others and we have to laugh. Hostage situations are not funny. A non-native English speaker not understanding the difference between tiger and Tigger is funny. Some things in war are so complicated that we have to laugh and the bureaucracy that has to be navigated is comically complex at times. This book addresses those challenges and puts them in a context that does allow us to laugh but also to see the grim reality of what’s going on and how people are affected by it.

Writer’s Takeaway: Miller did a great job of having a very diverse cast of characters in his story. Benton is probably most like him (based on what I know of Miller) but he created a lot of people who weren’t like him at all and had different experiences and skills that the story needed. He did a great job creating a diverse group that reflects the reality of international aid groups.

I think I had different expectations for this book than could have been realized. I give it Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
“The Girl In Green” by Derek B. Miller: Highly Recommended | Mike Finn’s Fiction
Review: The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller | Simon McDonald

WWW Wednesday, 8-April-2020

8 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Stalemated with White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I’ll get to it eventually. But this one will languish.
I’ve been inside more and more so The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz hasn’t moved much. I’m still on disk three.
I’ve made good progress with Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago. I was hoping to have it finished this week but it’s slower for me to read in Spanish and I haven’t quite made it through yet. I suspect I’ll be done next week, though.
My reading buddy and I had our first Zoom Book Club meeting on Monday to talk about The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I didn’t realize I’d left us at such a cliffhanger so when we finished, we immediately found the next time we were both free to meet so we could keep moving forward.
I needed to make some changes for my next eaudiobook. My book clubs are starting to move online. I’m not sure if the one group will meet, but I’m still going to try to read The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. It has been one our club has been talking about for a while so I hope I enjoy it.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller pretty quickly. I had this book on my list after reading his first novel, Norwegian by Night. It was very different and I’m still considering how I feel about it. I think I had it set in my mind that it would be like Miller’s other books so I’m wondering if I’m disappointed at the difference or I truly didn’t enjoy it as much. Either way, look for a review tomorrow. I’m still debating my rating.

Reading Next: Needing to move forward with book club books, I’m hoping to start A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold. There’s a hold on this audiobook since my book club is reading it and we’re all hoping to get a copy. When it’s my turn, I’ll try to get through it as fast as I can.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 1-April-2020

1 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Yet again, I’ve barely moved forward with White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I did renew the check-out so I’ll have another three weeks of nothing with it. Oh well, it’s there when I do need it.
I keep finding excuses to drive to get dinner so I can listen to The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz. I know as soon as I get to go to work again I’ll start flying through this but for now, I’m happy to have started the third disk.
I’ll be moving slowly through Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago but it feels good to finally have my Spanish language book on the move. It takes me a while to finish one of these, but it always feels great to have finished it.
My reading buddy and I ‘met up’ so I could give her a copy of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. In reality, we met in a park and I put the book down on a hill and backed up before she came forward and picked it up. But anyway, I’ve started reading this in fits and starts. It’s what I pick up when I have a few minutes before something else starts; it lends itself well to that.
I started the audiobook of The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller. This is very different than the other Miller books I’ve read so I’m still unsure what to make of it, but it’s getting interesting and I’m curious to see where this one goes.

Recently finished: I finished up The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman as quickly as I thought. It was a fun group of short stories and I enjoyed reading them. It was even more fun when I realized that the audiobook and my physical copy had different stories so I got to read and listen. I posted a review yesterday. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

I also posted a review of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters on Monday. I was a little disappointed by the story in the end after enjoying the beginning so much. It was still a fun ride, but I’m not sure I’m going to be recommending this one to may people. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I haven’t through too far ahead because I feel like I’m just starting so many books. I guess my next need will be an audiobook.  Next up on my TBR is The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson. I don’t quite remember how this made it to my list, but books about books are always welcome.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: American by Day by Derek B. Miller (4/5)

21 Jan

I wanted to read a book off my list and after running through the stacks for ten minutes, I finally picked up this book. I’d read the first in the series with my book club a few years ago and while I knew there was a sequel, I hadn’t made it a priority though I’m glad I’ve finally gotten to it.

Cover image via Goodreads

American by Day (Sigrid Ødegård #2) by Derek B. Miller

Other books by Miller reviewed on this blog:

Norwegian by Night (and Book Club Reflection)

Summary from Goodreads:

SHE KNEW IT WAS A WEIRD PLACE. She’d heard the stories, seen the movies, read the books. But now police Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has to leave her native Norway and actually go there; to that land across the Atlantic where her missing brother is implicated in the mysterious death of a prominent African-American academic. AMERICA.

Sigrid is plunged into a United States where race and identity, politics and promise, reverberate in every aspect of daily life. Working with—or, if necessary, against—the police, she must negotiate the local political minefields and navigate the backwoods of the Adirondacks to uncover the truth before events escalate further.

I love not reading summaries so that books have a better chance of surprising me as this one did. I figured it would take place in the States but that’s all I had to go on. Marcus was a surprise. Irv was a surprise. The racial tensions were a huge surprise. I wasn’t expecting it but it made a lot of sense. For Sigrid, Norwegian by Night had a lot of xenophobic consequences. Did she shoot someone because he was different from her where she might have made allowances or excuses for someone more like herself? This book took that theme and ran with it into a beautiful story that I really loved.

The characters and their emotions drove the story wonderfully. Sigrid’s confusion and determination amazed me throughout the book and I loved reading from her point of view. Marcus’s sadness permeated his entire character and I thought his ending was wonderful and I can’t imagine it wrapping up any other way. Irv blew me away and I went from hating him to loving him throughout the book. Miller’s ability to create characters with a full range of emotions was really enjoyable.

Sigrid was an amazing character and easy to love. She was smart and determined. It was clear she had some internal struggles with where she was in her life but she was also very proud of her career and what she’d been able to accomplish in her life. I liked that she didn’t flash her knowledge around even though she was the smartest person in the room a lot of the time.

Melinda was easy to relate to. Having grown up in the US, she’s almost immune to the racial violence in our country and she’s not involved in politics and hasn’t been on the force long enough for her to think about it. I feel a lot of Americans are in the same boat and are almost blind to the violence in our country until it hits them over the head.

Derek B. Miller
Image via Facebook

Sigrid and Melinda’s time together was my favorite part of the book. Sigrid had so much to teach Melinda and Melinda was such a willing pupil that it felt like a great mentorship was taking place. I loved Sigirid’s patience and how she was able to show Melinda that she could be successful and lead in a position she never considered before. Female mentorships like that are so powerful.

The jumps to Sigrid’s father seemed unnecessary to me. He didn’t add anything to the book unless Sigrid was with him. Seeing him around his house, looking at old mementos seemed like a filler until we were back to Sigrid and Irv.

The book talked a lot about institutionalized racism and Sigrid created a great sounding board for talking about the issue in America. She had similar misgivings about what she’d done in Norway but when she saw the way the issue was addressed in the US, she realized her issues were small in comparison. I’m not saying they’re insignificant but smaller. With an outsider’s view, she was able to express stark opinions about the state of police violence against minority communities. This book addressed the issue as it affected a small town; it would be amplified in a large city but the small setting let Miller dig into the issue more. I liked how he was able to address this.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book is funny without telling you it’s funny. Sigrid’s comments are hilarious but they’re never emphasized so if you’re looking for a crime novel, this isn’t bogged down with humor. But if you’re like me and looking for a book that’s a great mix of crime, literary character development, and humor, you can bust a gut with it and really enjoy it. Humor is great in almost any genre and I think this showed that well.

A really enjoyable read from an author I hope to read more from. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 2000-Present time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Post:
Derek B. Miller- American by Day | Raven Crime Reads

WWW Wednesday, 15-January-2020

15 Jan

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: This was a slow week for Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley. I kept having people join me at lunch even though I eat really early. It’s not a bad sign, right? But maybe I need to find someone else to eat and read if I want to get through an ebook in a reasonable amount of time.
I’m onto the next segment of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. My buddy reader and I had a great discussion last week and I’m excited to go even further with these characters. The hard part is going to be stopping when I’m so close to the end!
I’ve reached the halfway mark in Colombiano by Rusty Young. This book is quite the epic and while I know a normal-length book would be over by now, I feel like this one is still ramping up. I’m not sure how this can end because there is so much that needs to be tied up before I feel I can leave Pedro and not be worried about him.

Recently finished: I sped through American by Day by Derek B. Miller. We had some bad weather here in the Midwest so I was happy to stay indoors with some tea and finish this. I had a few hard swims over the weekend that made me ready to fall asleep in my favorite nap chair while reading and this book was just perfect for that. I really enjoy Miller and what he can do with a story. I hope to read more from him soon.

I did finish a review of Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. I enjoyed the story enough, but it didn’t really work for me as a novel. I ended up giving it Three out of Five Stars. I’ll have to try another Sepetys book because I adored the first one of hers that I read and I do love historical fiction.

Reading Next: I’ll keep planning on Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner as an audiobook. Eventually.
I haven’t received my copy of The Running Man by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King) through ILL yet. I’m a bit nervous about it coming in now because I’m not sure I’ll have to get to it.
My book club met on Monday and our next book is The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J.B. Morrison. I know absolutely nothing about this book and I’ve never heard of the author so who knows how this one will turn out. I think I’ll have to do this one in print, too.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 8-January-2020

8 Jan

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m moving forward steadily with Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley but no major jumps. I like having one book on the craft of writing going so I’ll keep pushing forward with this one to keep me motivated to write and submit.
My buddy-reader and I are having dinner tonight to talk about the next chunk of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I’m excited to move forward with this one again, I’m really enjoying it and it’s killing me to keep stopping before I find out what’s happened.
I’ve made better progress with Colombiano by Rusty Young than I thought I would. This is a long one to be sure and it will stay on this list for a long time. It’s given me goosebumps a few times already but I like where it’s going and I think Young has created a great character with Pedro.
I ran around the library on Saturday looking for my next book and finally decided on American by Day by Derek B. Miller. I adored Norwegian by Night and I’m excited to revisit Sigrid for a new adventure. I’m hoping to speed through this one as I’m excited for some book club selections and interlibrary loans!

Recently finished: I just adored Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I kept staying up late and ignoring responsibilities and social obligations to read this wonderful novel. I’m so glad I got to hear Lee speak last year because having her conversation in my head when I was reading this was incredible and I wish I could hear her speak again because I would get more out of the conversation. Five out of Five Stars, a great way to start 2020!

Reading Next: I’m still planning on Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner for an audiobook but it might be a while until I get there.
I put in an interlibrary loan request for The Running Man by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King). This was recommended to me years ago and I’ve put it off because it needed an ILL but I’m still working to catch up on my reading list and this will be a great next step.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Challenge Update, April 2016

2 May

April was the month of plodding through long books. Not a ton of progress, but I’m predicting a lot of these giants will fall in the next month. Look out! I’m going to get through these challenges, just you watch! You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in April:

Norwegian by Night // Derek B. Miller
Texts from Jane Eyre // Mallory Ortberg
The Tales of Beedle the Bard // J.K. Rowling
Child 44 // Tom Rob Smith
Silver Sparrow // Tayari Jones

Two more big ones I’m hoping to topple next month! And my only missing review will be up tomorrow so look out for Child 44!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

8/12
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. I only crossed one off of the list this month, Pre-1500 with The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Yes, I know, it’s a bit of a stretch to count it but I’m at peace with this. If I end up reading something that fits it better, I’ll swap them out, but I’m going to count it until then.

Goodreads Challenge

16/45
I’m two ahead of where I should be! I feel like I’m slogging through books now, but I’m doing alright for the year. I keep forgetting it’s still early in the year! I’ll be fine on this one, I’m 99% sure.

Book of the Month

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Hm. It’s for sure between Silver Sparrow and Norwegian by Night, but I have to go with Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller. This book caught me completely by surprise and I just loved it. My book club enjoyed it too and we all had a great discussion.

Added to my TBR

I’m down two! Two of the books I read weren’t on my TBR and I added just one. It’s slowly coming down…

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowing. Is anyone surprised I added this? I still need to figure out where I’m going for a release party but I have a good idea. So excited for it!

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re killing it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller

26 Apr

After what seems like a long wait, my book club finally met last week to discuss Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller. I absolutely loved this book and had been really anxious about this meeting. I’m thrilled to say a lot of others were as anxious as I was.

We talked first about the author who is not a writer by trade. He works in security affairs, specifically with the UN for disarmament research and to reintegrate former soldiers and noncombatants back into non-military life. We saw this come through in Enver’s character and it helped us understand how he could write that subculture so well. This book won The Crime Writers’ Association New Blood Dagger Award, an award that has been won by some big name authors including Janet Evanovich and Gillian Flynn. Miller’s next book is due out in January 2017 and many in our group are excited to read it.

Most of our conversation was about the amazing Sheldon. His dementia was a key point in the story. We didn’t think he was properly diagnosed with dementia. One of our members works with those in early stages of dementia and she didn’t see similarities with her patients. He was aware that Bill wasn’t really with him when they spoke and he was able to formulate a plan. We think it was more likely PTSD. He had kept his life hidden from those around him but after his wife died, finally felt he could open up to the truth. When he started to talk about things no one had heard of before, they assumed he was demented. We thought it was likely that after his wife’s death, he felt stagnant, like he couldn’t move on in his life and drifted through as best he could. This might have been perceived as dementia. It was obvious to us that the adventure he found himself in kicked his brain into gear and had him thinking like a marine again. The stress and situations brought back all his memories and training and even at 82, he knew what to do.

The only thing that made us doubt he was able minded was when he mentioned that he couldn’t remember filing anything and that was why he thought he was a sniper. If it was a joke, we missed it. Maybe he was losing it, but everything else in the book pointed to him knowing exactly what was going on.

The death of Saul haunted Sheldon for his whole life. We felt the interactions between Sheldon and his son when he returned from his tour of Vietnam was very real. There was an implied understanding between the men but it was a gap between them they were unable to fill. Sheldon felt Saul’s death was his fault and wanted to make amends for it his whole life. Saving Paul at the end of the book was Sheldon’s way of coming to peace with what he had carried around his whole life. Personally, I thought it was a beautiful ending.

Why didn’t Paul talk? No one else agreed with my theory that he was deaf. Oh well. They all thought he was traumatized, which had pushed him into silence. Even a few days out from the event, he was still too stunned to speak. We all hoped that Rhea and Lars would adopt Paul at the end instead of finding some distant relatives to take care of the boy. He would be a good son for them if they could find a common language.

Miller writes about Norway like it’s a character in his book. He’s lived in Norway a long time and his wife is Norwegian. He says he was poking fun at his wife’s family and the culture of Norway. We have two members of our group who had lived in Europe for a while and thought the portrayal of Norwegians was spot on. They are polite to a fault, waiting until the early 2000s to apologize for their actions in World War II.

One of the ways Miller criticized Norway was in their openness to Kosovars and Serbs after the Yugoslavian conflict. Enver was welcomed into the country without question. Whether he was seen as a freedom fighter or a war criminal was no matter. What he’d done to Paul’s mother was no issue. We saw a strong contrast between Sheldon and Enver. When Sheldon came back from war, he was quiet and clammed up. Enver was still angry and lashed out at everyone.

Guilt was a strong theme in this book. Sheldon’s guilt over Mario’s death haunted him especially. It was such a simple thing, to take a step to improve a picture. Why did Mario movie and not Sheldon? This little thing must have haunted him he whole life.

We all liked the book. We loved the layers of the plot and how we got deeper into the characters with every page. The multiple points of view all worked. Many books with multiple POVs slow down, but we liked all of the voices in this novel. It was so well crafted.

Our next book will be The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls which I read a few months ago. I’m looking forward to the discussion!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller (5/5)

12 Apr

I love when a book club read knocks it out of the park for me. I get so excited to go to the meeting and I try to convince a few other people to read the book and join me because I’m sure they’ll love it, too. This was one of those books and I’m so glad it was selected for us to read.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller

Summary from Goodreads:

He will not admit it to Rhea and Lars – never, of course not – but Sheldon can’t help but wonder what it is he’s doing here..

Eighty-two years old, and recently widowed, Sheldon Horowitz has grudgingly moved to Oslo, with his grand-daughter and her Norwegian husband. An ex-Marine, he talks often to the ghosts of his past – the friends he lost in the Pacific and the son who followed him into the US Army, and to his death in Vietnam.

When Sheldon witnesses the murder of a woman in his apartment complex, he rescues her six-year-old son and decides to run. Pursued by both the Balkan gang responsible for the murder, and the Norwegian police, he has to rely on training from over half a century before to try and keep the boy safe. Against a strange and foreign landscape, this unlikely couple, who can’t speak the same language, start to form a bond that may just save them both.

Wow. I was not expecting that. This book grabbed my shirt in its fist and ran with me. It was a part murder mystery, thriller, war novel, and very psychological. It took me a while to figure out how Sheldon’s mind worked, what was true and what was in his head. Once I did, I loved the parts he’d narrate. I wanted to know more about Paul as he was easily my favorite character for no reason than I was rooting for him. Great novel overall and I’m really recommending this one.

Sheldon reminded me of my grandfather. He was very realistic in the way he had memory lapses and suffered from physical limitations but he was so smart and his age didn’t dull that. I liked that about Sheldon. As much as Rhea and Lars discredited him and the police though catching an old man and a boy would be easy, he consistently outsmarted everyone and I would say he won in the end.

As much as I liked Sheldon, Paul was my favorite character. It’s hard to guess what was going through his head the whole time and he was brave beyond reason. I wondered if he was deaf with how little noise he made and how he never talked.  There was a lot I didn’t know about Paul, but I still loved him. I thought it was great how much he enjoyed dressing up like a Viking with Sheldon. It was such a perfect moment for a boy and I loved seeing him happy if just for those few minutes.

In a small way, I could relate to Rhea. I have older grandparents that live in California (I’m in Michigan) and I’m constantly worried about them. I can’t imagine how worried Rhea was after she moved to Norway and was so far away from Sheldon. I can understand wanting to move him closer to her and the burden that would be. I wish there had been a little more from her in the book, but I understand that she wasn’t the focus.

Derek B. Miller Image via The Times

Derek B. Miller
Image via The Times

The ending was great. I absolutely loved seeing Sheldon in his element years after the fact. I thought it was good for us to see him prove that he was a sniper and that he knew what he was doing in a combat situation. I thought the ending was exactly what it needed to be and I appreciated Miller’s ability to finish a story with just enough fact to satisfy me as a reader. Again, I was blown away.

I didn’t enjoy revisiting Saul in Vietnam. I thought it was a bit much, especially with all of the revisiting Korea that Sheldon did, too. I understand why the flashbacks were necessary, I just thought it was a bit much. I could have done with a little less blowing up and a little more Paul.

 

Sheldon was ready to sacrifice anything for family. After losing his son and his wife and a great-grandchild, he felt his family was slipping away from him and I think it hurt him more than he let on. He was primed to look at Paul as another member of his family, willing to include the small boy who represented both his lost son and lost great-grandchild. I thought it was great how Sheldon took care of Paul so well. He wasn’t as far removed from raising children as most men his age because of Rhea and he fit the role well.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’ve seen a lot of writers trip up when trying to write a character who doesn’t have a complete grip on reality. I thought Miller did it extremely well. It was clear when Sheldon was talking to God and when he was talking to someone who was really there. I thought the ending was really impactful in this way. It was very obvious how upsetting the whole event was for him and how ready he was to sacrifice everything for Paul and Rhea. I think choosing a character we knew to be dead made it very obvious when Sheldon was in his own world. I found this much clearer than when I read The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey a while back.

 

A great read and one I can’t wait to discuss with the book club. Five out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller: A Review | Scandinavian Crime Fiction
Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller | Dulwich Books Review
“Norwegian by Night” by Derek B. Miller | Karen’s Two Sentence Book Club Reviews
BOOK CHEWING: My Interview with Derek B. Miller Author of NORWEGIAN BY NIGHT | Bite the Book

WWW Wednesday, 6-April-2016

6 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Child44Currently reading: I’ve been able to return to Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling for the past few days which has been nice. Even in that short reprieve, I missed Harry. This is my comfort food.
I’ve been able to make some headway with A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin during my workouts. It’s not the best pump-up track, but hearing about all the war feels motivating, haha.
Honestly, I haven’t read much of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. There hasn’t been a lot of time for me to read on my phone with the vacation time we’ve had. I guess that’s a good thing? I’m enjoying my vacation so I haven’t had a ton of time for my phone.
I just started Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith and haven’t made much progress with it. I thought I’d listen to it when I drove across the state but my husband and I talked instead. Oh well. I’m on disk 1 of 11 still. We’ll see how this goes, I’m not a huge fan so far.

NorwegianRecently finished: I was able to finish Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller while on my vacation. It was really good, I gave it a full 5 stars! I’m excited to talk about this one with the book club.

My review of Brooklyn went up last Thursday and as I told y’all last well, I really enjoyed it! Let me know what you thought.

Reading Next: No plans now. I’d like to finish Harry before I worry about starting anything new. I’m bogged down with audio right n ow so I won’t be picking another out anytime soon.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!