Sunday, February 8, 2015

G531 Book Review of Close to the Sun by Donald Michael Platt

Name of Book: Close to the Sun

Author: Donald Michael Platt

ISBN: 9781611793178

Publisher: Fireship Press

Type of book: WWII, air fights, aces, Germany, aristocracy, training, friendship, romances, strong women, America, 1928-1945, Russia, running away, glamor, Knights of the Skies, boys book

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

Close to the Sun follows the lives of fighter pilots during the Second World War. As a boy, Hank Milroy from Wyoming idealized the gallant exploits of WWI fighter aces. Karl, Fürst von Pfalz-Teuffelreich, aspires to surpass his father’s 49 Luftsiegen. Seth Braham falls in love with flying during an air show at San Francisco’s Chrissy Field.
The young men encounter friends, rivals, and exceptional women. Braxton Mobley, the hotshot, wants to outscore every man in the air force. Texas tomboy Catherine “Winty” McCabe is as good a flyer as any man. Princess Maria-Xenia, a stateless White Russian, works for the Abwehr, German Intelligence. Elfriede Wohlman is a frontline nurse with a dangerous secret. Miriam Keramopoulos is the girl from Brooklyn with a voice that will take her places.

Once the United States enter the war, Hank, Brax, and Seth experience the exhilaration of aerial combat and acedom during the unromantic reality of combat losses, tedious bomber escort, strafing runs, and the firebombing of entire cities. As one of the hated aristocrats, Karl is in as much danger from Nazis as he is from enemy fighter pilots, as he and his colleagues desperately try to stem the overwhelming tide as the war turns against Germany. Callous political decisions, disastrous mistakes, and horrific atrocities they witness at the end of WWII put a dark spin on all their dreams of glory.

Characters:

The main characters include Hank, Karl, Seth and their ladies are Winty McCabe, Miriam Keramopolous, Elfie Eohlmann and Mariya-Xeniya Narishkyn. I have to say that out of the men Hank and Karl really shone, and I am surprised by picking Karl because I seriously thought he was an arrogant and obnoxious man who seems too calculated and cold. Hank feels more like an everyday man who has to deal with countless issues and tribulations. His romance is the more interesting one, although I also liked one between Karl and Elfie. I do feel that Seth should be more developed as a character because while I understand the purpose of putting him in there, I feel that his role was small, especially when comparing it to Karl and Hank. Out of the ladies, the ones I like the most are Mariya-Xeniya and Elfi. While I did like Winty and do feel that her character is more rounded, she seems to pale when comparing her to Mariya-Xeniya and Elfie. Mariya-Xeniya was a very complex character who seems more aristocratic and noble than Karl, while Elfie is a gentle and loyal woman. In case if there will be sequel, I do hope that I can see more of Mariya-Xeniya in it and more character development for Seth and Miriam.

Theme:

I'm not sure what was the lesson I learned, that we are more alike than different perhaps?

Plot:

The story is told in third person narrative from Hank's, Karl's and Seth's points of  view, and up until past the middle of the book, each chapter was dedicated to each character, to their training days, to how they met and how they fought in WWII through flying on airplanes. I haven't read or am familiar with air combat, but somehow I found this an interesting read. In some cases too the author simplifies some of the things, which allows for those not familiar to still be part of the action. I also enjoyed the dialogue and the atmosphere of the book that had something of old Hollywood in it.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

Buy the Book

About the AuthorDonald Michael Platt Author

Author of four other novels, ROCAMORA, HOUSE OF ROCAMORA, A GATHERING OF VULTURES, and CLOSE TO THE SUN, Donald Michael Platt was born and raised in San Francisco. Donald graduated from Lowell High School and received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. After two years in the Army, Donald attended graduate school at San Jose State where he won a batch of literary awards in the annual SENATOR PHELAN LITERARY CONTEST.
Donald moved to southern California to begin his professional writing career. He sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, Al Ruddy plus Paul Stader Sr, Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. While in Hollywood, Donald taught Creative Writing and Advanced Placement European History at Fairfax High School where he was Social Studies Department Chairman.
After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of his horror novel A GATHERING OF VULTURES, pub. 2007 & 2011, he moved to Florida where he wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.
Currently, Donald resides in Winter Haven, Florida where he is polishing a dark novel and preparing to write a sequel to CLOSE TO THE SUN.
For more information please visit Donald Michael Platt’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebookand Twitter.

Opinion:

Although not quite five stars because I really want to know what happens and because the character of Seth Braham needs to be worked on, there is something strange, hypnotic and something movie like about this book that's hard to describe. Whatever that something is, it grabbed me and didn't really let me go until the last page. I'm not sure how else to describe it. I'm not really big on military strategies or conquests yet this was a fun book to read, and in some ways was enlightening. I actually had no idea that the royalty of Germany was anti-Hitler, and it was an interesting look at the differences and similarities between those who flew the planes. While I don't approve of what the Soviets have done nor what they are doing, I really didn't feel comfortable with the Germans's descriptions of them as well as how barbaric they are. I think I wanted a more fair and balanced description of the Soviets instead of one that's quite negative. While I do applaud the author's attempt at a Jewish character and how Holocaust affects him, I really do feel that it needed to be explored a lot more than it is in the book. Other than that, a fantastic read with fascinating characters that will not be easily forgotten.

Close to the Sun Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 26
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, January 27
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, January 28
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, January 29
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, February 2
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, February 3
Guest Post at Latte Da
Friday, February 6
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews
Wednesday, February 11
Review at Back Porchervations
Thursday, February 12
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Monday, February 16
Spotlight at So Many Books, So Little Time
This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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