Showing posts with label World War II. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World War II. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

For the love of reading... A long book blurb

Hello Lovely Readers,

I am back in Boston. I have been away seeing part of my family in Houston where it was hot, humid, and felt more like September than Christmas, but being with my niece and nephews, and my family was more important than the weather and that made it feel like Christmas.
The kiddos and I with their books
From the pic above, you can see that I spread my love of reading to another generation... I sure hope they never tire of me giving books. I gave books to a few people this Christmas some of them were books I had read in my 26 book challenge (link) that I really liked and thought other people would like and now that I have finished the challenge (link) I wanted to go through the books I read, focusing on the books I really enjoyed, pulled on my heart strings, or other various thoughts

Some books I really enjoyed..
1. First Impressions by Charlie Lovett- it is an intriguing literary mystery to keep you guessing who actually wrote Pride and Prejudice. I picked up this book because I love Jane Austen and looking for good fan-fiction about the author or her works. I also liked reading a book written by a guy that actually felt to be written by a woman. I don't usually read books written by men, I don't know why, but I am not usually drawn into male author's works... so I was pleased by this book.

2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson- was a historical fiction novel with a sort of time traveling novel that made you think... "What if you could live life over and over again, till you got it right?" Ursula Todd keeps being able to live her life over and over to fix the mistakes she has made till she gets it right, but what will she do with that power? I will admit it took me a bit to get into it because the first couple chapters were a bit repetitive but over all the story was interesting and I loved the concept of the story.

3. Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller- I can't really even put into words my love for this book. Just read it!

4. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley- This book was given to me by a friend and I have already passed it along to others. It also introduced me to the plot twisting, historical and modern day writings of Susanna Kearsley and I cheated a few times on this challenge to read more of her books. Half of the book is set in present day where author Carrie Maclelland is searching for the inspiration for her newest novel, the other half is set in 1708 and the story of a Jacobite uprising. I love reading multi-generational stories and I loved both the present and past story lines weave together and both kept me wanting to see what happens next.

5. The Lake House by Kate Morton.- This is another multi generational novel, told from many different perspectives and shows how a secret from the past can still impact our present. Kate Morton is one of my favorite authors and one reason is that she blends the past and present together wonderfully. I feel as I have just written about this book I don't want to be too repetitive... so go read my post "Book blurb...The Lake House" ( link).

For more info on this books go to my "26 Book Challenge" (link)

Books that pulled at my heart strings...

1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah- I am not a huge WWII fan when choosing historical fiction, once again don't know why. So I think it is interesting that the two books that pulled at my heart strings the most are set in WWII. This book is set in German occupied France during the war and is about two sisters who must chose different paths in trying to protect their homes and lives around them. The eldest, Vivanne, tries to keep her head down and just tries to survive and to keep her family farm going. The younger one, Isabelle, joins the French Resistance and helps pilots who have crashed sneak into Spain. Though they chose different paths they both make ripples in the war effort.

2. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult- is yet another multi-generational story and weaves together Nazis Germany and the concentration camps with a small town in New England. I found this story very powerful and had to take deep breaths after reading some parts because of the descriptions of how the Nazis treated the Jews was very powerful and I couldn't push it aside and think "well that is all in the past" as I know it happened and it was horrific. In present day, Sage who is part Jewish, has hidden away from the world after a horrible accident that killed her mom and she is left with many scars. Her life is changed when a new acquaintance, Josef, confesses that he is a former Nazis officer. This story nicely weaves Sage, her grandmother's story, and Josef's story together.

3. Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman- is about Tom Sherbourne, who returns to his home, Australia, after fighting in the trenches on the Western Front (WWI) and takes a job as light house keeper on a island. He likes the solitude of it all until he meets Isabel who is young, bold and beautiful. They go through many heartaches with a few miscarriages and stillborn deaths (this is the part that made me cry) and they kind of believe life is hopeless until there is a boat crash on the island and baby girl is left helpless on the shore. Though they live a happy life together when they return to the main land they see their choices have made impacts on other people's lives and now they must decide what to do. I held my breath for many moments in this novel.

These three I would recommend but would suggest keeping a pack of tissues with you when you read. 

To see other books I read for challenge click this link

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book Blurb... The Storyteller

After Easter dinner some friends and I went to the book store Brookline Smith, if you live in Boston it is one of those local places most people love. I like going because they have a great used book section and they usually have a good collection of $5 books. I love books but my budget is better suited for checking books out of the library.

Any way, I was drawn to this book, The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, I have never read one of her books though I know she has written a lot. I had kind of casted her off as airport bookstore author; you know one making the top sellers list but books lack substance (sorry I might be a book snob). Going back to my story, I was drawn to the book about a baker, Sage who tries to hide away from the world, and her unlikely friendship with an older man, who has a dark secreted past. This drew me and the fact that it was called The Storyteller, made me wonder why the title and what was going to happen.

I thought after reading The Nightingale (link to book blurb) that this would be a good light read... however this was not a light read at all. I was too far in when I discover the older guy, Josef Weber, was a former Nazi SS Guard ( states this, so I don't feel this is a spoiler).  "Ugh!" I thought to myself, I had just read a book that left me breathless with Nazis and now this book has Nazis. "What is the book universe trying to tell me?" There were moments in the book we went into Josef's past and had I not been on the T, I would have cried.

Before I rehash those details and give spoilers away, I will say over all it was great story. I liked because it was written almost from 5 different view points. There is Sage Singer, who is trying to block out the world after her mother's death. There is Sage's grandmother, who is a survivor of the Holocaust, Josef the Nazi, Leo the federal agent who is trying to find out if Josef is truly a Nazi guard and then their is a tale woven through of Ania and Alek. The book actually starts off with Ania's story... "My father trusted me with the details of his death"  is the first line of the whole book and that chapter ends with "My father trusted me withe the details of his death... but in the end, I was too late." I was impressed Picoult was able to weave these five different narratives to make a good story, I have always wanted to write a multi-narrative story so when I find that is well written it is awesome. I liked how the book gave each one of these characters different type so you knew who it was in reading their words.

Also there were other great lines, in the book about telling stories and discovering what sharing your story truly means. As a aspiring author I found those lines to be great and I wish I could have underlined them. There is one line that I loved and took a picture of it with my phone... "History isn't about dates and places and wars. It's about the people who fill the spaces in." As someone who studied history and is frequently teased about loving history I want to remember this quote.

Though you don't have to be a historian or a wanna-be-novelist to appreciate this book.

The only thing I did not like about this book was there were moments it felt a little too rushed. For example Sage calls Leo about the Josef being a former Nazis and he seems to be able to work a little too quickly for it be practical (kind of like a crime solving show where DNA test happen instantly). But mostly it was the violence that affected me the most, and even though it is a work of fiction, knowing that it is based on reality and this violence truly did occur left me a little heart broken.

Currently looking forward to some lighter reading.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Blurb... The Nightingale

I am continue through my challenge to read 26 books this year. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah fulfills the requirement to read a book published this year. When I first heard about this book I thought it was going to be about WWI (only because of Florence Nightingale). However, it was about WWII, I am not WWII buff and I was a little worried about not liking this book because of it (and I guess I am a little prejudice). Nevertheless, I loved this book, the plot kept me on the edge of my seat and there were moments I couldn't put it down.

The plot is quite intriguing and it has great lines that I wanted to underline. For example: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.

The story is about two sister Vianne and Isabelle living in France during WWII. Vianne is the oldest who is sent to war while she has to say home and is forced do anything to save her home and daughters life. Her younger sister is eighteen years old and more rebellious and joins the Resistance against the Germans. Both face life very differently as they explore their own strength and courage.

As I said I am not a WWII buff so I didn't know many of the historical details about when the French surrendered to the Germans and the details of occupied France. The book jacket puts so well- "With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates and intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war... A heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women."

If this should become a movie... I would highly recommend Benedict Cumberbatch to play Captain Beck, he is a German solider and while he has to do has he is told he watches out for Vianne and her family.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Book Thief (Movie Review)... Get your tissues

I watched The Book Thief  over the weekend and let me just say it is a movie that I think everyone should watch... with tissues that is. It is not a movie I could watch over and over again (so I probably won't be buying) because it is a really powerful movie. It stars Geoffrey Rush as Hans Huberman, Emily Watson as Rosa Huberman, Sophie Nelisse as Liesel and the voice of Roger Allam as Death or the Narrator. The movie is based off the book The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, that I read last winter but missed the movie. I was intrigued by the book because it was about WWII from the German perspective, this didn't seem to be a perspective I had been taught about much. Also from the back of the book I could tell Liesel loved words and the stories that could be told with words so much she was willing to steal them to protect them from Nazis destruction.

I actually liked that it had been awhile since I had read the book because I didn't remember all the details of the book so I could enjoy the movie itself without comparing and contrasting it to the book.
Liesel and Hans
Liesel saving a book from fire
The story starts off with Hans and Rosa taking in Liesel, because her mom is a communist and no longer safe in Nazi Germany. Liesel bonds with Hans more in the film. She has to call them "mama" and "papa" but you can tell the way she says "papa" she is happy to say it. When he discovers she can't read he helps her learn and they instantly bond over words. She makes a friend in Rudy (the boy next doors) and while things seem good there is a tension under it all... Hans doesn't like the Nazis politics, which is clear when it is the Fuher's birthday they have to find the flag buried in the basement. Then later in the story they take in and hide Max, a Jew. This she has to keep absolutely secret because if it was ever discovered they were hiding a Jew their lives would be in danger.
Liesel and Max

I won't go to much into the plot as I don't want to give away spoilers about the movie (for those who haven't read the book). I would say though the story is told with the narrator being Death so not everyone has a happy ending however as he starts off the movie saying "everyone dies."
You can tell when there is a shot of a character touching books like this they love them
What I liked- The story was compelling. Some reviewers said that it could have packed a better punch but I feel a story cannot do everything... it wasn't a story about over throwing Hitler. It was a story about a girl and her love of words and in that resisted the Nazis' ideals. What I loved about this story was Liesel's love of words. She started off the story not knowing how to read but even still she was protective of the first book she stole. When she is hiding from an air raid she starts telling a story to comfort her neighbors. I love stories where the main character loves books and stories and uses them to help the people around them.

Liesel telling stories in hiding.
Also I loved the focus of the story being about the German perspective in WWII. There might be many books and movies about this and I might be clueless to them but I felt this was a fresh perspective. And it wasn't just a German perspective it was Germans who in albeit small ways stood against the Nazis regime.

The wise words of Max: 

Liesel sneaking into Mayor's library
What I didn't like- I know there were some details from the novel that were left out of the movie, but I didn't think this detracted from the story. However, I think the relationship between the Mayor's Wife and Liesel could have been developed more. The Mayor's Wife witnesses Liesel saving a book from the fire and lets her come in to their library and read (very much against the preaching of her husband). Then when they are caught reading Liesel starts stealing or "borrowing" books from the Mayor's library. In the book the Mayor's wife actually leaves the window open for Liesel to sneak in and out of... and I think a detail like this would not have been hard to have in the movie.

Also there was one scene that was violent and threw me. I know the movie's subject is about WWII and an Jew running away for this would naturally lead to violence but there is a difference between reading it and seeing it. Sometime when reading violence (since I can't really imagine it) I can sort gloss over it. While the scene made sense for the story I guess I don't like seeing the brutality of man towards others. It just hurts my heart.

Over all- Loved this film, though probably won't be watching it over and over again because I like to breathe and there were many moments while watching this film I held my breath to find out what was going on. The film is rated PG-13 and not so much for language because all the bad words are in German (though they are translated in the book) it is more for content. When I told my friend I was going to be watching it, she said "let me know if you think my daughter would like it?" Knowing her daughter and how emotional she can be and I fear this book would hurt her idealistic view of human kind.

If you watch it... I recommend having tissues close by. Though the narrator is Death, I am happy to say what Liesel lives to an old age. And I like the way Death closes the movie..


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thinking about Grandma

This not really following my story...

I am sitting at my desk not really thinking about work because half way across the countrymy Grandma is laying in her nursing home bed and waiting for the Lord to take her up to heaven. She has been sick for awhile and the doctors have told us any time now. Today my dad called me saying the doctors have told them it will probably be today then he texted me an hour later saying there was slight improvement but I am not really sure what that means. I wish I was in Wichita, KS with her and with my family instead of in Boston feeling somewhat a lone in all this as I wait anxiously for my phone to ring. I really want to get on the next flight out of Boston and be with everyone but then again I think, I have a slight pile of paper work to do at my job and if I went to Kansas being there wouldn't magically slove anything. My Grandma is 89 years old and wants to be in heaven with the Lord and with her husband, my Granddad who passed away in October. So I am now doing the logical thing and trying to live a normal life while my heart and brain are in Kansas.

My Grandma was born in 1922, she lived through the dust bowl on a farm outside of Liberal, KS under the dark brown spot on the map in Eastern Kansas. She lived through the depression and World War II. She married her college sweet heart, my Granddad, and they were married for 67 years and in those 67 years she was a devoted wife and mother raising 3 sons and 1 daughter. She is also a devoted Grandma having fourteen grandchildren and twelve great grand children all of who felt her warm and tender heart. I know when we arrived at her house I always looked forward to getting my kiss on the cheek when I came through the door. To me she will always be one of the most perfect women on the face of the earth.

As a future archivist and a want to be author. I love that she has kept all her journals and notebooks from when she was younger. She also has kept all her family and our family's photo albums neatly organized. I would love to one day be able to explore her world a little bit more. I sit here and think about all she has seen in her life time. From only a few people having telephones to every one having cell phone. From no computers to computers being as small as a notebook binder (if not smaller). Thinking of all the history that has taken place in her life time The Great Depression, WWII, The Civil Rights movement, going to outer space, the Cold War, the Berlin Wall falling, 9/11 and everything I have missed. She may not be famous outside of her family and friends but she has experienced a lot.

As a want to be writer my imagination is trying to imagine what her life must have been like. For some reason it keeps going to this image of a young women standing in 194os style dress. Looking at google image the dresses seem to be like our modern day blouse dresses. And I know the picture on the right is not my Grandma and its a modern day picture it caputers the essence of what I am thinking.

I see a woman standing in a field of sunflowers, in a plain style dress her hair has been stylishly pulled up but has come lose from her hard days work. She stands with a letter from the love of her life with only the gentel summer breeze to comfort her. And then she hears her mother's dinner call in the distance and as she wipes the tears away she tries to breathe so no one notices her pain.

I don't think that ever happened to my Grandmother but some how I come back to this image in my head. I guess since I am reading a book about WWII my mind is more intrigued to think about this time period. But from a historical point of view and from my Grandma's point of view I know little about this time frame so my mind is just left with this image. Maybe one day I can come back to this woman in my mind and explore her world.

Thank you for reading my little tangent. I have actually found calmness in imagining what my Grandma's world would be like and then letting my imagination run down its own little path