Tag Archives: Book Club

My Family For The War ~ book review

My daughter found this book at our library book sale the other day. In going through her pile and deciding what to purchase, she chose not to get this one. So I picked it up and looked at it. I knew immediately that I would need to read this book so I bought it. 

Warning: I’m putting this here so it doesn’t get missed. There is some language in chapter 3 of this book. It is a scene where the Germans storm a Jewish home in the middle of the night and the language the Germans use is rough. It is only a short amount but there are several strong words used. Additionally, in the first few chapters, there are some scenes where some violence occurs – a group of children beating up another child severely and the Jewish father being beaten when the German invade their home.

Summary: This is the story of young girl, she is 10 at the start of the story in 1939, living in Germany. Franziska Mangold is of Jewish heritage. Her family has been Protestant for over two generations. She knows who she is and doesn’t quite understand why she is suddenly being considered a Jew. The times get rough and she has to endure many things. When she is beaten up, her Jewish friend takes her to his house. While there, she experiences some of the Jewish religious customs that she doesn’t know. Her friend questions her about who she really is but she doesn’t know how to answer.

After her father is arrested, her family struggles. In talking with a Jewish friend, Franziska finds out about the kindertransports that are being arranged by others in Europe to help save the German children. She excitedly tells her mother about that and how her friend will be saved. Her mother then gets her on one of the transports, to her dismay. She ends up in England and living with a Jewish family who takes very good care of her.

The problem is that she is now experiencing very deep dismay and confusion about who she is and how she should be living. She begins to question her beliefs, her understanding, and who she is at the very core. She comes to care deeply for the family she is living with yet still aching for her own family. She is torn and feels like she is betraying those she loves. Then she is ripped from that family and sent to live with yet another that is farther inland. That is yet another difficulty. Eventually she is able to be reunited with the original Jewish family from London. The war goes on and she stays with them for the remainder of the war. All in all, she is with this family for 8 years, almost half her life. She loves them and feels strongly attached. When the war ends, she has more struggles ahead of her to figure out who her family is and where she belongs.

Thoughts:
This is a tragic story that is probably more accurate than I can imagine. This story shows the blessing and tragedy of humanitarian efforts like the kindertransport. Children’s lives are preserved but their beings are ripped and torn with no understanding about where they belong. What difficulty!

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and have already recommended it to a number of people. It is probably appropriate for middle school and up, especially for those doing any kind of a WWII study. It is not a true story but I can imagine that it pretty well reflects the growing up and coming-of-age of many children from Germany and other countries so badly affected by the German war movements in the 1930s and 1940s. 

It gives a unique perspective on how the children would have been affected, hurt, and struggled. It is a difficult but wonderful story.

Blessings,
At Home.

The Storm of the Century ~ Book Club

This will be the last book club of 2018. Hard to imagine things have gone so fast, isn’t it? With the types of weather that has been experienced by the country this year, this book choice just kind of fits in. Part of our Mega Field Trip was to New Bern, NC. If you will remember, it was hit hard by Hurricane Florence this year. And we skeedaddled out of the way of Hurricane Michael while we were on the homeward stretch of the trip. So, The Storm of the Century kind of fits. 

Written by Al Roker (yes, the weather man), this book is subtitled “tragedy, heroism, survival and the epic true story of America’s deadliest natural disaster: The Great Gulf Hurricane of 1900.” This book definitely lives up to its name. It is an engaging, thrilling, heart-wrenching book on everything related to that unparalleled disaster. From the stories of the people, to what causes these storms, to the influence of politics on the outcome of storms like this, it is an understatement to say I learned a lot. 

While I really enjoy the human stories of triumph amid tragedy that are shared so detailed here, I find they are enriched by the backstories of the history and science that Mr. Roker so clearly and openly shares here. The stories of the people are interwoven throughout the book so that you are easily able to follow that thread and see how it connects to things like the creation of the Weather Service and the political situation in Cuba and to the formation of the rain clouds that eventually grew to a storm of montrous proportions. 

Mr. Roker does a wonderful job of using language and expressions in a way that you can easily place yourself in the story that he is telling. When he is describing the horror that Isaac Cline felt when he realized that Galveston was, indeed, going to experience a disaster, you feel it yourself. When the little girl is picked off a floating piece of debris and brought to huddle with other survivors you feel relief and hope for her. When you read about Cassie heart-wrenchingly wishing she had died in the storm, you feel the great fear and despair she must have felt. The people are brought to life and you can’t help but feel a little bit of what they must have felt. 

One unexpected thing you will experience in reading this particular book is a growth of knowledge. I had no idea that almost all Atlantic hurricanes begin in the same place over Africa and the many forces that must act on those rain clouds to become a major storm. I had no idea that the political tensions in Cuba would have had a devastating effect on the loss of life in Galveston (a ban on communications stopped men who felt they truly understood the storm from being able to communicate with anyone who would listen to them in America). Honestly, I had no idea that the Cuban monks had such extensive knowledge of weather and were considered some of the best in the world. Yet, since it was believed at the time that weather could not be predicted very well and especially not storms, they were not allowed to share their information and understanding. What a shame! 

This is a fascinating book that I would highly recommend. I am thrilled to find that Mr. Roker is a talented writer that I enjoyed reading. 

As I close, I just want to share that I am reimagining what is going to happen with the Book Club for 2019. I haven’t finalized that but be looking for something a bit different in January. 

Blessings,
At Home.

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

The Watch That Ends The Night: Voices From the Titanic ~ Book Club

The Watch That Ends The Night

I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. It is historical fiction with a poetic twist. Anyone who enjoys reading about the Titanic will thoroughly enjoy this book.

The Watch That Ends The Night is written by Allan Wolf. We all know the story but Mr. Wolf takes the information, the facts, and uses them to create a whole new story – to bring the people to life, so to speak. He gives them character, family, emotion, hope, fear, and dreams.

Each page, sometimes two, is a new speaker. These are the thoughts and actions and emotions of each of the people who were on board this magnificent ship when she floundered and failed. The speaker has a way with words that varies from person to person, just like in life. Each person speaks a different way, using a different type of poetry.

These voices tell us the story of the Titanic from a unique perspective. Meet the voices of this disaster:

Olaus Abelseth – the immigrant
Thomas Andres – the shipbuilder
John Jacob Astor – the millionaire
Joseph Boxhall – the navigator
Harold Bride – the spark (wireless operator)
E.J. Smith – the captain
Jamila Nicola-Yarred – the refugee
The Iceberg
The Ship Rat
. . . and more.

p. 7 – The Iceberg

I am the ice. I see the tides ebb and flow.
I’ve watched civilizations come and go,
give birth, destroy, restore, be gone, begin.
My blink of an eye is humankind’s tortoise slow. . .

p. 175 – The First-Class Promenade

Like figures on a crousel,
around the upper-crust rondelle,
they swagger, sway, sashay, glissade;
Titanic‘s first-class promenade. . .

These are just a couple of examples of the differences in the poetic voices used to tell the story of the ship building, the launch, the sailing, the disaster, the rescue.

Mr. Wolf has done an incredible amount of research and used this information to put together this new and interesting vision of the Titanic. It is a fascinating and interesting read. There is much information that I had not heard before or a new take on it that helps me see the people on board the ship as real.

As with all historical fiction, there is some information that is included from lore and legend, some that is changed or unverifiable. However, Mr. Wolf does a complete job of trying to make the reader aware of where those changes or legends occur by include a as-true-as-is-known biography of each of the voices in the story. This final closure is a wonderful ending to this unique story.

This is one to add to your list. No doubt about it. You can find a partial preview and read some of the story online.

Blessings,
At Home.

As always, please visit Wendy’s Ladybug Daydreams blog to see what she read this month and is up to now. Thanks for reading along!

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

 

Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One ~ Book Club

You Second Life

This is a compelling little book that was handed to me by my MIL the other day. She just said “Do you want to read this? It looks neat but it is way down in my pile and I can’t read it yet.” So I did. It grabbed me from the beginning and I was riveted.

Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One

Written by Raphaelle Giordano, this book has been translated into English. I believe it was originally written in French. It does take place in Paris, I believe. (I am guessing a little but the places mentioned all seem to fit Paris.)

We meet Camille at the beginning of the book and are quickly introduced to her hectic, busy, unfulfilling, unhappy/happy life. She is married to one she loves and has a little boy. They have a good place to live and she has a solid job. But she is feeling out-of-sorts, discontented, and unhappy. Which doesn’t make sense to her with such a “good” life. On the day we meet her, she has an accident with her tire and ends up in the middle of nowhere knocking on a stranger’s door. And with all that has happened, she ends up pouring out her story and discontent to him.

And he responds incredibly – I can help.

He listens and offers her his card. From there, he tells her that he understands (sometimes that is the most powerful part, isn’t it?) and that she can change her life. She is intrigued and contact him for help after she gets back to the city. What she finds is someone who wants her to success, to have a “happy” life, and a listening ear. She also finds significant encouragement and unusual tactics that help her focus, change, and redirect her thoughts and her life.

By the end of the story, we find a new Camille – happier, directed, focused, healthy, and energetic. She knows who she is and what she wants.

So many of the ideas and life changes are things that the reader can relate to. They can be addressed and changed in the reader’s life, as well. I find that fascinating. Yes, this is a novel but there is much to be learned from the approaches and the ideas in this book. If you are feeling rooted in discontent and want to find a way to redirect your life, pick this book up and give it a read. The ideas just might help you challenge your status quo and become someone you really admire and want to be. You just might end up following your dream.

Blessings,
At Home.

Visit Ladybug Daydreams, if you have a moment. I don’t know if Wendy is able to post for the Book Club this month or not but I’d love it if you would visit her blog for a moment or two.

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse ~ Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

I picked up this new book by Alexander McCall Smith at the library a couple of weeks ago. I have read many of his books over the years and enjoyed them. So his name caught my attention. I turned it over to see what it was about and my intrigue was caught.

This is a story about a young lady in WWII England. She has joined up with the Women’s Land Army. This was a group for young women to join and they were sent to help in places where they were needed – mainly working the land on farms and businesses that needed manual labor now that the male workforce was fighting in the war.
Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse

At about 20 years of age, Val starts work on the farm. She helps Archie with anything he needs now that he is getting on in years and his son was off in the war. She learns quickly and is a good companion for Archie, as well as a hard worker.

One day, a man from the local US air base comes looking for fresh eggs. He arranges for Val to bring eggs to the base a couple of times a week. While there Val meets Mike and they fall in love. During their courtship, Val and her cousin Willy rescue a dog that was being abused. Willy had named the dog Peter Woodhouse. When the dog could no longer be safely kept at Archie’s farm, Mike takes him to the base and he becomes a mascot there. The whole base loves him.

Peter Woodhouse becomes such a good mascot that the men begin taking him along on their flights, as good luck. Until one day, when they are shot down. Mike and the dog are both presumed lost. How does Val continue on? What is to become of her now that she is expecting a baby?

This is a very good look at yet another way the war affected the normal people of the world. Often we hear about the way the cities were endangered during the war with all the bombings and lack of food and such. But the farms in the country were affected, also. And The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse, while a fictional story, was an easy read that helped bring another perspective to the war. Especially after some of the unexpected turns that happen in the story come about.

It is a great read and I definitely recommend it.
Head over to Ladybug Daydreams to see if Wendy has a new book to share about for our August Book Club.

Blessings,
At Home.

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Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader ~ Book Club

 

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happensYears ago, I read the Mitford book series and really enjoyed getting to know the down-home characters who lived a small-town life full of the small-town joys often found in books. In fact, so much of the appeal was that it portrayed life so accurately – the joy, the hope. the hardship, the friendship, the neighbors, the help. the disagreements, the holding onto hurt and the innate ability to forgive. Neighbors become friends, and so do those who you just aren’t sure about. Yes, it is somewhat idyllic – what with the gorgeous setting and all – but it was such a joy to read those books.

July Book Club

I found the same enjoyment reading through Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader. If you have read much of the series at all, you know food plays a large role in the interactions of the people in the books. So Jan Karon took those interactions and placed them in this Kitchen Reader alongside the recipes for the foods that are part of the story.

You will read an excerpt from one of the books in the series and then it is followed by the recipes for the food that was mentioned. It might be one recipe and it might be four. There are lots of yummy looking recipes (such as Esther Bolick’s Orange Marmalade Cake) and some that I can dream about but would never dream of making (Cynthis’a Leg of Lamb).

There are plenty that I am going to try including Cynthia’s Toasted Pecans, anything that features new potatoes (there are tons of these and they all look good), Cynthia’s Glazed Rosemary Onion, and Father Tim’s Christmas Morning Casserole.

Throughout there are sprinkled little statements that Jan Karon writes about things that she wants to share thought on: aprons, dishwashing, her spice cabinet, kitchens, the last meals of different people, and more. Everything is interesting and well-written. This was a cookbook that I enjoyed reading.

Blessings,
At Home.

My co-host, Wendy from Ladybug Daydreams, is hoping to post about an interesting she has read this month. For the next couple of months, we are going to each share about what we read. So head over to Wendy’s blog to see what she read this month.

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Sinking the Sultana ~ Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

Book Club is late this month. Life was busy and I had no idea that it has snuck up on me until it was past time to post. I had been reading an interesting book titled Sinking the Sultana. It is written by Sally M. Walker.

Sinking the Sultana

The Sultana was a steamboat that ran the Mississippi River during the Civil War. Its final trip up river was fatal and brings to light an awful lot about the Civil War that I had no idea about.

When I think of the Civil War, I think of blue and gray, brother against brother, industrialism against agriculture, individual freedom vs the greater good. I think of Abraham Lincoln, great men and heroes, fighting, death, and struggle. I think of the Underground Railroad and folks helping other folks because it was the right thing to do. I think of people helping and doing right because it helped someone else.

I did not think about atrocities equal to WWII concentration camps and greed overpowering humanity. I did not realize how awful some of the places prisoners of war ended up and how power and greed influenced even the basics of food and care.

Sinking the Sultana takes you through the Civil War through the eyes of some of the survivors. This chronicle begin with giving the reader some good background information on both the history of steamboats and the Mississippi. The growth of the boat industry on the river was interesting to read.

Next the reader is introduced to several of the men who will survive the disaster or whose stories are known in regards to the war and the disaster. Following this, we find out about Libby Prison and Belle Island, two of the Confederate prisoner camps. The atrocities that are documented here are horrifying and sad. So many men died in these horrifying conditions where the prisoners were not given any kind of protection from the elements or decent food.

Most did not make it out of these camps. Many of those who did met their death on the decks of the Sultana, thanks to greed. The government was paying steamboats to transport prisoners of war up river at the end of the Civil War. The more prisoners on board, the more money in the pockets of the owners and captains. The Sultana was overloaded with way too many passengers and had been poorly fixed when one of the boilers was leaking.

The exact reason the Sultana sank may never be known but there were many factors that played into it, all of which were likely preventable. Or so it seems to me by reading this book. All in all, when the Sultana boiler exploded and the boat sank, it killed more than 1500 people. Some estimates are over 1600. The problem is that the greed of the men in charge caused them to not follow procedure and the exact names and numbers of the people on board were unknown as they were not properly documented. And very few of those in charge were ever held responsible.

This is a larger disaster than the Titanic, yet fewer people know about it. I didn’t until I found this book on the shelf. It was a fascinating book to read and I am glad I stumbled across it. Makes me desire to read more about the Civil War, to find more stories about those less documented issues that arose, stories outside of Lincoln and Lee.

What have you read recently? We would all like to find new and interesting books to read so please share in the comments.

Blessings,
At Home.

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