Tag Archives: Book Club

Destination Moon ~ Book Club

September's Book Club

Oh y’all – August just blew right up and caught me completely unaware. I did not get a post up for that and gave myself permission to skip it. But, I have September’s ready and it is a lovely read on the space race.

Destination Moon: The Remarkable and Improbably Voyage of Apollo 11
by Richard Maurer

Destination Moon recounts the components of the space race from WWII until the end of the Apollo program. This gives a nice, easy-to-read chronology of the events that brought the US to the moon six times. The book brings us to know not only the astronauts that flew on the rockets and landed on the moon, but also those scientists and politicians that made sure the program kept moving forward. The political tensions and social issues are not ignored, as they all played such an important role in the space race.

The way in which the characters involved are introduced is fabulous, bringing them into the picture one-by-one, giving their history. It is easy to see how the role they each played was important.

The book contains 36 chapters and seven briefings, broken down into six parts:

  • War
  • Dreams
  • Spacemen
  • The Plan
  • Crews
  • The Moon

Filled throughout with black and white photographs of the events and people, this is a wonderful resource for learning more about how the United States made it to the moon.

Want to read another review? Check out A Net In Time. This is where I first heard of this recounting of the true story so I decided to pick it up from the library and I am really glad I did. I learned so much reading through this chronology of the events that brought US astronauts to the moon.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

There are additional resources to be found on SchoolhouseTeachers.com related to space – some to experiments and some are lessons on the spacecraft. A lesson on manned spacecraft, one on models and space exploration, one on space probes, and then some others with the space themed activities. Please consider using the link above (affiliate link – if you choose to purchase a membership with them, I will receive a small commission).

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American Moonshot ~ Book Club

 

American Moonshot Book Club

Well, July 4th finds us on another Book Club post day. I think today would be a great day to share about the book American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley.

I had a Young Reader’s Edition but it was still pretty detailed and in depth. There is an adult version of the story but I haven’t read it yet. This one did a good job of challenging me and helping me understand history.

This is the story of the intersecting of President Kennedy’s life and the shot for the moon that he challenged the US to. Only it starts way back in WWI and at the start of President Kennedy’s life. Throughout the book, the reader is introduced to people who were influential in either the moonshot or to President Kennedy. And there were a bunch.

As you read through the story, you find the connection between world politics and US life intertwining. We see how the surrender of Germany at the end of WWI and then their defeat at the end of WWII both played powerful roles in America being able to put a man on the moon. The scientists worked hard, no matter which country they were in, to do what they had in their sights, even trying to convince people of the worth of their rockets for both military and non-military uses. Because they knew what could happen but had to convince others of it, too.

I had no idea just how interrelated the space program was with the Cold War. Once again, I can see where my lack of teaching had left me without knowing much about the Cold War and where America truly was as they left the 50s and moved into the 60s. The scientists were so important in all that was going on in politics.

American Moonshot was a really interesting book to read. As the 50th anniversary approaches of the moon landing, this would be a really good book to have a middle school or high schooler read. Really, it would make a good read aloud also. I found it fascinating and am glad I picked it up when I stumbled across it while waiting on the girls in the library one day. It is a very good read.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

 

Books by Ruth Reichl – Book Club

Ruth Reichl Book Club

Today, I am going to share with you two books by an author you might know – Ruth Reichl. Ruth Reichl is know for being a restaurant critic for Los Angeles Times and the New York Times papers, as well as the food editor at Los Angeles Times. She also served as the editor of Gourmet magazine for quite some time. In addition, she has written several memoirs. I want to share two of those with you today.

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Tender At The Bone

Tender At The Bone is Mrs. Reichl’s memoirs of her youth. It tells her story of growing up, the challenges that she faced with her mother’s mental illness issues (which they didn’t realize as such until much later) and her father’s struggles to deal with the ups and downs of their life. As an only child, Ruth had a lot of expectations on her shoulders.

There are many humorous accounts that she shares about her mother’s cooking. Her mother was brave about cooking, in a very scary way – she liked to save money and more than once, Ruth shares about her mom buying leftovers from places several days ahead of a party and saving them to serve. Ruth tells about how she tried to save people’s live -she felt that very honestly – by warning them about her mother’s food.

At the same time, she had a very developed understanding of food and how flavors went together. She enjoyed learning how to cook and what things other folks cooked. She just understood food. And this book shows us a peek inside how that affected her life.

There are some scenes and a bit of language. They are easy to move on past and the stories are fun to read. I really enjoyed the stories she shared and I hope to tackle a few of the recipes sometime.

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Garlic And Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

This is the story of Ruth’s work at the New York Times as a restaurant critic. You are in for quite the humorous tales here. You see, as Ruth was on the airplane heading to New York and her new job, she finds out that there is basically a bounty on her head – many restaurants are offering their employees bonuses for recognizing Ruth when she visits their restaurants so they can make sure she gets good food and service. Well, this just sets Ruth on an adventure of creating alternate personas and figuring out how to visit restaurants in disguise so she can see how they really are.

We get to meet several of her “people” from her disguises and go along on the adventures when she visits the restaurants. It is fun to read about what she remembers (she took good notes on every adventures and visit) and how the true service and food was. I loved reading about her disguise as a much older lady who did not get treated well or get good food. The friend that she took with her brought her own friend and the three of them went to the restaurant. There, the disguised Ruth was not treated well and the friend-of-the-friend could not stand it. It is quite a funny story to read.

I also loved reading about the wig person she got involved in helping her. They worked together with a friend who had worked in make-up to create her disguises and the attitudes with which she created her characters. It is a lot of fun.

I really enjoyed reading some of her actual reviews, also, which are included in the book. Her little boy sounds like he had a lot of fun with his mom’s adventures, too.

More Options

If you do a search for Ruth’s name, you’ll find additional memoirs and books that she has written. One of those is a fictionalized account of her time at Gourmet magazine. It was also a really fun read and it is called Delicious!

I’d enjoy hearing about any books you would recommend. Just leave me a note in the comments.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

 

The Beantown Girls ~ Book Club

Beantown Girls

I am a day late (and probably a dollar short) but that’s okay. I am struggling a bit trying to find the energy to write blog posts lately because life has been crowded. It is a good kind of crowded but that means at the end of the day, when all is finally quiet in the house, I just want to veg out a bit instead of write.

So, last night, amid the spring storms, I just put off writing this Book Club post. But, it is a new day today and the house is currently quiet since it is Friday. Friday is our “down day” with only one thing scheduled at the very end of the day. So, maybe I need to move these posts to Fridays. Hmmm – something to think about. (And just an added note on Saturday – five minutes after writing those words, things were no longer quiet so this is now Saturday trying to get this post up for Thursday.)

Anyhow, the book –

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

I stumbled across this title on the Kindle when it was free as part of the Prime reads program, a while back. It looked interesting so I grabbed it. I am so glad I did. It was the perfect fit for an interesting but easy-to-read book a couple of weeks ago.

The Beantown Girls is set in World War II and starts in America, as a ship is pulling out heading to England with troops and Red Cross folks. Three friends have decided that they need to do something to contribute more to the war. After hearing about the Red Cross program to take coffee and donuts to the troops over in Europe, the girls immediately applied and were chosen.

After making it through the application process for the Red Cross Clubmobile program, Dottie, Vivian, and Fiona embark on quite the adventure. It is revealed quite early in the book that Fiona persuaded the other two to apply with her but she had her own agenda for wanting to be in Europe – her fiance was missing in action and she desired to find him. She felt she couldn’t just sit and do nothing. So, she didn’t and her friends were happy to do something to contribute to the war efforts, also.

The girls had to learn to make coffee and donuts in a mobile kitchen and they were taught about the rules and regulations they were to follow. Then, after just a couple of weeks of training in England, they were sent to where the troops were. They would arrive at a training facility, set up, turn on a record player, and start distributing coffee and donuts, as well as kind words and smiles. These three friends quickly became the favorite Clubmobile team. While most of the troops were thrilled to have someone from back home smiling at them and helping to keep their minds off the war, at least for a bit, some of the officers were less than thrilled since some of the Clubmobile units were sent to the front lines on the continent. One in particular made it clear he didn’t relish the thought of having to “rescue them” when they got into trouble because he felt sure they would.

While these girls were favorites with the troops, they were not the favorite of the in charge lady. So they worked hard to try to get the privilege of going to the continent. Eventually, they are sent to the war and have to make some serious adjustments and they go through some really tough things on the front lines. From friendships to love, from writing letters to serving coffee, these Clubmobile girls are go getters who are trying hard to do their part. Along the way, they are also trying to find Fiona’s fiance.

They learn so much about themselves through their experiences and you are rooting for them to succeed in all they do. This is a wonderful historical fiction book that brings to life a group of women that I knew nothing about. I had never heard of the Red Cross Clubmobile group but they were real, according to the notes in this book, and they did some amazing things for the morale of the military during the war.

I definitely can recommend this book. It was a joy to read. It was an easy read and was fun.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

 

Winnie’s Great War ~ a book review

Winnie's Great War Book Club

I stumbles across this historical novel when I was at the library a couple of weeks ago. It would not even have caught my attention except for the fact that I had read a book on the animals of World War I just a bit before. When I saw the name Winnie with Great War, I grabbed it to see if it was what I thought. It was!

Winnie was a mascot animal for the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, a group of veterinary troops. Winnie was a black bear. Both of these make her a unique character. Put them together and she was quite amazing. And, when you know that Winnie became the inspiration for Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, she becomes even more intriguing.

Written by the great-granddaughter of the man who originally purchased Winnie, this is a novel based on the first hand account of Lieutenant Colebourn’s diary. The story is being told by a mother to her son, as she tells him the story of the real Winnie-the-Pooh, his Bear.

The story begins with Winnie as a small bear cub with her mother. She is curious and inquisitive, exploring the world around her. After her mother is trapped and killed, Winnie is tempted by a young boy (the trapper’s grandson) to follow him hom. Winnie does and stays there. After a while, as she grows, she becomes a problem so the grandfather must get rid of Winnie but he promises not to hurt her. The trapper takes Winnie to the train station, trying to get someone to purchase her. It is mostly soldiers at the station and a soldier just can’t have a pet, let alone a black bear. But one young man was touched by the sight of the bear and came back for her, purchasing her for $20.

Harry Colebourn was this young man and he was a part of the veterinary corps. He tended horses and such. Winnie, though, had a special ability that Harry didn’t know about – she was able to talk with animals and so was a very helpful assistant. She understood the animals, all of them (squirrels, rats, horses, dogs, etc.) and so she could act as a mediator, so to speak.

Harry had not intended to take Winnie with him across the ocean. But when the time came to go to the front, there was Winnie on the ship with him. She was just such a morale booster for the troops – man and animal alike – that she went to the Salisbury Plain to train. She enjoyed her time with the troops but they loved her too much to take her to the front. So they sent her to the Zoo in London. Harry loved her so much that he wanted her to be safe. And she was.

Not only was the Zoo safety for Winnie, it gave her a change to help others. Many came needing hope in their lives and Winnie was able to cheer them, to show them hope, to make them feel better. As she remembered this mission, Winnie was a showstopper at the Zoo.

After the war ended, Harry came and visited. But he saw how wonderful Winnie’s life was at the zoo, how she had friends among both the animals and the people. He knew she needed to stay and so he left her there. After a while, a young 4 year old boy began visiting and become friends with Winnie. Her showed her his stuffed Piglet and they become fast friends. His father watched over them as they enjoyed each other’s company and not too many years later, Mr. Milne wrote the story of Winnie-the-Pooh.

I really enjoyed reading through this and the interest with which the story is told. The mother is telling the boy a bedtime story about his Bear and as she talks he sometimes interrupts and some clarification is made. These are truly interesting interruptions, such as the one about the goat from Sascatchewan. Also, there are graphics throughout the story that are the diary entries made by Harry. It helps us remember that the story is real, though things like the exact conversations are made imagined.

At the end, there is a bit about the family and some black and white photographs related to Winnie. There are some of Harry and Winnie but there is also one of Christopher Robin and Winnie.

This was a fabulous little book and would make a lovely read-aloud. I have to return it to the library but I do think I will check it out again to read aloud to Miss J. She would love this book.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

 

Destiny of the Republic ~ a Book Club post & review

Destiny of the Republic squareI stumbled across this title during a discussion on Facebook. It sounded interesting so I searched it out. A good choice!

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard

This is a nonfiction book about the assassination of President Garfield. But it starts long before that, bringing President Garfield into light and allowing the reader to truly know who he was. He was not a showy man. He did not seek to be in the spotlight. But he did not shy away from stepping up to help where he knew he was needed.

When he ascended to the Presidency, it was because the people wanted him there. He did not desire to be president and was actually speaking for another man to be president when he was nominated. He was elected and so he stepping into the role, knowing he was needed. He desired to help the country move forward and to grow and unite.

As with any President, there were many who sought his favor. At this time, the White House was a place where regular folks could come and go at will. Office seekers did just that, often at all hours. One of these office seekers, Charles Guiteau, was dangerously delusional. He had been for a while. When he did not get an office, he eventually decided that the best response was to remove the President so that the Vice-President would take over. Guiteau thought, in his state of mind, that the Vice-President would be more willing to give him the office he wanted.

He was successful in his attempt on the President’s life, though the death of the President was not immediate. This is where the medicine part of the title comes in. There were many different ideas at the time about how best to treat different medical needs. Disinfection was one of the ideas being discussed widely. There were some who were beginning to understand how infection could be introduced to a body and were calling for disinfection of all medical areas and utensils. Others strongly disagreed with those ideas.

Many of the doctors who treated President Garfield were of the opinion that disinfection was not necessary. Unfortunately for all of us, they were wrong and the President died from the infection introduced through the treatments his medical practitioners gave. This overwhelming infection is what he eventually succumbed to.

The country was left mourning a popular President just months after his inauguration. A kind, sunny personality left and left behind many who loved him. He never had a moment during his long, protracted illness that he lost his cheerfulness. And, since the assassination came so soon after he became President, we don’t really know what the country lost as a leader.

This was an illuminating read for me and I am so glad I stumbled across it. The connections (we have x-ray machines because of this – you’ll have to read to find this connection) were interesting for me. I am so glad that I have read this. I knew Garfield was known to be a kind and good man but now I understand the extent of this. His wife was a sweet lady. They were the “All-American” family and so many people could relate to them. What a sad thing that we lost this particular President before he was able to do those things people knew he could in the White House.

Is this a good read? Absolutely.
Is it a fast read? Yes, actually, it was a pretty fast one to read for me.
Will you learn a lot? Unless you are a history buff and already know a good bit about President Garfield, I don’t how you could NOT learn a lot.
Do I recommend it? Without a doubt.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Destiny of the Republic Short

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.

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