Tag Archives: Book Club

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.

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

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