What is your reading goal this year?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

10 Amazing World War II Stories

Today I thought I'd switch things up a bit!
(I know, it's unlike me...spring fever maybe??)

My 10 Favorite World War II Stories
(Nonfiction and Fiction)
(In no particular order...Click on the Picture to Read My Review)

1. All The Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

2. The Boys in the Boat
Daniel James Brown

3.  The Monuments Men
Robert M. Edsel

(Ok, this may not have been my favorite book, but the story of what these men did was amazing.) 

4. The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

5.  Unbroken
Laura Hillenbrand

6.  A Woman's Place
Lynn Austin

7.  The Diary of Anne Frank
Anne Frank

(I have read this book several times, but not since I started my blog -gasp!- so I don't have a review....I'll need to get on that!)

8.  The Hiding Place
Corrie Ten Boom

9.  Man's Search For Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl

(I have also read and loved this book, but I have not reviewed it....yet!)

10. When The Emperor Was Divine
Julie Otsuka

(I didn't love this book, but it was VERY eye-opening.)

And Bonus!

11.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Each of these books highlights a different aspect of World War II. Some of them are fiction and some of them are nonfiction, but whether it is true or not, each brings a different piece of the war to light. There are people in internment camps, people trying to hide Jews in their homes, and a Japanese-American family inside an internment camp here in the United States. There is a story about what the women in the United States did at home during the war and how they helped the efforts, and there's a story of how the war affected a little girl and her family in Germany. I have laughed, cried, gotten angry, and learned so much from these books. I hope they touch you as they have touched me. 

Do you have any other favorite WWII books? Comment below, I'd love to read them!

Monday, March 28, 2016

All the Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


"Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure's eclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum's most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure's converge."

My Review:

There is something about that World War II era that makes a really good book! I have read so many great books about WWII, and this one definitely fits right up there with the best of them. I like the angle on this book; it's so different and unique that it grabs your attention from the beginning. It's very well written. The descriptions are done so well that you feel as if you can feel the spray from the ocean and hear the roar from the airplanes above. You feel like you are in the house with Marie-Laure and as if you are sitting next to Werner and Jutta as they listen to their radio. It does get a little confusing because it jumps time periods, and the time periods are relatively close together, but once you figure out who is who and where they are in the time periods then it's not difficult to figure it out. The characters in the story are lifelike and real. They feel like your closest friends. Marie-Laure is an amazing character. Her determination, abilities, and strength are an inspiration. Werner is well done as well. I liked that he wasn't perfect. He's young, but his abilities put him in a situation that is way above his years. He handles it well, but I like that he struggles and learns along the way. The other characters are in supporting roles, but they play a big part. I liked Frau Elena and Jutta, and I thought it was interesting to see how their characters influenced Werner. Frederick's tale is heart wrenching, and I could see how what happened would eat at Werner through the years. I liked Volkheimer and enjoyed seeing his different sides. Madame Manec and Etienne were both characters that influenced Marie-Laure, and helped her along the way. Etienne's growth throughout the book is fun to watch, and it makes you realize the things caregivers will do for their children. It took me a minute to figure out how the stories would come together in the end, but the transition was seamless and meant to be. Even though the story is somewhat depressing, it also helps you see inspiration in little things. It gives you a window into some difficult situations, and allows you to see light where there might not be any.  We read this in my book group this month, and I think it's a great pick. I definitely recommend it.

Rating: R (This book contains profanity, including several "f" words. There is a difficult-to-read rape scene, and many innuendos-some of them a little shocking.)

Recommendation: Adult (This book is not appropriate for YA or younger readers.)

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown


"Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times--the improbably, intimate account of nine working-class boys from the American West who at the 1936 Olympics showed the world what true grit really meant. Daniel James Brown's stirring book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. It was an unlikely quest from the start--a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, who first had to master the harsh physical and psychological demands of collegiate rowing and then defeat the East Coast's elite teams that had long dominated the sport. The emotional heart of the story lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but to find a real place for himself in the world. Plagued by personal demons, a devastating family history, and crushing poverty, Joe knows that a seat in the Washington freshman shell is his only option to remain in college. The crew is slowly assembled by an enigmatic and determined coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat designer, but it is the boys' commitment to one another that makes them a winning team. Finally gaining the Olympic berth they long sought, they face their biggest challenge--rowing against the German and Italian crews under Adolf Hitler's gaze and before Leni Riefenstahl's cameras at the "Nazi Olympics" in Berlin, 1936. Drawing on the boys' own diaries and journals and their vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Daniel James Brown has created a portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man's personal quest, all in this immensely satisfying book."

My Review:

Wow! The 1936 Olympics have produced some of the best stories I have ever read! First was "Unbroken" about Louis Zampirini. He ran in the 1936 Olympics. That book was so good! Then there's the story of Jessie Owens. I haven't read a book about him, but I recently saw the movie "Race," and Jessie's story is fantastic too! And then there's this book. Amazing. Seriously amazing. I loved it! The writing is very well done. It may be nonfiction, but it definitely reads like fiction. The descriptions are beautifully done. The writing captivates you from the get-go. The story of Joe Rantz is unbelievable! The circumstances he overcame in his life put him right up there with Louis Zampirini as one of the most inspirational people I've read about. Most people would give up and die rather than go through what he did. His so-called parents made me so angry. They are not fit to be called parents. The things they did to him were unconscionable. And yet he survived, and not only survived, but thrived. What an inspiration he is!! The stories of the other men are also well told and captivating. I loved learning about George Pocock. He has such an interesting story. I never thought I'd enjoy learning about how to make a rowing boat, but he makes it seem so important and interesting. I enjoyed reading all the quotes by Pocock at the beginning of each chapter. I really liked this one:

"Rowing is perhaps the toughest of sports. Once the race starts, there are no time-outs, no substitutions. It calls upon the limits of human endurance. The coach must therefore impart the secrets of the special kind of endurance that comes from mind, heart, and body."

I also enjoyed looking at the pictures in the book. I liked that they weren't all bunched together in the middle, but they were spread here and there throughout the book. One thing I loved was how all these stories showed how trials make people stronger. Usually we just want our lives to be easy, right? Well, look at how strong these men became because their lives were not easy. I think attitudes are a little different now, and that's unsettling. There seems to be a trend of if it's not easy I won't do it. We need more determination and hard work like these men had. I loved this book! I loved the writing, the characters, the story; I loved all of it. I highly recommend this book!

Rating: PG 13+ (There is some profanity, but not a lot. There isn't any "intimacy." There are, however, a few situations that border on domestic violence. They are difficult to read, and not appropriate for young readers.)

Recommendation: 14 years-old and up. 

Friday, March 4, 2016


Doesn't this look amazing????

I'll be thinking of you all when I'm sitting on that beach next week reading to my heart's content!

Yep! I won't be posting next week because I'll be lying right there with my nose in a book (or two or three or four......). So check back the next week to see what I read while I was there!

Do you want to go there too???
Here's the link:

And when I'm freezing all winter, I check out the beach webcam to make myself feel warmer. It's awesome, check it out:

See ya later! :)