Book Gifts For A Galentine (or Valentine)

February 8, 2019

Books for Galentines

Images from Canva

Books are wonderful last minute, thoughtful gifts for Galentines or Valentines!

If you need a bookish gift that includes a romantic theme for a Galentine/Valentine or for yourself for February 14, here are my favorite light women’s fiction reads and a couple of light historical fiction titles that I can confidently and wholeheartedly recommend for an enjoyable, appropriate, and appreciated reading experience for most readers.

Titles are Amazon affiliate links and my reviews are linked.
(in no particular order)

How to Find Love in a Bookstore
by Veronica Henry

How to find love in a bookstore

Wouldn’t you pick this up just because of the title and cover?!

Full Review Here


Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of WW1 by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

last christmas in paris

This WW1 love story is not a Christmas book despite the title and can be enjoyed at any time of year.  (WW1 historical fiction, epistolary format) 5 romantic stars.

My full review 


The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller

late bloomers club

For fans of Gilmore Girls (Luke’s Diner and Stars Hollow…. complete with autumn leaves, comfort food, and quirky townsfolk). 3.5 Stars.

Full review in this post.


The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

lighthouse keeper's daughter

For fans of stories about strong women, lighthouses, and historical fiction (England and Maine). 4.5 Stars.

Full Review Here


The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

dream daughter

Light science fiction with time travel and mother/daughter themes. 4 Stars.

Full Review Here


Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford

hotel on the corner

Sweet story of love and friendship beginning in Seattle, Washington and  continuing in a Japanese internment camp. Some first loves last a life time. 4 romantic stars. (not reviewed)


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows

Guernsey

The island of Guernsey after WW11 is an ideal setting for an unexpected romance.  Told in epistolary format.  A favorite book that is also a movie. A book and movie would be thoughtful and appreciated gifts! 5 romantic stars. (not reviewed)

Guernsey Movie (also available on Netflix)



Our Souls at Night
by Kent Haruf

Our Souls at Night

Seniors can find love too!  4 romantic and bittersweet stars for this old favorite. (not reviewed)

Our Souls at Night is available on Neflix.


Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

meet me at the museum

Two individuals dealing with loneliness and grief develop a significant friendship through letters. (epistolary format)

Full Review Here


Castle of Water
by Dane Hucklebridge

castle of water 2

An engaging and well written castaways love story! 5 romantic stars.

Full Review Here


The Music Shop
by Rachel Joyce

music shop.jpg

The quirky owner of a vinyl records store and a mysterious woman find love.

Full Review Here



i love books



More Valentine/Galentine Gift Reading Ideas

The Caffeinated Bibliophile also has a list of Christian romantic reads in her post Ten Christian Romance Books to Read for Valentine’s Day.



If you have questions about any of the recommendations, or if you’d like a recommendation for a different genre, I’d be happy to answer in the comments or in email.



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

books in wagon

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links

This is important information! Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.



In Movie News….

Readers who loved The Dry by Jane Harper will be happy to hear that a movie is in the works!

For Fredrik Backman fans, Britt-Marie Was Here will be a movie! (I also heard that a Beartown series is being produced for Europe HBO…so maybe soon in the US?)

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might consider adding these books to your ‘want to read list’ in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

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The Lost Girls of Paris: A Review

February 1, 2019

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

the lost girls of paris cover

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Spies, Women’s Fiction

Thank you #netgalley and #parkrowbooks for my free copy of #thelostgirlsofparis in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. *This post contains affiliate links.

Summary:

Fans of Pam Jenoff (The Orphan’s Tale) will enjoy her newest histfic release, The Lost Girls of Paris. This engaging page turner tells the story of a courageous and brave ring of women spies in WW11. Told from three perspectives and two alternating time periods from 1943-1946, the story  revolves around three women: Eleanor, leader of the British secret agents; Marie, a young mother turned spy; and Grace, an inquisitive young woman and Manhattan resident. One day in Grand Central Station, Grace stumbles upon a mystery surrounding the fate of twelve female British spies who never returned home from WW11. Based on true events, the story shines a light on these women of valor.

My thoughts:

Pam Jenoff doesn’t disappoint! She’s one of my must-read-her-newest-release authors.

Well Researched. This story is filled with intrigue and is engaging from the first page, and the details Jenoff uses to describe the training and the dangers demonstrate her meticulous research. Jenoff strikes a good balance between fast paced story telling and including sufficient research to satisfy those who read for historical interest. I appreciate this histfic story for expanding my knowledge about the role women played in WW11 and their little known sacrifice. Even though the story is well researched historical fiction, parts of the story read like women’s fiction (in my perception), so I think it could be considered a mixed genre.

Themes: Important themes include heroism, bravery, friendship, determination, sacrifice, and courage.

Recommended. A women/s fiction/histfic mix, this story of intrigue is recommended for fans of WW11 histfic, for readers who appreciate stories of strong and determined women facing the hardest of circumstances, and for fans of The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

Find my brief review of Pam Jenoff’s previous novel, The Orphan’s Tale, here.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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the lost girls of paris

The Lost Girls of Paris

Meet the Author, Pam Jenoff

Pam JenoffPam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including her most recent, The Orphan’s Tale, an instant New York Times bestseller, and The Kommandant’s Girl, which received widespread acclaim, earned her a nomination for the Quill Awards and became an international bestseller. She previously served as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department in Europe, as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon and as a practicing attorney at a large firm and in-house. She received her juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania, her masters degree in history from Cambridge University and her bachelors degree in international affairs from The George Washington University. Pam Jenoff lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school. Pam would love to skype with your book club or library group!


Let’s Discuss!

I didn’t know too much about women spies in WW11 until I read books like The Alice Network and The Nightingale. How about you? Do these stories of women spies intrigue you? Do you read histfic?

Have you read The Orphan’s Tale by Jenoff?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links

This is important information! Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.



In Movie News….

For Fredrik Backman fans, Britt-Marie Was Here will be a movie! (I also heard that a Beartown series is being produced for Europe HBO…so maybe soon in the US?)

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might consider adding these four books to your ‘want to read list’ in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27, 2019

January 27th is International
Holocaust Remembrance Day

holocaust remembrance day

Meme from theisraelproject.org.  In addition to the six million Jews, there were approximately five million others killed by the Nazis – gypsies, homosexuals, people with mental or physical disabilities, Jehovah’s Witnesses, resistance fighters, Poles and other Slavic peoples.

Those of us who read WW11 Historical Fiction have stories of the Holocaust burned into our hearts. On this day of remembrance, here are a few of the WW11 books I’ve read (titles are links to my blog or goodreads reviews or affiliate Amazon links):

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan

The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P Kierman

The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel

White Rose, Black Forest by Eoin Dempsey

 

candles



What titles can you add? I thought of adding Sarah’s Key, but I didn’t actually read it because I saw the movie. I know it’s a favorite for many histfic readers.

Do you see any favorite titles?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

The Enchanted April and The Late Bloomers’ Club: Reviews and Comparisons

*this post contains affiliate links

January 25, 2019

I read back-to-back light women’s fiction books (chick lit) in recent days, unusual and interesting for me since chick lit isn’t my preferred genre. The Enchanted April was originally published in the 1920s, and The Late Bloomers’ Club is contemporary. As I read them, I couldn’t resist a comparison.

Girls decide to take a girls’ trip to Italy…..does this sound modern?…..it happened in 1920!

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

enchanted april original cover

Collector’s edition (in box)

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Classics, Romance, Italy

Summary:

Set in the 1920s, two women (strangers at this point) sitting near each other in a woman’s club strike up a conversation about an advertisement they see to rent a medieval castle in Italy. Both women are lonely and are in marriages that are less than satisfactory. One of the women, Mrs. Wilkins, inspires the other and soon they are making plans to rent the castle. Each has a nest egg that she can use, and they decide to embark on this adventure without sharing their exact plans with their husbands. While making plans, they come to the conclusion that since it’s a huge castle with eight beds, that it would be a good idea to find two more women so that four of them are sharing the cost to rent the Italian castle for one month. The four lonely strangers, all miserable in their own ways, converge on the castle and each one of their lives is changed because of the almost magical experience. (more…)

The Wartime Sisters: A Review

January 22, 2019

Sisters…resentment…jealousy…misunderstanding…competition…secrets…

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

wartime sisters

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Siblings, Friendship, Family Dynamics

Thank you to @netgalley and @stmartinspress for the advanced free copy of #TheWartimeSisters in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary:

In the early days of WW11, two estranged sisters are reunited at the Springfield, Massachusetts Armory. Ruth is the older sister and an officer’s wife and the younger sister Millie is a single mom who, in desperation, seeks refuge in her sister’s home and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” This living arrangement isn’t ideal, but the younger sister has no other family after the death of their parents and the disappearance of her abusive husband. The relationship between the sisters is tense and filled with resentment, jealousy, misunderstanding, competition, and secrets.

My Thoughts:

Sisters and Friends Who Are Like Sisters. Although the story is set during WW11 and interesting details are given about the time period, the armory, and wartime efforts, I think this story of the “war between sisters” could have taken place in any time period and any setting. I appreciate the effort the author gives in this mostly character driven story in creating a complex and believable relationship between two sisters. Their rivalry is completely understandable, believable, and tragic. The support they receive from two other women in the story makes for a dynamic and well-developed cast of characters. It would be easy to see this as a movie.

Plot. Although mostly character driven, a plot twist towards the end provides compelling tension and action. Overall, this poignant, well written story told from the alternating perspectives of four strong women (two sisters and two friends) and from dual timelines is a solid read. It could be categorized as women’s fiction set in war time as well as the historical fiction designation.

Themes. Thoughtful themes addressed include parental favoritism and expectations, family dynamics, sibling loyalty and rivalry, complex relationships, reconciliation, roles of women in the 30s and 40s, and strong and brave women supporting each other.

Recommended for readers who appreciate well drawn and realistic characterizations of resilient, determined women and compelling stories that explore complicated family dynamics.

My Rating: 4 Poignant Stars

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the wartime sisters

The Wartime Sisters

Meet the Author, Lynda Cohen Loigman

lynda cohen loigmanLynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a law degree from Columbia Law School. Lynda practiced trusts and estates law in New York City for eight years before moving out of the city to raise her two children with her husband. She wrote The Two-Family House while she was a student of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. The Two-Family House was chosen by Goodreads as a best book of the month for March, 2016, and was a nominee for the Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards in Historical Fiction. Her second novel, The Wartime Sisters, will be published on January 22, 2019.



Let’s Discuss!

Have you read Loigman’s first novel, The Two-Family House?

 Can you relate to a story of sibling rivalry?



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links

This is important information! Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.



In Movie News….

For Fredrik Backman fans, Britt-Marie Was Here will be a movie!

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might consider adding these four books to your ‘want to read list’ in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Meet Me at the Museum: A Review

*this post contains affiliate links

January 18, 2019

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

What is the chance that a letter to a stranger will lead to a deep friendship?

meet me at the museum cover

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Epistolary, Friendship, England, Denmark, Archeology

Summary:

Told in epistolary form, the story in Meet Me at the Museum unfolds from alternating viewpoints as we meet the two main characters through their letters. Tina is a hard-working, loyal, and duty bound English farmer’s wife, mother, and grandmother, and she is also grieving the recent loss of her best friend, Bella. In thinking of the past, she remembers the promise that she and Bella made to each other to visit the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark to see the mummified Tolland Man from the Iron Age. Life intervened and now Tina is in her 60s and her friend is gone. She is inspired to write to Professor Glob, author of The Bog People, who mentions school children in the dedication of his book (our fictional Tina is one of the school children). Tina isn’t aware that Glob has died, so quiet, kind, and introspective Anders, curator of the Denmark museum, writes back to Tina. Tina and Anders begin a thoughtful and heartfelt correspondence. Anders is grieving the recent loss of his wife and through letters, Anders and Tina share intimate details of their lives with each other and express thoughts that they have difficulty sharing with anyone else. As they discuss archeology, the Tolland Man, their philosophies of life, grief, and their families, they develop an endearing and unique friendship that could possibly lead to more.

Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:

Letter writing: “holding onto the softness and elegance” of the old ways.

I happen to love epistolary novels and Meet Me at the Museum is in the tradition of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, 84, Charing Cross Road, and Last Christmas in Paris with the tenderness of finding a soul mate later in life as in Our Souls at Night. Even though the story unfolds in letters, we become interested and invested in their lives as they each navigate an unexpected crisis.

Youngson’s writing is poignant, beautiful, reflective, and thoughtful. Meet Me at the Museum is character driven and meant to be savored. The depth of friendship (hope of love?) that develops through old-fashioned letter writing is heartwarming and inspirational. The author does an exemplary job of reminding us of the traditional joys and art of letter writing and how it serves a purpose that can’t be replaced by email or text messages.

As a bonus, I also learned a great deal about The Tolland Man from the Iron Age.

tolland man

 

Themes. Meet Me at the Museum has some thoughtful themes including: sacrifice, choices, regret, meaning and purpose, grief, loneliness, second chances, friendship, listening, encouragement, gentle advice, and “holding onto the softness and elegance” of the old ways. Book clubs might enjoy discussion topics such as:

  • Do you think everyone finds a soul mate?
  • Does a biological father have a right to know about the birth of a child?
  • Is it ever too late to pursue a lifelong dream?
  • Do you believe in second chances?
  • In what ways have you experienced the beautiful craft of letter writing?
  • What can be learned from older characters (60+)?
  • How would you apply the raspberry metaphor to your life?
  • Realistically, what is the likelihood of two strangers who have never seen each other and live hundreds of miles apart finding comfort, understanding, and friendship solely through the written word?

Recommended. Fans of character driven stories, literary fiction, and reflective writing will find Meet Me at the Museum an enjoyable read. Book clubs might find some thoughtful discussion topics, and, of course, if you enjoy the art of letter writing this is a must read. If you’re looking for a fast paced, page turner filled with suspense and lots of action or if you know you don’t enjoy epistolary format, you might want to skip this one. Meet Me at the Museum is more than the ‘women’s fiction’ category suggests. I tend to associate women’s fiction with ‘chick lit,’ and I assure you it’s not that. It’s a read that grew on me and one that I enjoyed more and more as I delved deeper into the story, their lives, and their relationship. It’s a quiet story and perfect for reading in front of the fire on a winter night or on a porch swing on a lazy summer day.

An interview with the author, Anne Youngson.

Host Tip: Book Clubs will want to serve raspberries for dessert!

My Rating: 4 Stars

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meet me at the museum

Meet Me at the Museum

Meet the Author, Anne Youngson

anne youngson

Anne Youngson had a long and successful career in the motor industry after finishing a degree in English from Birmingham. Now, Anne Youngson is retired, lives in Oxfordshire, and is studying for a PhD at Oxford Brookes. She has two children and three grandchildren to date. Meet Me at the Museum is her first novel and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.

 

*It brings me the greatest joy to read, review, and support debut authors!



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post a review of a lighter book, The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller.

late bloomers club

I’m also reading Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (a work in progress and review date TBD)

leadership in turbulent times



Links

A beautifully written piece on Black Coffee With White Friends: Black and Lovely

This is important! Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!

Check out Hillsdale College Free Online Courses

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.



In Movie News….

For Fredrik Backman fans, Britt-Marie Was Here will be a movie!

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might want to put these four books on your ‘want to read list’ in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

I’m curious….are you a fan of the epistolary format? If yes, which have been your favorites?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Learning To See: A Review

*this post contains affiliate links

January 11, 2019

Learning To See by Elise Hooper

learning to see 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Fictionalized Biography, Photography, Internment Camps

Thanks to #WilliamMorrowPB #WilliamMorrowBooks #HarperCollins for my free copy of #LearningtoSee by Elise Hooper in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

“It takes a lot of practice to see things are they are, not as you want them to be.”
(P 121)

Summary:

Learning to See is a fictionalized biography inspired by real life photographer, Dorothea Lange. We first meet twenty-two year old Dorothea Nutzhorn in 1918 as she arrives in San Francisco with her best friend. Through wit and a determination to create her own life far from her home in the Northeast, Dorothea changes her name to Dorothea Lange, takes a risk in opening a portrait studio, and marries an older established artist, Maynard Dixon. Dorothea’s portrait studio enjoys success and it provides a steady and dependable income for their growing family of two children. When the economy collapses in the 1930s, economic troubles place tremendous strain on an already fragile marriage and Dorothea desperately seeks out ways to support her two young sons and a drunken, disillusioned, and out-of-work husband. As Dorothea’s portrait business declines in the economy, she begins to take pictures of the poor and desperate people on the streets of San Francisco. In addition, she travels throughout California and the Southwest documenting labor conditions on farms, gradually realizing that these pictures are more meaningful than what she produces in her portrait studio because her pictures from the streets and fields tell a true story of the economic hardships that people are facing. Later, the United States enters WW11 and Dorothea accepts a government job photographing the internment camps into which the Japanese have been placed. Not everyone appreciates seeing the truth of these pictures and she is censored, threatened, and discouraged. This doesn’t deter Dorothea from her travels, her photographs, or her purpose. There’s a dual timeline running through the story which allows the reader to know Dorothea at the end of her life.

My Thoughts:

Writing. Historical fiction fans will be eager to read Elise Hooper’s new work exploring the life of photographer, Dorothea Lange. The extensive research that went into the telling of this story is evident (the author also includes a few of Lange’s photographs at the end of the book). Not only is there an abundance of historical facts and descriptive details which enable readers to feel like they are experiencing life in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, but the author also puts a great deal of effort and thought into building a case for the possible motives that inspire Dorothea to take certain actions. I had a difficult time accepting the decision Dorothea made for the care of her children, but the details in the story left me with a reasonable ability to understand Dorothea’s choices.

Themes. Certainly, some important themes include the plight of working mothers in that time, the hardships of the depression, marriage to someone who is not a full or dependable partner, loyal friendship and support from other women, making difficult decisions to follow your dreams/passions and accepting the consequences of that decision, taking risks, the effects of childhood experiences on adults, and character traits of pioneers.

More Than an Artist. Dorothea Lange is remembered today for her photography work and her indomitable spirit and determination. I think you’ll enjoy the historical setting and this imagined story of her life behind the facts. Throughout the story, the title of Learning to See takes on multiple meanings. As an artist, Dorothea is not afraid to photograph what she actually sees and not what others want or expect to see. As a mother and wife, Dorothea sees (or intuits) the emotional help her troubled son needs, and she also sees the truth of her marriage to Maynard. Dorothea sees injustice and has a vision for meaningful work, and she is willing to take the risks to follow her passion despite the sacrifices. She is not afraid of hard work or activism, and perseveres in spite of obstacles.

“I was a photographer of people–men, women, and children who worked, suffered, rested, and loved. …. I lived for the moment when time slowed, when I could capture an expression or gesture that communicated everything. I needed more of those moments. If I was going to give up my family, every second needed to count. The sacrifice had to be worth something bigger than me.” (p 179)

Recommended. I love stories of real women, and even though Dorothea might not be the most well liked person, I’m highly recommending Learning to See for fans of well written and extensively researched historical fiction, for readers who are looking for a story of a strong, independent, and pioneering woman, and for those who want an engaging page turner. Learning to See is nicely paced with well drawn characters, and some readers might want to know that it includes some romantic details. It would make a good book club selection because of interesting discussion topics.

If you might enjoy reading more histfic about Japanese Internment Camps, I suggest The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

Additional Information. The following links are a sampling of what’s available about Dorothea Lange on YouTube:

Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life

American Masters: Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange Biography

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 stars on Goodreads)

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Learning to See

Learning to See

Pub Date: January 22, 2019

For my review of Elise Hooper’s first book, The Other Alcott, click here.

Meet the Author, Elise Hooper

Elise Hooper

Although a New Englander by birth (and at heart), Elise now lives with her husband and two young daughters within stone-skipping distance of the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound. When she’s not writing, she’s in her classroom making American history and literature interesting for high school students.

She’s drawn to historical figures, especially women, who linger in the footnotes of history books yet have fascinating stories waiting to be told.

Please learn more: http://www.elisehooper.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elisehooperauthor/
Instagram: elisehooper
Twitter: @elisehooper



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post a review of Meet Me At the Museum by Anne Youngson.

meet me at the museum

I’m also reading Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (a work in progress and review date TBD)

leadership in turbulent times



Links

Check out Hillsdale College Free Online Courses

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.



In Movie News….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might want to put these three books on your winter to read list in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Tell me about your reading preference. Do you appreciate a fictionalized biography or would you rather read a narrative non fiction account of a person’s life?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

The Last Year of the War: A Review

*this post contains affiliate links

January 4, 2019

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Last Year of the War 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Internment Camps, Germany

Thanks #NetGalley and #BerkleyPublishing for a free copy of #TheLastYearoftheWar by @susanmeissner in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary:

The Last Year of the War is a WW11 story told from a unique perspective, and is a heartfelt story about two typical teenage girls in America whose parents are immigrants from Germany and Japan. When WW11 breaks out, their families are sent to an internment camp in Texas and from there repatriated back to their home countries. The girls, Elise and Mariko, meet at the camp and in a short time become best friends. The cruelties of war separate them, cause great hardships for their families, and threaten their friendship.

My Thoughts:

Well Written. Susan Meissner, author of As Bright as Heaven, offers readers solid, well written historical fiction stories, and The Last Year of the War follows in that tradition. The writing style in this story is similar to narrative non fiction. In fact, I stopped reading at one point to check the author’s note to see if this was a story of a real person. Historical fictions fans will be thrilled with this well researched, fictionalized story that includes an abundance of historical facts and vivid, detailed descriptions. The part of the story after the war years is a bit rushed as a great portion of her life is covered in a brief amount of time.

Themes. In addition to the historical setting and events, the story includes thoughtful themes of family, friendship, loyalty, bravery, determination, sacrifice, commitment, and the cruelties of war. Especially poignant for me is the story of Elise’s father and his ongoing and determined struggle to do the right thing for his family and to make the best decisions to keep them safe. Who could have predicted the dire and heart breaking outcomes to his best intentions. I think this resonates with every parent….we hope we’re making the right decisions for our family but only the future reveals the truth.

Issues of war, immigration, racism, deportation, and wrongful treatment are prevalent in the story and we are aware of the author’s viewpoints as the story unfolds.

Favorite Quote:

“We decide who and what we will love and who and what we will hate. We decide what we will do with the love and hate. Every day we decide. It was this that revealed who we were, not the color of our flesh or the shape of our eyes or the language we spoke.”

Protagonist. Elise is our feisty and independent main character and we follow her life from a young girl to her senior adult years. We learn how she survives the last year of the war and holds tight to dreams for a bright future. She becomes real to us as we root for her and feels like a friend by story’s end.

Discussion. Sometimes it’s interesting when girls in the 40s reflect modern thinking of girls in 2018. There is one instance in the story of this when the young girls decide that the heroine in their pretend story doesn’t need to be rescued by anyone…she can rescue herself. Even though the girls were able to articulate this idea, they found themselves in some situations throughout their actual lives where they didn’t rescue themselves. This would be an interesting book club discussion.

Recommended. The Last Year of the War is highly recommended for fans of Susan Meissner’s work, for readers who appreciate well written historical fiction, and for those who enjoy a compelling story of a strong and independent girl. It’s also a book that would be suitable for YA readers. In addition, I think this would make an excellent selection for book club because of many discussion possibilities. For readers who are concerned about reading stories that include the horrors of WW11, I can reassure you that this is a mild read. I hope you pick it up when it releases March 19, 2019 and enjoy it as much as I did! It might make a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift for mothers who love to read in this genre.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War

Meet the Author, Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner

 

I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t driven to write. I attribute this passion to a creative God and to parents who love books and more particularly to a dad who majored in English and passed on a passion for writing.

I was born in 1961 in San Diego, California, and am the second of three daughters. I spent my very average childhood in just two houses. I attended Point Loma College in San Diego, majoring in education, but I would have been smarter to major in English with a concentration in writing. The advice I give now to anyone wondering what to major in is follow your heart and choose a vocation you are already in love with.

I’m happy and humbled to say that I’ve had 17 books published in the last dozen years, including The Shape of Mercy, which was named one of the 100 Best Books in 2008 by Publishers Weekly, and the ECPA’s Fiction Book of the Year, a Carol Award winner, and a RITA finalist. I teach at writers’ conferences from time to time and I’ve a background in community journalism.

I’m also a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When I’m not at work on a new novel, I write small group curriculum for my San Diego church. Visit me at my website: http//:susanmeissner.com on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at http://www.facebook.com/susan.meissner



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post a review of the ARC Learning to See by Elise Hooper.
(Pub Date: January 22, 2019)

Learning to See



Links

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.

I attended an Author Brunch once where Susan Meissner was a panelist!
Have you met an author? (share in comments) It’s thrilling to hear authors speak about their work, and I encourage you to take the opportunity!



In Movie News….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might want to put these three books on your winter to read list in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

What is your first read of 2019?

Susan Meissner can be counted on for solid, well written, non offensive historical fiction stories. Are you a Susan Meissner fan?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: Amal Unbound

December 21, 2018

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Amal Unbound 2

Genre/Categories: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction, Pakistan

Summary:

Amal, living with her loving family in a quiet Pakistani village, dreams of becoming a teacher. Her educational goals are temporarily disrupted when her parents require Amal to stay home to care for her siblings while Mom recovers from childbirth. Amal is determined to keep learning despite the setback. However, events spiral out of control when Amal must work as a family servant for a corrupt landlord to pay off the family debt. Although Amal faces difficult challenges in her new and restricted life, she learns to work with others and is brave enough to take risks to affect change.

Amazon Early Rating (December): 4.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

“If everyone decided nothing could change, nothing ever would.”

Part of the purpose of this blog is to read diversely and to support women authors, so I’m thrilled to bring you this review.

Themes. This riveting story of a brave girl adapting to and affecting change in her circumstances is an inspiring story for all middle grade students and adults alike, and it serves as an introduction to the topic of indentured servitude as we experience forced labor through Amal’s circumstances. Nothing accomplishes building compassion and promoting understanding better than quality literature. Other themes include class structure, sexism, poverty, and the limitations that come from being born female.

Education. One reason this is an important book is for children to realize how important education is in a girl’s life and that not every girl in the world has this access. Even during Amal’s time working as an indentured servant, she didn’t give up hope of an education. In fact, the meaning of Amal in Arabic is “hope.” The author points out that millions of young girls fight for their right to an education. We may be most familiar with the popular and well-known Malala, and Amal represents all the lesser known brave girls everywhere.

Why read children’s literature? The story may seem idealistic and simplistic to an adult, but reading it as if you were the target audience (4th grade and up) will enable you to appreciate the introduction of a difficult and troubling topic to a young audience. In addition, I feel it’s important that children from every culture are able to find themselves in stories (realizing that Amal is only an example of one girl, from one family, and she is not a stereotypical representation of all girls from Pakistan culture). If we are buying these stories, publishers will take notice and more diverse literature will find its way into bookstores and classrooms. Finally, adult readers might want to make recommendations or buy gifts for children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. Great literature can be enjoyed by every age, and this is a great example of a book to read with your children to generate important discussions.

Amal. Our strong-willed protagonist is a likeable and memorable character who is brave, smart, realistic, determined, smart, kind, inspirational, and a fighter. We read about her in honor of brave girls everywhere. A great companion read for this would be I Am Malala.

Recommended. I’m highly recommending this book for readers 4th grade and up, for readers who appreciate compelling stories, for fans of diverse reads, and for those looking for a strong female heroine. It will be on my best of 2018 list and it’s one I will widely and enthusiastically recommend.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Amal Unbound

(Isn’t this a striking cover?!)

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Aisha Saeed

Aisha SaeedAisha Saeed (aishasaeed.com) is a Pakistani American writer, teacher, and attorney. Her writings have appeared in publications including The Orlando Sentinel, Muslim Girl magazine, and BlogHer. As one of the founding members of the much talked about We Need Diverse Books Campaign, she is helping to change the conversation about diversity in literature. She is also a contributing author to the highly acclaimed Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, which features the story of her own (happily) arranged marriage. Aisha lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and sons.



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

To finish out 2018, the last posts I’m planning include one focusing on goals and challenges, one analyzing end of year numbers, a December Wrap up, and one featuring my best reads of 2018.



Links

Check Out My Gift Ideas For the Readers on Your Holiday Shopping List!

Books are wonderful last minute gifts.

“Everyone Gets a Book!”

gift stack of books



In Movie News….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might want to put these three books on your winter to read list in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Do you read Middle Grade or Young Adult literature?

Do you enjoy reading diversely about other cultures?

Are you finding time to read in December?!

It’s time to start thinking about your best read of the year!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

 

 

Review: The Dreamers

December 14, 2018

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

the Dreamers 2

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian, YA

The Dreamers Summary:

Virus. A remote college town in the hills of drought stricken California sets the scene for this story and a strange illness/virus that causes its victims to fall asleep and experience vivid dreams. No one can wake the first college age victims and soon the virus spreads throughout the town, randomly affecting young and old alike. The town is quarantined and the National Guard is called in to enforce the quarantine and monitor supplies. The Dreamers is a story about the people affected and their reactions and actions.

My Thoughts:

Thanks #netgalley and #randomhouse for my free copy of #thedreamers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Dreams. Have you ever had a dream that was so real that you had difficulty orienting yourself to a wakeful state? Have you ever pondered the meaning of your dreams? Have you attempted to make sense of your dreams? Do you think dreams can predict the future? Or have you wondered about the passage of time while you sleep? Have you even been asleep briefly but had a dream that seemed to last a long time? Have you experienced dreams about people who are no longer alive?

Unique. The Dreamers came to me at exactly the right time. Usually science fiction is a genre I’m tempted to pass over. Yet, I’m thrilled I took a chance on reading The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker. Even though I don’t read a lot of science fiction, I became intrigued by several reviews of The Dreamers from respected reviewers on Instagram, Goodreads, and in blog posts and I was very much in the mood for something different. Once I noticed this title, I knew I had to see for myself! I hope you, too, will give this unique story a chance.

Not Too Weird. Because I don’t typically read science fiction, I truly appreciate the mild nature of this character driven story. There’s nothing too weird, grotesque, or frightening. The strange illness that causes victims to suddenly fall into a deep sleep from which they cannot be awakened strikes young and old alike and at random. Some victims sleep longer than others and as the epidemic spreads from the college students and throughout the town, it’s a challenge to keep all the patients alive under quarantine conditions. As victims wake up, they report having vivid and realistic dreams and a few struggle with the meaning of the dreams and have difficulty adjusting to life outside of the dream state. The virus disappears as mysteriously as it appears. the prose is lovely, and the story told from multiple points of view is a quick read, engaging, bittersweet, and thought provoking.

Sleep. The Dreamers causes you to think about your own crazy dreams and about how you and your city would react in any crisis. Considering the dire circumstances, it’s a fairly gentle read as the college students and the town’s residents succumb to the most routine and ordinary part of a typical day….falling asleep. The eerie part is that they might fall asleep while mowing the lawn, making dinner, or walking the dog. For a few nights after finishing the story, I certainly thought about closing my eyes as I lay on the sofa or as I fell asleep for the night. If you have difficulty sleeping or experience troubling dreams, this might need a trigger warning. The story is like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Recommended. The Dreamers is a heartwarming story of community, individual survival, and neighbor helping neighbor. I highly recommend this story for readers who are looking for something a little different, for those who enjoy a mild science fiction selection with a touch of psychology and philosophy, and for fans of beautiful writing and a compelling story line. It would make a great vacation read, buddy read, or book club selection. I was left with a few unanswered questions though as the cause of the virus and the recovery are never fully explained.

Pub Date: 1/15/2019

My Rating: 4 Stars

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The Dreamers

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Karen Thompson Walker

Karen Thompson WalkerKaren Thompson Walker is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Age of Miracles, which has been translated into twenty-seven languages and named one of the best books of the year by Amazon, People, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Financial Times, among others. Born and raised in San Diego, Walker is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program. She lives with her husband, the novelist Casey Walker, and their two daughters in Portland. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Oregon. Her second novel, The Dreamers, will be published in January 2019.



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post my review of Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed. Isn’t the cover striking?! This is a Middle Grade historical fiction selection and a diverse read.



My Fall TBR

I FINISHED ALL the books on my Fall TBR list! Usually I can’t get to every book on my list, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment. My winter TBR will post on December 21.



Links

Check Out My Gift Ideas For the Readers on Your Holiday Shopping List!

“Everyone Gets a Book!”

gift stack of books

In movie news….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing”!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Reading Challenges: Thinking Ahead to 2019

Have you ever considered a reading challenge? Here are the reading challenges I’m considering for the 2019 reading year. The first three are wonderful challenges for any reader. The last one is geared toward reviewers who are members of NetGalley or Edelweiss.

Modern Mrs Darcy 2019 Reading Challenge (very broad, doable categories that might provide some stretch in your reading life)

Goodreads Reading Challenge (determine how many books you’d like to read and track them through the Goodreads app)….the link is to my 2018 challenge….the 2019 challenge will be available at the first of the year.

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (especially great for bloggers and reviewers who want monthly link up opportunities)

NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge (link up opportunities for members of NetGalley and Edelweiss)



 Let’s Discuss

Do you like books that are outside your typical genres? Do you enjoy science fiction?

Are you finding time to read in December?!

It’s time to start thinking about your best read of the year!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.