Posted in reviews

What I’ve been Reading

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. It’s Father’s Day weekend and it’s my last week of school. I’m so ready for the summer break. So today I thought I’d share with you a book I finished some time ago. It was very good and I’d recommend it to anyone who feels like escaping into a good story.

 

Before We were Yours

 

Before We Were Yours: A Novel by [Wingate, Lisa]

 

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal.”*

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

*Library Journal

Praise for Before We Were Yours

“A [story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.”People

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.”Parade

“One of the year’s best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel.”The Huffington Post

“Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.”—Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun

My Thoughts:

 

This story was a heartbreaking tale of a family broken apart by a money-hungry, evil woman. Although the characters are fictional, this story is based on actual events. It’s based on the real life scandal of Georgia Tann who kidnapped poor children and sold them to wealthy people. She defended her actions by stating that these children had better lives, but she never addresses the heartache she caused and the destruction she left in her wake when she tore these families apart.

The main character, Rill is a fighter, but she’s left with the guilt of not being able to keep her family together. How horrible to grow up and know you’ve got brothers and sisters, but not know where they are or what happened to them. I didn’t want to put this book down.

This is a must read for everyone. It will make you appreciate your family, especially your siblings.

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Posted in Entertainment, Literacy, Reading, Teen, World War II

What I’ve been Reading

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I thought I’d share with you two books I’ve recently read. After a couple of serious posts, I thought I’d lighten things up with a fun one. Well, fun to us bookworms!

The first book is “The Girl in the Blue Coat.”  It’s the story about friendship and betrayal during WWII when everyone was living in fear.  One woman hides a Jewish girl in her back room and one day the girl disappears.  She seeks out the assistance of Hanneke to find this girl and so the story begins.  Hanneke is pulled into the situation and reluctantly does what she can to find the girl.

 

Girl in the Blue Coat by [Hesse, Monica]

The national bestseller and winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.
On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person-a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.
Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel about bravery, grief, and love in impossible times.
My Thoughts:

This story was well written and an accurate portrayal of what happened during WWII. I loved Hanneke, she was such a strong girl, even though she didn’t see herself that way. There’s a twist at the end that took me by surprise. A well written historical YA novel. I’d recommend this to both adults and young adults. It was a great read.

The next book I read is also a WWII novel and it’s based on a true story. The title is “Beneath a Scarlet Sky.” It’s the story of Pino and his family during WWII and how Pino helps the resistance by joining the Nazi army. It’s a depiction of the bravery of the Italian people who joined the resistance and helped Jewish families escape into Switzerland.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel by [Sullivan, Mark]

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

 

My Thoughts:

While this is the story about the bravery of the Italians who joined the resistance, it’s also the story of love and loss. The story of Pino and Anna. Pino falls for her hard after he joins the Nazi party and begins spying for the resistance. The war ends and Pino believes he and Anna can now marry and start a family. However, Pino suffers the devastating loss of his love at the very end of the war. It’s incredibly sad and frustrating because he feels incredible guilt that he did not save her.  This is an incredible story and the bravery of the Italians involved in the resistance illustrates that good does triumph over evil. I’d recommend this book to both adults and young adults alike.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Do you have any books you’d recommend? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Reading, World War II

What I’ve been Reading…

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a wonderful Christmas season with my family. For some reason, I looked forward to Christmas this year more than I have in the past. I’m not sure why, maybe because I started shopping early and this season was less stressful. Or it could be because we were all healthy this Christmas and I was thankful for that.

 

Photo by mclcbooks on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Anyway, whatever the reason, I had a great Christmas and I hope you did, too.

This is my last blog post of 2017. It’s kind of anti-climactic because I don’t have the “I’ve figured out the meaning of life” post I thought I’d have at this juncture in the game, and I haven’t figured out my New Year’s resolutions yet or my One Little Word for 2018. So as I struggle for something to write, I fall back on one of my favorite hobbies and that is reading. I’ve finished a couple of excellent stories I haven’t shared with you yet so I thought this might be a good time to discuss them. One was recommended to me and the other one is one of my favorite authors. Both books were excellent. So without further ado, here they are.

 

THE CITY OF THIEVES:

 

City of Thieves: A Novel by [Benioff, David]

 

From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour and When the Nines Roll Over and co-creator of the HBO series Game of Thrones, a captivating novel about war, courage, survival — and a remarkable friendship that ripples across a lifetime.

During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.

By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, the New York Times bestseller City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

 

My Thoughts:

 

I love a good World War II story, especially the ones where good triumphs over evil. In this story, two unlikely men become friends in occupied Russia during the Nazi invasion when they are captured by the Nazis. Instead, of death, they are tasked with finding eggs for the Commander’s daughter’s wedding cake in a time when eggs are nowhere to be found. The two characters take us on their journey where we run into some dangerous characters and some heroic ones.  I absolutely loved the ending. It’s one of hope and shows that even in the most horrible of circumstances love triumphs over all.

 

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

 

 

Little Fires Everywhere by [Ng, Celeste]

 

The runaway New York Times bestseller

Named a Best Book of the Year:
People, The Washington Post, Bustle, Esquire, Southern Living, The Daily Beast, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Kirkus ReviewsSt. Louis Post-Dispatch, Book of the Month, Paste, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Audible, Goodreads, Library Reads, and many more!

“I am loving Little Fires Everywhere. Maybe my favorite novel I’ve read this year.”—John Green

“I read Little Fires Everywhere in a single, breathless sitting.” –Jodi Picoult

“Witty, wise, and tender. It’s a marvel.” – Paula Hawkins

“To say I love this book is an understatement. It’s a deep psychological mystery about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage love, and the danger of perfection. It moved me to tears.” – Reese Witherspoon

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

 

My Thoughts:

 

Celeste Ng has become one of my favorite authors. I fell in love with her first book “Everything I Never Told You” and her second book is right up there with her first one.

“Little Fires Everywhere” is the story of the Richardson family and the quiet life of Shaker Heights and how one addition to this little town can turn everything upside down. The addition I’m talking about is Mia and Pearl. Mia is a photographer who’s been moving from town to town for quite some time, but she wants to stop and put down some roots for her daughter Pearl.

They rent a home from the Richardson’s and the Richardson children befriend Pearl and soon Mia begins working for the family to help pay the rent. Their lives become intertwined and fires start. It’s a great story of family dynamics and explores issues of adoption, abortion, and parenting. If you like human drama stories you’ll love this one.

 

So there you have it, my last post of 2017.  If you’re snowed in, these two books are a must read…even if you’re not snowed it. They’re great stories. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I’m putting together a reading list for 2018 do you have any recommendations for me? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Guest Author

Introducing Iris Blobel and her New Release!

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’m sharing with you my good friend Iris’s new release, “Fresh Beginnings.” Check it out, this series is a great way to relieve stress and escape the pressures of life for a while! 🙂

 

 

 

~~  Fresh Beginnings ~~

(2nd Edition)

by Iris Blobel

 

 

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2kyJsm9

AMAZON AU: http://amzn.to/2hWGjMh

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2xsEtF2iBooks

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2z7TPk5

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2g4b5C6

 

♥♦♥  BLURB ♥♦♥

 

Jared Fraser, a landscape business owner in Hobart, Australia, sets out for a holiday to the USA to travel along the Route 66 in a motorhome. Looking forward to his first holiday overseas, he’s excited as he prepares himself for the journey. But little could’ve prepared him for crossing paths with a beautiful hitchhiker.

 

Will he be able to put his past aside and grab onto happiness?

 

Ivy Bennett thought leaving her boyfriend would be the hard part. It doesn’t take long to figure out how wrong she was. As she struggles with making a new start in her life, the last person she expects to lead her to happiness is a laid-back Australian on vacation.

 

But she will have to say goodbye again? And not only to Jared.

 

 

♥♦♥  EXCERPT ♥♦♥

 

Ivy enjoyed being with Jared. During their drive towards the Grand Canyon he told her of his home and described as much of Tasmania as possible.

“I always imagined Australia to be hot with white beaches and beautiful water.”

“That’s up in the north in Queensland,” he explained. “We have spectacular beaches as well. Tasmania is a small island in the very south. The last step before the Antarctica, so to speak.”

“That sounds cold!”

He laughed. “It clearly isn’t Queensland.” Settling his gaze on her, he continued, “But it has beautiful beaches as well. And a wonderful marine life. And the mountains. We have some stunning mountains in Tassie.”

“Tassie?”

“Tasmania.”

“It sounds beautiful.”

He agreed. “Yes, it is. One of the best places on earth.”

Once they arrived at the National Park, they found a parking spot and walked towards the edge of the Canyon. She touched his arm to get his attention. Not that she needed to. His attentive nature drew her to him, and she couldn’t get enough of listening to him.

“I feel bad that you pay for everything,” she said in a low voice.

Jared waved his hand. “Nah. It’s only money and luckily the Australian dollar is—”

“Whether you can or can’t afford it, it doesn’t matter. I don’t like it.”

He stopped and turned towards her, causing heat inside her body. Her breath caught but she kept walking, yet, it took him only a few steps to catch up with her and, by way of placing his hand on her shoulder, to stop her.

“Wanna tell me why?”

Avoiding his stare, she lifted her shoulder in a casual shrug.

“A shrug is not really an answer, ya know that, right?”

Yes, she knew that. How could she tell him that she’d left Dylan because he’d spent all the money she’d worked so hard for? She didn’t want to be in the same situation, as in spending someone else’s hard-earned money. But deep inside she didn’t want to hurt Jared, either. She was enjoying her time with him so much, she wasn’t ready for it to end because of some silly pride.

Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a little squirrel in the bushes and despite some guilt inside, it was a perfect distraction.

“Look!” she said louder than she’d intended. “A squirrel.”

With great relief, she noticed how her devious plan had worked. Jared quickly grabbed his camera and kneeled down to get the best shot possible of this little creature.

Kneeling next to him, she asked, “Don’t you have squirrels?”

Still trying to get that perfect photo of the little creature, he whispered, “Nope.”

 

 

♥♦♥ MEET THE AUTHOR ♥♦♥

IRIS BLOBEL

 

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only emerged recently, but now her laptop is a constant companion.

 

Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her two beautiful daughters.

 

Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

 

 

Social Media Links:

Click here to subscribe to Iris’ Newsletter

** Website ** Blog ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Goodreads ** Amazon Author Page **

 

Posted in Reading, Uncategorized, World War II

If you had an extra $243,000 would you buy Hitler’s phone?

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after an edit of my manuscript. I’m sending it off to a beta reader/editor so cross your fingers for me. I hope she likes it. This is a good story. I’m excited about it. Squeee! But, enough about that.

I’m back today to express my horror over this article. Someone paid $243,000 for Hitler’s phone. Don’t believe me? Check out the Huffington Post’s article on it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hitler-phone-auction_us_58ab36c2e4b0f077b3ecd032

I find this perplexing. I know it’s historical memorabilia but I wouldn’t want it sitting in my house. I’d worry Hitler’s spirit would be lurking in that phone, and what if it rings. Do you answer it? Who’d be on the other end? Himmler? Mengele?

That would definitely freak me out. I don’t want to talk to either one of them.

Look at it. It’s a Rotary Phone for Christ’s Sakes. It can’t even take selfies. Jeez!

I sure wouldn’t spend $243,000 for a phone either. Even if it was Hitler’s. I just think that’s weird. I can think of so many other things I’d have to have other than Hitler’s phone. Heck, I bet $243,000 would buy food, clothes, and even shelter for some homeless people.

I mean, seriously, get your priorities straight.

Just some random thoughts going through my head as I write this blog post. I’m interested in World War II. I cannot fathom how Hitler was able to command men to murder so many Jews. I’ve done a little research and I found some interesting facts about him. Did you know his father was half Jewish and Hitler hated him because he was cruel and abusive?

I can certainly understand his hatred of his father, but to believe it was the fact that he was half-Jewish was the cause of the abuse is irrational. I would think at some point he must’ve realized what he was doing was wrong. But he didn’t. He actually believed he was doing the right thing and so many people followed him. That’s what I find scary.

I’ve been reading quite a few WWII stories. Right now I’m reading “The Zookeeper’s Wife.” It’s well written and very factual about the portrayal of life in Poland during the war.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by [Ackerman, Diane]

My all-time favorite WWII stories are “All the Light We Cannot See” and “The Book Thief.” I bet you’re wondering how I started out this post about Hitler’s phone and ended up talking about books. That’s just how I roll. 😉 It’s one of the amazing talents I have. 🙂

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by [Doerr, Anthony]

 

So tell me, if you had $243,000 burning a hole in your pocket, would you buy Hitler’s phone or would you spend it on something else? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Slice of LIfe

We Read Dead People: A Slice of Life Post

 

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with another Slice of Life Post. I’m going on a field trip with my oldest today, so this post is going to be short and sweet. 🙂

 

Kind of like me! LOL!

 

Anyway, I thought I’d share my very first Bulletin Board with all of you. I’m actually quite proud of it. I found it on Pinterest and I thought it was quite appropriate for the library. I especially enjoyed creating the illusion of blood spatter on the letters. Check it out!

img_20161013_101218035

 

Perfect for the upcoming holiday, don’t you think? I still have to put up the border, but after that I’m golden. 🙂

I enjoyed working on this, and I’m starting to see that my creative side includes artistic endeavors as well as my writing. It’s fun to discover something new about yourself, and I realize that I’m still learning new things even at my age.

In my opinion, that’s the key to happiness right there. Never stop learning. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and sharing my Slice of Life with me. If you’d like to check out other Slice of Life posts click here.

Posted in reviews, Teen

“Black Like Me:” A Book Review

 

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’ve been working on my book and it’s coming together. Finally! This one has taken me a while because I’m a perfectionist.  I’m excited about it and I love the characters and the story line. I feel it has a lot of potential and that’s all I’m going to say about that. 🙂

I’ve also been reading, and I’ve just finished a book recommended to me by our high school librarian. The title is “Black like Me” and the cover and blurb are below.

 

Black Like Me: The Definitive Griffin Estate Edition by [Griffin, John Howard, Bonazzi, Robert, Terkel, Studs]

In the Deep South of the 1950s, journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross the color line.  Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man.  His audacious, still chillingly relevant eyewitness history is a work about race and humanity-that in this new millennium still has something important to say to every American.

 

My Thoughts:

I was amazed by this story. This man, John Griffin, turned himself into a black man so he could experience what the Afro-Americans were going through. He wanted to understand.

It opened my eyes to how debilitating discrimination is. Not only for the black man, but for anyone who has been discriminated against. If I would’ve read this when I was younger, I don’t think it would’ve resonated so deeply with me.

I understood because I’ve experienced some of what John Griffin did, like I’m sure everyone has. Probably not to the intensity he did, but nonetheless it did strike a chord within me. The thing it made me realize is how damaging to the human spirit this kind of meanness is. It’s not something that can be brushed off. It eats away at you because you don’t understand this kind of hate.

I would recommend this book to teens and adults alike. It’s a sobering read. It’s even relevant in today’s world. The hate he experiences in the story is still alive today. It can be found on Social Media and at political rallies.

When I finished the story, I realized even though we have come a long way in dealing with discrimination, we still have a long way to go.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and checking out my post today. Do you have any great stories that you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!