Book Review · Books

Dutch Girl

Do you love reading about WWII and Hollywood? If so, then Dutch Girl is the book for you. I didn’t know anything about Audrey Hepburn prior to this, but this book gives a great overview of her life during WWII. I have loved reading memoirs and biographies about World War II since grade school so, I was interested to hear about her part during the war.

Audrey grew up in the Netherlands where she lived with her mother and father. After her father left, she was sent to a boarding school in England. Her mother was very strict and not one who showed affection. Audrey started taking ballet which she loved. Even though she was considered tall for a ballerina, she was graceful.

Audrey moved back to live with her mom and a few other relatives. During the war she kept dancing as long as she could. She assisted the war effort by helping with the resistance.

This biography goes back and forth between Audrey as an adult and Audrey during the war. The descriptions in this book are superb. I’ve read a lot of books on this subject and this one has to be one of the most vividly expressed biographies. Reading this book you feel as thought you are there with Audrey experiencing every moment of the war.

I received my digital complimentary copy of Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen courtesy of Smith Publicity and NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own free will. I highly recommend this book. I will definitely be looking out for other biographies by Mr. Matzen.

Book Review · Books

The Girl In Building C

I can’t fathom being 16 and stuck living in a sanatorium with tuberculosis. Marilyn Barnes lived this reality in the 1940’s, during WWII. Marilyn lived with having different treatments and having strict bed rest. Getting letters from family and friends kept her spirits up and the different roommates she had throughout her stay at Ah-Gwanghwamun-ching State Sanatorium in MN. The Girl In Building C is the collection of her letters and photos from her three year stint at the sanatorium.

Only select activities were allowed. Marilyn’s life mainly consisted of reading, naps, and writing letters. She was only allowed certain privileges till her tests came back negative for tuberculosis and even then it was baby steps to doing normal things like going to the restroom. I love resting, napping and reading in bed, but what would my view be of it if that was my life for 3 years? Can you fathom not being allowed outside for months, or to even just walk around in the building? I always thought that expressions from the 50’s was a tad exaggerated in movies, but Marilyn’s hearty use of words and/or expressions like: swell, kids, gee, folks was fascinating. I didn’t realize those were from the 1940’s.

This book was educational. The procedures and surgeries that Marilyn endured boggle my mind. The mid 1940’s was not that long ago. Can you imagine having ribs removed?

This review is for an ARC of The Girl In Building C edited by Mary Krugerud from Edelweiss Plus care of the Minnesota Historical Society Press and is my unbiased, honest opinion. If you enjoy reading nonfiction that is in letter format you won’t be able to put this book down. If you enjoy researching different ailments then this book is a must read, though if you tend to be a hypochondriac or a vivid imagination then I might caution you.

Book Review · Books

Auschwitz Lullaby

Ever since I was lent a copy of Escape From Warsaw in the fourth grade I fell in love with the country of Poland. I am not Polish, but for some reason the Polish language sounds like music to me. This book for younger children set me on my interest of WWII. I’ve read countless memoirs and historical fiction on this awful war. A few stand out as excellent. Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar is one of the gems that is a must read.

This WWII historical fiction novel tells the story of real life German mother, Helene Hannemann who follows her five children to Auschwitz though she herself is not a Gypsy and required to go there. Sadly, they are separated from her husband and left to survive in the camp on their own.

Helene was seen as partly privileged since she was German and Dr. Mengele chose her to help operate a nursery school at the camp. Helene did her best to give the gypsy children of Auschwitz a glimmer of normalcy with the supplies Dr. Mengele is able to get for the school. Even though the school is just a smoke and mirrors of the truth of the camp it gives Helene, her children, other children and the ladies who assist with the school some routine that gives comfort.

This novel was hard to put down. The writing was beautiful, some of the sentences were like music in the depth of their power. The true horrors of this war aren’t sugarcoated in this novel, but it is a lovely tribute to Helene’s life and the power of love you have for your family, no matter the cost.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. If you enjoy historical fiction then keep an eye out for the release of this book. I know I want to grab a copy. I am thankful I got the privilege to read this ARC. Thank you!

Book Review · Books

The Atomic City Girls

If you enjoy World War II historical fiction novels then you will enjoy The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard. This novels follows the lives of June, Cici, Joe, Sam and their adventures working in the secret city of Oak Ridge, TN. June is young and excited about her first official job. Cici is excited for all the prospective men who just might end up a good husband. Joe is a hard worker, trying to provide for his growing family back in Alabama and Sam is a physicist whose excited about working on their top secret project. How will their jobs affect them? What’s it like to be working for the government and not be able to talk about your life because it just might fall into the wrong set of ears, a spy?

This novel was fast paced, engrossing, funny, intense, fascinating and there are old photos from that time sprinkled throughout which I think gives it a great balance with the fiction of the novel and the reality of the people who worked there. Would I be open to living in a secret city that came with its own movie theater, bowling alley, 24 hr diner and lodging? That’s a tough gig to say, “No,” to.

I received my ARC care of TLC Book Tours from Willam Morrow Books. If you are interested in buying a copy click here. For more information on the author Janet Beard check out her website.

Book Review · Books

The Way To London

img_2122.jpgIf you enjoy WWII historical fiction you will love Alix Rickloff’s novel: The Way To London. Lucy Standhope is a spoiled young woman who has always lived in her mother’s shadow. Through the years Lucy has had avariety of governesses as well as different boarding schools. While living with her mother and stepfather in Singapore she is whisked off to go live with her aunt in England after her romantic interest proves to be a conflict of interest for her step father. Lucy is not ready for war torn England. On her way to England she encounters a handsome man named Michael whose on his way home after being discharged from the service.  One day when Lucy is bored at her aunt’s she finds a young boy hanging off a cliff. She rescues him not realizing how this young boy. Bill, is going to change the course of her life.  This novel follows their journey to get Bill back to his mum in London and Lucy to get her try at auditioning for Hollywood.

This book has great, lively and humerous dialogue. The descriptions are authentic to the time period and the characters are lovable. I am a fan of this era, so I enjoyed reading this historical novel. It was charming, insightful on the topic of family, relationships and love. I don’t know what it would be like to be raised as if you were a bother to your own mother. To crave maternal affection and not know what what that that’s like is so sad. This novel shows how if you’ve never been shown love it’s not too, late for someone to show you what it’s liked to be loved for who you are. If you are interested to buy this book click here to buy it from HarperCollins. I will definitely be wanting to find a copy of Secrets Of Nanreath Hall. I got my free ARC care of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review.

Book Review · Books

The Forgotten Family Of Liverpool

I love WWII whether it’s novels, or memoirs. The  Forgotten Family Of Liverpool is set in England where Dora dealing with the fall out of her marriage to Joe due to him being unfaithful with a coworker named Ivy. Dora and Joe have two daughters. Their daughters Jackie and Carol have their preferred parent. Jackie, the youngest likes her mom best and Carol, the eldest prefers her dad. When an unknown person reports that Carol isn’t safe to live with Dora her eldest is made to go live with Joe. Dora has postpartum depression she struggled with in the past, but with a new start she’s determined to get custody back. The challenge is that Joe wants her back. He’s asked forgiveness countless times, but Dora is too, burnt by his betrayal. When Dora’s mom is injured one day by an unknown individual, Dora wonders if there’s someone out to get her and her family. Thankfully Dora lands a job as a seamstress for a sweet elderly couple who become like second parents to her and surrogate grandparents to Jackie and Carol. This family drama has many twists and turns.

If you enjoy this era and anything British this might be a great book for you. There are so many British expressions and words I had to bust out my dictionary. Not knowing lots of British expressions it was quite an educational read. It felt a tad slow-paced till then. I would like to read the next book in the series, not to mention the first book. I received this ARC for free as a courtesy from NetGalley for my honest review. If you would like a copy of this book it comes out this Wednesday, July 26, 2017.

Book Review · Books

Max

Looking for a new book this cover stood out. My first reaction was, “What the?” The image of a baby with a Swastika armband on seemed like a twisted joke for a sadistic novel. Since WWII is one of my fave subjects to read about I just had to purchase this book.

Max’s story sucks you in from page one. He gives his unabashed viewpoint from pre-birth to his delivery into the world. He is a special baby because Max was born as part of the Lebensborn program in Germany. His mother and father were hand-picked, the finest German examples of a man and woman to produce a perfect German child. The blonder the hair and bluer the eyes the better. Max is a control freak from his birth onward. He is gifted and has been gleaming his education through his mother’s tummy. His anxiety at being born is eased when he arrives perfectly on the Führer’s Birthday.

Max is brought up in this program at a special home of sorts for other perfectly bread German babies. The ones that don’t pan out as perfect are whisked away. Max is taken to a special, secret school where he will be trained further to be ready for the Hitler Youth. Max is rarely shown affection except for when his mother and other women at the home breast-fed him. Hugs are foreign to Max.

At the school Max meets Lukas whose older, but appears as though he could pass for his older brother. Lukas is another perfect example of a German male. Max is transfixed by Lukas and his looks. Lukas is rebellious and Max chooses to help him when Lukas is being punished. Due to Max being Christianed by Hitler himself he is untouchable at the school and the staff know this.

This novel is about their friendship and what it was like for Max to grow up in the program. This is a work of fiction, but after a few Google searches a lot of people and events in this book are based off real people and events. This book is not an easy read. Max is a very blunt character who tells it like it is. Even as a baby he doesn’t mince his words. I had no idea about the Lebensborn program before I read this book. I learned new things about the war, things that were tough to read. War is ugly and this book shines the light on further shocking things from a German perspective. If you like reading about WWII this novel might be your next favorite read.