Monday, February 20, 2017

The Munich Girl - Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Title: The Munich Girl
Author: Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Pages: 356
Published: 2015
Genre: Historical fiction
Edition: Paperback
Source: I received this book in exchange for fair and honest review

Description: Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s. Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna's journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I had a love-hate relationship with this book.  I didn't like the first and last parts of the book, as I felt that those dragged on a little too much, but I did like the middle section of the book, as I liked the interaction between Eva and Anna's mom and the story that emerged there. I felt that it was tender and felt authentic and when I got to the third part, I missed that interaction and really felt that Anna became rather demonstrative in wanting to know what happened afterwards.  Of course, it didn't help that I was wanting to go to bed at the the time, but I really did feel that Anna just couldn't close the book and just move on; it felt like the author added a final and third part to satisfy the publishers.  I honestly I would have been happy with just a third and final part that wasn't as long and drawn out as it was.

Bottom Line: Overall, it was a decent book and for the most part I enjoyed it, despite my reservations.  Recommended.

Rating:  3.5/5

Fiction Finalist in 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Awards

Praise for Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

“I was drawn in by Phyllis Ring’s economical and expressive language. Then the story took over! Protagonist Anna Dahlberg must face the emotional fallout from a traumatic plane crash, while simultaneously uncovering the first clues in a shocking generational mystery involving key players in the Third Reich. Everything’s complicated by a new romance that may help her overcome the past and find her true inner strength. But is it real? Love can manifest itself in enigmatic–and unexpected–ways.”- Elizabeth Sims, author and contributing editor at Writer’s Digestmagazine

“… fresh perspective of German women at opposing ends of the warring spectrum … a beautiful story of enduring friendship and the lengths people will go to for love.”- The Stellar Review

“So persuasive is this novel that, before I could believe it was in fact a piece of fiction, I contacted the author and asked where she did her research and where she came up with the idea.”-Leslie Handler, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“This book weaves real life with fiction beautifully and makes you want to know more about the cast of characters. This is a book that you may have a hard time remembering it is fiction as you turn the pages. That’s how well the author brings her characters to life. This book was stunning. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves this time period.”-A Chick Who Reads

“The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring is an elegant historical fiction novel of Eva Braun. Besides being Adolph Hitler’s mistress (and short-lived wife) little is known about this woman in history.  Peggy’s diary entries were applied seamlessly blending past with the present. I yearned to enter the streets of 1940s Germany and discover the meaning behind a simple portrait and view the forging of an unlikely friendship. Phyllis Edgerly Ring has written a superbly researched novel of a historical figure whose’ story is impeccably told.”-Whitney, First Impression Reviews

About Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Author Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. Her years there left her with a deep desire to understand the experience of Germans during the Second World War. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and served as program director at a Baha’i conference center in Maine.

She is also author of the novel, Snow Fence Road, and the inspirational nonfiction, Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details. Her book for children, Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House, is scheduled for release by Bellwood Press in early 2017.

Twitter: http://

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

You Will Not Have My Hate - Antoine Leiris

Title: You Will Not Have My Hate
Author: Antoine Leiris ; translated by Sam Taylor
Pages: 131
Published: 2016
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description:  On 13 November 2015, Antoine Leiris’s wife, Hélène, was killed, along with 88 other people at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, when three men armed with guns and suicide bombs opened fire on the unsuspecting crowd at a rock concert. Three days later, Leiris, a young journalist, wrote an open letter on Facebook addressed to his wife’s killers. Leiris refused to be cowed or to let his 17-month-old son’s life be defined by Hélène’s murder. He refused to let the killers have their way. ‘For as long as he lives, this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom,’ he wrote. Instantly, that short Facebook post caught fire. It was shared over two hundred thousand times and was reported on all over the world. In his beautiful and moving defiance of the terrorists who had killed his wife, Leiris became an international hero to everyone searching desperately for a way to deal with the horror of the attacks. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I don't know if saying that I enjoyed a memoir about a husband going through the early stages of grieving of his wife is appropriate.  It was definitely poignant, even though it was a short read.  I got a sense of him trying to make things as normal as possible for his young son, Melvil, who was about 17 months at the time.  I don't think words can really describe how it felt to read this book.

Bottom line: A powerful, but short book and alters how we should act during a time that is becoming incredibly scary.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.75/5

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ghosts - Raina Telgemeier

Title: Ghosts
Author: Raina Telgemeir
Pages: 256
Published: 2016
Genre: Graphic Novels, Middle Grade
Edition: Paperback
Source: Library

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake -- and her own. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts:  I made the mistake of reading this after March, so I compared it to that book rather than judging the book on its own merit.  But trying not to compare it to March, which is so difficult to do, it was a really well told story.  I got freaked out during the course of reading the book, so I can see kids being freaked out with the content.  I liked the interaction between the sisters and could identify with trying to get your bearings in a community you don't really know.  I can only imagine how difficult it is for a teenager to adjust to a new town.  Highly recommended.

Bottom line: A really sweet story of trying to adjust in a new community and would recommend it for middle grade readers who have enjoyed Raina's previous works.

Rating: 4/5

March: Book Two - John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

Title:  March: Book Two
Author: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
Pages: 192
Published: 2015
Genre: Graphic Novels, History
Edition: Paperback
Source: Library

After the success of the Nashville sit-in campaign, John Lewis is more committed than ever to changing the world through nonviolence - but as he and his fellow Freedom Riders board a bus into the vicious heart of the deep south, they will be tested like never before.

Faced with beatings, police brutality, imprisonment, arson, and even murder, the young activists of the movement struggle with internal conflicts as well. But their courage will attract the notice of powerful allies, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy... and once Lewis is elected chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, this 23-year-old will be thrust into the national spotlight, becoming one of the "Big Six" leaders of the civil rights movement and a central figure in the landmark 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I really liked this one as much as the first book in the series.  Liked how the authors incorporated the inauguration of Obama with past events.  While the book was fairly short, it felt longer due to the amount of information that was imparted to the reader.  Really get a front row to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.  Highly recommended.

Bottom line:  A really good sequel to the first book in the series. Would recommend the book to those that are interested in civil rights and some hope in a time in American history that seems less hopeful every day that passes.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Nest - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Title: The Nest
Author: Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Pages: 353
Published: 2016
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Paperback
Source: Personal

Description: Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I enjoyed this book. While the main characters were not the most likeable people in the world, they certainly did add a flair to the novel.  I enjoyed how you saw various points of view through out the book.

Bottom line: A nice enjoyable read.  Like the family dynamic between the siblings and even the non-sibling characters

Rating: 3.75/5

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dietland - Sarai Walker

Title: Dietland
Author: Sarai Walker
Pages: 272
Published: 2015
Genre: Contemporary
Edition: E-book
Source: Personal copy

The diet revolution is here. And it’s armed.

Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you’re fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse. With her job answering fan mail for a popular teen girls’ magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. Only then can her true life as a thin person finally begin.

Then, when a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum finds herself falling down a rabbit hole and into an underground community of women who live life on their own terms. There Plum agrees to a series of challenges that force her to deal with her past, her doubts, and the real costs of becoming “beautiful.” At the same time, a dangerous guerrilla group called “Jennifer” begins to terrorize a world that mistreats women, and as Plum grapples with her personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot. The consequences are explosive. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: At first I thought this would be an interesting read and it was an interesting read no doubt.  But as I read the book, I found the main character to be rather narcissistic at times and a bit immature.  And as the book wound on, I really didn't want to read it and just wanted to slap the main character silly.

Bottom Line:  I thought it was an okay read.  There were times I liked how the book was going but there were times that I really got mad at the main character and her behaviour.  If you are attracted to a sort of chick-lit book with a feminist bent.  Overall, it was okay and wouldn't recommend it for everybody.  Recommended.

Rating: 2.75/5

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

This is similar to another alphabet soup challenge I am involved with and it is pretty simple: read a book where the starting letter of the title corresponds with each letter of the alphabet, taking out A and The when you need to.

If you wish to join, there is more information here.

Alphabet Soup:
A -
B -
C -
D - Dietland by Sarai Walker
E -
F -
G - Ghosts by Rania Telgemeir
H -
I -
J -
K -
L -
M - March: Book Two by John Lewis
N - The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
O -
P -
Q -
R -
S -
T -
U -
V -
W -
X -
Y - You Will Not Have My Hate - Antoine Leiris
Z -
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