Book Review of Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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Book Review of Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I have heard so much about this book. It has been recommended to me several times. I put it on hold at the library and didn’t receive it for a few months–that’s how popular it is. And now I can see why. From the very beginning of this book I felt like it was written for me. It spoke to me! Seriously. Weird. It’s kind of creepy that Greg McKeown, the author, knows me so well. Of course he doesn’t know me at all, but wow, I think he wrote this for me. I hope it helps you as much as it has already helped me! Please enjoy my book review of Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

 

Blurb:

“Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?

Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?

Are you often busy but not productive?

Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.

Essentialism is more than a time-management strategy or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter.

By forcing us to apply more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy—instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing—it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.”

My Book Review:

As I stated above, I have heard a lot about this book. It’s been recommended to me a few times, and I’ve heard about it on podcasts and from other people. Now that I’ve read it, I can see why it came so highly recommended. I’ve been converted to Essentialism for sure! It makes so much sense. The philosophy is truly life changing.

I’m a people pleaser and a rule follower. My husband is always getting on me because I can’t say no. I’ll take on whatever anyone asks of me, and then I get bogged down and stressed, and I don’t have enough time to do it all. Well, not anymore! This book has liberated me. It has given me permission to say no, and I’m going to use it! Honestly, it’s going to be hard. A lifetime of apparently bad habits will not be easy to change, but I am going to try really hard because I need to. For my family and me, this could be life changing.

The book is so well written. Greg McKeown has a way with words. It’s easy to read and understand, it flows well, and it is so inspiring. He makes it all seem so easy, so hopefully it will be. I love the formatting of this book. There are a few illustrations, and some pages are white on black. He uses really big fonts to highlight important points, and it’s eye catching.

The chapters are broken down into bite size pieces. Each chapter begins with a quote, which I love. Then he makes sure to state how an Essentialist would think in certain situations compared to how a Nonessentialist would think in the same situations. Ooops! I usually fit under the Nonessentialist way of thinking, but that is already changing. The writing is clear and concise and does a great job of illustrating his points.

As stated above, I got this book from the library, but I think I need to buy it because I want to highlight and bookmark almost the whole thing. I want to remember what he said because I know it’s going to take time to change my way of thinking. This is one of those rare books that I know I will want to reference time and time again. To be able to take back the control in my life will be amazing. What? I can choose? Seriously. How do we forget that we have agency? I love this book, and I highly recommend it. 

Content Rating GRating: G (It’s clean. There’s nothing inappropriate in it.)

Recommendation: 16+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2HPdcCM

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the seven habits of highly effective families by stephen r covey Does Change Have to be So Hard by Julie Donley, RN  The Compliment Quotient by Monica Strobel
 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

the nightingale by kristin hannah

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Book Review of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Although this story is sad, it is so inspiring. I can’t imagine living under the same circumstances that these people did. They were so strong, and brave in their own ways. I like to hope that I would have had the courage to do what they did. I first reviewed this book in December of 2016. It has been discussed quite a bit on social media lately, so I updated my review. I hope you enjoy this updated book review of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. 
 

Blurb:

 
“In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says good-bye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requistions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
 
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gaetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.
 
With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion, and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.”

 

My Book Review:

I loved this book! You should know by now that I enjoy reading WWII books, and have read many of them. This one is definitely close to the top of that list! This book is very well written. It flows well, it transitions easily, and you find that the characters are among your best friends. The characters are very well developed and realistic; so much so that you find yourself laughing when they do (although there’s not a whole lot of that in this book), crying when they do, and fearing for your life as they do.

The story can be a little slow in a few places, but overall it moves at the perfect pace and draws you into life in Carriveau. I definitely relate more to Vianne in this story. I’m a rule follower and tend to not take scary chances on things that may get me in trouble or put someone I love in danger. I wish I had more of Isabelle in me. For sure. Vianne may surprise you though! The story of Rachel and what happens to her and her family just breaks your heart, and the story of Von Richter will make your blood boil. Then a character such as Beck will come along, and make you feel a little better about the world.

My book group and I looked it up, and there was a route that people took, just like the one that the Nightingale took, which is interesting to note. I had heard a lot of good things about this book before I read it, and let me say it did not disappoint!! I highly recommend it.

There is language in this book, including at least one “f” word. There’s also some “intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. There is quite a bit of violence in this book. It is a war, so there is fighting and bombings, there are deaths of some of the characters, and a few of them are quite graphic and difficult to read.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. “Intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. Violence including war atrocities, murder, bombings, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2raSqGj

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
 
 
This review was first published on 12/5/16; updated on 4/30/18.
 

The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle

The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby Burle

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Book Review of The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle

Has there ever been a time in your life where things have not turned out as planned? You lose your job or your car breaks down on the side of the freeway? A loved one passes away unexpectedly or an illness affects a loved one? I think it happens to everyone at one time or another, and this book speaks to those moments. The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle is Shadow Mountain’s first women’s fiction novel, and I am thankful to them for allowing me to read and review it!

Blurb:

“Nina’s once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina’s mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, Is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina’s got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver’s on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be.”

 

My Book Review:

I think everyone understands hard times. Sometimes we bring the hard things upon us by our actions, and other times they just happen. How we deal with and handle those hard times is what defines us. Can we pick ourselves up, learn from the experience, and move forward? Or do we find ourselves stuck, looking backward? Do we push everyone away and try to handle it ourselves, or do we embrace the love and help of others? This book speaks to these moments.

Nina is a good main character. She has a good voice. She’s easy to relate to, realistic, and likable. When you read about her family it makes you feel like your family is not only normal, but great! I may have thought, “Oh, and I thought my family was bad at that…” a few times. Nina’s family definitely has issues. Each of them is complex and well developed.

Jack and Cassie also seem authentic and realistic. I loved Lola. She is Nina’s sister, an artist, and has dealt with some difficult things in her life. Nina’s brother Ray is a bit harder to relate to. There were times I really liked him and times that I didn’t like him at all. He has a good heart, but has a difficult time making good choices. I liked how these characters were not perfect. They each struggled with something, but were trying to overcome. The one character that I thought was a bit unrealistic was Oliver. I don’t know about that whole side story. It was a bit over-the-top for me; kind of silly and unbelievable.

What I liked about this story was that it shows how difficult life can be. We make choices every day, and sometimes those choices stick with us forever. We’re not perfect and we don’t always handle things correctly. Sometimes we make a bigger mess of things when we try to fix them. We allow our pride to get in the way of progress and growth. But that doesn’t mean that we’re stuck there forever. We can change, learn, grow, and move forward in our lives. I think it also speaks to acceptance and forgiveness of others.

I enjoyed this book a lot. Some books you finish and never think of again. That was not the case for me with this book. The characters and their stories stuck with me; I kept thinking about them and hoping for them long after I finished. I like the title and will probably use it to describe my last year; we definitely had a lemonade year last year. Here’s to hoping this year will be better!

 

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13+ (There’s no profanity and no violence. There isn’t any “intimacy,” except kissing, but the actual word is said a couple of times. And it is discussed. Some of the themes are geared more toward adults.) 

Age Recommendation: 18+

Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

To purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2H7WRJR

The Lemonade Year Blog Tour Image

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright Check Me Out by Becca Wilhite  The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright
 
 

Book Review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Book Review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

I love inspirational stories, and this one does not disappoint! Wow. The strength and determination of these men inspires me to do better, work harder, and dream bigger. If they can do the impossible, so can I! I hope you enjoy my book review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. 

Blurb:

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

My Book Review:

 
Wow! The 1936 Olympics have produced some of the best stories I have ever read! First was “Unbroken” about Louis Zampirini. He ran in the 1936 Olympics. That book was so good! Then there’s the story of Jessie Owens. I haven’t read a book about him, but I recently saw the movie “Race,” and Jessie’s story is fantastic too! And then there’s this book. Amazing. Seriously amazing. I loved it! The writing is very well done. It may be nonfiction, but it definitely reads like fiction. The descriptions are beautifully done, and the writing captivates you from the get-go.
 
Joe Rantz’ story is unbelievable! The circumstances he overcame in his life put him right up there with Louis Zampirini as one of the most inspirational people I’ve read about. Most people would give up and die rather than go through what he did. His so-called parents made me so angry. They are not fit to be called parents. The things they did to him were unconscionable. And yet he survived, and not only survived, but thrived. What an inspiration he is!!
 
The stories of the other men are also well told and captivating. I loved learning about George Pocock. He has such an interesting story. I never thought I’d enjoy learning about how to make a rowing boat, but he makes it seem so important and interesting. I enjoyed reading all the quotes by Pocock at the beginning of each chapter. This quote by Pocock really speaks to the difficulty of the sport:
 
“Rowing is perhaps the toughest of sports. Once the race starts, there are no time-outs, no substitutions. It calls upon the limits of human endurance. The coach must therefore impart the secrets of the special kind of endurance that comes from mind, heart, and body.”
I also enjoyed looking at the pictures in the book. I liked that they weren’t all bunched together in the middle, but they were spread here and there throughout the book. One thing I loved was how all these stories showed how trials make people stronger. Usually we just want our lives to be easy, right? Well, look at how strong these men became because their lives were not easy. I think attitudes are a little different now, and that’s unsettling. There seems to be a trend of if it’s not easy I won’t do it. We need more determination and hard work like these men had. I loved this book! I loved the writing, the characters, the story; I loved all of it. Five star ratings are unusual for me, but this one deserves it; I highly recommend this book!
 

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

 

Recommendation: 14 years-old and up.

Rated 5/5 (I don’t give many of those!!)

5 Star Book Review Rating

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the nightingale by kristin hannah The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This review was originally published on 3/21/16; updated on 3/8/18.

Book Review of Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden

Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden

Book Review of Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden

I love that this book takes place in Victorian England! It reminds me more of a Jane Austen or Bronté sister novel than the other proper romances have. The research that went into this book shows through, and I like that it’s historical fiction as well. I hope you enjoy my book review of Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden.

Blurb:

“The life of an impoverished schoolteacher is not one Evangeline Blake would have chosen for herself. Torn from her home and her beloved sister and sent to work in the gritty factory town of Smeatley, Evangeline must prove herself to her grandfather, a man who values self-reliance above all else, before he will grant her access to her inheritance. Raised to be a lady of refinement, she hasn’t any of the skills necessary to manage on her own nor does she have the first idea how to be a teacher. But failure means never being with her sister again.

Alone and overwhelmed, she turns to the one person in town who seems to know how she feels—Dermot McCormick, and Irish brick mason who is as far from home and as out of place as she is. Despite the difference in their classes and backgrounds, Evangeline and Dermot’s tentative friendship deepens and grows.  Her determination and compassion slowly earn her the faith and confidence of the skeptical residents of Smeatley, who become like the family she has lost.

But when a secret from her past comes to light, Evangeline faces an impossible choice: seize the opportunity to reclaim her former life and rejoin her sister or fight for the new life she has struggled to build for herself—a life that included Dermot.”

 

My Book Review:

If I could choose somewhere to travel back in time to, it would be Victorian England. I would love to see the homes with their beautiful gardens and the landscape with the moors. The dresses the women wore would also be at the top of my list. Of course, I’m sure in everyday reality it wasn’t as romantic as a Jane Austen or Emily Bronté book.  However, I would love to stay a week and try it out. Taking this into account, you may imagine my happiness when finding out that Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden takes place in Victorian England.

As soon as I saw the beautiful cover I couldn’t wait to read this book. Evangeline is not the easiest person to like at the beginning of the book. Neither is Dermot, actually. Or Aunt Barton. The beginning of the book is a bit depressing, and there are a bunch of grumpy characters. Evangeline’s mood is understandable, though. She finds herself dropped into some very difficult circumstances. I did enjoy seeing her transformation over the course of the book.

Dermot also comes across as grumpy and rash. At least he usually acts as a gentleman. I thought Ms. Eden did a great job with his Irish accent and personality. Ronan is my favorite character. What a sweetheart! I also loved the school children. Now, I may be biased because my passion (besides blogging, of course) is teaching kids to read. I loved all of that in the book. Evangeline may have used some unconventional methods, but doing what is best for the children is always the right move. The children’s accents and dialect were written so well; you can tell that Ms. Eden did her homework.

I have read all of Sarah M. Eden’s books, and Ashes on the Moor is my favorite! The moment when the title came into play was such a tender scene, and I loved how it fit. The story is predictable and there is lots of cheese, but isn’t that what makes a proper romance so good? I thought that it was well written, well researched, and well….a fun, entertaining read. Will it change the world? Nope, but it is perfect for a snowy afternoon or a warm beach.

 

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There’s no profanity, no “intimacy,” except some brief kissing, and there isn’t any violence.)

Age Recommendation: YA (12-18 years-old) and up

Rating: 4/54 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden  Longing for Home Hope Springs Book 2 by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
Ashes on the Moor blog tour

[Book Review] An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry

[Book Review] An Echo of Murder: A William Monk Novel by Anne Perry

One day last fall, this book just showed up in my mailbox. Best day ever, right? I’m assuming it came from the publisher, but I’m not sure? So, thank you to the mystery sender! I hope you enjoy my book review of An Echo of Murder: A William Monk Novel by Anne Perry. And feel free to send me books any time you want to!

Blurb:

“In this riveting new William Monk novel, Anne Perry delves into the diverse population of Victorian London, whose disparate communities force Monk to rethink his investigative techniques—lest he be caught in the crosshairs of violent bigotry.

In the course of his tenure with the Thames River Police, Commander Monk has yet to see a more gruesome crime scene: a Hungarian warehouse owner lies in the middle of his blood-sodden office, pierced through the chest with a bayonet and eerily surrounded by seventeen candles. Suspecting the murder may be rooted in ethnic prejudice, Monk turns to London’s Hungarian community in search of clues but finds his inquiries stymied by its wary citizens and a language he doesn’t speak. Only with the help of a local pharmacist acting as translator can Monk hope to penetrate this tightly knit enclave, even as more of its members fall victim to identical brutal murders. But whoever the killer, or killers, may be—a secret society practicing ritual sacrifice, a madman on a spree, a British native targeting foreigners—they are well hidden among the city’s ever-growing populace.

With the able assistance of his wife—former battlefield nurse Hester, who herself is dealing with a traumatized war veteran who may be tangled up in the murders—Monk must combat distrust, hostility, and threats from the very people he seeks to protect. But as the body count grows, stirring ever greater fear and anger among the Hungarian émigrés, resistance to the police also increases. Racing time and the rising tide of terror all around him, Monk must be even more relentless than the mysterious killer, or the echoes of malice and murder will resound through London’s streets like a clarion of doom.”

 

My Book Review:

I haven’t read a murder mystery in a long time, so I enjoyed this fun change of pace. As a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed delving back into Victorian London and learning about the Hungarian population there. Monk and his wife Hester seem like they’re very good for each other. It would be difficult to be a detective, especially when a murder is so gruesome. Consequently, having a good support system around you would be a necessity.

Along with the murder mystery comes the story of Crow and Will. Will is the adopted son of Monk and Hester, and he is one of my favorite characters. Will works as an apprentice for Crow, who is a doctor in a clinic. When they need a translator, Will finds Fitz, and he turns out to be quite helpful. I liked both Crow and Fitz as well. They work well together, and it’s fun to see Will learn and gain more responsibility.

At first, all the different characters confused me, but it didn’t take long to figure it out. I liked the writing style and thought it flowed well, was easy to read and understand, and did a good job of grabbing hold of your attention. Ms. Perry developed the characters very well. Although each has a hint of mystery with an uncertain past, I thought that added to the story. The title, An Echo of Murder, fits the story well. It doesn’t smack you in the face, but it doesn’t take a long time to figure out either.

I kept changing my mind about who I thought committed the murder, which is a sign of a good writer. There was a bit of a twist at the end, which made figuring it all out more difficult. I enjoyed this book a lot; it made me remember how much I enjoy reading mysteries.  

 

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13 + (There’s some profanity, and although there aren’t any “intimacy” scenes, there are a few innuendos and things are implied.  There is a little bit of violence, but the thing that warrants the higher rating is that the murder scenes are quite graphic and gruesome.)

Age Recommendation: 16 years-old and up

Rated 4/5 Stars

4 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten  The Last September by Nina de Gramont
 
 

12 Amazing World War 2 Books You Can’t Put Down

12 Amazing WWll Books You Can't Put Down

12 Amazing World War 2 Books

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

My 12 Favorite World War 2 Books

Here are my 12 favorite Wold War 2 Books. Some of them are nonfiction and some of them are fiction; I like both–I can’t help it!
(I didn’t put them in any particular order…Click on the Picture to Read My Review)
 
1. All The Light We Cannot See
by
Anthony Doerr
 
 
2. The Boys in the Boat
by
Daniel James Brown
 
 
3.  The Monuments Men
by
Robert M. Edsel
 
(Ok, this may not have been my favorite book, but the story of what these men did was amazing.)
 
 
4. The Book Thief
by
Markus Zusak
the book thief by markus zusak
 
5.  Unbroken
by
Laura Hillenbrand
 
6.  A Woman’s Place
by
Lynn Austin
 
7.  The Diary of Anne Frank
by
Anne Frank
 
(I have read this book several times, but not since I started my blog -gasp!- so I don’t have a review….I’ll need to get on that!)
 
 
8.  The Hiding Place
by
Corrie Ten Boom
 
 
9.  Man’s Search For Meaning
by
Viktor E. Frankl
 
(I have also read and loved this book, but I have not reviewed it….yet!)
 
 
10. When The Emperor Was Divine
by
Julie Otsuka
 
(I didn’t love this book, but it was VERY eye-opening.)
 
 
11.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
by
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
 
12.  The Nightingale
by
Kristin Hannah
the nightingale by kristin hannah
 
Each of these World War 2 books highlights a different aspect of World War 2. Some of them are fiction and some of them are nonfiction, but whether it is true or not, each brings a different piece of the war to light. There are people in internment camps, people trying to hide Jews in their homes, and a Japanese-American family inside an internment camp here in the United States. There is a story about what the women in the United States did at home during the war and how they helped the efforts, and there’s a story of how the war affected a little girl and her family in Germany.
 
I have laughed, cried, gotten angry, and learned so much as I have read these books. I hope they touch you as they have touched me.
 
Do you have any other favorite World War 2 books? Comment below, I’d love to read them!
Happy Reading!
~Monica 
 

This post was originally published on 3/31/16; updated on 2/15/18.

[Book Review] Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

[Book Review] Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

 Blurb:

“In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross Antarctica. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. When Endurance broke apart and sank, the expedition survived another five months camping on ice floes, followed by a perilous journey through stormy seas to remote and unvisited Elephant Island. In a dramatic climax to this amazing survival story, Shackleton and five others navigated 800 miles of treacherous open ocean in a 20-foot boat to fetch a rescue ship. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World vividly re-creates one of the most extraordinary adventure stories in history. Jennifer Armstrong narrates this unbelievable story with vigor, and eye for detail, and an appreciation of the marvelous leadership of Ernest Shackleton, who brought home every one of his men alive. With them survived a remarkable archive of photographs of the expedition, more than 40 of which are reported here.”
 

My Review:

I love this book! It is an amazing story! Seriously amazing, and I think it teaches wonderful lessons about hard work, determination, working together, and great leadership. It is so well written that it reads as fiction. I love the format with the pictures and the maps. I love to just look at the pictures because they capture the moment so well. I look up to Ernest Shackleton because of his great leadership ability. As you’re reading, you know that no one dies, but you can’t believe it!  These men go through so many trials and hardships, and not one of them dies. It is incredible! Ms. Armstrong did a great job with this book and I highly recommend it! I recommend it as a read-aloud and also as a personal read. This book is one of my all-time-favorite nonfiction reads!
 Content Rating PG+

Rating: PG+ (It is clean, but they do suffer through a lot of hardships, some of which are not pleasant to read.)

Age Recommendation: Fifth Grade and up. It is a great read-aloud for home or school, and is also a wonderful book for kids and adults alike to sit down and read. Parents may want to read it first just so they know if it is appropriate for their child.


Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

 
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown   1776 by David McCullough  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
 
 
 
*This post was first published on 8/8/12, and was updated on 1/10/18.

[Book Review] A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake

A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake
Photo Credit: Goodreads.com

A Tangled Mercy

by

Joy Jordan-Lake


Blurb:

“Told in alternating tales at once haunting and redemptive, A Tangled Mercy is a quintessentially American epic rooted in heartbreaking true events examining the harrowing depths of human brutality and betrayal, and our enduring hope for freedom and forgiveness. After the sudden death of her troubled mother, struggling Harvard grad student Kate Drayton walks out on her lecture–and her entire New England life. Haunted by unanswered questions and her own uncertain future, she flees to Charleston, South Carolina, the place where her parents met, convinced it holds the key to understanding her fractured family and saving her career in academia. Kate is determined to unearth groundbreaking information on a failed 1822 slave revolt–the subject of her mother’s own research. Nearly two centuries earlier, Tom Russell, a gifted blacksmith and slave, grappled with a terrible choice: arm the uprising spearheaded by members of the fiercely independent African Methodist Episcopal Church or keep his own neck out of the noose and protect the woman he loves. Kate attempts to discover what drove her mother’s dangerous obsession with Charleston’s tumultuous history are derailed by a horrific massacre in the very same landmark church. In the unimaginable aftermath, Kate discovers a family she never knew existed as the city unites with a powerful message of hope and forgiveness for the world.”

My Review:

The other day I was looking back at the list of books I have read this year. It’s not as long as it has been in years past, because my son has been sick for so long, but I have read some very good books. This book, however, is my favorite of the year. It’s so well written. The narrative transitions between 2015 and 1822, and it’s not hard to figure out where you are; it flows and transitions very well. Usually in books where it goes back and forth between the present and the past, I have a favorite. I like one better than the other one. In this book I loved both story lines! The descriptions in this book are amazing. I haven’t ever been to Charleston, but after reading this book I’d love to go there. I actually did “google” Charleston, though, and looked through pictures of the skyline. I can’t remember the last time I did that with a book. The city just came to life on the page, and I wanted to see it for myself. Each of the characters are developed so well. They are so realistic and lifelike, and you become a part of their lives as you read the story. Kate, Gabe, Dan, Scudder, Rose, Tom, Dinah, Emily, and Angelina become your good friends as you read. Many of the characters in the 1822 story line are real people, and it is so interesting to think of them and their lives. I love that real events are also woven into the book; both old events and very recent as well. The topics discussed in the novel are current and not without controversy. Ms. Jordan-Lake brings it up in way that provokes contemplation and a good soul-search. This book is intriguing and engaging; it will make you laugh and cry, and will make you take a good look at yourself and your beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions. I could not put this book down, and I highly recommend it!

Rating: PG 13+ (There is very little profanity and no “intimacy.” There is quite a bit of violence, though. A couple of scenes, especially, are very violent, graphic, and descriptive. Many people die, and it’s horrendous and very tragic. The scene that relates a more recent event is especially brutal and graphic to read.) 

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up, at least. (If the teenager is sensitive to violence then I would definitely wait. There is some value in having a teenager read it-it definitely gets you thinking about real life situations, and helps you think outside your box. I would not recommend it for anyone younger than 16. For sure.)


Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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[Book Review] Hum If You Don’t Know The Words by Bianca Marais

Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais
Photo Credit: Goodreads.com
Hum If You Don’t Know The Words
by
Bianca Marais

Blurb:
“Life under apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl growing up in a mining town in the 1970s Johannesburg. In a rural village, worlds apart, Beauty Mbali struggles to raise her children alone in the blacks-only Bantustan of the Transkei. Their lives are divided by the colors of their skin, and their paths should never have crossed…until the historic Soweto uprising, where government forces violently crush a protest by black students, igniting reprisals on both sides. Their worlds shatter in the aftermath when Robin’s parents are found dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing. After Robin is sent to live with her irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin, and, for the first time in her sheltered existence, Robin learns about life beyond the white, upper-class privilege she has always known, discovering in Beauty the love and support she desperately craves. While Beauty’s frantic search for her beloved activist daughter puts her in contact with whites and blacks secretly combatting apartheid, her growing responsibility and affection for Robin, whose loss mirrors her own, forces painful choices on them both. When it becomes clear that Beauty could be lost to Robin forever if Beauty’s daughter is found, Robin makes a risky decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery that brings to light the harsh truths and injustices of a society she thought she knew.”
My Review:
Growing up as a white girl in the United States hasn’t always been easy, and my parents, and now my husband and I, have worked very hard to get where we are. After reading this book, however, I realize that I’ve definitely lived a sheltered and fairly easy life. My eyes were opened while reading this book. I’ve learned about apartheid in school, but I had no idea that things like the Soweto uprising occurred. I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. The writing draws you in and captivates you. Ms. Marais’ descriptions and writing style are very well done. To be drawn into this time and place, and to be a part of such a difficult and harsh period in South Africa’s history, is surreal. The emotion seeps from the pages. Beauty is a difficult character to understand; she leaves her sons alone in order to go find her daughter. She thinks this journey will be a quick one. When it’s not, she doesn’t give up. Her sons are being taken care of by the community at home while she continues to search for her daughter. I love her determination and love for her child. Robin is just a child, but she and Beauty are bound together by the grief they share following the uprising. I had to keep reminding myself that Robin was just a child; she made some choices that, as an adult, made me scream at her through the pages. How could she be so selfish? Thankfully, she realizes her mistake and tries her best to fix it. The growth of both of these characters throughout the book is amazing to watch. It’s unthinkable the atrocities that occur around the world today, and those that have occurred in the past, and it’s when we step out of our own worlds, our own boxes, and truly see around us that we can begin to make things right. I loved that this book took me out of my comfort zone. I loved the lessons learned. This book is very well written. The characters come to life on the page, and you feel like you are there, living the story along with them. There are so many lessons to be learned in this book. We are all the same. We may look different, come from different places, speak different languages, have different experiences, but we are all the same. We just want to live, provide for our families, be loved, and be safe. Selfishness may seem ok when we rationalize it, but it can cause so much pain and heartbreak. Doing what we know is right, even when it is difficult. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it. 
Rating: PG-13+ (There is a little bit of profanity, but not much. There is no “intimacy,” but there is violence. The Soweto uprising was difficult to read because of how many children were killed or injured. There was a character beaten almost to death, and there was also some domestic violence.)
Recommendation: 16 years-old and up. This book is not appropriate for younger readers. 
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I have a free copy of this book to give away!
(All you need to do is “like” my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheReadathon/ 
then comment on this post (below) with your name and email address 
so I can contact you if you win.)