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Showing posts from April, 2015

(Review) Survival in the Shadows: Seven Jews Hidden in Hitler's Berlin by Barbara Lovenheim

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Publication Date: April 7, 2015.
Publisher: Open Road Media.
Genre: Holocaust; Berlin, Germany, World War II, history, memoir.
Pages: 240.
Source: Free ebook copy from Open Road Media, through NetGalley, in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.

Links @ Amazon.
Barnes and Noble. 

Summary:
The story began in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, Germany, December 1942. There were only 33,000 Jews left in Berlin. At one time there were 160,000 Jews in Berlin. Dr. Arthur Arndt, wife Lina, and children Erich and Ruth are fearful they will be taken to a concentration camp. Restrictions and laws for Jews have become tighter. A decision to hide (or be transported to a death camp) must be made.
A mother and daughter, Charlotte and Ellen Lewinsky make the decision to hide.
Bruno Gumpel, a school friend of Erich's also decides to hide.  The book describes the historical events in chronological order of the war and Holocaust. The emphasis of the book is on the seven people who hid…

(Review) Ravensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm

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Publication Date: March 31, 2015. First published in January 2014 under another title: If This is a Woman.
Publisher: Nan A. Talese.
Genre: Nonfiction, Holocaust, Germany, Nazi, World War II.
Pages: 768.
Source: Free copy from Netgalley and Nan A. Talese in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent.

Summary:
Ravensbruck was a concentration camp in northern Germany. It was located in a forest near a lake. The location seemed ideal, tranquil, and private. Ravensbruck was built in 1939 in order to house women imprisoned by Nazi Germany. The reasons for imprisonment were: political, social outcasts, Gypsies, Jews, mentally sick, handicapped, or any women who were considered an enemy of Nazi Germany.
The number of women murdered at Ravensbruck is a guess. Upwards of 90,000 women died at Ravensbruck. The files were burned in the last days of the war and a solid count is obscure.
Sarah Helm has written a chronological history of Ravensbruck, from the beginning plans of the camp, …

(Review) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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Publication Date: July 2, 1999. First published 1869.
Publisher: Modern Library.
Genre: Historical fiction, Napoleonic Wars, Russia, France.
Pages: 1424.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: 3 stars for good.

Translation by Constance Garnett
Introduction by A.N. Wilson

Amazon (Kindle copy is .99)
Modern Library

Leo Tolstoy 1828-1910.


I've heard of people who read War and Peace every year. I can't imagine reading this book every year. I'm glad I read the book, but don't plan to read it again.

Summary:
Sometimes a book summary can go on and on too much, especially in an epic book such as War and Peace. The following summary is going to be just the facts.
Several aristocratic Russian families make up the principal characters in War and Peace. 
The story moves back and forth between the Napoleonic War of the early 1800s and civilians living in Moscow.
The civilian parts of the book are filled with parties, soirees, love interests, marriage and children, marital difficulties, infi…

War and Peace Read-a-Long: Week Eleven

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Week 11 is over Books 14 and 15.

1) Do you think the book ended in a funny place or did it seem like a logical place for the story to end?
The story didn't really end because the author wrote two more parts in an epilogue. However, chapter fifteen ends with two women who had been through much in this story moving on with their lives. 

2) How do you see the characters five years on from now? Will everybody get a happy ever after? 
I don't know about happy ever after, but I do see them as moving on from the pain and suffering of war. I do not mean they will not carry with them the memories of what happened, nor miss loved ones who've died. But they move on with life. 

3) Do you think Tolstoy is a biased narrator? If so, in what way?
No I do not. 

4) Are you still enjoying this book or are you honestly just waiting for the damn thing to stop talking?
I finished reading the book on April 16. I'm ready to move on from this chunkster story. 


War and Peace Read-a-Long: Week Ten

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Week ten is over Book 13.

1)  The only bit of this week's war-themed escapades that I really took in was a small section where it got interesting and the Russians started getting ready to attack the French but then got confused because they couldn't find somebody or other so they did it the next day and botched it again because they went crazy and just started trying to beat on some French people.  Does anybody feel as though they're learning?
I did not know that the French had occupation of Moscow for a time. I know little about this period of history in regards to Russian history or Napoleon. I found it interesting. I also enjoyed reading Tolstoy's philosophical explanation of historians who have written on the war. 

2)  Clearly Tolstoy's not a Napoleon fan - as far as Tolstoy's concerned, he's lucky at best. Thoughts?
I would be shocked if Tolstoy had been a fan of Napoleon. 

3)  According to Shmoop, Pierre's only been in prison for four weeks.  And in f…

War and Peace Read-a-Long: Week Nine

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Week nine is over Book 12.

1)  With the multiple deaths, this week started to feel a little more like Tolstoy was starting to wrap up some of his characters' stories. How do you feel about the way Helene's death was dealt with compared to Andrew's?
In Helene's (Elena's) death, her circumstances were "talked around" and never in an honest telling of what had happened. She lived an unconventional life. She was described as an "ornament" and "charming." 
Andrey was a hero, an important part of War and Peace. Whereas Helene was just an "ornament" in the story. 

2)  I certainly wouldn't go so far as to call myself a Pierre fan but his experiences as a prisoner were quite moving. How do you think Pierre is going to fare as we approach the end of the novel?
Pierre's experience as a prisoner changed his life. His inward thought life, to his priorities, and future decisions. He becomes a changed person. 

3)  Now the competition'…

(Review) Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella

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Publication Date: April 1, 2015
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Formats: Available in eBook, Paperback
Reviewed Format: Paperback
ISBN-10: 1477821384
Genre: Historical Fiction Pages: 400 Source: Free copy from Amalia Carosella and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for a review.  Rating: 4 stars for very good. I was torn between giving it a 3 or 4.   
Summary:  Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods. A new take on …

War and Peace Read-a-Long: Week Eight

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Week eight is over book ten (chapters 31-39) and book eleven.



1) What's the first thing you're going to read when you've finished War & Peace?
I plan to finish reading Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. 

2) Do you think the Russians were right in abandoning Moscow or should they have stayed and fought?
I'm not sure what the right answer is, I was not there, I did not go through the fighting that the Russians had endured. This is a question that can be truly answered by those who were there.

3) What about Andrew/Andrey/Whoever? Do you think he's changed as a character?
Yes, he has changed as a character. One of my favorite points in a novel is characters who evolve because of the circumstances in life. To remain the same type of person/the same character, is to have wasted life. 


4) Let's talk dream casting. Which actor/actress would you envision playing Pierre and Natasha if they made a new film version of War & Peace?
I'm not very good at this sort of …

War and Peace Read-a-Along: Week Seven (Chapters 1-30)

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Week seven is over part ten (chapters 1-30) in the book.

1) We seem to have a lot more War and a lot less Peace this week. How are you finding it?
At times the war scenes are too much. War is a horrible thing. It is a long engagement that takes a toll on all of the people involved. However, to write about war, and to read about war, is not anywhere near like experiencing war firsthand. I believe the toll of war, its suffering and consequences is one of the things Tolstoy is trying to show us. 

2) Do you feel you've learned anything about Russia, the Napoleonic Wars or the French Revolution from reading this novel?
Yes, all of the above.
I was not aware of the serious emphasis of religion in Russia. What a significant change when the Revolution came 100 years after the time period of War and Peace?
I have had a difficult time understanding Napoleon's push to seize Europe. And why the French went a long with this aggressive action.

3) How reasonable do you think Princess Marya was over…

War and Peace Read-a-Long: Week Six

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I had gotten behind. As of today I'm caught up on reading but not in the questions.
I want to take the time to thank Booking In Heels for putting together the read-a-long of War and Peace, thanks so much!


Week six questions are over part nine of the book.

1.Honestly, by this point in the book (55% or so), do you think War and Peacecould have been shorter or did it need to be this long?
It is lengthy. I believe if the book had been shorter it might have drawn a larger reading audience, but it would not be an epic. Later in the story I began to understand at least one reason why the book is so long. It gave me a panoramic view of the consequences and aftermath of what war does to both soldiers and civilians. 
2.Do you feel there's been another change in tone? Why do you think Tolstoy keeps doing this? Do you like it?   One of the things I'm seeing in this part is Napoleon. His persona. His role as warrior chief. The obsessive push to conquer. 
The change in tone is attributed t…

War and Peace Read-a-long: Week Five

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Week five is over book/part eight. This is the midpoint of the book.
The questions for this week are:
1) Could the disastrous meeting between Marya and Natasha have gone any other way? Who was to blame?
Marya is sad in regards to her life situation. Her father is the dominant figure. She obeys her father. She wants to be married and is envious of Natasha. Marya is envious of Natasha's youth, as well as the admiration of Andrey. At times, Marya is prideful. She looks down on Natasha. On the other hand, Natasha is not a person who is steadfast or loyal. She is swept away by emotions and passions. She is immature. I don't know who was to blame, a bit of both of them.

2) Everyone seems to be secretly considering Marya for marriage at the moment. Do you think it will ever happen for her? Was Boris right to pick Julie?
I am thankful that I married for love and not money. I don't understand the focus of Boris on marrying a wealthy woman, to me this sets the wrong tone in a marriage…

(Review) The Lusitania Conspiracy by Ronald J. Walters

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Publication Date: April 28, 2015.
Publisher: Walters Media LLC.
Genre: Historical fiction, WWI, Lusitania, Nikola Tesla.
Pages: 240.
Source: Free ARC paperback copy from Media-Connect in exchange for a review.
Rating: 3 stars for good.

Link @ Amazon: The Lusitania Conspiracy. 

May 7, 2015, is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.

To read more information about Nikola Tesla's Death Ray Machine and biography information.
Further links on the RMS Lusitania.
The Lusitania Resource.
Wikipedia
Sinking of the Lusitania, About.com. 


Summary:
1915
Europe has been embroiled in a war for a year. America has not yet entered the first world war.
Nikola Tesla is a scientist and inventor living in America. He has invented a machine that could change the course of the war.
The RMS Lusitania set sail from New York and destined for Liverpool, England. On May 7, 1915, near the shores of Ireland, a torpedo hit the ship. The ship sank in 18 minutes. There were 1,200 people who died,…

(Review) Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner

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Author C.W. Gortner on Tour March 20-April 8, 2015 with Mademoiselle Chanel (historical fiction) Release date: March 17, 2015
at William-Morrow/HarperCollins 384 pages ISBN: 978-0062356406 Author’s website | Goodreads *** Free advanced reader copy provided by William Morrow in exchange for a review.
Summary:
For readers of “The Paris Wife” and “Z” comes this vivid novel full of drama, passion, tragedy, and beauty that stunningly imagines the life of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel—the ambitious, gifted laundrywoman’s daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and became one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century. Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to an orphanage after their mother’s death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood. Transforming herself into Coco—a seams…