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review 2020-02-18 15:56
Resistance Women
Resistance Women - Jennifer Chiaverini

Mildred Harnack, Sara Weitz, Greta Kuckoff and Martha Dodd all come from different backgrounds.  Mildred is a doctoral student from Wisconsin and married to Arvid, a German. Sara is a literary student and Jewish. Greta is an aspiring author who loves theatre and Martha is the daughter of the US Ambassador to Germany.  These four women are living in 1930's Germany as Hitler rises to power and witness first hand the terror, hatred, destruction and lies that spreads throughout the country.  The women find each other and vow to resist the Reich in any way they can.  Mildred continues teaching, helping her students think for themselves as well as passing on information to Martha at the US Embassy.  Martha's vivacious nature helps her to make many friends around the Embassy that talk to her about their parents work.  Greta translates works so that other countries can read about Hitler's terrifying words.  Sara passes out flyer and posts stickers all over Berlin.  All of the women know the price they will pay if caught, and all are willing to risk it for their futures.

History has a way of forgetting the women who have had an impact.  Mildred Harnack, Martha Dodd and Greta Kuckoff were all real women that were part of the resistance network dubbed the Rote Kapelle.  From the opening where Mildred is imprisoned and still fighting, I knew I was going to love these characters.  The writing flows between each of the four characters point of views beginning in 1929 and ending in 1946.  This gives a full perspective of where each character came from before the war as well as how Hitler's ideologies were able to slowly infiltrate, take over and become the norm for Germany.  This also highlights how aware and free thinking that each woman had to be in order to not be swept up the ideals. Each woman's resistance ranges from small acts of passing along lists or putting up stickers to full out defiance of passing along coded radio messages and making sure written works make it to other countries.  Throughout everything that happened, Mildred, Sara, Greta and Martha never wavered in the convictions. Chiaverini's writing dives deep into their individual thoughts and feelings to let the women's power shine through.  Inspiring and thoughtful, Resistance Women  is a story of women from our past that will resonate with many people today.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review 2020-01-02 05:27
Star Wars: Spark of the Resistance
Spark of the Resistance - Justina Ireland

This is probably the most middle grade of all the MG Star Wars novels I’ve read to date. It’s cute, it’s fun, all the blasters are set to stun (hey, that rhymed!), but the teeth of the larger, more deadly Minfarian fauna are most definitely NOT set to stun, so there’s still a respectable body count. (RIP, dozens of nameless Stormtoopers.)


It was fun to see Rey and Poe butting heads a bit, and I’m always up for more porg content. Also, this book has about 9000% more Rose Tico than The Rise of Skywalker (the movie, not the book, which isn’t out at the time of this review), which I consider a huge benefit. Since the movies are consistently dropping the ball with their most interesting female characters, I appreciate that there are books like this to help pick up the slack.


I feel only slightly let down that the author promising murder bunnies in some of her book promo didn’t net any actual murders committed by bunnies, but this is a middle grade novel and I have to keep things in perspective. So what Disney needs to do is let Ireland write a more adult SW novel so she can REALLY deliver on the murder bunnies. That’s my takeaway. ;)

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review 2019-12-31 17:12
Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II - Robert Matzen
Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II - Robert Matzen

Biographies are not usually my thing, and biographies of celebrities even less so. Most peoples lives are terribly interesting, and the risk of learning something truly off-putting is high. So for the most part I'm a enjoy their art or athleticism or moment in history and move on, unknowing.
Like much of humanity who's seen her movies, I like Audrey Hepburn: so lovely, so stylish, willing to use her fame and popularity on behalf of the world's most desperate children. But I knew pretty much nothing about her life. Until recently I didn't know she was from the Kingdom of the Netherlands or that she had been associated with the Resistance during the war. Audrey Hepburn: Girl Spy sounds great but it rather overstates the case. Matzen doesn't oversell it. He's quite clear that she spent most of the war shy, lonely, and only interested in dance.
What her wartime experiences illustrate isn't tales of great daring and glamour, but the quiet day to day heroism of people under occupation, trying to carry on with their lives despite deprivations and ever-present danger.
There are interesting similarities between this and A Castle in Wartime. The Nazis were keen on holding hostages. Hepburn's family was not rich, but her mother was a Baroness and a fool. She was very keen on fascism and Nazis and Hitler's great charm right up until the Netherlands were invaded and people she cared for started dying. Hepburn's mother had rather a bad time of it after liberation when her earlier warmth to the occupiers was closely examined. While it is morally important to prosecute war criminals I'm not sure that it is any sort of deterrent and certainly shaming women for attention received from the occupiers is just mean and vindictive.
War is hell. It is particularly hell for the women and children starving and freezing in bombed-out cities like Arnhem or Aleppo. It's not surprising the Hepburn would become an ambassador for children for UNICEF. She never forgot what she had lived through and what it meant to her to receive aid at a most desperate time. In her honor I am donating to UNICEF today on behalf of all the children who have been refused a home or help when they needed it to survive. Donations made today will be tripled.

Library copy

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review 2019-12-25 21:31
The Resistance, Animorphs #47
The Resistance (Animorphs, No. 47) - K.A. Applegate

Merry Christmas Everyone!


Ken Burns was the ghost writer of this installment.


Jake must pause his leadership of the Animorphs one morning when his mother orders him to clean out the basement. So far, so good. However, things go sideways when he discovers the box left for him by his great grandfather. It contains a Union uniform from the Civil War and several other items, including a journal. The book, swear to God, alternates between Jake and some distant relative in the past. The Animorphs are dealing with some serious stuff, planning a way to keep the Hork-Bajir in their new home, or at least alive and free, and we have to sit through some nonsense about the American Civil War?


We didn't need this.




Next: 'The Ellimist Chronicles'


Previous: 'The Deception'

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review 2019-12-01 23:02
A Castle in Wartime - Catherine Bailey
A Castle in Wartime - Catherine Bailey

This is how highly I think of Catherine Bailey's work: she has a new book, I place an order, I receive it, I start reading it. Why no, I hadn't even noticed the subtitle until I pulled the book up here to mark it Currently Reading.
Doesn't matter. It's going to be fascinating.


And it was. I hate the title though. Not that I have a better suggestion.

The topic is right in my wheelhouse: women in wartime. In this case, a young woman, daughter of the German ambassador to Italy during WWII. She met and married an Italian nobleman, bore two sons, and tried to hold the estate, its farm, and the surrounding community safe against the Germans. Meanwhile her father and her husband are both off, fighting against their respective country's fascist leaders.

The Gestapo come for her, taking her and the boys to Austria, where they are taken from her and she is sent through a succession of concentration camps.

Italy isn't a country whose history I know very well, and although I've read a fair amount about WWII none of it was ever about the resistance within Germany to the Nazis and their atrocities. You know how in time travel stories everyone's first thought seems to be "Let's kill Hitler?" There couldn't have been many more attempts on his life if all those stories were true. I had no idea.

It is heartening to know that so many within these countries were resisting, often at enormous personal and familial cost. There are those who think blaming some poorly-treated minority for the ills of their society, rather than, say, the actual people who are running the government and controlling the capital. But there are also the others who despise aggression and are appalled by violence. I need to hear more of those stories.

Side bar: it is not a "brothel" full of "prostitutes" in the concentration camps. Rape as an act of war isn't any less horrific for being indoors and controlled by military authorities.

Library copy

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