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review 2017-02-10 14:33
Wherein I discuss my totally rational fears + reminisce on blog beginnings
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania - Erik Larson

Today I'm going to tell you about Deep Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania aka reason #5022 why I will never go on a cruise. I have an odd fascination with shipwrecks but also a deep, crushing fear of them. I cannot deal with images of sunken ships, statues, or really anything submerged under the water and nestled at the bottom of the ocean floor (you can also substitute ocean with sea, lake, or deep pool). Here is also where I confess that I am woefully ignorant about World War I. I always struggle to remember who was fighting in the war and what it was really about (I think this is still being puzzled over in some places). As far as the Lusitania, the only thing I knew was that it was a large passenger ship that had sunk (filling me with terror like the sinking of the Titanic and the film Poseidon with Kurt Russell). So I went into this book pretty much as a blank slate and by 30 pages in I was already spouting facts about it to my coworkers (who may never go on a cruise either). Like with all of Larson's works, he focuses on a major topic while interweaving storylines that occur parallel to the main event. For example, this book is about the Lusitania and its final voyage but in order to put that into context Larson had to discuss WWI and President Woodrow Wilson's state of mind in regards to the neutrality of the United States in that war (Wilson was one passionate dude, ya'll.). So not only did I learn about the machinations of the leading world powers of the early 20th century (Germany, Great Britain, and the U.S.A.) but I also got a glimpse into President Wilson's personal life, learned how submarines operate, and discovered that people really liked to smoke in 1915.

 

PS As mentioned in other posts, I love reading the end notes of nonfiction books because there are always fantastic little tidbits there that just didn't fit in the overall narrative of the book. Dead Wake was no exception. It led me to The Lusitania Resource which is a website dedicated to uncovering all of the facts of the sinking of the ship including primary documents, articles concerning the controversy of its significance to WWI, and much more. I highly recommend you check it out if nothing else than to whet your appetite for Larson's book. (Yes, I know that it's insane for me to be obsessed with this site after referencing my very real fears of traveling on a cruise ship but I like to have all of my facts ready for those trying to change my mind. It's perfectly normal.)

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-01-27 13:54
The story of Winnie
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear - Lindsay Mattick,Sophie Blackall

Isn't it sad when a book comes out and people just seem to be completely unaware of 1. its existence and 2. its level of amazingness? Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick is one of those hidden gems. I've mentioned before that if a book doesn't circulate it's offered to another branch in the hope that it might do better in a different location. That's how this book landed in my hands (it was also on my TRL).  As the title suggests, this is the story of the bear named Winnie that spawned the Winnie-the-Pooh series by A.A. Milne. It's the heartwarming tale of a man who befriended a baby bear and their journeys together during the tumultuous times of WWI. It's also the story about how this same bear met a little boy who would eventually spur entire generations to hug their teddy bears just a little bit tighter. Additionally, the back of the book contains a really lovely surprise that I don't want to spoil for ya'll. :-) I think this would make a wonderful bedtime read-aloud. You could also encourage your child to read this book aloud to their teddy bear. (Then take lots of photos of it.) Believe it or not, this exercise will help to strengthen your child's confidence in reading aloud to others (or to themselves). As for me, I can't wait for the opportunity to read this one in a storytime. XD 9/10

 

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-01-23 04:20
The Queen's Accomplice (A Maggie Hope Mystery)- Susan Elia MacNeal
The Queen's Accomplice: A Maggie Hope Mystery - Susan Elia MacNeal

On the heels of millions of women world wide, coming together to protest the fact that women are still treated like some sort of inferior species of unknown descent, I picked up this novel. I adore Maggie Hope. She may be a little anachronistic at times but I'm will to let it slide. Partially because she's a redhead and us redheads have to stick together. Mainly I let it slide because of events like yesterday. A fictional Maggie Hope was fighting nearly 80 years ago to be given rights many women still don't have today. All I can think of is the various images of women carrying signs that read "It's 2017 and I can't believe I'm still protesting this shit." Hopefully I won't have to see pictures of my eldest daughter, ten years from now at the tender age of 18, wearing a va-jay-jay hat carrying the same sign. 

 

By the way, I thought this book was excellent. 

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text 2017-01-22 16:42
Reading progress update: I've read 20 out of 368 pages.
The Queen's Accomplice: A Maggie Hope Mystery - Susan Elia MacNeal

I'm 20 pages in and already Maggie Hope is standing up to her male superiors by demanding to know why women aren't treated the same as the men. After all, aren't the female British spies fighting for the same thing as the men? Are women dying for the country like men? It is complete coincidence that I picked up this book on the heels of yesterdays wondrous, global events. It's sad that even after everything, we are still fighting the same fight all these years later. 

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review 2016-11-06 18:52
Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff
Secrets of Nanreath Hall: A Novel - Alix Rickloff

I started reading this book during a busy month. Any other time, I would've devoured this wonderful tale of loss, chance, family secrets, and finding one's way home despite the obstacles. There are those books that one reads and it is just that - reading. Whilst the story may be somewhat entertaining, it ceases to draw you in and fails to connect oneself to place or protagonist. Just another book you quickly want to finish. Then, there's that lovely, lively book that finds its way to your hands and once you've lost yourself in its pages you never want to leave it behind. Secrets of Nanreath Hall is the latter and exactly why I love historical fiction. Set between alternating periods of WWI and WWII, two women struggle to define themselves within a distinguished family that has hidden their secrets well inside the walls of Nanreath Hall.

Another fabulous read of 2016. I fell in love with ALL of the characters, each one growing closer to my heart as the story gained momentum. While the plot is not altogether original, I never felt as if I'd read this before. The scenes of war are vivid and I could hear the engines of airplanes screaming across the British skies. I could sense the fear and feel the heartbreak when letters brought news of lost loved ones, another casualty of war that changed lives in an instant. I ached for the young soldiers dashing off to war, imagining himself a hero but returning as a broken weary veteran, a constant battle inside the war between remembering and forgetting. It felt as if I was at the train depot standing among the women who kissed their soldier's lips for the very last time. Nanreath Hall came to life and I could smell the salty sea air, picture the transformation of the once great home now being used as hospital for the wounded and dying. Yes! Strong characters lived and breathed between the pages and captured my imagination until the very end. Superbly written. Five shiny gold stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


"Doubt that the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love." - Shakespeare



*I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to William Morrow for sponsoring the giveaway and to Alix Rickloff for writing a story that I'll always remember.

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