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review 2017-09-23 19:16
Last Christmas in Paris
Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I - Heather Webb,Hazel Gaynor

In 1969 Tom Harding makes a final trip to Paris for Christmas.   While he is there he re-reads all the letters sent between 1914 and 1918.  In 1914, Evie Elliot's brother, Will and best friend, Tom  leave for the Front.  Evie diligently writes to both of them. In their letters, the three divulge their greatest wishes, fears, and emotions.  Most of all, they all wish for the war to be over by Christmas so they may celebrate the holiday in Paris.  Little do they know how much the War will change all of them.  

An all at once heartwarming and heartbreaking story of love and loss during World War I.  Told almost entirely in letter exchanges between Evie and her loved ones, this book completely enveloped me as I devoured every word.  There was so much passion in the writing, especially the letters between Thomas and Evie, I felt as if these could be two real people.  I felt like I was immersed into their most intimate moments and my heart raced for when they would finally declare their love for one another.   Through the letters, I was able to see the impact of the war from all sides. Through Evie, I got a sense of how it felt to be left behind, the worry, dread and depression of fearing that your loved ones may not come home and the overwhelming urge to do something about it.  Through Tom, the gruesome depictions of the Front that the media wouldn't let anyone know of as well as the mental toll that war takes on the soldiers.  Also, through Evie's exchanges with her friend Alice, we learn of the many ways that women jumped in to help from delivering the mail, to nursing and driving ambulances to the Auxillary Corps and even writing newspaper articles.  What affected me most was Tom's re-reading of the letters and his opening of the final letter at the end.  Overall, a wonderfully written historical novel reminding me of the sacrifices made by our veterans. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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review 2017-09-23 03:20
THE WONDERS & PERILS OF BEING A 'NIGHT HAWK' IN WARTIME EUROPE
Enemy in the Dark: The Story of a Luftwaffe Night-fighter Pilot (Fortunes of War) - Peter Spoden

Here, in his own words, Peter Spoden, shares with the reader his experiences as a Luftwaffe night-fighter pilot with the Fifth & Sixth Night Fighter Wings (NJG 5 & NJG 6) in the West between the Spring of 1943 and the end of the war in May 1945. Spoden survived a number of close-calls in his battles against British bombers attacking the Reich and emerged from the war with 24 victories to his credit. 

"ENEMY IN THE DARK" is a sobering memoir of both the wonders and perils of wartime combat flying by night.

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review 2017-09-22 16:56
Girl at War Book Review
Girl at War: A Novel - Sara Nović

Wow this was powerful. I had to read this for a YA book training coming out and fount it an interesting book to choose for teens considering its not exactly YA. But it was so good. I was hooked from the beginning and really felt the emotions of the main character. 

 

Ana was ten years old when she witnessed her parents death in Crotia. Now she's an adult in America living under a different name with her adopted parents. A better life. But nobody really know's who she is or where she comes from. But the truth is about to come out. 

 

This packed a punch straight from the beginning. I don't know much about Crotia and their civil war. But I certainly gained perspective from this book. I'd recommend it easily. And I'm curious to what the teens at this event will feel about this book. 

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review 2017-09-20 15:56
Podcast #70 is up!
The General's Niece: The Little-Known de Gaulle Who Fought to Free Occupied France - Paige Bowers

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Paige Bowers about her new biography of Geneviève de Gaulle, who worked to help her uncle from inside occupied France. Enjoy!

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review 2017-09-19 22:37
Shadow of the Zeppelin - Bernard Ashley

Trigger warning: Attempted rape scene (once)

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The setting is World War I. We settle on two brothers caught up in the conflict - one of whom joins the war effort, the other of whom is too young to join the army and has his own problems at home. In addition, we also focus on one of the German soldiers manning the zeppelins during the Blitz! I really enjoyed that.

 

Well, what we have here are two brothers, Will and Freddie. Will is old enough to join the army but refuses to join (it is not yet compulsory), and his girlfriend Amy stands by his decision. It isn't until a bomb lands nearby and scars her face that he is spurred to join the war effort. 

 

We also focus on a German bomber called Ernst who, for the most part, isn't much different from the English soldiers. He follows orders, he has a wife waiting for him back home in Germany, and they've just had their first child. He constantly worries that his zeppelin will easily catch fire and go down in flames, much like they do. He is also responsible for the dropping of many bombs during the Blitz.

 

Freddie doesn't join the war, but he certainly has his fair share of troubles - especially when a bomb lands on his own house and he barely makes it out alive. I can't really go into that without spoiling it however.

 

There is an attempted rape scene in this book, however it was not described in detail thankfully and I thought it was dealt with appropriately.

 

I really enjoyed all these characters. Will, Freddie, their family, the rest of the army, Ernst as well...each of them was well-rounded and I would even say that Will is rather relatable. The Germans were not made out to be "evil" or anything like that.

 

I felt this book did a good job of describing the war, too - in bits and pieces, anyway. You get to see what the Blitz is like back home with Freddie. You get to see what it's like on the front lines with Will. You get to see what it's like for other soldiers to die. 

 

However, I'm not sure all of the content was there. I get that this is a YA book and so the violence and imagery is toned down a bit, but I don't think it shows all the true horrors of war. Will doesn't participate in more than a handful of skirmishes before he's removed from that part altogether (but there's a reason for that). I can't help but think that there could be more to that, but then again I understand that they already had a fair amount of detail going on.

 

I didn't find any serious flaws with this book, it fit the time period really well. The author really researched this properly - in the author's note at the back of the book, he makes several references to historical events during the time of the Blitz. Even the street names are preserved.

 

Overall, I liked this book very much. I wouldn't say it's amazing - it tugged at my heartstrings during one particular scene, but not that much. It could be better, really, but I found it to be very well-rounded and well-written in general. 3.5/5.

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