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text 2017-03-28 23:59
The Diary of a Young Girl - B.M. Mooyaart,Eleanor Roosevelt,Anne Frank

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was written during the period of World War II. Anne Frank was a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl whose family fled their home to hide from the Nazis who were occupying nearby territories. Her family lived in an attic for years hiding from the Gestapo who would seize them if they were to be found. Eventually, their whereabouts were betrayed, but Anne’s diary was found in that attic where it has become a world classic in history. The book’s Lexile reading level is 1080L. This would definitely be a book read no earlier than about fifth grade. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book when I was growing up. It opened my eyes to the horrors of our world’s history, and it showed me so much more than a school textbook ever could. In my classroom, I would use this book to discuss historical events that occurred during World War II. Students would be assigned this book to read, and I would want them to complete a research project on this particular time period. Students could write an essay, create a Prezi presentation, or draw a picture book to explain events that occurred. They could complete this from different perspectives, such as that of an American soldier, a German soldier, or maybe a Jewish child or adult. I would really want my students to dive into the historical information from this time period so they could connect with the history that took place.

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review 2014-01-04 02:33
Gods of Gotham makes for a thrilling historical mystery
The Gods of Gotham (Timothy Wilde Mysteries #1) - Lyndsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham was an impulse audio read from my trusty library, and it was definitely worth the read. The narrator really took this book where it needed to go. His voices were subtly different for each character. He endows Timothy with the integral mix of hardened cynic and stubborn idealist which defines his persona. For Valentine, Timothy's jaded older brother, his tone is more sardonic and poised, what I would expect of a borderline shady rakish fellow such as Valentine. The narrator also does the voices of women well. He doesn't fall into the trap of endowing all women with a high falsetto, but instead their voices are higher than men and have the feminine softness expected of women, without each one sounding like a clone. Even the children's voices are well done. I would give the narrator five stars alone, although I am not committed to giving this whole book that rating.

Readers who have watched the television series Copper or the movie Gangs of New York will find this world familiar. Set in New York City in the mid-19th century when the influx of Irish into the country reached an epic high, the author doesn't hesitate to be real with the situation. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from historical documents of the time, including some horribly bigoted written statements against Catholics and particularly the poor Irish that came over in the wake of the Potato Famine in Ireland. It paints a very vivid picture of the realities of this time with all the depths of the ugliness of human nature on display.

There were more than a few wince-worthy moments, from the rampant racism against Irish and blacks (among other marginalized groups, even Jews), and not to mention the horrible bigotry towards Catholics. All these are crucial to the story, although Faye focuses more on the Irish-phobia and the racism against other groups is a realistic backdrop. One aspect that I found the most chilling was the casual acceptance of existence of child prostitution. This was just one of the many extant social ills of the time, but the idea is so abhorrent that it did make this read a little more difficult for me. I was grateful that Timothy in his own way takes a hard stance against this.

Some readers might find the portrayal of women in this novel quite jaundiced. I can't really point fingers in that area, since most of the characters have their share of stains on their soul. Having said that, I really did not like Mercy Underhill. Although I realize that Timothy is deeply in love with her, I hope he gets over her, because she does not deserve him, and not because of her failings but the callous way she treated him. I liked Mrs. Boehm and young Bird a lot. Their characters help to give texture to the story and to further define Timothy's own characterizations. Despite his cynicism, his deep sense of justice is shown in how he interacts with their characters in particular, but also in other ways.

It's obvious I really liked Timothy and with good reason. He's a good everyman hero. Imperfectly perfect as a lead for this book. I liked that he has a keen detective mind, but his reasons for having it have to do with his background as a bartender and his own hard life in New York City. He's very down-to-earth, but honorable at the same time. His conflicted relationship with his older brother is a very important aspect of this novel. Readers who enjoy the theme of familial relations (often troubled) will appreciate their relationship. There is a deep seed of bitterness between them that tarnishes many of their interactions, and I was glad the author took the time to delve into that, and the reasons turn out to be very crucial to the story. I rather liked Valentine, even though he has some very questionable morals and his behavior is quite debauched even at the best of times. Deep down I think he's a good man who truly loves his brother, despite his admittedly flawed moral compass.

Overall, Gods of Gotham is a gritty, atmospheric historical mystery/thriller that made for very good listening. From a stellar narrator in Steven Boyer, to well-crafted historical details, to characters that are far from one-dimensional, this has all the ingredients for a good read. Although not a five star book, it's definitely a four star read with my thumbs up to it and recommendation to readers who enjoy historical mysteries and thrillers. I will be picking up the sequel, Seven for a Secret very soon.

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review 2009-01-01 00:00
History Lesson for Girls
History Lesson for Girls - Aurelie Sheehan I'd been looking forward to reading this book for awhile, largely because of its setting. History Lesson for Girls takes place in Weston, Connecticut, during the 1975-76 school year, when Alison Glass and Kate Hamilton are in the eighth grade. Alison's family moved to Weston from Norwalk, just a couple of towns away, during the summer, for the schools. My family lived in Norwalk at that time, too; I was in the sixth grade during that year leading up to our nation's Bicentennial. Weston is one of the prosperous, historically-rich small towns that dot Fairfield County; Norwalk is a medium-sized city. Despite the similarities in locale and age, the lives of these characters are far different from mine at that time; they're more like a tamer version of The Ice Storm.

"History" factors in here in a couple of ways. The town of Weston is also about to celebrate its bicentennial, and the town is planning a jubilee; the eighth-grade history class has been assigned a year-long related project to go on display at the event. Personal and cultural history are more central to the story, though, as Alison looks back on that year as an adult.

It was a year during which Alison felt out of place, not just in the ways that many young teen girls do, but because of her new-girl-in-town status and because of the back brace that she can only take off when riding her horse. Kate has grown up in Weston and seems secure in her status, but she and Alison bond over their shared love of horses, and before long, they have one of those tightly-bonded youthful friendships that seems not to need anyone else. They do seem to need each other, though, since neither has a very reliable family. Alison's would-be bohemian parents are quietly unhappy, fragile, and worried about their daughter's medical condition. Kate's father has gotten rich off the 1970's absorption with self-actualization, self-improvement, and self, period (there's a reason that it's called the "Me Decade"), and the Hamilton home - where parents openly smoke pot and snort cocaine, the son has his own drug stash, and the kids come and go as they please - is chaotic and decadent.

All of this makes for an interesting, well-told story and a pretty fast read, but I think I may have been expecting something different, and I was ultimately disappointed. What I had hoped would sound and feel familiar to me really didn't - such are the dangers of nostalgia - and yet here really wasn't anything unexpected here. I generally like first-person narration, but at times it can be frustrating, since it (quite reasonably) means that other characters may not be as well-developed as the central one, and I would have liked some perspective from viewpoints other than Alison's.
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