Saturday, June 24, 2017

Beneath a Scarlet Sky


It seems that I am on a WWII kick.  In the last year I have read two books about Germans during WWII, one about the French resistance and now this one about what was going on in Italy during WWII.  The plot in this book is about a young Italian boy who is living in Milan during WWII.  His parents send him to the mountains for safety.  Instead of safety he is drawn into helping Jewish families escape across the alps into Switzerland.  As far from safety as one can get.  Then he is brought back to Milan and his parents insist on his joining the ....well.....let me paste into this a review from Amazon:

An Amazon Charts Most Read and Most Sold book.
Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, USA Today bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.
Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.
In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.
Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.
Fans of All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

The very interesting thing about his being a spy in the book is that we see the war from both the perspective of the resistance and of the Nazis who are serving in Italy in this time period.  I recommend this book as an opportunity to get a feeling for what was happening in Italy during WWII.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Women in the Castle

I don't usually write ....hmmmm that is not true....often I make notes as I read.  But tonight the words caused me to rush to my computer to "get them down" for my memory!

As the women and children spend the night somewhat in hiding as the Russian troops were in their "yard".....

Marianne and Anya sit in the kitchen.....they are waiting for the Russians to come to the door to get the last of the Snapps .....when the knock at the door comes, the women answered it together.....

The horse is on the spit...the men leave with the liquor.  And as the women sat together in the dark, a weird peace descended on Marianne:

She had found a partner and for the moment this was enough.

At this point, there are only two women who have joined her in the castle:  Conny's wife and son and Anya and her two sons.  Conny's wife does not seem to be a partner.....but this woman who Marianne has rescued and did not know before seems to pull her weight.  She cooks....something that Marianne is not well versed in.  She add something to the group!

So I will add one of the reviews or blurbs so that the blog post makes sense:

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined.....
 Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

Olive Kitteredge

I usually put some sort of review into this space.  But none of the reviews that I read tonight captured the essence of this book for me....so no review.

When Olive goes to her son's house to meet her new daughter-in-law who has brought children with her into her new marriage and is now pregnant with Olive's grandchild, I thought to myself:  I DON'T like this woman!  I don't care what happens to her....I am through with the book!

But I turned the phone back on and finished the book.  And was not sorry.  The last scene when Olive decides to climb into bed with her new friend gives one hope that indeed Olive will continue to LIVE and give her new friend reason to live as well.  That is what life is about.  Not living the perfect life, but making one's imperfect life work.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Ocean at the End of the Lane



From a review:  
“Fantasy of the very best.” Wall Street Journal
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse where she once lived, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.



I read this book because it is the choice for book club this month.  I am not sure that I will be able to attend, but the book was a quick and easy read.....so why not?  I liked the book.  My thoughts as I read this book were:  hmmmmmm...Why do we read?  To be entertained?  To learn?  To have something to do while we knit?  There are a million reasons.  I believe that this book was all about being entertained and listening to a story while I knitted.  That is OK.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Rosie Effect


I didn't like this sequel to the Rosie Project quite as well as I liked the the Rosie Project.  But I don't finish books that I don't like....and I did finish it.  Don is so likable....Rosie is likable as well.  You can't help but hope that their marriage "makes it" in the long run....with a little help from their friends!

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Place Called Freedom

I was a bit slow reading this book.  I thought that the book was a bit silly.  Too many coincidences keeping the characters entwined and too many overly dramatic experiences.  But I did like the fact that the author used an excellent imagination to give the reader a feeling for so many things that are a part of our history.  Starting with the coal mining in the 1700s and the terrible conditions of the coal miners in the British Isles, he moves on to many, many other parts of everyday history:  London in the 1700s and the TERRIBLE plight of the poor as they struggled to make ends meet.  The people who were hung for small crimes and only if lucky enough to have someone of importance to plead for them were they lucky enough to be transported instead.  The terribleness of the ships that transported the prisoners.  The brutal fact of life if one was a black slave or a white person sold into slavery in Virginia.

I also enjoyed the explanation of a young couple moving towards the Cumberland Gap from Fredericksburg, Virginia in the era before the Revolutionary War.  And also the description of the Fredericksburg area in the time period.  Jay Jamison was probably not far from being what the real plantation owners were ......younger sons....and not necessarily good business men.  He lacked an interest in running his plantation himself and was very contented to leave the management to an overseer who was not necessarily a good and honest leader with lack of real understanding of the farming practices that led to a good plantation.  It was an interesting read.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wonder



The book club is reading Wonder this month.  I forgot.  At knitting today Mitzi said that she had finished the book and had liked it....I looked it up....I don't think that I'll read this one.....hmmmmm....Mitzi said she liked it.  That is what book clubs are about:  reading books you might not read otherwise.


I LOVE IT!  I LOVE IT!  I LOVE IT!

I am listening to it on audible and I think perhaps listening is the absolute best way to read this book!

The marriage of Mr. Tushman and Miss Butt.  Oh my gosh, how perfect is that!  Perhaps it is the sense of humor that both Augie and his dad have that saves all!

I asked a young girl on the plane last night if she had read it and she said yes....when she was in the 5th grade.  And she and I agreed that we liked the book a lot.  Her comment about it was that she liked the way much of the story was told from other character's perspective....just the comment that I made at book club!  Good read!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Books for Living



I did not like this book by Will Schwalbe as well as I did The End of Your Life Book Club.  Somehow I also did not get around to making a list of the books from his list that I might like to read.  I am not sure that I found the books he named as appealing as those in his first book.  But I did finish the book which I never do if I really don't like a book.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mary's link to an article on reading

Mary sent me a link to an article about adding more reading in one's life that she said reminded her of me

hey mom, this article made me think of you

http://lifehacker.com/how-i-tricked-myself-into-reading-more-books-1792775150

My comment back to Mary was:

No wonder it made you think of me!  It is ALL about me ……every part of it!  Well except perhaps the turning on the TV part…..I loved the article!  

I am putting it on my blog!  And interestingly enough, I don’t have a problem with trying to read too many books….but I just put into place the rule about not having more than three knitting projects going at any one time.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class through the author’s own story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town 
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of poor, white Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for over forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck. 
The Vance family story began with hope in postwar America. J.D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history. 
A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Underground Railroad



From the Barnes and Noble Site:

The National Book Award Winner and #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South



The book caught my attention because it is a Oprah choice.  And the book held my attention as it moves along quite well.  Some of the scenes that the author paints are hard to read....but I am squeamish and found that I didn't have to actually put the book down because of the content even though much of it was TERRIBLE!

I read/listened to the book via audible.  Don't get caught up in the impossibleness of the underground train system in the time period being explored.  It is a means to an end in the story....and it really does work.  Of course, there were not actual underground railways in that time period.  But there were conductors and people who risked their lives to help runaway slaves.

I liked the information found at this link:

http://www.npr.org/2016/08/08/489168232/colson-whiteheads-underground-railroad-is-a-literal-train-to-freedom

Dreamland



I lifted a review from the Audible site that sums the book up a bit and keeps me from having to take the time to write what has already been written:

There is an epidemic of narcotic abuse in this country. Dreamland tells the story of how this epidemic emerged. It follows an arc that begins with an enterprising region in Mexico that can produce heroin to the small towns across America that discovered a cheaper alternative to the prescribed narcotics like OxyContin. Narcotic abuse is rampant and prescribing habits may be contributing. Apart from the facts, this is a gripping the story.

The book is a bit long and repeats much of the material ....I found myself considering stopping in the middle and almost called a buddy to see if there was new "stuff" later on....but then I was caught up in the story again and was glad that I finished.  I would say that if Sam Quinones did as much excellent research in all of the places that he visited as he did in Portsmouth and Huntington, his research is beyond awesome.  When he talked about people and places that I know first hand, his information is right on!  I recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand addiction and the current epidemic of overdoses.  I read/listened to it via audible.



Sunday, January 22, 2017

Audible and light books

My book collection is so heavy on history and historical fiction that when it is time to choose a new book, it isn't always simple.  Audible sent an e-mail today with a list of light, entertaining books.  I didn't buy one, but I don't want to loose the list.  Access it in my inbox with search terms:  Easy on the Ears.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chosen by a Horse




Below is taken from blurb on website:  
The horse Susan Richards chose for rescue wouldn’t be corralled into her waiting trailer. Instead Lay Me Down, a former racehorse with a foal close on her heels, walked right up that ramp and into Susan’s life. This gentle creature―malnourished, plagued by pneumonia and an eye infection―had endured a rough road, but somehow her heart was still open and generous. It seemed fated that she would come into Susan’s paddock and teach her how to embrace the joys of life despite the dangers of living. 

This book came across audible on one of their buy one and get one free sales.  I probably wouldn't have bought it normally nor read it otherwise.  But having just finished The Rosie Project and being in the middle of Christmas craziness, I was looking for something a bit light.  Not the best book that I ever read.  But the lady had a story to tell, and the story was nice.  Listened to the book via audible.com