Posted in 20th Century Reviews WWII

movie vs book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Firsty, I’m not sure it needs to be noted, but there are spoilers here. If you’ve not watched the movie and wish it to be a surprise, you may want to move along. I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society several years ago, and recently was inspired to reread it when I saw a preview of the movie. You can read my review of the book here, which includes some background information on the authors. This is one my absolute favorite books, and I am satisfied with the movie–though it was changed up a little from the book. Below I have noted some of the changes. — Amelia is an antagonist. Instead of receiving many welcoming letters before leaving for Guernsey, Juliet…

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Posted in 20th Century Reviews WWII

review: Dear Mrs. Bird

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce The idea for this story stems from a fascinating subject–the content of women’s magazines from the WWII era. What topics were they covering and what was the tone during this time of hardship? In Dear Mrs. Bird, the protagonist, Emmaline Lake, is a young woman planning to become a war correspondent, or a journalist at the very least. It’s with much excitement that she accepts a job at what she thinks is a big newspaper, but in reality is its dying weekly women’s magazine, Woman’s Friend. Emmy’s heart sinks when she finds her new position is nothing more than typing copy for the Problems page, but as she begins to read the letters sent in by sometimes desperate young…

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Posted in 20th Century Reviews WWII

review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

In general I am not one to reread books–with the exception of audiobook versions. In this case, I was prompted to pick Guernsey up a second time because I caught the trailer for the new film and it intrigued me (I loved Lily James in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies). When I read this book some 8 years ago, I remember coming away from it so blown away that I couldn’t even pen a credible review–and I have recommended it heavily since. It tends to be my go-to literary gift, and the book I guide readers to when asked for great historical reads. One of the things I remember from my first experience is that the main author, Mary Ann Shaffer, sadly passed away before…

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Posted in 20th Century Giveaways

eBook giveaway: The Beginning by Urban Vyaas

This giveaway is for a Kindle eBook copy, and is open until June 30, 2018. Leave a comment to enter. The Beginning: A Multicultural Tale of Transformation by Urban Vyaas Book Description: On June 16, 1914, journalist Alec Bannon and his young wife, Millie Bloom, meet an Inuit called Piugaattoq (also known as Minik Wallace) at the Museum of Natural Science of New York where Minik’s father’s bones are on display. Minik hires the services of a Chinese tong and a Voodoo priest to assist him in revengefully replacing his father’s remains with those of the museum director’s deceased father. The Bannons, freshly accredited at New York, make a report about it and soon afterward they’re entangled in a web of intrigues that surrounds the…

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Posted in 20th Century America Guest Post

guest post: Terrence McCauley on the history behind The Fairfax Incident

I had several reasons for setting THE FAIRFAX INCIDENT in 1933 New York City. The first reason is that I love history in general and New York City history in particular. The thousands of tourists who visit my hometown every year might be shocked to hear that New York doesn’t have much of a history when compared to other world centers, but it’s true. Much of our history is relatively new, from the 1770s at the earliest, whereas London, Paris and Rome have histories that go back a thousand years, maybe more. Very little, if anything, remains of the original Dutch settlers who called New Amsterdam their home. The windmills are gone, so are the tracts of land they farmed and the malaria-filled swamp of…

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Posted in 20th Century America Depression Era Reviews

review: Bonnie & Clyde : Dam Nation

Bonnie & Clyde: Dam Nation Book 2 by Clark Hays & Kathleen McFall In this second installment of Hays & McFall’s Bonnie & Clyde series, the dynamic duo find themselves in Boulder City, Nevada at the site of the Hoover Dam (then styled Boulder Dam), with orders from the ever persistent government official, Sal, to discover the source of apparent sabotage to the enormous structure. The budding labor union, foreign anarchists, supposed communists, and the Las Vegas-based mob are all on the long list of suspects, and in order to ingratiate themselves into the inner workings of the community, “Clarence” and “Brenda” must do the unthinkable: hold down good, honest jobs as a cover for their spy ring. Meanwhile, Bonnie Parker’s parallel story in 1984…

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Posted in 20th Century America Post WWII Reviews

review: While You Were Mine

While You Were Mine by Ann Howard Creel This story opens upon the protagonist, nurse Gwen Mullen, finding herself the subject of the famous LIFE magazine image that is so well known–the V-J Day sailor kiss–although this inclusion has little to do with the storyline, other than setting the tone and some other small details later. Gwen lives with a roommate, Alice, and had been helping her care for her newborn daughter for 6 weeks. Alice, suffering from what we now call postpartum depression, inexplicably packs her things and disappears, leaving the baby with Gwen. Baby Mary’s father was believed to be either missing in action or killed in the war, and with no information on other family members, Gwen had to make the choice…

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Posted in 20th Century America Classics Reviews

review: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath Esther Greenwood is a promising, young college student from Boston who had been given the chance to gain real world experience and connections at a month-long literary program in New York City. Somewhere along the way she began to lose pieces of herself, and once she returned home her reality quickly unraveled. She started looking for ways to commit suicide, and ended up in a series of mental facilities. Her unnerving (though curiously intelligible) thought processes are succinctly described, with memories plucked from here and there and mingled with her ravings. For me, Esther is not much of a relatable character, or even a likable one, but she serves her purpose in bringing to light the world of mental…

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Posted in 19th Century 20th Century America

guest post: John Nuckel on a Chance Meeting with Teddy Wilson

One of the most important events in American music happened at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1938. There was a Benny Goodman concert that night. It actually was radical to have Goodman there at all playing his brand of swing music on the stage of such a prestigious venue. The seminal moment came when he brought out his quartet to play Sing Sing Sing with a Swing. The quartet that evening was Harry James on the trumpet, the great Gene Krupa on drums, and Goodman of course, on clarinet. The fourth member was Teddy Wilson on piano. Teddy Wilson, an African American center stage at Carnegie Hall nine years before Jackie Robinson walked onto the diamond at Ebbet’s Field. Not only did Goodman have the…

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Posted in 20th Century Children's Books Non-Fiction Reviews

review: The Secret Kingdom

The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art by Barb Rosenstock, Illustrated by Claire A. Nivola This story follows a boy named Nek Chand as he grows up in the village of Barian Kalan in the Punjab region of what is now Pakistan. He had an ideal childhood, learning his people’s history and legends through the work and festivities of every season. When the Hindu people were expelled from the land, they traveled to India, where a disenchanted Nek hated the drab industrial landscape. Feeling nostalgic for his childhood dreams, he began building his own secret kingdom in the jungle outskirts. Years pass, and when his project is discovered, both the government and the people weigh in on the…

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Posted in 20th Century Author Guest Post WWII

guest post & giveaway: The Circumstantial Enemy: The Truth Behind the Fiction

Please welcome author John R. Bell today with a guest post about his WWII novel, The Circumstantial Enemy, and one copy of the book up for grabs! “If you don’t write it, Grandad’s story will be lost forever,” My daughter said. I’ll never forget the yearning in her eyes. That was 17 years ago. Grandad was 80 at the time. He’s now 97. The family had heard his war stories over and over again. Fascinating tales of trials and tribulations. As a young Yugoslav air force pilot, he was coerced onto the wrong side of WWII with the German invasion of 1941. They dispatched him to the Russian front – from there to surveillance over the Adriatic Sea where he would parachute into the frigid…

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Posted in 20th Century Reviews

review: The Woman on the Orient Express

The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford Favorite Quote: “For the train, like life, must go on until it reaches its destination. You might not always like what you see out of the window, but if you pull down the blind, you will miss the beauty as well as the ugliness.” A fictionalized account of author Agatha Christie’s journey to Baghdad and the archaeological dig site at Ur in the late 1920’s, this novel reimagines her relationships with her friend, Katherine Woolley, and her future husband, Max Mallowan, as well as mixing a few invented characters into the narrative. Agatha, still reeling from her first husband’s infidelity and abandonment, decided a change of scenery would put her mind at ease and spark…

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