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 19th Century Art Reviews

review: The Other Alcott

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper Abigail “May” Alcott, sister of Louisa May Alcott, is followed in this fictional biography which takes place in the 1870’s in Boston, London and Paris. May, whom Louisa had fictionalized as “Amy” in her Little Women series, had received negative reviews of her illustrations included in the books, and as such set out to improve her skills by taking classes for lady artists. When the opportunity arose, she set off for Europe to take advantage of the superior learning environment and instructors. Louisa continually called May home when she became exhausted with caring for their ailing mother. This rankled May, as she had finally begun making a living with her art and felt Louisa, who had the money for…

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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 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 Biography Georgia Local History Non-Fiction Reviews

review: Martha Berry: A Woman of Courageous Spirit and Bold Dreams

Martha Berry: A Woman of Courageous Spirit and Bold Dreams by Joyce Blackburn This young adult biography was first published in 1968 and reissued in 1986 with photos and an author’s postscript. Martha Berry was the founder of The Berry Schools (later called Berry College) in Rome, Georgia. She had an early interest in the “mountain people” at the foot of the Appalachian mountains in Northwest Georgia. She noticed they lacked any sort of schooling and she meant to change that. With the land that her father had passed on, she built first a boy’s school and later a girl’s school with the motto, “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” The students would work and learn at the same time. Though the school…

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Posted in Austen Reviews

review: Lost in Austen

Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster A note beforehand: although released a year previously, this book has nothing to do with the 2008 TV Mini Series titled Lost in Austen (of which I knew nothing about until I Googled for a book image.) Book Description: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young Austen heroine must be in want of a husband, and you are no exception. Your name: Elizabeth Bennet. Your mission: to marry both prudently and for love, avoiding family scandal. Equipped with only your sharp wit, natural good sense, and tolerable beauty, you must navigate your way through a variety of decisions that will determine your own romantic (and financial) fate. Ever wonder what…

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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 18th Century Children's Books Reviews

review: Mesmerized

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved the Mystery That Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno During the American Revolution, an elderly Benjamin Franklin is recruited to journey across the Atlantic Ocean to meet with the King and Queen of France to request funds for the war against their mutual enemy, the British. Ben, a world renowned inventor, arrives to find Paris feverishly seeking out a man called Dr. Mesmer, who was said to be able to cure all ills with a magic wand. After their state business is completed, King Louis asks Ben to discover whether this newfangled alternative to medicine is genuine or the work of a charlatan. Determined to assuage his own curiosity, Ben uses his “Scientific Method” to…

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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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