Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lies Told In Silence by M.K. Tod, plus a giveaway

http://francebooktours.com
Publisher: Tod Publishing, July 2014.
Genre: Historical Fiction, France, France Book Tours, World War I.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 367.
Rating: 4 Stars for Very Good.
Source: Free copy from M.K. Tod, and France Book Tours, in exchange for a review. All reviews expressed are of my own opinions and feelings. 


About The Author:
M.K. Tod writes historical fiction featuring WWI and WWII.
Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED, was selected as Indie Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society.
In addition to her writing, Mary maintains the blog www.awriterofhistory.com  where she talks about reading and writing historical fiction.
She has also conducted two well-regarded historical fiction reader surveys, and in her spare time reviews books for the Historical Novel Society.
M.K. Tod is delighted to hear from readers at mktod at bell dot net.
Author's websiteGoodreads, Facebook, Twitter. 

Summary:
In May 1914, Helene Noisette’s father believes war is imminent. Convinced Germany will head straight for Paris, he sends his wife, daughter, mother and younger son to Beaufort, a small village in northern France. But when war erupts a few months later, the German army invades neutral Belgium with the intent of sweeping south towards Paris. And by the end of September, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front.
During the years that follow, with the rumbling of guns ever present in the distance, three generations of women come together to cope with deprivation, constant fear and the dreadful impacts of war. In 1917, Helene falls in love with a young Canadian soldier who was wounded in the battle of Vimy Ridge.
But war has a way of separating lovers and families, of twisting promises and dashing hopes, and of turning the naïve and innocent into the jaded and war-weary. As the months pass, Helene is forced to reconcile dreams for the future with harsh reality.
Lies Told in Silence examines love and loss, duty and sacrifice, and the unexpected consequences of lies. [provided by the author]

My Thoughts:
Until a couple of years ago and before I took part in the War Through The Generations Challenge/WWI, I was ignorant of World War I. Since this time I have read several books, and I'm always on the look-out to read more books, as well as watch documentaries on television pertaining to this war. My paternal grandfather was in WWI. He arrived in France in 1918. I do not know any stories about his mark history. I was eight months old when he died. He had not shared stories with other family members. It is a loss, a tragic loss when family history is not passed down for future generations. 
Lies Told In Silence, gave me a solid view of how a French civilian lived during World War I. At times the story is from the voice of Helene, at other times her father or mother or grandmother takes over as the main voice. This gave a panoramic view of the war and of the story itself. Each character had a contribution from their feelings, losses, individual response to a war, previous memories of living through another war, and naivete at never having witnessed a war. 
Sacrifice is shown in Lies Told In Silence. When the book begins the rumblings of war has begun. Helene's father is on edge because he knows war is coming, but does not know when or where or how long it will last. He is terrified for the safety of his family. A loving father places his family's safety first. He makes sacrifices for the sake of his family. Even though his decisions were unpopular, the decisions were made out of love. The sacrifices of the men who fought for their country are shown, from distant and yet descriptive scenes of battle, to intimate personal experiences, for example, Helene's older brother, friends, and a lover.  
I became invested in the story in the first few pages. Their welfare and future kept me reading till the last page. 
I was disappointed in that I'd figured out how the story traveled and ended. I did not like the ending. 
I understood why the ending decisions were made, but I did not like it. 
Helene had been a smart and reasonable girl who had kept her logical mind. Her character had a transformation which was not a benefit and it had lasting consequences. 

Tour Information: 

Monday, September 15
Review Interview + Giveaway at Caffeinatedlife.net
Tuesday, September 16
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at Book Nerd
Wednesday, September 17
Review + Giveaway at Making My Mark
Thursday, September 18
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Friday, September 19
Review + Giveaway at Readerly Musings
Review + Giveaway at The Bookish Owl
Saturday, September 20
Review + Giveaway at The Fictional 100
Monday, September 22
Review + Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, September 23
Review + Giveaway at Impressions in Ink
Wednesday, September 24
Review at The French Village Diaries

To enter the giveaway click on the title of book: Lies Told in Silence. 
Nine winners will be chosen to receive either a epub or mobi/Kindle ebook. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

St. Bartholomew's Man by Mary Delorme, editor Jon Delorme

Publisher: Jon Delorme, July 18, 2011, first edition.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medieval England.
Format: pdf and read on my Kindle.
Pages: 285.
Rating: 4 Stars for Very Good.
Source: Free copy from Jon Delorme in exchange for a review. All reviews expressed are from my own opinion.

St. Bartholomew's Man on Kindle through Amazon. The price is $2.99.

St. Bartholomew's Man on Wordpress. 
and follow the author on Facebook,
and on Goodreads. 

To read another review: @ Booksplease.

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem: Rahere "The Wish House". 

To read more information on Rahere: Rahere, the Founder of St. Bartholomew's Hospital.


Rahere, other known spellings are Raher or Raherius. Lived during the age of King Henry I of England. Rahere's birth is unknown, his death was in 1144. He is buried in St. Bartholomew's Priory which he established along with the hospital in 1123. He had been a minstrel in Henry's court. A minstrel is defined as an entertainer. Minstrels were common in royal court from 11th through 17th centuries. There are few (solid) resources in which to find biography information on Rahere. One in particular has been destroyed. I came across a poem by Rudyard Kipling which is noted above.

Summary:
Rahere an orphan, was raised in a monastery. He sang in the boy's choir. The monks lovingly cared for him, and his years there were spent in comfort and peace. At an early age Rahere shows compassion and a servant's heart. He later leaves the monastery and begins training as a minstrel in King William Rufus's court. William Rufus (1056-1100) was the son of William I, the Conqueror. Rahere was imprisoned and abused for a period of time, and later released. He had wanted to build great things to help people. St. Bartholomew's Man, focuses on Rahere's vision, plan, and act, of building St. Bartholomew's Priory and Hospital, the first hospital in London.

My Thoughts:
I loved this story. Rahere's loving heart is depicted throughout the story. His character qualities are shown as: gentle, kind, sensitive, and merciful. When other people wronged Rahere, he is not vengeful, but perseveres in a higher calling. He is a character which exudes Christ-like love.
The rulers of William Rufus, Henry I, Stephen, and Matilda the daughter of Henry I, are all depicted.
Matilda's quest and struggle to rule is weaved in to the story. This period of English rule was one of insecurity. However, Stephen's rule was relatively peaceful, but he spent money lavishly.
I loved reading about life in a monastery. Their haven was a city of its own. They had a garden and a kitchen. They helped the poor and sick. Holiday celebrations were warm and joyous.
St. Bartholomew's Man has given me another interpretation of life during the 11th century. I've read several books on kings, queens, and royal court officials, but this is a first in reading about a minstrel, and builder of a hospital.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Scottish Cockney by Jack Ransom

Publisher: Olympia, March 27, 2014.
Genre: Memoir, Autobiography, World War II, Prisoner of War.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 240.
Rating: 4 Stars.
Source: Free copy from Olympia Publishers in exchange for a review. All reviews expressed are from my own feelings and opinions.

Available @ Amazon. 

A silent, short film of the Burma Railway.


There are several very good documentaries on the history of the prisoners that built the Burma Railway, the war camps, and survivor stories.

The video lasts almost 1 hour but gives the full spectrum of the story, including the gravity of the situation for the prisoners.


Summary:
The Scottish Cockney is the memoir of Jack Ransom. From childhood and youth, through to his years spent during World War II as a Prisoner of War, his marriages, a visit back to Burma. Jack Ransom, reflects on his life through the pages of The Scottish Cockney.

My Thoughts:
Although the book is all of Ransom's life thus far, the aspect of the book which led me to give a 4 star review is his memories as a Prisoner of War. History through his lens gave me a lesson in the atrocities of what the Prisoners of War lived through during the Burma Railway. This is the first book I have read on this history.
I've read a few books on the Pacific War. I've read an excellent book by Darlene Deibler Rose about her experience as a Prisoner of War on the island of New Guinea. The book is titled Evidence Not Seen.
I feel that Ransom's writing of the war years should be lengthier. The memory of this period of his life must be difficult to reminisce, but I feel history shared is important. As is often the case a Prisoner of War does not talk about his experience, not even to family. After returning home they begin a new life, and try and not think about nor talk about what happened. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which includes flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares, follow them through the years.

More books on this period in history:
The Forgotten Highlander by Alistair Urquhart
Railway Man by Eric Lomax
Prisoner of Japan by Harold Atcherley


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Emily Dickinson's God: The Divine Image in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson by John DelliCarpini, Ph.D

Publisher: Olympia, January 1, 2014.
Genre: Non-fiction, Emily Dickinson's view on God.
Format: Paperback
Pages: 143
Rating: 3 Stars for Good.
Source: Free copy from Olympia Publishers in exchange for a review. All reviews expressed are from my own feelings and opinions.

Further information on Emily Dickinson can be found @
Poetry Foundation
Bartleby


Book is available @ Amazon. Not on Kindle.

Summary: 
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson died at age fifty-five in 1886. She never married. She lived in Amherst, Massachusetts. She'd been born into an intellectual family. She had an education at Amherst Academy, and Mt. Holyoke Female Seminary. A small number of Dickinson's poems were published in her life. After her death, her poems became known and praised for their unique style and themes. 
Emily Dickinson's God, explores her life and poetry, especially in regards to her struggles with Calvinism and God. 

My Thoughts:
I have been unsure as to how to write this review, or where to place the review. I have another blog which is for Christian fiction and non-fiction. Emily Dickinson's God is not a Christian book perse, 
But, the word God is used 568 times in 143 pages. This does not include the names: Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ, Savior, Lord, or Holy Spirit. I chose Impressions In Ink to post the review, because this is the blog the publisher contacted me through. 
I'm also unsure where the exact reading audience will come from. A person who is a beloved fan of Emily Dickinson is going to be drawn to the book. A person who is a Calvinist might be offended by its content in regards to the denomination beliefs expressed in the book. A person who is a Christian might be offended that God's name is used so often, yet the book is not about God. 
The book addresses Emily Dickinson's view and belief system, which she wrestled with most if not all of her life. 
"One's depiction of God, however, or how one portrays him in language or visual representation, is shaped by several factors; parents, education, religious upbringing, personal faith, and temperament are primary catalysts in creating the way in which one sees God. Although the image of God modifies as one matures, the foundation is fixed in childhood." Page 13.
I agree with the above quote, but only to a certain degree. As a child we are greatly influenced by our parents or guardians in most if not all facets of life. As we become an adult we read, learn, study, and shape our own views. I've known women who grew up in a harsh condemning home, their fathers were judgmental and abusive. Their view of God is of a higher power that is also harsh, judgmental, condemning, and abusive. As a Christian I know God is revealed through His Son Jesus Christ. God is not an unknown, nor a hard to understand Spirit who hides from me. He is Jesus, God in the flesh. We know Jesus through His Word and through His Spirit. 
Emily disagreed with any harsh, angry, judgmental, description of God, she focused her attention on a God of love and mercy. As a young woman she parted with Calvinism. At times through her life she wrestled with this choice. At times she felt close to God; at times she felt far away. She picked and chose what attributes of God to focus and believe in, and ignored others; she created her own belief system. She did not have a problem with the Bible itself, but did with "its messengers." She did not understand why God did not reveal a "map to paradise." 
Author, John DelliCarpini, paired very brief stanzas from her poems and measured them against her God. For example she wrote often of death, which I found troubling. To think on life is more pleasant. Death comes to all of us, but don't waste the life we have thinking of death. 
"The inevitability of death haunted Dickinson; she contemplated her mortality everyday with the intensity reserved for the most essential of tasks; 'Good night, because we must' expresses her willingness to die if with death comes resolution. Dickinson was anxious to 'know' heaven, but the mystery eluded her while alive. Since God appeared mute, she concluded that he would speak only after death. Even the angels reveal no secrets; like a child who asks a parent to scold a mischievous sibling, Dickinson futilely entreats God to force the angels to reveal their secrets." Page 57. 
The full poem: 
"Good night, because we must, 
How intricate the dust! 
I would go, to know! 
Oh incognito! Saucy, Saucy Seraph
To elude me so! 
Father! they won't tell me, 
Won't you tell them to?" 

DelliCarpini, explains Dickinson was a "secular mystic." 
"Mystics see their goals discovering and devoting their lives to the real and living God." Page 141. 
Nature was her pathway to God. Through his creation she saw and experienced God. 

I feel the index on the poems explored in the book should be more explanatory and descriptive. I had a difficult time nailing down exactly how to find the poems to further research online. 

The author stated he used the NIV in quoting scripture. I'm not sure which version of NIV. At times it appeared to be more of a summary of the NIV Bible verse. 

It's difficult to write a non-fiction review on a book in which I've nothing to compare. But, I do love her poems, even if I'm not astute in understanding them. I have one Emily Dickinson book of poetry on my shelf, simply titled Poems. 
Some of my favorite poems from the above book are:

With Flowers XXV
"If recollecting were forgetting, 
Then I remember not;
And if forgetting, recollecting,
How near I had forgot!
And if to miss were merry,
And if to mourn were gay,
How very blithe the fingers
That gathered these to-day!" 

XL
"SHE sweeps with many-colored brooms,
And leaves the shreds behind;
Oh, housewife in the evening west,
Come back, and dust the pond!

You dropped a purple ravelling in,
You dropped an amber thread;
And now you've littered all the East
With duds of emerald!

And still she plies her spotted brooms,
And still the aprons fly,
Till brooms fade softly into stars-
And then I come away." 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ghost Waltz: A Family Memoir by Ingeborg Day

Publisher: Harper Perennial, June 24, 2014, first edition in 1980.
Genre: Memoir, Children of WWII, Nazi Party.
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Rating: 2 Stars for okay.
Source: Free copy from Harper Perennial in exchange for a review. All reviews expressed are from my own opinion.

Under a pseudonym, Ingeborg Day, wrote another book which was later made into a movie, Nine and a Half Weeks.

A bio of author and review of books: Who Was the Real Woman behind "Nine and a Half Weeks?" 

Ghost Waltz is available at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Summary:
Ingeborg Seiler Day, was born in Graz, Austria in 1940. During World War II, her parents were Nazi's. Her father was a member of the Nazi party. Ingeborg had few memories of her earliest of years which was during the war. As a child growing up during the post war years her parents did not discuss the war, if Ingeborg asked a question, her parents rebuffed. A year spent in America as a teenage exchange student introduced her to American culture, the American textbook story of World War II, and her future husband. When she came home to Austria, life was irrevocably changed because of the influence she'd had in America.
In her later years she wrote two books: Ghost Waltz and Nine and a Half Weeks. These books were memoirs of her life at certain stages. Neither book explores in detail her marriage, or children.
Ghost Waltz, explores Ingeborg Day coming to terms with her parents involvement in the Nazi party, anti-semitism and the Holocaust, and Austria's involvement in the war.

My Thoughts:
When the book begins Ingeborg explains she had two sets of parents. One set during the war, another set after the war. She felt as if she was "adopted". I felt this was an interesting way of explaining her parents role as Nazi's during the war years. I don't feel she "came to terms" with her parents nor her birth country. "It" plagued her all of her life. She felt a guilt and a shame which was not hers to carry. I wondered how much counseling she received during life? She died young at age 70 by suicide.
Ghost Waltz is a sad book, with no happiness in-between the covers.
Ghost Waltz explores a topic I've not read before, adult children of Germany-Austria Nazi Party members. Further, her parents antisemitism spilled over into her own ideology. But, I do not feel Ghost Waltz is a complete study in this area of history. Ingeborg Day's memoir gives the reader a small specimen. She is not an expressive person, she hides more than reveals.
The book left me unsettled with more questions than answers. I felt Ingeborg Day lived a hidden life. Concealed behind an exterior of rough sex, which was a mask hiding a fear of what others would think about the real Ingeborg and where she'd come from, as well as the inability to be truly intimate.
Ghost Waltz is a haunting portrayal of a life which could have been so much more. I'm sad she carried what her parents had believed in and done to her own grave.