16. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction · Tags: ,

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson, read by Angie, on 11/14/2013

I couldn’t put this book down; I didn’t want to put it down. Leon Leyson captured my attention and held it throughout his entire story. We learn a lot about the Holocaust and what happened during those years, but I haven’t ever really read an autobiography about it. Leon Leyson was just a young boy when Germany invaded Poland. He and his family lived in Krakow and quickly began to feel the effects of the Nazi machine. Because his father had a job, most of his family was protected, but they were never really safe. His father worked for Oskar Schindler at his enamel factor and was one of the first on “the list”. Leon, his mother and his brother David also had their names added to the list. Unfortunately, two of his brothers did not; one fled to the country and one was rounded up during one of the ghetto cleansings. His sister worked for another factory and was protected until the end. Being on Schindler’s list did not necessarily mean full protection however. The family was still subjected to the ghetto and the guards who terrorized it. They were also all sent to concentration camps during the move from Krakow to Brunnlitz. This is a very compelling story of one family’s survival during the atrocities of WWII. Leon didn’t die horribly like so many others during that time. He survived, moved to America and became a teacher. It wasn’t until the release of Schindler’s List that he started to speak about his experiences. Leon Leyson was the youngest person on the list, but he was not the only one. Oskar Schindler’s bravery and dedication to saving his Jews was amazing. Reading this book made me want to learn more about Schindler (beyond what I remember from the movie!).

02. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Joyce, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, read by Joyce, on 03/22/2013

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-and at great risk-documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

06. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags: ,

Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak, read by Angie, on 03/05/2013

Soldier Bear is the tale of Polish soldiers in WWII who adopt a baby bear. The soldiers had been prisoners in Russia; when they were released the went to the Middle East as a transport company. One day they came across a young boy with a bear cub in a sack. They traded food for the cub and he became Private Voytek, their mascot. The soldiers raised Voytek and the entire company came to love him. Voytek was almost human in the way he acted. He helped the soldiers carry things and always wanted to go where they went. Voytek traveled with the company through the Middle East to Italy and after the war to Scotland. This is based on true events and the book contains actual photos of Voytek and the soldiers. This book is also the recipient of the 2012 Batchelder Award.

This story is a little unusual but it was an interesting read. I found Voytek to be such a fun character. He was really human in his adventures. He helped the company (he helped unload ammunition) and he seemed to have human reactions. he loved beer and cigarettes, which I thought was hilarious. I especially enjoyed his friendship with the dalmatian and his rivalry with the monkey Kasha. This was translated from Dutch and I think the translation is pretty good. My only comment is that it read like a translation and not like original text. At some times the text was a little stilted and didn’t seem to flow as well as I thought it would. But it was still a fun, quick read.

13. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith, read by Angie, on 02/12/2013

Ida Mae Jones wants to fly. She has wanted to fly ever since her daddy brought a plane home. Her daddy taught her to fly, but getting her license was another story. Ida is Black, in the South, and it is the 1940s. No one is going to let a Black girl fly at that time. Then Ida finds out about the WASP program. The Army is recruiting female pilots. Ida makes a bold choice. Whereas the other members of her family are dark skinned, Ida is light skinned and can pass for white. So Ida forges her father’s pilot’s license with her own information and goes to Texas as a white girl. Ida becomes a WASP and flies planes all over the country. She makes friends with the other girls and even has a little romance. But she is always afraid someone will find out her secret.

I thought this book was really interesting. I love women who overcome barriers to do what they want to do. Ida is smart, spunky and ambitious. I admire the courage it took to leave and deny her family so that she could follow her dreams.

15. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Graphic Novel, History, Memoirs, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, read by Tammy, on 09/14/2012

Drawing on the unique historical sites, archives, expertise, and unquestioned authority of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, New York Times bestselling authors Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón have created the first authorized and exhaustive graphic biography of Anne Frank. This is a concise introduction to not only Anne Frank and her family but history of Nazism, concentration camps, general history of WWII and how the conflict spread as well as the years immediately after the war. I had not realized prior to reading this the first concentration camp built and opened in Germany was to house German citizens who opposed the Nazi parties new policies.

31. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: History, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, read by Tammy, on 07/29/2012

This is the story of one man’s journey from fighting to survive physically from a bomber crash in the sea, and fighting for physical and mental survival as a prisoner of war to coming to terms with his experiences and learning to forgive and reclaim his own life.

Louis Zamperini had trained as an athlete leading him to compete in the Berlin Olympics but WWII changed his calling to airman. On a May afternoon in 1943, with the crash of his bomber, Zamperini began a much longer journey of endurance. A test of his will to live and to overcome.

21. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas, read by Tammy, on 06/03/2012

Sandra Dallas is one of my favorite authors. Her characters always come to life for me and I can see the landscape they are living in.

This story is about how the lives of a farm family and their rural Colorado community are affected by the government building an internment camp for Japanese American citizen during WWII right outside their town in an area known as Tallgrass by the locals. After a young girl is killed all suspicions turn on the “foreigners” at the camp. The teenage narrator, Rennie, struggles with her own thoughts of what is right versus her own fears and suspicions. Dallas describes the countryside and the emotional workings of a family that ring true to life and take you back in time to the 1940s.

12. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Chewing Gum, Candy Bars & Beer: The Army Px In World War II by James J. Cooke, read by Tammy, on 03/12/2012

Chewing Gum, Candy Bars & BeerThis book is full of facts about groups supplying American troops with comfort items from the civil war forward of course the main emphasis is WWII.
Private citizens followed troops around from campsite to campsite selling items for whatever prices they wanted to the soldiers during the civil war. Once World War I started the government didn’t want the soldiers to be cheated like they often had been in the past so they started letting only a few approved vendors sell items like chewing gum, candy, beer, ice cream, razors etc., to the troops. The logistics of keeping supplies with the men, often meant things had to be shipped with the military supplies and the army determined it would be easier and better if they were in charge of all moral booster shops or “post exchanges” or PX’s.
The book also talks about day to day life of the troops and of citizens in both the Pacific and European theaters but mainly in Europe where the soldiers and citizens mingled more often. European civilians often thought all Americans were rich because they had luxury items like chocolate when the civilians had been on strict rations for years for basics like floor and milk. Much stricter rations than the U.S. civilians had at the same time.
I thought it was touching that the majority of soldiers stationed in Germany at the end of the war tried to help the German civilians they encountered and the regular German soldiers. They knew that these German citizens had been victims of the Nazis and the government and they felt that giving humanitarian aid to the citizens would also improve relations between the countries later (taken from several soldiers personal letters back home — not official statements.) It is sad that “fresh” soldiers who never saw battle sent in to replace the war-battered troops for “peace keeping” often treated all the Germans the same and regarded all of them as the enemy, whereas the men who had actually been fired upon by German troops forgave the common soldier and knew the civilians should not be blamed

06. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

The boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, read by Tammy, on 03/06/2012

The Boy in the Striped PajamasA story of friendship between a young prisoner of Auschwitz and Bruno, the naive German boy who is the son of the commandant. Bruno never really understands what is happening around him. It’s just unimaginable to him. Which in some ways makes the story all the more poignant.