(Review) The White Rose Resists: A Novel of the German Students Who Defied Hitler by Amanda Barratt

Publisher and Publication Date: Kregel. May 26, 2020.
Genre: Christian historical fiction.
Pages: 336.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of the underground movement during World War II.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

In German: Weiße Rose.

Christian fiction can be undeveloped in areas and this is a negative for some readers. This is the first thing I want to mention, because a reader may see this book and realize it’s Christian fiction and immediately dismiss it. Please give this book a chance. It does not have a thinly veiled storyline and plot. If you know the history about the White Rose underground/resistance movement in Germany during World War II, then you know how the story ends for several of the people involved. Instead, the people involved in the White Rose is the focus of their story. How they came to know one another? How they became willing to sacrifice their young lives for the cause? How they interacted with one another and the deep relationships that developed? All these questions are answered in this beautiful and moving story.

Several other books have been written. One of them I’ve read, Long Live Freedom! Traute Lafrenz and the White Rose by Peter Normann Waage. The link is for my review at Goodreads.

Other books on this subject (links to Goodreads):
A Noble Treason: The Story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Revolt Against Hitler by Richard Hanser
The White Rose Munich 1942-1943 by Inge Scholl, Dorothee Solle, Inge Aicher-Scholl
At the Heart of the White Rose, Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl by Hans and Sophie Scholl, Inge Jens, J. Maxwell Brownjohn
Sophie Scholl and the White Rose by Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn
We will Not Be Silent, The White Rose by Russell Freedman
Defying Hitler: The Germans Who Resisted Nazi Rule by Gordon Thomas and Greg Lewis
An Honorable Defeat: The History of German Resistance to Hitler 1933-1945 by Anton Gill
Alexander Schmorell: Saint of the German Resistance by Elena Perekrestov
The Short Life of Sophie Scholl by Hermann Vinke and Hedwig Pachter

Additional links of interest:
The Holocaust Encyclopedia
Jewish Virtual Library
National World War II Museum

Monument to the White Rose at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Summary:
Several students at the University of Munich work together in secret to create pamphlets that are distributed to the public. These pamphlets describe a movement of people rising up against Hitler’s ideology. They condemn Hitler and all people who act inhumane, oppressive, and violent.

My Thoughts:
~Beautiful and enticing front cover.
~Great opening sentence: “My future is waiting, a spark in the distance burning steadily brighter as the train approaches the city.”
~The Scholl family is independent-minded and intelligent. This gave the brother and sister team an edge from other young people. Amanda Barratt gave a solid view of the Scholl family that is convincing, necessary, and believable.
~Strong descriptions. I love the descriptions of two mothers. One smells like “fresh bread and soap.” The other has skin smelling “like faded lavender.” It’s in the olfactory of sense that the young women feel a comfort.
~I easily visualized the young people. Whether it was a young man who smoked a pipe or cigarettes, or a change in how the girls wear their hair after attending the university. The students transition from children to young adults in a short period of time.
~After a young man shares what he witnessed, the group began to make plans to actively rise up against Hitler’s regime. They will not just talk among themselves in secret but actively do something. This created for me the building up of their courage and resistance. It is also a pivotal point in their lives and the story. This leads to my favorite reason for loving this book: it captures the characters unique calling.
~A second favorite reason for loving this book is the special bond-perfect unity-strong connection in the group. This wasn’t an average type group of friends who hung out together, but a special group of people. I kept thinking about a verse from the book of Esther: “…for such a time as this.”
~Lastly, the book showed me the group understood (as best they could) the tragic and unfair loss of their young lives.

Scripture reference from Bible Gateway.

(Review) Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Publisher and Publication Date: Simon and Schuster. 2016.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II. Romance.
Pages: 448.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of World War II and romance stories.
Rating: Okay.

Amazon link

Summary:
Time period for the story is 1939 to 1942.
The setting is London, England.
On the day World War II began, Mary North enlisted at the War Office hoping to do something exciting for the war effort. Instead, she’s given the job as a teacher of children.
Mary meets Tom and they fall in love.
Alistair is Tom’s best friend. He is in the army.

My Thoughts:
My main problem with the book is I don’t like Mary’s character. I kept having to remind myself she is 18, but to me she comes across as younger. Her experiences during the war grew her up…..a little. She is still not a character I felt invested in because of her voice and personality. Unfortunately she is the voice I hear the most. I’d rather have the story focused on Alistair. He is the interesting person.
The part of the story that is meaningful and memorable is the air raids and bombings in London during these years. I learned through the characters, and by their responses, what it must have been like.
I have a great love for children. I wish the story had examined more children and their individual stories.
Over-all I felt this an okay story but could have been more.

(Review) Shirley by Charlotte Bronte

Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. 1974. First published 1849.
Genre: Classic literature.
Pages: 622.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of the Bronte authors. Readers of classic literature.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link
The book is free on Kindle eBook

Links of interest:
Literary Ladies Guide
The Literature Network

Summary:
Reading the summary of the book at Amazon leaves one lacking in what the story is really about. Goodreads shares more information.
Shirley’s time period is during the Napoleonic Wars, Luddite riots, and economic hardship (1811-1812) in England.
Shirley is the name of one of the female characters: Shirley Keeldar.
The first four chapters show the tension and situation of the small town in Yorkshire where this story takes place.
Mr. Moore is a young man who has a business, a mill. He is unmarried and prefers to stay that way. He is an ambitious man by modernizing his home and business as money allowed. He didn’t consider that by modernizing the mill it put people out of work and without income.
The two female lead characters are Shirley and Caroline.

My Thoughts:
It took a while to become invested in the story. For me, the first few chapters crept along until chapter six.
The second paragraph of the first chapter tells me not to expect a romance. I was told to “calm my expectations.” However, I don’t feel this statement is entirely correct. It is a subdued romance, but there is romance in the story.
I immediately felt compassion for Caroline Helstone. She lives with her uncle who gives the strong impression he is indifferent to her plight as a single young woman. He has negative views on marriage that doesn’t help Caroline. She befriends a young woman named Shirley Keeldar. Shirley has money. She has a governess, Mrs. Pryor, who still lives with her.
Caroline represents women of this era, because she does not have money of her own. She doesn’t have the ability to secure an income and independence. She is dependent on an uncle.
Shirley represents women who have money and thus more freedom.
I wanted to point these things out because they influence the women’s personalities, demeanor, and future.
Themes in the story are love, ambition, romance, honesty, perseverance, and compassion.
A strong plot is the relationships between men and women, love, and marriage. But, it is also Robert’s mill and how he handles his business ambitions and dealings that is against the people in the community. Both of these are conflicts that carry the story.
I learned to love this story, not at first, but a slow love of endearment. What enticed me is the conversations by women about men.

An important note about Shirley is the actual background of the writing of the story. All three of Charlotte’s surviving siblings died when she was writing this book. She didn’t want this information told to her readers even though her publishers wanted it in the preface. She said, “I can shed no tears before the public, nor utter any groan in the public ear….” Page 17.

Branwell died 24 September 1848
Emily died 19 December 1848
Anne died 28 May 1849

Favorite Quote:
“If men could see us as we really are, they would be a little amazed; but the cleverest, the acutest men are often under an illusion about women: they do not read them in a true light: they misapprehend them, both for good and evil: their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend.”

Charlotte Bronte 1816-1855

(Review) Promise Season, Book One by Lee Evie

Publisher and Publication Date: Interstice Press. December 20, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 294.
Source: I received a complimentary Apple eBook copy from the publisher, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of women and literature, historical fiction, and espionage/spy stories.
Rating: Very good.

Book One: Promise Season
Book Two: Promise Thief
Book Three: Promise Dream

Amazon ($2.99 at this time)
Barnes and Noble
Indiebound

About the Author:
Lee Evie is a historical fiction author. She writes with a focus on Korean history and loves dark adventures with a heavy dose of danger, mystery and romance. When she’s not writing, Lee Evie can be found watching drama, which she will do for hours on end. She believes drama watching is the ultimate joy of life. Even when they make her cry. An avid photography and travel lover, Lee Evie thinks stories are the most precious gift to the universe.
Website/Newsletter/Instagram/Goodreads

Lee Evie

Summary:

A slave. A spy. A promise.

Joseon Dynasty, Korea: A humid summer storm rages across the Pavilion, the greatest entertainment house in the sprawling city of Hanyang. Within its stifling walls a gisaeng slave girl hides a fugitive in her bed, unexpectedly saving the life of a young man who is not all he seems.

Immediately Seorin is thrust into a razor-edged world of conspiracy and spies, doomed rebellion and murky intrigue. For the first time in years, she glimpses an opportunity for change.

Yet it is not her freedom Seorin so desperately desires, but something far more precious. She will risk anything, even death, to gain it.A dark and romantic historical adventure set in old Korea.

My Thoughts:
This is the second story I’ve read by Lee Evie. I’ve loved both of them!
Jang Seorin is a young woman who became a servant (not of her choice) and has made the best of the situation. She learned to play a musical instrument which helps her position and status. She is wise and shrewd, but takes chances. She has courage. She is able control both her speech and emotion. She is a person who despite hardship has made wise decisions. However, through a chance encounter she makes a pivotal decision that changes her life. Seorin is a character who rises above her station. She is a character I admire. She is a character who propels me to read through to the last page.
I enjoyed reading about the culture of this period in Korea even though I’m unclear of the specific date of this story. The time period is the Joseon Dynasty covering the years 1392 to 1910. I researched a little online about the Gisaeng women. They were prevalent during the Joseon Dynasty.
Examples of themes in the story: loyalty, ambition, love, courage, bravery, and perseverance.
The plot is easy to follow and makes for a compelling and original story, because of the setting and time period.
The pacing suits the story. It is not rushed nor is it sluggish.
I love this story and recommend it.

Giveaway:

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Promise Season! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Giveaway link:
https://gleam.io/oQ2jl/promise-season

(Review) Remembering Shanghai: A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels by Isabel Sun Chao and Claire Chao

Publisher and Publication Date: Plum Brook. 2018.
Genre: Memoir. Historical fiction. Women and literature.
Pages: 308.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: For readers who enjoy a book that’s part memoir and part historical fiction. People who have an interest in Chinese history and culture. Readers of mother and daughter relationships.
Rating: Excellent.

Advertisement from the 1930s. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Amazon link
The Kindle copy is $1.99 today.

Website for the book: Remembering Shanghai.

This book has won over twenty literary awards.

A thirteen page glossary is included.

Illustrations (both photographs and watercolor) are throughout the book, many of them are in color.

Summary:
Claire and Isabel (daughter and mother) traveled to Shanghai, China to visit the original family home in 2008. Afterwards, Claire began to write about the four generations of her mother’s family. Included is historical information about the culture and history during each generation. The main part of the book is Isabel’s life.

My Thoughts:
When the mother first saw the family home after an absence of sixty years, I was awestruck at her humility and ability to remain calm despite an awkwardness of how the home now looks. At one time, the family home was beautiful and elegant. A single family dwelled in it. Now, several people live in apartments, inside the home, that have been selected by the government. People look down on others who have wealth. It is looked upon as low quality in character. This is the society and culture of communist China. This is eye-opening to me. People judge before really knowing the people and their individual lives. And, often people judge because it’s what they’ve been taught.
I have a friend who is from South Korea. She made a comment to me that Americans are lazy. Some are and some are not. Further, some Koreans are probably lazy. This is a character trait and not respective of nation. Anyone who calls my husband lazy should work his job for a day. I dare you. He works for a large city on the sewer cleaning equipment. Ha! Yes, it is a crappy job. I’m being sarcastic. Back to the book!
I love women and literature stories. I love mother and daughter stories. I love stories with the setting in China. This book had a triple appeal for me. I ordered it for my birthday in February. I enjoyed reading every page.
Additional reasons why I love this book:
~Beautiful illustrations. I love art. The art included in the book is visually stunning. Definitely aesthetic quality.
~The interesting stories from the great-grandparents generation.
~Education about Chinese writing, name placement, clothing, and religion.
~The Chinese Cultural Revolution and the consequences on Isabel’s siblings and father.

Both the above photographs were taken in Shanghai. Free images courtesy of Unsplash.