(Review) Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

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Publisher and Publication Date: Bethany House. April 2019.
Genre: Christian fiction.
Pages: 368.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers who love family saga, World War II, and dual time period stories.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link

 

 

For more information: Bethany House. At this link you can read an excerpt!

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About the author:
Amanda Dykes (www.amandadykes.com) is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. Give her a rainy day, a candle to read by, an obscure corner of history to dig in, and she’ll be happy for hours. She’s a former English teacher, and her novella, Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, was met with critical acclaim from Publishers Weekly, Readers’ Favorite, and more. She is also the author of a novella in The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection. Whose Waves These Are is her debut novel.

Summary:
In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Its message? Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss’s humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the harbor village on the coast of Maine, and he sets his callused hands to work.
Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when GrandBob, the man who gave her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is the one in need of help. But what greets her is a mystery: a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Memories of stone ruins on a nearby island ignite a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.
Together with the handsome and enigmatic town postman, Annie uncovers the story layer by layer, yearning to resurrect the hope GrandBob once held so dear and to know the truth behind the chasm in her family’s past. But mending what has been broken for so long may require more of her and those she loves than they are prepared to give.

My Thoughts:
I love the front cover! And, I love the title!
Bethany House is a Christian publishing company. They have some of the best front covers in the publishing industry.

Dual time periods are a popular way of telling stories. I’m tired of it. It is being done way too often in fiction books. It’s time to take a break from this.

What I like about this book (very good rating.)
•The bond of twins. Twin brothers are the main characters in the book. Their twin brother bond never changes no matter what happens in life.
•The setting is Maine. I love books with a setting close to the ocean.
•A moral story. Integrity. To do the right thing no matter how afraid or what the cost will be.
•Scene descriptions are wonderful. Maine is vivid and real.
•For the modern time period the main character discovers her family history.
•The love stories are inspirational. There is a depth to them. The love stories are not focused on the erotic, but on a lasting dedicated love.
•There are layers of stories not just the main story.
Whose Waves These Are is a well-written story to curl up with in your favorite chair.

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(Review) No Woman’s Land: A Holocaust Novel by Ellie Midwood

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Publisher and Publication Date: Independent. May 15, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II. Holocaust.
Pages: 314.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author, but was not required to give a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Holocaust, and historical fiction.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon
The Kindle Unlimited copy is free for members.

“It was very dangerous for him, and he knew it. But his love for me was stronger than fear.” – Ilse Stein

Summary:
This novel is based on the inspiring and moving love story of Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain in the Minsk ghetto, who risked his life to save the one he loved the most.
When the last of the Jews’ rights are stripped in 1941, Ilse’s family is deported to a Minsk ghetto. Confined to a Sonderghetto and unable to speak the locals’ language, Ilse struggles to support the surviving members of her family. Befriended by a local underground member Rivka, Ilse partakes in small acts of resistance and sabotage to help her fellow Jews escape to the partisans.
A few months later, after losing almost his entire brigade of workers to one of the bloodiest massacres conducted by the SS, a local administrative officer Willy Schultz summons the survivors to form a new brigade. Ilse’s good looks immediately catch his eye, and he makes her a leader of the new unit and later, an office worker. Soon, an unlikely romance blossoms amid death and gore, moving a Nazi officer to go to great risks to protect not only Ilse but as many others as possible and allowing a Jewish girl to open her heart to the former enemy. Knowing that the ghetto would soon be liquidated, Willy Schultz swears to save Ilse, even if the cost would be his own life.
“We live together, or we die together,” – an ultimate oath of love in the most harrowing setting.
Dark, haunting, but full of hope, No Woman’s Land is a testament to the love that is stronger than fear and death itself.

My Thoughts:
I love this story!

Reasons why I gave No Woman’s Land an excellent review:
•Chapter One begins in 1940. World War II is going on, but for Ilse Stein and her family in Frankfurt they do not see the effects of war. The Stein family has experienced the restrictions of Jews in Germany, but Ilse is still able to work. She is still able to rebel a bit. In the first chapter, I’m given a glimpse at the strong and resilient personality of Ilse. She is a teenage girl, but has the heart of a lion. She is a great character. I see her strengths and also see what is going on around her. I feel an investment in her outcome. She is a character that keeps me reading.
•Descriptions are significant to setting the scene and atmosphere of a story. I felt, Midwood did an excellent job at creating the dark despair of the time period.
•An interesting element is shown in the Jewish Ghetto Ilse is sent to. It is how the Soviet and German Jews view one another. This is not something I’d thought of before and I’m glad Midwood brought this to the story.
No Woman’s Land is fiction, but the story is based on fact. The main characters and their stories are true. Many of the things about the story is true or based on fact. I wonder why Midwood chose to write a fiction book and not a biography? The story is wonderful, but I feel if it had been all factual information it would also be wonderful. Either way it is an unusual love story in harrowing surroundings.

About the Author:
Ellie Midwood is a best-selling, award-winning historical fiction writer. She’s a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, a neat freak, an adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew and a doggie mama.
Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.
Readers’ Favorite – winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) – “The Girl from Berlin: Standartenfuhrer’s Wife
Readers’ Favorite – winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) – “The Austrian” (honorable mention)
New Apple – 2016 Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing – “The Austrian” (official selection)
For more information on Ellie and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.

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I do not host giveaways. This link will take you to the giveaway link: https://gleam.io/Tiz79/no-womans-land

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(Review) My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love by Amanda Barratt

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Publisher and Publication Date: Kregel. June 9, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II. Germany.
Pages: 360.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Kregel, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II history. Readers who want to understand civilian life in Germany during World War II. Bonhoeffer readers.
Rating: Good.

Amazon

The edition I reviewed is an ebook copy through NetGalley.

It’s important to note this book is based on the historical research on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This book is a work of fiction. It is not a biography. The thoughts and dialogue of Bonhoeffer is what the author has fictionalized.

Summary:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Protestant theologian, pastor, and writer. He was born in 1906 and died in 1945.
My Dearest Dietrich focuses on the period of time Dietrich was involved in an action against Hitler. As the war progressed, and as the brutalities against the Jews escalated, and Dietrich was silenced by the Nazi regime, Dietrich became apart of a plot against Hitler. During this period of involvement against Hitler, Bonhoeffer became romantically involved with a young woman named Maria von Wedemeyer.

Further links of interest:
Britannica
Biography Online
Holocaust Encyclopedia
“Bonhoeffer in Love”/Christianity Today.
In the above article from Christianity Today, they allow a snippet to be read (they want subscribers only.)

List of books by or about Bonhoeffer on Amazon.
For a biography of Bonhoeffer, please read Eric Metaxas’s book. It is 608 pages. Link for book at Amazon.

My Thoughts:
•I have read several books about people who no longer live that have been fictionalized. No one but that person knows what they think and feel unless they communicate these things and someone writes them down verbatim as acknowledged truth. Private conversations between lovers are rarely passed on to other people because they are of a private nature. I state all of this to address the first point I have on this book. It is an educated guess as to what Bonhoeffer and Wedemeyer spoke about and felt. A huge help is from the book, Love Letters from Cell 92. I have not read this book, but it is the correspondence between them. These letters give a glimpse of their feelings and relationship, but do not give the totality. People may read My Dearest Dietrich and forget it is historical fiction.
•From what I’ve read about Dietrich, he was a reserved and private man. My Dearest Dietrich gives a solid view of those personality qualities. Maria was similar in temperament. When both of the main characters are reserved type people the book can be humdrum. Their personalities compliment one another and go together well, but to read about their relationship it is not as interesting.
•What I enjoyed reading is Bonhoeffer’s commitment, perseverance, and sacrifice to stop Hitler at all cost. This is the passion that is big in the book. Yes, I believe he loved Maria and was committed to her. The big story is his involvement in the plot and sacrifices made to thwart the Nazi regime.

(Review) Once a Midwife: A Hope River Novel by Patricia Harman

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Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow. 2018.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 512.
Source: Library.
Rating: Okay.
Audience: I’m not sure. World War II readers are not going to be attracted to this book. People who’ve read the other books in this series will be drawn to reading this book.

Amazon link

This is the only book I’ve read by this author. So, I have cannot compare this book to the other books written in the series.

It is November 1941. Liberty, West Virginia. Patience Hester is a midwife. She is a wife and mother. Her husband is a veterinarian, Dr. Daniel Hester. They have four children. He is a veteran of World War I. He has made the decision to never participate in another war because of his combat experience. He is a pacifist. She does not agree with him. She’s concerned about his stance and what it will mean for their family.
The book begins days before the Pearl Harbor attack. The book ends in early 1943.

I was drawn to this book because of the midwife theme. The rest of the book was extra fluff.

Patience keeps a journal, mainly detailing the midwifery events. This journal is the background for the book.

I’ve given this book an okay rating. It’s not that I don’t like it. I did read it quickly. It just didn’t sweep me up in the people or story. It is a book that didn’t effect me either way. Daniel’s pacifism-I do not care. Hester’s response to Daniel’s pacifism-I do not care. Why do I not care? Because the book didn’t convince me. Daniel comes across as stubborn. Patience comes across as compliant.
Patricia Harman’s husband was a pacifist during Vietnam. She has the knowledge and ability to create a story about a couple going through this type of experience.

And, it is difficult for me to read a story like this and not have an opinion.
My paternal grandfather was a soldier during World War I. My dad was a soldier during World War II. My son was a soldier during the Operation Enduring Freedom. I have several other relatives who have served in different military branches.
I’ve not met a person who is a pacifist. I don’t understand them, but they are entitled to their opinion.
If the military aspect of the book was removed, Patience still came across as milky-toast. Is she just tired? That’s a possible reason this book is not a hit with me.

(Review) Claiming My Place: Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Holocaust by Planaria Price with Helen Reichmann West

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Publisher and Publication Date: Farrar Straus Giroux. March 13, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. World War II. Holocaust. Young adult.
Pages: 272.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: For adult and young adult readers who read Holocaust survivor stories.

Landing page for the tour at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Amazon link

About the author:
After graduating from Berkeley and earning a Master’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA, Planaria Price began her career teaching English to adult immigrants in Los Angeles. She has written several textbooks for University of Michigan Press and has lectured at over 75 conferences. In addition to her passion for teaching and writing, Planaria has worked with her husband to save and restore over 30 Victorian and Craftsman homes in her historic Los Angeles neighborhood. Claiming My Place is her first book for young adults.
Website for Planaria Price
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Praise:
“Price has boldly elected to tell the story in Basia’s own first-person, present-tense voice. The result is a dramatic, suspenseful account of survival in extremis, told in collaboration with Basia’s American daughter.” ―Booklist
“Price’s rendering of West’s mother’s early life reads like suspenseful historical fiction, telling a rarely heard side of the Jewish experience during WWII . . . Family, friendships, and romance give poignancy to this unique coming-of-age story, which is further enhanced by maps, a glossary, and an afterword.” ―Publishers Weekly
“A rich exploration of a Holocaust survivor’s sheltered childhood, the atrocity that failed to destroy her, and her later life as an immigrant.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“I was completely engrossed by this drama of survival. Barbara Reichmann’s story is quite extraordinary. It is sad, and terrible, and yet somehow captivating. The whole story of those who survived the Shoah by passing as Christians and working in Nazi Germany is an often forgotten part of the historical record.” ―Kai Bird, Executive Director, Leon Levy Center for Biography at CUNY Graduate Center, and co-author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
“As occurs with The Diary of Anne Frank, this book merges the dire circumstances of the Holocaust with the tenuousness of being a teenager. But Claiming My Place expands the view provided in the diary for one critical reason. Anne Frank’s story is told within an isolated cocoon. In Barbara’s story, however, the Holocaust is in full view as her experiences unfold.” ―David H. Lindquist, Ph.D., IPFW College of Education and Public Policy / Regional Museum Educator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
“This frightening true story of a young Jewish girl’s flight from the deadly grip of the Nazis celebrates the surprising ingenuity and raw courage found only in the depths of the human spirit. Risking what few others dared, Barbara Reichmann, née Gucia Gomolinska, speaks with wisdom and uncommon self-awareness through her detailed, colorful, and evocative recollections from earliest childhood. In the final portion of this book, her daughter, Helen West, continues Barbara’s journey in an insightful and loving overview of Barbara’s life from the family’s arrival in New Orleans in 1951 until her death in 2007. This is a great read with the suspenseful, inspiring and uplifting appeal of a novel, about a character who will capture the reader’s heart.” ―Allan Holzman, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director and editor (Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Holocaust, Old Man River, The Native Americans)
“Thanks to the detailed memories and the conversational tone, this book provides an engaging and informative reading experience with as much appeal as a fiction title. Recommended for most YA nonfiction collections.” ―Magdalena Teske, West Chicago Public Library District School Library Journal
“This book was truly a celebration of the human spirit. What a gift she has for putting you in the story. Her way with words, plus her weaving of the actual events recounted to her by the unbelievably courageous Basia and her daughter Helen, was nothing short of magical. The included photographs and epilogue served to fully round out this amazing tale. I never wanted this book to end!” ―Rabbi Lynn Brody Slome

Summary:
Claiming My Place is the true story of a young Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust by escaping to Nazi Germany and hiding in plain sight.
Meet Gucia Gomolinska: smart, determined, independent, and steadfast in the face of injustice. A Jew growing up in predominantly Catholic Poland during the 1920s and ’30s, Gucia studies hard, makes friends, falls in love, and dreams of a bright future. Her world is turned upside down when Nazis invade Poland and establish the first Jewish ghetto of World War II in her town of Piotrkow Trybunalski. As the war escalates, Gucia and her family, friends, and neighbors suffer starvation, disease, and worse. She knows her blond hair and fair skin give her an advantage, and eventually she faces a harrowing choice: risk either the uncertain horrors of deportation to a concentration camp, or certain death if she is caught resisting. She decides to hide her identity as a Jew and adopts the gentile name Danuta Barbara Tanska. Barbara, nicknamed Basia, leaves behind everything and everyone she has ever known in order to claim a new life for herself.
Writing in the first person, author Planaria Price brings the immediacy of Barbara’s voice to this true account of a young woman whose unlikely survival hinges upon the same determination and defiant spirit already evident in the six-year-old girl we meet as this story begins. The final portion of this narrative, written by Barbara’s daughter, Helen Reichmann West, completes Barbara’s journey from her immigration to America until her natural, timely death.
The book includes three maps and 41 photographs in black and white.

My Thoughts:
Several reasons led me to award this book an excellent rating:
•A detailed account of Barbara Reichmann, from age 6 until post World War II. The book encompasses her home life, parents, siblings, neighborhood, hometown, schools, and university life. In addition, her plight of survival during the war. And, post World War II life: displacement.
•A strong teaching on the Jewish traditions, religion, holidays, and festivals. I enjoyed reading about the foods eaten during Passover, as well as the reasons behind the types of food eaten. During Passover, they sing songs and read from the Haggadah.
•Another point related to the previous. At the Seder meal, an empty chair is left for Elijah, even a cup of wine is left for him. I’d not heard of this custom before, and I loved hearing about the details of several other Jewish customs.
•Through Barbara’s voice, I became swept up in her story. I’ve read a long list of Holocaust stories. Barbara’s story is unique. The story of her survival is the expected reading, but I did not expect to learn about her life as a Jew. I feel this is an excellent teaching tool for students to learn about both the Holocaust and the Jewish religion.
•Barbara gave me a background on anti-Semitism in Europe. What the Jews had been accused of throughout the centuries. And, she gave an interesting perspective by stating it is what they’d come to expect. “Jews have learned to accept and endure the persecution off an on.”
•On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. This begins a thirteen day account of Barbara’s memories of this history. It gave me an overall picture of those first days.
•A horrifying life after Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The new laws, abuse, starvation, and murder. In one scene, Barbara and her family are eating dinner when they hear German voices outside their door shouting, “Schnell! Schnell!” The men come in their home going through the house and stealing, while the family still sits at their dinner table not wanting to take a breath.

Claiming My Place is described as a young adult book. Through most of the story, Barbara is in her twenties. The book is not descriptive about the death camps. I wanted to mention this last statement for a parent who may be thinking of this book for their child. I plan to pass this book along to my teenage granddaughter. However, she too has read extensively Holocaust stories.