(Review) The German Girl by Lucas Correa

The German Girl

Publisher and Publication Date: Washington Square Press. August 8, 2017.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Holocaust. World War II.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Recommend. Very good.

Amazon

Summary:
Two young girls. Two time periods. Two lives who have been shattered by tragedy. Both girls are related. Their lives will intersect.
Hannah lives in Berlin in 1939. She is the only child of a wealthy Jewish family.
Anna lives in New York City post 9/11. The year is 2014. She is the only child of a widow. Anna’s father died before she was born.

My Thoughts:
•A clincher of an opening line. The narrator, Hannah, is talking about killing her parents. It is obvious from the start of the story she is a person under deep stress and anguish. Berlin is a powder keg. The fuse has been lit by Nazi Germany. The Jews are the target of the fuse.
•The setting of both stories, and the emotion of the stories, is the biggest aspect of the book. Both girls are pushed from a young age to become adults. They are heavily burdened by their circumstances. They are at times alone in their minds. They scramble for an answer to their plight.  The German Girl is heart-wrenching at times, because I felt strongly about the outcome of the two young girls.
•Both of the mothers of the two girls are lost in their own “place.” Anna’s mother is lost in the past, and in her grief and depression. Hannah’s mother is lost in the refinement and wealth of her material possessions.
•Anna is a compassionate person. She often looks away from her own situation and is focused on others-their sadness is a heavy weight in her heart. It is so “different” to read about a person who is not selfish and self-entitled. I read about and see so many people focused on their selves that Anna stands in stark contrast.
The German Girl gave me a riveting view of living under the grim conditions as a Jew in Berlin in 1939.
•I’d heard about the ship carrying Jews headed to Cuba. This is the first (fictional) story I’ve read about this history.
•Several photographs are in the back of the book of passengers on the ship, St. Louis. In addition, eight pages of signatures from the passengers.

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(Review) Charlotte Gray, French Trilogy #3 by Sebastian Faulks

Charlotte Gray

Publisher and Publication Date: Vintage. 2000.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 401.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Recommend. Good.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Occupied France, and the Resistance.

Amazon

Have you seen the film Birdsong? It’s available on PBS Masterpiece subscription through Prime Video. The same author wrote Charlotte Gray and Birdsong.

 

Summary:
Charlotte Gray is a young Scottish woman who moves to London during the early years of World War II. She rents a room from a young woman named Daisy. The first night in her new lodging, Daisy invites her to a literary party. At the party, she meets Peter Gregory, an RAF pilot. One evening together and it’s an instant connection. Peter goes on a mission to France and does not return to England. Charlotte makes a bold move by joining and training with G-Section as a courier. Her goal is to find and bring Peter home.

My Thoughts:
•Charlotte is not a dimensional character. She is stoic. I pictured her throughout the book with a straight face. She has events that bring her to the point of showing emotion, but continues to emit a quiet strength. I know little about her life before coming to London. Her father was in World War I and has a difficult time adjusting to life post war. There is a painful memory of this period that is spoken about in brief later in the book. I felt this last aspect was thrown in as a glimpse of a dark childhood. This event is not explored in depth. It is a few crumbs thrown in the story that is a bit of a surprise to me. Charlotte comes across as a straight forward, conservative type gal. Later in the story and while in France, she takes a dip that I didn’t expect. I wondered if the author was exploring a bit with Charlotte’s character by adding these two events? By using these two elements in Charlotte’s character, she became more human and imperfect.
•Peter Gregory is a man’s man. He is not interested in serious relationships. His focus is flying and the war effort. Meeting Charlotte and the relationship that “just” happens, takes him by surprise. Love at first site or there afterwards is not something I believe in personally. Lust yes. Love no. Love take time to grow and deepen. However, Charlotte Gray is a fictional story.
•I’ve read several stories that are about the Resistance and SOE work. Charlotte’s duties are not complex. And her work is limited. The focus of this story is less on the work and more about the relationship with Peter Gregory.

 

(Review) Hiroshima by John Hersey

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Publisher and Publication Date: Modern Library. 1946.
Genre: Nonfiction.
Pages: 120.
Source: Found buried under a pile of stuff in my sister’s closet.
Rating: Recommend. Very good.
Audience: Readers of World War II books, especially those interested in the Pacific War.

Amazon

This is a first edition hardcover book. No dust jacket. The front and back cover of the book is blue. I may be the first reader of this particular book. Of course my copy does not look like the photo on the left.

I read The Rape of Nanking before reading Hiroshima. Both books are hard reads. They pull at the heart. My daddy used to say, “war is a horrible thing, Annette.” He was a soldier in Europe during Word War II.
The book is the story of individuals who survived to share their stories. These people are Miss Toshiko Sasaki, Dr. Masakazu Fujii, Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, and Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto. They show a broad view of people living in Hiroshima at the time of the blast. And, through their eyes I see what they experienced and observed.
I learned what they thought had happened. The people realized it must have been a bomb, but had no idea what exactly had happened.
I learned about where many of the people went, they walked to a park to await help.
I learned that the doctors had little medical devices to help the people. They ran out of bandages. They had only iodine to use.
The wounded often waited where they were hoping help would come. In one situation, a woman was trapped underneath a bookcase.
People were in a stupor of shock. They sat down on the street with skin hanging from their bodies.
After the bomb, the stages of radiation sickness began.
This is the first book I’ve read about the atomic bombings in Japan.
This book is brief. However, it makes an impact on the reader.

(Review) The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang

 

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Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. 1998.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. World War II.
Pages: 290.
Source: Library. E-book copy.
Rating: Recommend, but not for a minor or a person who is sensitive.
Audience: For readers interested in the history of Imperial Japan’s invasion of China.

Amazon

I borrowed this book twice via OverDrive-an app to borrow books from the library. I recommend this app!

 

If you’ve read previous reviews of this book, you’ve read comments like, “a hard read” or “graphic.” This is an understatement. I read at night before bed. This is a tough book to read before bedtime. Many of the chapters are filled with heart-wrenching, macabre, and even fearful stories. The research, interviewing, and writing of this book is a story in itself. A must read chapter in the book is at the tail end: Iris Chang’s painful life and ending. This is one of the most memorable books I’ve read, because of the content and the author. I recommend this book, but with hesitation. Do not feel that you must read a book that will disturb you. I’ve watched many frightening films and read scary books, but have not been as disturbed as this book. Read it, but take your time. Possibly read a chapter or less at one sitting followed by another book that’s a light read.

On December 13, 1937, Nanking, China, the capital city of Nationalist China, fell to Imperial Japan. To use words like atrocities, rampage, and murder is not sufficient.
Iris Chang felt compelled (and thrust herself as on a life mission) to discover the complete history in order to write a book on the Rape of Nanking. She felt many books had been written about the Holocaust during World War II, but the history of the Rape of Nanking had left few writings. She did not want that generation of survivors (and also as a memorial to those who’d died) to die without telling their stories.

This review is not going to be as usual: sharing what I liked and disliked about the book.
To me, this book is hallowed, almost a sacred testament. I feel it would be disrespectful to do otherwise.

Notable aspects in The Rape of Nanking:
•The history and building up of Imperial Japan. Who they were pre 20th century, the political reasonings of Japan, and the movement of Japan against other nations in East Asia.
•Japan and their alliances and relationship with Italy and Germany during World War II.
•Detailed facts and figures.
•A strong point that Japan has tried to ignore or minimize this history.
•The officers in charge of the army who took Nanking. This includes their background and epilogue.
•Answers the question as to how the Japanese soldiers could have been so rabid in their actions.
•Women who were taken/abducted to be used in sexual slavery. These women were from China, but also from other Asian countries.
•Stories are shared by those Chinese who survived.
•Stories of three western civilians who tried to help the Chinese. This includes their life story and epilogue.
•The Nanking War Crimes Trial.
•Epilogue of how the survivors lived after the war.

 

(Review) Secrets Of The Island by Linda Hughes

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02_Secrets of the Island

Publisher and Publication Date: Deeds. May 15, 2018.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 268.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review. The review copy is paperback and provided from Linda Hughes. This review is apart of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour.
Rating: Good.

Book Tour Landing Page

About the Author:
03_Linda Hughes

As a native Michigander, award-winning author Linda Hughes has been visiting Mackinac Island since she was a kid. She’s spent countless hours riding a bike around the shoreline, and perusing the library and church records to learn about island history. She’s built many a cairn, witnessed the Northern Lights on several occasions, and eaten more than her fair share of chocolate fudge. She’s a world traveler, having worked in thirteen countries and visited a couple dozen more, but Mackinac Island remains one of her favorite places.
Her writing honors come from the National Writers Association, Writer’s Digest, the American Screenwriters Association, Ippy (Independent Publishers), and Indie Book of the Day.
For more information, please visit Linda Hughes’ website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Summary: Provided.
Do you think you know your heritage? Think again. Dark secrets lurk below the surface of every family tree, as the Sullivan clan discovers in this story about living in the aftermath of generations of deceit.
When Red Cross nurse Harriet escapes the trauma of World War II and sequesters herself in her grandfather’s cottage on Mackinac Island, she has no inkling about her heritage. But as one shocking clue after another surface – disclosing lies, corruption, madness, and murder – she realizes her family isn’t what, or who, it seems. She’s not the first to hold unspeakable secrets in her soul.
Can she conquer her trials and tribulations, like some of them did? Or will she be defeated by life, like others?
Secrets of the Island, the second book in the Secrets trilogy, is a tale of romantic suspense that begs the question: what secrets are buried within your family tree?

My Thoughts:
Overall I liked this story. One problem early in the book did not feel right, it was too put together for the benefit of a storyline. A brother and sister and husband just happen to be placed together during World War II. It’s a dangerous and tragic encounter. But without this storyline another element of the story wouldn’t happen. However, it just didn’t feel real, but pasted. I kept reading past this event and enjoyed reading the rest of the book.
Harriet is a main character. She was a Red Cross nurse during World War II. I like her personality, courage, determination, independence, fearlessness, and strength.
Harriet’s twin is Harry. He is in the army. The two are close.
Bill Beaumont is Harriet’s husband who is also in the army. They are newlyweds.
Back at home in Michigan. Harriet uncovers the real story of her parents and ancestry. I loved reading about her work to reveal the truth of her family. This plot is a favorite of mine in the book.