Elmer & Virginia tells the personal and emotional story of your parents through a collection of letters they wrote one another during World War II. Why was this an important book for you to write?
These letters sat mostly untouched and unopened for the better part of half a century. When I began reading them after the deaths of my parents, I realized what a treasure they were. Their writing and story-telling skills were superb, and they vividly brought to life their experiences and their era, as they grew up during a most fraught and perilous time. I couldn’t let them stay hidden from the world.
Was there anything that you learned about your parents that was surprising when you read their letters?
I always knew what basically honest and decent people they were, from observing and being raised by them. But these letters brought out their kindness, their goodness, their integrity, and their courage. And it was a wonderful experience to “meet” them as young people and not as “your parents.”
Were there any letters that nearly made it into the collection but didn’t?
Oh yes. There were many that fell by the wayside for considerations of brevity and focus. Also passages about family matters, that would be of little interest to the general reader, were cast aside. And in a few cases there were letters our family just didn’t want to share.
What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your parents’ story?
This book really illustrates the incredibly brave responses of ordinary people to extraordinary events. And it shows that –really – there are no such things as ‘ordinary’ people. The book also shines a bright light on a lost form of communication – words written on paper and preserved for posterity.
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Loving Two Women By Matthew Lutostanski is a captivating story of love passion, and tragedy. Tadeusz thought he had lost his first love Ella during the Holocaust. Having moved on and building a new life with his wife Maria, decades later he finds out Ella is still alive. Will he be able to choose between his past love and his present love?
This alluring story is a perfect blend of romance and historical fiction. The memories that Tasdeusz, Ella, and Maria carry with them are heart wrenching and tragic. The author has written a fascinating story that brings in the drama of Tasdeusz, his two loves and the history of the holocaust. Lutostanski has done his research and it showed in each scene portraying the indescribable suffering people went through during the Holocaust. Beautifully written with vivid imagery and such detail that you feel like you are in the story.
I was invested in each character and their backstory but more so I was anxious to read more about the war. I can see this being made into a movie, the kind which the world needs right now because of the pure true love and the chance to say all the words you wanted to say that most people never get the chance too. Loving Two Women a romantic thriller that uses its true story roots to tell a fantastic historical romance story.
Pages: 127 | ASIN: B08DYCFXJP
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Loving Two Women is a historical romance novel set in post-World War II about a man, Tadeusz, receiving a letter from his ex-fiancé from 40 years before who thought the Tadeusz passed away in the war.
Loving Two Women starts off very strong with the first chapter having the protagonist receive the first letter from his past lover, Ella, which is where the reader understands the basic premise of the novel, that is arguably one of the most intriguing aspects. Matthew Lutostanski, the author, stated that this is based off true facts and it is obvious that he put a lot of research into the setting and time as well which added a lot to the authenticity to the setting. Although I felt like there was one or two chapters where the setting was, albeit necessary for context, felt more like a summary of events and could’ve been written in a more interesting way. Fortunately, that only happened once or twice and the setting in the most of the novel was set up expertly, even down to the small details.
The three main characters, Tadeusz, Ella, and Maria, were expanded on enough for me to understand how they felt or would feel from the actions of others. We delve deep into Tadeusz’s inner conflict between the love of his current wife, Maria, and the love of his ex-fiancé. Lutostanski also successfully describes the emotions of the others characters at the same time. Personally, my favorite character was Maria. We only get a handful of chapters from her perspective but we come to understand her very much through her actions and Tadeusz’s view. We also receive a handful of chapters from Ella’s view and it is obvious from all perspectives that Lutostanski is more than competent in writing strong, female characters.
The plot of Loving Two Women is quite concise, there isn’t a lot of things happening at once, instead it follows one aspect deeply before moving onto the next. Personally, the best aspect of this novel was the prose, specifically, the switch between third-person past and first-person epistolary. Epistolary being the letters that Tadeusz and Ella send to each other was one of the parts that I found myself continuously looking forward to and enjoying. Each of these tended to last a while, and even a chapter long, which was thoroughly enjoyable.
Pages: 127 | ASIN: B08DYCFXJP
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, family, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, historical fiction, history, kindle, kobo, literature, love story, LOVING TWO WOMEN, Matthew Lutostanski, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, world war 2, writer, writing, wwII
In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow was a unique historical fiction novel colored with themes of guilt, sorrow and suffering over all that had been lost. Although this was a very emotional novel, it wasn’t all negative emotions, it also had happiness, romance, and a (possible) love like no other, mixed in with some supernatural elements and fantastical hints of history. The story caught my attention in the first couple of pages, remaining consistently entertaining throughout with only rare moments that seemed to slow a bit due to necessary exposition. The detail throughout the book is absorbing and really pulls you into 1940’s Japan. When it came time for the atomic bomb to drop I could see the horror surrounding Micha as he searched for Kyomi, the burning bodies that he came across and the fear that he would never find her or Ai. I could visualize most every scene, which is something I truly appreciated in a novel that covered such a cataclysmic event that reshaped human history.
While Kyomi’s character was interesting I wanted to see more of her personality. Her character seemed monotone at first, but after awhile her character began to grow on me just as she developed in the novel. I liked Micah from the first page, I’m not sure if that’s because he was the first character introduced to me or because I could empathize with him, perhaps it’s because I felt bad for him after the plane crashed. I liked Ai’s character from the beginning as well, children are always fun characters and Ai was no exception. The three of them together made for a great read with interesting interactions and I liked some of the other spirits that they came across along their travels.
Something that made me enjoy the book even more was how the author used the actual terms used by the Japanese such as calling the military Kempeitai instead of using one of our military terms like Army, Navy, Coast Guard, etc. This happens frequently throughout the book which showed me that the author did thorough research for this book and it also helped me learn a few terms. This is an example of the authors dedication to historical detail in this book. Something that I praise the author for is the way that this novel helps you see different points of view from the American and Japanese sides in World War 2. It is also an exploration of Japanese culture at an interesting time in their history. It covers how the Japanese lived, their culture, their work, routines, the hardships they face and much more. I really loved having bits of history weaved into the pages and the way it gave me a new insight. History and fiction meld seamlessly in this novel to deliver a captivating story.
Pages: 344 | ASIN: B083Q4WRPD
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The Boy Who Saw In Colours by Lauren Robinson is a story about a young boy who is coming of age during the time of WWII. There are many stories out there about WWII, but the perspective from a child who turns 13 on the day of the London Blitz introduces a new viewpoint to the devastating war. Josef and his younger brother, Tomas, are the sons of a mother, who is from a well-to-do German family, and a father who is Jewish. Their love story is doomed from the beginning and leads both boys down a heartbreaking path. After being stolen from their parents Josef tells the story of how he and his brother are sent to an elite German Youth school to be groomed into the next brainwashed generation of the Aryan Super Race.
Even though this is a book of fiction, it is based on real historical events. After Josef and Tomas are taken from their parents, they are thrown into the military-like German school where they are literally beaten into following Hitler. But as Josef is of part Jewish descent, he is always picked on and called ‘mischling’, a foul name for someone who comes from mixed blood.
Josef has a gift that gets him through this unthinkable experience though, he is a painter. Not just someone who makes a pretty picture on a canvas, but a creative who sees his entire world in different colors.
I love how Robinson writes; it’s like I am sitting in a room with Josef at an old age and he is telling me about his life as a child while the fire burns and we drink tea. Her style is lyrical in nature and you can tell that each word she writes is put there with great thought and on purpose.
This book was at times very difficult to read because of the way the children were treated to ensure their submissiveness to the Fuhrer, it was nauseating. At the same time, their story needs to be told, we need to learn from our horrible mistakes of the past and this book tells it like a sad love song, heart-breaking, but beautiful.
There are relationships however that do emerge that give glimmers of hope and love and let you have a softer heart for some Germans who knew they had to follow along or be killed. I highly recommend reading this book. I look forward to more books by Robinson and her unique style in the future.
Pages: 371 |ASIN: B088BBXLL7
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Mattie Blanc believes from an early age that her past will forever haunt her and will be the ultimate cause for her life alone leaving her starved for true love. Charlie Kincaid, on the other hand, has true love chasing him across the world, but his is a one-way relationship in which he is not a willing participant. Both Mattie and Charlie have pasts that haunt them and have overcome almost insurmountable odds to become successful and proud in their fields; Mattie has received an education and is employed by a hair salon, and Charlie is a diver in the United States Navy. The one thing missing from their lives is each other.
Inspired by events in the life of the author’s own family, The Rigel Affair by L.M. Hedrick, traces the lives of Mattie and Charlie as they grow up in very different corners of the Earth to their eventual chance meeting as adults in Auckland, New Zealand. Once the two meet, their lives are never the same, and Hedrick makes clear from their first outing together that the two are destined to be together. This primarily historical fiction book is laced with romance and a bit of intrigue–just enough to appeal to multiple groups of readers.
Not knowing how much the character of Roxy is based on real events, I can only say that if her portion of the story is true, it is indeed fantastic. To believe that Charlie and Roxy, a childhood friend who practically mourns for Charlie’s love, could so easily run across him in the 1940’s without the convenience of modern day technology is little far-fetched. Happening across Roxy in two very different parts of the world years apart is a bit of a stretch. If it is indeed part of the truth of Hedrick’s story, it’s fascinating and makes the tale that much more rich.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect, and one of the most well-integrated in the story, is the portion about Mrs. Frisken. Though her truth is never fully revealed, Hedrick successfully gives readers cause for pause and inspires some rereading of text. (I love when an author makes me second guess my own opinions of a character and his/her intentions.) I have to say that I didn’t foresee the ending regarding Mrs. Frisken happening in quite the way it did. Though sad, it was a wonderful addition to Mattie’s story-line.
Hedrick has written a book that requires patience on the part of the reader. I desperately wanted Mattie to get the gumption to go against her overbearing father. Her inability to make a decision without her parents’ input frustrated me. In addition, readers may find it difficult to watch as Mattie and Charlie’s letters pass each other in delivery without making it to one another causing much heartache for the two as they are pulled further and further apart.
Hedrick is handing readers a perfect blend of historical fiction and romance. The text itself is heavily laden with historical truths and gives fans of both genres something to appreciate and remember.
Pages: 355 | ASIN: B07K8WGTWV
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Black Dragons Attack, the fourth installment in the Nick Grant Adventures series outdoes the high bar set by the previous adventures. This enthralling pre-World War II story features a superb cameo by American aviation hero Howard Hughes! Readers are transported to the nostalgic war era with the mind-blowing narrative by author Jamie Dodson. Nick Grant starts afresh as a Naval Aviation Cadet that leads to a chance encounter with Howard Hughes that changes the course of his life. Join Nick as he thwarts the Japanese plot to steal the famous Hughes H-1 racer along with his friends Nancy Tanaka and Leilani Porta for some edge of your seat entertainment.
Jamie Dodson has always delivered riveting story lines, perfect character development, amazing locales, and ultimately an exceptional climax – in short, each of Nick Grant’s adventures, be it Flying Boats & Spies, China Clipper, or Mission Shanghai or the latest offering Black Dragons Attack never fail to impress readers.
Set in 1936, Black Dragons Attack continues the Nick Grant saga as he believes his arch nemesis Toshio Miyazaki, is dead and starts afresh as a Cadet in the Naval Aviation Academy. It takes no less than a chance run in with the genius billionaire aviator and movie producer, Howard Hughes to lure Nick back into another deadly spy game.
The Black Dragons, working for the Japanese Intelligence Service, turn out to be secretly active and conspiring with a new partner, the Third Reich in California! As the Japanese hatch an elaborate plan to steal the Hughes H-1 racer to reverse engineer and build something even more advanced, US Naval Counterintelligence uncovers their activities. Nick is tasked with foiling the plans of the Japanese with the help of Nancy Tanaka and Leilani Porta.
As much as Nick impresses with his heroic show of patriotism and daredevilry, the Hughes H-1 steals the show with its sheer technological prowess and revolutionary functionalities that are years ahead of anything that existed in that era, precisely why the fascist regimes of Imperial Japanese and Nazis were so obsessed with it.
The setting of pre-world war II provides a poignant background wherein Jamie Dodson successfully manages to capture the mindset of people in a war torn country. Howard Hughes, albeit in a sort of guest appearance, manages to shine and awe the reader with his larger than life personality. The character sketches of Nancy, Leilani and Toshio are spot on and do justice to their role in the plot.
Overall, Black Dragons Attack, the fourth book in the Nick Grant adventure series is a pleasure to read.
Pages: 244 | ASIN: 1938667549
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There are many words that can be used to describe the tale of Swallow by Heidi Fischer. Gripping. Moving. Heart-breaking. This fantastic story about a young woman in World War Two era Germany humanizes those who fought in the war in a way that is unexpected. Our story follows Gabi: a fierce, bright woman who stampedes her way onto the runway where she acts as an engineer and pilot. In a time where woman were beginning to make their mark on the world; a time when relations are strained and many outside the Nazi mantra failed to truly understand what was happening in their country. Gabi finds herself in all of this. The bright young woman who had her life altered so horrifically at the tender age of seven. The young woman who wants to do her father, a general, proud. Gabi shows us a Germany that many of us wouldn’t have believed existed. The desire of a young woman to fly.
This book starts off with a bang and just doesn’t stop. Fischer hooks her readers from the first chapter and we become entranced by the story. Gabi survives a horrific event that many young women today struggle to overcome. While it haunts her as she ages, she preservers and moves forward with her dreams. Lying her way into the military where she can work as an engineer and eventually a pilot shows how determined she is to reach her goal. You can’t help but root for Gabi and hope that everything she wants will come true. Alas, we must be reminded that it is not all sunshine and rainbows in this world. Especially not during World War Two. Gabi will achieve, and she will lose. She will love and it will be lost. Even as she struggles with despair she never gives up that which keeps her going: hope.
Not only do we get to see the world from Gabi’s point of view but we also get a few glimpses into the minds of the men in her life. Most notable is her father. A strong, silent and stoic man who gives away few smiles for his daughter. While he disagrees with her choice, there is no doubt that he is proud of everything that she accomplishes. There are three loves that Gabi will have: Heinz, Hans and Kurt. Each one different from the other and each love comes with its own prescription for pain. Gabi pushes on, becoming a role model for all young German men and women who get wrapped up in the war.
While the book doesn’t focus too heavily on the actual war itself, it is difficult to get away from it completely. Gabi is a pilot for Nazi Germany and she does kill those known to her as the ‘enemy’. There is no refuge from guilt, however. It serves as a stark reminder that there were human beings involved in that atrocity. Not all of them agreed with what was happening. Heidi Fischer uses Swallow to tell us a love story wrapped in a piece about humanity. This is an excellent read and picking it up will add emotional depth to any library.
Pages: 255 | ASIN: B06XRRK75N
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