Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2) By Yecheilyah Ysrayl [Book Review]

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Book Review: Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2) by Yecheilyah Ysrayl | Historical Fiction | Creative Writing | Books | Reading | Book Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I received a free ARC of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

When Nora White is drugged by her friend she is forced to deal with the harsh reality of life in the North. She meets Keisha and the women catch a ride to The Den, a gambling and numbers hole-in-the-wall in Jacobsville New York. Unlike the upper echelon of Harlem, Nora’s new friends are hustlers but down to Earth and feels more like family. They take her to Liberty Hall where she is introduced to Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.).

Meanwhile, Nora has no idea her father has been arrested and back home Molly is hanging on by a thread. When the community discovers the truth of the alleged crime they devise a way to get Gideon out of jail but their actions could mean life or death for everyone involved. Will Nora come to her senses and return home in time to help the family or will her naiveté lead her astray once again?

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

The cover is beautiful. It’s simple and easy to look at. I find it ironic that when I look at the cover, I see peace, and that’s everything this book is not.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I read the first Nora White book and enjoyed it, so I’ve been looking forward to this one.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

Nora gets herself into an interesting situation, though she meets some fun characters and makes the best out of it, in a way. Meanwhile, her family is unraveling back home because Gideon is in jail and Nora is missing.

There’s a lot going on in this book and there’s a lot of different characters to follow. The plot flowed pretty well through it all though and it was easy to keep up with and to understand.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

There are a lot of characters and they’re all likable (except for a few here and there which I’m sure we’re not really supposed to care too much for). They all have their own agenda going on or their own conflict and everyone is intertwined with each other. It’s well done.

My favorite part about all the characters were their voices. They speak how they would if they were real and it sounds authentic adding a new level to the book.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This is a fast paced book with fairly short chapters. There’s plenty of dialogue but there’s also a good amount of description to back it up and paint the picture. The story flowed well and there were many moments where I turned the page fast just to see what would happen next.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This was a great read and held up to the first book’s standards. My only complaint was that I felt the ending was a bit abrupt and moved too quickly. It was a satisfying ending, but I felt as though there could have been a little more in between the last couple of chapters. Still, if you’re into historical fiction and read and enjoyed the first book, definitely pick this one up.

Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2) by Yecheilyah Ysrayl gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Young man. I don’t want any trouble. I am, however, willing to put my foot in someone’s ass, if need be.” –Yecheilyah Ysrayl, Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2)

Buy the book:

Amazon

Read my review of Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book 1) by Yecheilyah Ysrayl!

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around! Also, check out other Book Reviews I’ve done!

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Kitty Hawk And The Curse Of The Yukon Gold By Iain Reading [Book Review]

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Book Review | Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading | RachelPoli.com

I have received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I love this book cover. It perfectly sums up some major events of the book – the plane, Kitty climbing the mountain, the whale in the background – and the art style is just great. I love looking at it and it certainly enticed me in.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I was approached by the author’s publicist about this book. I love mysteries and was intrigued by the “historical fiction” part of this story. I’ll admit, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on my own, but I decided to give it a try.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

Kitty Hawk goes on an adventure flying off in her plane to Alaska in order to watch whales, observe, and study them. Then she runs into a group of gold thieves. She overhears their plan and they catch her before she can run away. Her mission is no longer whales, it’s the gold.

I felt as though this book was slow to start. I didn’t really get interested in it until Kitty ran into the thieves and that was around 100 pages or so into the story. When that happened, I got really into it. I felt as though the plot was cleverly crafted into the story making the history important, but not bombarding me with a history lesson.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I enjoyed Kitty’s character. She was a strong protagonist and certainly knew how to take care of herself. However, a good chunk of her dialogue, especially in the beginning, was her talking to her internal self. It got confusion since her thoughts were in normal quotations and I also didn’t think it made any sense. She was having actual conversations with herself. It became annoying and I didn’t think it was needed.

Once I met Charlie, Buck, Will, and Jay, I enjoyed their characters a lot more. The four brothers were certainly a great addition to the cast. Though, I wonder if all four were needed. Their personalities were certainly different from each other.

However, Jay was the silent type. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it was almost as though he wasn’t even there. He didn’t start really speaking until the main part of their journey was halfway over. I had completely forgotten about him to the point that when his name was stated I had no idea who he was.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This story flowed well. As stated earlier, I felt as though the beginning was slow, but it did pick up when the adventure truly began. Once that happened it was smooth sailing. The history lessons were minimum but I learned a lot anyway.

I enjoyed all the description of their adventure, though a lot of the dialogue felt unrealistic to me. A lot of dialogue didn’t contain any contractions making the characters sound almost robotic. It just didn’t seem like something a person would say in real life.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

Overall, this was a great read. Once you get past the beginning it’s an enjoyable read. If you like a casual mystery and have a taste for adventure, give this one a try.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Apparently even in deadly serious situations boys simply can’t resist the urge to play like they are secret agents or something.” –Iain Reading, Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About The Series

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves.

There are currently five books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4), and Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces (book 5).

“In the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series the heroine finds herself in a new geographic location in each book. The series will eventually have a total of 13 books in it (maybe more) and her flight around the world will be completed in the end,” says Iain. “The books are sequential but one could definitely read any of the later ones before reading the earlier ones.”

For more information, go to Kitty Hawk World

Check out the book trailer: YouTube

About the Author:

Iain Reading | Kitty Hawk and the Yukon Gold | Book Review | YA Mystery | Historical Fiction | RachelPoli.comIain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Iain is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to his Amazon page.

Readers can connect with Iain on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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Meet Jon Budd, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Jon Budd to my blog!

Jon Budd, author interview

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a professional archeologist working for the state of Texas. Prior to that I worked in California for the Forest Service. I am also a singer, musician, and songwriter. I have released my own album of original songs entitled, “Musical Ontology”. I have also just released my first historical fiction novel entitled, “The Legend of the Washo Gold”. I have a Master of Art’s degree in anthropology specializing in archeology from a California State University. I like to write fiction based upon facts.

How long have you been writing for?

I basically write for a living in my job as an archeologist. I write a lot. However, it took nearly twenty years to write my first and only novel.

What is your writing process like?

I get an idea and work on it and let it grow organically. It’s like building a house. First you create the framework, which is the draft. Then, you refine it by adding the fixtures. Like polishing your draft. I rewrite like crazy. I must have gone through at least a dozen proofs.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

Most days I work, so I come home and spend ninety minutes a day practicing my acoustic guitar and then I write as hard as I can for an hour. I rotate chapters every day, so the book gets created as whole, together. I also like to have friends read what I write to check for typos and nonsense.

What motivates you to write?

I think that everyone has an artist inside them. I can’t draw, paint, or sculpt, so I express my personal artist through music and literature.

I didn’t consciously make any decision to become a writer. I just had an idea for what I thought would be a good, entertaining story, so I began to write it. I do remember though, a long time ago, while looking for a decent movie to rent at the local Blockbuster Video, saying to myself, “I could come up with a better story for a movie then what I see here”!

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I always felt that my novel would be published, so it wasn’t a big thing.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Artistically, this novel drained me. That’s the way it supposed to be isn’t it? I poured everything I had into it. It’s a little painful to think about what my next literary project may be. I’m sure there will be one and I have some ideas, but that’s what they are now, just ideas, nothing firm. However, I am returning to my musical writing and performing. My next artistic endeavor will be bringing forth more original musical compositions and performances.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I am already a successful archeologist and musician.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest part is coming up with ideas for novels. That comes pretty natural. The hardest part is the hard work it takes, plodding on day after day shaping the details and characters into something that makes sense.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

I naively thought that if you wrote a good book, you would be successful. But, that’s not the case. As often in other fields, you really need to know someone. So, being a successful writer includes networking and schmoozing.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

My genre, Native American Historical Fiction, is what I know. I have a Master’s Degree in Anthropology specializing in Archeology. I have well over twenty-five years working as a professional archeology for the United States Forest Service and the State of Texas where I work now. I have studied Native American Indian culture, religion, and history since I was a boy growing up in New Mexico.

I admire JRR Tolkien who wrote, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” because he took me to a faraway place. I also admire Richard Henry Dana Jr. who wrote, “Two Years before the Mast” because he revealed to me that good history is entertaining. Finally, I really admire Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) who wrote, “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn” because of his earthy and ingenious ways of weaving humor into a story.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Take the first step and just begin. Commit, commit, commit. Write as hard as you can for an hour a day. Keep track of the days you write and try to set and break records for consecutive days. Write for an hour about each one of your characters. Who are they? What are they like? Who do they remind you of? That will help you develop deep, rich, memorable characters. Don’t be afraid of failing. You are only beaten when you give up. Never give up. Network, network, network. You can never have too many friends.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

The title of my novel is, “The Legend of the Washo Gold”. It’s about Hank and Vince who are friends. They work together for the Forest Service near Lake Tahoe in California. Vince is an archeologist and Hank is a Native American Indian Hank is from a local tribe called, “the Washo”. They have an ancient, sacred, landmark known as “Cave Rock”. This place is located on the shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe. Precious tribal treasures are stored there. When one of Hank’s tribal elders learns that raiders have found their way into Cave Rock, he sends Hank down to San Francisco to retrieve what was stolen. Hank learns that there is a curse on Cave Rock and the strangers who have raided the cave may have set things in motion that could culminate in a terrible earthquake just like the one that destroyed San Francisco in 1906. Hank, Vince, and a War Party of Indians must travel to San Francisco and take back what was stolen from the cave before thousands of people perish or get injured from another devastating earthquake. This is their story.

About Jon

Jon Budd is an author, musician, and an archeologist. He is also known by his formal name, Jonathan Budd. He grew up in Northern New Mexico playing music and studying ancient Indian ruins. Jon started playing professionally for school dances when he was fourteen years old. By the time he was sixteen, he was performing in nightclubs. When he came of age, he lived and performed in Albuquerque, Houston, and Denver. It was in Denver where he began his university training in archeology. He moved to Los Angeles and recorded his original music album entitled, “Musical Ontology”. This album consists of ten original songs that Jon composed as well as a drum solo he performs. Jon wrote and produced all of the music. He sang all of the songs, played drums, keyboards, most of the guitars, as well as some of the bass guitar. There are some really talented musicians who also recorded on Jon’s album including Andy West (bass), Cornelius Bumpus (saxophone), and Steve Richards and Mike Richards on Guitars. This album is available as a compact disc album as well as individual song downloads at https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jonathanbudd3. Jon now performs in and around Austin, Texas – the Live Music Capitol of the World!

In 2017, Jon released his first historical-fiction novel entitled, “The Legend of the Washo Gold”. It is an adventure- fiction story about the struggle of the Washo American Indians during the infamous 1849 California Gold Rush. It centers on the beautiful, pristine Lake Tahoe and reveals American Indians in a very positive light.  The novel uses ancient Washo mythology to tell a story of how these Indians persevered and eventually prospered during tumultuous Gold Rush era. The story travels in time to the initial gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill, the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and into modern times. The tale features Lake Tahoe, Cave Rock, Washo Cosmology, gold treasure, earthquakes and San Francisco.

Jon graduated with a Master of Art’s degree from California State University, Northridge. He worked for seven years for the United States Forest Service in California as an archeologist. It was while working around Lake Tahoe that he get inspired to write his novel. For the last 17 years, Jon has been working as a professional archeologist for the State of Texas.  He is currently performing as a solo guitarist and working on his next novel and his next music album. You can follow Jon and his art at www.jonbudd.org. You can reach Jon at jonbudd@yahoo.com.

Connect with Jon

Facebook | Website

Buy Jon’s Book

The Legend of the Washo Gold by Jon BuddThe Legend of the Washo Gold portrays Native Americans in a very favorable light. It reveal the way one tribe could have overcome the invasion of their precious homeland by the onslaught of white miners during the infamous 1849 California Gold Rush. The Legend of the Washo Gold is a thrilling adventure! Thieves have broken into the Washo Tribe’s sacred cave. Hank, a modern day warrior, is assigned the task of recovering what was stolen before an ancient curse triggers a repeat of the devastaing 1906 Great San Fransico Earthquake. He must overcome hi doubt about his tribe’s ancient religion and lead a war party of his companions to recover a cursed Indian treasure and secure the secret of the Washo Gold.

The Legend of the Washo Gold is available on Amazon as Kindle and paper back. It’s an excellent read.

Renaissance: The Nora White Story by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Book Review | Renaissance: The Nora White Story by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Title: Renaissance: The Nora White Story
Author: Yecheilyah Ysrayl
Published: 
July 15, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
How I got the book: I received a free eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

When seventeen-year-old NoraWhite successfully graduates High School in 1922 Mississippi and is College bound, everyone is overjoyed and excited. Everyone except Nora. She dreams of Harlem, Cotton Clubs, Fancy Dresses, and Langston Hughes. For years, she’s sat under Mr. Oak, the big oak tree on the plush green grass of her families five acres, and daydreamed of The Black Mecca.

The ambitious, young Nora is fascinated by the prospect of being a famous writer in The Harlem Renaissance and decides she doesn’t want to go to College. Despite her parent’s staunch protest, Nora finds herself in Jacobsville, New York, a small town forty-five minutes outside of Harlem.

Shocked by their daughter’s disappearance, Gideon and Molly White are plagued with visions of the deadly south, like the brutal lynching of Gideon’s sister years ago. As the couple embark on a frightening and gut wrenching search for Nora, they are each stalked by their own traumatic past. Meanwhile, Noralearns that the North is not all it’s cracked up to be and struggles to accept her prestigious family’s dark secrets.

Can Gideon and Molly overcome their disturbing past in time to find their daughter before it’s too late?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I heard about this book through the author’s bio when she contacted me to do a guest post on my blog. I asked for more information and the book sounded intriguing with a little mystery twist to it.

rp-plot

The story follows Nora as she tries to follow her dreams. The novel takes place in the 1920s, so it’s hard for a young woman to go after what she wants, especially if she’s also black.

As her parents try to convince Nora that her dreams aren’t good enough, Nora decides to take fate into her own hands and leaves without a word. From there, we go back and forth between Nora and her parents following both as her parents try to find her and as Nora tries to make her dreams a reality.

It’s a great plot idea and the time period makes it all the more interesting.

rp-characters

While I enjoyed all the characters and they were all unique from one another, I felt as though I didn’t get a good chance to get to know them all.

Judging from the title, this story should be about Nora, but as the novel went on we learned more about her parents and less about Nora.

By the end of the novel, I felt I had a good grasp on Gideon and Molly, but Nora was still somewhat of a mystery to me as was her friend, Lisa.

rp-writing-style

I was confused at the beginning of most chapters. Some chapters had headings such as which point of view we were in, but not all of them. Some chapters mentioned the year date, other chapters mentioned a location and one chapter even indicated the time. Some chapter headings didn’t say anything at all and I found this be really confusing. I couldn’t keep track of who I was supposed to be following or where I was.The author’s writing is beautiful. She captivates the dialect of the southern speak wonderfully

However, the author’s writing is beautiful. She captivates the dialect of the southern speak wonderfully and I found the description of each and every action and location to just roll off my tongue as I read.

rp-overall

The novel stands at about 150-pages long. I felt as though much more could have been done with it. By the end of the story, I realized book one seems to be a build-up for book two. Still, I’m interested in reading book two when it comes out.

Renaissance: The Nora White Story by Yecheilyah Ysrayl gets…
4 stars book review4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“And the arts… could not exist without the continual growth of emerging talent.” –Yecheilyah Ysrayl, Renaissance: The Nora White Story

Renaissance: The Nora White Story by Yecheilyah Ysrayl will be available JULY 15, 2017.

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Meet Phyllis Edgerly Ring, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Phyllis Edgerly Ring to my blog.

Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Because I began life as an Army brat, and I’m a Baha’i, I value a world citizen’s perspective about where our human family is going on its shared journey.

My nonfiction books explore how to create balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life. I write fiction because, like so much of art, it can help us discover just what shape this balance is taking within our own lives. More than any other kind of writing, book-length fiction requires an absorption and immersion that will lead to what wants to be known and realized — in a story, and in a life. When a writer goes the distance with this, it allows mysterious unseen threads to weave into what both emotions and spirit can recognize as true and, in that recognizing, encounter what transcends this earthly life.

How long have you been writing for?

Since my teens and, in a focused way — selling and publishing work — since my late 20s. I wrote for magazines and newspapers, which was a great way to build the skills I now value and rely on as I write books.

What is your writing process like?

I allow whatever portion of a work that wants to come to reveal itself and I capture it down. I’ve never started at the beginning, but what the beginning is always becomes clear as I allow the process to reveal things in its own way, which is almost never in chronological order. Once enough pieces come into existence, they begin to show me how they connect and relate to each other, and what further directions to take. This, for me, is one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I’m possessive and protective about the start of my day (which may come even before the sun shows up) because of the quality of its energy. For newly arriving writing, this is the very best time. For revision work, late morning and late afternoon seem best. I don’t necessarily get words onto a page every day, but I am always writing – living with the work, and “noodling” and discovering more about it.

What motivates you to write?

The utter joy of it, immersion in this deeply absorbing and revealing experience. As some writers describe, it can be like living in my own movie. Plus, the research that most of my writing requires is a delight for nerdy me. It never feels like work, just pure delight in discovery, with inevitable surprises.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

Called my sister, who is also a writer, as was our mother. Then I went straight downtown to inform my wonderful local independent bookstore.

Are you currently working on anything new?

My first book for children, Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House, is coming out this year. And my latest novel, The Munich Girl, keeps me busier as I interact with book clubs and other widening circles of readers, and offer presentations about it at libraries and such. I’ve also waded into 2 new projects. One is what I’d term spiritual memoir, based on my experience with writing The Munich Girl and some of the nearly inexplicable synchronicities that it brought. The other is historical fiction set in 19th-century New England.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

Something that incorporates the powerful role of story in human experience, and healing. I worked in the healing field early in my life. I learned that story plays an enormous part in how people heal, because it supports how they come to resolution, understanding, and eventually, find peace as they make meaning about life experience.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest: that it’s there waiting for me everyday, and I can pursue it anywhere I am in the world. Hardest (sometimes, at least), is that every writing work has its own timetable, directly related to the one connected with my own development, and that it’s wise not to try to force or speed up.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

If I am true to the nature of my own writing self, allow it to be the soul-led experience it is, the process will be enjoyable, full of discovery, even empowering. It will amaze me. And, I believe, it will be a part of what transforms me.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

Historical fiction has attracted me from my earliest (grade school) reading days. The first book I read on my own that made a huge impact on me (third grade) was a biography of the medieval life and work of St. Elisabeth.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read, persevere, learn craft — do all of these until you find both your voice and the process that works for you. Then relish the rewriting as much as you do the exciting early drafting that brings with it so much discovery. Also, learn how to be edited, so that you’re able to recognize when someone’s applying this fine skill to your work and it really does improve it, help you past your blind spots, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I love hearing from readers with their thoughts and reflections about my books. They can contact me at info@phyllisring.com. Thanks very much for this opportunity, Rachel. ☺

Author bio:

Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and frequently serves as workshop facilitator and coach for others’ writing projects. Her published work includes fiction and inspirational nonfiction.

Connect with Phyllis Edgerly Ring:

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

Phyllis Edgerly Ring’s Books:

munich-girlBuy Links:

Amazon | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Audible

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo book review by Rachel Poli
Via Goodreads

Title: An Elephant in the Garden
Author: 
Michael Morpurgo
Genre: Young adult historical fiction
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Goodreads):

With Lizzie’s father fighting in World War II, her mother takes on the job of a zoo keeper to provide for her family. Lizzie, her mother, and her eight-year-old brother Karli have become especially attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene. The bombing of Dresden is imminent and soon, so the zoo director explains that as a precautionary measure all the animals must be destroyed so that they’re not running wild through the city. Lizzie’s mother persuades the director to allow Marlene, the elephant, to come stay in the family’s garden.

As predicted, Dresden is bombed, and the family, including Marlene, is forced from the city. Lizzie and her family aren’t alone. Thousands of Dresden residents are fleeing to find somewhere safe to stay. Lizzie’s mother has to find a different route out of the city to keep the elephant and the children safe from harm. Once they reach the abandoned home of their relatives, they come across Peter, a Canadian navigator who, by putting himself at risk of capture to save the family, gains their trust.

My Review:

 

Like all Holocaust stories, this book can be a difficult read. But this story was unlike the other World War II stories I’ve read and in that sense, it can be a refreshing read. It’s bittersweet.

The protagonist, Lizzie, is old and frail living in a nursing home. She befriends a nurse and her son, Karl, who happens to have the same name as Lizzie’s little brother. This prompts her to tell her story on the anniversary it happened so many years ago during World War II.

Lizzie was 16-years-old when her father went off to war, their city was bombed by the Americans and British, and they had to journey through the dark and cold struggling for food and shelter. It was just her, her mother, little brother, and their elephant, Marlene, who was brought home by their mother from the zoo.

Most Holocaust stories are about the Jews in the camps, their experiences, horror stories, and how they survived and stayed strong. Lizzie and her family are Germans who disagreed with Hitler. When you think of the Holocaust you think of two sides: the Jews and the Nazis. You don’t think about the other Germans who were actually good, who didn’t agree with Hitler and wanted peace.

Yet Lizzie and her family were caught up in the war because all of Germany was bombed and attacked in an attempt to free the Jews. They didn’t decide to just attack the Nazis, they attacked Germany as a whole and that resulted in so much more innocent lives lost and destroyed.

The overall story was told nicely as Lizzie narrated her life. Once in a while, the story would bounce back to present day as Lizzie in the hospital with her nurse and the nurse’s son sitting by her bedside intrigued by the story.

The characters were fun to read about. Each one had a purpose and was strong and brave in their own way. They were all imporant and easy to read.

This book is inspired by true events, but I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. Either way, it’s an important read.

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“What we are seeing now is a world gone mad, children, a world full of brutes, all intent on killing one another. And we should not forget that we are all responsible for making it happen, for letting it happen.” –Michael Morpurgo, An Elephant in the Garden

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Something Upstairs by Avi

Something Upstairs by Avi book review Rachel Poli
Via Goodreads
Title: Something Upstairs
Author: Avi
Genre: Historical Fiction
How I got the book: I borrowed it from my cousin

Summary (from Goodreads):

When 12-year-old Kenny Huldorf moves to Providence, Rhode Island, he soon discovers that his attic bedroom is haunted by the ghost of a teenage slave named Caleb. Before long, Caleb summons Kenny back in time, where Kenny finds himself entangled in Caleb’s murder and deeply troubled by the century-old injustice. Ultimately, it is up to Kenny to solve Caleb’s murder or remain forever trapped in history. Part ghost story, part social commentary, this thought-provoking, hair-raising page turner from master tale spinner, Avi, is a perfect chilling summer read!

My Review:

This book was eerily good. My cousin had to read it for her summer reading for school and when she explained the premise of the book to me, I thought it surely can’t be true because the book states that it’s based on a true story.

I believe in ghosts, but ghosts being able to actually talk to you instead of send signs and miracles as well as going back in time, seem a little far-fetched.

Yet, my interest was piqued and I read the 140-page book in one sitting.

The characters were interesting as Kenny, the protagonist, moves into a new home only to find a ghost haunting his bedroom. The ghost, Caleb, is 16-years-old and was a slave during his life. He was murdered and wants Kenny to help him figure out who murdered him so he can finally rest in peace.

Kenny does research about the past and his house at the library learning a lot about Caleb and the dates that he was alive. True or not, this story is a fun history lesson.

Caleb and Kenny go back in time where Caleb is alive and Kenny, not existing yet, is a ghost. They confront the murderer and… Well, you’ll have to read it for yourself.

When I finished the book I Googled the murderer’s name. Sure enough, these people were real and it’s one of those things that if you decide to believe, then it’s true.

It was a quick, thrilling read and definitely intriguing as you wonder what’s real and what’s not. Avi did a great job interpreting the story and it was hard to put down.

Something Upstairs by Avi gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Is memory real? Can you kill a memory? Change it?” –Avi, Something Upstairs

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The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring book review
Via Amazon

Title: The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War
Author: Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Genre: Historical Fiction
How I got it: From the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary (from Amazon):

Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s. Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna’s journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

During my read of this novel, there were times that I wasn’t sure if it was fiction or not. The information spread throughout the story seems so realistic that you would think you were reading a memoir from Hitler’s time.

Of course, I don’t know too much about that time period so I’m not entirely sure exactly how much of the information was true and how much was fiction. However, I enjoyed following Anna on her journey as she researched her mother’s past as well as Hitler’s mistress.

I enjoyed the characters enough that I actually cared about what Anna was going to find about her past. Every character was well written and developed well. The only character I had a problem with was Anna’s husband… But I’m sure we’re not really supposed to like him.

I loved the subtle genres in this novel. It’s historical fiction, with a hint of mystery and romance. I love mysteries and it was fun to piece together Anna’s past along with her and Hannes.

Speaking of Anna and Hannes, their romance was perfect. I’m not one for romance, but their love story was subtle enough that we knew they were a match, but it took time. It wasn’t dramatic love-at-first-sight.

The writing style fit the story as well as the timeline for the story. Phyllis Edgerly Ring wrote this story perfectly. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t normally read this genre.

The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“And I think there’s wisdom in those dreams. Your heart knows there’s only one thing worth searching for. And it has absolutely nothing to do with him.” –Phyllis Edgerly Ring, The Munich Girl

About the Author:

Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New Hampshire and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and frequently serves as workshop facilitator and coach for others’ writing projects. She is also the author of the novel, Snow Fence Road, and inspirational nonfiction, Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details.

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You can buy The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlasts War on Amazon.