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Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction reading challenge’

GI Brides

Source: Review copy from William Morrow
Rating: ★★★★★

When they had married, it had been in the midst of a war that seemed never-ending.  She had accepted Raymond’s ring without considering the fact that one day it would mean following him halfway across the world.  But now, as she waited for her orders to join him in America, she began to question what she had done.

(from GI Brides, page 174)

Quick summary: GI Brides profiles just four of the more than 70,000 British women who married American soldiers during World War II and followed them to the United States, including author Nuala Calvi’s grandmother, Margaret. Based on interviews with the women, the book goes into detail about each of their lives during the war, how they met their GI husbands, and what life was like for them in a new country as they raised their families.

Why I wanted to read it: I had no idea there were so many war brides, and I was curious about how these women fared after leaving their homes and families to start anew in a strange country.

What I liked: GI Brides reads like a novel, which makes it very easy to get absorbed in the stories of these women. Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi obviously did a lot of research, and they present the stories of Sylvia, Rae, Margaret, and Lyn in such a way that I cared about them and felt like they were old friends. Pictures are included so readers can put faces to the names, and I found myself flipping to them many times while I read.

What I disliked: The chapters alternate among the women, and at first that made it difficult for me to keep track of their stories, especially if I put the book down for a day or two before coming back to it. That didn’t keep me from loving the book, though.

Final thoughts: Sylvia, Rae, Margaret, and Lyn came from different backgrounds, but they had a lot in common. These women each found a way to do their part for the war effort, whether volunteering at a Red Cross club like Sylvia or joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service like Rae. Despite each of them finding love or at least some semblance of happiness with their American soldiers, these women experienced many challenges and hardships. Most importantly, these women were strong, adventurous, and able to overcome the various obstacles thrown in their paths. GI Brides is a fascinating book about just a few of the many women brave enough to cross an ocean — on their own — for a chance at love, with no guarantees that it would work out or that they would ever see their families again.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for having me on the tour for GI Brides. To follow the tour, click here.

war challenge with a twist

Book 22 for the War Challenge With a Twist (WWII)

Book 1 for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge

Book 2 for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge

Disclosure: I received GI Brides from William Morrow for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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sketches of a black cat

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★☆

The smoke covered hillside dimmed the flashes as our altitude increased.  Ahead, a last bursting shell fanned out in the clear smokeless sky like a brilliant American star to light our way.

(from Sketches of a Black Cat, page 94)

Quick summary: Sketches of a Black Cat is the World War II story of Howard Miner, a PBY pilot in the South Pacific.  His son, Ron Miner, found his artwork, journal entries, and other writings after his death and transformed them into this memoir, which chronicles Howard’s military training, service during WWII, and his life after the war.

Why I wanted to read it: I had never heard of the Black Cats, who flew at night in black seaplanes.  I also was curious about Howard Miner’s story and his artwork.

What I liked: The sketches and writings found by Ron Miner after his father’s death are a real treasure.  Sketches of a Black Cat not only shows his father’s evolution from student to soldier but also emphasizes Ron’s love and admiration for his father.  Howard Miner’s story is detailed, full of adventure and even humor.  The photos, sketches, and watercolors bring this memoir to life.

What I disliked: I wouldn’t say I really disliked anything in this book, but at times, it was too detailed for me.  The descriptions of the planes and their maneuvers, for instance, were not as interesting to me as the overall story.

Final thoughts: As fewer and fewer heroes from WWII remain to tell their stories, books like Sketches of a Black Cat take on greater importance, and the inclusion of original artwork make it one of the most unique WWII memoirs I’ve read so far.  I appreciate Ron Miner taking the time to reconstruct his father’s story, sharing it with the world and ensuring his father and his tales of courage during wartime will live forever within its pages.

war challenge with a twist

Book 18 for the War Challenge With a Twist (WWII)

Book 1 for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge

Book 1 for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge

Disclosure: I received Sketches of a Black Cat from the author for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I’m really excited about the challenges I’m participating in this year.  I’m probably being overly ambitious, so wish me luck!

war challenge with a twist

January 1 – December 31

Serena and I are doing things a bit differently this year on War Through the Generations.  We’re calling it the 2014 War Challenge With a Twist, and instead of focusing on a single war for the whole year, we’ll be posting a review linky for a different war every two months (though you can read from any war throughout the year and add your review links later).

Here’s the schedule:

January/February: Gulf Wars (Gulf War/Operation Desert Storm and Iraq War/Operation Iraqi Freedom)
March/April: French and Indian War
May/June: Korean War
July/August: World War I (100th Anniversary)
September/October: World War II
November/December: Vietnam War

There are different levels of participation; I signed up for the Intermediate Level, which involves reading 2+ books on one war and at least 1 book on all the others.

If you’re interested in participating, we’d love to have you join us.  For more information and to sign up, click here.

historical fiction challenge

January 1 – December 31

I’m signing up for the Ancient History level of at least 25 books for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014 at Historical Tapestry.  I originally wanted to sign up for the highest level of 50+ books, but I think it’s safer to shoot for 40, given that I read 37 books for this challenge last year.

dive into poetry

January 1 – December 31

I’m also signing up for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2014, hosted by Savvy Verse & Wit.  I’m going to commit to the Dip Your Toes level and read up to 2 poetry books this year.  There are several options for this challenge, so I hope you’ll see how easy it is to get your feet wet in terms of reading poetry.

european reading challenge

January 1, 2014 – January 31, 2015

I’m also signing up for the 2014 European Reading Challenge, hosted by Rose City Reader.  I’m going for the Five Star (Deluxe Entourage) level, which calls for at least 5 books by different European authors or books set in different European countries.

nonfiction reading challenge

January 1 – December 31

I’m signing up for the Dilettante level for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2014, hosted by The Introverted Reader.  That means I will read 1-5 memoirs or other nonfiction books.

Literature and War Readalong 2014

I plan to participate in 6 of the monthly discussions of war-related books hosted by Beauty Is a Sleeping Cat.

April: Toby’s Room by Pat Barker (WWI)
May: Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (WWI)
July: The Lie by Helen Dunmore (WWI)
August: Undertones of War by Edmund Blunden (WWI)
October: Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey (WWI)
December: Letters From a Lost Generation by Vera Brittain and Four Friends (WWI)

keep calm and read jane austen

January 1 – December 31

Finally, I decided to create My Personal Jane Austen Challenge for myself.  In 2012, I really enjoyed participating in the Exploring the Many Genres of Jane Austen Challenge, hosted by the late Shanna of Existing’s Tricky.  I decided to revisit her challenge and create different categories.  So I plan to read at least 14 Austen and Austen-inspired books in the following categories:

Books by Jane Austen
Modern Adaptation
Graphic Novel
Mystery
Jane Austen as a Character
Sequel
Retelling
Minor Character in Lead Role
Short Stories
From the Hero’s POV
Paranormal
Young Adult
Alternate Setting
Outside the Box

What challenges are you committing to in 2014?

©2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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