A short, clean, teen fiction with action and adventure! Easy read, but a story with intense circumstances!
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve read a Christian teen fiction novel. While there are a few that impacted me growing up, many were cheesy, unrelatable or boring. It’s very, very hard to write a captivating, but clean teen fiction novel, so I was nervous to read Avalanche. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised! The story in these 220 pages take place in the span of about 4 days, give or take. I rarely read books that take place over such a short period of time, but I enjoyed the intensity of it. Toward the beginning of the story, an avalanche takes place and immediately, Marlee, her sisters and their friends are thrown into a life or death situation. Once the falling snow subsides, the question becomes how are they going to survive long enough to be found?
This review is special because it’s a modified version of the official book review I submitted for a history class I took this summer (which is also why it sort of reads like an essay/why it’s sooo long 😉 ). One of the best things about this history class I took was that I got to choose the book I needed to review for my final project. So I picked a book I had bought almost two years prior that I’d been meaning to read ever since–The Last of the Doughboys by Richard Rubin. Rubin managed to interview the last couple dozen surviving World War 1 veterans of the U.S. (and a couple from Canada!) before the last one passed away in 2013. Then he compiled their stories in his book. It was such a pleasure to read and I learned so much about the war and the people who served our country in it! I was moved multiple times, sometimes to tears, but regardless, I really appreciated how deeply he touched on the emotions of the stories he heard and not just focus on the facts. Read my review to find out more!
Beginning in 2003 until 2013, Richard Rubin set out to do something no one else will ever be able to do again. He interviewed the last surviving American veterans of World War 1. These men and women ranged from ages 103 to 113 by the time he found them, all scattered throughout the nation. In 2011, the very last World War 1 veteran, not just of the United States, but of the world, passed away at the age of 110. This man, Frank Woodruff Buckles, was just sixteen when he enlisted into the Army. Once Rubin had interviewed as many of these veterans as he could find, he started to write a book about them. He titled this book The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War. At first he expected these veterans to be, essentially, like everyone else, only older. He quickly discovered that he was wrong. Not only were these men and women different because of what they went through, they were different because they grew up in a different time. And yet, there’s nothing especially extraordinary about them. As different as they are, they are human just like us. Nevertheless, these individuals have been largely forgotten, neglected and ignored throughout their lives. Ultimately, the stories of these ordinary men and women who served during World War 1 demonstrate that they did extraordinary things in a strange time in history. Therefore, they have earned the right to be heard, remembered and so much more.
Richard Rubin had a big project on his hands. When he began to compile these interviews into one comprehensive book, he decided to also include whole chapters on several different topics concerning World War 1 in order to give his readers a broader perspective of the period. Some examples include a chapter on songs composed during the war, a chapter on the experience of immigrants and African-Americans serving in the war and even another on soldiers’ biographies written either during the war or within a decade after it ended. This style helped break up the long line of interviews while also giving Rubin a chance to share all he had learned from the research he had made. Almost all of this research was inspired by the stories the veterans told him. Several times a veteran would remember part of something he had participated in while serving, but not know the whole context behind it. In these situations, after the interview, Rubin would painstakingly research as much as he could to find out what, or where, or how what the veteran had tried to describe to him had happened. In the process, he often found out about obscure pieces of history that no one else seemed to know about, or at least talk about. Besides detailing the veterans’ interviews, Rubin also discussed his thoughts (and research) on what he called the Forgotten Generation that these men and women were a part of. This helps readers feel that these men and women he interviewed were real—as if we have met them, too. At the end, he always asked the veterans what life was like for each of them post-war and in the process, found out how they perceived the war eighty-five years after it had ended
Ooof. This book was hard to read at times (many times), but it was so worth it. It made me feel a LOT of things and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished it early on in the summer! How often does that happen?!
I think I should start this review by saying that, while I’ve had conversations with people who have experienced severe depression and/or anxiety and/or suicidal thoughts, I have never experienced these things myself. I have felt some form of depression and anxiety throughout my life as we all do, but never to the point that it completely consumed me and my thoughts for months or years at a time. In reading this novel, I hoped to gain some understanding and a deeper level of sympathy and understanding for those who struggle with these difficult emotions.
To backtrack, I first got introduced to this story by the Netflix film. My sister and I were wanting to watch a chick-flick one afternoon and we were intrigued by the preview for All the Bright Places. We could tell it dealt with anxiety and depression, but we weren’t expecting the heavy theme of suicide to be present as well. To be honest, I was wrecked after watching the movie. I felt mixed emotions, but I left with the feeling that I had to know more—I had to know what the author of the novel was trying to say.
I’m so excited to announce that today is Pub Day for A Ceiling Made of Eggshells, Gail Carson Levine’s latest historical fiction novel for middle grade readers! I had the privilege of receiving an ARC of this book six months before its release date. Read my 4 star review below and support your local bookstores by buying your copy today! I learned so much about a unique time in history because of this book and I know you don’t want to miss out!
Anyone who knows me knows I love Gail Carson Levine. She is easily my favorite middle grade author. So when I saw she was sending out ARCs for her latest book, A Ceiling Made of Eggshells, I jumped at the chance to request it. I was surprised when my request was accepted and the book arrived in the mail a week later. I now had access to Levine’s newest book six months before anyone else! I was so excited to start reading it over Christmas break.
I’ve never read a story that takes place during the Spanish Inquisition (and I’m honestly not even sure I learned about it in school—or if I did, I don’t remember it), so the subject matter really intrigued me. Levine’s father was Jewish, so she wrote this as well as one of her first novels, Dave At Night, to explore her Jewish heritage. As a Protestant Christian myself, I have a fondness for the Jews as God’s chosen people, so I enjoy learning more about their history when I can.
The story starts with six or seven year old Loma catching the plague. Her grandmother, Bela, gave Loma her amulet, as she believed it would protect her granddaughter from evil spirits. While Loma survives the plague, Bela, tragically, does not. Belo, not nearly as kind and sympathetic as Bela, watches Loma recover, trying to understand why Bela loved her so much. Loma is consumed with guilt—she believes that, having “taken” the amulet from Bela, it is her fault Bela died. I was pulled into the story almost right away, wondering how this guilt, based on a superstition, would consume her as she grew up and how it would affect her relationship with Belo, whether or not he, too, blamed her for Bela’s death. Unfortunately, this inner conflict is resolved within a few chapters. The story continues to show Belo’s developed interest in Loma and the daily lives of the Spanish Jews, but besides that, there isn’t any real conflict for almost 150 pages.
Another book review is up on Literature Approved! This is one of my favorite books I read over the summer. I finished it during our relaxing beach vacation. Those of you who haven’t read it yet…go read it! It’s life changing–if you let it be.
Two years ago I wrote a short story that took place during the Civil War for a contest. In it I wanted to challenge the perspectives and worldviews of both the Confederacy and the Union, the blacks and the whites. I didn’t feel like there were enough conversations happening where we brought to light the right and wrong of both sides. Well, I might have felt differently if I’d read The Help sooner.
I went into The Help expecting to learn about what it was like being a black maid in the 1960s. And I was genuinely curious to find out. It’s one thing to learn about the Civil Rights movement in a textbook, but another to read a book written in the perspective of these women, learning what it was like first-hand. Let’s just say it delivered.
I felt like I was really there—feeling the heat of the Mississippi sun and the burn of the horrible comments they received from their employers. It was strange to observe the white women these black maids (Aibileen and Minny) worked for. On the one hand, they spoke to them politely, but on the other hand, they treated them like some other species carrying a disease. And yet, these interactions were still within the realm of my expectations.