So, once again, I'm playing catch up with my online reading journal. I love the idea of keeping track of what I read, but sometimes it's difficult to stay updated! Oh well, here goes...
I finished The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff a couple of weeks ago. It's the story of Emma Bau, a 19-year-old newlywed whose world is destroyed when the Nazis storm into her native Poland. As her fellow Jews disappear around her, Emma's own husband goes into hiding with other Resistance workers. Left on her own, Emma resigns herself to life inside the filthy Jewish Ghetto. One night, however, she is whisked away to Krakow by the Resistance and given a new identity as Anna Lipowski, an unmarried non-Jew. Emma/Anna thinks herself safe living with a relative under an assumed name, but soon her situation becomes more dangerous than ever. It begins with an innocent dinner party, where Anna is introduced to Kommandant Georg Richwalder, second in command of the city's new Nazi government. Anna is distressed to find that the Kommandant seems to be smitten with her. In fact, he insists that she come to work as his personal assistant. Desperate to keep her identity hidden, Anna accepts the job and all the dangers that come with it. While the Resistance urges her to use her position to gather secret information, Anna must confront her own growing feelings for the Kommandant. When he presses her to become intimate, she must make the ultimate choice, between fidelity to her absent spouse and loyalty to her people, a choice made much more complicated by her confused feelings for her employer.
This book is mesmerizing for so many reasons, but it really all comes down to the choice Anna must make between keeping her marriage vows and using the Kommandant for the information he can provide. It may seem a clear choice, if it wasn't for her traitorious feelings for the Kommandant. The reader can't help but place herself in Anna's shoes and wonder, what would I do? Thankfully, the choice is moot for us, but for Anna it is all too real. Her decision changes her, her young marriage and, indeed, her life.
The Kommandant's Girl is an excellent, fascinating read. If it wasn't for the ambiguous ending, I would give it 5 glowing stars. Still, it's worth picking up for its spare, but rich language and a tightly-woven story that is simply too exciting to put down.
My second pick could not have been more different from my first. Not only does Accountable Kids: Raising Accountable Kids One Step at a Time by Scott W. and Traci S. Heaton not employ rich language, but it's not all that exciting. Yet, I found the ideas and information in the book quite compelling.
The Heatons book is actually an instruction manual explaining the nuts and bolts of their program which teaches kids how to be responsible for handling chores and money. Basically, each child has a board with pegs on it where they hang cards that represent their jobs (from cleaning their rooms to completing homework to brushing their teeth). When they finish a task, they place the job's card on a new peg, representing its completion. Each night, the child receives a sticker if he/she has done all of his/her jobs for the day. The stickers can then be "cashed in" for a date with mom or dad. Kids can also earn Privilege Passes, which are redeemed for time on the computer or tv or any other "privilege," as well as Bonus Bucks, which translate into real money.
Implementing the program will require some work on my part, but I'm excited to see how it works with my kids. It's definitely user-friendly and it promises to deliver important results. The book itself is basic and not really well written, but I think the program itself is genius. If you want more information, check out http://www.accountablekids.com/ .
I also just finished Maeve Binchy's newest, Whitethorn Woods. It's a collection of intertwining stories from a wide cast of characters, all with connections to the small town of Rossmore and its infamous woods. People make their way into the woods for one basic reason - to petition St. Anne at her shrine in the trees. Now, the shrine is being threatened by the proposed construction of a new byway, and the residents of Rossmore all have something to say about it. Here, Binchy does what she does best - delves into the lives of ordinary citizens, making them sparkle with personality and charm. On the way, she unearths Rossmore's secrets, praises its quiet heroes and gives comeuppance to those who deserve it. All of this is set against the juxtaposition of old and new which comes to light because of a crumbling shrine and the new road which threatens its survival.
Maeve Binchy has a gift for bringing characters to life and this book is a shining example of her skill. Still, it is sometimes hard to keep track of just whose life is intertwining with whose. Also, because of the many different viewpoints, the book is somewhat disjointed. I liked it, however, and would recommend it to Binchy fans. For those who have never read Binchy, I recommend starting with one of her better books, like Circle of Friends or Light a Penny Candle.
My mountain of review books grows daily. To see a list of those currently in my possession (physical copies only—e-copies are not listed), click here.
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Black Souls by Nicole Castroman
The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
Baby Steps to Understanding
Bookin' Around the States
- California (1)
- Connecticut (1)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York (3)
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Oklahoma (1)
- Pennsylvania (2)
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Texas (1)
- West Virginia
- *Washington, D.C.
2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge
1. A book you choose for the cover—The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell 2. A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able—The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh 3. A book set somewhere you've never been, but would like to visit - The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny 4. A book you've already read—Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling 5. A juicy memoir—My Story by Elizabeth Smart 6. A book about books or reading—The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan 7. A book in a genre you usually avoid—Maus by Art Spiegelman 8. A book you don't want to admit you're dying to read—Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham 9. A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven't read yet—The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan 10. A book about a topic or subject you already love—Trials of the Earth by Mary Mann Hamilton
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2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 2. Wool by Hugh Howey 3. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood 4. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden 5. One Second After by William R. Forstchen 6. Across the Universe by Beth Revis 7. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky 8. Born by Tara Brown 9. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir 10. Red Rising by Pierce Brown 11. Consider by Kristy Acevedo 12. Bluescreen by Dan Wells 13. Starflight by Melissa Landers 14. Frost by M.P. Kozlowsky 15. Vicarious by Paula Stokes 16. Replica by Lauren Oliver