Category Archives: War Through The Generations

Weekly writing check-in: the one with the reading challenge

This week looks a lot like last week. I’m still in class, working on a new series (or so I hope), and reading/researching. I’m also hoping to start in on a reading challenge this year. I haven’t done one for a while, but War Through the Generations is hosting a stress-free World War II reading challenge this year. Check out their read-along books as well. I’ve been meaning to read All the Light We Cannot See, which is up first in March.

So? Join me? I’ll start doing mini-reviews again once I log a few books for the challenge.

Writing Work:

  • Planning/researching new series
  • Story Genius
  • Graphic design class

Submissions:

  • None

Rejections:

  • None

Acceptances:

  • None

Publications:

  • None

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So … you want to read a bit about World War I?

So, I scanned my LibraryThing collection to see what I have read about World War I. It’s an eclectic mix. I did a fair amount of reading about World War I for the War Through the Generations challenge a few years back, and I’ve continued to read as books capture my interest.

Below are five of the nonfiction titles that I really enjoyed and recommend.

historyWWIhourWorld War One: History in an Hour (my short review here)

The title says it all. World War I, in about an hour, so you’re not getting a lot of detail.

But it’s a good starter book if you’re dipping your toes back into the events of this time.

 

toendTo End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 (my review here) by Adam Hochschild

This was one of my favorites from the World War I reading challenge. The author uses one of my favorite techniques for presenting history: providing an overview and then showing us the individual lives of the pairs he follows in the narrative. This makes for both effective and riveting reading.

WWIwomenheroesWomen Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics

Yes, I just reviewed this one, which you can read here. I won’t say a whole lot about it, except that I highly recommend it.

 

ArabiaLawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson.

What Hochschild does for the Western front, Anderson does in the Middle East. Want to understand what happened during WWI in the Middle East? Want to understand what the heck is going on there today? This is your book. Anderson employs a similar style as Hochschild by following four principal figures (T.E. Lawrence among them, naturally) through the war years in the Middle East. Again, highly recommended.

RussiaThe Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming.

A few years back, my son was fascinated by the end of the Romanov dynasty, the Russian Revolution, and in particular, if any of the Romanov children survived. I wish this book existed back then. This is young adult nonfiction, but it’s so engaging and informative, I recommend it to anyone who’d like to know more about the above.

For those in the crowd who have read extensively about the revolution and the Romanovs, you probably won’t pick up anything new. However, if you’re like me, and can read about these events over and over (and over) again, then I think you may enjoy this book as well. I know I did. Actually, it reminded me of all the topics I wanted to read more about that had simply slipped off my mental to-be-researched list.

There you go. Five books for the WWI centennial.

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Review: Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics

Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics

By Kathryn J. Atwood
Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Summary from the publisher: 

WWIwomenheroesA commemoration of brave yet largely forgotten women who served in the First World War

In time for the 2014 centennial of the start of the Great War, this book brings to life the brave and often surprising exploits of 16 fascinating women from around the world who served their countries at a time when most of them didn’t even have the right to vote.

Readers meet 17-year-old Frenchwoman Emilienne Moreau, who assisted the Allies as a guide and set up a first-aid post in her home to attend to the wounded;

Russian peasant Maria Bochkareva, who joined the Imperial Russian Army by securing the personal permission of Tsar Nicholas II, was twice wounded in battle and decorated for bravery, and created and led the all-women combat unit the “Women’s Battalion of Death” on the eastern front; and American journalist Madeleine Zabriskie Doty, who risked her life to travel twice to Germany during the war in order to report back the truth, whatever the cost.

These and other suspense-filled stories of brave girls and women are told through the use of engaging narrative, dialogue, direct quotes, and document and diary excerpts to lend authenticity and immediacy.

Introductory material opens each section to provide solid historical context, and each profile includes informative sidebars and “Learn More” lists of relevant books and websites, making this a fabulous resource for students, teachers, parents, libraries, and homeschoolers.

Back in 2011, I read and reviewed Women Heroes of World War II: 26 stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance. A few months ago, the publisher contacted me and offered a copy of Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics. My only regret in saying yes is it’s taken me so long to post my review of this terrific book.

Like its counterpart, this book contains several true stories, all centering around women during World War I in the European theater. Its structure is similar. The book begins with an overview of the war and how it began. For the seasoned history buff, you won’t find anything new. However, the overview is easy to follow and will help anyone not familiar with why World War I started.

Also scattered throughout the women’s stories are sidebars of extra information that help put the stories and the era into perspective. World War I really represents the crumbling of an old era into our modern one. Sometimes that’s difficult for younger readers to understand (witness the outrage when my daughter learned how long it took for women to get the vote). One thing I appreciated about this book was how varied the women’s stories were. There were a few I was unfamiliar with, and I’ve done a fair amount of reading about WWI.

As with the WWII volume, each woman only gets a few pages, but like the first book, there’s an extensive bibliography and lists of resources for the budding historian. This book is a great starting place for your history report or possibly that historical fiction story you’ve been planning to write. (You have been planning to write one, haven’t you?)

These two books are part of the Women of Action series from Chicago Review Press, which I plan on reading through during the next several months. If you’re looking for accessible and meaty nonfiction about women’s involvement in World War I, I highly recommend this book.

Thanks to Chicago Review Press for providing a review copy of this book.

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2012 Reading Challenge wrap up

WWIchallenge

So last night I finished my last book for the War Through the Generations 2012 WWI reading challenge.

I read seven books in all, which is the most I’ve read for this challenge since I started doing it. I signed up for the “wade” level of 4 – 10 books, so I accomplished that quite comfortably. And I still have more WWI books I want to read. Even so, I plan to sign up for the 2013 challenge: The American Revolution.

It’s perfect timing since this spring, Kyra’s class does a huge unit on the American Revolution and we plan to do the reading challenge together.

To sum up 2012, here’s a quick overview (with links to some reviews) of the books I read:

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild (review here)

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Fantastic middle grade novel that should appeal to adults as well. One of my favorite constructs–the story within a story. This one is on audio as well and would make a good summer road trip book.

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

I discovered this one thanks to a Facebook post. Yes! Facebook! Good for something.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

WWI mystery. If you like the Maisie Dobbs series, this is a good choice for historical/WWI mysteries.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon (review here)

Not really connected to Downton Abbey, but still interesting.

World War One: History in an Hour by Rupert Colley (review here)

This book is exactly what it claims to be: a concise overview of World War I that you can read in an hour or so.

Not So Quiet … Stepdaughters of War by Helen Zenna Smith

Interesting if ultimately tragic (what else could it be) story about female ambulance drivers on the Western Front in WWI. Helen Zenna Smith is a pseudonym for Evadne Price, who had an interesting and varied writing career. Read more about her on here on Wikipedia.

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World War One: History in an Hour ~ a short review for a short book

Book #6 for the War Through the Generations WWI reading challenge, which means I have thoroughly “waded” into the challenge–and feeling quite proud of myself.

World War One: History in an Hour is exactly what it claims to be: a concise overview of World War I that you can read in an hour (or so–I spent about an hour and a half reading). It is also a better book to read at the start of a WWI reading challenge, not closer to its end.

That being said, it’s a great place to start if you don’t have a passing familiarity with WWI, or haven’t done any serious reading on the topic since 11th grade world history. The narrative style is engaging, and the book itself is broken into sections, which makes it easy to set down and pick back up again. The author doesn’t go into any great depth, but again, that’s not this book’s purpose.

The book also includes short biographies of some of the major players in the war along with a timeline.

So, if you’re looking for an introduction, or need a quick read to round out this year’s challenge, you can’t go wrong with this one, especially if it continues to be free on Kindle.

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WWI Read: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Book # 5 in the War Through the Generations WWI reading challenge: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle.

I was on the fence about whether or not I wanted to read this one. I knew it wouldn’t really have anything to do with Downton Abbey. What tipped the balance? This review on Amazon:

 … did not think the book would be 3/4 about war war war and her nursing abilities.

And I was all: Sold! Because that’s exactly what I wanted to read about. This is also why authors shouldn’t sweat the negative reviews. That being said, there’s controversy in some of the other reviews about how sanitized this version of Lady Almina’s life happens to be.

I suspect there might be some truth to this. The narrative is fairly scandal free, the author glossing over the fact Lady Almina remarries in the same year Lord Carnarvon dies and only briefly mentions the court case she becomes involved in (see Wikipedia for more info).

However, I did enjoy learning more about what went into running a private hospital during WWI and the problems encountered. Although in Lady Almina’s case, she solved a great many of these problems by throwing money at them–which seems to have been her SOP. Also fascinating was the time the narrative spent on the Earl’s interest (more like an obsession) in Egyptology. I hadn’t realized he was Howard Carter’s backer, and that together they discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Was the read worth it? From my point of view, yes. If you already know a bit about WWI, you won’t learn a lot here. And of course, the narrative doesn’t contain swoon-worthy scenes between Matthew and Mary or one liners delivered by Dame Maggie Smith. However, it is an interesting look at a certain strata of British society before, during, and after the war.

And just because the book doesn’t have any Maggie Smith doesn’t mean this blog post will go without. Enjoy.

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Mid-year-ish Reading Recap

I meant to write this one up at the end of June or beginning of July, but it has been a whirlwind of activity around here: horse camp, the Betsy-Tacy convention. I’m almost never this much of a social butterfly. July has been one hot, busy month, but totally worth it. In fact, I almost don’t know what to do with myself this weekend.

On to the reading (and watching) challenges!

Fifty/Fifty Me challenge

The challenge here is to read fifty books and watch fifty movies during 2012. Where I’m at:

  • Books: 52
  • Movies: 12

Yes, try not to laugh at that. All I can say is if I’m awake enough in the evenings to enjoy entertainment of some sort, I’m almost always going to reach for a book rather than fire up a movie. That’s just how I roll.

If you want to see what I’ve been reading, check out my Pinterest board. It has a list (minus the seven I read for the Rita contest and can’t disclose) of what I’ve read so far this year.

If you want to see the (limited) number of movies I’ve watched, look here.

War Through the Generations WWI reading challenge

I’ve made my goal! And by mid-year! However, I do hope to read a few more WWI books (at the very least).

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild (review here)

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Fantastic middle grade novel that should appeal to adults as well. One of my favorite constructs–the story within a story. This one is on audio as well and would make a good summer road trip book.

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

I discovered this one thanks to a Facebook post. Yes! Facebook! Good for something.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

WWI mystery. If you like the Maisie Dobbs series, this is a good choice for historical/WWI mysteries.

That’s it! I hope everyone else is keeping on track with their reading/watching challenges so far this year. Hey, there’s still plenty of time to make your goals.

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