A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli

Find in textThis was an interesting read. Three soldiers cannot take one more day of shooting Jewish prisoners at the camp. So they opt for the only other task – going out into the frigid winter to find more Jews. They discover one, and end up taking their lunch in an abandoned Polish home. As they are cooking their cornmeal, emotions run amok. To add to the tension, a Polish man also joins them. I found it hard to read, as it is such a painful subject. However, I thought this a good perspective into the lives of the men who followed orders, or had to, and what it cost them.

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Code Talker by Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila

Find in textChester Nez was a Navajo high school student at the outbreak of WWII. He enlisted in the Marines and was soon interviewed to be a part of the top secret development of a military communication code in the Pacific. The government and the education system tried to wipe out the native tongue of the Navajo, then found that this unique language was ideal for the creation of a code that could not be broken by the Japanese. This is a fascinating story of the culture and history of the Navajo people and their service to this country, a country that had oftentimes treated them very unfairly. Bonus: the audio CD includes an interview with Chester and a sample of “code talking.”

In Farleigh Field, by Rhys Bowen

Find in catalogI enjoyed this story very much. I don’t usually have trouble putting a book down, but did with this one. A British aristocratic family with 5 daughters is at the center of the mystery. It opens with a failed parachutist dying on their estate. Family chums, now grown work for separate departments of British intelligence during WWII. As the story unfolds, no one knows who can be trusted or why the possible spy parachutist was sent to that part of England.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown

Find in catalogI recently finished reading “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel James Brown. It’s about the nine men’s crew members from the University of Washington who won the Gold Medal in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. This was the first time I’ve read some sort of sports book, and I thought it was excellent. The author when into detail about some of the young men’s lives growing up in the Pacific Northwest before and during the Great Depression, and how they came to be part of the team. I think the history he gave about the team, as well as what was happening in Germany during that time, gave great perspective about what the challenges were during that time period. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes history, sports and learning about life in the Puget Sound. I can’t wait to watch the U.S. crew team in this summer’s Olympics!

Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase, by Louise Walters

Find in catalogA lonely woman finds a letter that had been written to her grandmother decades ago. The letter calls into question everything the woman thought she knew about her family. The story is split between the grandmother’s life during WWII and the granddaughter’s present life as she tries to uncover the truth about her family. I found the story and characters to be rather flat and I never felt any connection to them. The mystery surrounding the family really didn’t seem to be that compelling. I can’t recommend this one.

Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an English Woman in Wartime France

Find in catalogIt all began with the discovery of a box of diaries and correspondence Priscilla Mais kept hidden all of her adult life. The author remembered his aunt as a beautiful, mysterious figure who was rumored to have been a spy during World War 2. Once he starts reading through her diaries, he finds a very different story. The book is meticulously researched and tells the complicated story of life in occupied France.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Find in catalogThe two main characters could not be more opposed but are so appealing and so finely drawn that in spite of ourselves we can’t help rooting for both: Werner, the Nazi, on the hunt, and Marie-Laure, the young woman drawn into the resistance in  occupied France. Doerr manages to avoid the usual cliches while describing the horrors of World War II. His descriptions of the  physical details of life, from snails at the ocean’s edge to the sounds from an old Victrola, made me feel that I was in the setting.

Questions this book raises: what is the value of art, music, stories, nature, in holding a life together? And what keeps us going? Werner lives for his radio; Marie-Laure, for her father and for her shells; and the frightened, reclusive uncle finds he is alive again when he engages with the struggle.

The time shifts in the book confused me and I don’t see their purpose, but that seems like a small weakness in a gripping yet sensitive book.

A Hatred for Tulips by Richard Lourie

A Hatred for TulipsThis was a very interesting, short read.  It spins the character of the person who turned in Anne Frank.  I can’t remember if I ever thought of that when I read her diary in school… it was interesting to hear of why a person would turn in a Jew during the war.  Sadly, from his point of view it sort of made sense…

Reviewed by Emily

The History of Love: a novel by Nicole Krauss

She said “I’m reading a book, about a book, called the History of Love.”  He asks “What’s it called?”  “The History of Love” she repeats.  “No, what’s the name of the book you’re reading?” he asks.  “The History of Love” 

Confused?  That’s part of what will happen if you read this book.  But you also might marvel at all the types of love found within daughterly love, unrequited love, young love, jealous love, confused love, love motivated by fear or lust. You might come to feel we’re all made of every different type of love.

Intriguing authors and books fill the pages of this story. I find myself using Google to sort out which walk with us in life and which live only between the pages.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Jennifer

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

Written like a novel with an ebb and flow that makes it very readable. It is a WWII war story and we hear about the privations and hardships and brutality of the experience but it includes so much humor, community spirit, and personal strength and determination, that you know good will triumph. We’re not stuck in the mire of individual baddies, we get to hear about the individual heroes.

Reviewed by Kate