Title: The Dressmakers Gift
by: Fiona Valpy
This is an intriguing story, mostly set during World War II, but there are flashbacks between Harriet (who is living & working in modern day France) who has traveled to France to learn more about her grandmother Claire's history. Claire's story takes place during WWII when she and 2 other flatmates work as seamstresses, & all join the Resistance at some point. Claire & Vivi get caught when Nazi soldiers track her radio signals, & both women are sent to deplorable concentration camps. Vivi is a code name for a woman actually named Harriet, who is modern-day Harriet's great-aunt & Claire is her grandmother. War-scarred Mireille, the 3rd woman in the trio, is left behind (despite all of her contributions to the Resistance) & has to wait until after the war to be reunited with Claire.
Quotes or Passages:
"I see now that it's one of the paradoxes of life that if we love it so much that we are frightened of losing it, it can make us live a half-life, too scared to get out there & live whole-heartedly because we have too much to lose."
"I'm beginning to see how high the odds were stacked against my mother. Was there a genetic fragility in her make up-- changes to her DNA that she inherited from the trauma Claire suffered--that caused her to snap when life's knocks came?"
MY Rating: 5/5 (It was a page turner for me! I enjoy WWII lit though. There was little to no language, no sexual or overly violent content, even for a book set during the war & it was a fairly clean book over all.)
by: Marissa Meyer
If you don't know much about cyborgs or Lunars before reading this book, you're not alone. But you will fully understand who they are & why their identity is so important in this post WW IV world, set in New Bejiing. Cinder, adapted from the original fairy tale of Cinderella, is a mechanic who is forced to live with her unkind stepmother & two stepsisters. Her world is crazy, as letumosis (a worldwide illness) threatens to wipe out everyone, including her & her family. It's a pandemic similar to coronavirus, but with more fatalities.
Cinder is resentful toward her stepmother and planning her escape the night of the prince's coronation ball. But she ends up meeting the prince and even kindling a relationship with him,as he makes efforts to convince her to come to his ball. She is determined not to make an appearance until she learns that there is some vital information Prince Kai needs before making a decision about uniting his kingdom with Queen Levana (who is Lunar.)
"It was made out to be some sort of honor, giving your life for the good of humanity, but it was really just a reminder that cyborgs were not like everyone else. Many of them had been given a second chance at life by the generous scientists & therefore owed their very existence to those who had created them."
My Rating: 5! (even though the cyborg & technology bit/SCI-FI genre were weird at points.)
Title: Atomic Habits
My Rating: 5/5! This book was INCREDIBLE & helped me shift my mindset when it comes to setting goals vs. forming habits.
Title: American Spy, by: Lauren Wilkinson
Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer working for the FBI in 1986, so it's during the Cold War. She wants to be a lot like her older sister, also a fed, who got conscripted into the army at a young age, with dreams of being a spy. Marie has a lot of qualities that land her a job to undermine Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, who is mostly a Communist. It gets tricky when she actually falls in love with him though, & she will do anything to spare his life. ...but it might be too late.
This book successfully weaves together the themes of racism, family & politics.
"It was like he saw a version of you that was superior to the version you saw of yourself. It was very generous. And it was inspiring, that reminder of the better angels of your nature."
"If they don't want you, don't fight their wars.
It's that easy, huh?" (Marie to her sister Helen about working in intelligence.)
"Democracy isn't a thing you conform a society to. We can't just import a system from the West. Real democracy has to develop in response to the needs of that society."
4.5/5 out of 5 (it was a pageturner! Fairly clean & not much language.)
Title: The Austen Escape
by: Katherine Reay
Do you consider yourself a Jane Austen fan? This book is definitely written for you then! It's a romance novel, written all around Bath, where tourists come to escape everyday life and assume the character of a Jane Austen character from any of her novels. Mary is an engineer at heart, but she needs a break from things at work, & so she accepts an invitation from her childhood friend Isabel to go stay for 2 weeks at a manor in England. Isabel ends up losing her memory during their trip, & it adds for a significant plot twist when the man Mary is interested in shows up, but Isabel doesn't remember him or her relationship with him.
"Nature abhors a vacuum and will fill it-- but you must create an opening. Music was that opening."
"We shall walk. When there are serious matters to discuss, Austen women walk. And it has the side benefit of keeping our figures so light & pleasing."
"Music is math....it's the audible expression behind the laws of the universe. It feels like the only thing, apart from God, that lives outside time. Once released, it lives on & it can make you laugh & cry, rip you apart & heal you, all within a few discrete notes strung together."
"Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure...but where, as in this case, though the conduct is mistaken the feelings are not..He could not impute to me a more relenting heart than I possessed, or a heart more disposed to accept his."
Title: The Passion of Dolssa
by: Julie Berry
I positively loved Julie Berry's style of writing, especially in Lovely War which I read earlier this year.
This story takes place in the 13th century & is about a young women named Dolssa who has some uncanny gifts (and seems to have the ability to heal ill persons) but she is accused by the church of being a heretic & claiming she has a relationship with the Savior. Dolssa is rescued by Botille (the village matchmaker) whose other sisters Plazensa & Sazia also take her in & protect her from a determined friar who has burned her mother. All the men are smitten by Plazensa who is the main ale & food maker and Sazia is the family fortuneteller.
"Like rays of glory from heaven, piercing the dusty gloom of the church, making each airborne mote shine like a star."
"Once, we were joined as two lovers with one heart. If those days are ended, & I never see him again, I still remember them. If I only hear his voice now in the cry of an enfan, I can still come when he calls. If his call cannot reach my ears, I can still follow his feet."
Title: Mansfield Park
by: Jane Austen
Fanny Price is the dearest female protagonist in this story & her aunt Bertram becomes quite fond of her and even dependent on her. Her uncle, Sir Thomas, grows fond of her as well until she rejects a suitor whom he thinks is quite fitting for her. He sends Fanny back to her family for a visit, but it ends up being a torturous visit to a family whom she hasn't seen or been around for almost 10 years.
Her family had too many kids & her father hardly took notice of her, so she got to grow up with her cousins at Mansfield Park. She becomes closest with her cousin Edmund, who is always careful & loving towards her from the very beginning. Even though she has female cousins (Julia & Maria) she is closest to Edmund.
Henry & Mary Crawford enter the scene when they come to visit one summer, and they bring with them all the airs of the theater & convince the eldest, Tom, to arrange for them to perform a play (in Sir Thomas' absence.) Henry pursues Fanny's engaged cousin (the future Mrs. Rushworth) & earns the title of soundrel as he continues to flirt with her despite her engagement (and later, he disregards her marriage too and convinces her to run away with him.) After Mrs. Rushworth got married, however, Henry decides he wants a challenge & pursues Fanny, who shows no interest in him whatsoever. Poor Fanny feels strange & does not return his love or attention & she is right & determined to refuse him, since he ends up running away with her cousin in the end. There is another love story, too, in between Mary Crawford & the beloved Edmund, but Mary mocks Edward once he studies at the parsonage and then after the scandal between her brother & Edmund's married sister, she feels they need to end their connection entirely. This then prompts Edmund to get over her & learn who he truly loves, and has loved, all along. It was quite the story!
"That you seemed almost as fearful of notice & praise as other women were of neglect."
"You will think me rhapsodising; but when I am out of doors, especially when I am sitting out of doors, I am very apt to get into this sort of wondering strain. One cannot fix one's eye on the commonest natural production without finding food for a rambling fancy."
"Never met with a girl who looked so grave on me! I must try to get the better of this. Her looks say, 'I will not like you, I am determined not to like you,' & I say she shall.'
Foolish fellow! And so this is her attraction after all! This it is, her not caring about you, which gives her a soft skin & makes her so much taller & produces all these charms & graces."
'It was a love which, operating on an active, sanguine spirit, of more warmth than delicacy, made her affection appear of greater consequence because it was withheld & determine him to have the glory of forcing her to love him."
My Rating: 4 stars/5
Title: Black Like Me
by: John Howard Griffin
A memoir set back in the 1950's about a Caucasian journalist named John Howard Griffin who decided to change his skin pigmentation (by darkening it) and live as a black man in the deep south (New Orleans, Alabama, Georgia) for almost 2 months. His experiment was to see how people would treat him, even people who knew him, but didn't know he'd undergone this experiment. He became close to and worked with other black men, got forced to use other restrooms, soda fountains, etc. right along with his fellow black men.
He would sometimes see signs like this hanging around:
DESEGREGATE THE BUSES WITH THESE 7 POINTS:
1. Pray for guidance.
2.Be courteous & friendly.
3. Be neat & clean.
4. Avoid loud talk.
5. Do not argue.
6. Report incidents immediately.
7. Overcome evil with good
Griffin learned quickly of how evil racism was; how the hate and prejudice ran deep for the race more than for an individual, even when he switched back to his life as a white man. He was rejected by most of his community and he was considered an exclusive lover of blacks and a hater of whites. But he had undergone the change because he wanted to better things for black people, and felt a study in racism of a country that vehemently denied it would be the best way to bring attention to the issues in the United States. Sadly, his family was bullied and mistreated as a result of his work and they had to move away from Texas, but it was inspiring how dedicated he was to living a life in another man's shoes, and how he continued to answer questions and appear at councils to try to unify communities after his experiment concluded.
*"The transformation was total & shocking. I was imprisoned in the flesh of an utter stranger, an unsympathetic one with who I felt no kinship. All traces of the John Griffin I had been were wiped from existence."
*"The laughter had to be gross or it would turn to sobs and to sob would be to realize and to realize would be to despair."
*"My deepest shock came with the gradual realization that this was not a matter of 'inconvenience' but rather a total change in living."
*"This attitude cropped up often. Many otherwise decent men & women could find no other solution. They are willing to degrade themselves to their basest levels to prevent the traditional laborer from rising in status or, to put it bluntly from 'winning,' even though what he wins has been rightfully his from the moment he was born into the human race."
*"Night coming tenderly
Black like me."
*"One can scarcely conceive the full horror of it unless one is a parent who takes a close look at his children and then asks himself how he would feel if a group of men should come to his door & tell him they had decided--- for reasons of convenience to them-- that his children's lives would henceforth be restricted, their world smaller, their educational opportunities less, their future mutilated."
*"Let us be peaceful, but the only way to do this is first to assure justice; by keeping peaceful in this instance, we end up consenting to the destruction of all peace--for so long as we condone injustice by a small but powerful group, we condone the destruction of all social stability, all real peace, & all trust in man's good intentions toward his fellow man."
4/5 (mainly because it was such heavy material and used a fair amount of language.)
Title: How to Win Friends & Influence People
by: Dale Carnegie
Still one of the most successful how-to books out there for teaching you how to take any situation & make it work for you. There are 6 ways to encourage people to like you better, &
9 ways to change people without arousing resentment in them:
1.Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders; it's easier to take in.
5. Let the other person "save face" & try to do a better job.
6. Be *lavish* in your praise of good behavior.
7. Give the other person a GOOD reputation to live up to.
8. Use encouragement! Make the fault seem easy to correct.
9. Make the other person happy at doing the things you suggest.
12 ways to to win people to your way of thinking.
1. The way to get the best out of an argument is to avoid it entirely.
2. Show respect for the other person's opinions; never outright say "you're wrong."
3. If you are wrong, admit your mistake immediately & emphatically. Exonerate your errors!
4. Begin in a friendly/amiable way.
5.Get the other person to say "yes, yes" quickly.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
7. Let the other person think the idea is his or hers.
8. Try honestly to see the things from the other person's point of view.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas.
10. Appeal to nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas!
12. Throw Down a Challenge!
"If I've done good I've never heard it-- but if I've done wrong, I hear it twice."
"You can make more friends in in two months, by being interested in them rather than making them interested in us."
"Don't fear being misunderstood by others. Picture the able person you wish to be."
"It is always nicer to hear/handle criticism after being praised, first."
"Do not criticize others-- when dealing with people, remember you are dealing with emotional beings, not logical ones."
Title: The Hiding Place
by: Corrie Ten Boom
This is a book that reminds us to be Christ-like & "grateful in every circumstance." The Ten Boom family, a Christian family living in Holland, take it upon themselves to help the Jews trying to escape the oppressive Nazi occupation during World War II. Corrie & her sister Betsie teach some of the most tender lessons about how to love & forgive our enemies, and how to show gratitude for every little thing. Also, there isn't any language in this book, & although it's a wartime book, it has such a positive spin on it that it differs greatly from many other WWII books.
"God's viewpoint is sometimes different from ours-- so different that we could not even guess at it unless HE had given us a Book that tells us such things. God values us not for our strength or our brains, but simply because he has made us."
This psalm lends credence to the title- "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, & a light unto my path... Thou art my hiding place & my shield."
"Happiness isn't something that depends on our surroundings..it is something we make inside of ourselves."
"This was evil's hour; we could not run away from it. Perhaps only when human effort had done its best & failed, would God's power alone be free to work."
"There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety."
"If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love!"