Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly - Reshelved Books

Hello fellow readers!

I have been meaning to write this review for a while now.  Actually, I have tried to sit down and write this review 3 times but haven't really gotten anywhere.  This is my last semester in my MLIS program *yay!*  And this is also the first semester where I have had 3 projects due in Week 4 *ugh.*  It's week 2 right now.  I guess you can say life has me a bit overwhelmed. 

I recently finished reading Martha Hall Kelly's Lilac Girls, a novel that tackles the subject of WWII and the Nazi occupation of Poland.  What I liked about this novel is that it shows the horrific experience of concentration camps from a female prisoner of war perspective, rather than focusing specifically on religious persecution.  This novel follows the story of three women: Caroline, who lives in America, Kasia, a young Polish girl and devote Catholic, and Herta, an aspiring doctor.  Kelly takes these three characters, who come from different circumstances, have different dreams, and live different lives, and links them together through Hitler.  The one character that really stood out to me was Herta.  When Herta becomes a doctor, she ends up working for Hitler's concentration camps, specifically the camps for female political prisoners.  It is here that Herta meets Kasia and ends up operating on her for experimental purposes.  These experimental surgeries eventually lead to her trial for Crimes Against Humanity.  What really stood out to me was that Herta does feel guilt, but tries to justify her guilt to the people around her and to herself by saying that the women she preformed the experimental surgeries on were political prisoners sentenced to death anyway.  This theme of guilt also finds its way to Kasia, where she blames herself for her mother's death for being near her during her arrest.

This book is just as fascinating as it is gripping and horrific.  It's almost unbelievable that these terrible things happened on such a grand scale during pretty much recent history.  However, I guess terrible things happen today too.

4 out of 5 coffee beans for this novel!

If you have read this novel, please comment below with what you thought!  If you haven't, comment with what you're reading now! I need book suggestions for when Week 4 ends!         


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Last One Home by Debbie Macomber: Reshelved Books

Happy Sunday reading everyone!  I'm terribly busy with school and work, and slightly overwhelmed.   Nonetheless I give you our For the Love of Dewey book review of Debbie Macomber's latest book Last One Home and a rating of 4 out of 5 coffee beans!

Let me start by saying I absolutely devoured this book, and read it under two days!  (Way before I actually got a chance to post this.) You know how sometimes you need  a book that just makes you feel good?  One that balances out your current life with one that is fictional and leaves you feeling hopeful and happy, but not in an overly sappy way?  Well, this book did just that for me. 

In my Currently Reading post I gave you a bit of a synopsis of the first 50-something pages of this novel.  I also mentioned that while the main character Cassie appeared to have a lot of good things going for her, I feared that by becoming involved in too many good things, she would begin to wear herself thin, in turn causing all of these good things to become a bad thing.  Well, this kind of happened.  Cassie had lost the extra part-time job that she took on and had some emotional set backs regarding new relationships.  However, she did learn the importance of taking a step back, keeping her mind clear, and moving forward, which is perhaps one of the greatest lessons this novel has to teach us.

In this novel, Macomber reminds readers that no matter how bad life gets, or how down you feel, everything works in a cyclical motion.  Just because you're down now, does not mean that you can't get back up again.  But this works both ways.  Cassie's sisters appeared to have perfect lives with perfect husbands.  However, this idea of perfection did not last for long and eventually they too hit low points.  Through this, Macomber reminds the reader that nothing lasts forever, both the good and the bad.  While this can be scary -- that fear of being happy only to have the other shoe drop -- it is also reassuring to remember that life, just like fortune, is fluid. 


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Currently Reading: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Hello everyone!  

It's that busy time of the year again...The start of a new semester!   I am going to apologize in advance if my posts aren't as frequent as the usually are.  This is also my last semester, which is just as exciting as it is scary!  Come May I'll have my MLIS and be on my way to becoming a librarian.  

I am continuing with my WWII historical fiction theme set up earlier this month by my review of All the Light We Cannot See, by reading Martha Hall Kelly's Lilac Girls.  This novel also deals with WWII, but more specifically with Nazi occupation in both France and Poland.  What I like about this novel is that while the main chunk of events take place in Europe, America is also discussed through the voice of the character of Caroline who lives in the New York / Connecticut area.  Unlike All the Light We Cannot See, this novel seems to delve deeper into the gruesome details and horror of the Nazi Concentration Camps. 

My library co-workers have all read this book and gave it high ratings, so I can't wait to get back to reading it and tell you what I think!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Currently Reading: Last One Home by Debbie Macomber

Hello all!  

     I recently started reading Last One Home by Debbie Macomber.  This book is supposed to be about "new beginnings" and "fresh starts."  And boy oh boy, after the rough last week that I've had, I can sure use a fresh start.

     Right now, I am on page 56 of this book and I am loving it.  Last One Home opens with a scene of three young sisters playing outside on a perfect summer evening.  They're carefree and their outlook on life is the ideal image of childhood innocence.  We're talking warm summer breezes, fireflies, porch lights, games of tag as dusk approaches....Actually, a scene very similar to the cover of this novel (minus the children, of course). 
      Fast forward and the reader meets one of the sisters, Cassie, who is now estranged from the other two.  At one point Cassie ran away from home in the name of "love,"where she got married and had a baby, only to be tragically abused and beaten by her husband.  One day, Cassie gets the strength to say that enough is enough and escapes her abuser with her daughter, files for divorce, and makes a fresh start all on her own.  Things seem to be working in Cassie's favor, as she qualifies for a home through Habitat For Humanity, she is a hairdresser at a salon and has her own set of loyal customers, is picking up an extra side-job, and volunteers by helping other women who are victims of domestic violence.  However, I wonder if by doing too many good things Cassie will end up spreading herself thin and regressing in her good fortune... I guess I'll go back to reading now so I can find out!

Comment below with what you're currently reading!  & don't forget to check out our Instagram for more reading suggestions and #bookish things! 


Friday, January 13, 2017

What's That Doing In My Book?

Those of you who follow our Instagram account may have seen that I recently purchased a book from a used bookstore and found a kitten bookmark inside.  Those of you who avidly follow our blog  also know that I work in a public library.  Finding that kitty bookmark made me think of all the strange things that I have found inside / near books during my public library work.  Some of them are disgusting but all of them make me laugh, so I thought that I would share some of them with you in honor of last night's full moon and today's date of Friday the 13th. 

1)   A green condom on a children’s book whose cover featured a pickle – I kid you not.  The co-worker who found this thought it was a balloon, to which I yelled, “Don’t touch it!”
2)   A Q-tip –  A woman handed me this book with a Q-tip taped to the outside. 
When I pointed it out to her, she laughed and said “HAHAHA That’s my Q-tip!”
3)   Two pieces of white bread, both individually bagged and found in the outside book drop.
4)   A sanitary panty liner –  Sticker still intact! (Thank God)
5)   Blueberries – These were scattered in the graphic novels, but a bag of raw chicken / blueberries was found upstairs later that evening.
6)   A dental pick for between your teeth – Yes, I made the “Please don’t leave dental hygiene products in books” phone call.

And there have been many, many more.

Kitten bookmark found inside my book. 
When this library book was opened, tons of dried leaves fell out. 
~ Jessica

Thursday, January 12, 2017

All The Light We Cannot See By Anthony Doerr - Reshelved Books

     All The Light We Cannot See is a historical fiction novel that takes place during WWII. This one has been on my To-Read Shelf for quite and while, and because two of our followers loved this book, I decided to start my 2017 reading off with it!
     This is the first novel that I have read by Doerr, and while I am unable to compare it to his other work, the literary style he uses in this novel captured my attention and stood out to me as being rather unique.  This is because Doerr uses short chapters that gives the reader a snapshot of a specific part of the story, but does so in a way that is fluid -- not scattered or choppy.  While working with these prosaic snapshots, Doerr is able to successfully tell the stories of two characters, Werner, a boy who is in training to be a member of the Nazi youth, and Marie-Laure, an intelligent blind girl who does not let her disability get in the way of her independence or sense of adventure.
    This novel is different from the other WWII novels, such as Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly's Lilac Girls because while there is suffering, there isn't much written about Jewish suffering or groups targeted by the Nazi's.  There is government occupation, fear, and the upheaval of lives, yes, but the detailed suffering of specific groups sort of fades into the mass scenery of the text.  There is also an underlying storyline centered around the myth associated a diamond stored at the museum Marie-Laure's father works at, and that is ultimately placed into Marie-Laure's possession.  In this myth, there was a diamond called the "Sea of Flames."  This diamond is the size of a pigeon egg and is blue with a red center.  In the myth, the person who possessed the diamond was said to live forever, but the family and loved ones of the possessor were said to suffer great misfortune.  This captured my attention because 1) I didn't expect it in a WWII book 2) I never heard of it before and 3) I'm not sure what happened to the diamond in the end. The diamond might symbolize how a story lives on and can grow.  It can also symbolize the idea of myth and legend, of fear intertwined with greed, and how while time may progress, people pass away, and new lives are created, these stories continue.  While the details of these stories may falter and smudge, life always carries on.

     While I enjoyed this book and read it much faster than I originally thought I would, I am only going to give it a rating of 3 out of 5 coffee beans because I felt that the ending was a bit too "neat" and happy.  At the end of the novel, almost everything was wrapped up (except for the Sea of Flames!), which I guess can show how even after these terrible historical events, life moves on and new generations, while they may hear the details of these times, will never feel the memories of those who actually lived through them.       

So, for those of you who read this novel, what did you think of the ending?  AND What do you think happened to the Sea of Flames?      

P.S. Here is an interesting article I found while researching the Sea of Flames...I can't believe I didn't realize Werner was albino. 


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Congratulations Jillian!



Thursday, January 5, 2017

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller- Reshelved Books

**Attention For the Love of Dewey Readers! 5 out of 5 coffee beans for this book!!!***

Hello everyone!

It's Jillian.

I am kicking off the first week of the new year with a solid book to recommend. 

This was the first book in a long time that I actually read in one sitting (and that is big for someone who's about to have a baby any day now).  It was a fun and easy read.  Miller made sure that you weren't left with any questions, comments or concerns.  At the same time, she made sure that you felt a wide range of emotions throughout the entire story.  

Olivia (or Livvy) is a twenty-something baker, who had a slight mishap at that resulted in a fire during a large anniversary event (but hey, that's something that we all can relate too, right?).
Out of embarrassment and fear, Livvy drives up to Vermont and ends up on the doorstep of her best friend, Hannah.  

After much persuasion from Hannah, Livvy goes and apply for a baker's position at the Sugar Maple Inn, a small local bed and breakfast.  After proving she's got what it takes to bake a good pie to Margaret, Livvy is hired!  She moves into a cabin on the property and starts her life with Salty (her trusy old pup; who ends up sleeping in the strangest of places) out in Vermont. 

During her time there, Livvy befriends an older gentleman named Henry, who is the husband to Margaret's best friend, Dotty.  Livvy also befriends Dotty and Henry's youngest son, Martin.  Livvy and Martin let their relationship slowly develop until tragedy strikes.

Remember how I said before that Miller makes it so that you feel many emotions throughout the book?  Well, this is the part in the book where I started to get weepy. (But it wasn't until the end of the story that I actually cried!)

I don't want to give too much of the book away, so I'll leave you with a cliffhanger at the tragedy!

Just know that I give this book FIVE coffee beans of FIVE!! (Say whaaaaa!?)

I loved it and I was sad when it was over!

Happy Reading in the New Year!

~ Jillian

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes - Currently Reading

Hi guys!

Happy 2017 to you all! I hope everyone ended 2016 on a bang and started out 2017 on an even bigger bang   (: 

I know that this post from me has been long overdue but I am back in the new year and I ready to blog! (Heck yeah!)

I am currently reading The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes.  I am going to be honest, this is not a book that I would usually go toward if I was at the bookstore but I must say, I am enjoying it quite alot. 

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk was published in 2015 and is the debut novel of Kelli Estes. (Side Note: I'm currently binge watching Blue Bloods on Netflix. On the show, there is a character, Officer Jamie Reagan. (Who is quite handsome, if I do say so myself!) The actor who plays Jamie is named Will Estes. And I was wondering if there was any relation between the author Kelli and cutie pants Will...)

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk was the January 2017 pick for the Jane Box from The Book Drop.  If anyone is looking to try out a book subscription box, I would definitely recommend The Book Drop.  You are able to pick from 4 different boxes and the cost of the subscription box per month is not expensive. Jessica and I decided to sign up for a book box subscription service as a way to introduce ourselves to new books and for something fun.  

*If a review on this book subscription is something that anyone is interested in, let us know in the comments!*

The novel follows a young woman named Inara, who just lost her great-aunt Dahlia.  Inara and her sister Olivia, travel to Orca Island to pack up the family estate called Rothesay.

Upon entering the estate, both sisters are hit with memories from when they were younger and many emotions on the drive to Rothesay. Especially Inara who was reminded of the day she lost her mother and how Dahlia was there to comfort her. Once inside the care takers property, it was like Dahlia and her partner Nancy were still alive, living in the home but just out for the day. 

Airing out the house leads to Inara discovering a silk sleeve under a floorboard... 

Following the discovery of the silk sleeve, the reader is transported to the mid 1800s, there meeting Mei Lien, a young Chinese girl who is living in Washington state. 

The book from my understanding, is going to flip back between Inara and Mei Lien.  I'm interested in seeing what story the silk tells and I am interested in seeing how the lives of these two young women intertwine.

See you all next week!

~ Jillian

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!!

Wishing you all a wonderfully booky 2017 full of great reads!

Thank you for starting on this journey with us in 2016

We hope to see you all in the New Year  :) 

~ Jessica and Jillian