Happy New Year! Because today is the official start date of the 2013 American Revolution Reading Challenge, we thought that we’d first wrap up the reviews from the 2012 World War I Reading Challenge. We’d like to thank everyone who participated…we had 106 participants, and that added up to a lot of reviews. You can find these reviews here, and we’ll continue to update that page as well as the recommended reading list in case you want to further your WWI reading.
Here are the last of the WWI reviews from challenge participants; links are to the full reviews. These are either books posted over the last half of December or books we missed the first time around but caught in your wrap-up posts. Please remember that if you’d like your reviews featured on the main page, email the links to us at warthroughgenerations at gmail.com.
ExUrbanis reviewed The Absolutist by John Boyne:
The writing is superb and the story unfolds with just the right amount of tension from beginning to end. But I wasn’t blown away by the climax. I understand Will’s stand and determination to stick to it despite the consequences, and Tristan’s actions didn’t make any difference to the outcome. Maybe I’ve just read too many WWI novels recently.
ExUrbanis reviewed Blizzard of Glass by Sally M. Walker:
It’s written for middle grades, simply and powerfully presenting the tragedy. Several real-life families are followed through the morning and subsequent days. There are many photographs and archival materials. Walker has carefully researched and presents the material in a factual way that allows readers to draw their own conclusions about why the ships collided.
ExUrbanis reviewed Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool:
Although YA is not my preferred genre, I found this book enchanting – and would have loved it as a pre-teen. It should become a childhood classic.
ExUrbanis reviewed The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller:
The first of what is promised to be a series featuring former WWI officer Lawrence Bartram. Solid mystery, great period detail.
ExUrbanis reviewed An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd:
The period details seem spot on and the mystery was tight – a much better read than the authors’ previous outing in this series.
ExUrbanis reviewed The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear:
I love Maisie Dobbs. And, until this book, I’d loved all the stories in this mystery series. The book wasn’t bad, mind you, and provided lots of interesting details about the mapping of war. But there were just a couple too many coincidences that advanced the solving of the mystery to suit me.
ExUrbanis reviewed Broken Music by Marjorie Eccles:
Definitely a WWI mystery, which is why I picked it up. But it’s also a romance and suffers from the untouched physical and mental health of the love interests, and a resulting happy ending.
Silly Little Mischief reviewed A Very Long Engagement by Sébastien Japrisot:
Japrisot’s writing is magical. I loved the attention to deal and how creatively he told the story. Often I felt the story moved slowly but the writing was beautiful I forgave Japrisot for not telling the story more quickly.
Tea and a Good Book reviewed Alfred & Emily by Doris Lessing:
Alfred & Emily reminded me a lot of Atonement. In the first half, Lessing creates an alternate history for her parents in which World War I never occurs. Instead, England slips into a long period of peace, in which Alfred and Emily never marry, although they are friends. Alfred is a farmer with a kind wife and two sons. Emily is a successful nurse, then hostess, and finally supporter of education. The strange alternate world that Lessing creates is almost more interesting than their lives – a Serbian rebellion and a longing for the young men of England to “have a good war” are just two of the details that appear. It is an interested, but not necessarily satisfying, story.
Tutu’s Two Cents reviewed The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman:
A stunning read. Not only is the story compelling, but the setting is luminous and the character development some of the best I’ve read this year. Stedman’s prose is crystal clear, crisp, and often has the reader gasping at it’s beauty.
WildmooBooks reviewed A Rose for the ANZAC Boys by Jackie French:
This novel and French’s factual notes are a tribute to the thousands if not millions of women who volunteered for service during WWI. French also includes details about the men of Australian and New Zealand who fought, such as how they were often considered cannon fodder by their British officers. I didn’t know that, per capita, Australia and New Zealand suffered the highest casualty and death rates of any country involved in WWI.
Becky’s Book Reviews reviewed Like the Willow Tree: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce, Portland, Maine 1918 (Dear America) by Lois Lowry:
The diary chronicles her time with the Shakers and provides an interesting look at faith and culture. Lydia and her brother, Daniel, react very differently to their new life, their new community. And yet, this community changes them both forever, both for the better. I would recommend this one.
Becky’s Book Reviews reviewed War Horse by Michael Morpurgo:
…readers get a glimpse of World War I as seen through the eyes of a horse. And it is an ugly, ugly mess. But the book, as a whole, is not as depressing as it might have been. That’s not to say it’s a cheerful book, but, it has many redeeming qualities.
Becky’s Book Reviews reviewed Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery:
Rilla of Ingleside is one of the BEST books I’ve ever read set during World War I. It is bittersweet and heartbreaking and WONDERFUL from cover to cover. You might think that since it is part of the Anne series that it would be narrated by Anne, or closely follow Anne, but, that is not the case at all. This is Rilla’s coming-of-age story. It is HER story from cover to cover, and while her mom is important to her, this isn’t Anne’s story to tell.
Books and Movies reviewed Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool:
Books like Moon Over Manifest remind me why I still read children’s fiction. This is fiction that transcends age. Abilene Tucker is a young heroine reminiscent of Scout Finch, and her summer in Manifest, Kansas, reveals her father’s history – and her future.
Books and Movies reviewed The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani:
I read a lot of historical fiction, but every once in a while a book comes along that plunges me right into the time period, immersing me in the lives of the people, the places they inhabit. I could smell the air of the Italian Alps, taste the pasta, hear Caruso singing, feel the supple leather of the shoes Ciro made. There was not a single section that dragged, nor a single time I wasn’t eager to pick the book up and dive back in. When I finished the last page, it was with the kind of sadness I only experience when I know I am going to miss the world of a book terribly.
Tutu’s Two Cents reviewed George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I by Miranda Carter:
This is a fascinating study of the three men whose governments pushed them aside, ignored them, or in Wilhelm’s instance, tried to work around his pomposity to win a war that should never have been started.
Tutu’s Two Cents reviewed Fall of Giants by Ken Follett:
This is a long book….over a 1000 pages in print, and 30 hours in audio. Like all of Follett’s works, it can get a bit long-winded in parts, but the story is well told, extremely well researched, and ultimately enjoyable. I especially found the sections on the Russian revolution very enlightening. Not only did I enjoy the read, I learned a lot about the various factions and causes of the many different aspects of that country’s government(s) during those years.
Under The Boardwalk reviewed Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke:
Just when we think they are getting on with their lives after the tragedy, the War begins. It is almost unbelievable what Annie’s Aunt Eleanor did, and what a roller coaster ride we are put on before the characters are reunited. An enjoyable read.
Under the Boardwalk reviewed Overseas by Beatriz Williams:
I could not put this book down! Kate and Julian’s journey was fascinating and thoroughly absorbing. A well written debut novel for this author.
WildmooBooks reviewed One of Ours by Willa Cather:
The reading I’ve done about WWI had made One of Ours seem even more realistic and “true” what the experience may have been like for some. But this is the only novel that I know of that details why the war could be so exciting and liberating.
WildmooBooks reviewed One Man’s Initiation: 1917 by John Dos Passos:
One Man’s Initiation–1917 is the story of Marin Howe, an American volunteer ambulance driver in France during the Great War. It is more a collection of short vignettes and images rather than a neatly woven narrative and has been called an impressionistic novel. It is very short, more of a novella, but powerful precisely because of it’s form and style.
From Bitter Tea and Mystery a review of the film Joyeux Noël:
Regardless of the melodrama, I enjoyed the movie and was genuinely moved by the story. I liked the acting in the film; I cared about the characters who were portrayed.
Thanks again to everyone who helped make the WWI Reading Challenge a success!