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Review: Violette Szabo: The Life That I Have

Violette Szabo: The Life That I Have by Susan Ottaway My rating: 4 of 5 stars Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley Earlier this...

Friday, June 30, 2017

Review: Blood of the Sphinx

Blood of the Sphinx Blood of the Sphinx by J. Johanis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

1.5, I suppose.

I really, truly do not know what to make of this book. I thought it was a parody, but apparently it is not.

This I found hard to believe.

This book would be better if Johanis lost what is supposedly the historical aspect. It's one thing to rewrite history and give those with tragic endings, happy ones. But this is like an alternate sci-fi Egypt on an totally different planet.

There is some weird shit going down. Like the fact that the men fight and then rape each other in the arena. Ummm. And I'm sorry, Sasha as a nickname for Caesarion? Adrian for an Egyptian guard?

Now to be fair, Johanis acknowledges the playing with history, a bit, and gives the bare facts in an afterword.

So I guess it's about kink, though where Sasha got a pick feather anus toy, I have no idea. But, hey, he is a blond with long flowing tresses. (Yeah, I know).

The whole bit about semen, I honestly do not know where to start with that. I don't. That was just inventive, but very strange. And insulting.

Which brings me to a question - I haven't read much m/m erotica or romance. So is it normal for one of the partners to be constantly described in womanly terms? Even the sex is basically described as man taking a woman - some verbiage and what not. Honestly, you change some of the pronouns around and it could be m/f. Is that normal? I'm not a guy, but wouldn't the mechanics be a little different than standard frontal sex, right? I swear one passage makes it sound like the two men are entering each others womanly parts that they don't have. This confused me greatly. Do men have secret vaginas?

So as a parody it is quite funny, but it is not suppose to be one. So oops.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

RIP Michael Bond

Michael Bond died.  I spent hours of my childhood with Paddington.


Photo Source: Washington Post

Review: Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport

Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport by Anna Krien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am slightly conflicted about this book. Okay, it is good, and does in many ways, what a book should do - raise conversation about a subject. Krien is writing, on one hand, about the sexism in Aussie football, and on the other hand, about one particular rape case that was a the result of the sexism. The parts about the football culture that includes rape, abuse, or bad treatment of women are the most interesting parts of the book. The sections about the rape are a source of conflict.

To be fair, Krien herself realizes this.

In part, this conflict is caused by the Aussie justice system itself, and in part because the woman in the trial did not grant an interview to Krien. Not that I blame her. Krien points out that due to lack of interaction with the woman, she [Krien] found herself getting closer to the man's family. Part of what Krien seems to be trying to work out here is her own self of lost objectively (which she does own and question right from the start) as well as what is a legal definition of rape - especially with all the misinformation about rape that circles around. In other words, she invents the reader along to figure this out. Though, at times, she almost seems to endorse the men are from mars, women are from venus cliche. In many of her examples, it seems more of a case of ingrained sexism, ingrained by society.

It is uncomfortable reading, but important reading.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: Girl Last Seen - SPOILERS AHOY

Girl Last Seen Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I hate being the first person to give a book one star on Goodreads, I really do. I really hate it when I am conflicted about that one star rating, especially when it is a debut novel.

But two stars means okay, and I didn’t find the book okay. Official rating is 1.5.

The basic premise of this novel is that a woman, Lainey, who escaped her rapist/abductor realizes that the latest missing girl looks like her and may be the first victim of the same sadist, the first in several years.

All of which sounds pretty interesting.

The best part of the book, and the riskiest, is the character of Lainey – who is really unlikable. She isn’t so much of anti-hero as hapless. It’s understandable considering that she is suffering from a variety of mental issues caused not only by her abduction and rape, but also because she had a shitty life before. In many ways, this backstory in terms of Lainey is cliché and overused. It isn’t so much the mental issues, as the fact that these characters never truly seem to be trying to get help to overcome these issues. Look, I’ve suffered with depression for half my life. I have good years and bad years. I know how hard and difficult it is to get yourself into treatment. That’s half the battle or more. I understand that.

But, also from experience, I understand too well what it is to live with people who are suffering from depression or other forms of mental illness and do not get proper treatment. They refuse to, full stop. It is absolutely horrible. Not only for the mood swings and hurtful behavior and words that get spewed, but also because it is somewhat manipulative. Look, I understand, but is absolutely exhausting. And my practice for reading about such characters is very, very thin. I live with these people, thank you.

Therefore, while I admire the bravery that Laurin showed in her depiction of Lainey, I was also somewhat frustrated with it. This frustration made the other problems with the book stand out more.

Spoilers ahoy!

Okay, I am sorry, but I don’t buy the American setting, I truly don’t. I have never been to Seattle, but I am pretty sure there is more than one police station. Do Canadians and Brits just place books in Seattle because, hey it’s just like Canada to most US people, so don’t worry about sounding American? I also cannot believe a school that does such detailed screening, so detailed that it gets information about a closed adoption and shares it to all the teachers, would not know about the abuse of a student at the hands of her father. While I understand that many in the school would not want to do anything, there are two teachers where such lack of involvement would seem to be out of character. Additionally, the whole public-school comment about suspension was just plain stupid. I’m sorry it was. I am a product of a public-school system, I teach products of a public school who haven’t students in public schools. That statement was so crap. I’m sorry, but it was.

The whole reveal premise also does not work at all. It really doesn’t I’m sorry. I’m asking how too much and the answer, which seems to be the answer, is money for all the hows. That’s at best sloppy plotting. Sorry.

Okay, but those are quibbles. The major issue is the relationship that Lainey has with Ortiz, the detective who discovered her when she escaped her rapist. This is a seriously sick relationship. If Ortiz is supposed to be the hero, he doesn’t come across as one, especially with his assault of Lainey in the opening section of the book. Considering why he is there, wouldn’t Lainey’s social worker also be there? Wouldn’t the social worker be there when she is questioned by the police? If I am asking all these questions, I’m not being thrilled. Then she sleeps with him. Which, okay mental illness, drug addiction, but he is then supposed to be wise and caring. Sorry, nope. I really do not like abusive YA romantic leads, and this supposed cop is that. The relationship would have head a purpose or been less objectionable if there had been some exploration of the problems with it. But there really wasn’t, not until the sop at the end which doesn’t quite work.

Honesty, this book is like a bad Lifetime movie in many ways, except for the character of Lainey.

Yet, there is something there in the writing, you can see a spark every now and then. A hint that the author’s later work will be better. So, skip the book, keep an eye on the author.


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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Review: Erstwhile: A Grimm's Fairy Tales Collection

Erstwhile: A Grimm's Fairy Tales Collection Erstwhile: A Grimm's Fairy Tales Collection by Gina Biggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I backed this project on Kickstarter. My name is listed on the thank you page.

My mother asked me while I needed comic book version of the Grimm tales. While, I suppose, I don’t really, but I am glad I have this.

Gina Biggs, Louisa Roy, and Elle Skinner take lesser known Grimm tales and adapted them. In many cases, the main characters are depicted as minorities, and there are interracial relationships. The stories themselves are set in a wide variety of places. Many of the tales have a woman or a girl as the main character. There is also a drawing on other media. For instance, Mother Holle would be at home in a Miyazaki movie.

It is to the volume and Elle Skinner’s credit, that the volume starts strong with a version of “Beauty and the Beast” – “The Singing Springing Lark”. Unlike many variants, though the trend is changing, Skinner makes the family more supportive of the Belle character.

The one that I was surprised to see was “King Thrushbeard”. I worked on annotating “King Thrushbeard” for Surlalune. The tale is a patient Griselda type, where a proud princess is taught humility by, basically, being abused by her father and husband. I have to give Louisa Roy credit for she does an excellent job with this story and sticks to the general plot while giving it a modern test. It has a very good ending.

My favorite story is “The Twelve Huntsmen” done by Elle Skinner. In part, this is because I have always loved the story, but here I am so happy to see a princess who is beautiful but who is not skinny and who has freckles.
Gina Biggs’ version of “Sweetheart Roland” is well done too, keeping the darkly romantic feel of the story.
Highly recommended.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was in high school, I read King. I mean, I really read King. I was told by my mother not to leave the books around the house because the title "The Dead Zone" had freaked out my young brother. Then I read three of his books in row that I didn't like - Deadzone, Salem's Lot, Tommyknockers. It was like a switch had been flipped, and I didn't read King for years.

Years, really, outside of a few non-fiction issues.

Until a close friend gave me a copy of Christine because he thought it was funny considering my first name. Honestly, Stephen King if you are reading this review, you owe me and everyone named Christine who was young when the book and movie came out, an apology. It was horrible. Because this is a close friend who loves King, I read it, eventually, and remembered how good King was. So when the sexiest men alive, Mr Elba, was cast in the movie based on this series, I knew I had to at least try the series.

This edition is the slightly edited version, as King notes in the forward. But I still think, even the earlier edition, would have re-stirred a love for King or at least his version of a western. Because this is at heart a western.

I grew up watching The Big Valley. I was the only student who cried when Barbara Stanwyck died.

It is not a flawless book. In many ways, it is a young man's book. For instance, the role of women in the story - even given the western limitation on women's roles (but Victoria Barkley kicked ass. Audra wasn't a slouch either). Yet, it is also a compelling quest book drawing on Childe Roland as well. The characters are more types than actual characters, at this point. But for a fan of Mag Seven, this is fine. It does get a bit bloody, but it's King.

Love that crow.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Out Soon


Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review

                To be honest, this is the time of horse book that I normally hate.  There is a bit too much romanticism to be honest, and the ending sequence is bit too sugary.

                Yet, and it is a big yet.

                Yet, this is actually pretty good.  Part of this is the afterword where Szymanski acknowledges that the story is romanticized This furthered not only by a summary of actual facts but also a page identifying the other horses, each with a brief biography.  There is even detail about other animals on the island with a challenge presented to find them in the illustrations.  These last few pages carry the book from a 3 or 4-star book to a 4 or 5. 

                The basic story is that of Surfer Dude, a stallion on the island of Assateague.  He was popular among residents and tourists because of his good looks.  His life is a little atypical, in particular in regards to one of his sons. 

                The artwork is quite lovely and fits the story quite well.  The animals are well drawn, and the ponies look like ponies as opposed to well-groomed thoroughbreds.  It is quite easy to imagine prints of the illustrations on a wall.

Despite the sometimes-romanticized tone, Szymanski doesn’t shy away from horse herd behavior, in particular the rejection of older colts by stallions. 

                

Monday, June 12, 2017

Art

In a free market society, consumers can dictate the value of art – you don’t like something, it has no value.  With a cooperate sponsor, it becomes a harder question.  A corporation pulling money because it does like the portrayal of the assassination of Julius Caesar is one thing, especially when Caser is similar to a current sitting president.  Such a pulling of funding takes a different turn when it occurs after tweeting from the president’s son.

                It should be noted that Delta pulled funding from the New Public Theater, Bank of America just pulled funding from that one play and intends to keep funding the theatre.  Also considering Trump’s comments about Obama – the birther idea, the secret divorce he had proof of – as well as Trump’s mocking of everyone, I find it hard to take the outrage seriously.  Additionally, when Bush JR was president wasn’t there a movie about his assassination? And um, are these companies profiting under Trump because that is a bit weird

                Granted the sponsorship issue makes it more complex – it’s a version of patronage I suppose.  But if the sponsorship is to enable more people to attend theater, something that is priced at of many people’s budgets, does that change the nature?  I’m not sure.  And it is any different than getting companies to stop advertising on Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity?  Again, I’m not sure.  I never really saw O’Reilly or Hannity as news but I suppose you could argue fiction vs reporting.

                I admit the question promotes a complex answer.

                What I really want to address is this idea that art is never political.

                Because that is bullshit.  Quite frankly.

                Look, not all art is political.  Some of it is simply created to make a buck.  This true of Shakespeare; he may have felt a higher artistic calling, but he still wanted to make money.

                But some art is political or makes a statement.  Guernica springs to mind.  The Nazis used art as propaganda.  Let’s be honest.  And what about certain memorials- those are arts, but aren’t they also in some sense political?  Have you seen some of the Nazi illustrations for Little Red Riding Hood?
Source Pinterest



And let’s talk JC itself.  It’s true that Shakespeare most likely wrote it to make money in some way – simply by getting in an audience.  But to say that JC is unpolitical, nope.  Look at the interplay between the common people and those in power. 


                And it isn’t just JC.  The Grimms’ were interested in folklore, true, but they also published the stories to give Germans, German cultural heritage.  Not surprising.  So, politics exist where you don’t think it does.  Art doesn’t have to be political, but it can be.  

Anne Frank's Birthday

Anne Frank’s Diary has not been challenged or banned very often here in the United States and when it has, it usually has to do with is seen as “pornography” and at least according to the Alabama State Textbook committee that the book is a “downer”.
Photo Source Goodreads


                Other places and other situations the book has drawn more attention, including from those who try declare the book a fraud (it isn’t) or a work fiction.

                Perhaps it would be fair to say that like Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, Frank’s diary was edited (or altered) from the beginning because her father, Otto Frank, did take out passages before he published the diary after the Second World War.  Anne Frank, herself, had gone back and redrafted part of the diary as she become aware that such documents would be in demand after the war.

                One can also understand some critics, who focus on how the diary is taught.  There is some just criticism that the book is taught in a vacuum that significant attention isn’t shown to other victims of the Holocaust (say that the disabled were the earliest victims for instance) or that by using the diary, one is using an unusual case (families really hid together).  Or that Anne’s death is glossed over and the full horror of it is not brought up.   These are valued points.  Additionally, why do we celebrate a victim and disregard the partisans?  These are valid and critical points.

                But the Diary does have several advantages that make it an excellent tool to introduce children to the Holocaust (and yes, I realize that is a very strange sentence).  In many ways, Anne Frank is an every girl and some of the “pornographic” material the diary deals with is issues that many girls confront.  In other ways, the book can be used to talk about prospection because of the figure of Dussel, whom Anne Frank hated, but who is perhaps the most tragic of the company.  It also is the closeness to the reader.  We may not all be partisans, but in many ways, students are closer to Anne then   in many ways, the book is such a multiple use text that it is a teacher’s dream.  Or it should be.

                The charges of pornography come about because of Anne Frank’s writing about her development of her sexuality and self.  She is a teen, after all, and to suggest that a teen doesn’t question this would be silly.               

                But there are plenty of silly people in the world.


                `And let’s talk about the downer aspect.  How many people died in the Jurassic Park movie or in the Hobbit movies?  Death happens.  If we are lucky, it will be Death from the Disc, but to pretend it doesn’t is just silly.



Photo Source Goodreads

Disclaimer: Arc via Netgalley.

                If the world was fair, then everyone who has read, or will read, the Diary of Anne Frank could visit the Anne Frank house in person.

                While it is possible to see the house by touring the website, it does not convey the whole claustrophobic feeling.  Even today, there is a feeling of being cut off from the outside.  It brings something more to a reading of the diary.

                There has always been debate about using the diary to teach the Holocaust, mostly centering on either not telling Frank’s whole story or because that story is such a narrow and unusual one.  The diary, however, does something more important, it provides a door in – an ideal door for it is the words of a girl who doesn’t understand why, and those words speak to children today who are trying to understand the same thing.

                This book should be used in conjunction with the diary for it gives more details about those in hiding with Anne.  It makes them more than those who appear because here you have more of the story than Anne Frank’s limited knowledge.  This book fleshes out that knowledge. 

                The biographies include and spend as much time on those besides the Franks.  The Van Pels get some nice space and the biographies shed light on not only their marriage but some of the other behavior that Anne Frank witnessed.  Both Margot and Edith Frank, who are always overshadowed by Otto and Anne Frank, have more space here and in their respective sections, photos of them without their more famous relatives are included.  Pfeffer too gets more space. 

                It isn’t just the other residents of the Annex that get attention; the helps to get space.  While much as been written about Miep Gies, but here Kleiman, Kugler, and Bep Voskuijl get the same amount of attention as does Jan Gies.  What comes across especially when viewing the photographs was the tightness in the group of people. 

                The book is rounded out by very brief information about other people in the surrounding area - such as workers (the cats even get a mention).   The book also includes a timeline and map of important camps, making it a good companion to be used in a classroom or when reading the Diary itself.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wonder Woman

The new Wonder Woman movie is awesome.  It’s great.  It’s what many women have been waiting for.  It’s all that.  The Mary Sue has been publishing some very good essays about the feminist view of the film.   They are not the only ones.

                There are a few points I would like to raise.  So, spoilers ahead.


Image result for wonder woman movie

                While much has made of the Amazons, in particular the diversity in terms of age and looks, let’s give a closer look to Etta Candy.  She’s more than just comic relief and truth speaking.  She accepts Diana readily, acknowledging the other woman’s great looks without any jealously. 
Additionally, she is smart and observant enough to know that Steve and Diana have been tailed.  She shows up to provide back up, readily with an unfamiliar weapon (Diana’s sword) in head.  Etta may not be bad ass Amazon general or warrior, but she is just as strong and brave.

                This aspect of bravery without superhero powers gets overlooked very often.  While Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Falcon are said to be the weakest Avengers, they are also the bravest – going into battle with a lack of superhero powers or very expensive equipment that protects them head to toe.  Admittedly, Falcon is in the middle, his wings in Civil War can deflect bullets, but this is not the case in Winter Solider.   These three are the bravest Avengers.  This is also why Agent Carter was so popular as well.

                Furthermore, Etta’s ability is another thing that speaks strongly to Steve’s character.  Despite what some others do in the movie, Steve never doubts any woman’s ability.  He had enough sense to work, possibly hire Etta, and respects her abilities.  He is not surprised to see her at his back.  Further, he never questions Diana’s ability, just the whole existence of Ares or Zeus.  Even when he is seducing Dr. Poison, he is observant enough to realize where her true interest lies.  He speaks to her as an equal, something that he does to every single woman in the movie.  He is the only male main character to do so (his posse by and large do so, after Diana has proven herself in the bar).



                His Marvel counterpoint is Nick Fury in the movies who relies heavily on Maria Hill and Black Widow, getting their opinions before making a decision. 

                Another fine and subtle point comes in Diana’s face off with Ares.  Diana defines herself in terms of matrimonial, not surprising considering the birth story she was told and her childhood.  What is interesting is how Ares defines her – as the daughter of Zeus, a child he had with the Amazon Queen.  He never acknowledges Hippolyta’s name, he sees her only in relation to the men whose only connection to her is in that of blood – no emotional connection.  Further, he sees her only as a tool – and it appears so did Zeus.  It is the Amazons who have the compassion to see her as Diana.
Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot.  Source Papelpop
  Even Antiope who pushes the Godkiller aspect of Diana must loves Diana, has compassion for Diana.  Every Amazon sees her as a person, as something other than a tool or a weapon.  It is such a telling difference, all in a few words.  Just like Ares’ attempt to get Diana to kill Dry Maru is based on Dry Maru’s morality and scarred appearance – he gets rid of the mask to show physical ugliness as well.  Incidentally, why neglecting the ugliness of war that Diana has seen.  Jenkins makes sure we know which is worse – Maru’s physical appearance is not something the viewer (or Diana) cares about, the ugliness of war is.  The disappearing of the mask is not a big reveal moment.  At that point in the movie Diana and the viewer are one, we care about morality, nothing else.  Jenkins does a wonderful job at highlighting how ugly war is.  She keeps the horror of WWI.

                Look, it’s true that Wonder Woman’s costume is still a male gaze thing; hell, that is true for a few of the Amazons.  But, there is so much here for a woman to love – the male butt scene but no female nudity is only the tip of it.  There is such much nuance in it.  It’s lovely, it really is. 

                For years, one of the best movie experiences I had was watching 300 and cheering with every woman in the audience when the Queen stabbed the traitor.  That was awesome.
                Now, the best movie experience I had was watching Wonder Woman.

                The Best.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Griswold

On June 7, 1965, the Supreme Court ruled that Connecticut’s ban of contraceptive violated marital privacy.  The lawsuit occurred after Estelle Griswold of Planned Parenthood and Dr C Lee Buxton were found guilty of handing out contraceptives.  It was a 7-2 decision that also gave/acknowledge women privacy under the Constitution.

Source Pinterest

                Of course, the case didn’t really solve the birth control issue.  After in America, it is common for little blue pills of the get it up variety to be covered by insurance but not birth control.  Planned Parenthood is being defunded in various states, and if the Medicare cuts go into existence, women will be greatly affected. 

                It’s strange how one gender is encouraged to have sex, and the other not so much.  Jessica Valenti does write about this in terms of young girls in her excellent book The Purity Myth. 

Source Pinterest
                The issue of birth control and women is usually framed as one about the morality of having sex and the life of the fetus.  What the question ignores, as many writers before me have pointed out, is that half that equation is left out.  Sperm is needed to make a baby, to start life.  So why aren’t men encouraged to forego sex?

                Because it is really about control. 

                But you knew this.

                Other political commenters have asked why they should pay for something that doesn’t affect them.  But birth control does, doesn’t it?  Population rates affect everyone in the world regardless of where they live, don’t they? 

                It’s really about control and money.  If we see the name of a family being passed on from one generation to another, the man’s name, then knowing who the father of the kid is important.  Birth control in the hands of women challenges that, at least it appears to.  A man and his penis not so much. 

Doug Cox speaking in 2014.  Source Pinterst.  Many such bills are still being debated.


                Yet, this aspect is overlooked by many.  If it were really about the morality of sex, then the Texas bill that would penalize men for masturbating would be seriously debated and put into effect. 

                So, it is about control, of knowing that a child is yours if you are guy.  The thing is that enforcing child support isn’t nearly as good as it could be, and the weight of child rearing is never even, at least in how the media portrays it.  The woman is seen as responsible for the child – the child is owned by the man, provided he wants to claim ownership.

                It’s about control and ownership.

                It is also about sex, but not in the way that most people think.  Sex, too, falls under the question of ownership.  Look at the recent story of a man who sued his date for the cost of the ticket to the movie because she was texting.  Sure, she was rude, but that does not excuse his behavior of stalking and complaining.  It was a date, it didn’t work.  So, if a woman does not behavior how a man wants, he gets to sue.  She drove, why doesn’t he pay for her wasted gas?

                But no, his cost is considered and portrayed as the more important.

                Ownership.

                The question of ownership and responsibility runs deeper than that.  Women are monitored when they are pregnant, and there are good reasons for this.  Yet, how many times has a stranger felt a right to ask (or even just) touch a pregnant woman’s belly?  It isn’t just birth control.

                In her book Boundaries of Her Body, Debra Rowland writes “Through the eyes of America’s early lawmakers, women were meant - by God, Darwinian invention, or man-made interpretation – to serve mankind” (5).  Not much seems to have changed.

                Later in her book, Rowland points out the number of times that judges have used a woman’s past abortion against her in sentencing (see page 95).  Additionally, she notes, “because women bear children, laws intended to protect women ‘and their unborn children’ were permissible even where protective legislation curtailed a woman’s individual ‘liberty’ interests” (55).

                Again, it hasn’t changed much.  There are seven states that have 1 abortion clinic (Vicenews), in July there will be no Planned Parenthood in Wyoming (Right to Life), Kentucky may become a state with no abortion clinics.  Texas' Senate passed a bill that makes requires fetal burial and bans D&E procedures (which aren't always used for abortion)

                It’s not all bad.  In California and Oregon, a woman can get birth control without a doctor (Huffington Post).  But every so often, a state tries to make condoms prescription only. 

                Women’s bodies are scary things.  Bleeding and stuff.  Good thing we have the government wanting to take ownership.

                

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

D-Day Anniversary

World War II Memorial at the National Mall.  Photo @fishshelf

Today is the 73rd anniversary of D-Day.  Here is a brief list of lesser known WW II books that make good reading, or a one or two cases, great viewing. 


Flame and Citron – This Danish movie is about two Danish resistance fighters during the German Occupation.  It stars Mads Mikkelsen and Thure Linhardt.  It is an unromantic view of war.
Source Liveforfilm


Photo Source Goodreads.
Photo Source Goodreads
Wildflowers of Terezin – This book by Robert Elmer details the life of a priest and a Jewish woman in Copenhagen during the Occupation.  I first read it when it was offered free for the kindle, and it is a beautiful example of historical fiction.  While the book is published via a religious publishing house, Elmer doesn’t hit the reader over the head with it, and the question of faith is handed quite well.  Elmer also wrote a children’s series, Young Underground, about Danish children during Occupation.            



Photo Source Goodreads
Photo source Goodreads
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – The story in this book is told via two young women who work for SOE and the British Airforce.  Wein’s book is the ideal antidote to any war story that shows women only as nurses and romantic leads.  There is little romance in this book  - just a deep friendship and a love for country.  It is a powerful novel.  The sequel is Rose Under Fire.  There is also a series, Wish Me Luck about female wireless operators as well. 
Photo Source en series tv shows
Ajax, the Dutch, the War by Simon Kupar – Kupar looks at how the Netherlands most famous team, Ajax, continued though the  War years.  In part, this book also shows how soccer (or sport in general) can also be political expression and resistance.
Photo Source Goodreads
Photo Source Goodreads
Photo Source Goodreds
Auschwitz and After by Charlotte Delbo - Delbo’s memoires of her time Auschwitz are worth reading because she was a political prison, imprisoned for aiding the French resistance.  The book adds another layer to knowledge about Auschwitz.

Cruel World by Lynn H. Nicholas  -  Nicolas is perhaps best known for her Rape of Europa, a book detailing the Nazi looting of art.  This book centers on children of all walks -  Jewish, teen, Gentile.  It is a haunting look.

Photo Source Goodreads


A Life in Secrets by Sarah Helm – In many ways, this book started me on my study of WW II and I have no idea why I picked it up in the first place.  Helm’s book is in partial biography of Vera Atkins, the woman who supposedly inspired Moneypenny, and a detail of what happened to women agents who dropped into Occupied France.  After reading this book, you might also want to read Spy Princess and Flames in the Field.

Photo Source Goodreads
Photo Source Goodreads
Women Heroes of World War II – by Kathryn Atwood.  Atwood’s book offers mini-biographies of lesser known women active during WW II.  She focuses on women on all levels -reporters, rescuers, resistance fighters, spies.  (She also did a volume for WW I).

The Tiger’s Claw by Shauna Singh Baldwin – this historical fiction is about Noor Inyant Khan, a wireless operator in WW II.  The book details her experiences as well as those of her family as they try to discover what happened to her.  




Photo Source Goodreads

Photo Source Goodreads
A Midnight Clear by William Wharton – Lovely novel about US soldiers.  It is a very human novel, reminds one of All Quiet on the Western Front.

The Collaborators by Reginald Hill – This book takes place during Occupied Paris and is told via the view of both Germans and Frenchmen/women.  The central idea is that of the title – what is collaboration?








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The Witness House by Christane Kohl – Kohl’s book is about the woman who ran the house where many witnesses stayed during the Nuremberg trials.  In many ways, it is a book that only a German could write.