Tag Archives: WWI

When Christmas Comes Again


dear america

When Christmas Comes Again is the story of Simone Spencer. Set in New York City in 1917, the story captures America at the moment we entered WWI. Upon hearing the news, Simone feels a desperate need to help in any way she can, especially after her older brother Will enlists and is sent overseas. What begins as a way to stave off boredom soon becomes so much more. Simone becomes determined to find a way to be more useful and help the war front. Seeing an ad for girls who speak fluent French, Simone signs up to be a “hello girl.” She begins her training in New York and is then sent to France to combat the phone lines and the switchboard.

What struck me most about this installment of Dear America was how grown up it was, even the main character was older than most other Dear America novels I’ve read. I don’t remember these books being so grown up when I was reading them as a kid, but then maybe I just didn’t pick up on it. Simone loses the things she once held so dear to her but does gain something as well. Through the novel we see her experience love, loss, and watch her as she helps soldiers suffering from PTSD. One of the best parts about this whole series is it’s ability to make history come alive. So many people find history stagnant and boring as a subject in school, but these novels are everything but. They make places and people come alive. Each novel also includes more history on the era present in the novel and it’s impact on American culture.

Rating: 4/5 Thanks for taking me back Dear America.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Christmas in July, or August



Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book set during Christmas time. When I first read this category I had no idea what to read. I got together a bunch of choices but none of them really piqued my interest. Then on a whim I went into the kids section at my local library and found the Dear America series and the book When Christmas Comes Again, a Dear America I never read. Nostalgia kicked in and I decided to pick it up and read it for this category.

I can’t wait to relive childhood a bit with this book in the series. I was a huge Dear America fan in elementary school and can still remember getting some of the novels at the book fair. I love how each teach you about a specific time period in American history in such an accessible way. It made me want to learn more about people and places in American history and had me reading things I know I would not have.

Here’s to Dear America! Stay tuned for the full review of When Christmas Comes Again. Happy reading!


The House of Romanov

The House of Romanov

After some technical difficulties with my aged MacBook, I can finally continue Book Battle 2015! I’m so happy to have my trusty computer companion back with me. We’ve written a lot of papers together. So now that I have it let’s get to the next book in the Battle.

Winter Garden inspired me to change my nonfiction book category pick to Nicholas and Alexandra: The story of the love that ended an empire written by Robert K. Massie, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel about Peter the Great. I’ll be honest, I did already start reading the book since I was experiencing technical difficulties over the last week. And I have to say that so far this novel is utterly compelling. History has always held great interest for me. I was that kid that was glued to the History Channel wanting to take everything in. In particular, the Romanov dynasty and Russia have always fascinated me. I suppose it’s because so little is known about the country as a whole. And the fact that it has spans 11 time zones!

Russia has always been a country that’s veiled in mystery. Not much gets out or goes in. We only know what the country has chosen to release. Not to mention the contentious relationship between the US and Russia. Whenever you watch a US made movie or TV show it seems that the bad guy is always Russian, and, when I was younger, I desperately wanted to know why.

It wasn’t until I did a project in high school about Anastasia that I was totally hooked. The whole story of the Romanovs is almost something only an author could cook up. It doesn’t seem real that an entire dynasty could be toppled in just a little over a decade. Not to mention the whole Anastasia/Anna Anderson mystery. Did she escape or not? Science has proven that she hasn’t but the conspiracy theorist and romantic in me wishes that she had.

Stay tuned to hear about the mystic monk, the royal family shrouded in grief, and the vast country on the brink of revolution. Happy reading!

Upstairs, Downstairs

Upstairs, Downstairs

From the first, I couldn’t get images of Downton Abbey out of my head while reading this book. In parts, it’s a mash-up of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs about the lives of staff and their wealthy patrons and how they intersect and influence the other. The House at Riverton has all the scandal and drama of Downton Abbey and quite a bit of heart. Told from the perspective of house maid Grace, the story covers about a decade in the lives of the Hartford family. From the fancies and dreams of youth to the traumatizing events of WWI, the characters grow and change with the changing times. However, the passage of time in the book was a bit jumbled for my taste. I never was sure exactly when it was or how old the main characters were supposed to be at that point which caused some head scratching on my part.

Morton’s forumla is definitely starting her and, perhaps because she’s still finding her rhythm, not nearly as strong as in her later books. The big reveals in the book aren’t all that shocking because of Morton’s constant foreshadowing the reader pretty much knows what to expect. Perhaps most jarring is that effort it takes Morton to arrange her main character, Grace, into the other characters secret lives, even listening in at keyholes, to keep the story moving forward. In fact, Grace is probably the best part of the book. She’s the best fleshed out character of the bunch. I found myself far more interested in the little snippets we gleamed about her life than the lives of the Hartfords. Grace was the quietly subversive one and definitely the one who lived what the other characters only dreamed about.

Despite the little hiccups in the book, I enjoyed it immensely. I like Morton’s formula and she does it well. I especially loved the small scene in the book featuring Agatha Christie.

Rating: 4/5.

For those of you wondering what’s next in the battle here’s a hint. It’s going to be a memoir! Happy reading!!

The House at Riverton

The House at Riverton

The next book on the agenda is Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton. For any of you curious about the category, this is the popular author’s first book. I’ve read a few other books by Kate Morton, perhaps my favorite being The Distant Hours. I loved the I Capture the Castle feel about that book and the gothic darkness surrounding it.

In the books I have read by Kate Morton, she definitely has a formula she follows for her books and it works splendidly for her. I’m excited to read this first book and see how she has crafted and adapted her formula from here. Each book I’ve read her formula gets a bit sleeker and I can’t wait to see where she started to compare her later novels. In addition, I love the oscillating back and forth between time periods. Morton does a great job of recreating the past, a tad bit melodramatic, but intriguing nonetheless. She is a great one for foreshadowing as well.

This particular book is set during the first world war and then oscillates with the present from the perspective of a main working at Riverton. And naturally mystery and intrigue shortly follow.

Stay tuned for more book battle fun! Happy reading!