Tag Archives: WWII

Book Review: When the World was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney


When the World was Young (click on book or see below for description)
By Elizabeth Gaffney
Releases 8/5/14
Downloaded free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

Finish Time: 4-5 nights.  Sticking with my love of historical fiction for this read, this book did not disappoint.  Full of heartache, self-discovery, mystery, and historical truths, this book transported me back to a time when “the world was young.”

The book begins with a very young Wally, a child of a soldier stationed overseas, living with her mother, who is described very much like a child herself.  She is a child you can’t help but want to hug and protect.  She is surrounded by a cast of characters, her mom, grandmother, her grandmother’s maid and her son, a family friend, and a few others, who do seem to love and care about her, but each so wrapped up in their own lives, she seems to be on her own.

An unlikely friendship develops with Ham, the son of her grandmother’s maid.  Ham is a few years her senior, and of a different race, but they have a great relationship and much of the book follows their adventures.  Ham introduces Wally to insects, specifically ants, which sparks an interest in her that follows her throughout the book.  Kind of a weird side-story, I know a lot more about ants than I ever cared to, but her passion for them and eventual study of them is pivotal in Wally’s life, so definitely a welcome addition to the story.

Wally searches for answers about her father and mother throughout the book, so kind of a mystery going on too behind the scenes.  The reader knows (or understands) more than she does, but with age a few more answers are revealed.    The book probably follows Wally over the course of 15-20 years, so some times are very detailed, while others are glanced over.  But I felt gave the reader a good picture of WWII and the struggles of those on both sides – sides in this case being those in the states versus those overseas.  It addresses a few “controversial topics” and has some very sweet moments.

I was between 3-4 stars on this one again (happens a lot for me – but trying to stick to the round numbers), as there were times it was hard to focus, but overall it held my interest and was a good historical fiction.  But in comparing it to some other books of late, it fell a little short.  Good read, kind of predictable, but a great glimpse into when the world was young!

Description from Amazon:

Wally Baker is no ordinary girl. Living in her grandparents’ Brooklyn Heights brownstone, she doesn’t like dresses, needlepoint, or manners. Her love of Wonder Woman comics and ants makes her feel like a misfit—especially in the shadow of her dazzling but unstable mother, Stella.
 
Acclaimed author Elizabeth Gaffney’s irresistible novel captures postwar Brooklyn through Wally’s eyes, opening on V-J day, as she grows up with the rest of America. Reeling from her own unexpected wartime tragedy and navigating an increasingly fraught landscape, Wally is forced to confront painful truths about the world—its sorrows, its prejudices, its conflicts, its limitations. But Wally also finds hope and strength in the unlikeliest places.
 
With an unforgettable cast of characters, including the increasingly distant and distracted Stella; Loretta, the family’s black maid and Wally’s second mother; Ham, Loretta’s son, who shares Wally’s enthusiasm for ants and exploration; Rudy, Wally’s father, a naval officer, away serving in the Pacific; and Mr. Niederman, the family’s boarder, who never seems to answer Wally’s questions—and who she suspects may have something to hide—Elizabeth Gaffney crafts an immersive, beautifully realized novel about the truths that divide and the love that keeps us together

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Teaser Tuesday: June 24th

Happy Tuesday!   Review of The Hatmaker’s Heart by Carla Stewart went up last week.

Today’s teaser is from When the World Was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney (click on book for description), set to release on August 5th, 2014.  The book begins on V-J Day and has been very interesting so far!

“Once, when the world was young,” Loretta began, and this time, it took a comic turn, as if Loretta was trying to cheer Wally-or herself-up, “there were no grown-ups anywhere, because the world hadn’t been there long enough for the first babies to grow up yet.  Now the only problem was, the babies had to raise themselves, and so naturally by the time they were young children like yourself and Georgie, there we already spoiled rotten.  They ate whatever the pleased and stayed up late every night, and there was no one to tell them it shouldn’t be that way…”
(14% into book)

Thanks for stopping by today! Share yours in the comments please!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

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Book Review: One Lavender Ribbon by Heather Burch

One Lavender Ribbon (click book or see below for description)
By Heather Burch
Downloaded free through Kindle First (June selection – releases 7/1/14)

Rating: 4 bones

Finish Time: 4 nights.  Another good Kindle First read, love this program!

When Adrienne Carter leaves Chicago, after what sounded like a messy and awful divorce, she heads for the beach in Florida.  She finds a run-down place on the beach and begins to take on a renovation using the proceeds from said divorce.  She stumbles upon a hidden box of love letters dating back to WWII.  Her curiosity is peaked and she begins to track down the writers and recipients.

After a surprisingly short search (both online and in person), she finds William Bryant, the WWII hero, and tracks down the sister of “Gracie”, the recipient of of the letters, Sara.  I say surprisingly short as I would have thought it would be a bit harder, but in the age of Google and the internet, I guess you never know!  (I’m always surprised by the stories where people find their birth parents just by posting it on Facebook!)  But it probably helped the story along as it jumped right into getting to know all the characters and all the action!

I actually would have liked more letters (there were a few scattered throughout) and to hear more of the dialogue about the war – to increase my knowledge of the WWII time period (after all that is why I love historical fiction!)  It didn’t take away from the story, but could have added so much more (in my opinion.)  As Adrienne learns more about William, a strange relationship develops with his grandson, Will Bryant.  The relationship between Will and Adrienne was frustrating to say the least.  Will is very protective of his grandfather, which is sweet, but anytime Adrienne goes out on a limb (whether I agreed with it or not), he jumped to the worst conclusion possible, got mad at Adrienne, then came groveling back when she was right (a process repeated many times throughout the book.)

It was frustrating, yet very familiar, made me aware of something I “may” have the tendency to do every once in a while.  I saw this cartoon today that fits this personality type perfectly:

anxiety

But back to the story, it’s full of love, a bit of mystery, a few secrets, and a lot of relationship building and self discovery.  Overall sweet, good, enjoyable read, with a bit of history thrown in.  Worth your time – check it out!

Description from Amazon:

Can a stack of long-hidden love letters from a WWII war hero inspire a heartbroken woman to love again?

Reeling from a bitter divorce, Adrienne Carter abandons Chicago and retreats to the sun, sand, and beauty of Southern Florida, throwing herself into the restoration of a dilapidated old Victorian beach house. Early into the renovations, she discovers a tin box hidden away in the attic that reveals the emotional letters from a WWII paratrooper to a young woman who lived in the house more than a half-century earlier.

The old letters—incredibly poetic and romantic—transcend time, and they arouse in Adrienne a curiosity that leads her to track down the writer of the letters. William “Pops” Bryant is now an old man living in a nearby town with his handsome but overprotective grandson, Will. As Adrienne begins to unravel the secrets of the letters (and the Bryants), she finds herself not yet willing to give up entirely on love.

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