A Short History of WWI in 3 Books

My knowledge of the first World War was sparse, I knew a ruler was assassinated which sparked conflict, but the rest was fuzzy. When these three books landed in my lap it felt serendipitous. All the history snapped together to and fell into place. War is devastating, but it is necessary to understand our history in order to understand our present. Read these three books and you will have a good picture of what led to the first world war and ultimately the second world war. Happy Reading!

Who Was Winston Churchill by Ellen Labreque

churchillA children’s book? Yes! All adults should read a few pieces of literature written for children. This book will take you less than 2 hours to read and will give you a perfect overview of the major events which took place during both world wars. Additionally, Churchill’s life is highly inspiring, he overcame major career setbacks and some of his best work was accomplished after 50 years of age.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Who Was Winston Churchill?

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

dead wakeUnrest in Europe is simmering as the Lusitania, an enormous, luxury passenger vessel is setting sail from New York to Liverpool. The day before the Lusitania was to leave port in the US, Germany stated in the New York Times they were going to be using submarines to torpedo ships to their hearts desire. The United States was remaining neutral while Europe was on the brink of war. Dead Wake explains the tension in world relations, the physics of ocean liners, submarines, u-boats, and torpedoes, all in a gripping narrative. The story is tragic and fascinating. The events in this book are vital to understanding how World War I unfolded, and the catalyst that moved the United States out of their neutral stance. The sinking of the Lusitania proves minute, mundane decisions matter, history matters, and global relations matter.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

family-romanovThe plight of last reigning Tzar of Russia is a haunting story of privilege, power, and revolution.  All of this history was happening while World War I was happening, yet at this time Russia and the United States had a peace agreement. This book is impeccably researched and incredibly readable. Candace Fleming creates a narrative of life in imperial Russia, and it is captivating. While Nicholas and his family dined on the finest of foods, even by today’s standards, the average person in Russia was starving in a small shack. While they adorned their gowns with jewels and traveled to  monstrous houses, conflict was brewing and it would prove fatal. Before reading this book I knew the basic history of Russia and the Romanov family. However, now I understand all the factors and political powers leading up to their execution. If you get bogged down with non-fiction, try this, it reads effortlessly, and the story is riveting. If you love Non-fiction, or if you read to be informed, rather than entertained, this is a perfect novel.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia (Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (Awards))

 

 

 

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I was humbled to learn I was completely unaware of the history of the Orphan Trains in the US. In 1850, there were 30,000 homeless children in New York City. In an effort to help these children, they were put on trains and taken to live on farms in the midwest. From 1853 to the early 1900’s thousands of children were relocated, this movement is credited with starting the Foster Care System. You can read more about the history here:

Childrens Aid Society

orphan-train

Photo credit to the Childrens Aid Society Website

orphan train book coverOrphan Train, the historical fiction novel set in this time period is outstanding. We meet three characters, Neeve, an orphan in 1929, Molly, aging out of the modern day foster system, and Vivian, a 90 year old woman who Molly is placed to serve community service.  Their stories fit together perfectly, their struggles are different, but also a mirror image of one another. Each womans life is rich with emotion, perseverance, and redemption. A perfect historical fiction novel. The Audiobook was fantastic, I think it added to the book because of the characterization through different voices.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Orphan Train

To Purchase the Audiobook, click here: Orphan Train: A Novel

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

 

the nest 2A father’s small, wise, and calculated investment has grown into a large sum of cash. For the Plumb siblings, this cash is the security blanket to cover up a multitude of mistakes. Bea, Leo, Jack, and Melody Plumb are all in different states of upheaval in their lives. Their fathers nest egg is about to be distributed equally to all four of them, and they are counting on that money to fix their problems. Sadly, money cannot fix all problems. The siblings are all forced to examine their lives and relationships with each other. The Nest makes a fantastic book club choice because the characters are outrageous, frustrating, relatable, and sometimes horrid people. However, some characters transform into better versions of themselves, and the story comes full circle in a satisfying ending. Read it with a friend so you can talk about it, it is book that lends itself to discussion. Our book club agreed we all liked it better after we had talked it through

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Nest

 

 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

avalavender__spanAva Lavender is born with a set of wings. This peculiar feature leads her to ponder her family roots. The is the premise of the magical and tragic story of Ava’s heritage. I loved the rich language and the odd events which marked each person’s life in the Lavender family. I am a lover of Seattle history and stories set in our rain soaked city. The story follows generations of Ava’s ancestors, and what lead them to carve out a living in early Seattle. Love lost and found is the thread that follows all of Ava’s ancestors through their lives. This book makes you feel the rich beauty of green mossy landscapes, seasons of bright daffodils, and the relentless Northwest grey sky. Ava’s story is sad, redemptive, and lovely. Its core message reflects upon what we do for love, the cage of heartache, and learning to fly free again. I loved this story, the magical realism is perfection, and the story is whimsically beautiful.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here:

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy

I love you moreA man with a closet full of secrets can only keep them hidden so long.  Sooner or later your wife finds out a secret, discovers things don’t add up, and your house of cards comes falling down piece by piece. Unless you don’t let it fall.  In this fast paced, story we first meet Diane, beautiful and put together, mother of a daughter named Picasso. She is married to Oliver, desperately in love, yet desperately unhappy. You cannot quite figure out what is going in her marriage, and either can Diane. The story is told from the perspective of Diane, Picasso, and a small town detective.  If you liked Gone Girl you will love the twists and turns and psychological layers. However, I thought this book far surpassed Gone Girl in writing, character development, and depth. The writing is fresh, beautiful, and creative. The pacing and plot are impeccable.  The story is told by different characters, the reader gains the perspective of the story from many different angles. This is the best murder mystery I have read in a long time, I could not walk away from it until it was over. It is haunting, masterful, and a stunning success.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: I Love You More

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brokenbrough

love and death

The Game of Love and Death melds history, philosophy, and love seamlessly. In the forefront are the two main characters, Henry and Flora. They have both known the dulling pain of death in their young lives. Henry copes through hard work, following the rules, and playing beautiful music. Flora copes as she sings her heart out in the jazz clubs. When she is not singing she flies away over Seattle with dreams of following the path of Amelia Earhart. Their lives intersect as children and again as teenagers. In the background, Love and Death are brought to life as people, as opponents in the ultimate game, to shape the destiny of Flora and Henry.

The story envelopes the reader, historical events are paired with the fictional story of Henry and Flora in 1930’s Seattle. The jazz scene is huge, segregation is a harsh reality, and aviation is in its inception.  Life is simple, yet incredibly complicated.  The author captures the 1930’s without flaw, from the clothing, to the jazz clubs; the essence of the era is felt in every turn of the page.

I loved the story, but moreover the deeper questions it asks.  It delves into race relations, social status, the definition of family, and defying one’s chosen path.  It is a beautiful love story, endearing, tender, and dazzling.  Read it with your high school class to exemplify the injustice of segregation, the excitement of early aviation, and the uniqueness of the Seattle jazz scene.  Read it if you love Seattle history, read it if you need a love story to make your heart sing.

You will hear the music, fly with Flora, play bass with Henry, and long to know how it all ends.  I consider it a must read of 2015.

To Order this on Amazon, click here:  The Game of Love and Death

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

theboundlessIf you are looking for a book full of suspense and twists, read ‘The Boundless.’ The protagonist, William, is the son of a railroad worker. When the book opens the race to complete the railroad through the deep wilds of the United States is heated. The works is dangerous, the men are desperate, and William is caught in the madness of men seeking fortune, power, and immortality.

While William waits for his father to come down off the mountain from his job laying train tracks, he stumbles upon a traveling circus. A cunning girl catches his eye and lodges herself in his heart for good. William lets her convince him to meet his father in the mountains. He can simply board the train going up and ride the train back down with his father. However, a simple plan rarely remains simple. William heads into the snowy mountains and is reunited with his father. As soon as he thinks he is safe and sound, the crew is about to drive the last stake into the track, his plans are destroyed. A bloodthirsty Sasquatch, a gold hungry railroad worker, and an intricate conspiracy take William on an untamed ride in unchartered territory. Part magical realism, with historical references to the first railroads, there is suspense on every page. It is thrilling, wild, and touching.  Perfect for a 6th-8th grade reader looking for an adventure novel, with full adult appeal as well.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here:  The Boundless