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Tag Archives: WW2

Characters Series: Heroines in the Worst of Times

When I was a kid, I wished that I could do something really BIG and dramatic that would save the day.  I think that I still do have this desire, and I think it is a common one.  We humans want to know that our lives have a purpose and meaning.  It’s all very well to talk about character when things in life are going so nicely.  Of course, character is needed in everyday life.  But it’s so much harder when you’re in the midst of scary events. 

We’re usually not aware of these kinds of heroines until we put them in the context of history.  The real-life heroines are the most admirable, for they show us that it is possible to have integrity for real and that it’s not just for fiction.  One of my personal favorites ever since I was little has been Queen Esther—Persian queen (Jewish commoner) in disguise!  Even though she was in the prime of life and could easily talk herself out of it, she felt a duty to go to the king on behalf of her people because she could do something. 

One our favorite Lord of the Rings quotes goes something like this: 

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. 

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  

Thinking of history not that long past, there are the character role models of Diet Eman and Corrie ten Boom.  They were also both women in the prime of life who did what they could while their country was occupied by the Nazi regime.  I cannot think of anything more terrifying than facing a concentration camp, yet that is what they risked experiencing (and did experience) because of their belief that all people matter.  What heart, what courage these women modeled!  Come to think of it, why else do heroes do what they do, other than because of their value for human life and freedom?  In the moment of their action, they put aside their safety and sometimes very lives for the treasuring of another. 

I have never read the book, but I recently watched the movie The Help for the first time.  This story is full of women in a particular place (deep Southern America) in a particular time (violently racial 1960’s).  Some did what was popular and easy in the community—letting others bully them as to their personal decisions and relationships.  Others saw their neighbors as human beings with souls.  And still others decided to take a stand, to say ‘enough is enough’, and try to help each other in the middle of what was impossible conditions.  They were scared; they were hesitant at first or said no at the beginning, because they were risking so much.  But each decided that their friends and family were more important than their present fear and took the step forward that eventually became fruitful.  No longer ‘Strange Fruit.’ 

Sometimes heroines will never see the fruit of their labors.  In Tangled Ashes (Michele Phoenix), Marie is a seventeen-year-old girl living in an obscure village in France during WWII.  She is just an ordinary teenager, but living in extraordinary times.  She is forced to serve in a nearby manor house where strange and secretive things are taking place under the German occupation.  She “hears nothing, she sees nothing”– until she is forced to face the facts that her best friend is pregnant with an enemy soldier.  Suddenly, she cannot live for her preservation alone.  She has a tiny, innocent life to look after and it ends up costing her dearly.  But her love puts others first, and she has to trust that her courageous actions are more important in the long run. 

What becomes of the people we have influence over?  Maybe we will never know.  Or maybe their lives will touch others in a great, wide ripple effect that never stops.  All we can do is strive to pass on a heritage that will be life-giving and honoring for others.  And maybe this idea is not relegated to the big, grandiose acts of queens, but starts with the everyday little yeses and considerations in this world. 

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 3,4) 

 
 

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Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Winter 2017-18)

A new year; what will it bring?  Curiosity, intrigue and surprises are in store for us this winter with these books!

Escape from Colditz, by P. R. Reid ~ This book has long been on my mom’s shelf.  She and I share the same interest in stories of WWII, including POW experiences and especially escape attempts!  I remember the Steve McQueen film The Great Escape was a favorite of mine from around age 8.  So of course this was on my reading list!  The problem was that I was confused because it goes by several different titles, has different editions, sequels, compilations—which do I choose to read?  As it turns out, I wish that I had gone with Reid’s later edition, “Colditz: The Full Story”.  His first history of Colditz was written a mere few years after his experiences and he did not have more details until much later.  I will be getting my hands on that version [as well as several films on it], but yet I can recommend these books by Reid because they make for great reading. Reid appears to keep a light “stiff upper lip” attitude toward his captivity, yet I’m sure things were rougher when suffering the reality.  I originally thought this would be a detailing one large escape attempt, rather like the one from the famous Stalag Luft III (The Great Escape, by Paul Brickhill).  Instead, I quickly found it to be a narration of the author’s experiences at the fortress Colditz and the numerous failed and successful escapes made from there.  More like Hogan’s Heroes though much more serious, real, and dangerous.  The prisoners’ innovativeness, and ability to laugh and create entertainment even in a sparse atmosphere was enjoyable to read.  No matter how many avenues were thought of, tried, discovered, foiled and so on, they could always come back with another idea to escape.  Reid said there were basically two types of prisoners—those who succumbed to their imprisonment, and those who could deal with the depression that accompanied it and so put all their energy toward escape plans.  Which one would you be?   

A Curious Faith, by Logan Wolfram ~ I’m still finishing up the last chapters of this book, but it certainly has come to me at the right time.  I’m immediately drawn to any book with the word ‘curious’ in the title (for obvious reasons), but add the topic of Christianity on top of that and I’m all in!  I have been gleaning so much from it and copying out large passages of quotes.  This definitely is a great book to start the new year off right.  Worry, waiting, fear, control, decision making, spiritual dryness, and disappointment are a part of every human’s life.  But in the context of a curious following after God, how do we deal with these everyday things well?  How do we endure and trust with joy and childlike faith?  I think if you have these questions, you will enjoy author Logan Wolfram.  She writes simply yet eloquently.  She has really helped to make has certain Scripture come alive for me.  I can’t wait to finish this and highly recommend it to my sisters (or even brothers) in Christ!   

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2018 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking

 

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Friends & Books

I recently watched an interesting documentary and wanted to quickly recommend it to you.  But first, a little backstory…

I bumped into someone I knew last Sunday evening and we got to talking on the subject of books.  I had happened to like the past year’s women’s book club our church held this summer; she had not been so enthused over it.  But she told me about a really good book she had finished that had her gushing.  It was called “And Ladies of the Club,” by Helen Hooven Santmyer, a book that had taken the author all of her life to write.  Apparently, it is a fictionalized account of a women’s book club spanning several decades.

Later this week, I decorated our Christmas tree.  This may sound abnormal, but for the last three years I’ve made a tradition of finding time to watch documentaries as I decorate.  It used to be traditional Christmas music, but seeing as how I am very particular and take many hours (or sometimes days) just trim our tree, the music gets annoying very quickly.  So documentaries it is…  While browsing my library’s hoopla (a new resource and worth checking to see if your library has it or something similar), I stumbled across a film simply called, “Book Club.”  It happened to be the true life story of a group of dear women who had formed a book club early on in their young, married lives as a way to improve their minds.  As the years passed, their club continued as new members arrived and others moved on.  But always a core membership remained.

It was such an interesting story, and ironically reminded me of the book my acquaintance told me about (although the two are unrelated, as far as I know).  A few things struck me about the documentary.  I noticed was that when the film showed clips of the women reading passages from their favorite selections they read clearly, smoothly, and comprehendingly.  Not choppy, disjointed, with ignorant pronunciation.  This is because they had lifetimes of practiced skill.  These ladies were well into their 80’s, and admittedly did not read as intellectually deep as they formerly had.  Yet, they were still reading literary fiction, memoirs, and other books of depth.  I believe this is because once their minds were used to quality reading, even at an old age they could not develop a taste for anything as fluffy as “Amish fiction” [yes, I’m ranting again!].  Comment was made on a few members’ determination to read books on self-improvement, though it may not make sense to the world at large why ladies of such an age would be.  But the results were evident in that the women had a large love for life and many interests.  It was not born overnight; their zest was began many years ago when they were still young.  They had felt worn out, underappreciated, maybe a bit isolated at a time when many women did not work, the world was at war, and they had babies and husbands to take care of.  But they deemed friendship and reading in community to be important enough to make the time and effort, and many emphasized that those things meant more to them than the books themselves.

It was interesting to hear of their different backgrounds, perspectives, and education.  Not all of them were the reverent or pious grandmother you may expect, and in a way it was sad some of them obviously did not have the joy of Jesus Christ in their life.  But part of a book club means learning from others that do not hold the same views as ourselves, I am learning.  I hope you will become curious and inspired by watching “Book Club” just as I was!

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Autumn/Winter Christian Fiction 2017…

I hope everyone had a fulfilling Thanksgiving!

Today I’m sharing a list of new Christian/Inspirational fiction that was released in the CBD catalog for Fall 2017.  I never really go in for the Christmas-themed books.  But I was thrilled to find a longer list of novels this time around that has me super interested to get my hands on!  Some are by my favorite authors (Lyn Austin, Jane Kirkpatrick, Tricia Goyer…), and some are writers I haven’t heard of before.  That’s exciting!.  And, I must say the book art on these are stunning!  Just look at the layers of color and drama!

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Posted by on November 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Movie Review: The Book Thief

d326e3e8deb69479ae2a56a451ab07e8Based on the book by Markus Zusak.

Version: 2013; starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson

Genre: drama, WWII

Plot Summary: Liesel Meminger has been orphaned by the circumstances of WWII and adopted by a new set of parents in a different town.  She is also new at school and ashamed to admit she cannot read.  But Papa helps to educate her as he learns to improve his schooling as well.  Meanwhile, there are other things to be learned while living in Germany during the time of the Third Reich.

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not by comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

This was a film that had my interest from the first, but I didn’t have a chance to watch it until a little while ago. The trailer looked so intriguing, and I guess I get my interest in WWII history from my mom.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it included the actor Geoffrey Rush in a major role.  His voice is one of my favorites (he played the voice of Nigel the Pelican on Finding Nemo).

The Book Thief was interesting in that it followed the story of a German civilian (Liesel) throughout the duration of the WWII.  Because of the perspective, it sort of reminded me of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, another film I would recommend.  Liesel is involved with the Hitler Youth and other activities just like many other young people her age.  Her adoptive parents aren’t too particularly anti-Hitler, but aren’t entirely for him, either.  However, they go with the flow as many do and keep the peace.

That is, until a young Jewish man enters their home and they are compelled to hide him in their basement. Liesel doesn’t completely understand what is going on, only that Max is her friend and she wants to protect him.

1ea864bc74e07178ed875aaca980711bI really did enjoy this movie, but I get a sense that the book was probably better. There were parts (mostly at the beginning) that I didn’t understand.  Why was Liesel’s mother taken away?  What exactly happened to her brother?  What was the burgermeister’s reasons for banning Liesel?  What’s the deal with the abstract narrator called Death?  Although the story was called “The Book Thief”, that really wasn’t so much of the plot.  It was hard to suspend disbelief when several years go by, yet Liesel and her girlhood crush Rudy don’t appear to get any older.  But I did get a kick out of the Christmas scene in the basement, where the family smuggles in snow, has a snowball fight and builds a snowman.  “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done!” Rosa states.  😀  I also really liked the scene where Liesel enjoys a good book at the burgermeister’s library.  The colors, mood, and design are something I would like to replicate someday for my own personal library.

Another thing I appreciated is that the end of the story takes a different twist that I did not expect, as real life sometimes does. It was sad, but not altogether so.  There is not really ‘content’ issues.  This film is based on a YA book and I was glad to see it kept age appropriate.  But there is what you would expect in a story that takes place during such a time as 1940’s Germany, and there are beatings, bombings, etc.

I would recommend this, but parents will probably want to watch it with their kids and decide what age it’s appropriate for.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Used Book Shopping at Thrift Stores

Ah!  🙂  Time to grab a chai and a blanket and for a little ‘random book shopping’ post!  There aren’t a ton this time around, but I can tell you I was pretty excited over these:

*This was the best find out of all of them!  Have you heard of the story of Diet Eman?  This brave young Dutch woman defied the Nazis along with her fiancé in hiding Jews during WWII.  About ten years ago, I listened to a recorded speech she gave that aired on Focus on the Family.  It was split into two parts and I remember being so engrossed in the Part 1 and not wanting to miss the next day’s continuation.  But I was unable to at that time (didn’t have the benefit of looking up past programs on the internet), and was so sorry to have missed it.  A short time later after moving to another state, I saw a flyer announcing a small community theater performing a play based on Diet Eman’s biography.  It was said that Diet herself may be there to meet and greet afterward!  I was so excited and we all bought tickets.  The play (named after the book, “Things We Couldn’t Say”) was riveting.  Unfortunately, Ms. Eman (who is now quite elderly) couldn’t make it that night and we never got to meet her.  But.  I was looking through the wealth of books at a local Salvation Army store and came across her autobiography in great condition.  And when I opened it up… I saw she had autographed it!  !!!!!  How COOL is that?!  I am so thrilled and honored to have a book signed by her own hand to keep for my own and pass on.  It is my hope that I get to meet her one day in person.

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You never know what you might find at a thrift store!  Do you have any special book finds?  Please share!

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2017 in Book Shopping

 

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P.L. Travers Christmas story on BBC

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I came across a beautifully dramatized Christmas story on BBC this afternoon, originally written as a short story by P. L. Travers.  It’s called “The Fox at the Manger” and the voices and music are lovely to listen to.  Actress Wendy Hiller lends voice as the narrator.  It would make a great bedtime story for children this holiday season.  It is available for a limited time only.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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