FIRST LINE FRIDAYS


The idea behind Hoarding Books’ First Line Fridays is to copy the first line or two to introduce others to your current read.
A lovely look at the Guilded Age

Today’s Friday First Liner comes from Renee Rosen’s The Social Graces, which I requested through my local library. I read about it on a friend’s blog.

“PROLOGUE/Society/New York 1876

They call us the weaker sex. Something we find flattering and maddening in equal measure.”

I have read through the end of chapter one, and am intrigued by the family diagrams of the Astors and the Vanderbilts. This promises to be a darned good read.

Written first thing this rainy Friday morning…

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS ON SATURDAY NIGHT

Thank you Carla of Carla Loves to Read for this fine illustration for this meme.

I was feeling puny this morning, what with the current rain event which makes me ache from the nape of my neck to the soles of my feet, plus my arthritic fingers would not cooperate. I got off to a rocky start this morning with one bad thing happening after the other. It reminded me of Alexander’s no-good, horrible, bad day. LOL Because of this, I did not write my recommendation this a.m.

Instead, please accept this excerpt from the best grades 5-8 book I have read since serving as a Cybil’s judge a couple of years ago.

I met the author and even had her come to my house for lunch. It was a lovely afternoon discussing a lovely book.

On her way to the United Sates during the Mexican Revolution, after meeting Pancho Villa’s soldiers, and meeting a woman general, Petra guides her family towards a bridge they need to cross. It stands between them and the town where they are to take a train to the international bridge separating Mexico and the United States–their destination. A huge storm threatens to ruin their plans.

” …we were at the start of the bridge.

The harrowing winds blew so strong it seemed to be raining sideways. Gusts whipped our hair into our faces and bumped us against each other…Abuelita (her grandmother) tapped my shoulder…’We’re going to have to crawl,’ she said.”

Petra puts her little sister on her back, tells her to hang on, and ties her baby brother to her grandmother’s back.

“The bridge was a ladder of wooden crossties with gaps wide enough for a person to fall through. The splinters in them snagged my skirt and dug into my hands and knees…Amelia’s legs squeezed into my sides, and her arms, clamping around my neck, made it hard to breathe. Every time the wind threatened to push us over, I held on to the crosstie until my knuckles hurt. Slow as a snail, I crawled inch by inch, looking back every so often to make sure Abuelita was still behind me.”

Scenes as scary as this one fill the book, and tell the story of how the author’s great grandmother came to the U.S. This is historical fiction at its very best.

TUESDAY TEASER

Tuesday Teaser, which I first  found on Sarah’s “Brainfluff” is a meme that asks the blogger to copy a few sentences at random from his/her current read in order to tease readers into reading the same book. Read mine and let me know if you think you might read it, then place your own tease (or your blogging address where you have posted yours) in the reply box below.

Today’s Tease is from Erik Larson’s bestseller, The Splendid and the Vile. Larson writes history/non-fiction that read like a novel. Splendid & Vile is about “Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz” (WWII) I am ready to start chapter three which begins:

“America loomed large in Churchill’s thinking about the war and its ultimate outcome. Hitler seemed poised to overwhelm Europe. Germany’s Air Force, the Luftwaffe, was far larger and more powerful than Britain’s Royal Air Force, the RAF, and its submarines and surface raiders were by now severely impeding the flow of food, arms, and raw materials that were so vital to the island nation.”

Isn’t his writing style simply lovely? Just see how his sentences flow and keep his readers turning pages. I am enjoying this one!

 

 

FRIDAY FIRSTLINERS

Several bloggers participate in First Line Fridays. The goal is to copy the first line (or couple of lines) from your current read and see if anyone has read/would like to read the same book. More than once I have found a Book Buddy to read and discuss a book with me.

Here is my First Line for March 13, 2020 from Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile:

” No one had any doubt that the bombers would come.”

This is my latest library borrow. It has 101 chapters and 585 pages if you count notes, bibliography and index. Do I think I can finish it in two weeks? Who knows? LOL

NO ORDINARY TIME by Doris Keans Goodwin: A Review

After reading several novels set during WWII, I wanted to read something non-fiction about the war years, especially the war years in the USA. Goodwin’s well-researched book is both historical and biographical and deals with the lives of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Their “rule” over American politics and society is a phenomenon I often heard my parents discuss.

The book delivers interesting sidelights to both the Roosevelts’ relationship and their individual personalities. Bringing in the adult children’s information from letters, interviews, and writings concerning their parents was a device the author employed well. Descriptions of life in The White House during WWII appears, as did descriptions of the Kennedys, the Fitzgeralds, and Winston Churchill.

Less interesting to this reader, but probably of central interest to true history buffs was the coverage of war strategies, battle plans, diplomacy at conferences, and treaties formed during this period of America’s ascendance as a world leader. Eleanor’s “social and civil work” was tantamount to a whole sub-theme of the book. Friends and advisors of both Franklin and Eleanor were a fascinating cast of secondary characters populating the anecdotes given throughout.

As I read, I felt like an “insider” during a very serious time in American history and was given a taste of what it felt like on the American homefront during the War.

FIRST LINE FRIDAYS

The first lines of a book are often the “hook” that entice the reader to either continue reading or decide the book is not their cup ‘a tea. I am nearly finished with No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin, which chronicles Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s life on the home front during World War II. It contains 636 pages with some anecdotes and detailed narratives which give insights into the times of my mother and father.

Chapter one begins with an illustration of headlines in the New York Times, “Nazis Invade Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg by Land and Air; Dikes Opened; Allies Rush Aid.” Underneath, are the first lines:

“On nights filled with tension and concern, Franklin Roosevelt performed a ritual that helped him to fall asleep.  He would close his eyes and imagine himself at Hyde Park as a boy, standing with his sled in the snow atop the steep hill that stretched… far below.  As he accelerated down the hill, he maneuvered each familiar curve with perfect skill until he reached the bottom, whereupon pulling the sled behind him, he started slowly back up until he reached the top, where he would once again begin his descent.”

This passage could be a metaphor for Roosevelt’s painstaking negotiations for the US in trying times of war, which he did with aplomb and statesmanship.

THE BEST WE COULD DO: A graphic novel/memoir

This unique piece of family history, a debut graphic novel/memoir written and illustrated by Thi Bui was an advance copy I borrowed from a friend’s LFL (Little Free Library).  She often receives books ahead of publication at book conventions and fairs. This book will be published in 2017, and I predict it will educate and inspire many readers.

It tells one family’s story  of its journey from war torn Vietnam to a new home in America.  Bui describes herself in the book’s Preface as “…a product of war.” The writing of the memoir itself is the author’s “…journey of understanding” as she nears the birth of her first child and seeks to understand her mother’s same journey so many times in Vietnam.  In the Preface, she states, “I realized the book was all about parents and children, and it [the title] became The Best We Could Do.”

The illustrative sketches themselves must be commented upon.  When the author is dealing with facts and/or history, the panels are crisp, detailed and strongly drawn.  When she is dealing with memories or perceived, personal history, the drawings are mere sketches, fuzzy-lined, hazy backgrounds.

As the author begins to take on the roles as parent and child simultaneously, her emotions about her new born son intermingle with feelings about the new grandmother, her mother, as well.

It is a touching, fascinating look at a period in history, both ours and Vietnam’s, that is enlightening and moving at the same time, and we agree that Thi Bui’s family did indeed do the best they could do.

More Serious Reading #2: Another Review

The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas by Anad Giridhardas is the true story I took on as an “assignment”, but it ended up as a good investment of my valuable reading time.  This (2014 published) book was required reading for a friend’s Texas History class, and after visiting the class, I was intrigued with the idea/theme of the book and borrowed his  copy (marked and annotated in the margins).

It is non-fiction and deals with the themes of forgiveness, immigrants in America, and some US citizens’ (over) reactions to the events of 9/11.  There is the story of Raisuddin “Rais” Bhuiyan, the  convenience store clerk from Bangladesh and Mark Stroman, a US citizen of the “redneck” mentality who shot and nearly killed Rais for no reason except that Rais was a Muslim.

The psychology behind the actions of the two men is unique in every respect.  the author gives insights into how Rais proceeded from helpless anger to forgiveness and his desire to teach forgiveness and brotherly love and into how Mark’s background and upbringing probably caused him to react to 9/11 by randomly shooting another human being. The author somehow manages to plant empathy for both men in the hearts of his readers.  He, towards the end, chronicles his own involvement with Rais’s desire to spread his message of forgiveness and Mark’s supporters’ appeals (including those of Rais and death penalty critics) for a stay of execution.  Here’s where the suspense clicks in as the minutes click down to Mark’s execution.

It was a New York Times bestseller, and its reviewer described the book as “seek[ing] less to uplift as to illuminate…” To me it was a rewarding read on several levels, very thought- provoking and opinion-forming.

I would recommend this book to individuals, book clubs, and college classes.

MORE SERIOUS READING (Yes, I do some): A Review

The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell was the Gulf Coast Read for this year.  Several counties on the Gulf Coast all read the same book, discussions and book club meetings are held about that book, and individuals participate in an “everyone has-read-that- book”  atmosphere.  Our Third Tuesday Book Club at the local library selected it as the “assignment” for October as well.

I did not think I wanted to read the book.  In the past, I have always been a reader of novels, especially specializing in debut novels, but as a self-improvement project, I was glad to read this book.

It is the true story of “FDR’s secret prisoner exchange program and America’s only family (italics mine) internment camp during WWII.”  It brings to light the hysteria of Americans against the Germans and Japanese living “among us” in those days, not necessarily a proud time in American history. It also describes the behind-the-scenes, political maneuvering of FDR as he used tactics presumably to rescue high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan.

The book tells, in anecdotal form, the stories of two teenage girls, one born to German parents, and one born to Japanese parents, both born here in the United States. It chronicles their eventual exchange and return to war devastated Germany and Japan, respectively, and the toll it had on their adult lives–all stemming from decisions made by their fathers, who had struggles of loyalties and allegiance  to their native countries, Germany and Japan, in spite of their offsprings’ pleas to remain in the only home they had ever known, the US.

The Star Tribune, Minneapolis, describes the book as “…compelling, thought-provoking, and impossible to put down.”  I found this a spot-on description as I read. It is a fine read for book clubs and individuals alike ,and history students will have an eye-opening peek into one of our fairly unknown periods of US history.  Because the camp was located in Crystal City, Texas, its descriptions and information will be of special interest to Texans.

It took me a renewal of the book to finish, and I barely finished by book club meeting day, but I am glad I read The Train to Crystal City.