Books as Weapons

51vgmgguwcl._sy400_.jpgWhen Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning is an excellent source of historic reading material — especially on Memorial Day weekend.

This informative book describes in detail the way in which the United States waged war by collecting and distributing reading material to our servicemen across the globe during World War II. Not long after the burning of books and banning of many authors during Hitler’s “total war”, librarians, publishers, politicians, and civilians across the U.S. began their own war against the regime which sought to control the minds and thoughts of the world by eliminating any ideas which differed from those of their demented leader.

Over time, more than 10 million books were collected and distributed to those fighting for freedom. Paperback books became popular because they were light and easy for soldiers to carry. The books filled empty hours and served as reminders of home and country.

I think this is an excellent book. As I read it, I wished not for another war, but rather for another successful campaign which would encourage people far and wide to read on a regular basis. The exchange of ideas through the written word is mightier than the sword.

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Adam’s Rib

monstrous-regiment-women-us.jpgA Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King is the second novel in the series which has captivated me recently. I think it is the best of the three I have read.

This story, in fact all three novels, are focused on Mary Russell with Holmes playing her friend and mentor. Together they sleuth and solve crimes, but the story being told in the first-person by Mary reveals more about her than Sherlock. I like it!

In this novel, Mary comes of age and receives her inheritance. She becomes acquainted with a charismatic woman crusader and reconnects with a former college chum.

The suspense kept me up way past midnight! I am hooked on these stories and have come to admire King’s creative writing ability a great deal. I hope my followers enjoy these novels as much as I did!

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The Queen

9781427251497.jpgThe Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King is the first in the series of Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell Mysteries. This is the book I should have read first because it establishes the relationship between Holmes and Russell, but either way, I am thoroughly enjoying these books!

In this novel Mary, a teenage orphan, meets Holmes by nearly tripping over him while walking in the countryside. Middle-aged Holmes is retired and a friendship quickly grows between the two as he finds Mary to be unlike anyone he has met previously.

The story is suspenseful and humorous. With my apology for posting these books out of sequence, I encourage my followers who enjoy a good mystery and quality writing to read this!

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Cherry Blossoms

51fvdupujll._sl1500_.jpgDreaming Spies by Laurie R. King exceeded my expectations. This is my first foray into King’s series of continuing Sherlock Holmes tales and I enjoyed this one immensely.

In this novel we find Holmes married to Mary Russell, a sharp-witted woman in her early twenties. Mary narrates the book much in the way Dr. Watson recounted Doyle’s adventures. Mary and Watson are very different people which made this new tale all the more interesting.

Much of the story takes place in Japan and is so beautifully descriptive that I felt as if I had been transported there. At the heart of plot is a book, a blackmailed future emperor, and bit of Oxford.

This is a well-written novel worthy of being read. Mysteries being what they are, I will say no more!

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25761758.jpgMoonlight over Paris by Jennifer Robson is a novel which I found disappointing. It is a novel set in England and Paris just after World War One.

Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr finds herself at loose ends when her fiance calls off their engagement after he returns from the war. Feeling directionless, Helena decides to live with her aunt in France. Vastly different in nature and lifestyle, her aunt provides Helena with a new perspective on life.

Helena studies art, doubts her ability, and distrusts the American newspaperman who finds her interesting.

The book is the basic plot of girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy in the end. Unfortunately, I failed to become engaged in any of the characters on any level. I was hopeful when the Fitzgerald’s suddenly popped into the storyline, but that never went anywhere. Neither did other famous people who seemed to be interjected as window dressing. Reading this book, I kept hoping it would get better, but for me, it never did. A pity.

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08louisa-cover-articleinline.jpgLouisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams by Louisa Thomas is a fascinating history about John Quincy Adams wife. I applaud the author for her diligent, insightful research into the life of a truly extraordinary woman who by this account, had little conception of her role in the history of our country. Having read biographies about John and Abigail by other authors, this book was of great interest to me. I did not know very much about their son and his life.  I gained a great deal of knowledge by reading this book.

Even though this book is about Louisa, it is also about her husband John Quincy and their children because volumes of their letters and books survived providing intimate insights into their lives.

This is so much more than a story about a former First Lady and her husband, it is the history of our nation in the years after its founding and prior to the Civil War.

Because John Quincy and Louisa represented a new nation in European countries during the time of Napoleon, we also gain insight into world history during that era.

Louisa Adams outlived her husband and all but one of her four children. Her father was an American and her mother English which made her an unlikely partner for the son of John and Abigail Adams.

I believe Louisa Adams was a woman who lacked a sense of self-worth even though her contributions were many and her sacrifices great.

This book is so well-written that I will remember what I learned from it for a long time to come. Please, if you are interested in history, read this book. It is outstanding!

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51-cyjy9xql._sy400_.jpgThe Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory is a riveting historical fiction about Henry VIII’s final queen Kateryn Parr. Widowed twice before she caught the eye of the king, Parr was deeply in love with another man and had no desire to marry Henry who was twenty years her senior, but the king’s desire could not be refused.

Based in fact and fiction, the story portrays Queen Kateryn as a woman of deep faith and strong convictions. Dressed in the royal gowns and jewels of her ill-fated predecessors, Kateryn takes her place beside the mercurial tyrant Henry and grits her teeth. She learns to hold her tongue the hard way; never knowing when and if the axe will fall on her own head. Unlike her predecessors, Kateryn developes a relationship with Henry which lasts until his death.

The title appears to be taken from The Taming of the Shrew and in some ways, reminded me of it. In this novel however, both king and queen are manipulative. It’s difficult to identify a victor.

Throughout the story, the king is unwell making him a difficult person to contend with. Earlier injuries in his life are not mentioned which are believed to have caused his erratic behaviour and failing health. During the first part of the book he is almost portrayed as someone of sound mind. As the story goes on, it becomes clear that he is mentally unsound.

This historical period has always fascinated me. With the exception of lengthy discussions on religious doctrine, I enjoyed the book immensely.

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