Top Ten Tuesday – August 22: Books To Complement A History Lesson

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

August 22: Back To School Freebie: anything “back to school” related like 10 favorite books I read in school, books I think should be required reading, Required Reading For All Fantasy Fans, required reading for every college freshman, Books to Pair With Classics or Books To Complement A History Lesson, books that would be on my classroom shelf if I were a teacher, etc.

Most of these are from the World War II era, because I read a lot of those. Each WWII book I picked presents a different POV of Europe during the war. I snuck a few others in there as well. I guess I’ll start in chronological order.

Jacobite rebellion 1700s:
1. The Winter Sea, by Susanna Kearsley
In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth—the ultimate betrayal—that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her.

The Roaring 1920s:
2. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.

I actually did a project for this when I was in high school. We were reading it in English class and at the same time we were broken up into groups. Each group had to research a particular topic (food, music, fashion, news events, etc.) of what was popular at the time, then present that topic in front of the class as a skit. I was in the fashion group.

World War II 1940s:
3.Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys.
In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina’s father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.

Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive.

It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?
Between Shades of Gray is a riveting novel that steals your breath, captures your heart, and reveals the miraculous nature of the human spirit.

Born and raised in Michigan, Ruta Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. The nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia disappeared from maps in 1941 and did not reappear until 1990. As this is a story seldom told, Ruta wanted to give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives during Stalin’s cleansing of the Baltic region.

4. Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

5. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

6. Anna and the Swallow Man, by Gavriel Savit
Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

7. The One Man, by Andrew Gross

1944. Physics professor Alfred Mendl is separated from his family and sent to the men’s camp, where all of his belongings are tossed on a roaring fire. His books, his papers, his life’s work. The Nazis have no idea what they have just destroyed. And without that physical record, Alfred is one of only two people in the world with his particular knowledge. Knowledge that could start a war, or end it.
Nathan Blum works behind a desk at an intelligence office in Washington, DC, but he longs to contribute to the war effort in a more meaningful way, and he has a particular skill set the U.S. suddenly needs. Nathan is fluent in German and Polish, he is Semitic looking, and he proved his scrappiness at a young age when he escaped from the Polish ghetto. Now, the government wants him to take on the most dangerous assignment of his life: Nathan must sneak into Auschwitz, on a mission to find and escape with one man.

The One Man, a historical thriller from New York Times bestseller Andrew Gross, is a deeply affecting, unputdownable series of twists and turns through a landscape at times horrifyingly familiar but still completely compelling.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley


In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth—the ultimate betrayal—that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her.


Picked this gem up at Book Con 2015.

I loved The Winter Sea and couldn’t put it down. I cried so hard at the “first ending”. I couldn’t see through my tears!

The past and present were interwoven flawlessly. (I loved the geneology aspect too.)
The setting was haunting. The prose was so poetic and I really felt the atmosphere of Slains Castle and Scotland.

I loved that the modern day romance was light and unproblematic. There was a slight love triangle between Carrie and two brothers, but it was not silly and immature.

I was happy to finally see a hero (Moray) actually go for the woman he loves and didn’t play the “I’m too dangerous for you” card.

I love when the authors tell you what research they did and what liberties they took for their fiction. The book I read before this one was The Freemasons’s Daughter so I can’t help compare the two. The Freemason’s Daughter takes place during the 1714 attempt, but tells little to nothing about the planning.

The Winter Sea tells the story about the failed 1708 Jacobite invasion and it tells it well. The character Sophia is not kept in the dark so we are aware of the political scheming, the betrayals, the Union, and the details about the plans to bring King James to Scotland. I learned a lot about the Jacobites.

This is why I love historical fiction. I love history but reading a non-fiction book can be so boring and bogged down with too many dates and names (especially when it’s the same name passed onto the children). But write it like a novel, show me a story, then you have my full attention.

4.5 out 5 White Sails.

Top Ten Tuesday August 15: Five book recommendations for Hufflepuffs

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

August 15: Ten book recommendations for ______________: (Skies the limit here…examples: for Hufflepuffs, for fans of Game of Thrones, for people who don’t normally read YA, for animal lovers, for video game lovers, etc.

I chose book recommendations for Hufflepuffs! These books are great stories about family, friendship and loyalty.

1) Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

You will not find two friends more loyal than Sevro and Victra. They stand by Darrow no matter what. Of course there’s more than just their unconditional love in the trilogy, but I singled them out because I love them both so much.

2) The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson

I have not read this in years. But I remember laughing and crying. I have kept it because I do intend to read it again one day and it’s a book about sisters.

3) The One Man by Andrew Gross
Leo and Professor Mendl are not even family but they are loyal to each other. There was also the loyalty and courage of Nathan. Not many people would take on the mission he did and carry it out to completion.

4) Star Wars Legends: The X-Wing series, by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston.
We Hufflepuffs are often teased and underestimated. But we can still kick ass (just look at the Battle of Hogwarts.) These books shows the other side of Star Wars that doesn’t deal with the Jedi or the Sith. Even those who can’t use the Force can make a difference and kick ass too. It’s a good series for those who feel like the underdogs.

5) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Because hello! Cedric. Yes, he dies but he represented our House wonderfully. Damn you, Voldemort.

The Classic East


Saturday, July 29, 2017

My sister and I attended this event because we love Fleetwood Mac. And the Eagles are legendary too. The seats were ok (section 529, 9th row), but we knew they would be since we went for the cheap seats. Our seats were in Left Field and we had a side view of the stage. The view of the screens were bad, and for some reason Citi Field didn’t also project the concert on the jumbo-trons they use for they use for the baseball games. There were people there almost behind the stage without a view of the screens. The second day we brought binoculars, which was a big help.

Dobbie Brothers were good. I knew more songs than I thought I did. I knew about 5 of them.  Set list.

I didn’t mind missing the first 20 minutes of Steely Dan to stand on the queue for the merchandise. The merch was on the 100 level. So we went down to that level and waited in a crowded, disorganized queue for 35 minutes. I bought 2 shirts. One in grey with pink lettering of the Classic East info. The other a dark grey Fleetwood Mac shirt of them in the 1970s.

Steely Dan Setlist. I only knew one song of theirs. Can’t remember the title.

With my t-shirts bought I was NOT missing the Eagles. They were fantastic. They played for 2 and a half hours. I think there were only 3 songs I was not familiar with. Glenn Fry’s son Deacon did a phenomenal job in his dad’s shoes. Also was a nice surprise to see Vince Gill.

There was one change from the Classic West setlist from two weeks ago. Don Henley appropriately sang “New York Minute”.

1. Seven Bridges Road (Steve Young cover)
2. Take It Easy (Deacon Frey on lead vocals)
3. One of These Nights
4. Take It to the Limit (Vince Gill on lead vocals)
5. Tequila Sunrise (Vince Gill on lead vocals)
6. Witchy Woman
7. I Can’t Tell You Why
8. Lyin’ Eyes (Vince Gill on lead vocals)
9. New York Minute (Don Henley song) (first time since 2002)
10. Those Shoes
11. Peaceful Easy Feeling (Deacon Frey on lead vocals)
12. Best of My Love
13. Love Will Keep Us Alive
14. New Kid in Town (Vince Gill on lead vocals)
15. The Last Resort
16. Already Gone (Deacon Frey on lead vocals)
17. In the City (Joe Walsh song)
18. Heartache Tonight
19. Life’s Been Good(Joe Walsh song)
20. Funk #49 (James Gang cover)
21. Life in the Fast Lane

22. Hotel California

Encore 2:
23. Rocky Mountain Way (Joe Walsh song)
24. Desperado

Sunday, July 30, 2017
Earth, Wind & Fire. I loved their sequined costumes. Was not hard to see them from our seats. They still how to get down with their bad selves.

Journey . Reliving my 1980s childhood. I ❤ Journey. At one point during  Neal Schon’s guitar solo he played “Amazing Grace” which I liked.

The best for last. I was so happy I wanted to cry. I was teary eyed during “Landslide” (I actually cried when I saw Stevie Nicks at MSG back in December) and I had to get up and dance/sway during “Little Lies” and “Gold Dust Woman”.

They ended with Don’t Stop and fireworks went off!

God, I hope Fleetwood Mac tour in 2018. I plan to splurge on the good seats at a couple of shows.

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The Freemason’s Daughter by Shelley Sackier


The Outlander series for the YA audience—a debut, full of romance and intrigue, set in early eighteenth-century Scotland.

Saying good-bye to Scotland is the hardest thing that Jenna MacDuff has had to do—until she meets Lord Pembroke. Jenna’s small clan has risked their lives traveling the countryside as masons, secretly drumming up support and arms for the exiled King James Stuart to retake the British throne. But their next job brings them into enemy territory: England.

Jenna’s father repeatedly warns her to trust no one, but when the Duke of Keswick hires the clan to build a garrison on his estate, it seems she cannot hide her capable mind from the duke’s inquisitive son, Lord Alex Pembroke—nor mask her growing attraction to him. But there’s a covert plan behind the building of the garrison, and soon Jenna must struggle not only to keep her newfound friendship with Alex from her father, but also to keep her father’s treason from Alex.

Will Jenna decide to keep her family’s mutinous secrets and assist her clan’s cause, or protect the life of the young noble she’s falling for?

In Shelley Sackier’s lush, vivid historical debut, someone will pay a deadly price no matter which choice Jenna makes.

Picked up an ARC from NYCC 2016.

This story is being advertised as “The Outlander series for the YA audience” and I don’t agree. I never read Outlander, or seen the show, but from what I have heard The Freemason’s Daughter doesn’t have enough romance to earn that comparison. I am not saying I expect sex scenes in a YA novel, but there wasn’t enough heat between Jenna and Alex. Or Jenna and Daniel.

There also was not enough action, conflict, or suspense. Not much happens in the book until the last few chapters, which were rushed and then it ends abruptly. There were some points when I thought it would finally become exciting,


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Top Ten Tuesday – July 25: All about the visuals: Favorite Graphic Novels/Comic Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

This was originally a TTT on January 31, but I never got to do it.  I’ll do it now in honor of SDCC this past weekend, and since The Broke and the Bookish prompts are on hiatus.

Been years since I read all these Clone Wars volumes. I’m just mentioning the parts that stuck out in my mind.

1) Star Wars: Clone Wars, Volume 7: When They Were Brothers
Script by W. Haden Blackman, Art by Brian Ching


Many on both sides of the Clone Wars have been wounded or killed. But the war has taken its toll on the survivors, too.

Consumed by the belief that the Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress still lives, Obi-Wan Kenobi has temporarily forsaken his duties and recruited Anakin Skywalker in his desperate hunt for Ventress.

But Anakin believes that Obi-Wan is chasing a ghost-because he himself killed Ventress. And Anakin’s doubts about his former Master’s quest are not assuaged when, following the trail of the rumors of Ventress’ existence, they walk into a trap set by their old enemies, the bounty hunter Durge and Count Dooku!

A tale that tests the strengths of the bonds of brotherhood!
• Collects Obsession Issues 1-5 and the 2005 Free Comic Book Day comic.

I don’t love the art, but I like it. It’s a bit scratchy at times, but the story is my favorite. First of all there is Anakin and Padmé on Naboo. Five months before the events of RotS. MMM-hmmm. *waggles eyebrows* *whispers: Luke and Leia*
Second, Obi-Wan interrupts them to ask for Anakin’s help hunting Ventress.
Third, Ventress!!! She lives.

2)Star Wars: Clone Wars, Volume 9: Endgame
Script by John Ostrander, Pencils by Jan Duursema, Inks by Dan Parsons, Colors by Brad Anderson.


In the jungles of the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk, Quinlan Vos wages a battle of impossible odds against his own troops to protect his loved ones. On the icy Outer Rim world of Toola, Jedi Master Kai Huddora takes a terrified Padawan into his charge after her own master falls to Order 66. Amidst the forests of New Plymto, Dass Jennir finds himself in league with a band of rebels he’d led attacks against only days before. Not all Jedi are scattered across the galaxy however, and soon, a brave few will plot to topple Sith rule-by setting a trap for the newly unveiled Darth Vader!

• Collects Star Wars: Republic 79-83 and the one shot Star Wars: Purge

I love the conclusion of Quinlan Vos’ story and that he survived Order 66 (this is now Legends). The artwork for the pages when he reunites with Khaleen and meets his son Korto are so beautiful. Clean and realistic. I like comic books where the art looks so realistic you feel it can be a photo.

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Pierce Brown’s Red Rising: Sons Of Ares #3


Story by Pierce Brown, Script by Rik Hoskin, Art by Eli Powell.

Amidst the Sons’ daring operation, Fitchner recalls the assignment where he learned about true strength and honor from the Reds his Gold contemporaries looked down upon. Haunted by the things he experienced at The Institute, his life takes a turn as he meets the woman who would forever change his life…and, therefore, society as a whole!


I have been looking forward to this issue because we get to see Fitchner meet his wife, Brynn. Comic books always sum up the story so we don’t get the in-depth details, but I liked seeing how their meeting occurred and relationship developed.

I don’t see why the curse words are blocked out. I think of this story as being for adults and there is plenty of violence in them, so why block out the curses?

I still don’t like the sloppy style of the artwork. Though the cover by Toby Cypress, with Brynn’ flaming red hair is my favorite. Looking at the past issues I like the covers by Toby Cypress and not the covers by Eli Powell.

Looking forward to more Fitchner and Brynn, even though it does not end well.

4.5 out of 5 scythes.