Category: Book Reviews

WWII Resistance & a Plot to Assassinate Hitler: Faithful Spy by John Hendrix

by John Hendrix
Published by Harry N. Abrams Genres: Biography, Nonfiction, Young Adult

“Faith, without action, is no faith at all. Love, without sacrifice, is no love at all.”

What books inspire you on a profound level, maybe even on a spiritual level? I am of the belief that stories have the capacity to change the reader from the inside out.

If you are familiar with this blog and my research, you might remember one idea I propose. Reading and responding to books for young readers is one way to nurture our spirituality as adults. And this is exactly what happened as I read Faithful Spy, a nonfiction text with amazing graphics by John Hendrix.

DIETRICH BONHOEFFR, SPY IN THE RESISTANCE

This moving story depicts the courageous life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a German theologian who spoke out and took a stand for justice during the dark era in WWII Germany when the Nazis were in power. This is a true story about someone incredibly interesting. And Bonhoeffer was a member of the Resistance, a spy, a pastor, and ethical thinker! The text includes direct quotations from Bonhoeffer himself, adding a rich dimension to a well-researched biography. Take a look at the illustrations in this one. You will probably be mesmerized!

Something else I love about this book is the way the author charts the journey of Bonhoeffer as he realizes he must alter his life in order to truly take a stand for what he believes.

Bonhoeffer recognizes that what the Nazis are doing is wrong and his life choices reflect amazing conviction and courage. As a result, he works to convince others to do the same. Like Bonhoeffer, we can confront injustice in the ways we are able, but maybe this stand for justice can be even more effective when in the context of community.

Hendrix provides a well-needed book for today’s young readers, and I’m interested to know what other readers think about Bonhoeffer’s life and the way he took a stand in the face of evil and hatred.

A YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist, this young adult text is engaging and inspiring. So, once you open this book, you might not be able to put it down until you’ve turned the last page. Faithful Spy, like many other books for young readers, reinforces to me that adult readers also have opportunities to be inspired and grow in compassion and wisdom.

What books for younger readers have inspired you? Are there other biographies or autobiographies for young readers that you would recommend? If so, tell me about them!
What Katie Read

Nazi War Criminals & Night Witches: THE HUNTRESS (2019) by Kate Quinn

Published by William Morrow Paperbacks Genres: Adult, Historical
Source: Netgalley
The Huntress by Kate Quinn
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on February 26, 2019
Pages: 560
Goodreads
five-stars

Are you looking for an intriguing historical novel set at the end of WWII, featuring a plethora of fascinating characters including a Nazi war criminal hiding out in America and one of the Night Witches—an all female regiment of bomber pilots who flew during WWII in opposition to Hitler? Then THE HUNTRESS by Kate Quinn is the choice for you!

I was so excited when I saw that Kate Quinn had a new book coming out. THE ALICE NETWORK is one of my absolutely favorite historical novels!

Thanks to William Morrow Publishing, I read an advanced copy and was immediately hooked by the multiple POVs. I also appreciated that the bulk of the story didn’t just take place during WWII, but after it. The narrative gives attention to the challenge of how Nazi war criminals were brought to justice after the war. This was something that was actually very complex and challenging.

A SPIRITUAL DIMENSION

If you have followed my blog in the past, you’ll remember that I’m interested in how spirituality can be illuminated in fiction. There is definitely an in-depth dimension to explore here in terms of the spiritual dimensions of life–when people or groups of people act in inhumane ways towards other people, how do we hold them accountable? This is one question that surfaces in THE HUNTRESS.

MY THOUGHTS

One of the central character is Jordan, whose father meets and falls in love with a German widow in Boston. I loved following Jordan’s journey, as she harbored dreams to become a photographer, but was also affected by the cultural constraints at the time. She is suspicious of her new stepmother’s history, and struggles with how to reconcile her love for her father and her anxiety about what this German widow might be hiding. I think that Kate adeptly navigated the different POVs and the conflicts among and within the different characters.

I highly recommend any book in which I become so invested in the characters. And that definitely happened with this one. In fact, I wish we were going to get a sequel as I would love to know what lies in store for each of the characters at the end of the story.

And the Night Witches! I don’t see how anyone can not be fascinated with this all-female group of bomber pilots who fought against Hitler during the war in the air. These Russian women were so courageous and braved the harsh elements in order to fight. Whereas other countries held their women back from taking part in the war effort, the Soviet Union put them in the sky. Following Nina’s journey in the story was a treat—she is not a character you will easily forget.

THE AUTHOR’S NOTE

One of my favorite parts of this book, and many other books like it: THE AUTHOR’S NOTE! I absolutely adore when authors share their research journey for a novel, and they illuminate the truth behind what they wrote. Kate’s author’s note is no exception—this girl did her research! And as someone greatly interested in WWII history, this was a real reward for me.

Needless to say, I think you can tell that I loved THE HUNTRESS and give it all the stars. Like THE ALICE NETWORK, I’ll be recommending this one a lot in the near future and beyond! I hope you’ll check this one out. Please tell me what you think!

What Katie Read

A Middle Grade Delight: The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd

by Júlia Sardà, Natalie Lloyd
Published by Katherine Tegen Books Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade

What I Loved:

So much to say about The Problim Children! After reading and adoring Natalie Lloyd’s first two books, A Snicker of Magic and The Key to Extraordinary, I can say she never fails to awe and astound me with her delightful prose and meaningful narratives.

The Problim Children is a fantastic story! I was immediately enamored with the seven Problim children from the very first pages of the novel, and each character carries a unique and vibrant personality, infusing the story with color and delight.

“thea believe in signs. wendell believed in wonders. He’s always felt sorry for people who didn’t believe in miracles. How could anybody live in such a weirdly wonderful world and not see magic tangled inside it?”

Transition arrives with a boom for the seven children when their home in the Swampy Woods is no longer fit for habitation. While the children’s parents are on an archaeological expedition, the seven head out of their familiar territory to claim their grandfather’s mysterious mansion in Lost Cove.

“I know your grandpa was a good man, though. He was a dreamer. He was a wild adventurer. He believed in living all the days of his life. And if tha’ts what folks claim is mad, well–then I think madness is a fine way to be remembered, don’t you?”

Upon arrival they face a fierce foe in the form of Desdemona D’Opinion, a woman who has her eye on discovering a treasure she thinks is hidden within the grand house. She possesses evil plans to farm the children out to various places so she can perform her dastardly deed and claim a treasure that rightfully belongs to the Problims.

However, the Problim Children and their faithful pig, Ichabod, have other plans! They set out to connect with the community around the house and to investigate their grandfather’s abode for clues and insight. At first it seems the surrounding families are slightly scared of the children and their unique ways. But the children persist in sharing themselves, of their joys and giftings, and humorous antics prevail!

Illuminations of Spirituality:

Like Natalie’s other two novels, which feature rich and multi-layered spiritual geographies, this one is no exception. One of the relationships often mentioned in terms of children’s spirituality is that of the very deep and transformative connections we can have with other people. That aspect of spirituality emerges in this text, specifically through the relationships among the children. Their connections with one another drive the narrative, and also serve as a catalyst for multiple events within the story.

“Look at someone heart-first,” mama problim always said. “there’s never an excuse to be cruel. when you meet someone new, think first about all the good and the sad and wonder and worry that’s probably blooming in their heart. just like yours.”

Another spiritual aspect is what I would call “profound courage”—the manifestation of courage in a character who must overcome some huge, almost insurmountable challenge. Perhaps this courage arrives through the character’s relationship with another character or through the emergency of some tremendous inner strength. That notion of “profound courage” is certainly present in the problim children, and I appreciated following the inner journeys of multiple characters in the story. i don’t want to give too much away so will leave you to uncover which characters I’m talking about.

Who Should Read This Book:

Young readers will love this book! Older readers will adore it! I recommend snatching up the beginning of what is certain to be a delightful series to most everyone.

Now I just have to settle down and wait for the next installment!

What Katie Read
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