Monday, January 31, 2011

January Book Reviews

"Heroes don't have to be public figures of any kind. Heroes are right in your family. There's amazing stories in all of our families, you just have to ask, 'and then what happened?'"

700 Sundays by Billy Crystal. I heard from a couple different websites that this book was funny, and since I enjoy a funny book, when I saw it for $3 at Big Lots I decided to give it a shot. While it wasn't the funniest book I'd ever read, it was humorous, but more than that it was sad and surprising and heartwarming all at the same time. Billy Crystal's childhood spent around famous jazz musicians was something I was very surprised to learn about. I mean, Billie Holiday took him to his first movie and he watched a Yankees game from Louis Armstrong's seats at Yankee Stadium, really now. It was heartbreaking reading about how he lost his father when he was a teenager, but encouraging how his family dealt with it. It's definitely a book that shows you the importance of family and that's what I loved most about it.

"Irenka, my dear girl, war makes men animals. You must not let this ruin your life. God has plans for you. He did not let you die. God has plans for you."

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke. I must state that Holocaust memoirs are my favorite books to read. Not that the subject matter, or reading about people dying, is one of my favorite things to read about, but I find them infinitely interesting. I am so intrigued by World War II and the unthinkable things people went through, and the amazing stories that came from it. I feel that these people's stories deserve to be heard, and even though they are extremely upsetting, you can always take away the strength and courage of the human spirit that these people show.
Other than just reading memoirs about the war, I like reading different perspectives of it. This one was a Polish Catholic girl's story. It spans from ages 17 to 23 and the many, many events that happened during those years. From being imprisoned by the Russians, to being Forced to work for the Nazis to risking her life to help a dozen Jews escape execution, this book will astonish you. I found myself laying in bed, unable to sleep because I needed to know what happened next and before I knew it, the lamp on my nightstand was on and the book was in my hands. I talked to everyone I knew about it after I was done reading it. It is simply amazing what one person went through and the strength and determination she had to make a difference. It is truly inspiring. I cannot recommend it enough.

"Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true."

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. While I stated above that my favorite books to read are Holocaust memoirs, I had no idea this was going to be (but not really) a Holocaust fictional book. I actually bought it not knowing what it was about or what to expect. It's a book made up entirely of fictional letters between numerous different characters. From an author to her publisher to her best friend and ultimately to the members of a literary society on the island of Guernsey in England that formed during The Occupation. It takes place after the war, in 1945, when the Nazi no longer had control over the island. At first it was a bit confusing trying to keep all the characters straight and remember who the letter was being written to, and written by but after awhile everything kind of straightens out.
While I love the idea of it being about books and literature and the war and that it's entirely made up of letters, the book just kind of fell flat. It didn't really seem believable, and it read like a movie to which you could predict the ending. It was entertaining, but when I read about the war and the people in it, I'd rather it be true.

Did you read anything good in January?


  1. One of my bosses gave me the hunger games trilogy and I finished it in a week! And now the series is being turned into a movie this spring... I was never into harry potter or twilight books but this is young adult fiction worth gushing over. Love your book posts.

  2. Thanks for the reviews. I put in some hold requests at the library. I just finished Daddy-Long-Legs (by Jean Webster, 1912), a short novel I devoured in one afternoon. It's a funny little story, but with underlying themes in social work and suffrage. It's told all in letters from a young (orphan) woman to her mystery benefactor. I loved it.

  3. Oooh, I've heard that the Guernsey one got some good reviews, but I had no idea what it was about. Thanks for the honest review! And Monica, I just added Daddy-Long-Legs to my hold list at the library.


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