Welcome to the mid-week edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.
The first author is frequent contributor to the blog, Joy Lennick with a lovely review for her memoir My Gentle War: Memoir of an Essex Girl
About the book
The affection Joy Lennick nee Mansfield felt and feels for Wales is immediately evident in this charming memoir. Separated in World War II from her parents – with her father serving in the Royal Air Force abroad and her mother working in munitions – she finds herself living on a mountain with her two brothers. It is
a world away from the cosy environment of her home in Dagenham, Essex.
Her story evokes the magic of childhood, from the discovery of nature’s minute miracles to the joy of using our five senses to the full. Joyce meets kindness and curiosity, as well as hostility…and discovers a valuable wealth of new experiences, not least the world of ‘dance’. While bombs are raining on her home town, she is sliding down a Welsh slag-tip on a piece of lino and alternately appearing in ‘Mother Goose’ in Merthyr Tydfil’s main theatre. Learning that humour is the cement of survival, she also learns to cope with constant change and occasional heartache.
And when at last the war ends, she discovers the meaning of unreigned happiness. Joy salutes all the kind people who took in and cared for evacuees at a great time of need.
A recent review for the book
My Gentle War is a delightful memoir about the life on a little girl, aged seven years old when war was declared in 1939, and her family as they navigated the changing landscape of everyday life in war time Britain. Joyce’s family lived a middle class life in Dagenham, London when the war started and her father and his brother, Bernard, signed up with the Royal Air Force to go and fight. Joyce’s parents decide that it will be safer for her mother, two younger brothers and herself to go and live with her family in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. The book describes in great detail the difference between her father’s beautifully cultivated garden filled with gorgeous flowers in Dagenham and the wild and lonely beauty of life in the Welsh mountains. Her father’s sadness at having to ruin his garden by building a bomb shelter in the middle of it is the first insight the reader has of the changes that are going to come.
The second insight comes when the author describes the chaos of Paddington Station when her father leaves to go and fight in France and the rest of the family depart for Wales. It is not that easy for an evacuee to fit into life in a rural village, but Joyce and her brothers are young enough to do so without to many problems and, other than one incident when Joyce has a broken glass bottle thrown at her, they all settle into their new life and school. The hard life in Wales is detailed through the memories of the little girl who sees the poverty and learns about the hardship inflicted by the depression prior to the war, on this mining town. The risks of mining are also described through the chronic lung disease suffered by her uncle and the death of a young cousin in the coal mine. The joys of life for children are also expressed with the town arranging concerts staring the children, a picnic and other forms of entertainment. During the early part of the, the bombs do not reach Wales and the food shortages have not as yet bitten.
Throughout the war, Joyce’s family go between places of refuge, initially Wales, and their London home which they return to when her father is home on leave and intermittently while her mother is doing war work in London.
For the last part of the war, Joyce and her brothers become real evacuees are are sent to live with strangers away from London and the buzz bombs. This particular part of this memoir made me realise how fortunate my own mother was during her days growing up in the war. Her family never had to leave their home town of Bungay and were able to stay on their farm throughout the war.
I really enjoyed this memoir which reads like a conversation and tells of life for Joyce and her mother and siblings in Britain and also tells of some of her father’s experiences of the war in France, including the lead up to the evacuation of Dunkirk, through extracts of his diary and letters home. For people who are interested in World War II and particularly every day life for people during this terrible time, this is a wonderful and eye opening book.
Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK
And: Amazon US
A selection of books by Joy Lennick
Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK
And on Amazon US: Amazon US
Find all the books, read other reviews and follow Joy on : Goodreads
Connect to Joy via her blog: Joy Lennick at WordPress
The next author with a recent review is Marian Longenecker Beaman for Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl.
About the book
What if the Mennonite life young Marian Longenecker chafed against offered the chance for a new beginning? What if her two Lancaster County homes with three generations of family were the perfect launch pad for a brighter future? Readers who long for a simpler life can smell the aroma of saffron-infused potpie in Grandma’s kitchen, hear the strains of four-part a capella music at church, and see the miracle of a divine healing.
Follow the author in pigtails as a child and later with a prayer cap, bucking a heavy-handed father and challenging church rules. Feel the terror of being locked behind a cellar door. Observe the horror of feeling defenseless before a conclave of bishops, an event propelling her into a different world.
Fans of coming-of-age stories will delight in one woman’s surprising path toward self-discovery, a self that lets her revel in shiny red shoes.
One of the recent reviews for the memoir
January 29, 2020
Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl is a wonderful and engaging read. I learned a great deal about the Mennonite way of life: the culture, the dress, the history, and the occasional conflict as Marian Beaman experienced it and so beautifully shares it. I especially enjoyed Marian’s honest description of her home life, including her clashes with her father. It’s brave to put that out there for the world to see; good for you, Marian!
Marian’s clear writing style brought to life her immediate family, her relatives, the Mennonite culture, the mouth- watering food, and the hard work that kept her family fed, clothed, and healthy. This was a life so very different from mine; I found myself envying parts of it while wondering how these folks still exist in our modern world. It’s amazing!
As I read the book, I came to admire Marian so very much; she was strong enough to stand up for herself in her home, in the Mennonite culture, and, eventually, in the outside world. The photographs and illustrations are lovely, and I will be using the recipes for special occasions.
Read this unique book, and enjoy your visit to a thought-provoking culture in a world that is close-by, but still far away.
Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US
And : Amazon UK
Read more reviews and follow Marian on Goodreads: Goodreads
Connect to Marian via her blog: Marian Beaman.
And the final review today is for Jean Lee for Fallen Princeborn: Stolen a YA Fantasy Novel.
About Fallen Princeborn: Stolen
Over the Wall, they came to hunt humans. But now, a human’s going to hunt them. This girl’s nobody’s prey.
In rural Wisconsin, an old stone wall is all that separates the world of magic from the world of man—a wall that keeps the shapeshifters inside. When something gets out, people disappear. Completely.
Escaping from an abusive uncle, eighteen-year-old Charlotte is running away with her younger sister Anna. Together they board a bus. Little do they know that they’re bound for River Vine—a shrouded hinterland where dark magic devours and ancient shapeshifters feed, and where the seed of love sets root among the ashes of the dying.
One of the recent reviews for the book
I have NO idea where to begin. Oh well, let’s start from the characters.
I LOVED THEM. Seriously, these characters are the kind I absolutely fall for. I’d been having a hard time finding books that had characters talking all primordially without the book being written in my, what, grandma’s time? I don’t think there are many books that have ancient characters that talk all anciently, in the modern world, anymore, which is why I absolutely relished every bit of the story and its characters. Charlotte is from the 21st Century, but the male protagonist, Liam, is certainly not. Which leads to the point that there is, in fact, a really cool male protagonist in the story who is immortal and therefore young but ancient, and I don’t think you might’ve derived that from my synopsis above. Pardon – Liam and Charlotte are the most adorable pair I’ve liked in a hell lot of while.
The thing that I loved the most, after the writing style and Liam and Charlie, of course, is the place where this book takes you. For a debut novel, I’d say this book has a really grand, aesthetically and proportionally described place of tale. River Vine is the fantasy land where the ‘velidevour’ dwell and all the events arise – and I wish I could live there for the rest of my life. And the way the author has chosen to describe it – I wish I wasn’t so damn jealous. Really. You wouldn’t think the novel is a debut – that’s how much gripping and vibrant and colorful the writing is.
Inspired me like the inspirational dream of a book this is!
If you’re a human being who loves color and life and green and flowers, (and perhaps creepy dream-drinkers/human-slayers too) I ask you: do you know how much you’re missing if you haven’t yet read this book? A TON. You shouldn’t wait for a second more, my friend!
Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US
And Amazon UK: Amazon UK
Also by Jean Lee
Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US
And on: Amazon UK
You can find more reviews and follow Jean Lee on: Goodreads
Connect to Jean via her website: Jean Lee’s World