Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

I am a big reader, and my goal for 2019 is 30 books. So far I have read two books. The last book I read was Ruta Sepetys Between Shades of Gray. It is a historical fiction based in Europe during World War Two. Here are my thoughts on the book.

This book focuses on the Soviet deportation of Lithuanians during World War Two. The main character is a teenage girl named Lina, whose family is sent away. The story follows her from the cattle car she is forced to travel in, to her forced labor in Siberia.

The book touches upon a very important part of history. Often people see World War Two in black and white terms. Stalin was an ally, but he was far from moral. He was a cruel, ruthless leader. Dissenters were quickly dealt with. People were shot or deported to hard labor camps in the east. This book brings home how cruel Stalin was.

This book was pretty good. The narrative style was strong, and it immediately pulled me in. Lina and her mother were such strong characters they jumped off the page. This book displayed the strength of the Lithuania people. They endured so much, and they still found a way to celebrate their culture.

There were minor issues I had. The timing seemed off and uneven in places. I was unhappy with the ending. The book was detailed in spots, but did not explain how Lina left Soviet Russia. This book was tragic, I was not expecting a happy ending. Yet after seeing the pain that Lina and her family endured, I guess I expected an explanation of what happened.

Overall, I liked this book, but the plot could be stronger. It is a great read for anyone interested in history. It touches on a unknown part of history, and that is important. I applaud Ruta Sepetys for dedication to bringing obscure tragedies to life. I highly suggest this book to anyone who love history.

Till next time

-Colleen

 

 

Me First.

 In my last post I wrote about my past, and its challenges. I wanted to follow up by writing about my plan of action. One part of my plan is a deeper focus on self care. We live in a face paced world, and often put our needs last.  Taking care of ourselves is important to our mental health. I can’t engage in the reflection needed to move forward without a self care routine. These are the things that I take care of myself.

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Photography I have always enjoyed photography.  The camera of choice is my D7100. I enjoy taking pictures of nature and cities. These pictures are taken and posted online on sites like Instagram. it is rewarding to share my point of view through pictures.

Writing Writing has always made me feel free. My days are not complete until I sit down and commit words to a page. My mental health is tied into this activity. When life gets busy and writing get pushed off, I get irritable.  It is important for me to try to write at least one full page a day. Writing is therapeutic, and helps relieve stress.

Reading Books are always a welcome distraction. Opening a good book helps me relax. Each day I try to end my day by reading. I have learned so much from books. They also serve as a quiet source of entertainment.  Reading is one of my most important types of self care. Books help me let go and relax.

Walking A good long walk helps put many things into perspective. The fresh air makes me feel better, as does the exercise. Sometimes I get too intense and need to step away from things. Walking gets me out into nature, and often I come back with story ideas. They also help with my worry.  Getting miles under my feet brings me back to my center.

These are the activities that make me feel better.  This routine of self care makes me feel centered and calm. It gives me a piece of mind, I have never had. I am just learning to take that back for myself, and it feels good. Hopefully these things will help me move forward.

Do you have a self care routine? Or something that helps you feel centered?  If so, drop it in the comments. I love new ideas, and fun, fresh takes on self care.

Till next time

-Colleen

 

Five Favorite Books

 Reading is one of my favorite activities.  There is something special about sitting down at the end of a hard day with a good book.  I love it so much that my undergraduate degree was in English with a specialty in literature. About a week ago I did a post on books, and it seemed to be a big hit. I figured I would continue with that. Here are my five favorite books of all time.

 

Dark Woods, Chill Waters,  By Marcus Librizzi I picked this one up in a by chance a few years ago. On vacation, I was browsing books in Sherman’s in Bar Harbor.  Librizzi believes that Downeast Maine to be one of the most haunted places in the world, and shares tales from the region. Librizzi narrative is strong, and had a way of sending a shiver down my spine.

 

The Daring Ladies of Lowell, By Kate Alcott The Mill Girls, paved the way for women in the workforce.  This is a story about a girl named Alice. Her life is transformed when she leaves country life behind for the bustle of industrial Lowell. This book touches upon an important period in our history in an intimate way that I was impressed by.

The Hobbit, By J.RR Tolkien   This prequel to Lord of the Ring is a book of adventure. It is the epic adventure of Bilbo Baggins as he goes to the Lonely Mountains. There are trolls, dragons and gold in this tale, but it has a much lighter tone than Lord of the Rings. As a cautious travel myself, I really enjoyed this one.

Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys  Many World War Two books focus on countries invaded by Germany.  This book takes a new perspective. It  shares their story,  and also focuses on those on the German side of the conflict. It follows four people escaping from the Russians advance. It shows the struggles they faced. This book really humanized the entire war for me. The suffering of World War Two was all encompassing. This book really brought that home.

 

The Last Stand, Nathaniel Philbrick Custer’s last stand is one of the most iconic events in American history. There are many myths  that swirl around the events of that day. This book takes an even keeled look at the battle. it examines the wide politics of the time, and was incredibly researched.
Philbrick also looks at the intimate lives of Both George Armstrong Custer and Sitting Bull. The book was well rounded with a strong narrative style that made it great to read.

 These are my favorite books. I enjoy history, fantasy, and most importantly a good narrative. It is the stories that make our lives so interesting. If you couldn’t already tell, I love a good book. I am also always looking for suggestions. If you have read any good books, leave them in the comments.

Till Next time!

Colleen

 

Best Books of 2018


I can’t believe that it is already November. The holidays are coming up, and we are nearing the end of 2018. One of my goals this year was to read more. I love books, but struggle to find time to read.  This year reading was prioritized and it paid off. This week I finished my 2018 Goodreads challenge.  These are some of the great books that I discovered this year.

 

The Cruel Prince, By Holly Black This young adult fantasy grabs you and hold on tight all the way through.  It tells the story of two sisters pulled into a fantasy world. It addresses some major adult themes, and had maturity I enjoyed. The fantasy world was so extensive, that I felt completely immersed.  It walks a fine line, and it was a great read. I stumbled on this by accident, but really enjoyed it.

 

The Nightingale, By Kristin Hannah I love fiction that is set during World War Two. This books tells the story of two sister navigating their way through life in occupied France.  They approach it differently, but  both womens path are intriguing. It looks at how the choices of these women changed the course of their family forever.  This book is full of surprises, and shows the strength that women posses.

 

Killers of the Flower Moon,  By David Grann This historical work tells the haunting story of the Osage murders. The narrative is beautiful. The history presented covers a grand scope, but never felt overwhelming. I learned so much from this book. The story is tragic, but covers an important part o our history.  If you enjoy hidden parts of American history, you will enjoy this book.

 

Devil at My Heels,  By David Rensin and Louis Zamperini This is Louis Zamperinis life in his own words. I really enjoyed Unbroken, and I find Louis to be inspiring. I was happy to read the story of his journey from his perspective. He was a such a humble person. He  showed us that if you are lost you can always find your way home. I consider Louise Zamperini to be an American hero.  This book is a beautiful testament to his legacy.

 

Mad Love and War,  by Joy Harjo This is powerful collection of poems about life as an native American women. We often think of Native American life as something frozen in time.  they are struggling, but they are dynamic, live culture. This book focuses on some of the problems they face. The language of the poetry is beautiful and haunting. They are a powerful testament of a people struggling to survive.

 

So those are my favorites from 2018. I hope that you enjoyed the list. are you doing a reading challenge, if so how is it going?  What are your favorite books from this year?  I would love some more recommendations!

 

Till next time!

Colleen