all ages · Challenges · historical fiction · Uncategorized

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


I have been seeing this book everywhere. It is on display at all of my favorite bookstores both major and minor. I didn’t pick it up because I was sure it was going to be bad-sad (that sadness that feels foisted upon you by authors). Finally, I requested it from my local library because I wanted to give it a chance. I am so glad I tried it.

This book is Ada’s story but it so much more. Ada is nine (maybe) and her brother Jamie is six in 1939 when Hitler has begun to threaten England. Children are being sent to the country for safety. We have all read this story haven’t we?

But, this is where author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley changes the tune. Ada is not just poor and unloved by her cruel Mother. She was born with a clubfoot. In 1939 having a clubfoot was treatable but Ada received no medical attention for her’s and has been kept in her one room apartment in London nearly her entire life.

Whenever I read stories of London’s children being sent to the country during World War II I am struck but the terrible decisions families made to keep their children safe. As a kid, I couldn’t dream of being away from my parents. As an adult, I cannot imagine handing a child over to a stranger on the other side of a train.

But, for Ada, could this separation might be her salvation? Since the book is called, The War that Saved My Life, it is a good guess that the answer is yes. But, what I think made this book really magical was the way being in the country affected Ada.

I loved this book so much I had to own it. I cannot wait to read the sequel The War I finally Won because all of these characters because very dear to me. So, if you enjoy historical fiction or are participating in the When Are you Reading Challenge like I am, this is a fantastic juvenile fiction novel.



Non-Fiction Friday #4


Often I read non-fiction because I am interested in a subject matter and want to delve more deeply into the details. Or, I have come across something that I know nothing about but my curiosity has been piqued. This time, I chose a non-fiction book on a subject that I really didn’t care about just to understand it more.

Let me back up. I consider myself an animal lover. However, this love has never extended to fish. I cannot tell them apart and I cannot keep track of the different species. Even when I am in the middle of a very expensive trip to an aquarium (never my idea) all I can think is, “Its a fish, another fish, yellow fish, big fish.”

However, I stumbled across a video of an octopus doing all kinds of amazing things. Even with my limited oceanic knowledge, I know an octopus when I see one (in a picture). So, my interest in this nebulous “something I didn’t really care about” steered me toward the octopus.


The Soul of an Octopus by Syd Montgomery was everything I thought it might be and more. An enjoyable adventure into the world of the octopus that exposed me to so many mollusk-related things that I didn’t even know existed! My favorite is absolutely that the plural of octopus is not octopi (because you cannot put a Latin ending on a word derived from Greek. I know that sounds stupid and basic – even the author puts this fact on page 1 – but to be able to properly refer to an animal is the beginning of knowing one.

This book follows the author on her journey of discovering the Octopus. She meets and becomes friends with all these sweet and playful creatures by volunteering at her local aquarium and later, learning to scuba dive. I have always said volunteering is the best way to learn something. But, the scuba diving part was difficult for me to read since I am terrified of being underwater in the ocean. Still, her perspective was one of such joy that it was understandable finally to me how people could actually want to scuba. I still don’t want to. And, you can’t make me.

In the end, this book was an enlightening read about the fascinating creature that is the Octopus. More importantly, by reading a book written passionately about something that I was really not interested allowed me to go on a new adventure. This was somewhere I had never gone (and don’t plan to!) but I got to experience her love and gain her insight and information through the book. It will never be the same as being in the embrace of an Octopus but since that interests me as much as doing 100 mile run through the desert (not at all, to be clear) this is as close as I will ever come.

Tell me, please!

What adventure do you not understand? Sky diving? Solo Traveling?

Would you read a book about it?

all ages · historical fiction · Uncategorized

The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz

I picked this book up because the cover caught my eye. And the tag line on the front reads, “The Inquisitor’s Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog.” I was sold. It took me a fair bit of time to get around to reading it but I just finished it and I must recommend it to all of you. It was a lovely story!

inquisitorstaleThe Inquisitor’s Tale is set in 1242 and features three unique children from different backgrounds and a dog. The dog, Gwenforte, is a white greyhound who has died (don’t stop reading! Remember, its a Holy dog!). The peasant, Jeanne, is fierce and honest and has visions that show her glimpses of the future. Jacob is a young Jewish boy and his story touched my heart the most. Then there is William, a young monk with tremendous strength. These children are “magical” or blessed with “powers” but their story really comes from the people who met them.

The combination of the setting, France in the Medieval Ages, and the way the story unfolds was quite reminiscent of Chaucer’s, The Canterbury Tales. Throughout the story someone is collecting the stories of these children. We hear about them through a Nun, a Brewster, a Librarian, and many other interesting people all of have gathered in a small French inn. The dog’s story and that of the children was woven together so well and so smoothly. But, I also enjoyed the peek into the mannerisms and lives of all the characters who told their tale.

Adam Gidwitz really captures the time period in this book. If you read the note at the end, the author’s explains the inspiration and background for the story. I didn’t need that to help me understand how much work had gone into this book. The whole thing really felt like I was in Medieval France.

This was a really enjoyable tale. I have a difficult time finding well written Children’s Historical Fiction and this is one of the best I have read yet. The fact that it checks the box in my pre-1500’s When Are You Reading Challenge is just the halo on my holy dog.

Tell me, please!

Children’s Historical Fiction – Does it interest you?


Non-Fiction Friday #3


asyouwishHappy Friday! Today’s recommendation is a book I was afraid to read. Terrified, really. As You Wish, Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes was billed as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of most favorite books and films of all time. I love (love) The Princess Bride. What if there was drama on the set? Did Buttercup start a love triangle? Was Rob Reiner a terrible task master? I have heard…things about Mandy Patinkin. Will this ruin Inigo?!?  When I finally read it I was stunned at the beautiful memories Cary Elwes shared and deeply impressed by his affection for the project. There is not a single tawdry detail or negative bit of drama expressed in this book. If Cary is suppressing some things then good for him.

If you are a fan of The Princess Bride movie you will enjoy this book. Cary walks us through how he won the part of Westley, his training and thought processes during the filming. He also interviews all the major actors and we get to see their perspective and memories of filming. There are wonderful stories of how they got some shots – I especially loved reading about the stunt required for the dive into the sand in The Fire Swamp. Little details that are shared by the cast just added to my love for the movie.

If you have read the delightful book The Princess Bride by William Goldman then Cary’s book will have added delight.


If you haven’t yet enjoyed the book – stop reading. Go purchase the book.

Its perfection.

Bill Goldman was on set for some of the filming. The book is excellent and I think one of the innumerable reasons the movie is such a hit was the filmmakers really stuck to the story that Goldman wrote and involved him in the making of the movie. Perhaps this is why it doesn’t matter whether you read the book first or watch the movie first. They share one story-soul and compliment each other beautifully.

The Princess Bride is a magical movie and making it was, apparently, a once in a lifetime experience for the cast. If you are a fan, don’t be afraid to read Cary’s book. It ended up being the sit down chat I always wanted to have with the people who made one of my favorite movies.

Tell me, please!

Are you a fan of The Princess Bride book, movie or both?