Hosted by Eva at A Striped Armchair and Marg at ReadingAdventures, Library Loot is a fun weekly meme that allows others to peek in your bookbag to see what you came home from the Library with this week. Here’s what’s in my bag:
January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’d never met, a native of Guernsey, the British island once occupied by the Nazis. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends, all members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the-moment way: as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans.
When he discovered that he had only six months to live, thirty-year-old Kevin Bates picked up his pen and wrote The Manual- advice for his five-year-old daughter, Lois, to live by, laugh at, and follow from twelve until thirty. Seven years later, when Lois is given The Manual, she can barely bring herself to read her father’s words, the pain of his loss is still so raw. Yet soon Kevin’s advice is guiding her through every stage of life from teen angst to career arcs, to knowing when she’s at long last met “the one.” While The Manual can never be a substitute for having Kevin back, the words left behind become Lois’s steady support through all life’s ups and downs, and prove invaluable to unlocking the key to happiness.
Jan and Antonia Zabinski were Polish Christian zookeepers horrified by Nazi racism, who managed to save over three hundred people. Yet their story has fallen between the seams of history. Drawing on Antonia’s diary and other historical sources the author recreates Antonia’s life as “the zookeeper’s wife,” responsible for her own family, the zoo animals, and their “Guests”- resistance activists and refugee Jews, many of whom Jan had smuggled from the Warsaw Ghetto. Ironically, the empty zoo cages helped to hide scores of doomed people, who were code-named after the animals whose cages they occupied.
We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this: This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face. Two years later, they meet again- the story starts there…
Twelve-year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is one of the mysteries that Ren has been trying to solve his entire life- as well as who his parents are and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys. When a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren’s long-lost brother, his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy and gives Ren some hope. But is Benjamin really who he says he is? As Ren is introduced to a life of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves, he begins to suspect that Benjamin holds the key not only to his future but to his past as well.
The narrow street where Harry Bernstein grew up was seemingly unremarkable except for the “invisible wall” that ran down its center, dividing Jewish families on one side from Christian families on the other. On the eve of World War I, Harry’s family struggles to make ends meet. His father earns little money at the Jewish tailoring shop and brings home even less. Harry’s mother, devoted to her children survives on her dreams: that new shoes might secure Harry’s admission to a fancy school; that her daughter might marry the local rabbi; that the entire family might one day be whisked off to the paradise of America. Then Harry’s older sister, Lily, does the unthinkable: she falls in love with Arthur, a Christian boy from across the street. When Harry unwittingly discovers their secret affair, he must choose between the morals he’s been taught all his life, his loyalty to his selfless mother, and what he knows to be true in his own heart.
Abandoning her worldly life, traveling to a remote Wisconsin town in the dead of winter, trusting her future to a man she never met- such was Catherine Land’s new beginning. But there was an ending in sight as well, an ending that would redeem the treachery ahead, justify the sacrifice, and allow her to start over yet again. That was her plan. For Ralph Truitt, the wealthy businessman who advertised for a “reliable wife,” this was also to be a new beginning. Years of solitude, denial and remorse would be erased, and Catherine Land, whoever she might be, would be the vessel of his desires, the keeper of his secrets, the means to recover what was lost. That was his plan. A Reliable Wife is the story of two people, each plagued by a heart filled with anger and guilt, each with a destiny in mind. But neither anticipates what develops between them- the pent-up longings that Catherine discovers in this enigmatic man and the depth of her own emotional response; the joy Ralph experiences in giving Catherine the luxuries she has never known, his growing need for her, and a desire that he thought was long buried. (this one sounded really good but after reading two reviews both saying they hated this book, it has been put to the bottom of my reading pile. I still will read it, I’m just no longer as excited about it)
Plucked from his peaceful life in a village near the Great Wall, 11-year-old Shen suddenly finds himself the favorite musician at the court of China’s first emperor, Qui Shihuangdi. Shen’s music is the only thing that can calm the emperor, but he is unknowingly drawn into a plot to kill his master. Shen’s precious musical instrument, his zither, holds the key to the life of the emperor. But when the moment for action comes, will he be ready? Tales of the Dead: Ancient China allows the people of the past to speak again. Every page is packed with amazing illustrations, astonishing facts, and detailed cutaways- everything you need to qualify as a true expert on Ancient China. (A graphic novel)
Looks like I have a lot of war books this week. Interesting as I don’t particularly like books about wars!
What books did I check out this week that make you want to say “Angie- don’t read that one!” and which books would you give me a thumbs up on? Let me know if you read them and what you thought.