Sunday Book Review – Upon Departure – Prose and #Poetry by John Roedel

I was introduced to the poetry of John Roedel by my lovely friend, Jane Sturgeon. Roedel writes heartfelt poetry from his soul. As a writer myself who writes raw from my soul, and as a griever, John’s poetry hits the mark with everything he writes. Upon Departure is his newest release I was eagerly awaiting to read. Roedel’s storytelling through prose and poetry is sure to touch anyone who has ever loved and lost.

Blurb:

From bestselling poet, storyteller and speaker John Roedel, comes a collection of poetry that explores the concept that our grief as a natural wonder that terraforms the landscape of our world in increments. It can take a lifetime to find peace when our loved one becomes an empty chair at our kitchen table.

let’s lace our hands
as if eternity is opening
up the veil into the great
mystery right in front of us

let’s feel our fingers against
each other as if this is the
last time we will touch before
we become celestial kites

let’s part our lips and say
what we should have said
to each other years ago:

“I love you.
I love you so.
I forgive you.

I’m sorry.
I’m blessed to know you.
I’m so grateful to you.”

My 5 Star Review:

Upon Departure is one of the best books I’ve read on heartfelt poetry, and on loving, life, and losing. After reading, Untied – the poetry of how knots become strings, also by Roedel, and as a writer myself, and one who is also living through grief, I will say that Roedel’s poetry speaks to me louder than some of the other many books I’ve read on grief. And this is simply because the rawness and realness of his pain jumps off the pages, especially to those of us who have also walked the walk – and are still walking through the haze of grief.

In this new release of prose and poetry, the book begins with a short introduction to Roedel’s journey of losing his father, the whirlwind of emotions, the unacceptance and disbelief, till the final acceptance, the ‘what ifs’ of doing things differently he experienced, and how the lingering effects continue through his own journey through life. In this beautiful book, you won’t find a table of contents, nor will you find titles of each poem, rather a story in prose spoken through poetry of words that paint pictures of loss, loving, hope, and eternal love, in metaphors. For anyone who loves emotional poetry, looking for comfort in poetry, or seeks a path in understanding grief, this is a book for you.

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poem #1 begins:

“I don’t care what form

you return to me

I just want you back”

The poem continues on with stanzas about how Roedel doesn’t care in which form ‘you’ appear to me in various appearances:

“If you come back to me

as our favorite song on the radio

I’ll pull the car over immediately

and let the music retell our love story

on 80s power ballad at a time…”

“If you come back to me

as a row of goosebumps on my bare arm

I will trace my fingers across my skin

Carefully so I can read the love letter

you wrote to me in spirit braille…”

“If you come back to me

As a passage in a book

I will grab the fattest eraser I can find

And get rid of all the periods so you

Can become a run-on sentence…”

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One of my favorites, Poem #10, grief summed up in a post card:

“Your grief is the purest love letter that you can ever send to the one you have lost to death…every tear that rolls down the grooves on your face is the most tender postcard you will ever write…”

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Poem #12

“…everybody that you have lost along the way

returns to you on your last day

-it turns out that

love is a boomerang.”

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Roedel has another wonderful book titled, Hey God, and wrote another excerpt for this book:

#13 – Me: Hey God…

“Grief keeps sneaking up on me.

God: To grieve means that you have loved. Grieving is one of the truest human experiences that you will ever participate in. It often arrives without warning – like a late-day summer storm – obscuring the sun and drenching you in downpour. It’s a gift, isn’t it?”

“…Bereavement is the debt you must pay for having loved. There is no getting over the loss of a beloved who is now resting in the arms of endless love. Grief has no expiration date. Despite the pass of time, the phantom pain of mourning is always one memory away from returning.”

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From poem #15

“Every tear of

Loss that we shed

Carries with it

The DNA-of the relationship

Of the love

Of the story

That two people

Once shared…”

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Poem #16 might be my favorite:

Tells about the writer stating he’s just a tourist in the world, and writes of all earthly experiences and possessions he’ll leave behind:

“…except for my

thoughts of you

-they are coming with me…”

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Poem #22 – Where the author uses metaphors likening grief to a field of “rosebushes and bees”

“…Grief is a stretching field full

of thick beautiful rose bushes

and bees that you must travel

through to get to the other side…”

“…On the other side of the field of

grief is another – even bigger field

of grief that has even more beautiful

rose bushes and even angrier bees

and even more pointy thorns that you

must get through…”

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Poignant moments:

“Being mortal means that we are all caught in a loop of meeting each other at Baggage Claim…”

Roedel goes on to say “To grieve the death of a beloved isn’t something that we check off in a box. Once we experience grief it changes us forever. Grief transforms us. Grief doesn’t just stay for a weekend, Grief moves into the loft of our hearts…”

“Grief isn’t an obstacle we overcome – it’s a masterclass in what it means to be human.”

“It can take a lifetime to find peace when our loved one becomes an empty chair at our kitchen table.”

“Life is life

there can be no after

for something that never ends…”

“…because love is the act of holding hands with

another person and counting to infinity by twos…”

“There is this unspoken call for us to have our wounds become scars long before they are ready to.”

“To grieve means that we have taken the risk to love without fear.”

“These tears are proof.

Of what?

That I loved.”

“It’s okay, my love. Eternity is holding me. Death isn’t an end. Death is a threshold. I’m still here. I never left. Love doesn’t die. I remain. There is no afterlife. There is only life. I’m here wih you. Love doesn’t die.”

“…After somebody that you love dies, it feels as if you have lost a limb. Even years later there can be phantom pains that can send you to your knees…”

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. I was delighted to finally get to reading Pete Springer’s wonderful book on his memoirs of how he finally became a teacher, and his sharing about how he became a successful and nurturing teacher, offering a wealth of worthy advice that any teacher should be reading to help them strive to excellence.

Blurb:

Who Will You Inspire Today? Teachers face this challenge and responsibility each day, but in the process, the author discovers that his students can also have a profound influence on him. Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff. Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model. This book is a must-read for all new teachers and those teachers that need a reminder they are human!

Mr. Springer educates others in his easy-to-read, story-like, first-hand manuscript. You will laugh, cry, and get motivated to be the best educator you can. After reading this, I have a better outlook on relationships with my colleagues and am reminded to savor every moment. -Tami Beall (Principal, Pine Hill School)

My 5 Star Review:

I am going to start this review by saying that every teacher should read this book! The author begins this book by sharing his journey of becoming a teacher. That wasn’t his original plan as he tried to figure out through various other jobs, what he wanted to do in life. The universe certainly led him to the right place. This book reads like a memoir, and it surely is a recounting of Springer’s teaching, but also offers a wealth of lessons for educators and parents.

The author shares information about how to be a great teacher, with more than just knowing the curriculum. He describes the various things he did in his teaching years to not only educate his students, but to teach them about compassion for others, sharing, kindness, inclusiveness, as he goes the extra mile to grow their self-esteems, helping them to become worthy of themselves. As the author says himself, he played many more roles than just a teacher.

Springer gives praise when it is deserved to validate his student’s accomplishments and discipline when warranted in a fashion that didn’t criticize, nor embarrass a child, but with speaking gently so the child could learn the errors of their ways. He shared some of his own hurdles, pitfalls and accomplishments to give insight to his students so they could find a common ground and understand that even the teacher made mistakes. He found best methods of organization in classrooms after assessing his kids and grouping them where he deemed they’d fare best, and disciplined justifiably with understanding for the students, rewarding them for great accomplishments. Show and Tell in class was used for a student to demonstrate an accomplishment, while teaching others in the class something useful. These are the positives an adult can instill in a child to grow their pride moving forward in life. This teacher even spent special one-on-one time outside of a school project to form bonds.

Springer then goes into his interactions with parents because of the importance of them appreciating what they need to know about their child, including some of the more challenging discussions teachers may encounter with parents and how to handle those situations. Similarly, he shares the importance of interacting with both colleagues and the boss (the principal). He discusses good working relationships, sharing different teaching techniques, getting along, the importance of not gossiping, and sharing info without crossing privacy boundaries. He talks about discipline, how to discipline so the child learns their mistakes in a positive light. As he explains, if you only berate a child, all they would take from that is retreat, hurt, and wouldn’t learn to grow from their mistakes.

Springer offers excellent insights for all teachers to understand there is so much more to being a teacher than just teaching curriculum. He shares his own insights as to why he used certain methods and why they were effective.

Springer shares some personal stories of memorable moments, and students, how he rectified certain situations that every teacher will encounter, and his passion for teaching and its rewards. He covers a lot of ground, from the importance of laughter – embarrassing moments teaching health class, field trip shenanigans, even the sad topic of preparing with drills for lockdowns. He even covers the state of affairs currently with teacher shortages, supply room shortages, and how he went the extra mile bringing things in to give his students a great and enjoyable education.

Springer was so much more than just a teacher to his students. And it’s no surprise why some of them would call him ‘Mom’ by mistake, as they felt that comfortable with this remarkable teacher.

This book is not just for teachers. I think it’s an excellent understanding for every parent who have children in the school system. Often parents don’t know all of what goes on with their child in school. But teacher Pete had an excellent execution of keeping parents informed and engaging with them.

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – #Shameless #Promotion – New Reviews for D.G. Kaye Books

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. As many of you know, I share a book I’ve read here weekly with my review. I always like to share a good book, paying it forward, and give the author some recognition. For this week’s review, I’m going to take the liberty to share some new-ish reviews I’ve been meaning to share, for my own books. As we all know, reviews are both golden currency for an author, plus, sharing them is a shoutout thank- you to the readers who take the time out to review our books.

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I found this lovely review at Mark Bierman’s blog below.

Source: Review of A Conflicted Heart: A Daughter’s Quest For Solace From Emotional Guilt, by D.G. Kaye – Mark Bierman

If there was ever a story that gives a perfect example of peeling away the protective layers in which many of us enshroud ourselves, you’ve just found it.

D.G. courageously shares her story of being raised by an emotionally, and often physically, distant mother and the damaging consequences. I think most of us read stories to connect with the characters, and I found myself highly engaged with the younger D.G., as she tries to navigate through the emotional turmoil of her mother’s rejection; no child should ever have to go through that.    

In spite of her mother’s alienation, D.G. does find strong supporters, within her family and in romantic partners. The reader cannot help but feel relief and joy every time these people turn up in her life.

I grew to admire D.G.’s resilience, kind heart, and appreciated her brutal honesty. The pages are choc full of valuable life lessons.

Life is rarely fair, but there are bright spots that we can soak up, and D.G. is certainly one who has learned to do just that. No one is spared from disappointment and varying degrees of trauma. We all need to find our ‘people’ who will support us.

I recommend this book to anyone with a pulse.  

I’m giving this book, FOUR STARS!  

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Martha Perez, thank you for sharing your reviews on your many social platforms. This one is on Goodreads.

Review of Twenty Years from Martha Perez

Martha Perez 5.0 out of 5 stars HEARTFELT MEMOIR  Reviewed in the United States on May 20, 2022

Twenty years started with a promise. D.G. Kaye had no limits for the love of her life.
A heartfelt personal memoir is written beautifully by the author D.G. Kaye. This story is my favorite book by far this year. She shares taking the plunge and commenting on the love of her life, and truth be told, we never could predict the future. Gorden is a lot older than D.G. Kaye. I could feel her worrisome mind. She did take the chance.

The way she talked about her husband and the unconditional love between them is beautiful, even though a marriage is a lot of work. Each chapter of her words was the good, the bad, and the ugly, but her life with Gorden was a lovely daily sprinkle of glitter with love, laughter, stability, health-giving and age differences, respect, and lots of honey past, today, and future.

The author talks about the strength of the struggles they both endured, yet they embrace handling life together with love, kindness, and creative planning.

Kaye is Awe-inspiring with her sincere overpowering words that touch my heart and soul. Life is not perfect; by reading her love story, I could honestly say she came close to the happiness that people wait for a lifetime with faithfulness, honoring their vows to smile and laugh at the end of the day.

The simple things in life are watching the sunset, having morning coffee together, hugs, and making love are a lot more than the little things in a couple’s life. I truly loved reading this book. I learned from others and my own mistakes. The author’s story is a touching and beautiful tribute to her marriage.

Keeping a marriage together and having compassion in everyday life is an emotional task; they choose to handle their day-to-day lives gracefully and in harmony. I highly recommend the extraordinary book. 

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Martha Perez posted on Goodreads.

Martha Perez’s Review

Jul 15, 2022

D.G. Kaye is back, and as she reflects on some of her more memorable vacations and travel snags, she finds herself constantly struggling to keep one step ahead of the ever-changing guidelines of the airlines—with her overweight luggage in tow.

I have to say I enjoyed reading this book. When I traveled had the same dilemma overweight luggage baggage charges have become an excess headache. I was glad to know I wasn’t the only one going through this madness.

And when travelers are compulsive shoppers, when nothing fits in our suitcases, that could become a problem. Read and learn. The author gives you an insight into her own experience and shares with us the stratagem of how to fit everything in a suitcase and much more; those tips will be with me for the next vacation.

Each word is beautifully written for awareness and to educate the people who travel and make it as easy as possible. I appreciate the knowledge that will help me shortly. I highly recommend this fantastic book to mostly those who love to travel.

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Toni Pike recently shared a new review on her blog for Have Bags Will Travel. This was a lovely post Toni put up at her blog to share my book. I hope you’ll pop over there. Her review is below.

5 stars – a delightfully nostalgic travel memoir

D.G. Kaye’s delightful travel memoir is an enjoyable page-turner, and essential reading for anyone wanting to travel overseas. It would be a perfect beach read, or a great book to take with you on vacation – something, perhaps, to keep you entertained while lining up at airports.

The author confesses to being a shopaholic who always travels with too much luggage – a problem shared by so many other travellers, including myself. She had me in stitches with her stories of trying to comply with the ever-varying luggage limits, and her constant struggles to deal with Canadian customs authorities on her trips home.  

Kaye has many useful tips and tricks for the unsuspecting traveller. I couldn’t stop laughing at her description of how to maintain perfect sterilisation and not touch anything inside those tiny airplane toilets.

She has fond memories to share about trips to places like London, Paris and Las Vegas – and some fun times in Venezuela. I could relate to how much she loved Las Vegas in the past, when there were less crowds, much higher dress standards, and the restaurants and hotels offered much better service and value.

A few months in Greece in her youth became a constant struggle with too much luggage and then an accident. At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, she managed to get from one terminal to another in record time with her elderly father in tow.

The author manages to include all sorts of luggage disasters – a topic very relevant at the moment. Shoes also play a big part, but you’ll have to read for yourself to find out more.

The book is written in an easy-to-read style and it moves quickly, so I kept eagerly turning the pages and was very sorry to reach the end. I hope the author writes another travel book one day – and I give this a very well-deserved 5 stars.

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Martha posted on Goodreads blog.

Reviewed on Goodreads by Martha Perez

P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy

Martha Perez‘s review

Jun 26, 2017 and May 2022

it was amazing

Read 2 times

When I started to read this astonishing true story, I have to say I was very proud of D.G. Kaye; this is a heart-wrenching story with so many emotions about a mother and daughter relationship having a narcissistic mother and being so selfish and damaging her child.

A mother is supposed to love and treasure the gift God gave her; instead, she gave her pain and sorrow. I honestly relate to this story. D. G. Kaye is a fantastic woman. It is vital to tell such a heartrending and emotional story; she has so much courage to heal herself and others.

You live with this all your life wondering why? What did I do wrong? You start to question and blame yourself. It’s living with a dysfunctional family; it’s never your fault; it’s all we know until you’re an adult that you realize how messy life is. She has to decide to forgive her mother. I think it’s up to the person that was hurt to make such a tough choice—a page-turner.

Many of us came from a flawed family. Unfortunately, we can’t choose our parents, and when a child is abused, they will carry the pain throughout their lives. It’s an emotional roller coaster; the author speaks from her heart and soul. You will have tears flow down your cheeks. It’s not easy to forgive, but I am glad she has written this book.

A mother’s love should be unconditional, but when they have gambling and other problems, they exercise control over their children by being selfish and not loving. It’s a recipe for disaster. Why her mother wasn’t happy reflects on her daughter’s hurt she carries throughout her life and the neglect and abuse of the family.

I understand why writing her journey was so important. It’s like letting go of a butterfly jarred to be free to fly away from the Suffocation from her past.

I don’t think we can ever understand why some parents do what they do. We must heal from the bad and be grateful for the good. I could relate with D.G. Kaye. My parents were alcoholics and gave us away. It’s important to forgive, but you never forget. I highly recommend this fantastic book.

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I found this beautiful review from Harmony’s posting on Goodreads.

Harmony Kent

5.0 out of 5 stars A Book Everyone Should ReadReviewed in the United States on April 28, 2021

As soon as I saw what this book was about, I had to read it, and I am so pleased I did.

Because of the difficult subject matter, and my own history, I had to take a deep breath before I plunged in. Not only has this writer’s honesty and bravery helped me to understand my parents a little better, it has also shown me precisely what my sister has become. I’d missed that, and this explains so very much.

It is a sad fact of life that, all too often, the victim becomes the perpertrator, unless we have the insight and strength to do something about it. I have long joked that I’m the reverse ‘black sheep’ of my family, and it seems to me that Debby is too. For all our successes, and the miracle of growing into well-adjusted adults in spite of it all, we will never be accepted by a parent who demands that we live their lies, manipulations, and abuses. The same with any sibling who demands the same.

Some lines that resonated with me in particular:

‘A narcissistic mother doesn’t have to be in one’s presence. She can still demand and demean no matter how far away.’

and

‘It is my decision to banish my mother from my life and a resolution to find peace within myself with my decision.’

and

‘[…] if we’re lucky enough to realize the bad, we have the opportunity to steer ourselves in a better direction.’

For a while now, I have struggled to think of what I will do when one or the other of my parents dies. I’m not even sure they would let me know, at this stage. And reading this honest and brave account from D G Kaye has helped me immensely. It has also helped to explain the till-now inexplicable behaviour of my twin sister. She has grown up with emotional neglect, as did I, and has now become a narcissist. This book has helped me to identify why she lives and behaves the way she does.

From my own life, I know how hard it is to go against the grain to become your own person despite your upbringing. It takes work, day by day, to resist some of those unhealthy habits instilled in us as children and to trust our judgements and motives. It takes courage to not give in to the insidious lack of self-esteem with which such adults are often left. The author has overcome much, and I admire her deeply both for her acheivements and for putting her journey into words so that others of us can also be helped.

PS I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy gets a solid and resounding 5 stars from me. A difficult read, but a book everybody should read.

I want to thank Mark, Toni, Harmony, for taking the time and interest to read my books and review. I’d also like to thank Martha Perez for her interest and time for reading three of my books. I am elated that all of you took so much from my words. Author’s gold. 💜💚🧡

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Diamonds are for Now by Ruth Harris

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Ruth Harris’s Book 3 in her Cozy in the City series – Diamonds are for Now. With a host of colorful and interesting characters, this book will keep us turning the pages as we too are curious to find out, where is Hoad?

Blurb:

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE

When the world’s most famous author of bestselling thrillers, Hoad Powell, disappears on a billionaire’s heavily-guarded private island in the Caribbean, Blake and Ralph must find him.

Is he dead?

Or is he alive?

What happened to him?

Why hasn’t he finished his newest blockbuster? Thousands of jobs are on the line and millions of readers want to know.

Who is the glamorous arms dealer who sells tactical nukes to terrorists, dictators, and rogue militias around the world?

What about the mysterious, veiled woman who wears a diamond bracelet worth more than some countries?

And how is the daring robbery at an exclusive Oscar post-party connected?

Will Blake and Ralph succeed in their quest?

Or will they fail?

And what will happen when oh-so-macho Ralph finds out that Blake is making more money than he does?

My 5 Star Review:

This book was a fun romp in the Cozy in the City meets Women’s Fiction series by Ruth Harris. Although this is book three in the series, it’s a standalone story involving the two PR ladies – Blake and Julia, who are on a mission to find out what happened to best selling author, Hoad Powell and the final chapter of his manuscript they are awaiting to get published and promote.

There are a host of colorful characters in this story, from George the publisher, and Jay the agent, and Steve, Jay’s son who is suddenly, taking over his father’s business, leaving others to wonder if he indeed knows what has happened to that missing chapter. Where is Hoad?

All we know is that Hoad was writing this book on his boat in the Caribbean at Goldeneye in Jamaica, and he ditched his boat, mysteriously, just before it blew up along with one of its employees who we find out had escaped working in a Russian diamond mine. Why did Hoad leave his boat and stay on the mysterious man and his girlfriend’s boat – to continue to write about what he’d discovered about the very people he was staying with, and not get in touch with anyone looking for him? And what is up with that mysterious rich man with his even richer girlfriend named Diamond, wearing diamonds worth more than a country? Where did all these funds and diamonds come from? Well that’s exactly what Hoad has been investigating and basing his book – Diamond Reef about.

Blake and her ex-cop husband Ralph, now working for a private security firm, are trying to sleuth out this mystery. Where is Hoad Powell? The manuscript is running out of time to meet publication date, and coincidentally, there was a huge robbery that had taken place at the Academy Awards where someone wearing a Cary Grant face mask is elusive and suspected as the robber of all the jewels and gems worn by the nominees at the reception party. How on earth does this diamond heist fit in with the mystery about where Hoad disappeared to with his manuscript in the Caribbean?

Lots going on in this entertaining mystery and Harris draws us right into the scenes with both, some shady, unsuspecting and suspicious characters. Could Steve, the agent taking over his father Jay’s business be behind this? Wait! Might the new office space Becca is leasing from some shady building owner have something to do with this?

Harris keeps us entertained and busy following the lives of agents, publishers, authors, PR gals, investigators, Russian oligarchs, and of course, Hoad, the author in this herd of characters that all share a stake in this hot manuscript mystery they are all awaiting.

Sunday Book Review – Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

My Sunday Book Review is for a moving children’s book (ages 9 +), Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I typically don’t read children’s books often, but I do read a lot of historical fiction, and I came across this book while I was looking at two books Robbie Cheadle had written reviews for and talked about these books written for children to help them understand in their terms about the wars and politically incorrect things humans do to humans. I was curious to read such a book to see how an author could write for the young ones to help them understand the tragedy of WWII.

This book was written in 1989, yet has over 10,000 reviews, many of them from recent years, and many from teachers and parents who’ve read this book to their children. This book is also in school libraries.

This is the heartfelt story of Annemarie Johansen, a Danish girl, and her best friend Ellen Rosen during occupied Denmark 1943. Nine year old Annemarie is a fictional character whose story the author based on true stories she learned of from a friend who lived in Copenhagen during the German occupation, and the sacrifices the Danes made to save most of their Jewish population from capture. Beautifully told with many lessons, teaching children about loyalty and compassion. Denmark surrendered to the Germans in 1940 because their country was too small and not a big enough army to defend themselves. It also explains the story about the Danish King, King Christian, who loved his people and rode on his horse, unaided by guardsmen, to greet the people of his city, daily, even through the war – a story that is documented, and was told to the children as a fairytale to keep them inspired and to know their king loved them, despite the takeover of his country. No doubts Hans Christian Anderson was Danish and well ahead of his times with his famous fairytales and plays!

Blurb:

The unforgettable Newbery Medal–winning novel from Lois Lowry. As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.

A modern classic of historical fiction, Number the Stars has won generations of fans.

“Readers are taken to the very heart of Annemarie’s experience, and, through her eyes, come to understand the true meaning of bravery.” (School Library Journal)

My 5 Star Review:

In this story, the author expresses events that occurred with such an easy to understand and compassionate style, teaching history through simpler and metaphoric explanations as used to explain to the children what they were seeing and hearing on their streets, and in public anywhere. For example, when the Danes sank their own navy in Copenhagen harbor before the Germans could take them for their own use, the explosions as ships were burned, were loud and lit up the skies, in the book, the parents would tell them they were fireworks to entertain the children. The author has a wonderful way of conveying the scary events in a way that lets them absorb, what lightens the way to teaching.

A well conveyed story with genuine understanding of a child’s mind – example: little Kristi, Annemarie’s five year old sister, is used to seeing German soldiers on every corner in their neighborhoods as Annemarie tells her bestie, Ellen Rosen, reiterating Kristi is only five and that’s how she grew up in five years of occupation. She’s used to that, that’s all she knows. It’s the nine year olds who were born in freedom and watched their world taken away from them. A very clever telling.

This is a timely book still. And I should think everyone, any age above nine could read this and learn.

A beautifully told Afterword is at the back of this book, where the author authenticates the events that took place are all truth from the people who witnessed. She has a light way of writing on some gloomy subjects and does a great job of expressing – gently, heavy events. She authenticates events and enlightens as to what were facts and which were fiction. Yet, her fictional characters represented actual people’s circumstances. When she brings in Peter who worked for the resistance and was close with Annemarie’s family, Peter was fictional, based on a true person she read about that worked for Resistance.

A good and current reminder timely about the fragility of democracy.

The author reiterates the part of the book where it was the Jewish High Holiday, the New Year, and 1943 now, Jews were still allowed to be in public, (which I sure wouldn’t have gone to synagogue with German SS standing on street corners.) And on this holy day,the Rabbi warns the congregation in time to leave home because the Germans had asked the Rabbi for a ‘list’ of members and they were going to be taken and ‘relocated’. The Rabbi found out as a favor from someone in the high up ranks. Most Jews, except the non believers, left that same night. Most Danes took them in, took care of them and eventually, got them off to Sweden. Only weeks after that holy day, almost the whole 7000 population of Danish Jews were eventually smuggled across water by fishermen to Sweden. These are just some of the things we learn about history, in easy to digest stories.

A fantastic historical telling in easy to read comprehension for children 9 and up to help learn about Danish occupation during WWII.

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Queen of Paris #historicalfiction – Coco Chanel

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing a book by Pamela Binnings Ewen – Queen of Paris. This is a historical fiction story about the life of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, from her poor childhood and dropped off as a young girl, at a nun’s convent by her father, after her mother’s death, through her tumultuous years as a mistress, to her break through idea creating a hat, to her ruthless survival, hanging out with high ranking German officers during WWII, to her eventual fleeing of Paris once France was freed of Germans. As a lover of biographies and my curiosities for how people became famous, I found this a riveting read.

Blurb:

Legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel is revered for her sophisticated style—the iconic little black dress—and famed for her intoxicating perfume Chanel No. 5. Yet behind the public persona is a complicated woman of intrigue, shadowed by mysterious rumors. The Queen of Paris, the new novel from award-winning author Pamela Binnings Ewen, vividly imagines the hidden life of Chanel during the four years of Nazi occupation in Paris in the midst of WWII—as discovered in recently unearthed wartime files.

Coco Chanel could be cheerful, lighthearted, and generous; she also could be ruthless, manipulative, even cruel. Against the winds of war, with the Wehrmacht marching down the Champs-Élysées, Chanel finds herself residing alongside the Reich’s High Command in the Hotel Ritz. Surrounded by the enemy, Chanel wages a private war of her own to wrestle full control of her perfume company from the hands of her Jewish business partner, Pierre Wertheimer. With anti-Semitism on the rise, he has escaped to the United States with the confidential formula for Chanel No. 5. Distrustful of his intentions to set up production on the outskirts of New York City, Chanel fights to seize ownership. The House of Chanel shall not fall.

While Chanel struggles to keep her livelihood intact, Paris sinks under the iron fist of German rule. Chanel—a woman made of sparkling granite—will do anything to survive. She will even agree to collaborate with the Nazis in order to protect her darkest secrets. When she is covertly recruited by Germany to spy for the Reich, she becomes Agent F-7124, code name: Westminster. But why? And to what lengths will she go to keep her stormy past from haunting her future?

My 5 Star Review:

As a lover of historical fiction – and my fascination with Coco Chanel, I found this story riveting. If you Google up Coco Chanel and her ‘colorful’ past, you will find all the elements this author covered in the book that seem accurate as much as we can learn about this mysterious woman and her shenanigans. The said facts are woven into this telling about this intriguing woman, her tragic beginnings and love life, and the evolution of her couture and infamous fragrance, Chanel #5, and how far she’d go to protect it.

Gabrielle Chanel came from a poor family and when her mother died Gabrielle was twelve years old, and was sent to live in a nun’s convent/orphanage where she had to work and scrub the abbey floors because she was poor. Once freed, she started singing in cabaret halls and rubbed shoulders with some elite along her path, and ultimately, became part of an elite group of mistresses where she made some colorful liasons. It was a song she sang at the cabarets that inspired her new name – Coco. Chanel’s shmoozing with the elite as a mistress, had her falling in love with Boy Capel, who would turn out to be the one and only love of her life, which was really a tragic love story on so many levels.

She was a clever woman who made her mark when she made up a hat she wore around her elite friends in the early 1900s, and the hat was the beginning of her millinery career, created because of her determination to make her own money to stop being beholden to rich men. It was her lover, Boy Capel who helped her eventually set up shop for her couture business that followed her millinery beginnings.

A few years later, Coco met up with a perfumer, she commissioned him to come up with a scent to match her designs, and after assessing five certain scents, she fell in love with the fifth one and five, being her favorite number for various reasons, became her signature scent. To move this product along, Chanel had already met some people in high society and they hooked her up making a deal with Jewish marketing brothers, Pierre and Paul Wertheimer to run the company of Chanel perfumes. Chanel was given only a 10% cut of her own product, but with no money of her own, this venture helped begin her empire.

The history of the making of this perfume is interesting enough, but with all the hob-nobbing Chanel was involved with, this book takes us into her world once WWII was approaching and her Jewish partners who had fled France to the United States just before the war began spreading into France. They fled with the ‘secret recipe’ and locked down all the Jasmine fields in and around Grasse, Provence with buying off perfumers to make sure the product wouldn’t be altered by inferior or synthetic ingredients, and Chanel couldn’t get to them first.

Chanel did everything she could to get her rights back, but everything she tried, it seemed, her partners were always one step ahead of her. And then the war came to Paris. Chanel fled to the south of France, made some new connections with the elite, and after a few months, returned to Paris, to her beloved Ritz Hotel where the German hierarchy had taken over, but ‘the elite’ Parisians were still permitted to stay. It was during this time she made friends with some of Germany’s most ruthless SS leaders – a dangerous game.

This story also depicts how ruthless and vengeful Chanel was as she tried to declare her product as Aryan, stopping at nothing to get back her perfume rights, while trying to convince some very high gestapo to help her get her company back away from Jews. She is also forced to beg a favor of them for a very personal nature, and as we all know, once you are indebted to the gestapo, you are trapped. Chanel had a big choice to make – betray her country by becoming a spy and aligning with the Germans, or give up on trying to reclaim her company – and something else she loved even more dearly.

The author engages us in great story lines here, spanning between two different decades the early 1900s to 1919 and 1940 as WWII approaches, to the end of the war.

This book takes a deep look at the choices Chanel made in her life, her mission to survive and everything she would do to try and get back her rights. She was a clever woman who made her mark with an unusual hat, growing it into a huge empire. After WWI, when she could finally obtain materials, she began her fashion career. But she paid many steep prices along her way to fame, and this book highlights a lot of her heartache, and ruthlessness, depicting just how far she would go to obtain what she wanted.

Everyone thinks, ooh Chanel, but after reading this book, it left me feeling that Coco was both, a woman who would sellout anyone for personal gain and was sometimes lacking in human empathy in the name of keeping grandiose standing in high society. She was a woman who was very damaged and broken in many ways. I couldn’t feel sympathy for her, as I hold no value for those who value money more than human life. And as it turns out, after the war, many Parisians felt the same way. It wasn’t until ten years after the war she reclaimed her fame in America as Americans knew nothing about her secret life and liasons with the Third Reich.

A truly engaging read!

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin, #WWII #historicalfiction

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m sharing a book by one of my favorite historical fiction authors, Paulette Mahurin. This is her newest release I was thrilled to be able to obtain a copy from Netgalley – The Peaceful Village. Based on a heartwrenchingly true story about one of the biggest WWII massacres on French Soil that occurred because of a lie.

Blurb:

During the German occupation of France, nestled in the lush, verdant countryside in the Haute-Vienne department of central France was the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a community where villagers woke to the medley of nature’s songs: roosters crowing, birds chirping, cats purring, and cows shuffling out to pasture. The people who lived there loved the tranquil nature of their beautiful home, a tranquility that existed year-round. Even with the German occupation and Oradour-sur-Glane being incorporated as part of Vichy France, Oradour – the village with cafés, shops, and a commuter tram to Limoges – remained relatively untouched by the stress of the occupation.
While Oradour enjoyed the lack of German presence, twenty-two kilometers to the northwest in Limoges, the Germans were reacting with increasing cruelty to organized attacks on their soldiers by the armed resistance organization Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Headed by Georges Guingouin, the Limoges FTP was considered the most effective of the French Resistance groups. Guingouin’s missions fueled the German military to kill and incarcerate in concentration camps anyone perceived as supporters or sympathizers of the Resistance.

Up until the middle of 1944, the German anti-partisan actions in France never rose to the level of brutality or number of civilian casualties that had occurred in eastern Europe. A little before the Allies landed in Normandy, that changed, when German officers stationed on the Eastern Front were transferred to France. It was then that FTP’s increasing efforts to disrupt German communications and supply lines was met with disproportionate counter attacks, involving civilians. Guingouin’s response was to target German officers. When Guingouin set his sights on two particular German officers, all hell broke loose.

Based on actual events as told by survivors, The Peaceful Village is the story of the unfolding of the events that led up to one of the biggest World War II massacres on French soil. But it is not simply a story of Nazi brutality and the futility of war, it is a story of love. The love of family. The love of neighbor. The love of country. Compassion and courage burn from the pages as the villagers’ stories come alive. Written by the international bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, Paulette Mahurin, this book is an homage to the villagers who lived and loved in Oradour-sur-Glane.

My 5 Star Review:

Marguerite lives on her carrot farm with her husband and other family in the beautiful, peaceful village of Oradour, France. During WWII, this quiet and peaceful village had not yet been threatened or occupied as much as other parts of France and Europe by the nazis, despite the Vichy accepting German rule, until a German capture that had gone wrong had brought forth the brutal nazi regime (no, I will NEVER capitalize the word ‘nazi’) to this peaceful ‘untouched’ by war, town, just before the allies landed in Normandy.

As Marguerite was approaching menopause, the gruel of farming without enough hands was getting to her physically and mentally. She went to church one Sunday and discovered the clergy could use some well needed office help and approached her understanding husband asking for time away from working the farm and by taking up the offer to work for the church office. When she discovered a horrifying piece of paper in a book, as she was tidying the rectory, she approached Father Chapelle, asking if anyone else shared the office, ultimately, showing him what she’d found in a book as she was organizing a bookshelf. Their eye contact established a mutual understanding that they were both on the side against the nazis, when the Father let her know that he was part of the resistance helping place Jewish families where he could. Marguerite’s sympathetic and good nature led her to helping out the church by delivering secret messages, food and clothing where she could.

All was calm, but Marguerite had a foreboding feeling in her stomach, and it wasn’t long before the SS butchers rounded up the whole village in retaliation for the resistance killing one of their higher up murderous high rank nazi leaders. It was first the resistance who made a fatal mistake by letting another of their captured nazis escape, who made it back to headquarters and lied about what happened to him in this innocent village.

Mahurin tells a gripping story in such detail, it’s as though we are there witnessing the action. She paints a picture of this blissful town full of compassionate, loving, neighborly people going on with their business as though the rest of France had nothing to do with them in their sacred untouched perimeters, and just as the serenity turns to hell on earth, she equally writes of the pain, brutality, butchering of innocent mankind because of one SS trying to cover his ass by lying about his attack saying it had taken place in Oradour – when it did not! This lie became the war that wiped out an entire peaceful village in one day.

Based on true events as told by survivors, one of biggest WWII massacres that ever took place on French soil. The expensive price of human life paid for letting one of those heinous, murderous nazis escape capture. The author never disappoints in her gripping true tales of some of the true horrors that innocent people endured under the brutal tyranny of Hitler and his nazi evil regime.

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Where There’s Doubt – A #Psychological #Mystery/Romance by Terry Tyler

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Terry Tyler’s addictive psychological thriller – Where There’s Doubt. This book has been getting a lot of attention around our reading circles, and once I began reading it, I found out why. The protagonist Kate invites into her cozy world of happy seaside living in a small town in Norfolk, England, until her world turns crazy after meeting a new boyfriend on the internet – who turns out to be a sociopathic narcissist whose roots of deceit run deep.

Blurb:

‘I can be anything you want me to be. Even if you don’t know you want it. Especially if you don’t know you want it.’

Café owner Kate is mentally drained after a tough two years; all she wants from her online chess partner is entertainment on lonely evenings, and maybe a little virtual flirtation.

She is unaware that Nico Lewis is a highly intelligent con artist who, with an intricately spun web of lies about their emotional connection, will soon convince her that he is The One.

Neither does Kate know that his schemes involve women who seek love on dating sites, as well as his small publishing business. A host of excited authors believe Nico is about to make their dreams come true.

Terry Tyler’s twenty-fourth publication is a sinister psychological drama that highlights the dark side of internet dating—and the danger of ignoring the doubts of your subconscious.

My 5 Star Review:

Tyler takes us on a psychological ride into the dark side of internet dating. Sweet Kate thinks she’s met her perfect match through meeting Nico while playing chess on ‘Lifeshare’ a social media site. Kate owns a successful cafe by surfside in a Shipden, Norfolk, village  and had recently broke up with a cheating boyfriend, Jackson. Nico was a collector of woman, who used the guise of being a vanity publisher for Indie books because it gave him a boatload of excuses to be unavailable to the many women he seemed to be in relationships with. Think ‘Tinder Swindler’ when envisioning Nico. The story pulls us in because yet again, another internet scammer on the prowl for women seems to be a topic of interest these days.

The author brings in richly crafted characters to drive the story, and gives us a peek into Nico’s psyche to let us in on what makes this conman tick. We get to know the ‘other’ women he’s ensnared with his wiley charms, knowing how to play each one – Polly the low self-esteemed girl who dreams of a fairytale life, Heather, the young grieving widow, Minerva, the lonely, older more secure widow, and the pretty, carefree and fun Kate. And of course we can’t leave out ‘Em’ Nico’s ‘apparent’ ‘real’ girlfriend who assists him to ensnare these other women by doing all the social media profiling for him to make sure his tracks are covered, leading us to think he is doing all this cyber stalking and dating to extort money for ‘them’ both. He cleverly uses Em as his default decoy when with these women, telling them she’s his sister.

Polly is busily planning her wedding with Nico, unaware that his intentions are to get her to spend some of her lottery winnings on a house he wants to buy – for himself. Heather is a young widow living in isolation in the home she shared with the love of her life who has passed on. Wealthy Minerva is smart and realizes handsome Nico is fun to be with, though realizing two decades younger than her, that one day this relationship will probably end, but surely, investing in his publishing business could be a lucrative business adventure. Kate is his favorite he spends most time with, and he’s snagged her heart and trust and goes to deceitful ends to take her to the house he’s pining after, lying to Kate by telling her the house was left to him and his sister in his aunt’s will, adding, the problem is that the house was left to two other cousins and he’d love to buy them out, giving Kate the idea she should buy in so they can live there together. What could go wrong? Plenty!

As the plots thicken and Nico gets sloppy covering his tracks, things begin to happen. Heather begins to feel Nico is pushing a little to hard for her to sell her house to buy into ‘the Grove’ house he supposedly wants to buy his ‘cousins’ out of, and she decides to do some internet surfing and discovers that Nico is a conman. And this is where part two of the book opens up a whole new insidious plot with characters we never would have suspected are part of Nico’s evil ploy.

As the story unfolds, little pieces of his lies are slipping through the cracks and Nico finds himself having to come up with quick coverups. And when the shyte hits the fan, a whole lot of evil is unveiled to us. Don’t even think I’ve given away any spoilers here because the fun begins in this book once Nico is exposed.

Lots of twists and a great conman caper, which sadly, is not so uncommon in today’s world. And a book that was literally hard to put down!

©DGKaye2022