Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Unbelievable Adentures of a WW II German War Bride

By Ingeborg M. Johnston

When World War II era Germany comes to mind, thoughts of Hitler, the Nazi party and atrocities committed there inevitably come to mind. Yet it is said that only 10% of the German population were party members. What of the other 90%? What of their lives? How were they affected when their leader brought war to their country?

Meet Ingeborg Johnston. As a child, she lived in a small German town. She swam and enjoyed an idyllic, if not priviledged childhood with her parents and brother. As she grew, and the Nazi party came to power, she and her friends found themselves in a changing world as they hid from and tricked the groups of Hitler's Youth who would try to recruit them. As a teenager, instead of pursuing a course of study she had intended, she foudn herself working as a nurse, dodging bombs, hiding in shelters, aiding the sick, injured and dying in the war-torn city of Berlin.

In her new book The Unbelievable Adventures of a WWII German War Bride, Ingeborg M. Johnston shares with her readers the experiences of her lifetime.  Ranging from her journey to America as one of the first German war brides, to her experiences with the Mrs. America contest, Ingeborg invites and draws her readers in.  Whether she was teaching injured soldiers or blind children to swim, or encouraging a campaign of hugs, Inge sent her life attempting to improve the lives of others around her.  Readers will laugh with her at some mishaps, share in her grief over a brother left behind the dreaded Berlin Wall and will ultimately be in awe at the fulness of this one woman's remarkable life.

Rather than telling her account in a straightforward, chronological narrative, each chapter forcuses on a different experience in her life.  Sometimes the chapters flow in order, but often they skip from one time to another, forward and back.  While some may find this a bit disjointed or distracting, to others it will bring to mind a grandmother recounting tales of her life to her grandchildren.  In this, the layout of the book makes her accounts all the more realistic, authentic and amazing.

Closing the book at the end of the final chapter, the reader cannot help but be awed by this woman's incredible and yes, "unbelievable" adventures.  They may also find themselves motivated, perhaps to see the world from a different persective, through "Inge-tinted glasses."

Click to purchase The Unbelievable Adventures of a WWII German War Bride: Collections of Acts of Kindness in War and PeaceMotivational Books)

Birds Can Fly and So Can I

By Noa Nimrodi

Cinderella sang "A dream is a wish your heart makes.."  What child has never dreamed of flying? Who among us has never dreamed of soaring?  As a child, what was your dream? What was your fondest desire? Was it encouraged and supported, or was it frowned on, and your attention diverted to something more realistic?
Sadly dreams, particularly those sprung from the richness of childhood imagination, are often squashed by those who know that reality and dreamland do not always mix.  What if, instead of discouragement, encouragement was received when a child dreams?  Thoreau once wrote "I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

Noa Nimrodi's new book Birds Can Fly and So Can I explores this very concept.  As Giraffe watches the birds fly high above her, she dreams she could fly.  In the midst of her dreaming, suddenly she finds that her spots have become wings and she soars. She dances in the clouds and plays with her friends high up in the air. Instead of being mocked for her endeavors, or being put down because everyone knows giraffes do not fly, Giraffe receives praise from the birds she so admires. 

Of course, this is just a dream.  Giraffes - just like children - cannot grow wings and fly no matter how much they might desperately wish to.  Yet by the end of this short story, Giraffe is not sad. She does not mourn her inability to fly. In fact, she comes to realize that by pursuing her dream, ultimately she found something in herself that she loves. There was something special about her, something she could do that nobody else could. This “something” prompts the praise of both birds and friends alike.

By following her dream, Giraffe realizes potential she never knew she had.  Children, if allowed to dream, will also realize that same type of potential in themselves. Encouraging this mindset, encouraging children to dream and to reach for the stars, the author generously includes a section for children to write their dreams.  For who knows...maybe one day giraffes, er, children, really will fly.

This short story written as a rhyme will greatly appeal to young children.  Parents will find that their children are drawn not only by the rhythmic cadence of the book but by the light hearted illustrations as well. Birds Can Fly and So Can I  is one of those books that young ones will be “reading” along with you because they have unknowingly tucked away the words in their subconscious. They will absorb that subtle lesson and they will learn that they can soar, just like Giraffe. It is one of those books that that after you close its covers to put it away up on the shelf, they will be crying "Again, again! Please, just one more time." How can you resist, for you yourself once were a child, and you yourself knew what it was to dream.

For all you dreamers out there and for all you parents of young dreamers, this a book you’ll want in your nursery’s collection of favorite books.

This review was submitted by Kristin  - Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Georgia Justice: Journey to Faith


By Jackie Carpenter
What would you do if you were wakened one night by a phone call that would change your world?  Who would you turn to when things seem to spiral out of control?  These are questions that author Jackie Carpenter faces in her new book Georgia Justice: Journey to Faith. 
In this book, readers are invited to witness the aftermath of a horrible and tragic accident; an accident that leaves Jackie’s youngest son sitting in a prison cell, charged with murder.  As Jackie struggles to come to grips and an understanding of her son’s arrest and upcoming trial, she shares with her readers a very real picture of her sorrow and despair.
This story unfolds in a way different from what many readers will expect or have experienced previously. Rather than receiving every detail of her son’s arrest, imprisonment and trial, Journey to Faith focuses not on everyday living, but rather on the spiritual struggles Jackie faced throughout the ordeal.
There are many different views on faith and there will be those who have difficulty understanding and accepting various aspects of Jackie’s faith.  However most will agree that faith is something that can grow and be strengthened.  That aspect is what makes Journey to Faith unique.  In this account, readers get to witness a faith grow from the depths of “I can’t do this” to the heights of “I know You, Lord are in control.”
To help describe her spiritual state through the various aspects of the story, Jackie includes passages of Scripture.  This is perhaps the highlight of the book – to watch a progression of faith using Scriptures and seeing that echoed and applied in a person’s life.  To witness the impact of a maturing faith, one cannot help but take a look at their own faith and wonder how their own faith would withstand a similar trial.  One might even be led to question “What will the Lord use to bring my faith from “The cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me” (Psalm 18:5, ESV)… to “Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress” (Psalm 71:3, ESV)?

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace - Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Monday, April 18, 2011

World Made by Hands

By James Howard Kunstler

This is a book that has been out for a few years, and has already received a great deal of attention. The book is about a changed world, some 40-ish years in the future.  Society is run in an archaic and rudimentary system of survival, humans have gone back to the basics, government is mostly dismantled, and broken hearted communities struggle to regain the knowledge and skillsets that kept our ancestors alive in the 1800's. 

The decline in society is attributed to a compilation of events - terrorist attacks, the collapse of globalism, oil and energy shortages, flu epidemics, natural disasters, all leading to enough disintegration where the citizens are left with little choice but to begin again - by hand.  Most, if not all the survivors, have lost original family members and struggle to reconcile that loss. 

Yet, contrary  to other "end of the world" stories, this book paints a brighter picture, where streams are filled with fish, veggies grow in gardens, and folks regroup and attempt to regain what has been lost.  There is a resurgence in the power of the local church, in music, and in eating good food.  Those not drawn to the church are protrayed loosely as a maruading, pillaging group set on the hill, scavenging and conniving against those down below.   Good vs. Evil. 

All of this seems plausible to me.  Something I could feasibly imagine happening.  However, while the themes at the core seem real, the story line quickly strays far from anything tangibly concrete.  It jumps headfirst into a curious, mystical plot, where the main character is an ex-business exec, who hones skills as a wood carpenter AND a fiddler.  Introduced early in the story is a mysterious religious group with cultish and ambiguous behaviors - exhibiting both benevolent or oppressive antics that leave the reader wondering which side they truly represent. 

This religious cult produces the book's surprise ending - leaving the reader with "more questions than answers".  This ending hints that the book is intended to become a series and in fact, the sequel was released in the fall of 2010 - it is called "The Witch of Hebron", which I have not ventured to read yet.  I'm curious, so I intend to pick it up and give it a go, however, my greatest interest centers on the realistic themes of rebuilding the world after great disaster and destruction. 

The other aspects of the book - the mystical plot, the shallow character development - all of this I found less compelling, so we shall see which audience Kunstler caters more to  - the realistic survivalists types, or the sci-fi bunch. In any case, I find that the book still sticks with me, and I think of it often, as evidenced by my spending some time writing about it. 


This review was submitted by Linda ElderLinda is a busy professional and part time farmer who lives in the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.  In Linda's spare time, she reads a lot of farming and agriculture books, and tries to find novels that weave those themes into them.  Linda's current hobby includes collecting old time recipe books, and trying to learn how to bake from scratch again.

Click to purchase World Made by Hand: A Novel

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Final Summit

By Andy Andrews

What if the fate of humanity rests in your hands?  What if you are given only five chances to find the solution to society's decline? What if your choice was wrong?  This is the scenario author and speaker Andy Andrews presents in his new book The Final Summit.

Seventy-four year old David Ponder has had a remarkable life.  Through public trials, he - with his wife, Ellen, by his side - has endured to become somewhat of a living legend.  David has likely seen and done it all, including time travel.  From wisdom gained from conversations with Abraham Lincoln, Anne Frank, Harry S. Truman, King Solomon and even the angel Gabriel, David worked hard to create a better world for himself and for others.  Using seven decisions pertaining to happiness, responsibility, action, determination, wisdom, forgiveness and persistence, David has used what he learned to have a successful second chance, freely sharing his wisdom and sound advice with others.

Now, however, David sits alone in his penthouse suite, mourning and lost without his beloved Ellen, who had died suddenly a few months ago.  Certain his life is over, David sits in silence, solitude and contemplation, unaware of the great responsibility, opportunity and difficult about to be given to him.

David, along with a forum of history's "greats" must determine within a limited amount of time, two words that spell the solution to society's problems and great decline.  They are humanity's last hope.  Should they fail, humanity's terrible fate will be sealed.

The Final Summit is one of those books that once picked up is difficult to put back down.  Readers will feel the frustration, the urgency, the elation and the disappointment of this remarkable cast of characters.  They will find themselves caught up in the discussions, wishing to shout out their own ideas and suggestions.  Brief history lessons, surprises and the overall reality of the characters make The Final Summit a thoroughly enjoyable read.  An added bonus is a Reader's Guide which will inevitably lead reader to question, "What can I do to make my own corner of the world, if not society as a whole, a better place?"

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace.  Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Click to purchase The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lily Hates Goodbyes

By Jerilyn Marler
We are a nation that is proud of the soldiers serving in the military, fighting to protect our freedoms.  We are grateful for the sacrifices of these brave men and women, and we often seek ways to honor them as we rightfully should.  However, some of our nation’s youngest citizens also sacrifice greatly.  You see, they don’t see soldiers going off to war…they see Mommy and Daddy leaving again.
Through experiences with her own granddaughter, author Jerilyn Marler has seen first hand the pain, confusion and mixed emotions our soldiers’ children experience while their parents are deployed.
In Lily Hates Goodbyes, the reader meets a young girl struggling with her emotions while her father is gone for “a billion days.”  With each emotion she experiences, she is reassured that is okay to feel that way and is offered some creative outlets for her anger and for her sadness.
Lily Hates Goodbyes is a remarkably simple, yet beautiful book in both message and illustration.  Children are drawn to the book and enjoy reading about a little girl who, like them, sometimes feels sad and sometimes feels angry and sometimes blows kisses to the moon.  The military’s Family Readiness Groups should stock up on copies of Lily Hates Goodbyes as it is a must-have for any child facing a parent’s deployment.

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace. Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

 Click to purchase Lily Hates Goodbyes