Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Thoughts On "The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank"

Source:  Goodreads

Goodreads Summary...
The "unwritten" final chapter of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl tells the story of the time between Anne Frank's arrest and her death through the testimony of six Jewish women who survived the hell from which Anne Frank never returned.


I believe if you've read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, you need to read this book.  It is by no means an easy or a fun read.  It is horrific and heartbreaking to know what happened to Anne, her family, these women, and millions of others, but it is true.  It is history, and we need to know it.

Some may say, "Why read something so depressing?".   I say that if these women could survive and be brave enough to tell their story...the very least I can do is listen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Thoughts On "Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family

Source:  Goodreads

Goodreads summary...

She found the diary and brought the world a message of love and hope. 

It seems that we are never far from Mieps thoughts...Yours Anne.

For the millions moved by "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl", here at last is Miep's own astonishing story. For more than two years, Miep Gies and her husband helped hide the Franks from the Nazis. Like thousands of unsung heroes of the Holocaust, they risked their lives each day to bring food, news, and emotional support to the victims.

Miep Gies mid 1930's
Source:  Miep Gies: Her Own Story

Miep Gies
Source:  The Telegraph


If you've read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, then Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family is a must read.  This is a powerful, heartbreaking, and inspiring book...not to mention fascinating.  I learned so much!

From the instant I read Anne's diary, I was curious about those who helped her--Miep being one of their most important helpers.  She brought them food, books, and other items they needed to survive, but most importantly she brought them love.  She also found and protected Anne's diary after the arrest.  She then turned it over to Otto Frank, Anne's father, after the war.  

Miep tells the story of those "dark days' from her point of view--from the other side of the book case.  She helps us to travel back in time to see what it was really like for those people living in Holland during WWII.

The selfless courage she showed in helping the Franks--and other Jewish people as well--is nothing short of amazing.  You should read this book!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pleasantly Surprised By Stephanie Plum!

I recently started reading the Stephanie Plum series.  I've read the first two, One For the Money and Two for the Dough.  I enjoy these books.  I think they're really funny.

I finally got to watch the movie, One For the Money, yesterday.  I went into it not expecting much.  I'd heard really bad things about it, but I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  I didn't think it was all that bad, and I liked Katherine Heigl as Stephanie.  Would I have wanted to pay $12 to see it in the theater?  Maybe not.  But for a $1 rental it wasn't bad!

I think those who enjoy the books will like the movie as well.

Source:  IMDb

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Thoughts On "The Diary Of A Young Girl: The Definitive Edition" By Anne Frank

Source:  Goodreads

From the back cover...
Anne Frank's extraordinary diary, written in the Amsterdam attic where she and her family hid from the Nazis for two years, has become a world classic and timeless testament to the human spirit. Now, in a new edition enriched by many passages originally withheld by her father, we meet an Anne more real, more human, and more vital than ever. 
Here she is first and foremost a teenage girl--stubbornly honest, touchingly vulnerable, in love with life. She imparts her deeply secret world of soul-searching and hungering for affection, rebellious clashes with her mother, romance and a newly discovered sexuality, and wry candid observations of her companions. Facing hunger, fear of discovery and death, and the petty frustrations of such confined quarters, Anne writes with adult wisdom and views beyond her years. Her story is that of every teenager, lived out in conditions few teenagers have ever known.


Those are the simple words that, even though I knew they were coming, hurt my heart when I read them...I knew what came next.

"On the morning of August 4, 1944, sometime between ten and ten-thirty, a car pulled up at 263 Prinsengracht.  Several figures emerged:  an SS sergeant, Karl Josef Silberbauer, in full uniform, and at least three Dutch members of the Security Police, armed but in civilian clothes.  Someone must have tipped them off." (From the Afterword, pg. 333)

When I was in the 3rd grade I read this book for the first time, and I remember being moved by it.  I remembered the main things, but the details had left me long ago.  I'm so glad to have read it again as an adult with a daughter just a few years younger than Anne when she first went into hiding--it means so much more.

I didn't realize before reading this book that there are several different versions of The Diary of a Young Girl.  When Anne first started writing in her diary it was to be for her eyes only, but then she got the idea that she may want to publish it after the war.  She then went back and started editing her diary, taking out parts she thought boring, changing names, etc. Her unedited diary is version a, her edited version is version b.  After her death, her father took parts from versions a and b and edited them together into a shorter version (c).  Versions C is what we know as The Diary of a Young Girl.  The "Definitive Edition" which I read for this post, has both versions a and b and about 30% more material than the previous version.  Learning all of this, made me even happier that I decided to read this book again, and happier still that I stumbled across this version at a used book store.

All of my life I have learned about the holocaust.  I've watched documentaries and movies and read books. I have to say that every time I see it, the amount of evil that took place never ceases to amaze me and never ceases to make me sick to my stomach.  Even worse, I know that genocide still happens today. I think what Anne's diary does is remind us that the holocaust happened to PEOPLE.  We all know that the Jewish people (and those that helped them) were the victims of the holocaust, but they were also...babies, boys and girls, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers...people with hopes and dreams. Each one had an individual story.

My daughter will read The Diary of a Young Girl this summer, and I will talk to her about the holocaust and what it means.  She needs to know that evil exists in this world, and that we must never turn a blind eye to it.  We must fight it no matter what the cost.

You can visit the website for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by clicking HERE.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Thoughts On "The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks"

Source:  Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads...
Her name is Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa.  She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine.  The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years...

Rebecca Skloot


This book is a hard one for me to talk about simply because I have so many feelings about it that I'm not sure where to start.   

Let me start by saying that this is a fascinating book--a disturbing, infuriating, sad, fascinating book, and I'm so glad I read it.  I learned so much.  It is a perfect mix of the family life and background of the Lacks family and science.  

What Henrietta Lacks went through prior to her death--not only the cancer that took her life, but the treatment as well--was at times hard to read, but absolutely essential to the book.  Without Henrietta Lacks' illness, there would be no HeLa cells, and without HeLa cells, most of the medicines and vaccines we take for granted today would not exist.  She's that important, and I'm sad to say that I'd never heard of her before I came across this book on Goodreads.  

I believe that what Rebecca Skloot has accomplished is this:  giving credit where credit is due.  The whole world should know what Henrietta Lacks and her family have suffered, and what her cells have meant to all of us.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks isn't just for people who like science...if you care about civil rights, women's rights, patient rights, human want to read this book.  It has opened my eyes, and I think it just might open yours too.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

First Episode Of The Thornbirds

I read The Thornbirds a few weeks ago and instantly wanted to see the miniseries.  I got it in the mail yesterday, and I watched the first episode.  I've only heard good things about the miniseries, so I had high expectations going in.  I wasn't disappointed.  The first episode was really good.  I think the actress that played Mary Carson was great...really despicable--just like in the book.

I think when a movie or miniseries has the same "feel" or "intentions" as the book it's a success even when there are a few minor differences.  If the rest of the episodes follow the example of the first, The Thornbirds Miniseries will be great.

I'm hoping to watch a couple of episodes this weekend.  I'll keep you posted (:

Source:  IMDB

Barbara Stanwyck as Mary Carson
Source:  Zap 2 it

I found this clip from The Thornbirds on YouTube.  About 4 minutes into the clip is what I think is Mary Carson's best scene.  I can see why Stanwyck won the Emmy for her performance that year.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Thoughts On "Heaven Is For Real"

Source:  Goodreads

From the back cover...
When Colton Burpo made it through emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival.  Whay they weren't expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed--a story as beautiful as it was extaordinary, detailing their little boy's trip to heaven and back.


I'd say most people that know me at all know that I love to read, so I get lots of book recommendations.  This is a very good thing because I hear about loads of books that I never would have otherwise.  I am always thankful for book recommendations, so if you are reading this and recently read a great book, please leave me a comment and let me know.  Having said that, lots of different people have recommended Heaven Is For Real...other mom's at the ballpark, friends on facebook, and lots of folks on Goodreads have loved this book.  Since I' m reading memoirs in the month of May, I thought this would be the perfect time to read it.

It isn't pleasant to read about the illness of a small child or the agony his parents felt in those moments of hopelessness.  It's every parent's greatest fear.  There is a happy ending though, and what comes from that illness is amazing.  The story that Colton tells is one that a lot of people wonder about.  What will heaven be like?  Will my loved ones know me there?  What does Jesus look like?  How do I get there?  These are all questions Colton says he knows the answers to because he's been there.  What an amazing story!  Every now and then a book comes along that just makes you feel good.  This in one of those books!

In the book, Colton's dad talks about a little girl prodigy whose gift is art.  Akiane says her talent and ispiration comes directly from God, and she painted a portrait of Jesus that Colton says is correct.  She is self taught and truly doubt her ability to paint is a gift from God.  You can visit Akiane's website by clicking HERE.  No matter what your beliefs, go look at her work.  It is truly amazing!

Check out this video I found on Youtube about Akiane.

Friday, May 4, 2012

My Thoughts On The Glass Castle

Source:  Goodreads

From Goodreads...
In the tradition of Mary Karr's, "The Liar's Club" and Rick Bragg's, "All Over But the Shoutin", Walls has written a stunning and life affirming memoir about surviving a willfully impoverished, eccentric, and severely misguided family.


That summary doesn't do this book justice.  This is an awesome book.  It's disturbing yet fascinating.  I couldn't put it down because it is an absolutely amazing story.  It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and how if you work hard, have hope, and never give up, you can accomplish anything.  It illustrates how we all come to a point in our lives when we can choose to be different.  We may be a product of our childhoods, but we don't have to be a prisoner to it.

I think Jeannette Walls and her brother and sisters are an inspiration.  I cannot imagine a child growing up this way, yet I know it happens every day.  The most surprising thing about this book for me was the lack of bitterness on Jeannette Wall's part.  And believe me if anyone has a right to be angry and bitter about her childhood it's Walls, but she's just not.  She seems to be at peace with it, and she even says in the book that she's thankful for her childhood because it made her who she is today.  Amazing!  This is a book worth reading.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I started The Glass Castle last night.  It's a memoir by Jeannette Walls, and I have to say I am shocked by what  I'm reading.  I'm about a quarter of the way through, and this book has been a page turner for me.  I can't imagine a childhood like this.

I was also reading today that Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games movie may be set to star in the upcoming movie version of The Glass Castle.  I think this book will make a very interesting movie.

Now off to do some reading...