Book Review & Giveaway: Appointment with Yesterday by Christopher Stratakis

Book Title: Appointment with Yesterday: A Novel in Four Parts with a Prologue and an Epilogue
Author: Christopher Stratakis
Category: Adult Fiction, 334 pages
Genre: coming-of-age / WWII / immigrant experience
Publisher: IndieReader
Release date: January 2017
Tour dates: July 3 to 14, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is no bad language or violence, but there are references to sex and sexual situations (including between a pre-teen and teen)

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Description

A poignant and compelling first novel, Appointment with Yesterday tells the story of Yanni, a cheeky and delightful Greek boy growing up in a small town on an island in the eastern Aegean.

Left in the care of his loving grandparents, Yanni endures the deprivation and terror of the German occupation during World War II and finally leaves his beloved homeland and family to rejoin the parents who had left him behind to make a better life for themselves in America.

Filled with heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of love, devotion, disenchantment, and dashed dreams, Appointment with Yesterday is, ultimately, the story of hardships overcome and a determined boy’s journey toward finding his destiny.

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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Appointment with Yesterday is about Yanni who grows up on a Greek island with his extended family. His parents went to America and left him on the island until they could make enough money to send for him and to give him a good life there. Although he misses his parents, his grandparents are loving and take good care of him. He finally does make it to America, after enduring German occupation during World War II and the hardships that went with that. But, of course, he learns that coming to America has its own hardships. Living with his parents and sister is like living with strangers, New York is alien to him compared to the Greek island, and he has no friends. He does eventually thrive and proves that hardships can be overcome.

It was difficult for me to get into this story at first. It seemed a little disjointed and when Yanni was daydreaming, it was difficult to get through. I believe the author was trying to show the dreams as well as some of the boy’s memories, but it didn’t flow well. After the beginning, though, his writing flowed well. The descriptions were done well and I was able to visualize the characters and their surroundings.

Appointment with Yesterday is an interesting book filled with the author’s memories as well as historical events and the challenges of immigrants.

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Meet the Author

Christopher Stratakis was born and raised in Greece. After moving to America, he graduated from Drexel University in 1951 and New York University School of Law in 1955. Shortly after joining the law firm of Poles, Tublin & Patestides in 1960, he became a partner, specializing in admiralty and corporate law.

He has written and published several articles, lectured on professional and historical subjects, served as Legal Advisor to several non-profits (pro bono), and was an arbitrator in maritime disputes. He is the author of Mnimes “Memories” (2010), a book of essays, short stories, and poems that he wrote as a teenager. In 2015, he co-edited Chains on Parallel Roads, a book published by Panchiaki “Korais” Society of New York. In recognition of his extensive community involvement, he has been the recipient of several awards from religious, governmental, and educational institutions.

Mr. Stratakis lives with his wife in New York City. He is the proud father of three and grandfather of three. This is his first novel.

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Book Review: Home and Away by Dean Hughes

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A historical fiction novel told from the perspective of a son fighting on the battlefields of Europe during World War II and his mother, struggling with worry and uncertainty about her soldier son while she tries to keep a semblance of a normal, happy Christmas holiday back on the homefront. Norma Hayes has always tried to make Christmas special for her family, but 1944 will make that more difficult with money being tight and wartime rationing making everything hard to come by. Aware of his mother’s hardships and the worry from having her eldest son at war, second son, Dennis, is determined to buy his mother a special gift this Christmas, a lavender blue dress he hopes will bring her comfort as a symbol of special times gone by and the hope of a brighter future with the family reunited at war’s end. Meantime, on the long campaign to free Europe, her soldier son carries on as best he can, the horrors of war taking its heavy toll on armies and civilians alike. On a battlefield far from home in Holland with his 101st Airborne battalion, he catches a familiar scent of lavender which briefly transports him back to the homefront to the perfume scent his mother wore, giving him a short respite and reuniting the family once again if only in his imagination. This historical fiction novel is a nostalgic and tender story about the power of love, the reality of war, and the hope we all have that things will turn out all right.

 

My Review

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

This is the story of 16-year-old Dennis who is at home during World War II and his older brother, Glen, who is on the front lines. Dennis is so proud of his soldier brother and can’t wait until he’s 17 so he can join and help fight the Nazis and/or the Japanese. He worries about his mom, though, and how she’ll handle things with both of her sons off to war. 

The characters in Home and Away are well developed. Dennis is a typical teen in some ways, such as his naiveté when it comes to participating in a war. At home, however, he’s learning how to deal with his father who keeps all of his emotions bottled up and his mother who has so much to worry about but tries to make Christmas happy for everyone. I can’t imagine sending a son off to war back then when there wasn’t the communication we have now…to have sit and wait to hear from your loved one for days or weeks. How horrific!

I like Dean Hughes’ writing style. It flows well and is to the point. He did a great job of showing the difficulties faced during the war by both the soldiers and their families back at home. I definitely recommend this book. It’s a wonderful Christmas story.

Available on Amazon.

 

Excerpt

It was 1944 and Glen, Dennis’s big brother, was with the army’s 101st Airborne Division, fighting in Europe. When the last letter had come from Glen-almost two weeks ago-he had been at the battlefront in Holland. Newspapers were reporting heavy casualties among the Allied forces there. Linda and Sharon didn’t entirely understand the danger, but Dennis did, and he feared every day that bad news might come. The kitchen was warmer than it really needed to be, but it was cozy, and Dennis loved the smell of turkey and the pies-and baked bread. He had eaten too much, of course, but he wasn’t going to stop until he had a slice of each pie. Over on the kitchen cabinet, the radio was softly playing. A big band was performing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” The local station in Ogden, Utah, had begun to play Christmas music that day. When Linda began to sing the words to the song, Dad finally seemed to notice, and he groaned. “They start earlier every year,” he said. “The stores must pay the radio station to play that stuff. That’s all Christmas is now-a chance to boost sales.” It was what Dad said every year. But Mom loved Christmas, and she did all she could to make the holidays nice.

 

About the Author 

Dean Hughes is a bestselling and prolific writer who published his hundredth book in 2014. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Weber State College and master’s degree and PhD from the University of Washington. He has attended post-doctoral seminars at Stanford and Yale Universities and taught English at Central Missouri State University and Brigham Young University.

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Book Review & Giveaway: We Had a Job to Do by Theresa Anzaldua

We Had a Job to Do

Book Description 

This heartfelt tribute to World War II veterans is history that reads like fiction.

Follow a soldier who fought in Patton’s Third Army and who landed on Omaha Beach at 9 a.m. on D-Day; a female Army Air Forces nurse who made helping veterans her life’s work; a fighter pilot who flew with the African-American unit known as the Tuskegee Airmen and who was on one of the teams that won the first Top Gun meet after the war; a guard in a top-secret intelligence base outside of Washington, D.C. where top German weapons scientists were interrogated; a female aircraft mechanic who served in the Navy and is still active in veterans affairs seventy years later; a gunner on a B-17 heavy bomber who was shot down and spent fourteen months in German prison camps; an airman in General Curtis LeMay’s 20th Air Force, the unit that dropped the atomic bombs, and more.

Get to know some of the patriots who served in World War II.

 

Buy the book: Amazon.

My Review

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction but I haven’t read a lot of history. When I think about reading history, I think about the boring history books we had in high school. I have found, though, that there are some really good history books out there and this is one of those. We Had a Job To Do kept my interest throughout and I learned a lot about World War II.

I like how Theresa Anzaldua set this book up. It is chronological and starts with The Great Depression and the beginning of the war. The stories of the different people she interviewed are broken up so that they fit into the book chronologically but, at the end of each section about a particular person, it tells where their story continues. I thought that was ingenious because a reader can choose to read someone’s complete story without having to search for where the next section is. My favorite chapter was the last one, “Going Home – The Rest of the Story,” that told what happened to the people in the book.

I found the sections about how the war affected different ethnicities enlightening. I knew that the Japanese in America were treated poorly but I didn’t realize that over half of those in internment camps were American citizens. And when the Japanese American soldiers came home to visit their families, they had to visit them in the camps. How crazy is that?

There are quite a few old photos, many at the beginning of chapters, that are intriguing. I don’t usually comment on covers, but this one is exceptional. 

I definitely think anyone who wants to learn more about World War II would find this a great book to start with. It’s easy to read and keeps your interest.

 

Author’s Bio

Theresa AnzalduaThe author is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, B.A. (English Literature and Philosophy) and M.A. (Philosophy) and Harvard Law School, J.D. Her mother served in World War II in the U.S. Army, her father served in the U.S. Navy, her maternal uncle served in the war in the British Marines Commandos and fought in Normandy on D-Day, and another maternal uncle was killed in a training accident in Texas while serving in the U.S. Army. Her grandfather was wounded fighting for Britain in World War I.

 

Connect with the author:   Website    Facebook

Giveaway

Win 1 of 9 gift sets including a copy of “We Had a Job to Do,”

one (3’x5’ American flag) and one gently used Glen Miller CD

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Book Review: Lost and Found by Jeff LaFerney

25385210Title: Lost and Found

Author: Jeff LaFerney

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: April 28, 2015

About the Book

(from Goodreads)

In 1939, a sole Jewish smuggler immigrates to America to preserve a heritage Hitler hoped to erase. In 1944, two spies enter the United States on a mission to track down one man and a treasure of missing Spanish gold. In 2014, the immigrant’s son, his mind deteriorating from dementia, disappears, but not before he leaves his grandson clues, thrusting him into a mystery seventy-five years in the making. Blake Nolan and his girlfriend set out to unravel clues that could not only set secrets from history right again but also lead to two priceless treasures. With his grandfather’s life in the balance and suspects hot on Blake’s trail, will what was lost be found in time?

 

My Review

I received a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.

I have read a couple of Jeff LaFerney’s books in the past, Jumper and Bulletproof, and I like his writing style so I was happy to read and review Lost and Found. It is a good mystery with some WWII history mixed in.

I like the way the characters are portrayed. The main character, Blake Nolan, is in his senior year in high school and his family has to move in order to take care of his grandpa. Immediately, I knew that Blake had to be strong to deal with it so well. His new girlfriend is interesting: to be in high school and not care what others think of her and to be so at ease with herself and others is amazing. Blake’s grandpa tickled me at times. I know dementia is nothing to laugh at, especially since my grandma had it. Sometimes, though, it’s better to laugh than to cry. I was also impressed that Blake and his mom didn’t try to correct his grandpa, which could have made him resentful or angry. 

Lost and Found is a good mystery with clues for Blake to follow that were left by his grandpa. He is hoping that by solving the mystery, it may lead him to his grandpa after he goes missing. 

I definitely recommend this book. It’s a good mystery with a couple surprises. At the end, Jeff LaFerney explains what was historical fact and what was fiction, which I always like.

Available on Amazon.

Book Review: Vanished in Berlin by Gry Finsnes

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Tour Page

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VBSMASHTitle: Vanished in Berlin

Author: Gry Finsnes

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 404 pages

Release Date: February 2, 2015

 

Synopsis

If you love two countries and they go to war with each other, which one do you choose to fight for? The German musician Friedrich is in Norway with his Norwegian girlfriend Ellen when Hitler attacks in April 1940. They flee together from Oslo but happen to find themselves very close to the fighting. Their dilemma is that both like Germany but not the Nazis, and Friedrich does not want to fight. Ellen hides him, pretending that he is Dutch. After a long struggle they end up in her grandparents’ house on the coast where they spend some idyllic months. But it cannot last forever. When Friedrich disappears Ellen goes to Vienna and Berlin in the middle of war to look for him.

 

My Review

I received a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.

Vanished in Berlin is historical fiction but it is based factually on World War II. The author even based some of the details on talks with people who were there or documents from people who were there. She explains this in detail at the end of the book, which I always like.

The story of Ellen and Friederich is a tragic one. It’s the story of a young couple in love in the midst of the horrible circumstances of war and being unlucky to have been born in opposing countries. Although it is the fictional part of this book, I can see how it could have actually happened.

The characters are realistic for that time period, I think. From what I’ve read, there were many soldiers for Germany who were forced to fight. It was fight or die. And many people didn’t know what atrocities Hitler was capable of, so I can see how many young people would join the cause for Germany even if they didn’t entirely believe in the cause for the Nazis.

I liked Vanished in Berlin especially since the historical fiction I like most has been researched and puts fictional characters in fact based times and places. I did feel that there was a little too much historical detail at times but that’s a personal preference.

Anyone who likes historical fiction should like Vanished in Berlin. I’m hoping that there will be another book about Ellen in the future.

 

About the Author

Gry Finsnes, Norwegian, has lived in Sweden, India, England, Germany and France. After university studies in Oslo in French and English literature, she started her career as a teacher, but had to give it up as she moved out of the country. She has published two thrillers in Swedish but has recently written in English.

FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE

Currently Available at:

VANISHED IN BERLIN BOOK PAGE

BARNES & NOBLE

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

KOBO

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Book Review: John Bloom and the Victory Garden by Leigh Shearin

John-Bloom-and-the-Victory-GardenTitle: John Bloom and the Victory Garden

Author: Leigh Shearin

Publication Date: October 27, 2014

Publisher: Independent

Pages: 195

Recommended Ages: 9+

 

 

 

Book Summary  

John Bloom and the Victory Garden is the rollicking tale of 3 boys at the dawn of America’s involvement in WWII. John Bloom, and his best friends Joe and Chewie live, play, and get into adventures in 1940’s era Appleside, NJ. Because children are generally joyful and tend to put more importance on the goings-on of their own worlds than those of grown-ups, the events of the war are woven into the boy’s daily lives. Along the way, a bitter and cynical old man is drawn into their hijinks, and contributes his own joy to the lives of these 3.

Chapter One invites the reader to join John and his friends in Appleside, NJ on the afternoon of December 6th, 1941. Through newspaper headlines and radio bulletins, the boys learn about the incredible events of the war- beginning with the attack on Hawaii by the Empire of Japan. As the story moves along, John and his friends learn that everyone- not just soldiers- can make a difference. They learn that commitment leads to ultimate success and that taking a seemingly insurmountable task one step at a time will make that task simple. John, Joe and Chewie learn about where their food comes from, and how important good food is to the Allies overseas.

John Bloom and the Victory Garden is not just a story of Homefront USA during WWII. Its about faith, endurance and sturdy values that transcend time and cultural differences. It’s about accepting tough times, struggle and adversity and overcoming them anyway. It’s about seeing the humor in life, and helping others to see the humor too.

But mostly, they just have a gut-busting great time!

 Amazon | Goodreads

My Review

I received a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.

John Bloom and the Victory Garden is historical fiction for children. It occurs in 1941-1942 right before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It explains how the United States got involved in World War II and how these events affected three 10 year old boys. Leigh Shearin also does a good job at depicting that era: listening to the radio in the evening, the typical foods people ate, most moms staying home to take care of their families, etc.

John, Joe, and Chewie are typical boys. John is the more responsible boy of the group and Joe is the most mischievous with Chewie somewhere in the middle. 

John Bloom and the Victory Garden isn’t action packed but it is a good story and presents history in a way that children will enjoy reading about it. It also brings up issues such as men enlisting to fight in the war, some things people at home did to support the soldiers and the war, and how Jews, Germans, and Italians were put into camps for national security.

There is a map at the beginning of the book that shows the locations talked about. At the end of the book are recipes that were mentioned in the book. What fun it would be to cook some of the recipes that you just read about!

 

 

About the Author: Leigh Shearin

Leigh Shearin, AuthorI am a Writer, Chef, Baker and Farmer.

I earned a B.A. in Studio Art from Maryville College in Maryville, TN, and worked as a Graphic Artist and Photographer before earning my A.A.S in Culinary Art. I’ve worked as a Chef, Baker and Culinary Art Instructor. Most recently, my husband and I have bought rural land and are developing our own small, sustainable farm, Winter’Rest Farm in north Central New York. Through it all, I’ve written stories and poems, some published, some tucked away. The older I get, the more the stories stalk me, so I hope to move into full-time writing in the very near future.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Review: Liesl’s Ocean Rescue by Barbara Krasner

12-1-2014 6-06-14 PMTitle: Liesl’s Ocean Rescue

Author: Barbara Krasner

Illustrator: Avi Katz

Publication Date: October 7, 2014

Book Synopsis:

Liesl’s Ocean Rescue by noted children’s author Barbara Krasner, recounts the story of Liesl Joseph, a 10-year-old girl aboard the ill-fated MS St. Louis. On May 13, 1939, together with her parents and 900 other Jewish refugees they left Germany on the MS. St Louis attempting to seek temporary asylum in Cuba.

Review:

I received an advanced review copy of this book for an honest review.

Liesl Joseph was a 10 year old Jewish girl whose family fled Germany in 1939 with 1000 other Jewish refugees. I didn’t know the story of the MS St. Louis and that they were turned away by Cuba and the U.S.

This is an important story for children to learn and to discuss with adults. Barbara Krasner tells Liesl’s story in a way that children can understand, but also in a positive way which I imagine was a challenge. It includes a bibliography at the end which is a great resource for educators or parents who want to learn more about the St. Louis.

Liesl’s Ocean Rescue is about a difficult time in history but it’s something that children need to learn. I definitely recommend this book as a tool for teaching children about that period of history.

 

Where to buy the book:

Gihon River Press

 

Author’s Bio:

12-1-2014 6-05-41 PMBarbara Krasner is a historian and professor of creative writing. She publishes the popular blog, The Whole Megillah: The Writer’s Resource for Jewish-Themed Story. She runs workshops and conferences for Jewish writers at the Highlights Foundation and in conjunction with the Association of Jewish Libraries. Barbara has a B.A. in German from Douglass College, an M.B.A. in Marketing from the Rutgers Business School and an M.F.A. in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a candidate for the M.A. in Applied Historical Studies at William Paterson University.

Connect with Barbara:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Blog

Illustrator’s Bio:
12-1-2014 6-04-52 PMIllustrator Avi Katz was born in Philadelphia where he studied in the Schechter and Akiba schools as well as the Fleischer Art Memorial. After three years at U.C. Berkeley he moved to Israel at age 20, where he graduated in Fine Arts from the Bezalel Art Academy. He was the staff artist of the Jerusalem Report Magazine from its first issue in 1990 until 2012, and is active in the international Cartooning for Peace program. He has illustrated over 160 books in Israel and the U.S. including the National Jewish Book Award winning JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible. His books have also won the IBBY Hans Christian Andersen Honors four times and Israel’s Ze’ev Prize six times. His art has been exhibited in Israel, America and Europe.

Connect with Avi:  Website

 

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