Book Review: Women Heroes of World War II – Pacific Theatre

Women Heroes of World War IIWomen Heroes of World War II—the Pacific Theater: 15 Stories of Resistance, Rescue, Sabotage, and Survival by Kathryn J. Atwood

I’ve been highly impressed with Atwood’s earlier books in this series: Women Heroes of World War II, and Women Heroes of World War I, and was thrilled to learn that she had a third being published – this one focused on the Pacific Theater. As with the previous books, she continues her excellent work at writing an engaging and informative text.

I appreciated the introductory information providing background on the war in the Pacific. My history books in high school didn’t do as well at giving that sort of overview – they all seemed to start when Pearl Harbor, ignoring everything that happened to lead up to that.

Especially impressive is the delicate job she does of writing about some horrific events. While I still would be sure you know the sensitivity of your reader, I wouldn’t hesitate to have younger teens and even tweens read it.

Since the book is a compilation of biographical sketches, there isn’t space for a great amount of detail on any one individual. However, the included bibliography gives ideas for other books to read if you want to know more about any specific person or event.

Highly recommended. It’s aimed at teens, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
After glamorous American singer Claire Phillips opened her own night club in Manila, using the proceeds to secretly feed starving American POWs, she also began working as a spy, chatting up Japanese military men and passing their secrets along to local guerilla resistance fighters. Australian Army nurse Vivian Bullwinkel, stationed in Singapore then shipwrecked in the Dutch East Indies, became the sole survivor of a horrible massacre by Japanese soldiers. She hid for days, tending to a seriously wounded British soldier while wounded herself. Humanitarian Elizabeth Choy lived the rest of her life hating only war, not her tormentors, after enduring six months of starvation and torture by the Japanese military police. In these pages, readers will meet these and other courageous women and girls who risked their lives through their involvement in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Fifteen suspense-filled stories unfold across China, Japan, Mayala, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines, providing an inspiring reminder of women and girls’ refusal to sit on the sidelines around the world and throughout history. These women—whose stories span from 1932 through 1945, the last year of the war, when U.S. Marines landed on Iwo Jima—served in dangerous roles as spies, medics, journalists, resisters, and saboteurs. Nine of the women were American; seven were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, enduring brutal conditions. Author Kathryn J. Atwood provides appropriate context and framing for teens 14 and up to grapple with these harsh realities of war. Discussion questions and a guide for further study assist readers and educators in learning about this important and often neglected period of history.

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Introducing 31 More Days of Great Nonfiction

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Climbing the Mango Trees (and a linkup)

Climbing the Mango TreesThe hardest reviews for me to write are always the ones where I don’t have strong feelings about a book, and Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey is a prime example of that sort of book.

It’s fine. The writing is nice, and there are some good stories, but it’s not as engaging as I wanted it to be. It always felt very surface-level, and even after finishing it I didn’t feel like I had a great sense of who she is. I wanted more from the book – more emotion, more depth, more details.

I’m still glad I read it, both because it is such a different life and background than other memoirs I’ve read, and because I kept running across it on “great food memoir” lists. I side-eye it’s inclusion there a bit, as I don’t think it’s truly a great food memoir like some are. However, not every book can be amazing, and this one was still enjoyable enough.

Recommended for devoted memoir fans – this is unlike to convert anyone to the genre.

Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion of Burial Rites on September 1st.

If you’ve written a post about Climbing the Mango Trees, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

Link-up Guidelines:

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2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

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3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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Quick Lit: Kids’ Cookbooks

In my monthly recap posts, I’ve mentioned trying to teach my kids to cook or at least basic kitchen skills – they are only 7 and 5, so I’m not expecting them to start cooking dinner or anything, but they’re still ready to learn some things.

Because it’s what I do, I started with some books and checked a stack out from the library. These were my favorites:

New Junior CookbookBetter Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook

What I liked about it: My son really likes this as a collection of recipes – they’re appealing, and it’s colorful. He’s requested that I buy it for him as he wants his own copy, instead of just reading the library copy.

Why this didn’t work for me: it’s not really a cooking lesson book; it’s mostly recipes (with a little bit of extra info, but not enough for what I needed.

The Disney Princess CookbookThe Disney Princess Cookbook

What I liked about it: My daughter LOVES this book – it’s got princesses! I was actually fairly impressed with this one – I liked that the recipes were mostly really recipes, not just assemble a couple of items together. The recipes are cleverly tied to the princess theme, and they have an index at the back combining some of the recipes to have a themed meal. It’s very cute. She also wants her own copy of this, and it’s quite likely that both kids will get their preferred book for Christmas.

It’s a great cookbook, and really appealing for young cooks (ok, young girls; my son was unimpressed).

Why this didn’t work for me: it’s not really a cooking lesson book; it’s mostly recipes (with a little bit of extra info, but not enough for what I needed.

National Geographic Kids Cook BookNational Geographic Kids Cookbook: A Year-Round Fun Food Adventure

What I liked about it: Loved the format for this one – it follows the calendar year, and is filled with food traditions and facts from around the world.

Why this didn’t work for me: it would be better for older kids, as it’s not a beginning book. I did really like the year theme, and it would be fun to work through it in the future, but it’s not right for us at this stage.

How to Cook in 10 Easy LessonsHow to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons

What I liked about it: This was the best I found at giving cooking instruction – it’s structured to actually teach, not just be a book of recipes. The ten lessons work very well to address specific skills – using knives, peeling & grating, etc.

Why this didn’t (perfectly) work for me: What was less successful was the fact that we couldn’t just start at the beginning and work through the book – some recipes ended up referring to skills that hadn’t been taught yet. I wanted it to be open-and-go for me, and I ended up having to rearrange things more than desired.

It’s also written originally for a UK audience, and not everything was translated/adapted for a US audience. Most of it was, but there were some things that were not the same for us. A minor quibble, but when it was something my son was reading carefully, it added an extra layer of complication.

The Results

Since it was the closest to what I wanted, I bought a copy of How to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons, and used it for about 6 weeks, with varying degrees of success. The Key Lime Pie was delicious, the Chocolate Cake was dreadful, and everything else was somewhere in between.

Mostly it ended up not working that well as an actual cooking lesson, and it really wasn’t easily designed to take beginners in a sequential way through things, let alone beginners of different ages and abilities.

So it’s not so much that it was a bad book, just that it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. I think it will work better once my kids have those basic skills, and they can practice them more with this book.

What We’re Using Now

Tomorrow I’ll share about what I ended up finding, and what we’re using instead. It’s not what I thought I wanted or intended to use, but it’s working really really well so far.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Recent Cookbook Reads, Twitterature-Style
Three years ago: Recent Reads, Twitterature-Style

Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford

Walking the AmazonWalking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time. by Ed Stafford

Memoirs are one of my favorite genres because I find people fascinating, and sometimes the things people do with themselves astonishes me. Such as with Stafford’s book about his 860 days spent walking the Amazon. Eight hundred and sixty days. My youngest child hasn’t even been alive for that long. It boggles the mind.

So yes, I find it fascinating in an “I cannot even imagine doing something like this because there is NO WAY I ever would, barring having no other choice for survival or something like that.” Or to shorten that: UM, NO.

The writing is serviceable – he probably would have been well-served to bring in a ghost writer to help make it more engaging, and he doesn’t bring in the background information or humor Bill Bryson does in his memoir A Walk in the Woods. My husband would still argue Stafford’s book is better because: 860 days, walking the entire way. I would say that makes Stafford’s feat much more impressive, but doesn’t impact my thoughts on the book.

In 2014 I read Stafford’s subsequent book Naked and Marooned, and I wish I hadn’t read them out of order. Naked and Marooned ends up discussing some of the after effects of his walk, and I think I’d appreciate those elements more now after understanding what he did a lot more.

Recommended for fans of the genre, but I don’t think it would convert anyone who didn’t already like adventure/travel/amazing exploit type accounts.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
As seen on Discovery Channel and for readers of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Bill Bryson, Jon Krakauer, and David Grann, a riveting, adventurous account of one man’s history-making journey along the entire length of the Amazon—and through the most bio-diverse habitat on Earth. Fans of Turn Right at Machu Piccu will revel in Ed Stafford’s extraordinary prose and lush descriptions.

In April 2008, Ed Stafford set off to become the first man ever to walk the entire length of the Amazon. He started on the Pacific coast of Peru, crossed the Andes Mountain range to find the official source of the river. His journey lead on through parts of Colombia and right across Brazil; all while outwitting dangerous animals, machete wielding indigenous people as well as negotiating injuries, weather and his own fears and doubts. Yet, Stafford was undeterred. On his grueling 860-day, 4,000-plus mile journey, Stafford witnessed the devastation of deforestation firsthand, the pressure on tribes due to loss of habitats as well as nature in its true-raw form. Jaw-dropping from start to finish, Walking the Amazon is the unforgettable and gripping story of an unprecedented adventure.

Book Details

Title: Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time.
Author: Ed Stafford
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes

HNA6929r+YarnWhisperer_int_correx6_3.inddThe Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting by Clara Parkes

I’m not a knitter, so a knitting memoir seems like an unlikely choice for me. However, I stumbled across Parkes’ later book, Knitlandia, that sounded really intriguing, and I thought perhaps I should read her earlier book first. So I ended up reading a knitting memoir. And while I would undoubtably have gotten more out of the book if I’d been able to fully appreciate her metaphors, I still enjoyed her stories.

As a memoir, it’s skimpy: my understanding of who she is and her story is patchy, but what was there was quite enjoyable. She’s got a smooth writing style and I liked seeing how she connected various life lessons to knitting .

If you’re a knitter and you like memoirs, I’d really recommend this. If you’re not both, it’s not that I don’t think you should read it, it’s that I think there are lots of other books I’d prioritize higher. Unless I end up really loving Knitlandia and think you need to read this one first, in which case I’ll revise this review to mention that. Someday, when I finally get to Knitlandia. 🙂

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In The Yarn Whisperer: Reflections on a Life in Knitting, renowned knitter and author Clara Parkes ponders the roles knitting plays in her life via 22 captivating, poignant, and laugh-out-loud funny essays. Recounting tales of childhood and adulthood, family, friends, adventure, privacy, disappointment, love, and celebration, she hits upon the universal truths that drive knitters to create and explores the ways in which knitting can be looked at as a metaphor for so many other things. Put simply, “No matter how perfect any one sweater may be, it’s only human to crave another. And another, and another.”

Book Details

Title: The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting
Author: Clara Parkes
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Man Enough by Nate Pyle

Man EnoughMan Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood by Nate Pyle

If it seems strange that I read this book, well, I had a couple of reasons for wanting to. Thanks to Twitter I discovered the author, Nate Pyle, who is a pastor at a church in the Indianapolis area – since that’s where I live I began following him and wanted to read what he had to say. And as my son grows up, I find myself thinking about how he is maturing; what kind of man am I raising?

I appreciated with his premise (that manhood shouldn’t be defined by cultural ideals and expectations) and enjoyed parts of the book quite a bit. One of the strongest sections is when he writes that as Christians (whether male or female) our focus should be on becoming more Christ-like. He notes that “when characteristics are godly, they transcend masculinity and femininity and become traits that all people should seek to embody.” The final chapter was also excellent as it talked about risk aversion and vulnerability.

It’s very personal, with much of Pyle’s story informing the structure and examples given throughout the text. Unfortunately, it ends up being fairly repetitive, and feels like he’s continually circling around the same concept, without ever developing it further.

There was a small section that talked about parenting boys, and I would have loved to see more there – how do we as parents avoid raising our sons into aiming for the cultural male-ideal.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Man Enough challenges the idea that there is one way to be a man. The masculinity that pervades our church and culture often demands that men conform to a macho ideal, leaving many men feeling ashamed that they’re not living up to God’s plan for them. Nate uses his own story of not feeling “man enough” as well as sociological and historical reflections to help men see that manhood isn’t about what you do but who you are. It’s not about the size of your paycheck, your athletic ability, or your competitive spirit. You don’t have to fit any masculine stereotype to be a real man.

In our culture and churches more thoughtful, quieter, or compassionate personalities, as well as stay-at-home dads, are often looked down upon; and sermons, conferences, and publications center on helping men become “real men”. This pressure to have one’s manhood validated is antithetical to Gospel living and negatively affects how men relate to each other, to women and children, and to God.

Man Enough roots men in the Gospel, examines biblical examples of masculinity that challenge the idea of a singular type of man, and ultimately encourages men to conform to the image of Jesus – freeing men up to be who they were created to be: sons of God who uniquely bear his image.

Book Details

Title: Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood
Author: Nate Pyle
Category: Nonfiction / Christian
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 6), the nonfiction

32 Yolks by Eric Ripert

32 Yolks32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line by Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers

My general dislike of celebrity memoirs runs into my love for food memoirs: which wins?

In the case of Eric Ripert’s new book, the food memoir trumps the celebrity angle: I enjoyed this quite a bit. It probably helps that he had a solid coauthor, Veronica Chambers, crafting the account.

I’m really only familiar with Ripert from his appearances as a guest judge on Top Chef, and the book stops long before his first TV appearance, so virtually everything in it was new information to me. (And by virtually everything I mean I knew that he was French.)

The writing is smooth and his story compelling – I finished the book in two days because I kept wanting to know just a little bit more. It feels like you’re listening in as he’s telling stories from his childhood, and even when they’re difficult stories, you can’t help but want more.

His love of food shines through the pages. This book isn’t a food memoir as that term is so often used (as in, a memoir interspersed with recipes; there are no recipes in this book), but it’s a food memoir in that it traces the impact food has had on his life. It made me wish I could try some of the things he described, and it made me so grateful that I’ve never experienced anything of the sort of on-the-job training that elite chefs go through.

My only complaints with the book are that it still felt a little distant – maybe it was because of the coauthor writing his story, but it didn’t feel as personal as a truly great memoir does. In addition, it was very disappointing that the book ended just as he came to America – I am so curious what happened after that! Hopefully that’s just because it’s the setup for a second memoir to come in the future.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In an industry where celebrity chefs are known as much for their salty talk and quick tempers as their food, Eric Ripert stands out. The winner of four James Beard Awards, co-owner and chef of a world-renowned restaurant, and recipient of countless Michelin stars, Ripert embodies elegance and culinary perfection. But before the accolades, before he even knew how to make a proper hollandaise sauce, Eric Ripert was a lonely young boy in the south of France whose life was falling apart.

Ripert’s parents divorced when he was six, separating him from the father he idolized and replacing him with a cold, bullying stepfather who insisted that Ripert be sent away to boarding school. A few years later, Ripert’s father died on a hiking trip. Through these tough times, the one thing that gave Ripert comfort was food. Told that boys had no place in the kitchen, Ripert would instead watch from the doorway as his mother rolled couscous by hand or his grandmother pressed out the buttery dough for the treat he loved above all others, tarte aux pommes. When an eccentric local chef took him under his wing, an eleven-year-old Ripert realized that food was more than just an escape: It was his calling. That passion would carry him through the drudgery of culinary school and into the high-pressure world of Paris’s most elite restaurants, where Ripert discovered that learning to cook was the easy part—surviving the line was the battle.

Taking us from Eric Ripert’s childhood in the south of France and the mountains of Andorra into the demanding kitchens of such legendary Parisian chefs as Joël Robuchon and Dominique Bouchet, until, at the age of twenty-four, Ripert made his way to the United States, 32 Yolks is the tender and richly told story of how one of our greatest living chefs found himself—and his home—in the kitchen.

Book Details

Title: 32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line
Author: Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Read This, Not That: Under a Flaming Sky instead of Circus Fire

Read this not that Historical FiresCompelling history books are some of my favorites to read, and I’m especially partial to ones that tackle lesser-known events. I’m also not afraid of some gruesome details in my reads, so I didn’t hesitate to try Stewart O’Nan’s nonfiction title Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy.

Unfortunately, it ended up being a bit of a slow and ultimately I don’t think it was worth the reading time, unless you have some connection to that event which makes it more interesting for you in particular.

Instead, I’ll suggest Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894 by Daniel James Brown. It’s much more engaging and readable. It is one I often pause before recommending because it isn’t appropriate for all readers (beware if you’re squeamish) but if that’s not an issue for you, it was excellent (as all of his books have been).

I’ve written about Under a Flaming Sky before, so if you’re thinking you remember me mentioning it you’re correct – I did, and then I also included it in my 31 Days of Great Nonfiction series in 2013. It’s an amazing book.

By contrast, Circus Fire is fine. It’s serviceable and you’ll learn about the fire in Hartford in 1944. There are heart-breaking details, but it’s never as compelling a read as Brown’s, and I constantly had to force myself to pick it up again and read more of it. I probably should have bailed on it before finishing, but I was interested in learning some of the outcomes and what eventually ended up happening to people in the years after the fire.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie

Teaching from RestTeaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie

I wasn’t sure how I’d like this book – I kept hearing good things about it, but I’ve read Mackenzie’s blog before and have never cared for it that much (it’s beautiful, but I always end up wanting more from her posts). However, I am so glad that I gave the book a chance anyway – it was *so* encouraging and inspiring.

I don’t actually buy that many books for myself, instead relying on the library for the majority of my reading. This is a book that I borrowed but now want to own my own copy, so I can reread it regularly. It’s that encouraging.

It’s not a homeschooling treatise, or guide to curriculum. I actually disagree with her educational philosophy in some ways (I am not a Charlotte Mason devotee, and am nowhere near as laid-back about things as Mackenzie seems to be), but her focus on rest was very helpful.

The book is heavily faith-based, and includes numerous quotes from Catholic saints. If that’s an issue for you you likely would not appreciate the book.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Those who have made the decision to homeschool their children have done so out of great love for their children and a desire to provide them an excellent education in the context of a warm, enriching home. Yet so many parents (mainly mothers) who have taken up this challenge find the enterprise often full of stress, worry, and anxiety. In this practical, faith-based, and inspirational book, Sarah Mackenzie addresses these questions directly, appealing to her own study of restful learning (scholé) and her struggle to bring restful learning to her children.

Book Details

Title: Teaching from Rest
Author: Sarah Mackenzie
Category: Nonfiction / Education
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Out of Darkness

Out of DarknessOut of Darkness: My Story of Finding True Light and Liberation by Stormie Omartian

Hard to read at times, because the subject matter is so heart-rending. Omartian had a horrific childhood and it’s amazing to read her story and realize what she overcame.

The writing is fine, but more serviceable than spellbinding. If you’re familiar with her books such as The Power of a Praying Wife (and all the other related titles) it’s inspiring to learn how she developed into the woman of prayer she became.

If you’re not a believer, I don’t think the book would be as interesting to you. It also helps if you’re familiar with her writing or musical career. I had no idea of her musical abilities and hadn’t heard of her husband Michael Omartian (that probably says more about my obliviousness than anything else).

She’s got a previous memoir, Stormie, but I never read that and can’t say how this one differs from it.

Recommended for those who have liked her other books, or those who looking for a story of transformation and redemption.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Stormie Omartian tells her compelling story of a childhood marred by physical and emotional abuse that eventually led her into the occult, drugs, and tragic relationships.

Finding herself overwhelmed by fear and on the verge of suicide, she shares the turning point that changed her life and reveals the healing process that brought freedom and wholeness beyond what she ever imagined.

In this poignant drama, there is help and hope for anyone who has been scarred by the past or feels imprisoned by deep emotional needs. It is a glorious story of how God can bring life out of death, life out of darkness.

Book Details

Title: Out of Darkness: My Story of Finding True Light and Liberation
Author: Stormie Omartian
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!