It’s Veteran’s Day! I love the special holiday set aside to honor those still living who have served our country! It’s also a time set aside to remember those who gave it all, or who served and have since passed on. My Great-grandfather, Floyd Wesley Jennings, was a WWII Veteran who served as a tank lookout in Europe. He passed before I was born, but I know one day, I will see him again, and maybe I’ll even get to thank him for his service!
In honor of Veteran’s day, I am reviewing a special book. I love military stories. I love stories about dogs🐕. And I love stories about WWII. So it’s no surprise that I picked up this fun series. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the first book in an ongoing series, spotlighting one of our sometimes unsung heroes…Soldier Dogs.
Soldier Dogs #1: Air Raid Search and Rescue
By Marcus Sutter
About the Book: When Matt’s older brother enlisted in the army, he left Matt his German Shepherd, Chief, a retired fire dog and the best pet EVER. So Matt isn’t happy when Chief starts paying attention to his foster sister Rachel instead of him.
But when Nazi planes begin bombing the city, Matt finds himself in an impossible situation. Can he be a hero to his sister when it matters most? And when they get caught outside during the air raid, will Chief be there to save the day?
My Review: Okay, there were a lot of things that I enjoyed about this story, but it’s only fair to tell the things that gave it such a low rating. So, let’s dive in.
I really thought it was interesting, learning more about the city of Canterbury, England. 🌁From buildings to fun facts and the history of the blitz in England, it was very educational. I was also excited to learn about the Kindertransport, rescuing Jewish children in Germany and placing them with families in free Europe. 🚆
The main character had a terrible attitude towards his parents and his adopted sister, Rachel. It frankly became quite annoying. He does get better towards the end, but they never make it clear that the boy was wrong and learned his lesson. It also insinuated that he was right to be upset with everyone.
Another thing that, to me, didn’t ring true was how they depicted the Luftwaffe Airman in the story. ✈ While his actions sound like something a Gestapo or SS man would do, it just didn’t seem realistic for a German bombardier to act so violently. Now, I understand that everyone is different, and there were indeed some terrible people in every branch of the German military, but as a general rule, your average German soldier wasn’t going to haul off and try to kill a child who posed no serious threat to them. There were ways they could have made this more realistic, especially if the kids had been older or had some kind of weapon, or if the setting was a little different. I don’t know, it just seemed a bit too violent, especially for a children’s book.
The dog was amazing! The story spotlighted how dogs served our country, searching and rescuing those in need and in taking down the enemy. And German Shepherds are my favorite, so…😍 I look forward to reading more about these fantastic dogs in the rest of the series.
I’ll try to review the rest of the books in this series in the near future, but I actually bumped this review ahead for Veteran’s day, so it may be a little while before those show up.
Don’t forget to thank a Veteran today!
Emoji art supplied by Emoji One
*Takes a deep breath* Okay. I can do this. I can write this review without breaking down…can’t I? I don’t read much about the Holocaust…it’s painful to realize that anyone could be so cruel to a fellow human being, especially the innocent. To be honest, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy! This book hid nothing.
The Auschwitz Escape
By Joel C. Rosenberg
Blurb: A terrible darkness has fallen upon Jacob Weisz's beloved Germany. The Nazi regime, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, has surged to power and now hold Germany by the throat. All non-Aryans -- especially Jews like Jacob and his family -- are treated like dogs.
When tragedy strikes during one terrible night of violence, Jacob flees and joins rebel forces working to undermine the regime. But after a raid goes horribly wrong, Jacob finds himself in a living nightmare -- trapped in a crowded, stinking car on the train to the Auschwitz death camp.
As World War II rages and Hitler begins implementing his "final solution" to systematically and ruthlessly exterminate the Jewish people, Jacob must rely on his wits and a God he's not sure he believes in to somehow escape from Auschwitz and alert the world to the Nazi's atrocities before Fascism overtakes all of Europe. The fate of millions hangs in the balance.
My Review: I actually read some 1-star reviews of this book on Amazon and I was asking myself, “Did they even read the same book I did?” They clearly didn’t pay attention at least.
Let me start off by saying 1.) This book is not for children. I recommend it to grown, mature adults only. There is a lot of violence (it’s the Holocaust) and the conversations about Christianity and Judaism were very confusing at times. 2.) This book is NOT for entertainment. Even though it is fiction, it is very raw, rough and real. Mr. Rosenberg doesn’t hide the ugly things of the Holocaust and while it was certainly disturbing, he didn’t treat the subjects in a light way or as a way of throwing ugliness into his story. He wrote it as historical fact. Would I have included those details? No, not all of them. But it was an eye-opening experience to me.
There are some minor historical errors that the author points out in the back of the book. I don’t agree with shifting timelines, but I’m glad he pointed them out. There was also a spattering of romance in the story and some brief mentions of topics that I know were probably realistic, but that I didn’t find necessary.
This book was not overtly Christian. In fact, they refer to Catholics as Christian, and they mention protestants, but there is no mention of the Baptist faith. I really didn’t like them lumping Catholics into the Christian label, since they worship Mary, not God, and they are the ones who hurt the Jews, not Christians. That insinuation really upset me.
I also did not agree with the use of a Bible version that was not King James. There were not many verses in the book, since it was mostly about the Jews, but towards the end, there were several verses all together, and I am in the process of looking up the references to fix them.
But this story was so touching. We get to see Jacob struggle through his belief in God. If God cared, why had he allowed the Nazis to do all these wicked things? We see him struggle to understand, struggle to live, struggle to hope. But then, we also get to see him fight for his hope, fight for his life and fight for the lives of others. And in the end, we get to see his belief in God restored, though I have no idea if he was supposed to have gotten saved or just decided to practice Judaism. It wasn’t very clear, and that bothered me.
But if you want a story to glean a better understanding of what was happening at Auschwitz, the escapes that happened or how one could have been made, or just a story about doing all you can to help God’s Chosen People, give this one a try. Again, I do not recommend this to people younger than 20 or those who are young in their spiritual walk with the Lord.
Have a blessed week and God Bless Israel!
Today’s review is on a book recommended by Katja and I’m so glad I read this book! It was very interesting to compare thoughts on the story and I actually surprised myself by how strongly I felt about certain aspects of the story.
Okay, so this story is set in WWII England…already not my favorite setting, because if I’m reading World War Two, I want it to be set in America, the South Pacific or in a country where the fighting is actually going on in Europe. (I know England was being bombed, and that is shown in the story, but I mean an occupied country, or Germany.) 😉
But Dym!!!!! Oh! I love that boy so much! Dym is one of the main characters, Max is the other (even though they switch to calling him Tony early on, I will never call that boy Tony, lol! Max suits him). Dym is a flying officer in the RAF (Royal Air Force, but I rarely hear them called by the full title 😉) and is determined to find his little brother who was kidnapped years before. Enter Max, kinapped by Norweigians as they escape the Nazis. Max is the son of a Nazi and a bit of a pest to them, so they decided to bring him along to teach him a lesson. Cue my first round of righteous indignation over kidnapping a child…
Turns out that Max is the long lost Tony Engleford. And convincing him and me of that fact was not easy. I grieved for the child, because, to be honest, I thought he handled himself pretty mildly under the circumstances. If I were an unsaved child, I probably would have been an utter terror to people whom I believed had taken me away from my parents and homeland and whom I viewed as the enemy. He missed the woman he believed was his mother and felt trapped and hated by those around him. Even though he belonged in England with his true family, I think the whole thing was traumatic, frieghtening and I hope this isn’t a true story.
That being said, I loved the relationship between Dym and Max. And Dym at the end of the story made me so happy and literally is the main reason I gave this book 4 stars. Don’t get me wrong, it was an excellent story, but because I was so frustrated with certain secondary characters and some of the author’s opinions, I was tempted to give it a 3. But as I said, Dym redeemed it all in the end. It had the perfect ending and I really want to read it again!
Most of my dislikes of the story are steeped in my not understanding British cultrure. To me, they seem cold and indifferent at times, but to them, it’s normal life. A dear friend with more knowledge on the subject was able to clear up a few things for me and if not for her, I probably would have stopped reading from pure shock. But I’m so glad I didn’t and I highly recommend giving this book a try!
One warning I would give is that there is a word in the story that over here, is a dirty word. In England, at that time, it was not. But even so, I think parents should be forewarned before allowing your young readers to read it on their own. (For more information, please contanct us!) In context of the era and location, the word is harmless, but confusion may insue as it certainly did for me!
Favorite Parts: Anything with Dym and Max! Personally, I wish the whole story had solely been about the two of them! Their scenes were the best. Especially the end!
Least Favorite Parts: Anything with Ginger, Porgy, Margaret or the twins. And the evacuees.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, once I got the hang of the cultrural aspects. I wish the Christian connections in the story had been a little stronger, and there is not a gospel message, but I certainly will be recommending this to WWII fans in the future! It made my top 5 for the year so far! Like I said, the ending is golden.
Quote (I can pretty much only use this one, because the others give away too much about the story, lol!)
“You have no right to—”
“To what?” the captain asked, very gently.
“To turn me into an Englishman—” He could make no further sound; the sentence quivered into nothing.
I’ve been hearing about Unbroken for years now. It’s been recommended to me and I’ve wanted to read it ever since I heard about it. Well, this year, I sat down and read it. Today, I will share my review of this dramatic, heart-wrenching story.
By Laura Hillenbrand
Summary: The story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympic runner, WWII Bombardier, Plane crash and raft drifting survivor, Japanese POW and Witness for Christ. A story of overcoming hatred and using your pain to help others, offering forgiveness to those who have wronged you. Also, it tells just how badly the Japs treated their prisoners.
My Review: Okay, so this book was different than what I expected. I thought it was going to be solely about Louie, but it turned out to be more like a documentary, with Louie as the main character. I was a little miffed by that at first, but as the story progressed, I found I really enjoyed the extra insights from the experiences of others. I also learned enough about Wake Island in this story to spark my curiosity. Whole ‘nother story, but oh! So heart-breaking!
I personally was a little disappointed that there was no clear announcement of Louie’s getting saved, though he most certainly did. It was more alluded to than anything else. I felt that in some way, his Faith was down played, but in other ways, I was surprised at how much the author included in the story.
There was some language in this book, which I had been forewarned about. There is also quite a bit of talk about the sadistic behavior of the guards (one in particular) that was a bit disturbing. I DO NOT recommend this book for children or young adults. It is hard to read and brutally honest about what the Japanese soldiers did to our troops, as well as giving rather disturbing details about the diseases and tortures these brave men endured while in captivity. It also talks about alcohol, smoking and other things of that nature, which though they are accurate depictions of military life, I cannot and will not condone or pronounce as acceptable behavior, even for unsaved individuals.
There is a Young Adult version of this book, which I skimmed through and it appeared that the language had been removed. I also have a copy of this version and plan to review it when I read it.
For younger readers, I recommend Louis Zamperini by Janet and Geoff Benge. While still a hard read, it is more suitable for younger audiences and emphasizes Louie’s Faith very well.
What I Loved: I loved hearing about R.A. Philips, Louie’s friend and pilot. He survived the same torture as Louie and more of a different kind. I didn’t enjoy reading about the POW camps, but it gave me a deeper appreciation of our guys in khaki. And of course, seeing Louie’s life change was the best part!
What I didn’t Like: In addition to what was mentioned in the review, the guard known as the Bird was the most disturbing part of this book. *shivers* I will never understand how some people think treating their fellow human beings the way he did was acceptable. And Louie’s letter to him after the war? Oh, it takes a strong Christian indeed to be able to forgive a man like the Bird!
Overall, this book was eye opening, heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. It’s a type of book that makes you pray, “Lord, please, never again!” I truly hope that people will read it, get help and seek what Louie found to be the answer to all his problems: A personal Relationship with Jesus Christ!
Have a Blessed Day!
And I’m back with another book review! This book was a sweet little read, but I do have a few cautions about it. If you love World War Two and those who protected our Jewish friends, then stick around!
Number the Stars
By Lois Lowry
Historical Fiction: World War Two Denmark
Suggested Age: 8-12 for understanding (if edited or explained by an adult); 16 for content.
Overall: This was a neat little book about the Denmark underground under the Third Reich. Did you know that the Danes smuggled out nearly all of their 7,000 Jewish citizens?!? That’s amazing! And the mode they used to rescue them and get past Nazi search dogs was so interesting!
There were a few things that I didn’t like about this story…quite a bit of lying (and justifying it), mentions of alcohol, and smoking. There was also a comment made by a Nazi to a lady that I thought that was inappropriate for a children’s book. The little sister was supposed to be a bit of a brat, but for the most part, everyone got along.
I also thought the end was fast. You find out who lived and who died and why they died all in a rapid-fire style, and I felt too overwhelmed to really feel the sorrow for the character who died. It happened to be my favorite character too, which didn’t help. Overall, the realness of death was lost on me due to the hurried style.
But one thing is for sure, I would love to meet King Christian 😉 He seemed like the kings in stories, ones who truly put their people’s needs before their own. Whether he was really like that or not, I’m not sure, but I thought it was a neat touch!
Have a Blessed Day!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.