The Cherry Harvest

The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna

I enjoy reading historical fiction because I like to feel that I’m right there with the characters.  A friend recommended this book for me because it takes place in Wisconsin, as well as for my interest in WWII and most likely because of my fascination with the TV show Hogan’s Heroes.  So to read a book about German POWs in Wisconsin was something I would definitely try, and didn’t put it off and pushed it ahead of the books I had already started.  

What intrigues me about historical fiction is being so immersed in the story that I then want to go and find out more about the historical topic, which is what I was hoping for when I turned the first page of The Cherry Harvest.  I was rather disappointed.  

I don’t like to be too harsh of a critic because this was a nice story.  It just wasn’t the story I was looking for.  

There was a lot of sex in this book.  I wanted to read about the German POWs (or PWs as they referred to them in the book) and what it was like to have them in Wisconsin while America as still deep in the war with Nazi Germany.

Instead what I got was a story about a farm family who badly needed labor and with all the men in the area drafted into the war, including their son, they turned to the US Army to allow them the use of German PWs.  The community was not happy about this and afraid to have the Germans around dangerous, potentially deadly farm equipment.   That’s it.  I feel like the two Germans characters stay in the background and walk in and out of the book at certain times.  The setting of the Germans is central to the plot, but it doesn’t go into detail about them and their experiences specifically.  The family’s teenage daughter is tutored by one of the prisoners who proves to be intelligent and well spoken in English.  Immediately, you expect the daughter Katie to fall in love with him.  She doesn’t.  It’s the mother who does even though she resisted feelings for him because her son was risking his life fighting the Germans.  The mother, Charlotte, is not a likable character, and she ends up being the downfall of the family as a whole.

The story focused mostly about Katie falling in love with a Senator’s son who is profiting from the war and her desire to leave rural northern Wisconsin to go to college in Madison and study literature like her father attempted to do.  So the Cherry Harvest was more of a coming of age love story.  It was a good story if I were looking for a romance novel, but I wasn’t.    

I looked up another review of this book and found that the author used this non-fiction book called Stalag Wisconsin so I have already begun reading this book and the first 50 pages are already giving me what I am looking for.  

Here is the link to an article about the factual information about German Prisoners of War in Wisconsin and mentions the Stalag Wisconsin book as well.  

http://host.madison.com/wsj/entertainment/arts_and_theatre/books/state-journal-book-club-pows-helped-save-door-county-s/article_e1ed28ab-1fa8-5f43-a7b5-33e2d9292bba.html

 

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The Short Stop by Zane Grey

A friend of mine recommended that I read The Short Stop by Zane Grey.  It was quite unlike any story I had read by Grey before as it was not set in the old west with gunslingers.   As the title implies, it’s a baseball story and set back in the early 1900’s before million dollar contracts and performance enhancing drugs.  But that’s ok because I like baseball just as much as cowboy stories. 

You can feel Grey’s love of the sport with each play by play game he writes.  I imagine as an author he was calling the balls and strikes just as he would have liked to see a perfect game be played.  Published in 1906, the language of the text certainly takes on that era and is much different from what slang ball players would be shouting today, but it is charming none-the-less.  The book isn’t all stats and strategy though.  Grey weaves in the coming of age story with a minor love interest, and the friendships and camaraderie of the team.

Chase, the main character leaves his widowed mother and younger brother at home to seek out a new source of income that will provide for the family better than their current situation.  It seems a bit strange to think that a fellow would have a better chance of making money by becoming a baseball player because of how hard it is to break into the sport…. but that is today’s thinking.  In the beginning of the book, Chase does struggle to find a team that he can stick with.  These are not major league teams, but local  teams.  

One chapter that is strikingly controversial is when the idea of when playing baseball on Sunday becomes an issue.  I like how Zane Grey resolves this issue- I won’t spoil it for you in the event you want to read it (I’ve provided links below).  While the story of The Short Stop is fiction, I’m not certain if this part of the book has ties to reality or not.  It would require some extra research on my part now that I have completed the book.  

 

You can read the entire book for free here   The Short Stop- text

Or listen to the audio book for free here The Short Stop- audio

Thanks to LibriVox and the Gutenberg project

 

 

The Remarkable Millard Fillmore: The Unbelievable Life of a Forgotten President

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The Remarkable Millard Fillmore: The Unbelievable Life of a Forgotten President (Kindle Edition)

by George Pendle

My rating 1 of 5 stars

I admit that when I purchased this book, I may not have read all the reviews. Millard Fillmore sitting on top of a unicorn made me suspicious, but not enough to push me away. I thought of it as an attention grabber to get more readers interested.

Leave it to a British author to try and write about American History and this is what you get !

In the first few pages Pendle seems to say some wonderful things about Fillmore and I felt that someone else finally felt the way that I do about the 13th President. It wasn’t until later, I realized he was mocking Fillmore and me for that matter. I had a hard time picturing Fillmore’s great great grandfather being a swashbuckling pirate, nor his grandfather being of the kind to sit in the forest and eat linens. I even read past the part where Fillmore’s journals were found in a village in Northern Uganda where they worshiped them as sacred objects. It was once I got to the chapter that began with Millard’s life and the author said that the family couldn’t afford to give him a middle name, I put the book down and began to wonder if I had been taken in. Believe me, I have my receipt and I want my money back!!

I realize now the book is a joke, and I’m past feeling humiliated by it. I find some creativity in Pendle’s writing and for that only credit is due. I can’t beg Half Priced Books to buy it from me for a penny because I had downloaded the Kindle version so instead of deleting it (the e-version of book burning) I’ll keep it around for those nights when I have insomnia.

I try to be a reasonable Millard Fillmore fan. I’m sure the man himself would be able to take this book with a grain of salt and laugh it off. I understand he doesn’t rank high on the list of great presidents, but if you read biographies by Robert Scarry or W.L. Barre (published in 1856 when first-hand information was still available) you would see Fillmore in a different light. Millard Fillmore was chosen as Vice President even though he didn’t want the job. He was a dedicated civil servant and realized that if the people wanted him, believed in him, and chose him as vice-president then he was willing to step up and do the job for the people. That type of giving of one’s life, unselfishly to the public has been lost to labor’s history, as is Fillmore’s true reputation.

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Mount Vernon Love Story

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Mount Vernon Love Story: A Novel of George and Martha Washington

by Mary Higgins Clark

My rating:4 of 5 stars ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I Mount Vernon Love Story: A Novel of George and Martha Washingtonlove to read is historical fiction so when I became acquainted with the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, I was offered the chance to purchase Mount Vernon Love Story autographed by Mary Higgins Clark. This was her first published novel and this is a re-release of it.

George Washington is such an immortalized figure in American History, that I feel he has just become a stone statue and people don’t see him as ever being a real man. Mary Higgins Clark has chiseled away at this rock and revealed a more sensitive side to the myth and legend of George Washington though the emotions of love, fulfillment, longing and loss. George’s story begins when he was a fatherless boy, in an unhappy childhood home and goes through the last few days of his Presidency. Gratefully she had stayed away from the “wooden teeth” storyline (although they were horse and animal dentures, not wood…. I’ve seen them). The reader comes to understand the reasons he didn’t marry the love of his life and how it affected his marrage to Martha.

* As a note, this book doesn’t involve the recanting of military battles or presidential decrees, but cleverly, major events in history are mentioned as a reference to the timeframe.

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The Callender Papers

The Callender PapersThe Callender Papers by Cynthia Voigt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this book while browsing with my mom in the young adult section of the public library. The description caught my eye because the story was about a young girl who was charged with going though and organizing personal papers. I thought what a great author to write about record retention and the screening of archival papers !

Without revealing too much of the story which lead to my conclusions, I will say that being an older reader, I suspected the direction in which the plot was heading by the middle of the book. However, that didn’t spoil the ending because it wasn’t exactly as I had surmised. Having said that, I would still choose to read this book again and again. My enjoyment of this book has also peaked my interest into what Cynthia Voigt’s other novels have to offer.

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Survivability For The Common Man

Survivability For The Common Man by Dave Canterbury

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

DavSurvivability For The Common Mane Canterbury caught my eye from watching the frist two seasons of the Dual Survival tv show. (He won’t be returning for a 3rd season)  This book contains many of the things that he featured on that show such as how to get a base navigation reading from your wrist watch. That’s one of my favorites.

He makes clear in the beginning of the book that it isn’t meant for doomsday, end of the world senerios, but rather to convey basic survival techniques that wouldn’t require you to be a combat Marine to accomplish.

It’s an easy read with great explanations and pictures. It reinforces the topics many times.  This was the first book that I read on my Kindle.  The nice thing is that it includes pictures.

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