Stick your head in the sand – or lose it

A lot of boys had grown up since the last war. They grew up in a country in shambles, they had no jobs, they had nothing to do, and they were restless. And such men-boys get into trouble with street fights over almost nothing, because of hormones, anger, and boredom. Then they heard a new voice, a very loud voice, a voice promising bread and work for all. They listened because they were trying to find a reason to live. They had been like sheep without a shepherd. They had flocked to a new party, a party good for nationalists, socialist, and workers, even the ones without work. Within the new party, they found new hope to build a life for themselves.

“I will rebuild Germany! I will make Germany great again! Bread and work for all.”

Such was the promise. The leader of this party was an Austrian man called Adolf Hitler. A would-be artist or architect if WW I wouldn’t have taken him off his tracks. A disgruntled Corporal after the war; a Wagner opera lover, intrigued with the mysterious Germanic saga, he imagined building a new ‘thousand year Reich’ with proud, strong, blond, blue-eyed people. He saw himself as the architect of it. His incredible oratory talent, and his rousing speeches, assured him of more and more followers and the help of the rich and the aristocracy. It took him a mere ten years to break up the existing democracy of the ‘Weimar Republic’ Germany had become after the last Emperor had abdicated in 1918. The party of Adolf Hitler had an overwhelming vote in the early 1930s which brought him into the government. Through intrigue, he built up enough power to get the then aging Chancellor Paul von Hindenburg, who saw him for what he was, to retire in 1933 and promote him to be elected to run the country. It didn’t take long and the men heard the call to join a new army. Now there were hardly any unemployed men on the streets anymore. To get free clothing, satisfy their hunger or provide for their families, they had followed the call to join. By 1936 the new army counted already way over a hundred thousand well-trained men. Looting of Jewish owned stores began. Many Jews fled, seeing the writing on the wall, even more didn’t make it. Jews were accused of causing all of Germany’s problems. It was a hate propaganda the world had never seen.

Then came the 1st September 1939. Without warning or declaration of war, the Hitler army invaded Poland. England declared war 2 days later and WW II could not be stopped anymore.

Watching the “News” on television every night for these last years, especially the last several months, I can’t help thinking back to the first ten years of my life growing up with the Nazi propaganda. Now, the terror acts in Europe are frightening. The racial hatred on the North American continent between the blacks and the white suprematists and the emergence of the neo-Nazis is growing. The brawls and shootings in peaceful cities are scary. The Muslims seem to be targeted like the Jews were in Germany, so far not to the same extent. I am not the only one to notice the similarities to the happenings back then and now. When I see the incredibly well trained and disciplined North Korean army and the missiles they promise will be able to reach the USA, what am I to feel? I shake in my proverbial boots. The Germans apparently see it clearly. Why else would one of their most popular magazines, the “Stern”, have such a controversial cover page on one of their recent issues? Do they fear another WW with the number III attached? Do they try to send a warning to the world without many words? They had just changed the first letter of the title of Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” (my struggle, my fight) to “Sein Kampf”, (his struggle, his fight).

We are living in a dangerous world. We are experiencing history. We don’t know if we will survive a “next time”.

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Vimy Ridge: The Battle defining Canada as a Nation

The 9th of April 2017 is an important date in the history of Canada. One-hundred years ago, four Canadian divisions, organised and trained as one fighting force, fought three divisions of Germans who had held the important Vimy Ridge line against the efforts of the French, who lost 150.000 lives in an earlier battle, and, when relieved by the British armies, the situation did not change. The Germans held the ridge. It took the Canadians three days of heavy fighting and a loss of nearly 3.600 lives and over 7.000 wounded until the enemy retreated. For about a week now, television and all social media have been rehashing the history of this battle. It was the biggest and most decisive battle waged by Canadians against the Germans in France.

Watching the news, I asked myself: What actually led to WWI? Was it the assassination of the Archduke of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo as most historians claim? It seems there was much more to it than that. The Emperor of Austria-Hungary had his eye on the Balkan states. He annexed Bosnia and Herzogewina in 1908. After the assassination in Sarajevo the Emperor wanted to annex Serbia but the ultimatum was rejected. It took several weeks before the, then almighty, Austria-Hungary Emperor decided to declare war on Serbia and Bosnia, two revolutionary and terroristic states of the Balkan. The Balkan war was supposed to be all there was, a “small” war about territory that led to the so-called “Great War”. Austria, which was not really prepared for war after a long period of peace, called on their German ally when Russia prepared for fighting on the Serbian side. Russia also allied with the French, and it didn’t take long before the whole world was on fire. Those are the underlying causes as I see it.

I read somewhere “WWI was a political misjudgement…” – a misjudgement that cost around 38 million lives. Does that shock us? For me, it is a much bigger shock to think about the 10.000 casualties of the Canadians fighting and winning the battle of Vimy Ridge in less than three days.

Now, one-hundred years later, we celebrate those brave men, some younger than eighteen and some lying about their older age just to go and fight. A forty-year old miner would have lived if he had not lied about his age and registered as a twenty-eight year old man. It is hard to imagine that in Canada, a country with a population of less than eight million in 1914, 619.000 men enlisted. 66.000 did not return and 172.000 were wounded. The stories we hear on the news are incredible. Many people have diaries written by their ancestors, letters and photos. Everything pulls at our heart strings. Thousands of Canadians have traveled overseas to be part of the 100-year celebration. Newest reports say between 25.000 and 30.000, including thousands of young high school students from all over Canada, attended the celebration at Vimy.

The impressive memorial at Vimy was built to honor around 11.000 dead Canadians with unknown resting places. A competition for the design was open to all Canadian architects, designers and sculptors after 1920. Of one-hundred and sixty designs, two were finally selected by a commission in 1921. William Lyon Mackenzie King, then Prime Minister of Canada, argued for the design by Walter Seymour Allard of Toronto and got unanimous support from parliament. The French donated 100 hectares of land where the battle was fought under the condition that Canada build and maintain a memorial park. Mr. Allard searched far and wide for the right stones and found them in Croatia. The construction of the monument began in 1925 and took eleven years to complete. His Majesty, King Edward VIII, also considered the King of the young Nation of Canada, unveiled the memorial on July 26th 1936 with 50.000 people in attendance.

During his speech regarding the memorial, His Majesty stated:

It is an inspired expression in stone, chiselled by a skilful Canadian hand, of Canada’s salute to her fallen sons.”

 

Books published or read in 2016

Oct 28, 2016

Looking back on 2016 I am amazed how much I actually got done. I have been busy. My collection of short stories, “Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts, and Memories” was published in January 2016. It is a memorial to special people who have crossed my path – either in person or through their achievements. I dare to say that every single story carries some kind of message to the reader. At the very least it will make the reader think and maybe he/she feels like sharing his/her thoughts about the story with family or friends. It is about aging, adoption, blended families, babies, changing seasons, superstition, cancer, dogs, horses and other critters, escape, earthquake, flying, internet dating, island living, love and rape, roses, travels, war, and many other topics. It finishes with a beautiful fairy tale “The Weeping Angel” – for which, at one point, I received the First Prize in the form of another book: “Computers for Dummies.” Throughout the book, you find poems and pictures. A delightful book – perfect to give as a gift to YOUR special people, reminding THEM not to forget YOU. The easiest way to obtain this book is Amazon.ca.

The books I chose to read during 2016 have added greatly to my knowledge about history. Some of them upset me, robbed me of sleep since it was hard to believe people can be so blinded by promises, ultimately leading to a horrible war. One recurring thought was ‘do people never learn from the past?’ At the same time, I was crying over the fate of some people and keeping my fingers crossed for others to survive. As you can see, I prefer to read mostly “true” stories or history based on truth since that is what I write as well. The following are the books I read and since there are so many I will refrain from telling you about them. All are worth reading.

“All The Light I Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. Pulitzer Prize, New York Bestseller list.
“The Witch of Napoli” by Michael Schmicker was a fun read.
“Goering” – The Rise and Fall of the notorious Nazi leader. By Roger Mansell. Incredible.
“The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls. A classic I had never read, but it is a ‘must read’.
“Moonrise” by Ann Victoria Roberts. This author has touched my emotions in many ways.
“The Rise of Nazi Germany” by Charles River Editors. I wanted to know more history.
The GiftAwakening”, by J.P. McLean. Contemporary Fantasy, a new genre for me

  1. The Gift “Revelation”
  2. The Gift “Redemption”
  3. The Gift “Penance”
  4. The Gift “Betrayal

“POW # 74324” – Triumph through Adversity by Robert Stermscheg.
“Daffodils” by Alex Martin. An English love story set within WWI.
“The History of Germany From The Earliest Times by Bayard Taylor. Tough read!
“The Spy in Hitler’s Inner Circle” by Paul Pailole. The risks people took, unbelievable.
“Lunch with Charlotte” by Leon Berger. Unexpected happenings, finally talking WWII.
“How the (Bleep) Did I Get This Old” by Laverne H. Bardy. Need a good laugh? Get it!
“An Adventure on Two Continents” by Heinz H.G. Berger. A West Vancouver story.
“Journey of a Lifetime” by Trevor D. Cradduck. Not available for the general public.

There were a few other books. I remember the stories but I should have written down the titles. Plus, I read four substantial books in Germany in October (German language) and was fascinated by the content. I read several nights since I couldn’t sleep anyway. The time difference of nine hours is hard to overcome – your body is not fooled by the clock. The trouble is – when I got home to the North American Continent the same happened – in reverse! It’s said that for every ten years of your life it takes a day to re-adjust your body clock. C’est la vie!

Curious about the stories in ‘Forget Me Not’?

Book cover

Book cover

I don’t blame you. I would be curious too. Often I’ve gone to Amazon, looked for the books I wanted to know more about and clicked on “Look Inside”. Occasionally I was frustrated when I came to the end of what I was ‘allowed’ to read – and you had to either give up – or buy the book. If I would have bought every book I liked I would have a huge inventory and could open a library!

This, I have never done before – but I will do so now! I am way too excited about the stories in this ‘Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories’ not to share them with you. Thinking of you reading the titles of my stories puts a big grin on my face. Why? Because all of them came straight from my heart. I know you will like many and really love others. Each one is educational – either from a historic point, from understanding odd situations in life or has an ending you don’t expect. Or, perhaps, it carries some kind of a message you may want to discuss with your family or friends.

“Forget Me Not” is for readers from ten to ninety and beyond. You can’t go so sleep without reading a few pages? And then get your brain engaged in wondering what the ending of your book is going to be? You need willpower to NOT read the ending? My stories will help you. You read just one and you’ll KNOW the ending – because it ended! Now you can go to sleep without all that “wondering”.

I ought to get an audio book of this for the people who have vision problems or are too weak to hold a physical book. “Forget Me Not” is also a beautiful gift from YOU to friends you don’t want to forget YOU! Just imagine yourself unwrapping a little gift package on Valentine’s Day, your birthday, Mothers’ or Fathers’ Day; any other special occasion or even as a surprise and your eyes are greeted by the message: “Forget Me Not”. Who do you think of? The author? No way! You think of the person who sent it to you. That’s the idea, my friend!

I haven’t revealed that there are photos with some of the stories – and poems to use some empty pages between the stories.

How about this one:

What am I? A cat or a mouse…

I feel like a mouse
In a room with a cat.
I like to hide
Far in the back.
I want to curl up
And sleep, and relax
I seek the quiet
Not hear the fax.
No radio, no cars, no TV
And no noise –
I need to tune in
To my inner voice.
I have to find out
Where I am at –
Am I a mouse
Or another cat?

~~~~~~~~~

Table of Contents
Preface
Prologue
1: Charming Village Life
2: Granny and her Fairy Tales
3: Horses – and their Shoes
4: Magic Hands
5: Winnie the Pooh
6: Pineapples and Spaghetti Grow on Trees?
7: WWI – 100 Years Since and Counting
8: Start of World War II
9: VE Day – May 8th, 1945
10: Churchill’s Incredible Foresight
11: Dutch Clogs and a Nazi Flag Dress
12: Work in an Office?
13: Uprising of the Sheep
14: Learning to Kayak
15: What Happened to Them?
16: Escape from your Country?
17: J.F.Kennedy Assassination
18: She got Away – but only ‘just’
19: Olympic Games
20: The ‘Beheaded’ Rose
21: A Heart Wrenching, Sad Love Story
22: Cuba, Cora and Secrets Revealed
23: Coffee? Black, White, Cookie?
24: “Would you like to marry me?”
25: A Letter to Cindy
26: I own this Joint
27: Desperately Wanted: A Baby
28: Spring – The Ice Was Starting to Melt
29: A Beautiful Rose for a Beautiful Lady
30: “May Day, May Day”
31: It’s Part of Ageing
32: “Blue Hawaiian”…Hula and Aloha
33: One More Try and You’ll Make It
34: Flying On Points
35: The House is Empty
36: It Was the Wrong Date
37: Hope You’re Not Superstitious
38: Oh my, an Affair with Omar Sharif ?
39: My Friend, the Green Turtle
40: Candies and Cookies
41: Dog Days or Other Miserable Days
42: A Russian Rape Baby
43: My Earthquake Experiences
44: Vancouver Island Living
45: Change of Seasons
46: For You, Giselle, Anything!
47: I live here – what’s your excuse?
48: “Too bad it’s Canada”
49: Lest we forget. I can’t
50: What if
51: The Weeping Angel

And now my friends – have fun. If you want to read some stories – go to http://www.Amazon.com – find “Forget Me Not” and click on “Look Inside”, or, if you want the eBook version you can find that here.

An eBook is Born

Forget Me Not 3D image (2)I am pleased to announce that the eBook version of my most recent book, “Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories” is now available for purchase.

A thousand ‘Forget-me-nots’ have lined my path. From adoption, babies, cancer, dating, depression, dogs, earthquake, escape, grandmas, kayaking, love, Olympics, politics, from superstition, war to weeping angels and many surprises in-between – these stories are part of me and part of the people who touched my life. During the time we spent together – sometimes only days or hours – we shared our experiences and memories. I remember them all, some with laughter and affection, others with sadness, but they live on in my heart. Wander a mile or two with me along the winding path of life, and let me share my stories.

Each story, thought or memory in this ‘Bouquet’ carries a message and all lend themselves to reading alone or in a group. They are independent of each other and surely incite discussion.

Some folk have already commented:

Giselle Roeder broke barriers of personal pain in her memoir ‘We Don’t Talk About That’. In this ‘Bouquet of stories’ she shares her thoughts about world events and tells of people who greatly influenced her. Each story makes you think and incites discussions. It includes several not to be missed surprises! – Barbara Lange, Winnipeg, Editor of ‘Through the Window of a Train: A Canadian Railway Anthology (Borealis Press 2010)

Giselle writes compelling stories. After reading her memoir – which I would place next to ‘Anne Frank’s Diary’ – her present book is a delightful ‘bouquet’ of stories. I am still waiting for the sequel to ‘We Don’t Talk About That’ and it seems that ‘Forget Me Not’ is somehow a bridge between the two. – Bob Pickles, UK History writer (Amazon.co.uk)

I really enjoy reading Giselle’s stories. A change from her memoir – but I am waiting to see the sequel. Get on with it! – Carol Dunaway, British Columbia, a voracious reader.

You can find copies at one of the following:

Smashwords in a variety of formats
Amazon Kindle in MOBI format
Kobobooks in EPUB format

And a variety of other eBook vendors and formats.

Enjoy your reading and please let me know your opinion by commenting on this blog post. I would love to hear from you.

Books I read in 2015

Book buyingI hope I remember them all! Many were e-books – I could read them in a doctor’s waiting room, on the bus, in an airplane, on the beach and even in a coffee shop. My little Kobo is easy to read in dim light and surely easier to carry in my purse than a physical book. But I do love physical books! I love having my huge book case full of them, standing in front of it, touching the backs, reading the titles, remember the stories each one told. I still have some I want to read again, others – but not many – I haven’t read yet. Each year I sort out the ones I know I’ll not read again and donate them to the Rotary Book Sales Event. They hold one sale in spring and one in fall in a shopping mall. Last year they sold so many books they could bring close to $400,000.00 to the bank. Every cent goes for good causes.

With which book did I start out in 2015? I cannot follow a ‘timeline’ but I’ll mention the titles and authors and surely will give you my honest recommendation by placing little stars *** next to them. (Six stars mean I’ll read again) It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a different taste in topics – but we all do follow our hearts desire in what we choose, right? The one or the other book may have more or fewer stars on Amazon but this is me, personally.

  • Louisa Elliot ******, Liam’s Story *****, The Master’s Tale *****, written by the English Bestseller writer Ann Victoria Roberts. I can just say one word: Engrossing.
  • The Officer’s Code *****, The Versailles Legacy *****, The English General *****, The Ghosts of War *****. My opinion? You learn a lot of WW history while being fascinated by the private lives of the characters. These books by Lyn Alexander could be Canada’s answer to ‘Downton Abbey’. Really!
  • The Night I Danced with Rommel ****, by Elisabeth Marrion. Enlightening.
  • The Nazi Officer’s Wife ****, how one Jewish woman survived the Nazis in Germany. Written by Edith Hahn-Beer. Heart wrenching. One aspect of the Jewish survival you may never have known.
  • In the Garden of Beasts *****, The American Ambassador in Hitler’s Berlin. Eric Larson weaves a compelling story based on an incredible amount of research. You can’t help but feeling ‘part of it’.
  • A Woman in Berlin ***, a diary of a journalist trapped in Berlin during the last few days of WWII. Intriguing because the author remains ‘Anonymous’.
  • Last Train to Berlin ****, an account of a PoW trapped in Russia – too useful to the authorities to let him go until four more years after WWII. Hans Peter Marland.
  • The Gift: Redemption, book III of the Gift Legacy ****. I saw an excerpt and since kayakers were involved and the setting was Vancouver I read it. I had NEVER read any ‘Thriller’ before but I was ‘gripped’ by the flowing story. It even led me to read the next book of the ‘Gift Legacy’ – Pennance by the author J.P. McLean. What an imagination!
  • Paris 1924 ***, a fascinating account of life in Paris by the same author of Wolves among Sheep ***** which I have read twice. James Kostelniuk has never been in Paris but reading along, you feel you are there!
  • I was Hitler’s Chauffeur **** by Erich Kempke. It sheds a totally new light on Hitler. It ‘rattled’ me and kept me awake for a few nights, thinking instead of sleeping.
  • Hitler – The Memoir of the Nazi Insider who turned against the Fuehrer by Ernst Hanfstaengle. After reading this book, starting at the very beginning of Hitler’s rise, I am flabbergasted by how little is really known.
  • Edge of Eternity **** – the 3rd book in the trilogy by Ken Follett. The first two, Fall of the Giants ***** and Winter of the World ***** are books one can’t put down. This last one was a bit disappointing. Too much talk about sex when not quite appropriate. Maybe it is what many readers like? The story, set after WWII is based on reality and one relives what was happening.
  • The Help ***** is a book I recommend highly. Kathryn Stockett tells a superb tale of a colored servant in the southern US..
  • North of Normal **** is a shocker. A girl’s life, growing up within the ‘hippie’ culture – unbelievable for someone like me, never having had a taste of it. She made it to becoming an international model, wife and mother. I met her, sitting next to her at an author’s reading event. How could she have turned out so ‘normal’? This book is the memoir of the author Cea Sunrise Person.

Last but not least I had to re-read We Don’t Talk About That – An Amazing Story of Survival WWII. I needed to ‘refresh’ my mind for an important presentation at the university. I can’t believe I wrote this book. I still feel humbled by one of the reviewers on my website, who said ‘This book is not just good, it is very good.’

Every book I have read in 2015 added to my knowledge or enjoyment. Now, at the beginning of 2016, I am reading All The Light We Cannot See, by author Anthony Doerr, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It is considered one of the ‘best books of 2015’. “Moonrising”, Ann Victoria Robert’s newest book is on my Kobo. Can’t wait to read it. I love Ann’s mastering of the English language. Music to my ears.

There are so many more books I’d have loved to read but I am also a writer. I am told ‘the day has 24 hours and the night has 12’ – but for me, even 36 is not enough to get everything done I want to do.

Forget Me Not 3D image (2)My new book Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories – will be available through Amazon etc. as e-book (Kindle, Kobo and more) as well as soft cover. It will hopefully be released within the next few weeks. It makes a terrific gift item (see the title!), contains over 50 stories, each one tackling a common problem from adoption, stepmothers, politics, war, cancer, internet love, dogs, travel, extra-ordinary people and more. All stories are carrying a special message inciting discussions and lend themselves for reading within a group.

Stay tuned for more.

Books, Books and More Books…

Next to dogs books are my best companions. They don’t fight with me and when they ‘annoy’ me I can just close them and put them away. The material I have read might go around and around in my head; sometimes I understand but always I want to know more and I open them up again a day or a few hours later. Even a book I don’t totally like I will finish because I know there must be a reason the writer wrote it. I dissect the story. I sometimes think about how I would re-write it, or parts of it. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. I want to tell you of the books I have read so far this year. Most of them have a connection to my own book “We Don’t Talk About That”. My writing created an incredible thirst in me to know more about war history, especially WW I and WW II. So I started reading instead of writing my next book.

“The Officer’s Code”

officers-code-lyn-alexander-paperback-cover-artLyn Alexander’s way of telling a story puts you right into it. You identify with one of the characters and you become that person. In this book you re-live the life of a young English man who could not satisfy his father since he did not like to study law and take over the family practice. He failed and as punishment was sent to Germany to study in Heidelberg and “prove” himself. He married a German girl, changed his name to his mother’s German aristocratic name ‘von Schellendorf’ and fought on the German side during WWI. An incredible story based on fact and fiction .

Versailles Legacy“The Versailles Legacy”

This is the second of four books in what is known as “The Schellendorf Series” by Lyn Alexander. It puts us in the picture of a Germany in tatters and the impossible hardships imposed on the country by the ‘Versailles Treaty’ after the war is lost. The German Representatives argued the stipulations laid on Germany would be counter-productive. A young Austrian WWI corporal, Adolf Hitler, promised jobs and bread and peace for all Germans and his hypnotic speeches swayed many mistrusting Germans to vote for him because they had nothing to lose but everything to gain. The years between 1920 and 1939 lead to WWII.

English General“The English General”

Once you read those first two books you cannot help but want to read the third one. The establishment of Hitler’s ‘Thousand Year Reich” brought many changes. The old military, the Reichswehr, with the former generals in charge tried everything to stop the new developments but one after the other mysteriously disappeared or was killed. They also plotted to assassinate Hitler but he always got away. One of Hitler’s close allies established the “Brown shirts”, known as the SA which numbered in the hundred-thousands already during the 1936 Olympics. The young Englishman became a German General and deeply ingrained within him was “the Code of honour”. We see him struggle with blackmail by his birth country while once again fighting for Germany during WWII.

Ghosts of War“The Ghosts of War”

This, the fourth book in the ‘Schellendorf Series”, finally helps us understand a lot of what happened when the Allied Forces entered Germany. Imprisonment, lies, deceit, interrogations, and, to top it all off, the Nuremberg Trials where the blackmailing English arranged that the famous lawyer, the father of our by now beloved General defends him. His return to England, the ups and downs during the years after 1945, and his secret visits to Germany.

I never mentioned General von Schellendorf’s wife but she plays a huge part throughout all four books, love, deceit, lies, divorce, her re-marriage and abuse by her demented father. At the end of book four we hope for reconciliation and maybe a joint new venture in Heidelberg. Once you read these books and you travel to this wonderful city you’ll know it. These four books feel so “real” that you think you lived through it all. In time I’ll read them again.

Night I Danced with Rommel“The Night I danced with Rommel”

Elisabeth Marrion wrote this heart wrenching memoir of her mother’s life. Married to a soldier who fathered a baby every time he was on leave, her mother had to look after and somehow provide food for five small children. Dealing with the bombing of her hometown of Hildesheim, and being a hands-on woman a lot of neighbors relied on her. When her husband was transferred to Africa to fight alongside General Rommel she was relieved of the scary thought of him being killed in Russia. As the story moves on General Rommel’s Regiment happens to be stationed in this city for a few days on their way to France and she was singled out by him to do the first dance during a party the towns-people organized to honour him.

Nazi Officers Wife“The Nazi Officer’s Wife”

Two authors, Edith H. Beer and Susan Dworkin told the story of Jewish women who married Nazi Officers to save their lives. In many cases the husbands had no idea they were Jews. These women were known as “U-Boats” or “Submarines” living normal lives when they were everything else but normal. This story is gripping, has been made into a movie, documentaries and has received worldwide accolades. It is hard to believe what the author, Edith, has endured during the time of the Nazi take-over of Austria to the end of the war living in the Russian occupied Germany. I had no idea that these women even existed and was touched to my deepest soul after reading this book.

Garden of Beasts“In the Garden of Beasts”

Eric Larson does not need an introduction. In this book he tells the story of the American Ambassador to Berlin during the early years of Hitler’s reign. The book is based on hundreds of letters to the American President, the diaries of the daughter and one is overpowered by the incredible research Larson must have done over several years to write this book. It is rather a lengthy book and towards the end I felt as if I myself went through WWII again. Exhausted.

Louisa-Elliott-Book-Cover2“Louisa Elliot”

How I loved this book by Ann Victoria Roberts, a gifted writer! The novel is set in York in the 19th Century and involves a family drama that sometime just takes your breath away. Despite the fact that it has about 700 pages (e-book) I was sorry when it ended. Not a surprise to me when I found out that it sold over a million copies when it first came out. Luckily there was another book for me to read following this one, called

Liam-Story-Book-Cover-20121“Liam’s Story”

Also a big book and I tell you, this one occasionally makes your blood boil. How can a writer write books that you simply cannot put down? How can she make you identify and suffer with the protagonist? How does a brain like Ann’s work to come up with these tales just because she happened to find a small diary of a family ancestor? Each novel can stand on its own but read “Louisa” first…

MasterstalecoverSMALL-e1427439366841“The Master’s Tale”

Another Ann Victoria Roberts book – this one is based on her research about Captain Smith, Captain of the unsinkable “Titanic”. She portrays the rich and famous guests, the interactions of many of them, love triangles, affairs, and intrigues. When the ship hits the iceberg you can hear the cries, you will feel the cold water and you see the listing of the big ship from your life boat and finally see it disappear as if it had never been.

Gift of Penance“The Gift Pennance”

Jo-Ann McLean writes ‘thrillers’. I have never read thrillers and cannot recall how, or when, I read a couple of chapters of this book on Linkedin, Amazon (Look Inside) or perhaps came across Jo-Ann’s website. Because it involved kayaking I wanted to read more. The story is set in Vancouver and since I know and lived in this fair city I was intrigued. When I started reading I realized I had never ever read a book like it, totally fictional and an imagination I can only marvel at. Some scenes in it caused me to contact her (bless the Internet!) and ask what her family or her husband thinks about some of the scenes. This book is part of a series, the previous one is the “Gift Legacy” but I have not read it.

“North of Normal”

North of NormalCea Sunrise Person took seven years to write this shocking memoir of her childhood, growing up during the ‘counter culture’. Her grandfather moved the family from California to the North Country wilderness. They were growing pot, smoking and selling it, living off the land, fishing and wildlife. Periods of plenty changed with periods of hunger. Little Cea’s home was a tipi/tepee shared with her very young mother and a number of other adults who thought nothing of nudity, open sex, changing partners. Cea invented her own games and amused herself without contact with other children until she had to go to school. Seeing the first pair of underpants and a fancy frilly dress made her realize that there was another life out there and she had only one wish: To survive the crazy life she was living and her ‘crazy family.’ After her book was published her friends asked her: “How did you ever turn out so normal?”

“The Glass Castle”

Glass CastleI had no idea what living in the sixties for the people who chose to live the ‘free life’ was like and I must admit that the book “North of Normal” had deeply disturbed me. Friends, whom I told about it, encouraged me to read ‘The Glass Castle” – a similar book by Jeannette Walls. The language is not quite so vulgar because Jeannette’s parents were actually educated, but they chose a life of nonconformity, poverty and their children had to fend for themselves. When hungry the older two went through garbage bins and ate what others had thrown away. Their clothing was bought in Thrift shops. They were dirty, they smelled and other children did not want to have anything to do with them. Jeannette could be compared to Cea in ‘North of Normal’ as both girls were trying to get an education and create a better life. Both succeeded. Paramount bought the movie rights to this book. It has been a bestseller for years and Jeannette has been interviewed repeatedly.

We Dont Talk About That“We Don’t Talk About That”

This is the book I am re-reading now. It came out in April 2014, I have read it before, but I am surprised how it “gripped” me again. Another one of those books “hard to put down.” I am so sorry not to have more time to read. But I have to write. My readers are constantly reminding me and asking “when is the sequel coming out? Are you writing it? How far into it are you?”

I have given you a number of fantastic books to consider reading. None of them will disappoint you. So, – find a cozy corner and READ books – books – books. Live in a different world for a while, a different time zone, on a different continent or even a different dimension. Enjoy!

Paris Shooting #Paris #CharlieHebdo

Shock!!

When I switched the TV on this morning – seeing the photo reportage from Paris, I felt shock. Outrage. Frustration. Anger. Helpless.

What is it that drives some people to horrific acts that easily could lead to another war? Shooting people does not help any cause. Intelligence, education and sharing ideas or belief systems might do a better job, NOT ‘my way or the highway’. THAT only builds resentment. I lived through WWII – was just a child but old enough to remember…I wrote the book “We Don’t Talk About That” to show the younger generation what it was like. Create ‘awareness’. Scare them. Maybe even shock them into reality. Useless?

Wars have been fought throughout history and each side has always thought “God”, by any name, was on their side. It did not make any difference. Remember the “enemies” during WWI Christmas 1914 stopped fighting and played soccer together knowing the next day they have to shoot at each other again? On this evening they were all just ordinary people with the wish to have peace and go back home. .It had nothing to do with God. It’s always the people in power who pull “the strings.” Soldiers obey or they get shot by their own. Is there not a way we can live next to each other – in peace?

See: One nation alone can’t address terror issue: Germany’s Merkel

 

Winnie the Pooh

Just about a month ago we were reminded of the Centenary of WWI. The outcome of this, the so-called “Great War” led to WWII 25 years later. Within days from now it is the 75-year anniversary since Poland was invaded and another war was well on the way.

Winnie the Pooh

Winnipeg Bear with Lt Colebourn

“Lest we forget” but let’s celebrate and be happy about another centenary: One hundred years ago on August 24th 1914 Lt. H. Colebourn, a veterinarian with the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps bought an orphaned female bear cub from a hunter who had killed its mother. Having lived in and loved Winnipeg he named her “Winnipeg Bear” and the little bear became his companion on his way to England where he was stationed on Salisbury Plains. The bear became the army mascot and during rest time played with the soldiers. The name was shortened to “Winnie” and ‘Winnie’ later lived out her life in the London Zoo where she became a star attraction. She died in 1934.

‘Winnie’ was the inspiration for one of the best loved children’s books of all time. When the author, A.A. Milne read his story to his son the youngster called her ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and also named his teddy bear after her. Stories about ‘Winnie the Pooh’ have inspired generations of children and they still do.

A ‘Winnie the Pooh Gallery’ with memorabilia collected by the Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg is an attraction not only for children. Another author, Ms. Appleby has written a biography of ‘Winnie the Pooh” and her Winnipeg connection.

Say “Hi” to a bronze statue of Lt. Colebourn and ‘Winnie’ in the Assiniboine Zoo’s Nature Playground next time you visit Winnipeg, Canada.

 

One Hundred Years Ago #WorldWarI #centenary

Cross and rifle…a shot was fired, followed by another. It was the 4th of August 1914. Those shots killed two people, one of them a crowned head: Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, the other his wife. It set off a lot of uncountable other shots – millions killed in a war that was supposed to end all wars and we call it “The Great War”. Not so much because it was ‘great’ but for the fact that it involved the whole world and is referred to as WWI. Expected to last a few weeks or maybe a few months, it lasted four years and the outcome was one that nobody could have expected:

  • the end of the Empire of the Habsburgs,
  • the abdication of the German Emperor,
  • the end of the Czar-ruled Russia,
  • the rise of socialism, communism and, last, but not least,
  • the rise of Adolf Hitler and his aim for a “Thousand-Year-Reich”.

Those shots changed the world.

History writers still argue about the real reason of WWI – but every single one is just speculating. We will never know. Those first shots were the “starter’s” shot for the war but the true reasons had been smouldering for years. Many books have been written on WWI and writers today are still trying to dig deeper. One of the most frequent questions in discussions is always the fact that the Archduke was not protected and then “was the plot planned, was he supposed to be killed? Who was behind it all, what was the real reason?”

We will never know. Maybe the WWI General Ludendorff was right when he stated: “Peace is just an interlude between wars.” Did the years between WWI and WWII prove this theory? In our part of the world, we have enjoyed a long period of peace but if we look at the horrors of war in the Middle East and the on-going strife in Ukraine, – I for one shake in my boots. Having lived and survived WWII, I would not like to see yet another with a number III attached to it.