world war II

We Were the Lucky Ones cover. Man and woman sit on bench with their backs facing us.

We Were the Lucky Ones

By Georgia Hunter
5
Rated by Kari E.
Apr 30, 2021

What a book. What a story. What a family. The Kurcs are a Polish family who will not let the cruelty and dehumanizing Nazi and Soviet rule crush their spirit.  


We see babies born, weddings, and a family desperately wishing they were all together again. They feel lucky just to be with one another.  We follow the lives of the Kurc families’ five children through the war.  


Addy moved to France to finish his studies and stayed after finding a job. Now, he cannot return to Poland because there is no safe way to get there and he doesn’t have the right paperwork. His one hopeful thought is

The Lost Letter

By Jillian Cantor
4
Rated by Hannah Jane W.
Feb 11, 2019

The Lost Letter is an incredibly absorbing story that begins with a daughter who inherits her father’s stamp collection when he begins to lose his memory and goes into a nursing home. The daughter, Katie, has the stamp collection appraised, and an unusual stamp on an unopened letter is found in the collection.  An unopened letter! With this discovery, the author, Jillian Cantor, introduces the story of Kristoff, an apprentice of a Jewish stamp engraver, Frederick Faber, and Frederick’s family, all of whom lived in a small town in Austria prior to Germany’s invasion. The Lost Letter continues

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By Kate Atkinson
3
Rated by Heather B.
Oct 15, 2018

I am, in general, a huge fan of Kate Atkinson’s novels. I loved Life After Life, its sequel A God in Ruins, and all of the books in her Jackson Brodie series. That’s why it pains me to say I was a bit disappointed in Transcription.


Transcription tells the story of Juliet Armstrong, a young woman who is recruited by the British intelligence agency MI5 at the beginning of World War II. The main task she is charged with is transcribing the meetings among a group of British fascist sympathizers and supporters. As she is drawn further into the web of British spies and their targets, she’s left

Dunkirk (2017) DVD

By Christopher Nolan
3
Rated by Emily D.
Apr 27, 2018

The film Dunkirk tells a very important story. During the Second World War the British, French and other allied forces get surrounded at Dunkirk, a beach town in France. The limited Navy and Red-cross ships can't seem to make it back across the channel without being hit by German forces, and British fighter planes don't have the fuel capacity to be of much help. Overall, the situation is very grim. The British Navy commissions the use of any serviceable ship or boat to rescue the 300,000 some odd soldiers trapped at Dunkirk.


Now you are prepared to watch a movie that has virtually no

Echo

By Pam Muñoz Ryan
5
Rated by Emily D.
Nov 29, 2017

Echo follows the stories of Otto, Friedrich, Mike, Ivy, and the mysterious harmonica that ties them together! The magical thread of music carries you through this wonderful tale. Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California are all dealing with the wrath of a war that tore countries and families apart. Friedrich is living with a birthmark that Hitler deems unsuitable, Mike will do anything to keep him and his brother together, and Ivy is learning that prejudice in America affects even the innocent. But they all find solace in music. With the help of the harmonica, someone

The Buddha in the Attic

By Julie Otsuka
2
Rated by Sam S.
Jul 19, 2017

The Buddha in the Attic is a short novel depicting the lives and struggles of Japanese mail-order brides arriving in America in the years leading up to World War II. It is not one central story that follows a single character--or even a few. Instead, the author uses the first person plural narrative style (through the use of "we" and "our") to tell the stories of countless, mostly nameless women. The narrative begins on the boats, as the young girls share their dreams for the unknown future, and continues with their lives in America as they struggle to adapt to a new land and a new language

Lilac Girls

By Martha Hall Kelly
3
Rated by Debbie L.
Feb 23, 2017

Lilac Girls is a World War II historical fiction book focusing on Ravensbruck, a women's concentration camp where some prisoners endured cruel experimental surgeries. Chapters alternate between the perspectives of three different women: former actress and wealthy American, Catherine Ferriday, who sends care packages to orphaned children overseas; Kasia, a Polish teenager and Ravensbruck prisoner; and Herta Oberhauser, a German doctor performing experiments in Ravensbruck.


Before reading this book, I hadn't heard of the Ravensbruck Rabbits, but found their story, which is based on real

The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah
5
Rated by Rachel N.
Sep 7, 2016

I was hesitant to start this book. I rarely seek out books about World War II because they bring out a lot of emotions that I'm not always ready to experience. I also find that books with a lot of hype tend to fall below my expectations. I'm really glad I looked past my issues and picked up a copy of The Nightingale. I could not put this book down. The writing was incredibly rich and engaging. I loved how Kristin Hannah chose to tell the story of two sisters, and how they were each brave in their own way. One sister, Isabelle, hatches a plan to lead downed airmen out of France to Spain by way

All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr
4
Rated by Megan K.
Aug 8, 2016

Have you ever begun reading a book, and by the first few lines already accepted the fact that you probably will not sleep until the book is finished? All the Light We Cannot See is one of those books for me. I thoroughly enjoy historical fiction books, and this was no exception.


The city in which much of this story takes place- St. Malo, France- is such a beautiful place, and provides an excellent backdrop for many of the events in this book. The story centers around Marie, a sharply intelligent French girl, and Werner, a German boy with the unique talent of working with radios. The story

Lilac Girls

By Martha Hall Kelly
4
Rated by Lisa J.
Apr 4, 2016

It's September 1939 and as Hitler invades Poland with his sight set on France, the paths of Caroline, Kasia and Herta are set on a course that will change their lives forever. Socialite Caroline Ferriday lives in New York City and volunteers at the French Consulate, helping French nationals visiting the United States. She also organizes aide for French orphanages. Kasia Kuzmerick is a Polish teenager who sees her way of life disappearing with the occupation of Hitler and she works as a courier for the resistance movement in Poland. Meanwhile, German physician, Herta Oberheuser, frustrated at

Vango

By Timothée de Fombelle
4
Rated by Chris K.
Nov 16, 2015

Vango is a thrilling adventure mystery set in Europe on the cusp of the second World War, focused on the mysterious identity of a young man on the cusp of adulthood. Not even Vango, said young man, knows the mystery of his origins, and no one believes he is constantly watched and hunted by shadowy figures. They consider him paranoid. Talented, pleasant, and promising, but strangely paranoid.


The novel opens with Vango's seminary graduation ceremony, but moments before he is made a priest the police burst onto the scene. Suddenly, Vango is scaling the walls of the cathedral while being shot

Vango

By Timothée de Fombelle
4
Rated by Chris K.
Nov 16, 2015

Vango is a thrilling adventure mystery set in Europe on the cusp of the second World War, focused on the mysterious identity of a young man on the cusp of adulthood. Not even Vango, said young man, knows the mystery of his origins, and no one believes he is constantly watched and hunted by shadowy figures. They consider him paranoid. Talented, pleasant, and promising, but strangely paranoid.


The novel opens with Vango's seminary graduation ceremony, but moments before he is made a priest the police burst onto the scene. Suddenly, Vango is scaling the walls of the cathedral while being shot

Playing With Fire

By Tess Gerritsen
4
Rated by Lisa J.
Nov 15, 2015

In a total departure from her usual fare of FBI profilers, Gerritsen takes the reader on a journey that starts in WWII Italy to present day Boston where Julia Ansdell lives with her husband and daughter.  While in Rome, Julia, a professional violinist, purchases a book of gypsy sheet music for her collection. Tucked inside the pages is a single sheet of hand written music, a waltz. Julia is immediately intrigued by the passion and complexity of the music. Upon returning to Boston, Julia sets out to master the haunting and difficult piece, titled Incendio, setting into motion something strange

Manhattan (DVD)

By Schlamme, Thomas
4
Rated by Katie S.
Nov 3, 2015

It's the 1940s and the world is at war. People are dying everyday in a land far, far away. And a group of scientists have military orders to figure out a way to stop the violence, end the war, and bring American soldiers back safely. That is the world of the Manhattan project. Physicists, members of the military and their families move to Los Alamos, New Mexico, expecting an exciting new life only to find themselves confined to a small, unknown town unable to reach anyone in the outside world. Dr. Frank Winters leads a small group of misfits working on the implosion theory while Dr. Charlie

Life After Life

By Kate Atkinson
5
Rated by Heather B.
Nov 2, 2015

If you had your life to live over, what would you do differently? If you could go back in time, would you kill Hitler? Life After Life is an inventive novel by Kate Atkinson that explores both questions, and much more. 


When Ursula Todd is born for the first time on a snowy night in 1910, she dies almost immediately. But this isn't the end of her story--far from it, in fact. Every time Ursula dies, she is born again. This isn't reincarnation, strictly speaking. She's born at the same time, to the same parents, into the same life. But it's always just a bit different somehow. She drowns

The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah
5
Rated by Katie S.
Sep 18, 2015

Viann Rossignol is a loving mother and wife who lives in a small, country town. She has a best-friend who has a daughter the same age as hers and even though she has experienced loss with multiple miscarriages, she still remains content with her life. Her younger sister Isabelle is a rambunctious young woman living in Paris. She always looks for a battle and is not afraid to stand up for herself. Since she and Viann were given up as children by her distant father, Isabelle has always gotten herself thrown into and out of boarding schools across France. Unable to think of anything further to do

Fury (DVD)

By David Ayer, Director
3
Rated by Jed D.
Jun 29, 2015

Take one part 300, one part Das Boot, and one part Inglourious Basterds, and you have Fury, a brutal and overly-earnest tank battle movie. Set in the final days of WWII, five American soldiers are trapped in a disabled tank and must fend off hordes of Germans. Brad Pitt, the commanding officer named Wardaddy, leads Michael Peña, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman and Jon Bernthal in an exciting and bloody fight for their lives. The non-stop action is entertaining, but the numerous war movie clichés make Fury mostly forgettable. Also of interest to some, LaBeouf was reportedly involved in behind-the

At the Water's Edge

By Sara Gruen
4
Rated by Katie S.
Jun 18, 2015

Philadelphia, 1944. The world is at war and yet Maddie and her husband, Ellis, and their friend Hank don't seem to notice. Having been forced out of their home after a drunken outburst at a New Year's Eve party, Ellis and Maddie are cut off completely from his well-off family. After throwing the final insult and claiming his father was a liar when he saw the Loch Ness monster in Scotland decades before, Ellis plans a reckless trek across the Atlantic with Hank, and Maddie is forced to go with them against her wishes. They believe that they will find the monster, prove their worth to Ellis's

Into the White (DVD)

By Peter Naess
3
Rated by Katie S.
Jun 14, 2015

Into the White portrays the true story of soldiers aboard German and British fighter planes after they are shot down over the wilderness of Norway on April 27, 1940. The three German soldiers stumble upon an abandoned cabin after trekking through the snowy landscape for days only to find two British soldiers wanting to use the shelter as well. Out of pity, the Germans take the British soldiers in as their prisoners and they begin a push-and-pull for power as the days drag on. Cold, hungry and with one wounded soldier, all five men learn that in order to survive, they have to work together. In

The Only Thing to Fear

By Caroline Tung Richmond
4
Rated by Kate M.
Mar 26, 2015

Eighty years after German super-soldiers crushed the Allied forces in World War II, Zara works as a maid at a Nazi cadet academy in the Easter American Territories. Zara can't escape the Nazi's constant obsession with the Aryan ideal, with a Japanese father and American mother she doesn't fit in with the occupying forces. Although she can't hide her lineage she can hide another genetic gift from her father, the ability to control wind. If the Fuhrer knew about her ability, she would be eradicated. 


Hiding in the shadows, Zara longs to join the Resistance, and push the Nazis out of her

The Only Thing to Fear

By Caroline Tung Richmond
4
Rated by Kate M.
Mar 26, 2015

Eighty years after German super-soldiers crushed the Allied forces in World War II, Zara works as a maid at a Nazi cadet academy in the Easter American Territories. Zara can't escape the Nazi's constant obsession with the Aryan ideal, with a Japanese father and American mother she doesn't fit in with the occupying forces. Although she can't hide her lineage she can hide another genetic gift from her father, the ability to control wind. If the Fuhrer knew about her ability, she would be eradicated. 


Hiding in the shadows, Zara longs to join the Resistance, and push the Nazis out of her

The Lost Wife

By Alyson Richman
4
Rated by Debbie L.
Feb 24, 2015

Refusing to leave her parents and her sister behind, Lenka stays with them in Czechoslovakia to face the uncertainty of life for Jews during WWII. Lenka’s new husband, Josef, leaves for the safety of America without her. Lenka receives news that the ship carrying Josef was torpedoed by a German U-boat and Josef is dead.  Unbeknownst to Lenka, however, Josef lives and is searching for her. Lenka and her family are first sent to live and work in Terezin (a Jewish ghetto) and then to Auschwitz. Josef is mistakenly told Lenka was killed in the gas chamber at Auschwitz.  Each thinking the other is

Delicious!

By Ruth Reichl
4
Rated by Hope H.
Feb 8, 2015

I'll devour tasty literary fiction like any book-loving foodie, and Delicious! mixes in equal parts history, mystery and human interest for a full-bodied novel. Add to that an all-but-forgotten library that cryptically hides a series of old letters between unexpected pen pals, and you've got the cherry on top for this Librarian reviewer! 


The story opens with Billie Breslin trying to land a job at the world-renowned culinary magazine Delicious! On the surface she's just taking the first steps in a budding career, but soon it becomes obvious she's moved across the country to avoid facing

The Invisible Bridge

By Julie Orringer
4
Rated by Debbie L.
Oct 31, 2014

After receiving a scholarship to attend a school of architecture in Paris, Andras, a 22-year-old Hungarian Jew, leaves his home country to pursue his dream of becoming an architect. He meets and falls in love with the beautiful Claire Morgenstern, who is also Hungarian but reluctant to share information about why she is dwelling in Paris. It’s 1939 and Hitler is shaking things up as the threat of war looms in Europe. The Hungarian Consulate refuses to renew Andras’ visa because he is Jewish, and he is forced to return to Budapest without finishing his degree. Claire returns to Hungary with him

Willow Run

By Patricia Reilly Giff
4
Rated by Terri B.
Oct 2, 2014

This historical fiction book is about Meggie Dillon's life.  To help improve the family's income, Meggie's family ups and moves to Willow Run, Michigan, during WWII. Her father has obtained a job working on war planes at night to help the war effort. Because they are moving into a small apartment they have to leave her German grandfather behind in New York.  Meggie soon realizes that she misses him but quickly meets other kids in the same circumstance as hers.  Then, coming home one day to a military car parked outside, she learns that her older brother is missing in action, and Meggie must

The Family Romanov

By Candace Flemming
4
Rated by Kate M.
Sep 23, 2014

The beginning of the end of Romanov rule of Russia began with the ascension of Nicholas II. Ill prepared for the crown by his father, Nicholas depended heavily on his new wife Alexandra (married under the shadow of the death of Nicholas’ father their marriage was seen as a curse by the Russian people). Problems for the Romanovs multiplied when Alexandra, after several difficult pregnancies, produced only female heirs leaving the line of succession unsure. A disconnect from the government and the people, and an overdependence on Alexandra and her religious advisors, made Nicholas appear weak

The Family Romanov

By Candace Flemming
4
Rated by Kate M.
Sep 23, 2014

The beginning of the end of Romanov rule of Russia began with the ascension of Nicholas II. Ill prepared for the crown by his father, Nicholas depended heavily on his new wife Alexandra (married under the shadow of the death of Nicholas’ father their marriage was seen as a curse by the Russian people). Problems for the Romanovs multiplied when Alexandra, after several difficult pregnancies, produced only female heirs leaving the line of succession unsure. A disconnect from the government and the people, and an overdependence on Alexandra and her religious advisors, made Nicholas appear weak

Double Cross

By Ben Macintyre
5
Rated by Bethany T.
Aug 6, 2014

What happens when "a Peruvian playgirl, a tiny Polish fighter pilot, a mercurial Frenchwoman, a Serbian seducer and a deeply eccentric Spaniard" come together to work for MI5?  Only one of the most important deceptions in modern history.  Ben Macintyre's latest book chronicles the machinery of the pivotal Operation Fortitude, a massive undertaking in misinformation and misdirection that led the Germans to believe that the Pas de Calais, not Normandy, would be the beachhead from where the Allies would launch their European invasion.  Macintyre documents the circuitous and often borderline

Unbroken

By Laura Hillenbrand
4
Rated by Debbie L.
Apr 30, 2014

Unbroken gives us an opportunity to read about one World War II veteran’s war experience. It reveals what Louis Zamperini went through while serving in the United States Air Force and the hardships he endured as a Prisoner of War for over two years in Japan. His story certainly helps generate appreciation of the sacrifices that veterans have made while serving our country. Unbroken is a well-researched book, detailing Zamperini’s struggles both as a prisoner and as a freed man. This is an excellent book about a man who has led a fascinating life.  Angelina Jolie is directing a movie about

The Time Between

By Karen White
4
Rated by Lisa J.
Apr 28, 2014

Growing up on one of the South Carolina outerbanks islands, Eleanor was a wild child who knew no fear and who loved to play the piano.  Her sister was the beauty queen.  Now in her 30's, Eleanor lives with her sister, brother-in-law and mother in a small house on the mainland.  Eleanor works in an office and moonlights as a piano player in a bar to help make ends meet.  When Eleanor is offered extra work by her boss to be a companion to his elderly aunt that lives on the island she grew up on Eleanor snaps up the opportunity not only to make more money but to get out of the house and away from