Monday, December 14, 2020

Some Books I've Loved This Year + #MyPostMonday Featuring The Week's Best Original Content

 This year I'm batting about the same, if I can describe it that way. Last year, according to my Amazon Prime Reading Insights, I read 18 books. This year I'm halfway through my 18th read. Will I complete 19 before the new year? Only time will tell! Here are 3 of my favorites this year. All of them I read on my kindle and all were from Amazon. 

Before I start, I need to let you know I have a favorite genre of book that I love to read. That genre would be historical fiction. I love historical fiction in that I feel that I am actually learning something while being immersed in a good story. Most good historical fiction authors do extensive research about the time period they are writing about, so that they can give a quite accurate view of what life was like within the time and events surrounding their story. I love it. The only thing in historical fiction I'm tired of reading about is Nazi Germany World War II. I've read so many books during that particular time and place that when I see another Nazi Germany WWII book, I generally bypass it for another choice. Whether that is fair or not, I'm not sure. There are probably great books still needing to be written about that period of time. But I feel like I want to broaden my knowledge in different places and times as well.

1. Along The Broken Bay by Flora J. Solomon 

Setting: WWII Pacific Island Occupation of Manila, Philippines

The story follows Gina, a military wife based in Manila, waiting for her husband as he fulfills his duties as an American Reserves officer during WWII. The island turns from being the "safest place in the Orient"  to being occupied by the Japanese and the citizens there being terrorized. Gina and her friends have to make hard and fast decisions about how they will navigate these new hostile circumstances. Only the most cunning and brave will survive. 

I loved the book because first of all, it gives a rendering of something other than WWII Nazi Germany! It gives one a good sense about how things were before the occupation in Manila (actually very Americanized and quite glamorous), how things were upon initial occupation, and how things descended into an unrecognizable state once occupation was complete. It felt authentic and at the same time, the plot was exciting and heart wrenching at the same time.  It shows how courageous the residents of Manila and the entire island of Luzon were and it made me imagine myself as a player in that dangerous arena. 

Quote: "Be very careful. Hate strips the vitality out of one's life. It consumes energy that can be channeled elsewhere."

  2. Lessons From A Hard Teacher by Marnie Spencer

Setting: Suburban Utah

This is an autobiography encompassing a period of about 6 years about an LDS woman who had the storybook life that she never knew she had, until she got an extremely aggressive form of cancer. But rather than take a bleak outlook on her life and try to live out what time was left to her, she decides to fight hard not just to live, but to live the best life she possibly can---loving, laughing, serving and being. She shares some incredible insights she learns on this journey. 

I loved the book because it shows the role that faith in a higher power has and the power and love it can render to those who dare surrender their own wants and the need to be in control at all times. I learned that investing in joy is not only for this life, but in the life to come. I learned to be grateful for little things. I learned that humor can take us a long way and that taking oneself too seriously is a real impediment to personal development. 

Quote: "With new insight, I saw that even in my own heart, there were dark corners I had never examined. I found myself struggling to accept my diagnosis, thinking. 'But I haven't done anything that would cause me to get cancer'. I realized that this kind of reasoning could only come from a prideful heart. Without being conscious of it, I had been wrongly judging people who had problems like cancer, assuming that they must have done something to deserve it. I know now that I was wrong."

3. Life by Lu Yao (Translated by Chloe Estop)

Setting: Rural Mainland China

This book was fascinating to me because it captures what life was like in rural village life in the northern Shaanxi Province. It is written by a man who lived a similar life and who eventually became one of China's most published and awarded authors, although he didn't live to see it translated into English. The story focuses on a young man who wants to better himself and who makes hard decisions in order to propel him towards his goals. Some of those decisions affect his life forever. 

At first it was hard to accustom myself to the different names in the story. They were all similar yet slightly different and very foreign. Once I did, however, the story moved smoothly and showed how peasant life in China can be just as complicated as some of our own 1st World problems. Everything is relative and when immersed in the story, it is possible for you to feel as involved in these people's lives as much as anything in your own. Very well written and the translation over to English was wonderful and the nuances and descriptive passages were as if they had been written in our own language. Highly recommend! 

Quote: Happiness! You young people don't realize, but when I pick the fruit from my trees and give it to the children, my heart is so....happy! ....You're too young to understand, but when I plant a tree, I think about how when I die, later generations will pick fruit from that tree, and they'll say, 'This is one of the trees that old Deshun planted.' "

These are just 3 of the 18 books I read last year. I loved more than that. Maybe I will share a few more next week! Thanks for letting me share!

Today is "My Post Monday!", a curation of my picks of the week's best original content. It's all about posts from Crafts to Camping, Wellness to Wealth, Fashion to Food, and whatever else is on the brain!  I  open up with a post of my own and then follow it up with a linky of the week's top original blog posts! It's all about what the writer thinks, believes, and knows--in other words, they are active, writing blogs. If I happen to find a great original, non-sponsored post, I'll link it up and share it with you here and on Twitter via the #MyPostMonday hashtag!  I can miss some amazing posts, but I don't want to!  So, in addition, if you'd like to link up yourself, you can do that too!  I'll visit your site, comment, promote and publicize(Affiliate links welcome)


Kelly O said...

Thanks for the reviews. I am in need of a good book and the first book. Along the Broken Bay sounds really good. I like history but I don't think it dives into what was going on in society at that time. I like to get a feel for what/why things happened. Not just that they did happen. This sounds perfect.

A GAL NEEDS... said...

Yes,@KellyO I liked that book for that very reason. I think you'll like it!

Dianna said...

I haven't read any of these, but I do love to read. Check out some of my book reviews! One of my favorite historical fiction novels is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

Calypso In The Country said...

Thanks so much for sharing my ornament post! Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

A GAL NEEDS... said...

@Calypso In The Country That post is everything! What a windfall for anyone who finds it! Happy New Year!

@Dianna Are you kidding? I'll be by looking at all your reviews from this year! Thanks for letting me know! Happy New Year!