Quote of the Week

“Let us alone. Time driveth onward fast,
And in a little while our lips are dumb.
Let us alone. What is it that will last?
All things are taken from us, and become
Portions and parcels of the dreadful Past.”

“The Lotos-Eaters”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson [1809-1892]

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett.
Published by Little, Brown and Company in 1955. Page 547.

[Review] What Did You Do In The War Sister?: Catholic Sisters in the World War II Nazi Resistance by Dennis J. Turner

Publisher and Publication Date: Published by the author, Dennis J. Turner. February 27th 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 320.
Format: Kindle e-book edition.
Source: Kindle Unlimited e-book choice.
Audience: World War II readers. Readers who want to read about Catholic nuns who were apart of the Resistance.
Rating: Very good to excellent.

Link at Amazon

Link at Barnes and Noble

I have been curious about what role the Catholic Church had during World War II. I’ve read articles about their inaction in helping the Jews; but I wanted to read true stories or at least stories based on historical truth about those who did work against the Nazi pogrom during World War II. I am especially referring to priests and nuns. This book, What Did You Do In The War Sister? is a very good choice.
I have another book that I’ve not read: Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler by Mark Riebling.

Link at Goodreads


The book is dedicated to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

The summary of the book at Goodreads doesn’t give much info.

The narrator of the story is a nun, Sister Christina, who is from Ohio. She has a degree and certificate to teach secondary education. She teaches French and German. Despite the building war in Europe, she travels to Belgium to be a nun at a boarding school for girls. The time period is the late 1930s. Through this Sister’s experiences, the daily activities of a Sister and teacher is shown, as well as their work to care for and hide Jews and service men.

Through true letters and diaries of Sisters who wrote about their experiences during World War II, Turner has written a solid historical fiction story.

My Thoughts:

There are things I love about this book and things I dislike:

What I love:
1. I love learning about the Sister’s daily routine duties. Their daily schedule: when they awakened, when they went to bed at night, and everything in-between. The prayer times during the day. Everyone has responsibilities whether it is cooking, laundry, or teaching. And some duties are for all of them.
2. I love the sub-story about a young girl who lives at the school. I wish there had been more individual stories. In sharing their stories, I learn about their lives, their viewpoint about where they reside, and the Sisters who are their teachers and caregivers; plus their circumstances in how they came to live there. Another words, the main voice of the story is from this particular Sister. I’d like to have heard from other voices to fully round out the story. This also makes the story larger-epic.
3. I love the main character, Sister Christina. She is a woman of gusto. She is talented, intelligent, wise, a leader, compassionate, persuasive, adaptable, formidable, and courageous. She is a little too perfect. I am not saying that to be all these positive traits is impossible or wrong. I am saying that as a book character there must be a little imperfectness shown to be believable and approachable. If not, then the character is unapproachable, unknowable, and is seen more as someone who cannot be truly known or even become invested in their outcome.
4. I love the descriptive and graphic accounts of the bombings and its destruction of Belgium. This sets the serious tone of the whole of the story. Nazi Germany is the enemy who has brought war to Belgium. At first the Nazi’s occupy the area. Later, the allied soldiers and the Nazis fight the war in the front yards of the nation.
5. The story has a good pace. It is told in linear-chronological order with the exception of Sister Christina sharing about her background and how she became a Sister.
6. I love the Sister’s ingenuity and tactics in hiding those who the Nazis were looking for. This is an important aspect showing the work they did for those who were in harm’s way.
7. The displacement of the Sisters, children, and community at large are displaced at times because of the war. The Sisters were at risk of homelessness and murder just as all the community was at risk. This is a another strength of the story.
8. I love the tiny historical mentions. For example: the bells from church steeples that were removed by the Germans for war use. The bells had a grade system defined by their age.
9. I love how the story stayed with Sister Christina to show the impact of the war on her health.

A few things I do not like:

1. A few things I noted in the above portion.
2. I don’t like the title. I believe a better title should be short and precise. No question mark.
3. I believe a more enticing summary should be written for Goodreads, etc.
4. I’d like to hear more voices narrating the story. A favorite voice could be from a few of the young girls who lived in the school.

Themes in the story: war, peace, courage, suffering, heroism, honor, death and dying, sacrifice, resistance, trust, hope, grief, bravery, hospitality, survival, and wisdom.

I want to mention my dad was in World War II. He was in Belgium during the winter of 1944-1945. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He share several stories about his memories of that time. One of those stories is he too saw Marlene Dietrich in a show. He remarked it was odd she played a saw. I think he missed the point about her showing off her legs during this act.

Quote of the Week

“A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.

No Motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled around in earth’s diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.”

“A slumber did my spirit seal;”

William Wordsworth [1770-1850]

The Best Poems of the English Language with selections and commentary by Harold Bloom.
Published by HarperCollins in 2004. Page 332.

Quote of the Week

“Strange fits of passion have I known:
And I will dare to tell,
But in the Lover’s ear alone,
What once to me befell.”

“The Lucy Poems”
“Strange fits of passion have I known:”

William Wordsworth [1770-1850]

The Best Poems of the English Language with selections and comments by Harold Bloom.
Published by HarperCollins. Page 330.

[Review] An Irish Hostage by Charles Todd

Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow. July 6th 2021.
Genre: Mystery.
Pages: 336.
Format: NetGalley e-book. Advanced reader copy.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book copy from NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Mystery readers.
Rating: Very good.

Link at Barnes and Noble.

Link at Book Depository.

Link at Amazon.

Charles Todd is a mother and son writing team. They have two sets of mystery series. One is the inspector Ian Rutledge series. The other is the Bess Crawford series. An Irish Hostage is #12 in the Bess Crawford series.

Link to Charles Todd website.
Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram.


Bess Crawford is asked to be the maid of honor at the wedding of a fellow nurse, Eileen Flynn. Bess actually helped rescue Eileen during a traumatic event during World War I. Eileen is Irish. She wants her wedding to be in Ireland. It has been less than a year since the Armistice after World War I.
Ireland is a hot spot because of the recent Easter Rising in 1916. The people in Ireland want an Independent Republic. They want to be independent and free from British Rule. Those who served during World War I, even those who were nurses, are considered untrustworthy and the enemy because they served with the British.
Bess’s parents do not want her to travel to Ireland. They certainly do not want her to be at risk for those who hate the British. With a friend’s help and his plane, Bess makes it safely to Ireland. But as soon as she enters Eileen’s home she realizes the serious situation.
Eileen has a cousin named Terrence. He is in hiding from the British because of his “activities.” Bess cannot trust the family except for her friend Eileen, and she is in hopes she can trust Terrence. At the least, she needs his advice and experience.

My Thoughts:

I’ve read several books in both of the Charles Todd series. I enjoy both of the main characters. I like their personalities. I like their quirks. I love how they handle themselves during times of trouble and hardship. I have not read enough of the books to know if they become romantically involved with someone (in the present tense). Sometimes adding a romantic partner to a strong character in a story, especially a series of books, takes away some how from who they are and what they can continue to accomplish. After #12, An Irish Hostage, I am curious what will become of Bess Crawford?

Several reasons why I love An Irish Hostage:
1. The setting of the story is in Ireland. I saw the landscape, culture, and society of the people. It shows a history that I’ve not read enough about: The Irish War of Independence . I understand the various opinions, feelings, behavior, and actions of both sides. Even in the group who wants independence, there are varying degrees of how far they will go to get the result they believe must happen.
2. I love the relationship Bess has with her parents and friends. She is one of the most loyal, steadfast, and compassionate book characters I’ve read.
3. Bess is an intelligent, decisive, no-nonsense type person. She is a person who does not give up. She does not surrender. She is like a sleuth dog on the trail of the scent.
4. This book is dedicated to two cats. The writing teams beloved felines. God bless them for doing this.
5. Secondary characters who I thought would not be involved in cruel intentions surprise me.
6. Bess is able to use her nursing skills. I love stories with medical treatment even if it is in history.

Two reasons that held me back from giving this book an excellent rating.
1. Bess shows prejudice. It is slight. It could almost be overlooked, but the prejudice against the Irish is apparent to me.
2. Bess is decisive and a no-nonsense type person as I stated in #3 above. In An Irish Hostage, she comes across as too bold and brash. I understand she wants answers, but without her admitting this to herself, she put herself in harm’s way (and possibly others).

I understand Bess is an imperfect person just as we all are. I understand she is a book character and not a real person. Nevertheless, those two issues still kept me from giving the book an excellent rating.