Friday, 25 April 2014

The East

The East is a part fiction/part autobiographical novel about the author’s own experiences as a young boy growing up in Germany in World War II. Throughout the book is the tragic love story of Wolfgang and Helga, young lovers who try to grow up during this tumultuous time. I found this book fascinating as the author wove his own true story with the fictional aspects. I’ve always wondered how the Germans felt about the horrors of WWII and just how much they knew about what actually went on that wasn’t wartime propaganda. Mr. Schroeder gives various perspectives as he writes about the Kaffeeklatsch girls, a group of women in his town who get together once per week for coffee and company. Each was affected in their own way by the war. At first, as I read the book, I found Mr. Schroeder to be very pro-German but as the book moved along I found out that he was only giving the feelings of the people at that time and he wrote of how things changed as the war progressed. It was truly fascinating to read about civilians in Germany before and during the war as well as the tough times after. He also wrote of the PTSD experienced by the soldiers. I read the book on my ereader and the formatting and editing were perfect. The cover of the book is of a school picture that the author talks about in the book and it gives a good look at the carefree days before the war. This is a book well worth reading!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Showdown at Shinagawa

         Showdown at Shinagawa is a really fun book to read written by film maker Bill Zarchy as he travelled the world trying to communicate and work in many different cultures. I love reading about different cultures so this book was absolutely perfect for me. Each story is presented as if you’re sitting in Mr. Zarchy’s living room and he’s regaling you with everything that has happened during his visits. Each story starts with a few pictures which, unfortunately on my ereader, were too small for me to enjoy a whole lot. Then the author lets loose with all of the fun, insanity and hilarity that probably didn’t seem all that great at the time. The differences in the food seems to be a common thread as is the fact that Mr. Zarchy is far taller than any of people on the Asian continent. He also tells some tales about famous people, one guy a bit prickly and one very hospitable. A pleasant surprise were some of the links provided that led to the actual films that Mr. Zarchy helped make. The book is well formatted and edited for an ereader (except for the small photos which may have just been due to my ereader) and the cover tempted me to buy and delve into this wonderfully fun book. I would love to see a second volume if the author has more stories to tell.