Voices: The Final Hours of Joan Of Arc by David Elliott
Author David Elliott explores how Joan of Arc changed the course of history and remains a figure of fascination centuries after her extraordinary life and death.
Told through medieval poetic forms and in the voices of the people and objects in Joan of Arc’s life, (including her family and even the trees, clothes, cows, and candles of her childhood). Along the way it explores issues such as gender, misogyny, and the peril of speaking truth to power. Before Joan of Arc became a saint, she was a girl inspired. It is that girl we come to know in Voices.
I used to love playing Age of Empires II on my Windows 98 computer (yes, I am old, shush!) as a child and teenager. And one of the first campaigns is Joan of Arc. I learnt a lot about her story and France (I am not saying it was perfect, but I learned a lot, and Age of Empires sparked my interest in more history). But the point wasn’t about gaming on a 1990’s computer, rather that it sparked my interest in this book.
As starter things, this book is a poem, it isn’t 100% accurate but more of an “artistic” view as the idea was to focus on the type of poems that would be used during Joan’s time. (This part I found nice, as the poems made a little more sense than modern poetry. Apparently Medieval poems are more similar to general Spanish poems, therefore make more sense poetically speaking than other poems in English do for me). And it isn’t a book about Joan’s whole life, but rather it is meant to be a “I am about to die, my life choices are questioned, this is what led me here” type of book.
I liked the artistic take on the story, and the poems. Some are shaped, and there’s a lot of formatting in it which made the experience of reading it, more of an experience in itself. My absolute favourite is the Fire, but in general, I enjoyed the poems, and I don’t know if I have a sooty mind thanks to hanging out with my friends, but there were some interesting hidden jokes in the poems that made me raise an eyebrow and laugh quietly at it.
It was a nice change of reading, and it was a relatively familiar story, so it was a neat read as I had been suffering from head splitting headaches, and this wasn’t too hard. Which probably made me enjoy it more than I would’ve otherwise. As did my love for Age of Empires…
Boy has always been relegated to the outskirts of his small village. With a large hump on his back, a mysterious past, and a tendency to talk to animals, he is often mocked and abused by the other kids in his town. Until the arrival of a shadowy pilgrim named Secondus. Impressed with Boy’s climbing and jumping abilities, Secondus engages Boy as his servant, pulling him into an expedition across Europe to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter. Boy quickly realizes this journey is not an innocent one. They are stealing the relics, and gaining dangerous enemies in the process. But Boy is determined to see this pilgrimage through until the end—for what if St. Peter can make Boy’s hump go away?
This compelling, action-packed tale is full of bravery and daring, stars a terrific cast of secondary characters, and features an unlikely multigenerational friendship at its heart. Memorable and haunting, Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s epic medieval adventure is just right for readers of Sara Pennypacker’s Pax, Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale, and Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Echo.
Oh my gosh, this was such a cute read. Boy is such an interesting character and it immediately made me feel like I was 1350.
The way Boy talks is very much from a different time, and at first I wasn’t sure what exactly his secret was, but I have to say I loved it (I do not want to spoil you, but that was my favourite part and how that mixes with the adventures of Secundus).
Boy is delightful, the lines between heaven, hell and earth blur beautifully. Relics are all the rage and life is so different, yet at the same time some things don’t change, do they? It not only mixes fantasy but religion, beliefs and a simple way of life. And it was very interesting to see Boy talking to animals and understanding them.
What are you waiting for? Go read The Book of Boy.
Before I unbox this lovely box (it is the cheapest box I have found), let me tell you that December’s boxes will include an exclusive colouring bookmark design by me. This design won’t be available in the shop and can only be found when purchasing a Leafer Box.
Just as a reminder, I receive two boxes in one (which means only one chocolate and no repeat items). This time I went for the Historical one rather than Fantasy (the theme appealed more to me), and it is my first “Historical” box.
So let’s unbox it, starting from the chocolate and going clockwise:
A Mint and Lemon dark chocolate bar which is quite refreshing and my boyfriend even stole a few squares of it.
The First Casualty, the Sci-Fi book. I was very pleased that it is an “indie” paperback size (until recently, this was the size I had in my head when anyone said paperback).
A glorious golden cage bookmark, it is so detailed and beautiful.
Galaxy socks, they are soft and comfy and fun to wear.
Space stickers, which I want to stick everywhere and at the same time neveruse them up because they’re so cute and there’s so many designs…
A choker with a purple rose. This is very pretty and I can’t wait to have an occasion to wear such a beauty.
Hidden under the chocolate and by the choker, there’s a magnet with a quote from Charles Dickens which is now holding some To-Do on my fridge.
The Undesirables, whcih was the Historical pick of the month.
As per usual, I was very pleased with my box. It is less main stream but most of the items make me happy and I think it is the box that has the least “set apart to give away” items ever. (As I mentioned in my 101 post, it is normal to choose not to keep some items).
If Leafer Box sounds up your street, you can purchase the November box until the end of the month and then the December one as soon as it is the 1st of December. If you use code KESTREL10 you can get 10% off any purchase and there are several genres to choose from.
In this edition I will be listing books on WWII. All of the books listed here have been read by me unless otherwise stated. This list will include title, author, a link to purchase on Amazon (if I own the book, a picture taken by myself), and maybe an extra fact about it if I have one available.
Please note they are in no specific order. An asterisk will be added to those I consider unmissable. Feel free to ask about any of them (or about WWII in general).
The Most Common Ones
Here are the usual recommendations I get when asking for WWII books (I’m going to gloss over these since they are quite popular and there is a LOT of information on them and some have films/docummentaries too).
There is a surprisingly good amount of fiction about WWII (and the Great War, but I will cover that on the next list) for readers that aren’t adults and most of these books are amazing at telling stories during such a difficult time.
A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian
This is by the same author of Goodnight Mister Tom. She has a few more books regarding WWII but this little gem stayed in my heart. The story is mostly told not on the battlefield but about those that stayed behind, specially young girls and how they had to be sent away to be kept safe. There is a bookstore involved if my memory doesn’t fail me. Very sweet, quite endearing, easy read. You can buy from Amazon here.
Codename Verity by Elizabeth Wein*
This is a story of friendship, of women, of being a prisoner of war, and of course, pilots. It is not exactly the happiest story but the writing is powerful and gripping. A must read that you can buy from Amazon here.
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein*
This book alongside Shades of Grey (it is included further down the list) were the ones that opened a world of WWII YA fiction to me that I didn’t know existed. It also helped me find out a lot more about concentration camps and start learning more about Ravensbruck and the Rabbits. You can buy this from Amazon here.
Cross my Heart by Carmen Reid
I admit I have not read this one yet but it is in my TBR list and I have heard great things about it. You can find on Amazon here.
The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner
A strange one in the mix and probably my least favourite one of the ones included, it is set in Britain and touches on cinematics and film alongside happenings during WWII. Very difficult to describe withoutgiving a lot away, so you can buy it here.
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys*
This was my first WWII YA fiction book, and I remember going to the bookstore and asking for it and the lovely assistant asked me if I really wanted this one or maybe I was looking for ’50 Shades of Grey’. You can’t compare the two at all. This is about surviving being deported and thrown into a train alongside your mother and brother during WWII. Ruta Sepetys has a magical way of writing even if it is quite raw and can be sometimes brutal but there is such beauty in it, it goes into the must read list. Buy it on Amazon here.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys*
The story is told through the eyes of four different people and it tells their journey to get to the Wilhelm Gustloff. The shipwas sunk in port in early 1945 it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board, so this is based on truth and it makes the sinking of the Titanic a banal thing. A must read again you can buy here.
A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson
This one surprised me. The writing is like a fairytale and it tells you the story of a young woman who wants to teach and how she moves from England to Austria to an experimental school. There she helps with the children and meets a young man who intrigues her. Yes, this sounds more like a non war story but trust me it gets quite interesting as the story progresses and Hitler’s troops advance through Austria. You can find it here.
The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson
When Hitler’s forces invade, Ruth’s family flees to London, but she is unable to get a passport. Quin, a young professor and friend of the family, visits Ruth and, in an effort to bring her back to London, he offers a marriage of convenience.This becomes quite interesting and get convoluted as time goes by, once again it is not just a romance story but history. You can find it here.
The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
Sent to boarding school in London to avoid the war, Tally isn’t very happy. But this is a story about friendship and endurance. You can buy it here on Amazon.
A Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman*
Gretchen has a secret she doesn’t know is secret. She is Hitler’s ‘niece’ and dotted on by him, until an anonymous letter makes her start to question everything. You can find it here.
A Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman*
Continuation of A Prisoner of Night and Fog, Greatchen has to decide fi she will go back to Germany and break her rules to save Daniel and clear his name. Don’t miss out on it and buy it here.
My choices for adult fiction are less cheerful and deal more on how adults took and reacted to the war. They may be in a way less heroic stories but are equally gripping and interesting.
Meet Me Under the Clock by Anne Murray*
This is my favourite one of her books but she has so many set around WWII, that half of the list would be only about them. Instead, I will tell you about the sisters that are making an effort to move through the hard times of WWII at the home front and how each copes with the changes and makes her own effort to contribute. You can find it here.
The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
This is a story where little things have huge after effects in a subtle way. See what a little kindness can do during WWII. You can buy a copy here.
Pattern of Shadows by Judith Barrow
An interesting story telling us about Mary, a nursing sister at Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs. It follows her, and her family alongside one of the German POWs and how life was at the home front. This is a series but can be read as a standalone and you can buy it here.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
A tragic story of good intentions and set in two different times, the past and the present. (There is a film for this one, or you can buy the book here).
Spitfire Girl by Lily Baxter
This one has been on my TBR for a little bit and it is about Susan who dreams of flying and helping her country. Of course I like planes, so it was a must. You can find a copy here.
Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
This kinda shouldn’t be here but at the same time it should. It spans the years between WWI and WWII and follows the story of a young poet and a soldier as they exchange letters while the war wages. You can find a copy here.
Most of my non fiction is based on Aircraft, specifically the Lancaster Bomber. I promise there is a good reason for that and it will be revelead soon enough on one of the “Meet the Character” posts. Meanwhile, enjoy some interesting non fiction.
My Dear Bessie: A Love Story in Letters by Chris Baker
This doesn’t need much of an explanation, the title says it all. It is a moving read. You can buy it here on Amazon.
Odette by Jerrard Tickell
During some of the darkest days of the Second World War, a young Frenchwoman living as a mother and housewife in England left her ordinary life to become a British agent, working covertly in France to aid the Resistance. This is her story, and you can buy a copy here.
If This is a Woman by Sara Helm*
Of all the non aircraft related non fiction books featured on this list, this is my favourite one. Sara does an amazing job at showing how Ravensbruck and concentration camps came to be and how life was there. This is a tough read because of the topic, but the writing is good. I took this one slowly but it is a must read. You can buy it here from Amazon.
The Female Few: Spitfire Heroines of the Air Transport Auxiliary by Jacky Hyams*
Through the darkest days of the Second World War, an elite group of courageous civilian women risked their lives as aerial courier pilots, flying Lancaster bombers, Spitfires and many other powerful war machines in thousands of perilous missions. Very interesting information here.
The Lancaster at War: Books 1 to 5 by Mike Garbett and Brian Goulding
A compilation of books on the Lancaster Bomber. Absolutely worth it. You can it here.
The next few are ones I’d recommend but since they are non fiction and cater to specific interests, will only add title and link to the book.
Famous Bombers of the Second World War by William Green
There are also other alongside the series likie Fighters instead of Bombers. You can find it here.
The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay
I am always interested in code breaking and cyphers so Bletchley Park should definitely feature here. I have loads of books about it on my wishlist but this is the one I actually own. You can find it here.
Handbook of Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick
One of the most illustrated and easy to digest handbooks for aircraft of WWII I could find (as you may notice this is not the only one I have but it is the easier to approach and learn from if you’re not as crazy about the topic as I am). You can find it here.
This little guide is an original I found on an antique bookshop so I don’t expect you to want this one, but I found it interesting and have added it to my collection. There also some Penguin original editions still making the rounds through odd bookshops (manuals for pilots, ration books, etc). It is interesting and amusing to see how they tried to get the soldiers ready for the continent and being in France.
Set during WWII and mention it but aren’t specifically about it
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
Narnia books by C.S. Lewis
This last part of the list may get expanded on as my mind remembers books that fit this category.
And I admit that as I wrote this list, more and more books came to mind. Some I only remember a tiny bit of the story or the feeling that reading the book gave me, so I did use synopsis from Amazon/GoodReads to help me out. Others I remembered but didn’t want to give much away. Still, I hope you find a lot to read here and a lot that you hadn’t heard about before.
Disclaimer: There are Amazon Associates links, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. All these books are recommended solely because of my own research and looking into the topic.