World War One

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Hercule Poirot, a charming and quirky retired Belgian police chief, is asked by his friend Hastings to assist in the unravelling of a confusing turn of events. An elderly, wealthy lady has been murdered; the suspects: her new husband, spiteful family, or long-time companion. The solution: one that nobody was expecting. Follow the unofficial detective and his friend as they tear apart the details of this murder at the Styles Estate in a race against the unknown murderer and the English court of law.

I would recommend The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie for ages 16+. This book is a classic whodunit complete with bumbling police chiefs, nighttime murders, dapper detectives, and family intrigue. There are a few mature details to watch out for, including some minor profanity; overall, a well-written and attention-grabbing mystery. 4 out of 5 stars.  

Ghosts in the Fog

For years, the American government denied it ever happened. Those who experienced it didn’t wish to relive the horrific memories. And so the general public never knew that the Japanese invaded Alaska on June 7th, 1942, or that the native Alaskan people were forced from their homes by their own government, or that one of the deadliest hand-to-hand battles between the U.S.A. and Japan consisted of a strange chain of events that were hidden for years-and some of which are still unexplained. Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska’s WWII Invasion written by Samantha Seiple and published in 2011 by Scholastic Press tells this story-the one they didn’t want us to know.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 12+. Well written, informative, and easy to read; this book lays out the facts of this battle with clarity and truthful rendering of the facts as they happened. There is no excessive gore or mature language to watch out for. All in all, 4 out of 5 stars.

War Horse

War Horse, written by Michael Morpurgo and published in 1982 by the Scholastic Press, is an inspiring and moving tale of war, friendship, and the love between a horse and its owner. This novel falls under the historical fiction\middle grade genres.

Joey, a beautiful red-bay horse, is torn from his farm home and tossed headlong into war. Learning to pull heavy artillery, charge enemy forces, and carry wounded men-enemy and otherwise-Joey is passed from owner to owner, from English forces to German, and from kind men to cruel. He experiences both loss and joy, and is witness to the front line fighting in World War One. But through it all, he fights to stay alive. For his heart yearns for Albert, the farmer’s son he left behind him, and he’s determined to find him again. Will he escape the horrors of the war unscathed?

I recommend this book for ages 14+. There is some violence and mature language to watch out for, but all in all it’s an excellent book with a gripping plot, terse details, and memorable characters, both horse and human. 4 out of 5 stars.

All Quiet on the Western Front

This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. *

All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque and published first in 1928 by Ullstein A. G. and later in 1929 by Little, Brown and Company; is a sobering tale of growth and war told from the perspective of Paul Bäumer, a young German student who fights on the battlefront in World War One. This novel would fall under the war and historical fiction genres.

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow… *

Paul enlists with his classmates, consumed with romantic ideas of fighting for glory, fresh with youth, high on enthusiasm, and full of patriotic ideals. But when they’re out on the front lines, seeing the carnage of war, having their friends blown to bits before their eyes, they begin to reconsider. Maybe war isn’t all that the propaganda made it out to be, and maybe the young men on the other side of the war are much the same as Paul and his friends; boys made to grow up too fast, with big guns, scared eyes, and the same commands drilled into their heads. Fight, kill, never mind the shells exploding or the gunfire taking out your comrades beside you.
Throughout the war, one thing keeps Paul going despite the horrors and filth and loss of war; he must fight against whatever it is that sets men against men, makes them monsters, kills their brothers. He must make it out. He must come back from the western front alive.

We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial—I believe we are lost. *

I recommend this book for ages 18+. There is intense violence, mature elements, and mature language as well as detailed atrocities of war that are not suitable for younger children. All Quiet on the Western Front is a phenomenally well written book however; with memorable characters and excellent imagery. All in all, 4.5 out of 5 stars. (1.5 out of 5 stars for inappropriate content.)

*All quotes taken from All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque and published first in 1928 by Ullstein A. G. and later in 1929 by Little, Brown and Company