Review: Indianapolis

Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic

36373560Genres: Non-Fiction, History
Maturity Level: 4+
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, days after delivering the components of the atomic bomb from California to the Pacific Islands in the most highly classified naval mission of the war, USS Indianapolis is sailing alone in the center of the Philippine Sea when she is struck by two Japanese torpedoes. The ship is instantly transformed into a fiery cauldron and sinks within minutes. Some 300 men go down with the ship. Nearly 900 make it into the water alive. For the next five nights and four days, almost three hundred miles from the nearest land, the men battle injuries, sharks, dehydration, insanity, and eventually each other. Only 316 will survive.

It begins in 1932, when Indianapolis is christened and launched as the ship of state for President Franklin Roosevelt. After Pearl Harbor, Indianapolis leads the charge to the Pacific Islands, notching an unbroken string of victories in an uncharted theater of war. Then, under orders from President Harry Truman, the ship takes aboard a superspy and embarks on her final world-changing mission: delivering the core of the atomic bomb to the Pacific for the strike on Hiroshima. Vincent and Vladic provide a visceral, moment-by-moment account of the disaster that unfolds days later after the Japanese torpedo attack, from the chaos on board the sinking ship to the first moments of shock as the crew plunge into the remote waters of the Philippine Sea, to the long days and nights during which terror and hunger morph into delusion and desperation, and the men must band together to survive.

Then, for the first time, the authors go beyond the men’s rescue to chronicle Indianapolis’s extraordinary final mission: the survivors’ fifty-year fight for justice on behalf of their skipper, Captain Charles McVay III, who is wrongly court-martialed for the sinking. What follows is a captivating courtroom drama that weaves through generations of American presidents, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, and forever entwines the lives of three captains—McVay, whose life and career are never the same after the scandal; Mochitsura Hashimoto, the Japanese sub commander who sinks Indianapolis but later joins the battle to exonerate McVay; and William Toti, the captain of the modern-day submarine Indianapolis, who helps the survivors fight to vindicate their captain.

Guys, this book is bonkers! It’s a tale of heroism, and incompetence. The crew members of the USS Indianapolis exhibited amazing heroism in the face of an impossibly gruesome ordeal. Men literally kicking sharks off crew mates, men risking their own lives to swim after others who swum off towards hallucinations. But the elephant in the room is the complete and utter incompetence of the navy that led to the ship to be sunk in the first place, and then for it to be FOUR EFFING DAYS before anyone even noticed! AND THEN they went and blamed it all on the captain, who could have done literally nothing to prevent it, and didn’t own up to their own mistakes for over 60 years. This story is utterly fascinating, and my eyes were glued to the page. Continue reading


The Library Lover’s Book Tag

I saw this tag on Jillian the Bookish Butterfly. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time at the library and reading a lot of library books, so it really caught my attention! Libraries are amazing resources for more than just books, and I think one of the best things we can do as book bloggers is promote libraries. So here I go!

How often do you visit your local library?

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It depends on the time of year and how quickly I read my books. During summer vacation I’m at the library at least once a week. However, during the school year it takes me much longer to read books, and I also get gifted books for my birthday and Christmas. I might visit once or twice a month, maybe even less. Continue reading

The Little Engine That Could

I had a paradigm shift this evening as I was reading my son The Little Engine That Could.

Usually when I read this book I identify with the Tired Old Engine. He has been working hard all day and he just doesn’t have anything left to give to the kids on the other side of the mountain. As a teacher it’s so easy to feel this way, especially once we get bogged down in the school year.

But tonight, I was reading about the Little Blue Engine, and I really identified with her when she said, “but I am just a little engine”. I feel like I’m only one little teacher. How can I pull that train all the way over the mountain? But she says “I think I can.” And so she tries. Continue reading

Books: Art or Entertainment?

In my opinion, fiction authors have one of two intentions when they write a book.

  1. To entertain
  2. To create art for art’s sake

Now, obviously, most authors include a little of both. To me it’s kind of like a continuum with super artsy books like The Color Purple or The Goldfinch on one side, books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or The Princess Diaries on the other side, and the vast majority of books falling somewhere in the middle.

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Interestingly, I think this same idea applies to most forms of art, especially movies and music. Continue reading

Review: Dread Nation

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

30223025Series: Dread Nation
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 3
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Dread Nation was okay. It was fun enough, but for a book billed as a zombie-slaying social commentary I wish there had been a little more action and a little more modern-relevant social commentary. Continue reading

Calendar Girls September Theme

We have had an absolutely OUTSTANDING Calendar Girls August so far! I’ve added several books to my tbr (which is still just barely staying below 100…) and met some awesome new bloggers to follow! Still to come is our August chat, and voting for a favorite August pick!

Don’t forget to sign up for the Calendar Girls Newsletter! You wouldn’t want to miss important information just because you missed a post. 😉

The chat is scheduled for August 19th at 8 EST on twitter using the hashtag #CGBChat. The more people participate the more fun we have, so if at all possible try to make it! We are potentially thinking about moving the chat to a different time, so if 8 EST is a big problem for you PLEASE let me know in the comments.

And to vote for your favorite August pick, check out the poll here.

But now, it’s time to start prepping for September! The votes are in, and it was close, but the September theme is…

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Back to School
Best Novel Set in a School

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So we’ll see you all on September 3 with your favorite novel set in summer! Don’t forget to link back to me and Darque Dreamer, then visit everyone else and give them some love.

Make sure to vote for the October theme! (Same poll as the August winner) We will be choosing between:

  • Hocus Pocus: Favorite Book with Witches
  • Monster Mash: Favorite Genre Mash-Up
  • Thriller Night: Favorite Undead Book

Voting is open until September 9th.

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Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile, and will now be hosted by me (!), Katie, and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers, and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song, Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme, and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. Make sure to post back to the hostess’s post, and I will make a master list for the month. The master lists allow everyone to see the other Calendar Girls’ picks and to pop on over to their blogs. Thus, we all get to chat about books and even make some new friends!

Post Schedule:

The first Monday of each month is book choice day for that month’s theme. This is where you can rant and rave about your favorite pick for the current month, as well as see what everyone else chose.

The second Monday of each month Katie and Adrienne will be announcing the theme for the upcoming month, the chat reminder, and the voting form for both the next month’s theme, and the current month’s popular choice.

The last Monday of each month will be recap day! Katie and Adrienne will make sure to update you on the current month’s popular choice, the chat recap, and the upcoming month’s theme.

Ranking the Fiction Genres

Everyone has favorite and least favorite genres. It’s part of life. My dad, for example, reads almost nothing except for Science Fiction. My husband, on the other hand, is hard to get interested in much other than fantasy. Many book bloggers prefer young adult novels the best. I find this super fascinating. SO!

Today I will be ranking the fiction genres!

This is my personal preference, so don’t you dare get offended if I don’t like something you do. I do what I want.

giphy Continue reading