Following service in the Union army during the Civil War, Bierce became a prolific journalist, short story writer, poet, and memoirist.

Bierce’s acclaimed collection of Civil War stories, In the Midst of Life, includes the well-known and widely reprinted, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”; while his collection of supernatural & psychological horror tales, Can Such Things Be?, remains one of the best of the genre. Second only to his contemporary Twain, Ambrose Bierce was a celebrated and acerbic wit in his own right—which is brilliantly displayed in his satirical lexicon, The Devil’s Dictionary. The book is an excellent introduction into the dark, witty and ingenious world of one of the great  satirists of America.

Later in life he returned to the Civil War in a series of memoirs, Bits of Autobiography, before mysteriously disappearing in Mexico during their revolution in 1914.

piece worldA Piece of the World  tells the fictionalized backstory of Christina Olson, the real-life model for Andrew Wyeth’s painting called ‘Christina’s World.” Christina suffered from a degenerative bone disease that left her so disabled that she was forced to crawl rather than to walk. The story portrays Christina’s efforts to live in her small everyday world and her friendship with Andrew Wyeth. Through Christina’s character, we feel the harsh realities of life on a farm without electricity or running water and the struggles of a family going through tough economic times, It is a beautiful, moving portrayal of one woman’s endurance and resilience in her piece of the world that she must maneuver through.

 A must read for those who love art history. You will never see the painting in the same way again!

less coverPure, delightful escapism! If you want a book to sink into for a few hours, forgetting about work, chores and the world, look no further. This Pulitzer-winner will have you smiling and sobbing for the titular character. Best of all it has a happy ending!

pearl brokeAn eye-opening novel about the women who have struggled for centuries and continue to struggle today in Afghanistan due to its repressive male-dominated culture. Rahima and Shekiba, the novel's protagonists, face their life situtations with courage and a strong survival spirit. After reading this heart-breaking story, I more than appreicate the opportunities and freedom we have in this country. While not a light read by any means, it is so enlightening to understand  that this kind of culture still persists today. Highly recommended!

scarlet skyBased on true events that occurred in Italy during the last two years of WWII, Pino Lella, a young 17 year-old Italian, becomes part of the Resistance, leading a number of Jews and downed Allied pilots out of the country over a treacherous mountain to Switzerland. When his parents insist that he join the German Army, feeling that it was safer to be in the German Army than the Italian Army, he once again puts himself in danger by becoming a spy at the same time serving as a personal driver for a high ranking German official.

This story is incredible. It reads like an action novel, It is full of suspense, intrigue, heartbreak, brutality, love and twists. This is a piece of World War II history seldom if ever heard about as it centers in war torn Italy. One of the best historical fiction books on WW2 that I have read. Take the time to read this one even if your interest in war is limited. Ultimately, it is about the courageousness of the human spirit in the face of horror.

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