Y’all by now should know that I have a weakness for World War II stories. My curiosity towards Holocaust and the tragedies related to that has lead me to some good books and several hours of random history lessons on the Internet.
And I was offered by Ishai Kalinovsky to read an ARC of his memoir I’m not from Around Here in exchange for a review, I had to accept it even though I don’t read many memoirs generally. How did it turn out? Read ahead to know more.
About the book
Book Name: I’m not from Around Here
Author: Ishai Kalinovsky
Genre: Non-Fiction – Historical, Memoir
Characters: Lola, Stashek, Hannah, the narrator Sam, Emile.
Setting: Poland, Germany, and Israel
Disclaimer: I received this indie book from the author in exchange for an honest and fair review.
I’m not from Around Here reads like a diary of the author Ishai Kalinovsky that talks about the experiences of his Jewish family right from the time of the World War II in Poland. His mother is a labor camp survivor while her dad was a street fighter in Warsaw. The couple meet immediately after the end of the War and escape to Germany to win what was looted from the Jews.
I’m not from Around Here is not about the war but its aftermath on Jews and the other survivors. The narrator’s father, Stashek is an unscrupulous businessman who would do what he has to provide for himself, his mistresses and his family. He takes up to the black market business and has a great influence on the society by being fearsome.
When his parents break up his mother Lola takes up another man and gets pregnant, which is a total no-no in their orthodox neighborhood. Lola was a timid, weak girl when she entered the labor camp. But her firm belief in her guardian angel helped her survive all the adversities in her life.
Meanwhile, the narrator’s estranged father and stepfather are arrested for smuggling cars into the country. How the narrator and his family survive the final blow of being strewn across the country forms the rest of I’m not from Around Here.
Being a memoir we get to take a glimpse at what really happened in the camps but that is just a small part in the book. I sort of guessed the story would end up before the young ones grew up and am glad it ended so.
Even though the narration is by the young Ishai Kalinovsky through out, I’m not from Around Here has multiple point of views which work in some places and not in others.There were too many characters mostly minor that do not contribute much to the story, which may be partly owing to the genre.
Usually I don’t read many memoirs because they would hard for me to relate to. But maybe since I’m not from Around Here had multiple POV and the narrator was a young boy I was able to relate and I ended up liking the characters.
Bottom – line
I’m not from Around Here is quite long with about 400 pages but it was totally worth the read and it left me emotionally drained for hours.
Let us chat
Do you read memoirs? Is it easier to review or talk about memoir than fictions? Do you feel emotionally drained after you finish reading a book? Let’s chat.
What happens after you die? Depending on your religious beliefs, it may be afterlife, reincarnation or nothing at all. If you read a lot of YA literature zombie life may not be far from your thoughts. What if you were resurrected and your religious world was all ready to believe in it until you literally are resurrected? Would they understand you are the one that fulfills that prophecies? How would the modern world accept it? Moshe Karlin’s life just would answer those questions in An Unexpected Afterlife.
Book Name: An Unexpected Afterlife
Series: The Dry Bones Society #1
Author: Dan Sofer
Genre: Fiction – Paranormal
Characters: Moshe and Galit Karlin, Avi, Rabbi Yosef Lev
Setting: Jerusalem, Israel
Disclaimer: Thanks to the Author for the Review Copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Moshe Karlin wakes up naked at a cemetery at the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem the morning after his 40th birthday. He catches a taxi to his house, trying to remember what prank his best friend Avi had pulled on him the previous night, only to find Avi and his wife Gallit in bed together. As if that was not enough to enrage him, Avi throws him off his house, saying Moshe has been dead for two years.
He reaches out to the local Rabbi Yosef, the one who buried Moshe when he was dead and tries to understand his situation. Without an ID, place to live or family to depend upon he stumbles on trying to win his old life, his wife, and his daughter. The Rabbi and Moshe are startled to find more ‘dead’ people are resurrected, and they seek their help. Some remember who they were; many don’t. Some are Jews, and few are not. Didn’t Torah promise that only Jews will be resurrected?
Meanwhile, not far from this chaos, the Prophet Elijah himself is stuck in an unforeseen situation. According to the scriptures and the destiny, he was supposed to save the world, but how can he when His world is changing. To make matters worse for the Rabbi the Great Council (of religious wisemen) discards the Rabbi’s theory of resurrection and pronounces the resurrected as ‘ Sitra Achra!’ (other side / unholy world).
What does the Rabbi choose – his free will and understanding of the Torah or the words of the Council that has guided him all through his life and also can change the stability and peace in a teacher’s life? How do Moshe and his clan move ahead? Did they find what they are seeking? The An Unexpected Afterlife and the series will answer your questions.
An Unexpected Afterlife is a steady paced narrative that kept me engrossed until the end, well, end of the first book of the series. Thankfully the book didn’t end in a cliffhanger perse, though the series would answer many questions. The writing is crisp, and the tiny streak of satire kept things interesting. I loved the strong world building, and all the central characters had depth
The one thing that kinda annoyed me at the was that the stories of Moshe and Elijah did not seem to be related all, at least in the first book. Maybe they will merge somewhere down the lane in the following books of the series. I am not a great fan of fantasy and the zombie/undead world and have avoided them for a while. An Unexpected Afterlife made me realize what I have been missing out.
The story is primarily set in Israel, and I loved how the book let me have a glimpse into the world of Jews and their beliefs and culture. It is one of those things that made say yes when the author Dan Sofer approached for a review of his book, and I am glad I chose it. If you are interested in reading a religious take on the resurrection An Unexpected Afterlife is your pick.
“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”― Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake
If my last book had taken me to Afghanistan, the war-torn country with rich culture and diversity, Optimal Exposure took me to Israel and then back to India with a classic detective/whodunnit story. Most of us heard about Kumbh Mela and the related news about its participants who run into millions. What happens when an elderly photographer is found dead amidst the crowd? What and who would help him out, if at all? Sounds intriguing? Then Optimal Exposure by Dan Rogel is the book for you.
Book Name: Optimal Exposure
Author: Dan Rogel
Characters: Boaz and Ephraim Lavie, Superintendent Shemesh, Inspector Hagit Butler
Setting: Israel, India
Disclaimer: Thanks to the B00k R3vi3ws for the free copy of the book.
The story begins with Boaz Lavie completing his seven day mourning period following the death of his father Ephraim, a photographer who was brought dead from India where he had been on a photography trip. The case attracts the attention of Superintendent Shemesh and Inspector Hagit Butler, as they realize this was the second time a fellow photographer was carried home dead by the same group following such an expedition and they start to dig into the cases, inspired by Boaz’s interest. In both cases the local authorities, namely Indians and Brazilians, had given a clean chit to the deaths and cause were as heart attack declared by their doctors.
Boaz was quite close to his father and he cannot fathom the circumstances leading to his death, until he starts digging into his computer and his universe of photography. He understands the financial benefit that people could gain out of these photography contests and that his father had dealt with a few minor rifts with the the contest results, just before he left to the expedition to Kumbmela, India. Who, why and how they murdered the photographers forms the part the rest of the story.
It had been so long that I read about Jews and their customs and this story set in Israel was a welcome change. And added to that the party visits India, my place of birth making it doubly pleasurable to read and understand how things work with authorities here. Kudos to the author for keeping the photographic jargon pretty simple to layman, yet the descriptive language and the writing style was a little hard to get used to. The murders and their modi operandi were interesting, and I could not guess the murderers until the very end. I found the narration part of Hagit very annoying and her desire to please her partner Shemesh seemed too filmy for my taste. The last chapter which was supposed to be the one that solves the ‘whodunnit’ was too long and one could even get away reading it instead of the entire novel.
Looking for a book that takes you across countries on a murder chase? Go grab Optimal Exposure by Dan Rogel.