I am a self professed World War II fiction junkie. I scour through the internet for any WWII related anecdotes and historical facts. So when the whole world was reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris could I be left out? Actually I was, I read it real late.
Anyway.. I caught up with the trend and I am posting my review even later than what I had planned. But I am here now, and shall we talk about The Tattooist of Auschwitz?
About the Tattooist of Auschwitz
Book Name: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Author: Heather Morris
Genre: Fiction – Historical, Drama
Characters: Lale Sokolov, Gita Sokolov, CIlka
Setting: Krompachy, Slovakia, Auschwitz, Poland
Plot Summary of the Tattooist of Auschwitz
Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, holds a relatively privileged position at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist). He risks his life several times to scrap off jewelry and money of dead Jew prisoners and then exchange them to buy more food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
He feels an immediate connection with Gita, one of the prisoners he had to tattoo and the affection is quite mutual. Despite the circumstances, they sneak out and meet each other, at every opportunity they get. They vow to marry if they ever escape the camp, if at all.
Did they get to keep their promise? Did they escape? The answers to these questions form the rest of The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
Book review of the Tattooist of Auschwitz
I couldn’t stop myself from mentally putting myself in Lale’s place while reading the book, from my comfortable couch, and then feel guilty about it. It must have been hard keeping up his spirits and humanity throughout the book and his real life, and I loved it
I particularly liked the fact that how he made friends with the people from other countries and races, despite whatever he has been “taught at home” about them, given how stubborn people were on those days.
When I think of a tale of a real life survivor from a genocide, I wanted to cry, be shocked and be enraged. Sadly that is not what I felt. And I am sucker for emotional readers, and the plot was all that. But it didn’t work for me at all. For me it was just another romance, and worse, it romanticizes the whole harrowing experience at the concentration camp.
And I definitely was not prepared for The Tattooist of Auschwitz being a romance-centric book. That one might be on me, I should have read the blurb/ synopsis better.
Also, while reading the book, someone sent me an interview of how the author wasn’t true to the real tattooist of Auschwitz’s story (which she was borrowing) and they had a dispute. Well, that put me a little off. Poor guy!
Things that worked for me
- As I have clearly established, I love the WWII premise and historical fiction in general.
- I loved that there was optimism and time for love even during those dire days.
Things that didn’t work for me
- I wished the storytelling was better and it actually made me feel something.
- It was a romance book, predominantly and I expected more of the history part.
- It may be just me, but I felt the book was romanticizing the concentration camps, which is horrible if you think about it.
Similar reviews you might like
If you want to read a romance from WWII era, choose The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. But if you want to read about the war itself or what it does to ordinary people, there are better books to choose from.
Let us chat
Have you read the Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris? How did you like it? What other World War II books have you read? Let us talk.
Non Fiction, Review Shots |
It has been a while since we spoke about Non Fiction books here, hasn’t it? In the May’s edition of review shots I am going to talk about three different kinds of non fiction – a poetry from a new age poet that I love, a comic about us, and a world war II memoir. Did I pique your interest? So let us get started!
Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for sharing a copy for review and it no way affected my unbiased and honest opinion.
Love Looks Pretty on You
Author: Lang Leav
Genre: Non Fiction – Poetry
No. of Pages: 224
I am sure Lang Leav is no stranger to any of us. And in her sixth book she has brought her magic back. I kept underlining her and highlighting so many of her lines, especially the ones about abuse in relationships and being a strong woman.
When my best friend told me
she was in love
my first thought was,
‘I hope he is good to her.’
And it suddenly occurred to me,
what I held in my heart for her
was hope, when it should
have been expectation.
I love that her prose/poetry has always been easy to read and relate. I have felt in her earlier works she talks a little too much about heartbreak and being in love for my taste, and there is nothing wrong about that and it is just me, not her. But she has proved herself as a matured writer in this one.
Final thought: Though monotonous at times, the author moved past from the heartbreaks to more mature subjects.
Recommended to: If you liked her previous works, this should be on your list as well
Author: Debbie Tung
Genre: Non Fiction – Comic
No. of Pages: 143
Have you ever thought about the crazy things that you been doing as a bookworm? Of course I would not blame you because I do them as well. And this book is for you. I can’t recommend this enough to anyone who loves books.
Book love kept me grinning throughout the book because it was all true. And it was as if someone took a peek into my life and just drew them but in a less clumsy way.
Though it would hardly take an hour to finish this one, I would suggest to go through this book slowly and enjoy taking a laugh at yourself.
Final thought: Catch yourself smiling at the quirky bookworm habits
Recommended to: Must read for book lovers!
The Zookeeper’s Wife
Author: Diane Ackerman
Genre: Non Fiction – Historical
No. of Pages: 368
I read The Zookeeper’s Wife for the A-Z reading challenge last year and I have no idea why I had not reviewed it until now, other than the fact that I forgot to. And there is a well known movie as well adapted from this historical drama.
The invasion of Germany into Poland and the consequent bombing affected not only the people but also the animals that were held in the Polish zoos. The zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski save Jews by letting the stay in the empty cages. The Zookeeper’s wife follows the life of a ‘sorta’ family that socializes with ‘guests’ after the dark and caring for the animals during the day.
I love reading the Holocaust and WW II novels so I quickly jumped at the chance to read this one. But I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to. There were more interesting parts, like where Jan tries to help the prisoners escape than the zoo life at home.
Final thought: Interesting premise even if it is slow and dragging at places
Recommended to: History buffs.
Let us talk
Have you read any of these books? Do you read poetry as much as you like to? What is your feedback ratio on Netgalley? Let us talk.
Drama, Romance |
Once in a while we read a book that will make you excited and some might even make you cry. While The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society made me feel me both, the one feeling that I can associate with it more than the above is warm fuzzy.
I can remember the times that I just stopped reading the book just to hold those warm feeling to myself a little longer. Can we get on with the review shall we?
About The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Book Name: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
Genre: Fiction – Drama, romance, Historical
Characters: Juliet Ashton, Dawsey Adams, Markham V. Reynolds, Jr., Susan Scott, Sidney Stark, Sophie Evans,, Elizabeth McKenna, Isola Pribby, Kit McKenna, Adelaide Addison, Eben Ramsey, Amelia Maugery
Setting: London and Guernsey, The United Kingdom
Plot Summary of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Set in the post World War II London, we meet Juliet Ashton, an aspiring author who receives a letter from Dawsey Adams. Dawsey a resident of Guernsey chances upon her address on a book by Charles Lamb, that she had previously owned and requests her help in securing more of Lamb’s books from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
As any bookworm should do for a fellow bookworm, Juliet helps him with those books and in return asks more about their book club’s odd name. Thus begins a series of correspondence between them and slowly she begins talking to and about the other residents of the little island. We also hear about Juliet’s past and her loyal friends Sidney and Sophie.
Juliet is looking for a story for her second book and fancies the idea of writing about the residents of Guernsey, a town that was German occupied during the war. But how would the residents react to her digging into their pasts that they are trying to move on from? Would all this heart ache for a book be worthy?
You will have to read on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to find out more.
Book review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society written in the form of a letters deals with several heavy subjects like German occupation and their control over the residents, slavery and concentration camps, poverty and hunger. Despite these strong and depressive backdrops, the residents’ love for reading and for each other kept me hooked.
As I have repeatedly talked about in this blog, I love reading books with strong sub plots and interesting side characters and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society turned out to be a jackpot in this regard. I loved the quirky characters, even those who were not physically in Guernsey (hint: I adored her).
Bonus fact: The author Mary Ann Shaffer wrote about 80% of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society until she was too ill with cancer to continue. She then enlisted her niece Annie Barrows to complete the project.
Things that worked for me
- I liked the well written sub plots and characters.
- The writing was easy and filled with many humorous situations.
- While romance is a part of the story, it did not end being the sole theme, which was positive for me.
Aside from all these reasons I felt I had a kinship with the characters who were readers, accidental or not, like us and I think there should be lot more books about bookworms. Don’t you agree?
Things that didn’t work for me
- The letter format worked mostly but it kinda didn’t do justice when it comes to romance.
- I wanted to read more about the relationship between Elizabeth and Christian.
- I felt the book was a tad bit long winded and it could have been reduced by at least 50 pages.
Bottom – line
Did I say I loved the movie version as well? If you are interested in a drama or historical fiction with the world war II as the main backdrop then The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society might be the one for you.
Similar reviews you might like
Let us chat!
Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? Do you read historical fiction? Have you watched the film? Let us talk more.
You all know how am kinda obsessed about reading books set in different countries currently. Though I do not explicitly search for them I am paying attention to the locations these days.
I think it is partly due to the fact that I am re-learning the forgotten geography and partly because of the new series, Flyaway Friday, in my blog. So when I had the opportunity to review Waking Isabella, that is set in Italy I grabbed it with both hands. How did it turn out for me? Read on.
About the book
Book Name: Waking Isabella
Author: Melissa Muldoon
Genre: Fiction – History Drama
Characters: Leonora (Nora), Isabella, Gianluca Donati, Margherita,
Disclaimer: Thanks to the Author and iRead Book Tours for the Review Copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
The story begins with the murder of Isabella de Medici, an Italian princess in the 16th Century. We then read about the protagonist Leonora (Nora), a young researcher (a glorified fact checker, as she calls) who is recovering from a failed marriage and focusing on her passion finally. Nora reconnects with an old friend which ignites to return to Italy;. She packs her bags to Italy to film a documentary on Isabella, the renaissance princess with whom she has a special bond.
She meets Luca, an antique businessman who tells her about a missing antique painting that belonged to his family of the princess Isabella and her mother. The story now deals with a young girl Margherita, Lucas grandmother, who smuggled antique paintings from the country during the World War II. How these three women are connected and does Nora find the missing painting form the rest of the story.
Waking Isabella is clearly an output of sheer hard work in terms of research and writing. One can understand how much effort has been put in by the author to bring about a sense of authenticity to the art and history world.
Waking Isabella may be tad difficult to get into, but if you want to cherish the language and to learn more about Italy and the art world it would be worth it. I liked how the author’s writing style changed between the historic and the contemporary worlds, ie, between the stories of Isabella and Margherita, and that of Nora.
I liked and felt invested in Margherita’s story and maybe even Isabella’s, but I never felt the same with Nora’s. There are a few Italian sentences sprinkled in between during thedialogues, though they were not as intruding as I would feel generally. In fact it is one of my pet peeve finding vernacular languages in between the English prose. You might have to watch out if you are the same.
Bottom – line
On the whole, Waking Isabella is a story of lost love, betrayal and some newfound love and friendships in the background of art and history. If you are interested in reading a story based on Italian history and art with a bit of mystery element, you should pick Waking Isabella.
Meet the Author
Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta—the crazy linguist! In Italian, “matta” means “crazy” or “impassioned.” Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.
Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, “Tutti Matti per l’Italiano,” and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.
Waking Isabella is Melissa’s second novel and follows Dreaming Sophia, published in 2016. In this new novel about Italy, the reader is taken on another art history adventure, inspired by Melissa’s experiences living and traveling in Italy, specifically Arezzo, as well as her familiarity with the language and art. For more information about Waking Isabella and links to Melissa’s blogs and social media sites, visit www.MelissaMuldoon.com.
Connect with Melissa: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Youtube
Prizes: Win a paperback copy of Waking Isabella. One winner will also receive a $10 Amazon gift card (3 winners total / open internationally to wherever Amazon delivers)
(Ends March 31, 2018)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Let us chat
Have you read a book set in Italy? Do you like books that are difficult to get in? How long you persist before you give a book up? Let us chat.
Non Fiction |
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.