Fiction · Historical

Cilka’s Journey

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Title: Cilka’s Journey

Author: Heather Morris

Page Count: 352

Series: The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Book 2

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 1, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

Format: eBook

Review: I was beyond thrilled when I saw that Heather Morris would be publishing a book about Cilka.  Like many other readers, I was intrigued by her character and utterly heartbroken by her unjust sentencing after the horror of the concentration camps.  It did not feel right leaving her story untold, and I am glad that the author felt the same way.

This book reads so smoothly that I flew through it over the course of a couple days.  Morris has an incredible way of writing that evokes such strong emotion while still being incredibly straightforward.  I actually found that I enjoyed this book even more than The Tattooist of Auschwitz because it covers a topic in history that I know almost nothing about.  I have read many books about the Holocaust, but I have never read one about the work camps in Russia.  I was appalled that these camps operated for decades in terrible and dangerous conditions completely unchecked.  It is staggering how many people were sentenced to these camps and how many of them died.

Cilka was an incredibly brave and resilient woman to have survived both camps.  I would have very much liked to meet her, and it makes me happy to know that the legacy of her extraordinary life will live on through this book.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical · Young Adult

Across a Broken Shore

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Title: Across a Broken Shore

Author: Amy Trueblood

Page Count: 360

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: November 5th 2019 by Flux

Format: eBook

Review: The setting for this book was lovely, but I found the plot to be painfully slow and I did not find any characters to be particularly compelling.  This falls into the rare category of books that I did not finish (I stopped at 42% completion).

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical · Western

Lonesome Dove

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Title:  Lonesome Dove

Author: Larry McMurtry

Page Count: 858

Series: Lonesome Dove, Book 1 (Book 3 chronologically)

Publishing Date/Publisher: June 15, 2010 by Simon Schuster (originally published 1985)

Format: Paperback

Review: This book was a slow burn for me.  I didn’t love it at first, but somewhere in the middle I started to.  I would caution readers, however, that this is essentially the Western equivalent of Game of Thrones.  If you cannot stomach violence, abuse, and sudden death, this is not the book for you.  It felt like every time I would grow a deep attachment to a character, they would die in some horrific way.  What I really enjoyed about this book though is how well the author interconnected all the characters at some point in the novel.  His writing had a very satirical tone, and he really brings to light the fickleness and folly of human nature.  Everyone is driven by something, and in such a gritty world, many are driven by basic human need – food, water, sex, and companionship.  Some characters have more complex motivators, but in the end, you are left with a sense that their efforts were all for naught.  It is frustrating and fascinating at the same time.

I found the ending of this book to be a bit perplexing.  I was satisfied by the ending in one sense, but I tend to like books that have a definitive end.  This book seemed to cut off in the middle of a conversation between two characters.  It was an interesting choice, and I wonder why the author chose to end it in this way.  Nevertheless, it is easy for me to see why this book is revered as a classic and considered a cornerstone of the genre.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fantasy · Fiction · Historical · Romance · Young Adult

Blood and Sand

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Title: Blood and Sand

Author: C.V. Wyk

Performer: Brittany Pressley

Length: 8 hr, 58 min, 58 sec

Series: Blood and Sand, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by MacMillan Young Listeners

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I really enjoyed the first half of this book because I thought the author did a great job introducing the time period, setting, and characters.  The second half of the book is where she started to lose me.  I would say that this book is more strongly categorized as historical fiction rather than fantasy.  I typically enjoy both genres immensely, but I hesitate to even call this fantasy.  It’s more like unrealistic historical fiction.  The only thing that could qualify this series as fantasy was how preposterous the fight scenes were in the second half of the book.  One scene in particular, the most pivotal in terms of driving the direction of the story, was a monumental disappointment because quite frankly it made no sense.  The fallout of this particular scene was equally disappointing.  A lot gets thrown at you at the end, and the puzzle pieces just fit together too perfectly to be realistic.

All criticisms aside, I think that Wyk is a talented writer and I enjoyed enough things about this book to continue with the series when the next book is published.

Finally, I thought the reader for this eAudiobook had a nice voice, but in my opinion wasn’t well suited for this particular book.  I’ve heard her narrate other books and liked those performances far more than I did this one.  Perhaps this is because I did not care for the character voices and accents she chose for some of the main characters, particularly Attia.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical

Realm

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Title: Realm

Author: Alexandrea Weis

Page Count: 397

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 14, 2019 by Vesuvian Books

Format: eBook

Review: I first off want to state that although the cover art for this book is gorgeous, it is highly misleading.  Roxana was not in any way a warrior princess.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  She spent most of her time sequestered away in baggage caravans and palace quarters.  Her entire life was mostly dictated by others, and though a lot happens in the background, not much actually happens to her until the end.  I will, however, say that this book was well researched.  Some creative liberties were taken, but it seemed that for the most part, the author adhered to what experts speculate happened to the real Roxana and her family.  For some reason I was not really expecting this and thought that this would be a looser adaptation of historical events.  In a way this was a pleasant surprise, because I learned more about an intriguing woman from the past, and it made me interested in conducting a little bit of research on my own.  History buffs will really enjoy this book, but those looking for a thrilling adventure will probably find the pacing to be too slow.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Historical · Non-fiction

The Lost City of Z

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Title: 
The Lost City of Z

Author: David Grann

Page Count: 352

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2009/Doubleday

Format: eBook

Review: I will read anything and everything written by David Grann. He has such an amazing writing style, so it’s very easy to get caught up in his work. In the Lost City of Z, he talks about Percy Fawcet and his multiple trips into the Amazon and then goes and tries to recreate the route he was taking when he disappeared. The book alternates between both tales: the past and the present, meaning you aren’t stuck too long on one specific part of the story.

I quickly got swept up in the exploration of the Amazon and the charting of the unknown, and it’s easy to see why Grann frequently writes about people obsessed: he can get into that mindset himself and tell their stories in ways that make the reader feel it too. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever suffered from wanderlust and loves to explore.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Historical · Non-fiction

DOUBLE REVIEW: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

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Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Page Count: 262

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 4th 2018 by Harper (first published January 27th 2018)

Format: Paperback

Review: I loved this book. It’s heartbreaking and awe-inspiring and wonderfully written. It’s a quick read, which is good because you don’t want to get stuck in that mindset for too long, since it’s about Auschwitz.

Lale’s story is one of immense hardship and Heather Morris tells it very well. It also makes you wonder what you would do if put in his position. He was a remarkable man, and I really enjoyed reading about him.

Lale, as the title suggests, was a tattooist at the concentration camp. His job was to etch numbers on the arms of the new prisoners, and what first grabbed me about him was how he tried to be gentle with Gita’s when she came into his line. He did not know her but he felt the need to make this process as easy as possible, to the point where he almost got in serious trouble for going so slowly. Sometimes it’s the small things that endear someone to you so much.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

 

Review: This is an incredibly moving book, and it is no wonder that it is a best seller (it had over 80 holds in my library system at one point!).  This book is a very quick read, so I recommend reading it in one sitting if you can.

As you can imagine, the content of this book is incredibly sad.  My stomach was churning literally the whole time I was reading it.  It is through a series of miracles, both large and small, that the main characters, Lale and Gita, survive.  Honestly I don’t know if I could have made it through the book without knowing that in advance.

This is one of the rare cases that instant love between two people in a story does not make me roll my eyes.  It is literally love at first sight for these two, and though they know very little about each other, it is a love so pure it makes your heart ache.

There is one particular scene in this book that stands out to me and I think it really encapsulates the heart of this story.  Lale comes across a single flower while walking to his barracks one day, and the mere sight of it gives him pause.  It is such a rare sight to see something so delicate and beautiful that he can’t help but stop and marvel at it.  In my mind, this flower is symbolic of the love between Lale and Gita.  It is the one beautiful thing blossoming in a landscape of unimaginable horrors.

After reading this book it is hard not to believe in the concept of soul mates.  It is unlikely that these two would have met under any other circumstances, and it is even more unlikely that they would have both been able to survive the atrocities committed against them.  Yet they did meet, they did fall in love, and they did survive.   This was a story that needed to be told, and I am so glad it has reached such a wide audience.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold