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

Memoir · Non-fiction

Ordinary Girls

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Title: Ordinary Girls

Author: Jaquira Díaz

Page Count: 336

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 29, 2019 by Algonquin Books

Format: eBook

Review: Every so often I get in the mood to read memoirs.  I am especially interested in coming-of-age stories, so this one immediately appealed to me when I read the synopsis.  I did enjoy the book, especially the parts that took place in Puerto Rico, but I found that Díaz jumps around too much in the chronology for my personal taste.  As a reader I found myself getting frustrated by the tangents she would go on in the midst of telling a story.  I find that a lot memoirs take place in snapshots of a life; however in this case it was just too many things at once and it was difficult to get a clear picture.

At the conclusion of this book, I couldn’t help but feel that it was unfinished.  It is clear that at some point Díaz pulls herself out of the cycle of poverty and self-loathing she grew up in, but this is not really explored in this memoir.  Each time I thought she was going to make it out of the tunnel of darkness, she would throw herself back in.  Clearly she achieved her goal of becoming a writer and I just wanted to know more about that journey. I wouldn’t consider this book uplifting or particularly inspiring, but it was very real and didn’t sugarcoat anything. Díaz seems to have a lot of self-awareness in writing this memoir, so it was overall an interesting and revealing read.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_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

Contemporary · Fiction · Young Adult

How to Build a Heart

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Title: How to Build a Heart

Author: Maria Padian

Page Count: 352

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: January 28, 2020 by Algonquin Young Readers

Format: eBook

Review: There are so many things about this book that I love.  It is a very thoughtfully written book and it feels very authentic.  I have very little in common with the main character, but I could totally relate to her.  There was a lot about her that reminded me of myself at her age.

I recently reviewed another book that had very similar themes to this one; a biracial girl navigating grief and struggling to define herself.  I personally felt that this book did a much better job of tackling these topics and I was honestly disappointed when it ended.  This is not to say I wasn’t happy with the ending, I just wanted to follow her life longer! I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Young Adult

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

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Title: I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

Author: Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

Page Count: 272

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 1, 2019 by Sourcebooks Fire

Format: eBook

Review: I was eager to read this book because the two authors have done something that Kym and I have talked about at great length, and that is co-authoring a book from two different character perspectives.  It worked well for this story, and I thought it was appropriate that the two characters were written with very distinct voices.

This book isn’t very long, so it was a quick read.  In fact, the whole story takes place over the course of a single night.  The conflict is established quickly, and the “action” is pretty consistent throughout the story.  I was never bored and I would say this is a pretty timely novel considering our current political climate.

My biggest criticism is that I had hoped for a stronger character arc with both characters, so when the end came, my first thought was, that’s it?  After undergoing such a traumatic experience, I had expected there to be more discussion of the aftermath and what it meant for each of the characters.  I really think this story would have a greater impact on readers if this aspect was more thoroughly explored.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Young Adult

Six Goodbyes We Never Said

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Title: Six Goodbyes We Never Said

Author: Candace Ganger

Page Count: 416

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 24, 2019 by Wednesday Books

Format: eBook

Review: Loved the cover, loved the title, even loved a couple of the characters *cough Dew and Violet cough cough*, but did not love this book.  The writing felt very disjointed to me, I did not care for one of the main characters (Naima), and the ending just didn’t carry the weight that I thought it should given the subject matter.  There was a lot about this book that confused me, and I am not sure that I liked the way that mental illness is portrayed.  I got the impression that Naima is supposed to be this prickly and guarded, yet lovable individual, but for the most part, I thought she was cruel and hurtful and incredibly selfish.  I tried to like her, I really did, it just didn’t happen.  Maybe this book will really resonate with someone, but that someone wasn’t me.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Romance

Unbreak Me

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Title: Unbreak Me

Author: Michelle Hazen

Page Count: 304

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: August 13, 2019 by Berkley

Format: eBook

Review: Reading this book felt like being locked in somebody else’s fantasy.  Despite the serious subject matter in the two characters’ backstories, there was surprising little substance to the storyline.  Pretty much anything worthy of note about the characters is described in the book’s synopsis, and both characters were just too…perfect.  Any perceived “flaws” in their personalities were a direct result of their trauma, and were therefore not really flaws at all.  And of course both were tall, beautiful people with bangin’ bods.  By the end of the book I still knew very little about the characters other than they had both lived through a traumatic experience and loved working with horses.   The sex scenes also seemed wildly unrealistic (this is one of those books where the woman is achieving orgasms almost instantaneously, and of course a double climax at the end!). *insert eye roll here* I’m sure some people can enjoy this type of romance novel, but alas it just wasn’t for me.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star