#The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (Translated by Lilit Thwaites)

For readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice: this is the story of the smallest library in the world – and the most dangerous.

‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

Published April 4th 2019 by Bonnier Zaffre (UK) 

~ Review ~ 

It doesn’t matter how many times you read books or watch movies, the stories of Auschwitz never fail to shock. The Librarian of Auschwitz charts fourteen year old Dita’s experience as the custodian of a clandestine library  consisting of just eight books. It is truly a story of courage.

Dita is imprisoned in Block 31 – the family block. Conditions are as horrific and dangerous here as anywhere, and schooling and books strictly banned. But a secret school is in operation, lessons are whispered to the children, and the eight precious books closely guarded over. It astounds me that despite the cruelty, starvation and deplorable and desperate conditions and the certainty that discovery will mean death, people have such courage. Some of the books are written in a language nobody recognises, or are reference books and adult books beyond the children’s understanding. But it was what the books represent that make them so important – knowledge, humanity and hope.

I was concerned going in that this was a translated book, but it didn’t feel so and none of the power or emotion of Dita’s story was lost. There are other people’s stories along the way, and as you may expect this isn’t an easy read. It’s horrifying, shocking and incredibly sad. But it’s also inspiring, humbling and filled with hope. It broke my heart over and over, at points I couldn’t continue to read and had to walk away due to the intense emotions it provokes. It’s a difficult book to review, as I feel I do not have the eloquence to do it justice.  A moving story of human courage during the darkest of times.  Highly recommended to everyone.

( I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publisher and Netgally)

 

#BookReview – A dangerous Act Of Kindness by L.P Fergusson ( @Canelo_co )

What would you risk for a complete stranger?

When widow Millie Sanger finds injured enemy pilot Lukas Schiller on her farm, the distant war is suddenly at her doorstep. Compassionate Millie knows he’ll be killed if discovered, and makes the dangerous decision to offer him shelter from the storm.

On opposite sides of the inescapable conflict, the two strangers forge an unexpected and passionate bond. But as the snow thaws, the relentless fury of World War Two forces them apart, leaving only the haunting memories of what they shared, and an understanding that their secret must never see light.

As Millie’s dangerous act of kindness sets them on paths they never could have expected, those closest to them become their greatest threats, and the consequences of compassion prove deadly…

A Dangerous Act of Kindness is a beautiful, harrowing love story, perfect for fans of Rachel Hore and Santa Montefiore 

Published March 28th 2019 by Canelo  

~ Review ~  

In my teens I had a bit of an obsession for the book, The Summer Of My German Soldier, reading it over and over. I still have that battered copy.  As soon as I read the description for A Dangerous Act Of Kindness I was reminded of it, and had to read it.

Millie is a grieving widow, single handedly running her farm in the rural countryside during World War 2. When she discovers an injured German pilot sheltering in her barn she has a choice – turn him in or help him, risking her own safety.

I’m fascinated by these choices – what would I do? I’m always drawn to these characters who help and risk there own safety and I always want to see the good in people. And there’s also something so enticing about an illicit love affair – which of course developes between Millie and Lukas.  I adored the romantic tension that prickled between the two. I was completely caught up in it, hoping for a happy outcome.

The book covers several years of the war and gives a lot of detail, clearly extremely well researched. It was interesting to read about Lukas life as a British prisoner and to read the perspective of young German man, caught up in a war he didn’t want, conflicted with his nationality. I also liked reading about rural life during the war and how Millie’s community were involved.

There were quite a lot of subplots – at times I thought a little too much which diverted my attention from the main story I wanted – that of Millie and Lukas. I thoroughly enjoyed their story and hoped against hope they could be together someday. With some fascinating descriptions, clearly well researched, and a lacing of a gorgeous romance, this was a good read and will appeal strongly to those who enjoy reading about this period in our history.

(I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

**Due to some unforeseen circumstances, this is a late contribution to the blog tour that took place earlier this month. Please do check out these other brilliant bloggers to see what they made of it!

a dangerous act of kindness

Six In Six – A Look Back At Some Of My Top Books Of 2017 So Far…

6 I saw this over at Cleopatra Loves Books, and thought it was a great idea to look back at books read so far in 2017. Hosted by Jo’s Book Journey, the idea is sharing 6 books, in 6 categories from the first half of the year. So here’s my choices:

6 Books I Have Enjoyed The Most 

 

 

6 Psychological Thrillers I Have Read & Enjoyed 

 

 

6 New To Me Authors 

 

 

6 Covers I’ve Loved

 

 

6 Books Which Took Me To The Past 

 

 

Six Books I Own & Can’t Believe I Haven’t Managed To Read Yet 

 

Book Review: The Edge Of Dark by Pamela Hartshorne

A dark and twisted tale exploring the haunted relationship beween past and present, for fans of Kate Mosse and Barbara Erskine

Jane believes in keeping her promises, but a deathbed vow sets her on a twisting path of deceit and joy that takes her from the dark secrets of Holmwood House in York to the sign of the golden lily in London’s Mincing Lane. Getting what you want, Jane discovers, comes at a price. For the child that she longed for, the child she promised to love and to keep safe, turns out to be a darker spirit than she could ever have imagined. Over four centuries later, Roz Acclam remembers nothing of the fire that killed her family—or of the brother who set it. Trying on a beautiful Elizabethan necklace found in the newly restored Holmwood House triggers disturbing memories of the past at last—but the past Roz remembers is not her own. (from Goodreads.com)


Published by Pan Macmillan March 2015 (PB) (UK)

I love stories that switch between time periods, particularly ones that merge past and present. Sadly, I haven’t read any of Pamela Hartshorne’s previous work, but after reading The Edge Of Dark this is something I intend to correct as soon as possible.

The Edge of Dark follows the story of Roz, who has just moved to York to work on the grand opening of Holmwood House to the public. But on entering the Elizabethan mansion, Roz is instantly unsettled. When she tries on a beautiful necklace from the era she is suddenly transported through vivid visions to the life of Jane, 400 years previously. In unravelling the disturbing secrets of Jane’s life, Roz finds her own past entangled between the dark and sinister secrets. It’s a past she doesn’t even remember, and one she isn’t sure she really wants to.

Pamela Hartshorne combines two complex and sinister lives with tangible threads spanning the 400 year period between her two main protagonists. I loved how she made neither Roz or Jane’s stories of greater importance, both being utterly compelling in their own right. Often in books which have a timeslip element,you find one era dominating, usually the historical one and thus more interesting to read. In this case I enjoyed both characters equally and wasn’t disappointed to leave either when the narrative switched.

And oh, how well that narrative was switched! Not on a chapter by chapter basis, the two eras and characters blended effortlessly mid-page…sometimes even mid sentence, giving a beautiful seamless and fluid feel to the whole book. I’m awestruck at how the author managed this without ever causing confusion.

With richly evocative depictions of Jane’s life in the sixteenth century, I loved how the historical period was brought to life. Coupled with the creepy atmosphere of the present Holmwood House and some dark, vengeful characters haunting both Jane and Roz, The Edge Of Dark is a deliciously compulsive read. I became so completely engrossed in this book, the world around me disappeared along with several hours of my day. I loved this book, and would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and timeslip novels. It’s one of my personal favourites now from the selection I have read.

I read the Hardback edition courtesy of the publishers

Book Review: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

A captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922, and the summer that would change them both. Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and an icon for her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita to make it big in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle is a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip. She has no idea what she’s in for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous blunt bangs and black bob, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will change their lives forever. For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might prove an answer to the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of the summer, Cora’s eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive (From Goodreads.com) 

I don’t think there’s any other period in time as enticing as the 1920’s, and that’s certainly what drew me to this book. I hadn’t heard of Louise Brooks (a real actress of the period who this fictional story is centred around) but I was looking forward to reading about the glamour of New York during this exciting time.

What was surprising is this isn’t what the book is about. I was expecting stories of Flappers and Speak-easies, glitz and glamour. Instead, this is a very quiet yet thoughtful book about a woman’s journey in finding herself in a time when the very essence of the society she has grown up with is changing at lightening speed.

Told through the eyes of Cora, the actresses 36 year old chaperone, we see through her eyes the changing attitudes in both her small town in Kansas and New York with themes including class division, poverty, women’s rights, racism and homophobia. I love the way Cora developes throughout this book, from typically narrow-minded to a pioneer and champion of the underdog. It’s all very quiet and subtle, and spanning decades rather than set in only in the 1920’s you really get a feel of the shifting changes. I think in this respect, Laura Moriarty really grasps and evokes history.

So, was I disappointed in the lack of glamour of the roaring twenties? Slightly…I must be honest. After all, that’s what I went into the book expecting. I also thought the book lacked a little drama at times and lost pace in the middle, with the final third spanning fifty years a little too quickly. Nonetheless once I finished it, I did have plenty to think about and in turn appreciate it. The Chaperone is a story of one woman’s journey of acceptance, both of herself and others. Who without people such as her, we wouldn’t have the far more accepting and diverse world we have today. She’s a normal woman, who does nothing particularly heroic…but she’s quietly brave in her fight against repression and I very much enjoyed her story.

Published by Penguin UK April 2012
My copy was an advanced readers copy from the Amazon Vine program.