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 Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

Cast out by her family in Nazi-occupied Holland, seventeen-year-old Noa saves a baby from a train bound for the concentration camps, fleeing with him in the snowy night into the woods surrounding the tracks. She stumbles upon a German circus, led by the famous Herr Neuhoff, where each performer has their own history and secrets. They agree to take in Noa and the baby, on one condition – she must earn her keep, and the circus is short of an aerialist. Noa will be trained by the star trapeze artist, Astrid, but first they must learn to trust one another: as they soar high above the crowds, there are more than just their own lives at stake. And as it becomes clear that even the circus cannot hide from the war forever, loyalty may prove the most dangerous trait of all.

The Nightingale meets Water For Elephants in this powerful story of friendship, love and sacrifice loosely based on several true stories from World War II, uncovered by Jenoff in her research. 

Published 23rd February 2017 by Harpercollins UK   
I loved the sound of The Orphan’s Tale from the moment I read about it. Stories set during WW11 have always drawn me to them and equally, I find the life of the people living and working in the circus fascinating and intriguing. The fact that this book combined both was unusual and I began reading this book as soon as it arrived, not looking up for at least 100 pages. 
The book tells the story of two women, both very different from each other but who find themselves intricately connected, both dependent on each other for their own survival. Noa has nowhere to go, she’s been banished by her family, relinquished her own baby in a country where his safety isn’t certain and is living in a store cupboard in the train station where she cleans. What Noa comes across here is truly shocking and upsetting to read, it turned me cold and broke my heart. I had to stop reading for a few seconds while I composed myself. 
What Noa does next sees her fleeing for her life, and that of the Jewish baby she saved. But with no money and nowhere to go, her attempts might be in vein if it weren’t for being discovered by members of the circus. Here she is offered a chance, learn the trapeze and perform for the circus and she will be protected. But the star artist of the trapeze act is furious to be landed with such a task. Yet as much as Noa needs the protection of the circus, Astrid does too..she’s also Jewish.and training Noa to take the limelight may be her only chance to survive in Nazi Germany.  
The Orphan’s Tale is told in alternative chapters from both women. I loved the contrast between the two. Astrid is strong, powerful, controlled and dignified. She’s suffered heartache and loss, and you can feel the weight of what she carries through every word of her chapters. Her strength comes from her talent and dedication to the circus, and Pam Jenoff describes Astrid’s passion for the trapeze with such conviction, I could feel her adrenaline while imagining her swooping across the air. Astrid’s character really got to me, I respected and admired her, grieved for her and hoped for her. 
Noa, in  comparison, is naive, and is often rash and reckless. She rushes into situations without thinking them through, acting as her heart tells her. It’s this rashness that drives her to take the baby from the train, demonstrating such spirit and courage. My opinion of Noa was conflicted through the book, the trait of acting with her heart resulting in extraordinary bravery at times, but also foolishness. Noa’s actions where not always selfless, risking the safety of those who protect her for her own desires. On one occasion I did actually wonder if anyone would be as foolish as Noa in her situation, and found her defiance and recklessness frustrating. However, there is something about the childlike quality of her character that stops her becoming unlikable. 
The relationship between Noa and Astrid is difficult and built on resentment, jealousy, desperation and mistrust. yet each of them needs the other, and must learn to trust-not only if Noa is to succeed but for their very survival. I loved the development of the relationship throughout the book, and think that is what The Orphan’s Tale is about – the complexities of two people, thrown together in extraordinary circumstances that create a unique bond. It’s about trust, loyalty, acceptance and survival. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking, leaving me with tears streaming down my face more than once. I’d recommend it.  
Yesterday, I hosted the blog tour for The Orphan’s Tale with an exclusive extract from the book. You can find it here

Blog Tour: Exclusive Extract From The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

 
Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in Pam Jenoff’s blog tour for her latest book, The Orphan;s Tale I read this wonderful book last week and will be posting my review very soon. I can promise you now though that it is moving, mesmerising and heart-breakingly beautiful. Enjoy an exclusive extract below and don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, Author Q&A’s and a giveaway. 



Cast out by her family in Nazi-occupied Holland, seventeen-year-old Noa saves a baby from a train bound for the concentration camps, fleeing with him in the snowy night into the woods surrounding the tracks. She stumbles upon a German circus, led by the famous Herr Neuhoff, where each performer has their own history and secrets. They agree to take in Noa and the baby, on one condition – she must earn her keep, and the circus is short of an aerialist. Noa will be trained by the star trapeze artist, Astrid, but first they must learn to trust one another: as they soar high above the crowds, there are more than just their own lives at stake. And as it becomes clear that even the circus cannot hide from the war forever, loyalty may prove the most dangerous trait of all.

The Nightingale meets Water For Elephants in this powerful story of friendship, love and sacrifice loosely based on several true stories from World War II, uncovered by Jenoff in her research.  


Published 23rd February 2017 by HQ – Harpercollins Uk


It has been three days since Erich returned unexpectedly early from work to our apartment. I threw myself into his arms. “I’m so glad to see you,” I exclaimed. “Dinner isn’t quite ready yet, but we could have a drink.” He spent so many nights at official dinners or buried in his study with papers. It seemed like forever since we’d shared a quiet evening together.
He did not put his arms around me but remained stiff. “Ingrid,” he said, using my full name and not the pet name he’d given me, “we need to divorce.”
“Divorce?” I wasn’t sure I had ever said the word before. Divorce was something that happened in a movie or a book about rich people. I didn’t know anyone who had ever done it—in my world you married until you died. “Is there another woman?” I croaked, barely able to manage the words. Of course there was not. The passion between us had been unbreakable—until now.
Surprise and pain flashed over his face at the very idea.
“No!” And in that one word I knew exactly the depths of his love and that this awful thing was hurting him. So why would he even say it? “The Reich has ordered all officers with Jewish wives to divorce,” he explained. How many, I wondered, could there possibly be? He pulled out some documents and handed them to me with smooth strong hands. The papers carried a hint of his cologne. There was not even a spot for me to sign, my agreement or disagreement irrelevant—it was fait accompli. “It has been ordered by the Führer,” he adds. His voice was dispassionate, as though describing the day-to-day matters that went on in his department. “There is no choice.”
“We’ll run,” I said, forcing the quaver from my voice. “I can be packed in half an hour.” Improbably I lifted the roast from the table, as though that was the first thing I would take. “Bring the brown suitcase.” But Erich stood stiffly, feet planted. “What is it?”
“My job,” he replied. “People would know I was gone.” He would not go with me. The roast dropped from my hands, plate shattering, the smell of warm meat and gravy wafting sickeningly upward. It was preferable to the rest of the immaculate table, a caricature of the perfect life I thought we’d had. The brown liquid splattered upward against my stockings, staining them.
I jutted my chin defiantly. “Then I shall keep the apartment.”
But he shook his head, reaching into his billfold and emptying the contents into my hands. “You need to go. Now.” Go where? My family was all gone; I did not have papers out of Germany. Still I found my suitcase and packed mechanically, as if going on holiday. I had no idea what to take.
Two hours later when I was packed and ready to go, Erich stood before me in his uniform, so very much like the man I had spied in the audience beyond the lights the day we met. He waited awkwardly as I started for the door, as if seeing out a guest.
I stood in front of him for several seconds, staring up beseechingly, willing his eyes to meet mine. “How can you do this?” I asked. He did not answer. This is not happening, a voice inside me seemed to say. In other circumstances, I would have refused to go. But I had been caught off guard, the wind knocked out of me by an unexpected punch. I was simply too stunned to fight. “Here.” I pulled off my wedding band and held it out. “This isn’t mine anymore.”
Looking down at the ring, his whole face seemed to fall, as if realizing for the first time the finality of what he was doing. I wondered in that moment if he would tear up the papers that decreed our marriage over and say we would face the future together, whatever the odds. He swiped at his eyes.
When his hand moved away the hardness of the “new Erich,” as I called him in the recent months when it had all seemed to change, reappeared. He pushed the ring away and it clattered to the floor. I hurried to pick it up, cheeks stinging from the roughness of his once-gentle touch. “You keep it,” he said. “You can sell it if you need money.” As if the one thing that bound us together meant so little to me. He fled the apartment without looking back and in that moment the years we shared seemed to evaporate and disappear.
Of course I do not know Herr Neuhoff well enough to tell him any of this. “I’ve left Berlin for good,” I say, firmly enough to foreclose further discussion. 

About Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff is the internationally bestselling author of several novels, including The Kommandant’s Girl, which was a finalist for both the Quill awards and the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal. Pam draws inspiration for her books from her service as a diplomat for the State Department in Europe working on Holocaust issues, and her experiences as the politically-appointed Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon. She also practiced law at a large firm and in-house, and is on the faculty of Rutgers School of Law. Pam received her bachelor’s degree in international affairs from The George Washington University, her master’s degree in history from Cambridge University, and her juris doctor degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children. Find out more about Pan on her website, pamjenoff.com, on Facebook @PamJenoffAuthor, or follow her on Twitter @PamJenoff.