Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

January 5, 2018 in Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Tattooist of AuschwitzThe Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Published by Bonnier Zaffre on 11th January 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars

Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tätowierer– the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance.

His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the result of years of interviews between the author, Heather Morris, and Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. Originally written by Morris as a screenplay, she has now adapted her work to create her debut novel – and what a debut it is! Based upon Lale’s own harrowing story, this is a book that needs to be read and shared, with subject matter that should never be forgotten.

I actually wrote a whole draft review upon finishing this book, but honestly, I just didn’t feel like it did the book justice. I’m actually of the mind now that nothing I write will properly convey my feelings on this book. So, please, stick with me as I try to string some words together.

Lale was 24, a smart, linguistic young man from a Jewish family living in Slovakia. Every family in Slovakia was forced to provide one child over the age of 18 for work detail with the Germans. Lale volunteered himself to save his family, to prevent them from being rounded up into a concentration camp. Not knowing where he was headed or what would face him, Lale left home impeccably dressed as always, ready to face his fate.

This was how Lale found himself crammed into a cattle carriage with other men, headed for Auschwitz. Lale was assigned to the sister camp, Birkeneau and there made a promise to himself that he would survive. His intelligence and charisma meant he was noticed among thousands of others and assigned the role of Tatoweirer, the tattooist – a position which offered him a slightly better life in the camp, but with the traumatic task of marking every prisoner for life with their assigned number. It was through his role as Tatoweirer that Lale set eyes on Gita, a young lady who compounded Lale’s determination to stay alive.

Lale used his relative freedom in the camp to help others, to source and deliver food to keep his fellow prisoners alive, but such actions put him in great danger.

Lale seems like such an incredible man. His attitude, philosophies, and kindness shine through in this novel. I feel that Morris has done a brilliant job of telling this story – I couldn’t put this book down. Despite the horrors within its pages, this is also a tale of love, friendships, and hope. It’s a story that made me stop and think about the individual stories of other prisoners in these camps, what they had to do to stay alive and who they lost along the way. Stories that we will never know but that we should never forget existed.

This is a short novel but it packs a huge punch; the combination of Heather Morris’ storytelling and Lale’s unforgettable true story make this book impossible to put down.

PS I still don’t feel like my words have done this book justice, so just please READ IT!

five-stars

Review: All The Wicked Girls

October 16, 2017 in Book Reviews, Crime, Mystery

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: All The Wicked GirlsAll The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker
Published by Bonnier Zaffre on 24th August 2017
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she's a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama - especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.

Then Summer goes missing. Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally.

But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

When Summer Ryan goes missing in Grace, Alabama, it is feared that she is another Briar Girl. Girls have been going missing and the Police Dept is yet to uncover the truth of their disappearances.

So Summer’s twin sister Raine takes it upon herself to find her sister, and enlists the help of two local boys Noah and Purv. Noah’s late father was a police officer and Noah wants to emulate him and his heroism. While Summer and Raine may be twins they are very different. Summer is academic and musical, Raine hangs out with guys getting drunk. As different as they may be they love each other fiercely and Raine will do whatever it takes to find her twin.

This novel is packed full of characters and somehow in just 339 pages we get an insight into their histories. That in itself is impressive. I’ll admit being overwhelmed at first by the number of names; my foggy brain couldn’t keep up. But slowly we uncover more about them all and the citizens of Grace, Alabama, seem a lot more real, more than a blend of names.

As we follow Noah, Purv and Raine while they try to find Summer (throwing themselves into harm’s way in the process), we are also treated to chapters from Summer. Through these chapters we learn more about the missing girl, much more.

Then, of course, there are the other missing girls, the Briar Girls – will they ever solve the mystery? Perhaps with Noah and co. on the case.

I don’t want to give you much more information for fear of spoiling the evolution of this story. What I will say is that this is not only a mystery novel but a look into a small community where that person next door you might look to have it all, may actually have their own hidden struggles and secrets.

four-stars

Review: What We Didn’t Say

August 1, 2016 in Book Reviews, Contemporary, General fiction

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: What We Didn’t SayWhat We Didn't Say by Rory Dunlop
Published by Bonnier Zaffre on 30th June 2016 (ebook)
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Jack and Laura have separated. Jack thinks it's all Laura's fault.

Laura disagrees.

Jack writes to Laura, desperate to put across his side of the story.

Laura interrupts.

Wryly sarcastic and intensely well-observed, What We Didn't Say is about that gap between words and feelings where relationships live - and die.

What We Didn’t Say tells the story of Jack and Laura’s marriage. Told through a unique style; a compilation of emails, diary entries and letters, this novel had me captivated from the outset.

Jack’s diary tells the story of their separation – or rather his side of the story. Laura has added her own notations, corrections and sarcastic comments to the text.

From the start, it’s clear that this compilation of information is for their child, Michael, on his eighteenth birthday. This isn’t a spoiler – it’s literally the first paragraph of the novel. I liked how Dunlop shares this information with us from the outset – we know there is going to be a child however we’ve no idea how, why or where he fits into the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the format and the way the story was told. I enjoyed getting the perspectives of both Jack and Laura together. Rather than a chapter for each character as I’ve read in many books, we get both sides of the story simultaneously – Jack’s through his diary entry and Laura’s through the comments she adds throughout. We never really know whose version is more accurate, or if either of them are telling the truth, but that’s the beauty of the unreliable narration in this novel.

As for the writing itself, Dunlop paints such a clear picture with his words. His descriptions are beautiful and plentiful, but at no point do they ever feel too much. Indeed, this is an incredibly easy book to read – I couldn’t put it down!

It’s a brilliant, intelligent, poignant and thought provoking read. It will absolutely make you consider your own relationships and everything you didn’t say!

I’m delighted to be welcoming Rory Dunlop to the blog this Friday (5th August) as part of his blog tour. He’ll be sharing the inspiration behind  What We Didn’t Say. Be sure to pop back to read his post. In the meantime don’t miss the other stops on the tour!

What We Didnt Say Blog Tour_Banner (1)

 

four-stars