Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Brothers of Auschwitz by Malka Adler (TLC Book Tour)


 

Dov and Yitzhak are part of a family of four children that live in a small village in the mountains of Hungary.  One day the Nazis arrive in their village and they are told they need to get on a train and leave their home.  The conditions are horrific, and the family is split up.  Who will survive?

 I’ll admit, I had a hard time with this book.  I love to read WWII historical fiction and I’ve read other books that take place at least partly in a concentration camp.  This book is a good look at the extreme hardships that were endured in the concentration camp.  It was very bleak and depressing.  The randomness of who survived and who died was heartbreaking.  Their initial fate upon arrival was decided by a white gloved Nazi officer who sorted everyone.  Items like that really stood out such as the beautiful music played by the orchestra at the camp or the German child who would give Yitzhak sandwiches through the fence that helped him to survive.  Another stand out item was having to hide on the top bunks so that the Germans wouldn’t see how skinny you were and decide you were unable to work.  It was also heartbreaking when Yitzhak returned home after the war to find someone else living in his house.  He really wanted to find his cat, but it had not been seen.  The person that had taken over his house kept repeating how all of the Jews were gone and it was his house now.  It’s strange to think that you could just rip entire families away from their life and then afterwards they had no where and no one to return to.

 The novel is told like an interview with Dov and Yitzhak.  They are telling their story in first person narrative in different chapters.  The story read like broken English and was hard for me to get into.  It made more sense to me in the author’s note at the end to discover that the author was originally from Bulgaria and that the this was a true story.  Yitzhak lived with her family when she was a baby right after WWII and she grew up with him as part of her family.  She interviewed both brothers and wrote this book as a result.

 The story is told in three main parts.  The brothers experience in Auschwitz, being liberated and their postwar experiences, and then their later life in Israel.  Everything wasn’t bright and happy once they were liberated from Auschwitz.  The brothers have to live with PTSD and survivor’s guilt for the rest of their lives.  The end of the book has a great author note, interview, and reading group discussion.

 Favorite Quote:

“My hunger was full of eyes like the angel of death.”

 Overall, The Brothers Auschwitz is a deep look into what it was like for survivors to expe

rience a concentration camp and how that impacted the rest of their lives. 

 Book Source:  Review Copy from Harper Collins for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!  For more stops on this tour, check out this link.

About The Brothers of Auschwitz

• Paperback : 464 pages • Publisher : One More Chapter (September 1, 2020) 

  An extraordinary novel of hope and heartbreak, this is a story about a family separated by the Holocaust and their harrowing journey back to each other. 

 There was a good orchestra at Auschwitz. I could immediately hear it was good. I almost wept for the beauty of it, but the large pile of striped pajamas stayed in my mind, and I didn’t cry…

  Dov and Yitzhak live in a small village in the mountains of Hungary, isolated both from the world and from the horrors of the war. But one day in 1944, everything changes.  

The Nazis storm the homes of the Jewish villagers and inform them they have one hour. One hour before the train will take them to Auschwitz.

 Six decades later, from the safety of their living rooms at home in Israel, the brothers finally break their silence to a friend who will never let their stories be forgotten.  

Narrated in a poetic style reminiscent of Margaret Atwood, Malka Adler has penned a visceral yet essential read for those who have found strength, solace and above all, hope, in books like The Choice by Edith Eger and The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Malka Adler

Malka Adler was born in a small village near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. She began her work as an author when she turned 50. After taking a creative writing course, she fell in love with the art. Malka has written six books, four of which are about the Holocaust. She obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees in educational counselling at Bar Ilan University and is a family and couples' therapist, writer and facilitator of several reading clubs.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole


 The description of When No One is Watching is that it a thriller that is Rear Window crossed with Get Out.  This intrigued me and I was happy to get a gifted copy from William Morrow for review.

 Sydney Green has returned to her childhood home in Brooklyn after her own marriage has ended to help out her ailing mother.  She is putting together a historic tour of her neighborhood to highlight the black history and is begrudgingly assigned a new assistant, her new neighbor Theo.  He has moved to the neighborhood with his girlfriend, but their relationship has headed south quickly.  As Sydney and Theo work on putting together the history of their neighborhood, they start to notice strange things happening.  Why are long time neighbors suddenly disappearing?  Why are people trying to “gentrify” and change the neighborhood?

 I don’t want to go too far into the plot and ruin it for everyone, but I was RIVETED by this thriller and couldn’t put it down.  I loved that it made you question both Sydney’s sanity and Theo’s motivations.  I wasn’t sure who to believe.  The final part of the book was terrifying as it seems like something that COULD happen – especially in 2020.

 I liked that When No One is Watching took a hard look at gentrification and what it means to a neighborhood.  It is a very timely read.  I really liked the character of Sydney. She had to make hard decisions during a trying time, and she defended her own.  She was a strong woman.  I would LOVE to see When No One is Watching turned into a movie.  This book was truly an original story and kept me guessing all of the way through the end.  I need to check out Alyssa Cole’s romance novels and keep her on my radar for her future books.  I loved it.

 Favorite Quotes:

“People bury the parts of history they don’t like, pave over it like African cemeteries beneath Manhattan.”

 “Most of my childhood was spent blundering in the wake of my mother’s turbulent decisions.”

 “I lean back into it and we watch that shit burn down.”

 “The thread goes on and on, but almost every entry is more or less the same thing; marginalized people disappearing.”

 Overall, When No One is Watching is a timely thriller that looks at the dark side of gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood.

 Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow. Thank-you!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster


 

Title:  Summer Darlings

Author: Brooke Lea Foster

Read by:  Rebekkah Ross

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: Approximately 11 hours and 18 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Audio.  Thank-you!

 

It’s 1962 in Martha’s Vineyard.  JFK is the President.  Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe are super stars.  Heddy Winsome has finished her third year at Wellesley and is working as a nanny to a rich couple, Ted and Jean-Rose Williams.  They have two children, a six-year old named Teddy and a four-year old named Anna.

 

This story is told in roughly three sections.  The first section of the book we meet all of the characters and Heddy is in awe of the splendor of 1960’s Martha Vineyard and the people who populate it, including a movie star next door.  We also find out that Heddy has lost her scholarship and is desperate to return to college.  She is the daughter of a single mother and grew up in Brooklyn.  Her father was a rich man with a family of his own and wanted nothing to do with his illegitimate child.  In the second part of the book, there is a love triangle between Heddy, Ash, and Sullivan.  Ash is the surfer boy from old money that lives next door, and Sullivan is a musician that comes from a very wealthy family.  The last third of the book turns into a heist complete with blackmail. 

 

I loved the setting and the feel of the time period.  I thought this was good escapism reading (or listening).  I was a bit thrown by the end of the book and thought there was a bit of anti-gay sentiment to it.  Otherwise, I liked the romance, and especially liked Heddy’s coming of age story.  Her movie star neighbor and mentor, Gigi was a delight.

 

Rebekkah Ross was a delightful narrator and was the voice of Heddy to me.

 

Overall, Summer Darlings is a great summer / COVID escapism read that sets you into the decadent world of the 1960’s elite.