My copy of this book may look a little loved & it should, for a multitidue of reasons.
Generally speaking, I stay away from books whose synopsis include anything about a romance. Romance novels are just not my cup of tea, or rather not my cup of coffee; I love tea but dislike coffee, but The Tattooist of Auschwitz has become an exception. My mother recommended it & so I dove right in without reading the synopsis. I'm glad I did because had I read it I likely would have skipped reading it altogether.
I was surprised to read a couple of negative reviews on Goodreads.com. At first, I thought the people who left negative reviews needed to reread the book because they clearly hadn't read the same book, but after a few moments to digest their views, I realized there was some truth to their critiques. The writing is a bit stale at certain points, but I don't believe that's entirely the authors doing. It was her job to retell a story told to her by Lile Sokolov himself & while certain leeways needed to be taken to turn their conversation into a novel, I feel she did a great job walking a fine line between creating too much fiction in a true-story & enhancing his dictation enough to make it an entertaining & informing book. Could she have embellished a bit more, & rewritten recalled conversations? Absolutely, but I'm glad she didn't; it keeps the authenticity of the story.
The horror that was the Holocaust is still incomprehensible for me. I will never understand how anyone could be so cruel, inhuman, & just completely monstrous towards his fellow man. Lile & Gita suffered through nearly 3 years of complete hell before their nightmare ended & The Tattooist of Auschwitz is Lile's retelling of that period in their life. Lile, being bilingual, is both blessed & cursed with the daunting task of tattooing the numbers that become the identities of those imprisoned in Auschwitz-Birkenau. His position offers him more rations, better sleeping accommodations, & ultimately it is his privileged role within the camp that allows him the ability to smuggle food & medicine to his fellow prisoners. But it all comes with a cost.
Their story is inspirational & one that needs to be told. Sadly, I feel as though too many are forgetting the horror that took place in camps such as Auschwitz only 75 years ago. Books like this one are important reminders of the mistakes humanity does NOT need to repeat.
I started reading this book and had quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. From mocking the different types of friends we all have, to pointing fingers at the women who don't wash their bras on the daily, but then things got serious. My laugh-out-loud moments turned into moments of deep thought as Luvvie talked about topics ranging from racism to feminism, rape culture, and us privileged folk (I say "us" because according to her, and I have to agree, being born white immediately gives me an advantage over others who were not born with pearly white skin).
"I'm Judging You" wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be, well, the first few chapters were, but it took a twist I wasn't expecting until it smacked me in the face like a piece of cold bologna. Normally, I will breeze through a good book in a day, or two, but it took me nearly a week to finish "I'm Judging You." Not because it wasn't good, it was, but I found myself stopping to highlight comments I found interesting or thought-provoking, I even have hand-written notes in the margins of some of the pages.
Honestly, my only gripe about this book is the use of profanity. My father always told me intelligent people don't need to use profanity to drive their points home. There were definitely more than a few points in this book when I found myself questioning Luvvie's choice of words, but it didn't stop me from reading.
If you are easily offended or make faces when someone uses less than flattering language, don't pick this book up. If you're looking for a somewhat humorous, but thought-provoking book, read on my friends, read on.
The days of reading a book from start to finish in a single day are long gone as my sweet baby girl tends to soak up the majority of my time. I know this time is fleeting so I'll happily sacrifice my 'me' time as I know there will come a day when she won't need or want me quite as much as she does now.
I started Wonder several weeks ago, but only just finished a few days ago. It's a good book, an inspiring story, and I am looking forward to enjoying the movie adaptation, but I have to be honest, I wasn't as thrilled with the book as I had hoped I would be.
Auggie is a boy born with a severe facial deformity, and despite years of surgeries attempting to correct natures errors, he's left scarred and still with deformities.
My biggest disappointment with this book is the lack of realism. Sure, there are a handful of mean kids in the book, but the overall tone is very cheery; unrealistically upbeat. Kids who don't have such noticeable physical abnormalities, like Auggie, are bullied for much smaller infractions. Society today can be very cruel and unforgetting, not to mention insensitive and just downright mean. I thought the book would be a bit more...true-to-life.
None-the-less I enjoyed reading how each person in Auggie's life responded to the reaction the world had to his appearance. It was a nice, easy read; one I could set aside, and return to without feeling as though I had to backtrack to find my footing.
Sometimes finding a good book is like trying to find a four-leaf clover; nearly impossible. I've always enjoyed reading, but like any good reader, I sometimes find myself in a reading slump. Book after book, author after author, and nothing holds my interest or keeps me wanting to turn the page.
In an attempt to help ward off the frustration that sometimes finds an avid reader, I've put together a little list of 7 books I REALLY enjoyed.
Hopefully, this list can end the drought for some and keep the dehydration from the lack of good book, at bay for others!
Out Of My Mind
Sharon M. Draper
"Everybody uses words to express themselves. Except me. And I bet most people don't realize the real power of words. But I do. Thoughts need words. Words need a voice."
Out of My Mind is an eye-opening read about the trials and tribulations someone with disabilities faces. We've all done it whether we want to admit it or not. We see someone in a wheelchair soiling themselves with their own drool, unable to talk or walk, and we assume they're unintelligent.
Introducing Melody. She has Cerebral Palsy and a photographic memory. Her ability to learn, to absorb information, is far superior to others. The only difference is she can't verbalize her knowledge or her desire to learn more like the rest of us can, but that all changes when she is introduced to Elvira.
A Monster Calls
"As if Conor didn't have enough to contend with, his nights are filled with nightmares, or rather one repetitive dream filled with dread, fear and a real life monster who seeks the scariest thing of all
A Monsters Calls will not be everyone’s cup of tea, beer, or whatever beverage you prefer to drink, but it really pulled at my heartstrings. It's unlike anything I've ever read before. It's kind of what you would call an old-fashioned fairy tale. Not your typical Disney rendition where everyone lives happily ever with singing birds in a big castle, but the original stories that were meant to scare kids into behaving.
It's the type of book you pick up thinking it will be filled with predictability, and may even be a bit childish, but the reality is it's not at all what you think.
A Man Called Ove
“He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the looks of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s flashlight.”
Ove is quite literally the definition of a grumpy old man. He could be labeled as rude and withdrawn, the kind of man who yells at kids for walking on his lawn. He's methodical and logical in every sense of the words and does what is right simply because it is right. Well…he does what he thinks is right, even if it’s considered socially unacceptable. Like punching a hospital clown for being a bit too anxious to get his clown gloves on a few coins to for a magic trick.
Underneath the cranky, unapproachable exterior lies a story; a sad, heartbreaking story. A series of terrible accidents and unfortunate events have led to the man called Ove, and rightfully so. But, despite it all, Ove is a better human being than most of us.
Every fiber of the reader in me LOVED this book. A Man Called Ove has undoubtedly earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf.
***There is a movie adaption of this book, subtitles only.***
The Butterfly Garden
While readingThe Butterfly Garden I really wasn't sure how I felt. There were several moments when I simply closed the book and took a moment to gather my thoughts. It's a dark novel, written eloquently, but with very dark undertones.
The Gardener's obsession with butterflies is taken to an extreme when he begins collecting young women. They are given names, different from that of their birth name, tattooed with intricate wing designs and forced to live in a preservation jar of his own creation until the night of their twenty-first birthday.
Again, this is not a book for those who are easily disturbed or upset by...nontraditional writing.
"Life is a gift. Don't forget to live it."
Everything, Everything is a book I picked up by accident at a local whole sale store. I read the blurb on the back cover and decided for eight bucks, it was worth a try. A book about a girl with a rare autoimmune disease that keeps her trapped in the house like a prisoner. It could either be an amazingly entertaining book or a complete dud. I was with the ladder of these two roads after reading the last page, but I have read reviews by readers completely disappointed by the ending. It's kind of predictable, but maybe not. Give it a chance, I think you'll like it.
***There is a movie adaption of this book, I have not seen it...yet.***
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
“I could feel the window in which I viewed the world- no larger than a pinhole back then- broadening somewhere at the back of my mind just by looking at him.”
Minnow Bly and her family traveled to the middle of the woods when she was just a young girl, under the leadership of a prophet; to a new beginning. A beginning that would completely distort how she thought about the world she lived in. Meteors became bombs, shooting stars’ weapons of mass destruction, and stars were the eyes of God. At least that's what the prophet said.
"Fear floated around like constant pollen, but none of us were allergic."
The prophet has been murdered, and the village set ablaze. Minnow finds herself in a juvenile detention center and missing a lot more than just her hands (you'll have to read the book to figure out what that's all about). Will she ever be able to regain her freedom? To live a life of normalcy, away from the cult.
Be Frank With Me
Julia Claiborne Johnson
Be Frank With Me has so many "only in Hollywood" moments, it definitely keeps you on your toes. It will make you laugh with hilarious one-liners, and cry with sympathy for just how awkward Frank is at times, and how lonely he must feel. You're sure to keep reading just to see what happens next.
Have you read any books recently that got you out of reading slump and back into the swing of things? Please share! I'd love to expand this list!
The Girl Without A Name
If anyone is looking for a good book to read, by a fellow Buffalonian, I highly recommend Sandra Block's book "The Girl Without a Name."
Sandra may be a graduate of Harvard, but she returned to Buffalo roots to continue her medical training, she never left; a true Sabres fan. Sandra is now a practicing Neurologist and author with "The Girl Without a Name" being her second book in the Zoe Goldman series.
I picked up the book at the same used bookstore that had the display of banned books (click here to read that post). The book came with rave reviews from the shop's owner so, I thought I'd give it a try.
Given the author's background, I had assumed the premise of the book would be about some obscure diagnosis to explain the patient's identity and catatonic state. Obviously, the book has a lot of medical terminologies, nothing too crazy so don't let that scare you away, but the ending is something I did not expect. A twist of all twist.
It's an easy read and one that checked off a lot of my reader like boxes. Give it a try and support a local writer!
The Magnolia Story
Chip and Joanna Gaines
I always knew my husband would be a great father, but I also knew it might take him a few weeks to fall into his new role as 'daddy.' I mean, it took me several weeks to fall into my new role as 'mommy' and, let me honest, I'm still figuring things out. However, I never once worried about my husband leaving the house and forgetting to take our daughter, Shelby, with him.
One of the first sneak peaks into Chip and Joanna's life comes in the form of a story about Joanna going for a run shortly after the birth of their first son, Drake. Chip makes a lavish breakfast for her as a surprise but in the process forgets to take their son to the store with him. It doesn't happen once but twice and the third time, well, what happens in-place of Chip forgetting to take Drake is even more...alarming, yet funny.
If you're a fan of the hit TV show Fixer Upper on HGTV then you know exactly who Chip and Joanna Gaines are and chances are you have fell in love with the dynamic duo just like millions of others have. There's something about their down-to-earth personalities and the humor that Chip sneaks into every episode that's really enjoyable.
I happened upon the show while on maternity leave and lets just say I was hooked after the first episode. Chip decided that tightrope walking across the lake from a houseboat to the dock was a good idea. He fell in and proceeded to do the rest of the show in his undies. The series is sweet, funny and the houses-goodness-they are gorgeous.
The Magnolia Story travels through time with the couple as they share little tidbits about their life and how they ended up where they are. It's a fun read filled with giggles and insight that many of us could use about the simplicity of life and chasing our dreams.
A Monster Calls
Conor's mom has cancer, and his father has moved to America to be with his new wife and baby. School is anything but an escape as his teachers shower Conor with nothing but pity, excusing all bad behavior, and fellow students only view him as an easy target for bullying.
As if Conor didn't have enough to contend with, his nights are filled with nightmares, or rather one repetitive dream filled with dread, fear and a real life monster who seeks the scariest thing of all
Though this book is recommended for readers between the ages of 12 and 17, there are no age limits on something this good, this memorable.
I doubt A Monsters Calls will be everyone’s cup of tea, beer, or whatever beverage you routinely drink, but it really pulled me in and grabbed at my heartstrings. It's unlike anything I've ever read before.
It's the type of book you pick up thinking it will be filled with predictability and may even be a bit childish, but the reality is it's not at all what you think.
A Monster Calls is what I would refer to as an old fashion fairy-tale. Not your typical Disney rendition where everyone lives happily ever after in a giant castle with singing birds and romantic notions, but the traditional kinda filled with a bit of fright and lasting impact, like the original Hansel and Gretel.
Not only is the context of the book so profound, but it's one of the few books I think you really need to purchase a hard copy of. There are illustrations throughout the book that are just as profound and meaningful as the words written on the pages.
I feel as though I am trying to say more, without doing any real justification to this book, not to mention I don't want to give too much of the story away. It really is just one of those books you need to read for yourself to really understand and appreciate the literacy behind it.
A Monsters Calls will absolutely be joining the elite group of books of which I hold onto. Definitely has a permanent place on my bookshelf.
I picked up Unstoppable Stilettos on a whim after seeing a post on Facebook by Special Books by Special Kids about a little girl born blind and abandoned by her birth parents. The had made a previous posted about Lauren and her book, Unstoppable Stilettos, so I decided to give it a try.
Normally, I steer clear of self help books, but Unstoppable Stilettos is more than just your average "feel good" read. At just nine months old Lauren experiences her first menstrual cycle. Yep, you read that right, a baby with a menstrual cycle. It's shortly after this anomaly that her parents are handed a diagnosis of McCune-Albright syndrome. McCune-Albright syndrome being a rare condition that affects bones, skin and the Endocrine System. With a diagnosis and bleak outlook, doctors inform Lauren's family of the harsh future she will likely endure and advise that she will likely be wheelchair bound with an uncertain medical future.
Despite her diagnosis Lauren is determined and refuses to give into the stigma that generally surrounds handicapped persons. In fact, at just five years old she makes the decision to not be dependent on a wheelchair, and at 30 something years old now, she is still NOT wheelchair bound. She, in fact, prefers the added height and confidence she gains from wearing and strutting her stuff in a good old pair of stylish stilettos. She does have braces and occasionally needs help from friends and family, but she does not label herself as handicapped and she certainly does not use her condition or her situation as an excuse. Lauren chases her dreams with a perseverance that most of us wish we possessed.
While I enjoyed the story, the writing fell flat and I often found myself thinking "didn't she already say that...a couple times?" There were definitely moments throughout the book where the words "broken record" repeated in my mind.
Lauren is undoubtedly a very talented women, but I don't think her talents expand to the written word. Her story is definitely worth sharing, but this book should not be read with the intent to be met with a critical eye. It's just an inspirational perspective from someone with an interesting and impactful story.
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
When I first picked up the Harry Potter books as a pre-teen, I was not impressed. In fact, I started and never even finished the first book. My mom was super disappointed since she had purchased the whole set figuring I would be like every other bookworm my age and absorb into the series like a melted marshmallow into a s'more. I just didn't get what all the hype was about and I actually found the characters to be really annoying.
There's been a few times throughout my adulthood that I have pondering picking the series up again, but nothing really motivated me to follow through until the recent release of Harry Potter & the Cursed Child. Curiosity set in and I picked up Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone for the second time. This time I finished it...and moved on to the second book...and the third...
Needless to say I am thoroughly enjoying the series. I'm not running out to the store to purchase a Harry Potter or Hermione costume for Halloween, but I can see why the series was, or is, so popular and I will be finishing the series in its entirety. It's simply magical! Even if my husband likes to poke fun at me for reading a children's book while waiting at the OBGYN's office for our 24 week pregnancy check-up. There's a kid in all of us and I highly recommend picking up this series if you haven't yet. It really is a magical world to be apart of. One that takes you away from adulthood, and brings you back to the imagination and simplicity of enjoying a magical adventure.
I'm sure you know the gist of the series, but just in case you don't, here-ya-go: Harry Potter's parents were killed when he was just a babe. He's shipped off to live with his muggle (non-wizard, non-magical) aunt, uncle and cousin. He's made to live in a cupboard under the stairs and knows nothing of his wizarding parents or his true powers until his thirteenth birthday. Harry's world changes forever the moment Hagrid steps into his life as Harry is tossed into the wizarding world of Hogwarts and learns the true history of his parents death, and the mysterious scar on his forehead.
Playing With Fire
I've been in a bit of a slump when it comes to reading lately. I know us bookworms go through funks when we just can't seem to find that one book that gets us back into the swing of turning pages, but after reading City of Dark Magic and A Short History of Women, my zest to start another book was lacking for fear any book I choose would be a disappointment. I haven't even mustered up the energy to write reviews for either of the above mentions books as I don't have much of anything constructive to say about them other than I didn't like them...at all.
I'm happy to report a quick trip to the grocery store led to the purchase of Playing With Fire, and brought an end to my reading funk! Yay! (It also brought an end to my ban on sugary drinks as I ended up purchasing a gallon of Apple Cider, but hey, can't win them all!)
Being that I am normally not one to browse the books in the magazine aisle of the grocery store, I was pleasantly surprised to find such an intriguing book purely by accident. It was meant to be!
Playing With Fire is an awesome mix of historical fiction and modern day thriller, not to mention the author, Tess Gerritsen, is my new idol. She started writing fiction when on maternity leave from her physician's position. Now she's completely retired from the medical profession and writes full-time. *Sign* Some day that'll be me....
Anyways, Julie Ansdell is a professional violinist who when in Rome, purchases a book of old music from an antique store. Little does she know a hand written piece titled "Incendio" would change her life in ways she never expected. From the first time she plays the piece, she notices it's beautiful yet haunting tones and finishes only to find her three year old daughter, Lilly, has murdered the family cat. (Normally this would have been immediate cause for me to put the book down, being the huge animal lover that I am, but something told me to keep going, and I'm glad I did)!
Parts of the book take place in modern day Massachusetts where Julie lives with her husband and daughter, but the rest of the book follows the history and creation of "Incendio" as heartbreaking and haunting as its history is. Playing With Fire is multi-faceted and so, so good playing on almost every emotion a reader can imagine; suspense, happiness, love, fear, sympathy, wonder, so many emotions and the ending! Oh, the ending! I never saw it coming and I don't think you will either, but it definitely doesn't disappoint! It's one of those endings that shocks the reader, but isn't overly dramatic.
I highly, highly recommend making a pit stop in the magazine aisle to pick up Playing With Fire on your next trip to the grocery store!
An avid reader with a thirst for knowledge, and adventure through words printed on paper.
Books Read in 2020
*The Tattooist of Auschwitz