Author: Pam Jenoff
Published: September 22, 2016
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma’s husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city’s decrepit, moldering Jewish ghetto. But then, in the dead of night, the resistance smuggles her out. Taken to Krakow to live with Jacob’s Catholic aunt, Krysia, Emma takes on a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a gentile.
Emma’s already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who hires her to work as his assistant. Urged by the resistance to use her position to access details of the Nazi occupation, Emma must compromise her safety—and her marriage vows—in order to help Jacob’s cause. As the atrocities of war intensify, so does Emma’s relationship with the Kommandant, building to a climax that will risk not only her double life, but also the lives of those she loves.
Y’all know I’m all about WWII fiction. I saw this on sale and jumped at it. I’ve never read Jenoff before so I was excited to read a new author. Overall, I liked this book. It’s not really a plot driven book, definitely all about the characters and philosophy. I liked the premise of looking at the ethics of many of the Resistance members’ actions throughout the war. It’s an interesting perspective that not everyone thinks about.
On the other side though, I think “hindsight is 20/20” actually hurts the story. Most of the time when Emma questions herself and her actions, I was sitting there condemning her indecision because why wouldn’t you do everything possible to defeat the Nazis?? But the more I read, the better it got. But having said that, I don’t know if single people would react the same way that attached people would. I can definitely say that if I didn’t know Ivan and I was single, I would totally have been harder on Emma. Get your feelings under control girl and do your job! But reading it as a married chick who is completely in love with her husband, the lines were blurrier.
Basically this book is one big ethical dilemma that will certainly keep you thinking, even after you finish it. And that’s why I gave it a higher rating than I was initially thinking. A good historical fiction book with interesting and relatable philosophizing thrown in.
Author: Kate Quinn
Published: February 26, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted…
Bold, reckless Nina Markova grows up on the icy edge of Soviet Russia, dreaming of flight and fearing nothing. When the tide of war sweeps over her homeland, she gambles everything to join the infamous Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on Hitler’s eastern front. But when she is downed behind enemy lines and thrown across the path of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, Nina must use all her wits to survive.
British war correspondent Ian Graham has witnessed the horrors of war from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials. He abandons journalism after the war to become a Nazi hunter, yet one target eludes him: the Huntress. Fierce, disciplined Ian must join forces with brazen, cocksure Nina, the only witness to escape the Huntress alive. But a shared secret could derail their mission, unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.
Seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride grows up in post WWII Boston, determined despite family opposition to become a photographer. At first delighted when her long-widowed father brings home a fiancée, Jordan grows increasingly disquieted by the soft-spoken German widow who seems to be hiding something. Armed only with her camera and her wits, Jordan delves into her new stepmother’s past and slowly realizes there are mysteries buried deep in her family. But Jordan’s search for the truth may threaten all she holds dear.
I loved this book so much!! It has everything historical fiction should. The timeline was clear and flowed easily. There wasn’t a single character that I disliked.They all had chemistry that worked well. And what was so nice was that I already knew who the Huntress was. It was obvious from the very beginning and the story was far more about the journey, the backgrounds of the characters, the research, the legal details. There were certain mysteries that unraveled the further into the book I got. It was interesting learning how Anneliese got from Germany to the US. I thought Ian’s journalism throughout the war was an interesting twist. I absolutely fell in love with Tony! Everything about him was perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. Nina was a frickin badass and I think there should be more female characters like her! She and Jordan, the young photographer who was never taken seriously but had great dreams, should be the role models put out for girls today!
To be honest, the technicalities of photography never interested me much, but Jordan’s passion was contagious. The emotions were so thick and I felt the tension build more and more. I got so invested in the outcome that I couldn’t put the book down! I definitely recommend this book and I know consider it to be one of my favorite historical fiction books!
Author: Heather Morris
Published: January 27, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.
I have had my eye on this book for quite a while, so when I found it at Sam’s Club for cheap, I grabbed it! Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype. I love Holocaust literature and I am a huge supporter of Holocaust education. I’m not going to say that this is a bad book, because it isn’t. However, it is not my favorite Holocaust book. And to be clear, it is a work of fiction. Jessica sent me an article from the Auschwitz Memorial Museum and they pointed out that there’s too much vagueness and even straight up inaccuracies in Tattooist for them to recommend it as “valuable reading for people who want to learn and understand the history of Auschwitz.” I knew it was fiction when I picked it up so that doesn’t really surprise me nor does it change my feelings.
There are two reasons I’m giving it 3 stars:
The first does go along with what the Memorial said, that it wasn’t completely accurate, even in its general portrayal of Auschwitz. I’m a historian and I’ve studied the Holocaust so I have a standard already set in my head when it comes to the concentration camps and Tattooist doesn’t really meet it. Auschwitz sounded too livable in this book. It lacked a sense of horror that other accounts convey. I had to fill in what I already knew about Auschwitz to get that dread and terror that normally comes when reading about the Holocaust. That did bother me some.
The second reason is Lale himself. Far be it from me to criticize a Holocaust survivor and I completely acknowledge that our modern society influenced me in this case: Lale was a little pervy. He admitted to learning how to flirt with his mother, that his romantic expectations were set by his mother . . . and I just kept waiting for it to come out that he was actually a serial killer! I know that’s such a horrible thought, but it’s truly what I was expecting every time he brought up his mother and their relationship! I get that boys can learn how to treat women from their mothers, and I know that’s what was going on, but it still got a kinda cringey the more he talked about it. Too many times, I thought, “ok TMI! Didn’t want to know that! Keep that crap to yourself!”
I really wanted to love this book and it was ok, but I wouldn’t recommend this to too many people. Obviously if you like historical fiction, you’ll probably enjoy this book, but I would not recommend this to teens or as educational material.