*Note, while I will try to avoid major spoilers, I sometimes won't be able to help it.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

"The Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel" by Heather Morris

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 T├Ątowierer (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


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I have read a lot on the holocaust. The majority of what I have read is non-fiction, and the majority of that is memoirs. However, many of the fiction pieces I have read are just as memorable and almost as gut wrenching as pieces written by people who lived through the experience. Naturally, when I came across The Tattooist of Auschwitz, it caught my attention. I knew nothing going in other than the the title, so at first I didn't realize that it was based on the true accounts of Lale Sokolo. I'm sad to say that I wasn't very impressed with this particular book.

The story at the heart of the novel is fascinating. I did my own research on the real people in this novel and the history behind the novel is nothing short of amazing. Lale was an incredibly courageous man and his love for Gita is so inspiring. Their lives after the novel were also interesting. So why didn't this novel appeal to me? I think the first thing that bothered me was the writing. The novel is written in first person, which didn't work for me. I wondered if the technique was chosen so that it didn't feel like a piece of history but instead like the reader was really there in the moment. Whatever the reason, it was somewhat annoying to read. Additionally, I felt like the writing itself was rather bland. Morris does a good job of hitting all of the correct beats that one would expect to find in a book that takes place at Auschwitz, but I never really felt terror like I expect when dealing with such subjects. I felt like I was moving from one moment to the next, but in a way that wasn't compelling. I liked that the story got started almost immediately, with almost not build up, but it still felt rather boring throughout it's entirety. I also struggled because scenes transitioned at odd times without much warning. The last thing that bothered me, was that this book is a novel. Heather Morris describes meeting with Sokolo before writing the book. I can't help but wonder what liberties were taken that made this book be listed as a work of fiction. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if it weren't fictionalized.

I suppose it should be noted that I watched Schindler's List for the first time the night before I read this novel. Perhaps the bar was unfairly raised. Maybe, I was subconsciously expecting more than could be delivered in a novel. Whatever, the reason, this book wasn't for me. I'm glad I read it because I was able to learn the captivating history of several people, I just wish that I had come across these people in a different context.

Happy Reading!
-Melly

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Blog Tour: "Paper Girl" by Cindy R. Wilson



Paper Girl
by Cindy R. Wilson
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Release date: December 4th 2018
Entangled Teen

Summary:

I haven’t left my house in over a year. My doctor says it’s social anxiety, but I know the only things that are safe are made of paper. My room is paper. My world is paper. Everything outside is fire. All it would take is one spark for me to burst into flames. So I stay inside. Where nothing can touch me.

Then my mom hires a tutor. Jackson. This boy I had a crush on before the world became too terrifying to live in. Jackson’s life is the complete opposite of mine, and I can tell he’s got secrets of his own. But he makes me feel things. Makes me want to try again. Makes me want to be brave. I can almost taste the outside world. But so many things could go wrong, and all it takes is one spark for everything I love to disappear...
 


About the Author
Cindy lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and loves using Colorado towns and cities as inspiration for settings in her stories. She's the mother of three girls, who provide plenty of fodder for her YA novels. Cindy writes speculative fiction and YA fiction, filled with a healthy dose of romance. You'll often find her hiking or listening to any number of playlists while she comes up with her next story idea.
Author Links:
  



Blog Tour Organized by:
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Book Tour: "Illusions" by Madeline J. Reynolds


Illusions
Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Victorian
Release Date: November 6th 2018
Entangled Teen
Summary:

Dear Thomas,

I know you're angry. It's true, I was sent to expose your mentor as a fraud illusionist, and instead I have put your secret in jeopardy. I fear I have even put your life in jeopardy. For that I can only beg your forgiveness. I've fallen for you. You know I have. And I never wanted to create a rift between us, but if it means protecting you from those who wish you dead—I'll do it. I'll do anything to keep you safe, whatever the sacrifice. Please forgive me for all I've done and what I'm about to do next. I promise, it's one magic trick no one will ever see coming.

Love,
Saverio



About the Author

Madeline J. Reynolds is a YA fantasy author living in Chicago. Originally from Minneapolis, she has a background in journalism and has always loved storytelling in its various forms. When not writing, she can be found exploring the city, eating Thai food, or lost in an epic Lord of the Rings marathon.

Author Links:




Blog Tour Organized by:

Friday, October 26, 2018

Book Tour: "Poohsticks Bridge" by The Birch Twins


Poohsticks Bridge
by The Birch Twins
Genre: Romantic Fiction

Beginning as a childhood game, Poohsticks Bridge tells the sweet story of a friendship between two children that, through the years, blossoms into adult love with an unbreakable bond and faith in one another. John and Melissa are tested throughout their lives by hardships, pain, and separation, yet their love and determination to live life together to its fullest never falters. In today’s culture of having everything, this couple shows us how a few, simple things can lead to a satisfying and fulfilling life. 



Poignant in the extreme, you’ll want to keep the tissues nearby. These two will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love … with life and with them.




I write under the name “The Birch Twins.” Helen, my twin, didn’t live to see life, and so I write for her. I’m a full time poverty stricken doll artist who took to writing as I seemed to spend more time writing out little back stories for the characters I created. My first book The Life of LOL was written in five weeks, and was about gangsters, grifters and drifters. Lots of cartoon slapstick violence mixed with a serious message.
Poohsticks Bridge, the new novel, shows my twin’s voice at is strongest as it tells the story of a little boy who begins to grow up lonely and alone, until he meets a little girl. It’s a glimpse of a life that Helen and I could have had together. She writes through me, I can feel her presence and hear her voice. Her tone is often wistful, low on movement, mature and often quiet, while I am brash and loud and full of silly car chases and boyhood dreams of rockets to the moon. We have the perfect writing partnership.



Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

YA Discovery Contest

THE ANNUAL
YA DISCOVERY CONTEST

BEGINS

NOVEMBER 1ST!!



No query? No pitch? No problem!




 Get in front of top YA Editors and Agents
with only the first 250 words of your YA novel!

Serendipity Literary Agency is hosting our 2018 Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest.

Do you have a young adult novel—or a YA novel idea—tucked away for a rainy day? Have you been putting off pitching your idea simply because you’re not sure how to pitch an agent? No problem! All you have to do is submit the first 250 words of your novel and you can win exposure to editors and a critique of your manuscript by one of New York’s TOP literary agents, Regina Brooks.
 
Regina Brooks is the CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency and the author of the award-winning book Writing Great Books For Young Adults, now available in its second edition.

—NOVEMBER IS NaNoWriMo—
In honor of National Novel Writing Month (
NaNoWriMo.org)—an international event where aspiring novelists are encouraged to write an entire novel in 30 days—this contest is meant to encourage the aspiring YA author to get started on that novel by offering an incentive for completing the first 250 words.
You too can join one of the many contest finalists who have gone on to get a top tier agent and an amazing publishing deal!


 
Testimonial

“I never had much luck with query letters. Writing about my book was harder than writing the book itself! So, when I saw the Discovery Contest, I jumped at the chance to let my book speak for itself. I was thrilled when I won…but not as thrilled as I was when I was offered representation. Getting my agent was just the start: what followed was invaluable revisions and development that transformed my book from a great story into an unforgettable journey. Shortly afterward, The Whitecoat’s Daughter was sold at auction, and is now due for publication with HarperCollins in 2018. We’re beginning work on foreign rights and talks with film agents and it’s hard to believe that all this started with winning a contest. I always said I just needed someone to read the book—not a query letter: the book­—and it turned out I was right. The Discovery Contest gave me the chance I needed, and I will always be grateful.” 
—Olivia Cole, “The Whitecoat’s Daughter”
(retitled "A Conspiracy of Stars")
(Garnered a two-book deal at auction with Katherine Tegen Books)

So… Enter To Win November 1st!! 


Great Prizes
The Grand Prize Winner will have the opportunity to receive a full manuscript critique from YA literary agent Regina Brooks, plus a collection of gourmet teas from Possibiliteas.co!
 
The Top Five Entrants (including the Grand Prize Winner) will receive a 15-minute, one-on-one pitch session with Regina Brooks, one of New York's premier literary agents for young adult books.  They will also receive commentary on their submissions from editors at HarperCollins, Little, Brown, Macmillan, Skyhorse, Simon and Schuster, Abrams Books, Penguin Random House, Disney, and James Patterson’s new imprint, JIMMY Patterson.  
 
First 50 Entrants receive a copy of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.



Here's How It Works