The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

tattooistTaking into consideration that this is an eyewitness narrative, which I find preferable when it comes to Holocaust themed books, and an important historical account, I do wonder if Lale Solokov subconsciously or inadvertently romanticized the more uplifting parts of his story.

Memory is a tricky thing at the best of times, recalling memories made under extreme duress and/or trauma can sometimes interfere with the way we interpret memories.

I believe he made life seem simpler and less traumatic than it was. His relationship and encounters with Gita read like a complicated romance novel, and because of that some of the scenarios seem improbable.

When he or rather the author, relates the more brutal and heinous events there seems to be a reluctance to be cruel and honest. There is no such thing as gratuitous when it comes to laying bare the crimes of the Holocaust.

Again I am not sure whether that was Lale or the author changing the narrative just slightly to make the romance pop more or if it was just easier to focus on a more pleasant scenario. To remember the positive of meeting her instead of the negative of fearing she would die.

Like many survivors, Lale sat on his story for many decades. It wasn’t until Gita died that he decided the world needed to know his story. I can imagine he felt terrible survivor’s guilt and guilt in general for perhaps feeling like he contributed to the demise of many victims. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to see the physical proof of his personal trauma on real people. Being responsible for marking his fellow humans like cattle.To him it would have been irrelevant that he had no choice. Survival is an instinct, and I am glad a lot of survivors lived to tell the world about the heinous crimes of the Holocaust.

As I said before, the stories of survivors need to be told, without them there is more chance we will repeat the past. Morris does that in a sensitive way, and she brings a little lightness to a very dark story.

Buy The Tattooist of Auschwitz at Amazon uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

girl in the towerI adore this series. Arden is an incredible writer and possesses the ability to recreate the feeling of an old Russian master with the flair of a nouveau writer.

The author combines the magic and essence of Russian folktales with the creativity of high fantasy, and lets the reader experience the darkness of old tales told in front of fires and the power of ancient myths.

At the end of the first part of the trilogy, The Bear and the Nightingale, we left Vasya grieving for her father and protected by Morozko. In this second part she decides she wants to travel the world, to discover things beyond her village. Thanks to the new local priest everyone thinks she is a witch, which means she is a pariah and in danger.

So begins her venture into a world of rules, fear and cruelty. One Morozko would rather she didn’t experience at all, even if she has been gifted with a magical stallion, who will protect her. He struggles with his emotions towards Vasja and the inevitability of their separation.

In both books the author has made a point of shedding a light on the inequality between men and women, and how it impacts those who are deemed to be less equal than others. Part of Vasja’s drive to be free is connected to the limitations she experiences as a woman. The title is very apt in that sense. There is no freedom, but plenty of restrictions, and any deviation from the rules can ruin a reputation.

Once again Arden balances the mystical with exceptional storytelling and leaves the reader with the feeling of reading a Russian classic. It feels timeless and ancient.

I am really looking forward to The Winter of the Witch, the third part of this trilogy. Katherine Arden has proven herself to be a writer and storyteller of great skill, and I wager a few decades from now her Winternight trilogy will receive the recognition it truly deserves.

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Buy The Girl in the Tower at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Bear and the Nightingale Winternight #1

Coming August 2018 the conclusion to the Winternight Trology The Winter of the Witch

 

#BookBirthdayBlitz Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsella

Join me today to celebrate the Book Birthday Blitz for Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsella. Find out all about this debut fantasy novel and read my review. You can also win a signed copy of Ashael Rising (see giveaway below).

About the Author

Shona Kinsella is the author of Ashael Rising, (Unbound, 2017) the first in her series, The Vessel of KalaDene. She is also one of the editors of the British Fantasy Society’s fiction publication, Horizons. When she is not writing or wrangling her three children, she can usually be found with her nose in a book.

Follow @shona_kinsella on Twitter or ShonaKinsellaAuthor on Facebook

Buy Ashael Rising (The Vessel of KalaDene book 1)

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About the book

Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe.

The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on KalaDene 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.

Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of those taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.

When Ashael meets Iwan in the forest, neither realise that she is the one the Zanthar are looking for. The fate of KalaDene and all of its people rests on her shoulders.

Review

The Zanthar are an ancient race and the enemies of the so-called Cams, which are small communities of people who live from and off the planet they inhabit. They are a peaceful people and believe in the strength and powers of their healers. One of those healers is Bhearra and she is training a young woman called Ashael. The young woman seems to have more than an affinity for healing. In fact recently she has started to do more than she should be capable of.

The Zanthar think she is part of a prophecy, a vessel of some sort that will allow them to regain power they lost many centuries ago. They place a spy in the small community to weed out the so-called vessel, in an attempt to kidnap her and usurp her power.

Ashael has no idea where the power comes from, and she certainly has no idea how to wield it, which could mean the difference between life and death. The Zanthar also don’t seem to be completely convinced she is the magical being in question or rather how to get the vessel to work in their favour.

Loyalty and trust play a pivotal role in this story. Would you betray someone you love to save another? How do you choose who to save in that situation? Then there is the question of endless power corrupting, is Ashael in danger of being corrupted by this newly acquired status?

This is quite a strong debut, which is not an easy feat when it comes to fantasy. I think Kinsella has tossed her training wheels aside and is well on her way to navigating the book world with skill and a lot of creativity. It will be interesting to see where she takes The Vessel of Kaladene.

Buy Ashael Rising  at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Many thanks to @shona_kinsella & @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources

GiveawayWin a signed copy of Ashael Rising (Open Internationally) click the link below to enter the giveaway

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#BlogTour Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb

Bringing this fantastic Blog-Tour to an end today, and it has been a humdinger of a tour with some fantastic blog posts. Steph Broadribb is making her mark on the book world in a very big way.

About the Author

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards shortlisted in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts.

Follow @crimethrillgirl & @Orendabooks on Twitter or @crimethrillergirl on Facebook

Visit crimethrillergirl.com

Buy Deep Blue Trouble

About the book

Single mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is thratening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Ale Monroe. Bring back-on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free.

Following Fletcher from Florida to California. Lori teams up with local bounty hunter De McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up. Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything…

Breathlessly paced, and bursting with high-voltage and edge-of-your-seat jeopardy. Deep Blue Trouble is the unmissable next instalment featuring one of the most memorable and fearless female characters in crime fiction.

Review

Following on from the success of Deep Down Dead (Lori Anderson #1), Broadribb brings us another fast-paced adventure with her feisty female protagonist Lori Anderson, bounty hunter extraordinaire. A story that doesn’t pull any punches, entertains the reader and yet delivers a warm-hearted emotional read at the same time,

One of the personality traits that makes Lori such a driving force, is her hot-headedness. It is also what stands in her way, especially in this story. She becomes her own worst enemy when she sees discrimination and chauvinism in every work situation. Not that it doesn’t exist, however sometimes we are less inclined to evaluate our own behaviour or our own frame of reference.

Lori cuts a deal to save her mentor, her ex-lover and the father of her child. She has to bring in a fugitive she has apprehended before, in order to keep JT alive. Sounds like a simple job except said fugitive is a killer, and someone seems intent on screwing with the case and with her personally.

To make matters worse, and her life a wee bit more complicated, Lori still hasn’t told JT the whole truth about Dakota. Avoidance is an excellent strategy as far as she is concerned.

Deep Blue Trouble brings action to the table with a subtle layer of snark and the suggestion of what women have to deal with when they work in a domain predominantly inhabited by men. The characters are strong, the premise is compelling and most importantly the combination of those things promises more Lori Anderson books in the future. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Broadribb has a natural flair for writing. It appears to just flow like a sweet melody, but with a lot of sass and violence. Lori Anderson is set to be a permanent fixture on the landscape of crime, and Broadribb in the book and literary-world.

Buy Deep Blue Trouble at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Deep Down Dead

#BlogTour Almost Forever by Laura Danks

It’s my pleasure to start off the Blog-Tour for this unexpected delight of a read. Laura Danks brings the expected and yet still manages to capture her readers and take them along for the duration of this very emotional ride.

Follow @auradanks @HQDigitalUK on Twitter or LauraDanks on Facebook

Buy Almost Forever

About the book

Can love truly conquer all?

When a vicious attack leaves Paul in a coma on his wedding day, the doctors fear he will never wake up. But his fiancée Fran will never give up hope.

Fran has always known Paul is the only man for her, from the first moment they locked eyes as children to the day he finally told her he loved her. Paul can’t leave her, not now their lives are just about to begin. Love will always find a way… won’t it?

Review

I’ll admit I was expecting a different read based on the blurb and the cover. I was actually pleasantly surprised and recommended it to a friend before I had even finished reading the book.

The reader follows Fran on her path to adulthood, her first crush and kiss, and how she experiences the first throes of passion. The confusion she feels when she finds herself lusting one brother and loving the other one. Just the general befuddled state of any teenager during the great hormonal hike and emotional minefield of love, lust and crushes.

The story is about Fran accepting the love she feels and the man she loves, only to nearly lose him during a random act of violence. She finds it difficult to cope with the situation, she doesn’t want to have to let go of him.

For me Almost Forever is much more than just a love story. It is a tale of hope, perseverance and about life after the worst case scenario. How a teenage infatuation grows into a fierce loving relationship. A no holds barred dissection of her life up to that point in time.

Danks brings emotions to the table, albeit with a fair bit of drama, and isn’t afraid to shy away from what some readers really want and still deliver the predictable yet satisfying ending. Danks also brings the expected, and yet still manages to capture her readers and take them along for the duration of this very turbulent ride of emotions.

Buy Almost Forever at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Genuine Fraud by E.Lockhart

genuine fraudThere are definitely comparisons to be drawn to The Talented Mr Ripley, just with main characters of the opposite gender.

I think at one point I lost the plot and wasn’t sure who was pretending to be whom. It was a wee bit confusing at times, which is probably what made this a less enjoyable read. Too disjointed, and not enough clarification.

We begin at the end and return to the beginning to understand how Jules and Imogen get to know each other, and how the two of them end up the way they do. The longing for a connection and a friendship leaves one of them dead and the other hiding.

It’s a story of lies, delusions and about the social status of each girl. How the desire to belong and be friends becomes an obsession, which culminates in an uncontrollable internal anger.

Personally I think the story was flighty and underdeveloped. It lacked clarity, and the characters were weak versions of what they should have been. It could have been so much more, despite the similarities to the aforementioned book.

Buy Genuine Fraud at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @elockhart  @BonnierZaffre

The Death File by J.A. Kerley

the death fileI’m not sure whether the author intended to make a very specific character so annoying that he would be unforgettable, but it made the reading experience almost painful.

The other theory is, and I hope this isn’t true, that it was an attempt to make the character appear more hip and like the youth of today.

No one walks around saying ‘hashtag’ this and ‘hashtag’ that every ten seconds, especially not the young people of today. I felt it was detrimental to the story and the reading experience in general.

Unfortunately Carson’s brother doesn’t make an appearance in this book, which is a shame because their dynamic is an interesting element of this series.

The killer is apparent quite early on, so the thrill isn’t about finding the killer, it is more about chasing him while he is always ten steps ahead.

Whilst the characters of Carson, Harry and Tasha are memorable and have an interesting dynamic, the tone of the premise is brought down by the dialogue between the killer and everyone else.

Buy The Death File at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for nay other retailer.

Follow @jackkerley

Visit jackkerley.com