The Librarian of Aushwitz by Antonio Iturbe Book Review

Goodreads Summary:Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

My rating:4/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My thoughts:

I’ve read my fair share of holocaust fiction- I was pretty much raised on it and though admittedly grade three is a little young to be reading such dark material it is a part of my people’s history and it’s a a topic that will always be close to my heart. While I definitely wish that there was less holocaust fiction and more fiction concerning Jews outside of this horrific event, I always like to come back to one of the genres that really shaped me as a reader. There’s so much that I still don’t know and with every book I read, I feel like I learn more and more. Sometimes I’m scared that I’ll get too desensitized but it’s actually the opposite- the more I read the more my heart hurts.

I had never heard of the woman that this story was based around,Dita Kraus,prior to this book and I’m really glad that I’ve learnt something new. I think it’s extraordinary that this is based off of real events, extraordinary to think of all the brave people.There’s so much that we don’t know about the Holocaust, so much that we may never know but with stories like these we get to know one more piece in the large puzzle. I think that books like these need to continue to be written but it has to be done right because so many books focus on the “good” nazis way more than we need to and as a Jew I don’t want hear about the good nazis. I understand that not every Nazi was some horrible soulless monster but it’s a narrative that I’m interested in, Fortunately while there was a side plot featuring a nice Nazi but it was very short and not a huge focus so while it slightly irked me it wasn’t that bad.

One thing that made the book slightly less enjoyable was the fact that it was translated. I always find translated novels to be a lot more difficult to read and I’m always questioning whether the writing style is bad because it’s translated or because that’s how it was in its native languages. While I think translated books are a great opportunity to expand the type of books I read, it still made it a little difficult to read and took me longer to read. While I did find it a little long, I also found that the ending was a little rushed. It kind of sounded more like an afterword as opposed to a work of fiction- obviously since it’s based off of real events and people, the details are going to be accurate but since it’s still a fictionalized recount I think that the style switch was odd. It finished so abruptly and could’ve been done much more seamlessly

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The Temptation of Adam By Dave Connis Blog Tour- Review+ Q&A+ Giveaway


Goodreads Summary:

Adam Hawthorne is fine.

Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists.

But Adam is fine.

When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel.

Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend. (less)

My rating:4/5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for an honest review.

My Review:

I admit that I was apprehensive upon first reading the synopsis for this book. I thought that I might be uncomfortable reading an entire novel with a main character that has a porn addiction but I’m all about reading outside of my comfort zone so I decided to give it a gander. I was pleasantly surprised and ended up actually really enjoying it! I’m really glad that I didn’t listen to my original hesitations because first impressions are so often wrong.

Dave Connis did an excellent job of developing the character of Adam: he doesn’t focus on the porn itself but more the addiction  and the reasons behind it which I really appreciated. His addiction was very complex and you really felt for Adams struggles even if you couldn’t relate to the nature of the addiction. I loved seeing the backstory that lead to his addiction and thought Connis showed the tulmutuous feeling that Adam really well. There were times where I felt Adam’s anguish as my own which is always a sign of a good book.

My favorite part of the book were the various relationships that Adam had. I really liked the various familial tensions that arose with his sister, mother and father. I thought that the sibling bond with his sister was portrayed in a really nic way and though there were problems they persevered. The relationship he has with his mother is the most complicated and for the majority of the book he refers to her as The Woman. There’s a lot of pent up anger involved when thinking of her which we see in the various dreams he has. I thought that the recurring dreams he has was a great way to express the complicated relationship he had with his mother. I liked seeing him workig through all these mixed emotions as the story progresses.

Another great relationship was that of the support group that Adam joins. All the boys are very interesting characters with their own unique problems who help Adam grow a lot. While I think we did quite a bit of backstory for each of them, I would’ve liked just a little more character development. I’m a huge fan of side characters so I always want the most that I can get out of them.

I’m still not sure how I feel about Dez. She’s the girl that Adam falls for and her character is incredibly fascinating. She’s kind of a manic pixie dream girl but one of the characters actually calls her out on that fact which is an interesting twist. She’s an extremely flawed character and as the story progressed she spiralled further and further which is very interesting to read. I just wasn’t that big of a fan of the romance between Dez and Adam: I don’t think it was necessary and I didn’t really see any chemistry between  the two of them. I would’ve preferred it if they were merely a platonic relationship.

My favorite relationship was with Mr Cratcher. At first Adam is very angry and doesn’t like him and calls him Mr Crotcher- only in his head tho. As the story progresses, their relationship deepens and we learn more and more about Mr Cratchers interesting past. I could honestly read an entire book about Mr Cratcher because he’s so fascinating. I thought that his passion for music was a wonderful touch for the book and I loved how it was a central theme throughout the entire novel. It made the book even more unique.

Q&A With The Author:

So many authors use the trope of the manic pixie dream girl but that character is never referred directly as such in the actual book, one of the characters directly calls out the fact that Dez is a manic pixie dream girl. Why did you chose to do that?

When I was writing TOA I had this idea for a character who had this sort of allergy to the mundane because of their addiction. People chase the highs of addiction. Generally, very generally, that’s why addiction happens. People set out to find an experience they can’t get from a normal non-modded life. When I started to write Dez, she seemed to demand this sort of personality. I’ve known some MPDG type people and I’ve found that they typically adopt those sorts of idiosyncratic characteristics in their search for meaning and value. Dez is one of them in that just couldn’t take normality. Everything had to be modded in some form or fashion to feel like it mattered. It was part of her high. She didn’t know anything else. Normality was to be avoided at all cost because she’d decided that normality was a place of emptiness. Not only that, she has this whole family dynamic pushing her towards being as completely opposite from her family as possible, which also gave her a placebo comfort. Of course, this turned into her acting like a pixie manic dream girl. There wasn’t really any avoiding this from her. Her specific struggle and her family background just pushed her into MPDG space, and because of the issues with that trope, I didn’t just want it to sit, I wanted it to become part of the discussion of her character. Why was that headspace where she went to to feel like she had control? Why did she feel the need to make things bigger than they should be? What about those sorts of characteristics are just a part her never ending search for wholeness?

Tourwide Giveaway:

The winner will receive:

1. 1 finished copy of The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis

2. 1 digital copy of Dave’s companion album, Looking for Eden, courtesy of Dave Connis

3. 2 mini journals courtesy of Sky Pony Press

Details:

Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)

– Giveaway ends on November 9th at 12:00AM EST

 –
Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email and will have 24
hours to claim their prize
 

Giveaway

About The Author:

Dave Connis has held all manner of job, from ballroom dance instructor to construction worker. He is now a community manager at Code Corps, a platform where people can donate time, talent, and money to projects for social change. He also works as an assistant youth director at his church, Rock Creek Fellowship. He has a bachelor’s in community development with a focus on international economics from Covenant College. He is a member of the SCBWI. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife and son.

Find Dave Online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Buy A Copy: IndigoAmazon.ca |Amazon.com

True Love

I haven’t posted any writing on here in a long time but I wrote this one for creative writing class and I really liked it!! I missed writing gay short stories.
If there is one thing that I abhor the most it’s having my photo taken. I know it’s supposed to be a symbol of status and most people would kill to switch places with me but I can’t help but feel disgruntled. First the impractical clothes and hat then the poking and prodding from the photographer as he attempts to position me and then I’m not even allowed to smile! It’s a bunch of poppycock if you ask me but nobody cares to hear my opinion as I’m a lady and my opinion is as useless as a horseless carriage. I’m trying my best to get this over and done with but the photographer never seems to be satisfied.

        “Just because you can’t smile doesn’t mean it has to look like you’re attending your own funeral. I hear your are betrothed. Why don’t you think of him to make you happier,” The photographer says.

    I nod and try to picture James’ face in my mind but his is not the one I see. Delicate rosy cheekbones,emerald eyes and luscious brown locks are the features I picture. No matter how hard I try, she’s the one I always go back to. Memories of summers in the country where we would wade in the babbling brook and run in the meadow come rushing back to me. We had always been ” Ellie and Anna”: a perfect inseparable set.

” I really don’t want to go but mother is forcing me. She said she would stop my violin lessons if I didn’t go.” Anna says in exasperation as she sits in front of me on my bed.

“That’s ridiculous. I’m sure it won’t be that bad though. Louis is very handsome.”

“If he’s so handsome why don’t you go in my place?” Anna laughs that beautiful laugh of hers that always made my day better.

“It’ll be fine. One night and when it’s done, you can tell me all about it.” 

” But I don’t want to tell you about it. I want it to be you instead of Louis.”

“It’s always going to be you and I first Anna. But theres going to have to be other people one day.”

“You’re the only one I need.” As she puts her hand on my knee, and smiles it becomes clear that’s she’s no longer talking about our friendship. I don’t make any move to push her away as she leans in and presses her lips against mine. And though I know it’s so wrong, it can’t help but feel right.

***

The park has become our regular spot and we try to go there whenever we can. Nobody’s suspicious as we’ve always been close but mother keeps hinting at possible marriage proposals and it’s getting harder to push her away.

“My brother keeps asking about you.” Anna says, resting her head on my lap as we sit under the willow tree near the pond.

” Little Jamie?” A young overeager boy pops to mind, always wanting to tag along.

“He’s not so little anymore, James is 19 now and boarding school really changed him. He really likes you.”

” Well it’s too bad I’m already infatuated with another member of his family.” 

” He’s going to ask you to go to the Opera, and I want you to say yes. Just as a favor to me: mother is constantly nagging me and James taking you will be the perfect distraction.”

” Fine but just this once!” I lean in to kiss her and though it feels as though fireworks are exploding in my stomach, I can not help but feel tainted.

                                                              ****

“Ellie! Why have you been ignoring me? I’ve sent dozens of letters but you never respond.” Anna says as she barges into my room. I look up from the book I am reading.

“I sent you a telegram.”

” You said you were ill but it’s been nearly a month and I know you’re not sick! Anyway when has that ever stopped us from seeing each other? What’s the matter?”

“I just don’t think you and I can be friends anymore.”

” Is it because of James? He’s no longer heartbroken about you letting him down.”

” I never let him down.”  

Anna face fell as she realized what that meant,

” You lied to me? You both lied to me!”

” I love you Anna but I have to love James. I’m with child.”

“You’re with child?”

” It just happened and I need to marry him as to not ruin my father’s name.”

“What about me? Did you ever even think about me?”

” I did but what we did was wrong, loving you was wrong. I didn’t realize it until James. That is the life both of us need to live. You’ll always be my best friend but that’s all it ever should have been.”

” I see,” Anna bit her lip as to prevent the tears but they fall nonetheless.

” I’m sorry.”

” Not as sorry as I am.” Anna slammed the door behind her leaving me to cry my silent tears.

 ****

Ellie, Anna dropped this off while you were at the bridal shop. It seems to be a baby blanket. Anna seems to have great hopes for your future with James.” I take the blanket from mothers hands and studied it. Anna has never been the best knitter, but the blue yarn used was beautiful. I don’t know if this is her idea of an apology or a twisted joke and I really don’t care to know.

“Give it to one of your charities.” I say as I run up the stairs so mother won’t question me. Anna may have been my past but James was my future and nothing could jeopardize that.
The wedding is in mere weeks but it will not be the same knowing that Anna will not be my side. I try to block her from my mind but she always manages to wiggle her way into my thoughts. Every laugh I hear reminds me of her, every violin I see reminds me of her, everywhere I go there are reminders of her. I think of James and not a single fact about him comes to mind. I know nothing of him, and him nothing of me. We are total strangers. It shouldn’t be like that, I don’t want it to be like that. I want to know the person I am to marry better than I know myself, I want to feel their pain as my own. And I don’t. It is then that I realize something: what is normal and expected is not what will make me happy. 

I rip off the ridiculous hat and throw it on the ground as I run towards the door of the studio.

” Miss! We’re not done, I just need a few more minutes.”

” I’m sorry but true love can’t wait.” 

Anna can’t wait.