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Friday, February 24, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Born Survivors by Wendy Holden @wendholden @TantorAudio

AUTHOR: Wendy Holden
NARRATOR: Elizabeth Wiley
PUBLISHER: Tantor Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: January 31, 2017 (first published May 5, 2015)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 13 hrs and 8 mins 
GENRE: Nonfiction, History, Biography
ISBN: 9781515917618
Eastern Europe, 1944: Three women believe they are pregnant, but are torn from their husbands before they can be certain. Rachel is sent to Auschwitz, unaware that her husband has been shot. Priska and her husband travel there together, but are immediately separated. Also at Auschwitz, Anka hopes in vain to be reunited with her husband. With the rest of their families gassed, these young wives are determined to hold on to all they have left-their lives, and those of their unborn babies. Having concealed their condition from infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, they are forced to work and almost starved to death, living in daily fear of their pregnancies being detected by the SS.

In April 1945, Priska gives birth. She and her baby, along with Anka, Rachel, and the remaining inmates, are sent to Mauthausen concentration camp on a hellish train journey. Rachel gives birth on the train; Anka at the camp gates. All believe they will die-then a miracle occurs. The gas chamber runs out of Zyklon-B, and as the Allied troops near, the SS flee. Against all odds, the three mothers and their newborns survive their treacherous journey to freedom.
MY REVIEW:

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook for voluntary review consideration.

This remarkable story of how three women not only survived the atrocities of Auschwitz but had babies who also survived will break your heart and leave you in awe!

We first meet Piroska or “Priska” Löwenbeinová, a 28-year-old teacher from Slovakia. Her parents ran a café, and she is the fourth born of six children (the youngest of whom died in infancy). Priska and her husband, Tibor, are expecting their first child. She is approximately two months pregnant, and this baby is a bit of a miracle considering that she had three previous miscarriages.

Next, we meet Rachel Friedman, a 25-year-old woman from Poland. As the eldest of nine children, she was responsible for helping to take care of her younger siblings. She is married to Monik, a wealthy businessman.

Finally, we meet Anka Nathan, a 27-year-old law student from Czechoslovakia studying in Prague. She is the baby of the family, and her parents own a tannery and leather factory. She is married to Bernd, an architect.

All three ladies came from nice, respectable families and were hardworking. They were young and in love, and in what should have been the happiest time of their lives with babies on the way. Their only crime was that they were Jewish! Under Hitler’s Nazi rule, their lives were forever changed. They eventually were rounded up and brought to Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Poland in 1944. Those that were deemed fit enough to work were not executed. The ladies hid their pregnancies from Dr. Josef Mengele, also known as “The Angel of Death,” and they eventually ended up being sent to a munitions factory for slave labour in Freiberg, Saxony. They remained there until Spring 1945, when the prisoners that had managed to cling to life were to be sent by train to their final stop at Mauthausen concentration camp where they were to be gassed to death.

I had never heard of Dr. Josef Mengele before, and I was absolutely horrified to learn of his medical experiments on children. These ladies were subjected to intolerable living conditions, humiliated, degraded, and starved. It is tough enough on someone’s psyche to survive under those circumstances, never mind to grow a baby! It must have been sheer determination and will power that they survived. They were severely malnourished, weighing less than 70 pounds and close to death at the time each of their babies were born, and it is just a miracle that both mothers and babies all survived. It is a shame that the ladies were unaware of each other’s existence at the time, but it is so heartwarming that the babies all were able to meet and share their stories and forge an unbreakable bond.

This is such a tough story to hear. It is very difficult for me to fathom what these ladies went through, and my heart ached for them. I was very touched by the compassion that was shown by some of the fellow prisoners (like Edita Kelamanová) and even some of the Germans, putting their own lives at risk to show them acts of kindness. Most memorable was what the residents of Horní Bříza did for the survivors who were on their way to be put to death at Mauthausen. By some miracle, the train had to stop in that town because the railroad up ahead was blocked. When the station master realized that there were people on-board the train and seeing the state that they were in, he rallied the town’s residents to bring food for them. He also urged the Germans to leave the prisoners there in Horní Bříza so that they could care for them, but unfortunately his pleas fell on deaf ears.

Were it not for someone like Wendy Holden, survival stories like this would be lost in future generations. I am impressed with the detailed information that the author was able to piece together, and I learned not only about the lives of these amazing women but what transpired historically in the various European regions mentioned in the book. This book is a poignant tribute to these families, and it is one that I will not forget.

Elizabeth Wiley brought this story to life, with her various European accents. It actually made me shudder when she gave German commands, such as “Raus!” (get out) or “Schnell!” (quick). Her narration was very moving and expressive, and I thought she did a wonderful job. Here is a sample of the narration:


It is my understanding that the bound copy of the book includes photographs, and I would have loved it if the publisher would have included a digital file with these photographs so that listeners don’t miss out on it! I have requested the book from my local library. 

MY RATING:
4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR list if you enjoy survival stories. Thanks again to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to review this audiobook!

This book qualifies as:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

#Book #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum @Scholastic

TITLE: The Wizard of Oz
SERIES: Oz, Book #1
AUTHOR: L. Frank Baum 
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
PUBLICATION DATE: 1958 (first published May 17, 1900)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 156 pages
GENRE: Children's Fiction, Classics, Fantasy

Join Dorothy Gale, Toto, and all of her friends as they explore the incredible land of Oz. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is American's most enduring fairy tale. From the moment Dorothy puts on the silver slippers (changed to ruby slippers by MGM to take advantage of their new advance in movie making: color) until the moment she clicks her heals and returns home to Kansas you will be swept away and captivated by her extraordinary story.

This edition with illustrations by Paul Granger.
MY REVIEW:

This classic is still enjoyable after all these years! This was a re-read for me. I saved this 1958 vintage copy from my childhood, and I just finished reading it aloud to my daughter.

I thought I knew the story pretty well, from having read the book in my youth multiple times and watched the movie many times. However, I forgot many things such as the China Country, the field mice who saved the Cowardly Lion from the poppy field, and that Dorothy’s shoes were originally silver. Also, the violence! I had completely forgotten how the Tin Woodman beheaded various creatures. I loved my daughter’s reaction to the story. She actually has not seen the movie yet, but it didn’t take her very long to start questioning things. For example, if the Scarecrow doesn’t have any brains, how can he talk and walk and know how to do things? Or, why does the Tin Woodman need a heart when he already has feelings as evidenced by his tears? The Cowardly Lion felt that he didn’t have any courage, yet he did courageous things leaping over the abyss in the forest multiple times to carry his friends on his back. Yes, my dear! You figured it all out!! We loved when they got to the Emerald City, and Oz admitted that he had no magical powers and could not give the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion what they desperately desired and thought they needed. He told them to return the following day and tricked them into believing that he really was bestowing these gifts upon them when in actuality they really possessed them all along! I love the whole theme of the story, which is that we already have within us what we need. Even after her friends all received their “gifts” from Oz, they did not abandon Dorothy until they knew that she had safely returned home. Dorothy’s compassion brought them together, and they helped each other along the way. The value of friendship is so strongly conveyed by Baum.

This is a wonderful classic of good versus evil, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series to my daughter! I think I love the book even more as an adult.

I have requested the Blu-ray disc from the library, and I will come back to add my thoughts after watching the movie again.

MY RATING:

5 stars!! I loved it and will likely re-read it again. You should definitely put this classic on your TBR!

This book qualifies as:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz @deankoontz @randomhouse #bantambooks


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here is this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:


TITLE: The Silent Corner
SERIES: Jane Hawk, Book #1

AUTHOR: Dean Koontz
PUBLISHER: Bantam
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: June 6, 2017
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 464 pages
GENRE: Horror
ISBN: 
9780345545992
A dazzling new series debuts with a remarkable heroine certain to become a new icon of suspense, propelled by the singular narrative genius of #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz.

I very much need to be dead.

These are the chilling words left behind by a man who had everything to live for but took his own life. In the aftermath, his widow, Jane Hawk, does what all her grief, fear, and fury demands: find the truth, no matter what.

People of talent and accomplishment, people admired and happy and sound of mind, have been committing suicide in surprising numbers. When Jane seeks to learn why, she becomes the most-wanted fugitive in America. Her powerful enemies are protecting a secret so important so terrifying that they will exterminate anyone in their way.

But all their power and viciousness may not be enough to stop a woman as clever as they are cold-blooded, as relentless as they are ruthless and who is driven by a righteous rage they can never comprehend. Because it is born of love.

A new Dean Koontz series?? Must have now!!


What are you waiting on? Please leave a comment in the section below. If you participate in this meme, please leave a link so I can visit your blog!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ten Books That I Loved Less Than I Thought That I Would #TopTenTuesday


This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today's list is:

Ten Books That I Loved Less Than I Thought That I Would

This one was a little too dark and disturbing. The writing is beautiful, but the antagonist is depraved who gets off on humiliating and degrading women. This one crossed the line into abuse.



The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent
A gorgeous cover with magic and mythology in a steampunk/fantasy/dystopian world. Ugh, I should know better but it sounded so good! Steampunk just doesn't (usually) work for me.


I love horror, and this is an award winner. I thought I had a winner, but it was just TOO WEIRD!! It wasn't scary or creepy at all.


Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
This is quite possibly the worst book that I ever read! I love vampires, and this author has a cult-like following. This one was just too icky. I was okay with the M/M/M and M/M/M/M action, but please...no incest!! And not just one incestual relationship, but two!! Oh, yeah. Did I mention the teenage prostitution and rape? No, just NO!!!!



Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
This was a letdown for me. I didn't like Victor Frankenstein, and I actually sympathized with the monster! This was just "meh" for me.


A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Completely nonsensical! The author makes up his own gibberish and expects everyone to understand it. Yeah, I caught on after about seven chapters but I honestly don't know how this is a classic. I almost gave up on it.


The End Games by T. Michael Martin
A post apocalyptic story with zombies? I should have loved it! It was tough to get into this one, and I had to slog my way through it. It was a disappointment.

Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason
I like dark tales and this one sounded so promising, but I just found it so boring! It didn't hold my interest.



The Gunslinger by Stephen King
I am a fan of King's horror books, but this was underwhelming for me. The series is so popular, and a part of me wants to keep reading on and hoping it will get better but the other part of me is not really interested!


Breathless by Dean Koontz
I am a die-hard Koontz fan, and I have a hard time believing that he actually wrote this!!


So, what books did you love less than you thought that you would? Please let me know in the comments, or leave me a link to your blog post if you are also participating in the meme!

Monday, February 20, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

I'm reading: 

Something from the library. It's a Japanese horror novel, translated into English. I saw it on a list somewhere, and it was highly recommended. I think Japanese horror movies are the scariest (like The Grudge and The Ring), so my hopes are high for this one!

AUTHOR: Mariko Koike 
TRANSLATOR: Deborah Boliver Boehm
PUBLISHER: Thomas Dunne Books
PUBLICATION DATE: October 11, 2016 (first published 1988)
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 325 pages
GENRE: Horror
ISBN: 9781250060549
A terrifying tale of a young family who move into an apartment building next to a graveyard and the horrors that are unleashed upon them.

One of the most popular writers working in Japan today, Mariko Koike is a recognized master of detective fiction and horror writing. Known in particular for her hybrid works that blend these styles with elements of romance, The Graveyard Apartment is arguably Koike’s masterpiece. Originally published in Japan in 1986, Koike’s novel is the suspenseful tale of a young family that believes it has found the perfect home to grow in to, only to realize that the apartment’s idyllic setting harbors the specter of evil and that longer they stay, the more trapped they become.

This tale of a young married couple who are harboring a dark secret is packed with dread and terror, as they and their daughter move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard. As strange and terrifying occurrences begin to pile up, people in the building begin to move out one by one, until the young family is left alone with someone... or something... lurking in the basement. The psychological horror builds moment after moment, scene after scene, culminating with a conclusion that will make you think twice before ever going into a basement again.


Something from my bookshelf. This is my vintage 1970 edition, which I've kept from my childhood! I'm reading it aloud to my daughter, and our plan is to make our way through the whole series. This is a re-read for me, but I honestly don't remember a thing about it! It read it when I was young.

SERIES: Oz, Book #2
AUTHOR: L. Frank Baum 
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
PUBLICATION DATE: 1970 (first published 1904)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 192 pages
GENRE: Children's Fiction, Classics, Fantasy

"You'll never bother me again," says Mombi the witch, "once you drink this magic brew."

"What'll it do?" cries poor Tip.

"It will turn you into a marble statue!"

Tip's heart beats wildly.

Can a mere boy escape from a witch's evil power?

But this is Oz -- the marvelous, magical land where anything can happen!


I'm listening to:

Something from the library. This series has been on my TBR for a long time!

TITLE: Reckoning
SERIES: Night Huntress Universe, Book #0.5
AUTHOR: Jeanine Frost
NARRATOR: Tavia Gilbert
PUBLISHER: Harper Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: June 24, 2014 (first published August 18, 2009)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 1 hrs and 50 mins 
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9780062361899
In New Orleans, a pair of undead serial killers is about to turn Mardi Gras into a horror show - unless the immortal hitman Bones can hunt them down first. From Jeaniene Frost comes a thrilling novella featuring characters from her New York Times bestselling Night Huntress series. Originally appeared in the anthology Unbound.



I just finished:


Something from my dusty bookshelf. This is something different for me, because it's a book in verse.

TITLE: Triangles
AUTHOR: Ellen Hopkins 
PUBLISHER: Atria Books
PUBLICATION DATE: October 18, 2011
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 529 pages
GENRE: Poetry, Contemporary Fiction
ISBN: 9781451626339
Three female friends face midlife crises in a no-holds-barred exploration of sex, marriage, and the fragility of life.

Holly: Filled with regret for being a stay-at-home mom, she sheds sixty pounds and loses herself in the world of extramarital sex. Will it bring the fulfillment she is searching for?

Andrea: A single mom and avowed celibate, she watches her friend Holly's meltdown with a mixture of concern and contempt. Holly is throwing away what Andrea has spent her whole life searching for - a committed relationship with a decent guy. So what if Andrea picks up Holly's castaway husband?

Marissa: She has more than her fair share of challenges - a gay, rebellious teenage son, a terminally ill daughter, and a husband who buries himself in his work rather than face the facts.

As one woman's marriage unravels, another's rekindles. As one woman's family comes apart at the seams, another's reconfigures into something bigger and better. In this story of connections and disconnections, one woman's up is another one's down, and all of them will learn the meaning of friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Unflinchingly honest, emotionally powerful, surprisingly erotic, Triangles is the ultimate page-turner. Hopkins's gorgeous, expertly honed poetic verse perfectly captures the inner lives of her characters.

Sometimes it happens like that. Sometimes you just get lost. Get lost in the world of Triangles, where the lives of three unforgettable women intersect, and where there are no easy answers.


Something from my bookshelf. This is my vintage 1958 edition, which I've kept from my childhood! There's not even an ISBN # for this edition! I read it aloud to my daughter, and we are making a lapbook today and watching the movie since it's a holiday here in Canada!

SERIES: Oz, Book #1
AUTHOR: L. Frank Baum 
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
PUBLICATION DATE: 1958 (first published May 17, 1900)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 156 pages
GENRE: Children's Fiction, Classics, Fantasy

Join Dorothy Gale, Toto, and all of her friends as they explore the incredible land of Oz. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is American's most enduring fairy tale. From the moment Dorothy puts on the silver slippers (changed to ruby slippers by MGM to take advantage of their new advance in movie making: color) until the moment she clicks her heals and returns home to Kansas you will be swept away and captivated by her extraordinary story.

This edition with illustrations by Paul Granger.


Something from my review pile.

AUTHOR: Wendy Holden
NARRATOR: Elizabeth Wiley
PUBLISHER: Tantor Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: January 31, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 13 hrs and 8 mins 
GENRE: Nonfiction, History, Biography
ISBN: 9781515917618
Eastern Europe, 1944: Three women believe they are pregnant, but are torn from their husbands before they can be certain. Rachel is sent to Auschwitz, unaware that her husband has been shot. Priska and her husband travel there together, but are immediately separated. Also at Auschwitz, Anka hopes in vain to be reunited with her husband. With the rest of their families gassed, these young wives are determined to hold on to all they have left-their lives, and those of their unborn babies. Having concealed their condition from infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, they are forced to work and almost starved to death, living in daily fear of their pregnancies being detected by the SS.

In April 1945, Priska gives birth. She and her baby, along with Anka, Rachel, and the remaining inmates, are sent to Mauthausen concentration camp on a hellish train journey. Rachel gives birth on the train; Anka at the camp gates. All believe they will die-then a miracle occurs. The gas chamber runs out of Zyklon-B, and as the Allied troops near, the SS flee. Against all odds, the three mothers and their newborns survive their treacherous journey to freedom.


What are you reading? Have you read any of these books and, if so, what did you think? Please let me know in the comments and, if you are also participating in this meme, leave me a link to your blog post so that I can stop by!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Stacking The Shelves and Sunday Post

This meme is hosted by Tynga over at Team Tynga's Reviews, which she describes as follows:
"Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!"

Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme


Spring arrived this week! We had temps on the PLUS side and snow started melting. It will be a while yet before everything is gone, but a slow melt is good.

Waking up to -1 degree Celsius (that's 30 degrees Fahrenheit) and it's supposed to be a high of +3 today. Woo hoo, what a treat!! We are actually expecting rain overnight, which will melt a ton of snow but also make it very icy when the temp drops below zero again later this week.






If you missed it earlier, I have ARCs to swap. Check out MY POST to see if there's anything there that you'd like to read. If so, please let me know! I'd love to trade with someone. I will be adding to it once I have a chance to dig through boxes and bookshelves.


I couldn't resist this bargain for $3 at our local dollar store:

The Fall of the Governor: Part 2
(The Walking Dead, Book #4)
by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga


I received this audiobook for review:

by Amanda Bouchet
(Kingmaker Chronicles, Book #2)

I absolutely loved the first one in the series, so I'm really looking forward to this one! Thanks again, Recorded Books!


I received this gift from Shane:


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Thanks, Shane!


Recap: Last Week On The Blog

Sunday: Stacking the Shelves and Sunday Post

Monday: It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Tuesday: Top Ten Favourite Romantic Couples
Wednesday: Waiting On Wednesday: The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
Thursday: Book Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Triangles by Ellen Hopkins
Friday: Audiobook Review: 5 out of 5 stars for A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

What books have you added to your shelves this week? If you are also participating in either of these memes, please leave me the link to your blog post in the comments so that I can come and drool over all your goodies!

Friday, February 17, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet @AuthorABouchet @recordedbooks

TITLE: A Promise of Fire
SERIES: Kingmaker Chronicles, Book #1
AUTHOR: Amanda Bouchet
NARRATOR: Mia Barron
PUBLISHER: Recorded Books
PUBLICATION DATE: August 2, 2016
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 14 hrs and 45 mins 
GENRE: Romance/Fantasy
Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

MY REVIEW:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.

A Promise of Fire delivers all my favourite elements in an amazing debut: A kickass heroine, a hot Alpha male, fiery chemistry, vivid worldbuilding, cool magic, and mythology! There are even dragons!

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a young 23-year-old woman, who has spent the last eight years in hiding and on the run. As the story opens, she is working at a travelling circus as “Cat the Magnificent, Soothsayer Extraordinaire.” She captures the eye of a rugged warlord, Beta Sinta known as “Griffin,” who discovers that she possesses a rare and powerful gift which allows her to sense when someone is lying. She is known as The Kingmaker, and there is only one such person born every 200 years. As the second in command to the throne, Griffin needs her as his ally. When she refuses to go with him, he binds her to him with a magical rope to bring her to his realm. I know, I know…he does capture her and forces her to go with him at the outset. However, even when she is no longer physically bound to him, she willingly stays with him. Griffin never brought any harm to Cat, and she never felt that she was in danger. Truth be told, I think that Cat could have annihilated him if she really wanted to! She has magical gifts that even she is unaware of!

The chemistry between Cat and Griffin was delicious! Cat is a little spitfire and full of sarcasm, but Griffin is undeterred. Because of how she was raised, Cat grapples with her emotions. I love how the author let the sexual tension build until the last quarter of the book, and the wait was worth it! I also love how Griffin and his family became so protective of Cat, especially Kato and Flynn.

I was captivated by the setting of Thalyria and the impressive world-building. The book was fast-paced, and the battle scene was intense. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Breath of Fire, which was released in January 2017.

Memorable quote:

“Love is weakness, an exploitable flaw.”

Mia Barron is a new-to-me narrator, and she captured the essence of Cat. Not only did her snarkiness come through, but also her tenderness. Ms. Barron also did well with the male characters. Here is a sample of the narration:



MY RATING:
5 stars!! It was superb! I loved it and will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely put it on your TBR list! Thanks again to Recorded Books for the opportunity to review this audiobook!

This book qualifies as:
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