The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Author: Heather Morris

 

 

 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz.  Finished unabridged audio 12-4-18, 4.5/5 stars, memoir, pub. 2018

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.     from Goodreads

I read Jill’s review in October and thought this would be a great pick for Jason and, it turns out, it was a great read for me as well.  I loved Lale and Geta and the other prisoners we were able to meet.  This book showed the strength of the human spirit in the darkest of circumstances and I recommend it for everyone.  I don’t have time to put more thoughts to the keyboard right now, but I encourage you to go read Jill’s review.  It’s better than anything I could come up 🙂

Eyes on You by Kate White

Title: Eyes on You: A Novel of Suspense, Author: Kate WhiteEyes on You. Finished 11-19-18, rating 4.5/5, mystery,  306 pages, pub. 2014

After losing her on-air job two years ago, television host Robin Trainer has fought her way back and now she’s hotter than ever. With her new show climbing in the ratings and her first book a bestseller, she’s being dubbed a media double threat.

But suddenly, things begin to go wrong. Small incidents at first: a nasty note left in her purse; her photo shredded. But the obnoxious quickly becomes threatening when the foundation the makeup artist uses burns Robin’s face. It wasn’t an accident—someone had deliberately doctored with the product.

An adversary with a dark agenda wants to hurt Robin, and the clues point to someone she works with every day. While she frantically tries to put the pieces together and unmask this hidden foe, it becomes terrifyingly clear that the person responsible isn’t going to stop until Robin loses everything that matters to her . . . including her life.   from Goodreads

First, I need to set the stage.  We are living back home, but only in a few rooms with pretty much no furniture.  We have two mattresses on the floor in the family room and in the kitchen we have one metal outside chair and one basic wooden stool.  The only real option for reading is the kitchen and the seats are only comfortable for about 10 minutes at a time (already I’m standing to type this).  So, reading has not been easy in the past month.  Imagine my surprise when I got sucked into this one and alternated between those two seats until I finished it at 1:30 am!  It was that addicting.

Now for the rundown.  Robin was making a career comeback.  Her book was being released at the same time her on-air TV gig was catching on.  She should have been flying high, but creepy and dangerous things started happening to make her feel threatened and she was afraid to make waves at work.  He sexy co-star offered his body for comfort and for a few hot minutes she resisted.  But good sex can take you only so far and Robin was feeling the pressure.

This was a great who-dun-it with real drama and lots of suspects that never felt like to many.  I learned about the TV business and how cutthroat it can really be.  This read so fast and I recommend it for everyone, but only when you have a few free hours.  I kept telling myself only one more chapter until there were none left.  The writing and the story were excellent.

6 mini-reviews from my 30 day challenge

Title: The Truth Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Separating Facts from Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks, Author: Bruce BartlettThe Truth Matters by Bruce Bartlett. Finished 9-2-18, 4/5 stars, current affairs/reference, pub. 2017.

It’s only 136 pages and reads fast.  I assumed by the title that this was about Trump and his loose grasp of the truth so I was surprised when I realized it was written by a Republican who had worked for both Reagan and the first Bush.  This is a nonpartisan book and it was good.  He touches on many things…why the traditional media no longer serves our needs, differences between primary and secondary sources, trusting academic sources, using your local libraries, numbers must be put into context, polling, using Wikipedia, fake news, and more.

“President Trump has used the term (fake news) as an accusation against news organizations reporting accurate news that he doesn’t like.” (emphasis mine)  The book isn’t about Trump, but he is mentioned when talking about his obsession with what he calls fake news.  Bartlett gives a list of credible sources and gives you tips on how to not fall for the lies.

“In the end, the best defenses against fake news are critical thinking; taking in news from a variety of sources, including those that don’t confirm your own biases; being skeptical about information that sounds too good (or bad) to be true; and other self-defenses.” page 126

I think everyone should read this book.  It’s short enough and provides great historical context and sources.  If in doubt, go to your library.  They can show you what resources they have to help you.


Title: ScandiKitchen: The Essence of Hygge, Author: Bronte AurellScandikitchen:The Essence of Hygge by Bronte Aurell. Finished 9-3-18, 4/5 stars, culture, pub. 2017

I chose this as I was browsing library books for short books (this one clocks in at 160) and saw that it was about something that I was completely clueless about.  It’s a Scandinavian term that suddenly hit the mainstream in the past few years. It’s all about being present in the moment, a perfect companion to my love of mindfulness.  It included great quotes from the likes of Gandhi, Epicurus, and Julia Child.  It is beautifully done with quality paper and gorgeous photographs.  The recipes she included look so yummy I’m to try a few (gluten & dairy free adapted, of course).  The small square size makes it a perfect book to give as a gift – maybe even to yourself!  I have at least one person in mind who will be getting it for Christmas 🙂 It’s about something real and important and inspiring.


Title: Wishful Drinking, Author: Carrie FisherWishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. Finished 9-5-18, 5/5 stars, memoir, 163 pages, pub. 2008

What a hoot!  I loved her snark and stories and our shared love of Cary Grant.  This is a memoir, complete with pictures of her life growing up with famous parents (she calls them the Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston of their day).  Considering that she also married someone famous, expect lots of people you know.  I won’t say name dropping, because this just felt like her life and it all seemed relevant.  I know she also wrote novels and I may have to add them to my reading list because I enjoy her writing and sense of humor so much.


Title: The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster's Guide to Life, Author: Cookie MonsterCookie Monster’s Guide to Life. Finished 9-5-18, 2/5 stars, humor, pub. 2018

Today after school Gage and I read a book together. I found Cookie Monster’s Guide to Life The Joy of Cookies in the 818 section of the library.  Really?  The high ratings on Goodreads make me think I missed something, but as I page back through the 160 pages of Cookie Monster screaming about cookies, I think maybe they got it wrong.  Well, anyway, G laughed a lot when I did the Cookie Monster voice and he even tried it out himself when he read, but he’s a kid.  This book was in the adult section.  I don’t get it.


Title: God: 48 Famous and Fascinating Minds Talk About God, Author: Jennifer BerneGod: 48 Famous and Fascinating Minds Talk About God by Jennifer Berne. Finished 9-10-18, 3/5 stars, pub. 2017

Quite a mix of believers in math and science mixed in with those who embrace the unknowable.  I returned the book to the library this morning or I’d offer a few quotes.  Illustrations for every quote.


Cleveland A to Z: Historical Essentials for Newcomers and Residents in Northeastern OhioCleveland A-Z by John J Grabowski. Finished 9-7-18, 5/5 stars, local history, pub.2017

Perfect for new Clevelanders and old.  A fun pictorial history lesson for the storied city of Cleveland.

 

 

How To Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh

Title: How to Eat, Author: Thich Nhat HanhHow To Eat.  Finished 9-1-18, rating 4.5/5, mindfulness, 128  pages, pub. 2014

Eating is a chance to return to the present moment.

How to Eat is the second in Parallax’s series of how-to titles by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. These friendly, pocket-sized books contain several delightful illustrations by Jason DeAntonis, and are appropriate for those practicing in any spiritual tradition and all levels of familiarity with mindfulness practice.      from Goodreads

This is part of his mindfulness series, of which I’m a huge fan.  Hanh is a Buddist monk and his books expand the way I see the world and his books will always be on my to-read list.  This is a slight 125 page book on not only how to eat, but how to do so with the meaning.  Mindfulness is about being present in all that you do, so by bringing that to your food, you can change your life for the better.  This is not a diet book, but he does touch upon that we should only be putting the healthiest of foods in our body and that we should not be eating our worries, fear, or anger.  I’ll leave you with a few quotes.

“Enjoy your meal. Stop thinking and be here fully, body and mind.” page 32

“With each meal, we make choices that help or harm the planet.” page 59

“If we feel empty, we don’t need to go to the refrigerator to take things out to eat.  When you eat like that it’s because there is a feeling of emptiness, loneliness, or depression inside.  The moments of our daily lives can be filled with joy and meaningful activities.  Our community includes our family and friends and our connection to other living beings.  They are there to help us get out of these feelings.  We are not alone.  Sharing a meal together is not just to sustain our bodies and celebrate life’s wonders, but also to experience freedom, joy, and the happiness of being in a harmonious community during the whole time of eating.”  page 77

“May we find ways to live more simply in order to have more time and energy to change the system of injustice that exists in the world.”  page 113

I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark

Title: I've Got You Under My Skin, Author: Mary Higgins ClarkI’ve Got You Under My Skin. Finished audio 10-2-18, 2.75/5 stars, mystery, pub. 2014

Unabridged audio read by Jan Maxwell. 7 discs.

A Manhattan ER doctor is brazenly murdered in front of his young son in a city playground. Five years later, his killer is still at large.

Meanwhile his widow, Laurie Moran, is now an award-winning TV producer. Still haunted by her husband’s murder, she has been raising their son alone. Laurie and her TV crew have just received the green light to produce a new “cold case” series. Revisiting unsolved crimes one at a time, she and her TV crew will gather a victim’s friends and family, who have lived under suspicion of guilt for many years. By getting paid to reenact the crime on TV, each will have the chance to clear their name—unless, of course, someone is guilty… The first case centers on the murder of a wealthy Westchester matron, who was killed overnight while her college-aged daughter and her three best friends were having a sleepover following their celebratory graduation party… Now grown, the four women reunite to re-create the scene of the crime…    from Goodreads

I read a lot of Mary Higgins Clark back in high school and occasionally I’ll pick up one her recents to listen to in the car, like I did this one, but she’s one of those authors who I feel like I outgrew a long time ago.  Maybe it’s because I found this one so disappointing.  The first chapter really grabbed me as it was told from the perspective of the man who shot a doctor in public right in front of his son and got away with it.  I liked the ex-cop grandpa and his few scenes, but other than that it was just blah for me.  There were way too many other characters to try and connect with and none of them had to do with the first chapter so it was just a let down.

Maybe this was just one that was not her best, but it’ll be a while before I pick up another.

November’s Movies, $ for charity, & a house update

So, as of the 4th of this month we are back home.  Home being relative because we are essentially living in our kitchen and family room (with laundry room and half bath access) while we finish everything up.  The family room has no flooring, just a subfloor with big rug and two mattresses (one air) on the floor.  We have one stool and one outside metal chair to sit on in the kitchen.  The good news is we’ve cleared our pod, so we have all of our clothes, kitchenware (minus small appliances) and a few small decorative shelves.  We’ve ordered furniture, we finish the mold cleanup in the basement this weekend and the painters are here this week.  Things are moving along.  I’m sleeping on the queen air mattress with Gage and I have to admit that my sleep isn’t so great but the nightly snuggles with my kid are priceless and I’ll miss them when we move back into the rest of the house at the end of the year.

But, I’m back on track with movies!  Since we have no furniture we have found excuses to head to the recliner seats at the theater 🙂

Add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity.  Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity.  Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to.  Anyone is welcome to join in at any time.

We’re at $98 right now.  Let’s get the final three so a charity can get much needed end of the year money.

Bohemian Rhapsody poster.pngBohemian Rhapsody, 2018 (Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Alan Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers)           Grade B+

Dark, lost soul finds peace.


The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.pngThe Nutcracker and the Four Realms, 2018 (Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Jayden Fowora-Knight)       Grade B

Magical world turns upside down.


Eddie the Eagle poster.pngEddie the Eagle, 2015 (Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Walken, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen)    Grade B

Inspiring story of following absurd dreams.


The Grinch, final poster.jpgThe Grinch, 2018 (Vices-Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Pharrell Williams, Angela Lansbury)     Grade B

Same old redeemable green miser.


Nights in rodanthe poster.jpgNights in Rodanthe, 2008 (Diane Lane, Richard Gere, Viola Davis, Scott Glenn, Christopher Meloni)      Grade D

Why, why , why do I keep watching Nicolas Sparks movies when I always hate them so?  They often have my favorite actors 😦

What? The? Fudge?    (Heather)

 

 

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'Briens: A NovelInside the O’briens. Finished 9-21-18, 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Skip Sudduth.  9 discs.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.    from Goodreads

This grabbed me from the get go.  I’m a mom in my 40’s and can’t even imagine the horror of not only Joe but of his wife as they wait to find out what becomes of their children and grandchildren.  I learned a lot about Huntington’s disease and the book was excellent in the way that it showed how it impacted the whole family, and it was a big brood!  The story flitted between Joe and his youngest daughter Katie and while I liked both of those storylines I would have liked to have heard a bit more from the other kids and their stories, especially about the troubled brother.  As much as I liked the book it was a downer and I hated the end.  I’m sure others are fine with it, but it felt like a cop out to me.

Lisa Genova is gifted at taking a medical diagnosis and compelling us to read, even when it’s hard.  I loved Still Alice, but didn’t love this one as much.  But Joe has stuck with me and it’s been two months so that’s saying something.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Title: Faithful: A Novel, Author: Alice HoffmanFaithful. Finished audio 10-30-18, 5/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read by Amber Tamblyn (love her!).  7 discs.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.  from Goodreads

I fell in love with Shelby and her journey of guilt, grief and forgiveness.  This was not an easy read (or listen in my case) since Shelby was such a lost soul, but little by little, as she survived and discovered her value, the emotional pull ultimately satisfied.  Do yourself a favor and give this bald, young adult who believes she doesn’t deserve to be here a chance.

I could go into more detail, but I really don’t want to.  I want you to discover it on your own. Jason listened to it after I did and he loved it as well.  This is probably my favorite Hoffman so far (although I’ only read a handful or so) and I LOVED the audio narration by actress Amber Tamblyn.

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

Carnegie's Maid Carnegie’s Maid. Finished audio 10-20-18, rating 3.5/5, historical fiction, pub. 2018

Unabridged audio read by Alana Kerr Collins. 9 hours.

In the industrial 1860s at the dawn of the Carnegie empire, Irish immigrant Clara Kelly finds herself in desperate circumstances. Looking for a way out, she seeks employment as a lady’s maid in the home of the prominent businessman Andrew Carnegie. Soon, the bond between Clara and her employer deepens into love. But when Clara goes missing, Carnegie’s search for her unearths secrets and revelations that lay the foundation for his lasting legacy. With captivating insight and stunning heart, Carnegie’s Maid tells the story of one lost woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world’s first true philanthropist.   from Goodreads

This was my book group selection this month and there were quite a few differing opinions, which isn’t the norm.  Often, there’s a clear majority and one or two may not like it.  This time we had a few loves, a few hates, some likes and me, who was on the fence.  It did lead to great discussion about immigrants, women’s place in society, the vast inequality of the haves and the have nots.  Basically, it led to great conversations that tapped into what is going on in this country right now.  Some things have changed, but often not enough.

I loved the look at Pittsburgh and Carnegie in their heyday.  The powerful imagery really took me into the heart of the city.  As for Carnegie, I learned a lot about him and his start.  I’m interested to learn more since this book was just about a specific time in his life.  My biggest problem with the book was that Clara wasn’t based on any truth, story or even rumor.  I wish there had been some glimmer of a possibility that this could have happened, but that being said I enjoyed it, but not without a few issues with Clara.

Classics Spin #19

I signed up for the Classics Club in January 2015, challenging myself to read 50 classics in 5 years time.  I think I’m halfway, but I’ve only got just over a year left – yikes!

This Classics Spin is to list 20 chunksters still on our list.  A few of these are not chunksters, but I have so few to choose from to get 20 books with a loaded page count.  This week they’ll spin the wheel and tell us which book to read next.  Fun!!

1. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

2. Jude the Obscure

3. Eva Luna

4. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

5. Mists of Avalon

6. Gone With the Wind

7. A Handmaid’s Tale

8. Dracula

9. Mansfield Park

10. Prince of Tides

11. The Once and Future King

12. Travels With Charley

13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

14. Stranger in a Strange Land

15. Age of Innocence

16. The Chosen

17. Of Human Bondage

18. Neuromancer by William Gibson

19. Animal Farm

20. Mother Night

 

You can join in the Classics Club any time and you pick your own books!!  If you already have a list, leave a link so I can take a look.