The Librarian of Auschwitz [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

October 22, 2020

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

#throwbackthursday

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (cover) Image: a young girl stands on top of a giant stack of books

Genre/Categories: YA Historical Fiction, Fictionalized Biography, Jewish, WW11, Holocaust

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of The Librarian of Auschwitz, brave…inspirational…courageous…feisty…determined….daring…

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of The Librarian of Auschwitz

“During the darkest hours of the Holocaust in an Auschwitz concentration camp, a young girl, Dita Kraus, risks her life to keep the magic of books alive. Imprisoned along with her mother and father, Dita finds meaning and purpose as the Librarian of a secret library within a secret school in the “family camp” section of Auschwitz, caring for eight precious volumes that have been smuggled in past the guards.

Be sure to read the author’s Afterward as he speaks of his interview with the real Dita Kraus about her incredible life, courage, and survival.”

 Continue here for my review of The Librarian of Auschwitz

QOTD: Have you read The Librarian of Auschwitz or is it on your TBR?

Convenience Store Woman [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

October 15, 2020

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

#throwbackthursday

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (cover) Image: white text on blue background....below it is a small plate with a traditional Japanese snack lying on a pink and white cloth napkin

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Japanese Culture, Conformity, Short Fiction, Book in Translation

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Convenience Store Woman, the story of self aware and determined Keiko who is torn between self fulfillment and cultural conformity

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of Convenience Store Woman

“Keiko Furukura grows up labeled a “strange child,” and her parents worry about her ability to function in the real world and about her future success.  While at university, Keiko begins a job at a local convenience store. After eighteen years, her parents and friends worry that she doesn’t have a real career and has never had a boyfriend. Even though Keiko is successful as a convenience store worker and enjoys her job, she feels the pressure to live up to her parents’ cultural expectations. What will she do?”

Quirky character…Japanese culture…finding your niche……conformity…

 Continue here for my review of Convenience Store Woman

QOTD: Have you read Convenience Store Woman or is it on your TBR?

From Sand and Ash [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 3, 2020

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
#throwbackthursday

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon (cover) Image: a young woman in profile looking reflectively over a city

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Catholic, Love Story

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon, a thoughtful story of love, survival, life, death, faith, and sacrifice…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…faith, sacrifice, and survival…

My Summary:

“In 1943, Italy’s Jewish population is in imminent danger from the forces of hatred and prejudice. Raised like brother and sister, Eva and Angelo enjoy childhood best friend closeness which later blooms into a romance. Although they are devoted to each other, Eva, an accomplished violinist, is Jewish and Angelo chooses to follow a calling to become a Catholic priest. As the Gestapo arrests Jewish residents of Florence, Angelo convinces Eva to follow him to Rome to hide in a convent under his watchful eye while he serves nearby at the Vatican. Eva discovers that the Catholic Church is hiding hundreds of Jews and facilitating their escape when possible. Angelo has made a promise to Eva’s family and feels a duty to keep her safe, which is complicated by romantic feelings. This page turning story follows Eva and Angelo as they face trials, take risks, and make agonizing choices.”

Continue here for my review of From Sand and Ash

QOTD: Have you read From Sand and Ash or is it on your TBR?

We Were the Lucky Ones [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

August 20, 2020

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for
#throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter, an engaging and heartfelt story about family and faith

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (cover) Image: a black and white photo of a man and woman sitting in metal garden chairs with backs to the camera

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…family and faith…

My Summary:

“In the spring of 1939, the extended Kurc family is living a modest and happy life in Radom, Poland. In the midst of joyful family celebrations, however, there is increased talk of the mistreatment of Jews. Soon the entire close-knit Kurc family faces separation, makes attempts to flee, and desperately focuses on safety and survival. Family members share a will to survive and seeing one another again is their greatest goal. Through cleverness, determination, faith, hope, and hardship they endure.”

Continue here for my review of We Were the Lucky Ones

QOTD: Have you read We Were the Lucky Ones or is it on your TBR?

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and Educated by Tara Westover [Book Reviews] #throwbackthursday

August 6, 2020

Compelling Characters in The Great Alone (fiction) by Kristin Hannah and Educated (nonfiction) by Tara Westover
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for
#throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my reviews of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and Educated by Tara Westover, a focus on compelling characters…

a collage of Educated and The Great Alone covers

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Two compelling characters…

Introduction:

Today I’m highlighting two compelling characters: Leni from The Great Alone (fiction) and Tara from Educated: A Memoir (nonfiction). Leni and Tara share some similar struggles and challenges. The two stories reminded me at times of The Glass Castle (charismatic yet unpredictable fathers, unstable homes, neglect, poverty) and Hillbilly Elegy (chaotic family life, nurturing grandparents)….a fascinating book club discussion could be centered around discussing the connections between these books and characters.

Continue here for my review of the Great Alone and Educated

QOTD: Have you read The Great Alone or Educated or are they on your TBR?

Left Neglected [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 16, 2020

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Left Neglected by Lisa Genova….courageously living with a traumatic brain injury.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (cover) Image: a partially ripe pear

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Family Issues, Traumatic Brain Injury

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Do you think “accommodations equal failure”?

My Summary:

Left Neglected is the compelling story of thirty something Sarah, a career driven, over achieving, competitive type A, and perfectionist mom of three. She and her husband live near Boston and manage a frantic and fast-paced life as they each pursue careers and tend to the family’s schedule for soccer practice, piano lessons, parent/teacher conferences, and day care. As they are striving to have it all, a car crash leaves Sarah with a traumatic brain injury called “left neglect.” As the story unfolds, readers journey alongside Sarah as she fights to regain her independence and seeks to answer questions about an uncertain future. While Sarah experiences relinquishing all the control she thought she had to her once absent mother and her physical therapists, she begins to envision a life apart from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets and wonders if a happiness and peace greater than the success she has known is within her grasp.

Continue here for my full review of Left Neglected

QOTD: Have you read Left Neglected or is it on your TBR?

#throwbackthursday Wonder by R.J. Palacio [Book Review]

May 14, 2020

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a favorite MG/YA read, Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It’s on my lifetime favorites list and I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s a “must-read.”

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (cover) Image: graphic of a mostly blank boy's head (one eye and a head of hair and ears are the only features) against a blue background

Genre/Categories: Middle grade through adult contemporary fiction,  growing up, difficult discussions, family life, friendship, compassion, character traits

My Summary:

“On the inside, ten-year-old August Pullman feels very ordinary. But as he says, ordinary kids don’t make other kids run away screaming and they don’t get stared at wherever they go. Auggie was born with a rare genetic abnormality that affected the formation of his face. Because of extensive surgeries and an attempt to protect him from cruelties of the outside world, Auggie’s parents have homeschooled him. The reader meets 5th grade Auggie as he’s being enrolled in a traditional school for the first time. Will he be accepted? Will he find friends? Will he find a hostile or friendly environment? How will adults in his life support him? The story is told from six perspectives (August, Via–his older sister, Summer–a friendly caring peer, Jack–a student leader who struggles in his role as a friend, Miranda–his sister’s best friend and a close family friend, and Justin–Miranda’s boyfriend) plus a bonus chapter from Julian’s point of view (Auggie’s nemesis).”

“Heart…Heroes…and Humor”

Continue reading my review of Wonder to see what I loved….

QOTD: Have you read Wonder or is it on your TBR?

#throwbackthursday Refugee by Alan Gratz [Book Review]

May 7, 2020

Refugee by Alan Gratz
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a favorite MG/YA read, Refugee by Alan Gratz.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Refugee by Alan Gratz (cover) Image: a small child with back to camera in a small red rowboat on a stormy ocean

Genre/Categories: Middle Grade through Adult, Historical Fiction, Global Issues, Refugees

My Summary:

“Refugee is the relevant story of the refugee experience from three unique perspectives:

  • 12/13-year-old Josef and family are Jewish and attempt to escape Nazi Germany in 1938 aboard a ship bound for a country(Cuba) that will accept them.
  • 12-year-old Isabel and family are Cuban and flee riots and unrest in Cuba in 1994 on a homemade raft pointed toward safety in Miami, Florida.
  • 12-year-old Mahmoud and family are Syrian and seek to escape war-torn Aleppo in 2015 and relocate to Germany.

Even though these families are separated by continents and decades, their stories share certain similarities. Each journey is fraught with harrowing adventures, frustration, courage, resiliency, heartache, injustice, persecution, dangers, children assuming adult roles and responsibility, loss of childhood innocence and joy, and loss of family members. However, the families have hope that drives them forward. Amazon Rating (May): 4.8 Stars (This is a very high rating in which 85% of the stars are in the 5 star category.)”

“See us, he thought. Hear us. Help us.”

Continue reading my review of Refugee to see what I loved….

QOTD: Have you read Refugee or is it on your TBR?

#throwbackthursday Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

April 23, 2020

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys as well as linking to two more reviews of her books.

Do you have a favorite auto-buy author? Ruta Sepetys is one of mine!
Have you read other books by Ruta Sepetys?
Salt to the Sea
Between Shades of Gray
The Fountains of Silence

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (cover) Image: a yellow camisole hangs on a padded hanger above an old brown suitcase

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

My Summary:

It’s 1950 in the French Quarter of New Orleans when we meet seventeen-year-old Josie. A high achiever with a great deal of grit and savvy, she is the daughter of an unreliable mother who is a prostitute, benefits from an unlikely mentoring relationship with a tough madam, and is trying to survive in The Big Easy. Although Josie has a plan to get out, she becomes tangled in an investigation that could change her dream of an elite eastern college and her future. Throughout the story, she is tried, tempted, and tested. How will her decisions shape her future?

Click here to continue reading my review of Out of the Easy (plus links to two more reviews of her other books)….

QOTD: Have you read a book by Ruta Sepetys? Have you read Out of the Easy or is it on your TBR?

As Bright As Heaven [Review] #flashbackfriday

April 17, 2020

Under lockdown orders due to COVID-19, I’ve thought many times of Susan Meissner’s book As Bright As Heaven which is about the 1918 Flu Pandemic. It’s amazing that what I read two years ago about a pandemic that happened one hundred years ago is relevant today!  I’ve also enjoyed The Secret Library’s Book Review Blog posts for #flashbackfriday. So even though it’s not the first Friday of the month, I’m joining Kerry @ Chat About Books to share my review of As Bright As Heaven that was first published in February of 2018. I hope I’ll be forgiven for joining the meme mid-month….I couldn’t wait until the first Friday of another month to bring your attention to this relevant read! Also….the Kindle version is $3.99 today!

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner (cover)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary:

Three events coincide in this story: the Bright family moves to Philadelphia in 1918 for a fresh start, many men go off to fight in the Great War, and the Flu spreads in America. As Pauline Bright and her husband pursue their dream of giving their three daughters a chance at a better life in the big city of Philadelphia, the Flu Pandemic and the Great War greatly impact their lives and rearrange their priorities. Told from four perspectives (mother and the three daughters), it’s a story of survival, making difficult choices, facing challenges, and finding hope. Amazon Rating (early reviews): 4.7 Stars

Meet Two Sisters, Evelyn and Maggie Bright

Historical fiction is my favorite genre because in the stories we find ordinary people doing extraordinary things under difficult circumstances. Not too different from the inspiring stories we hear today on the news involving COVID-19 heroes. We are living the historical fiction stories of the future.

Timely…memorable…uputdownable…

In As Bright As Heaven, Evelyn (Evie) and Maggie Bright are the two older sisters and they become memorable characters with unique personalities and different strengths and weaknesses. Fifteen and twelve when the story opens, Evie is the oldest sister, smart, inquisitive, and a reader, while Maggie is feisty, opinionated, good-hearted, fearless, and determined. As their father leaves to fulfill his war-time responsibilities and the Flu begins to ravage Philadelphia and affect their family, the girls are forced to take on adult-sized responsibilities and concerns. As Evie and Maggie experience love and loss, they are also resilient, courageous in the face of challenges, and make many difficult decisions and choices. Despite dire circumstances, the sisters value family and never lose their ability to love and care for each other. While Evie embraces her role as the eldest and assumes responsibility and leadership, Maggie is a wild card who stubbornly insists on accompanying her mother on errands of mercy to the poorest and most needy population of Philadelphia to deliver food and medicine, bravely seeks to work in the family mortuary business, and one day impulsively makes a heart-wrenching discovery that leads her to make a life-changing decision that will impact all their lives. Her actions will promote great book club discussions about taking risks to do the right thing and facing the consequences.

Readers will laugh and cry with these unforgettable characters as well as learn facts about the Spanish Flu and its impact on Philadelphia.

Recommended. As Bright As Heaven is wholeheartedly recommended for readers who love reading about strong independent women, for those who love historical fiction and against-the-odds stories, for those who are looking for a value-centered and inspiring read, and for book clubs. It’s a simply written and straight-forward story despite alternating between four perspectives. Its memorable characters and tragic circumstances make this a solid and unforgettable read. As Bright As Heaven and A Fall of Marigolds are my two favorite Meissner titles!

Trigger Warnings: death from flu, dire circumstances
Content Warning: the setting is a funeral home

My Rating: 4+ Stars.

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As Bright as Heaven

As Bright As Heaven Information Here

Meet the Author, Susan Meissner

Author, Susan Meissner (head shot, wearing a coral cardigan leaning against a wood slat wall)I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t driven to write. I attribute this passion to a creative God and to parents who love books and more particularly to a dad who majored in English and passed on a passion for writing.

I was born in 1961 in San Diego, California, and am the second of three daughters. I spent my very average childhood in just two houses. I attended Point Loma College in San Diego, majoring in education, but I would have been smarter to major in English with a concentration in writing. The advice I give now to anyone wondering what to major in is to follow your heart and choose a vocation you are already in love with.

I’m happy and humbled to say that I’ve had 17 books published in the last dozen years, including The Shape of Mercy, which was named one of the 100 Best Books in 2008 by Publishers Weekly, and the ECPA’s Fiction Book of the Year, a Carol Award winner, and a RITA finalist. I teach at writers’ conferences from time to time and I have a background in community journalism.

I’m also a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When I’m not at work on a new novel, I write small group curriculum for my San Diego church. Visit me at my website: http//:susanmeissner.com on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at http://www.facebook.com/susan.meissner



QOTD:

Have you read As Bright As Heaven? Have you read another book about a pandemic? (I know it was briefly mentioned in Last Christmas in Paris.) Do you think ABAH would be too difficult to read right now in light of COVID-19 or do you think it would be interesting?



ICYMI

National Poetry Month

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Lighter Reads During Stressful Times

Ten Signs That I’m a Book Lover

Ten  Favorite Books About Books

The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

 



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