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review 2018-04-13 08:14
The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen | Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 12th)
The Devil's Arithmetic - Jane Yolen,Steve Cieslawski

Hannah dreads going to her family's Passover Seder—she's tired of hearing her relatives talk about the past. But when she opens the front door to symbolically welcome the prophet Elijah, she's transported to a Polish village in the year 1942. Why is she there, and who is this "Chaya" that everyone seems to think she is? Just as she begins to unravel the mystery, Nazi soldiers come to take everyone in the village away. And only Hannah knows the unspeakable horrors that await.

Goodreads.com

 

 

 

Hannah is twelve, almost thirteen, and by now is very much bored with the tradition of going to her grandmother's house for Passover Seder every year. Every year, someone in the family is chosen to go to the front door and symbolically welcome the prophet Elijah in. This year, Hannah is chosen. She grudgingly drags herself to the door and as soon as she opens it she is immediately thrown back in time to 1942 Poland. 

 

Everyone Hannah sees seems to recognize her, but she's surprised to hear they keep calling her "Chaya", her Hebrew name in honor of her Aunt Eva's deceased friend. Hannah understandably feels incredibly lost and out of place, which becomes evident to others with her behavior, but they chalk up "Chaya's" sudden strange ways to her having recently lost both her parents to a cholera epidemic that apparently also very nearly killed her. 

 

Hannah doesn't immediately consider the possibility that she has time-traveled. Rather, she assumes it's a well orchestrated joke her family has carried out... or maybe a dream? It's not until someone uses a phrase Hannah's only ever known her grandfather to use that she starts to suspect the truth of her new reality. When it dawns on her just what this means, she tries to warn others of what their future holds, based on what she's learned so far in her own time period, but no one believes such premonitions of evil could be even remotely possible. Not until it's too late and the wheels of what is to be history are in motion. 

 

Originally published in 1988, this story now reads dated in certain parts. There's mention of shows like General Hospital and movies like Yentl and Conan The Barbarian (btw -- spoilers in this book for the movie Yentl and the novel Little Women). That said, this story still holds up well when it comes to its themes of family bonds and the importance of educating oneself so as not to have horrible history repeated. Yolen's novel illustrates how a sense of community can develop in even the most hellish conditions, how vital that community becomes in terms of mental and physical survival. A reader can't help but be moved by how these characters cling to hope and faith to keep alive, the stolen moments of laughter when you know death is possibly imminent. 

 

Hannah's realization of what her journey truly means, the epiphany she has near the end of the story, brought an honest tear to my eye... that final act of selflessness, the understanding she finally had of all her grandmother had endured.

 

At the end of the book, Yolen writes an afterword entitled "What Is True About This Book" where she breaks down the facts that inspired the story and what portions came directly from her imagination. If you want an enhanced experience of this book, I would recommend the movie adaptation starring Kirsten Dunst. It appears a little low-budget in the beginning, but ends up being a nicely done translation of this work. 

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url 2018-04-04 04:38
April TBR
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen,Anna Quindlen
Turtles All the Way Down - John Green

Here is my TBR for the month of April.  I know that my tbrs have been very short lately but I am actually enjoying the slow pace considering the changes that are happening in my life. I hope that you check out my youtube video and if you enjoy it please feel free to like comment and subscribe.

 

 

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review 2018-04-02 16:53
Too Many Crooks Spoil the Plot
Too Many Crooks Spoil the Plot (A Ditie Brown Mystery) - Sarah Jane Osborne

 I really enjoyed this one, it was relatable, realistic and inviting. The characters really made it for me; warm, true to life and charming, from```the capable Ditie, stepping up to take in Ellie's kids to the sassy Lurleen to the sweet romance between Ditie and Mason, I found myself roped in from the first page. Lurleen is really the one I want to know more about, her back story was hinted at several times in the book and I'm looking forward to learning more about her. The suspenseful plot kept me glued to the pages, the corporate espionage angle was interesting and intriguing (I want to try that product!) but I have to say, that ending....I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't that. It was a little convoluted. Not bad, just a bit confusing who was one what side. Also, the TSTL moment by one of the characters at the end just felt a bit unrealistic (I don't want to spoil, but jeeeeez.) But it was a great mystery and an edge of your seat and the recipes included at the end of the book sound delicious and there's a couple I can't wait to try. An excellent start to a new series and one I'll look forward to reading more of in the future.

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text 2018-03-24 20:20
Reading progress update: I've read 30%.
A Great Reckoning - Louise Penny

My least favorite thing in this series is the corruption at the Suerte. The mystery of the map is intriguing but I'm not much interested in the cadets or the academy.

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review 2018-03-23 20:00
Not a Great Thriller
My Husband's Wife: A Novel - Jane Corry

Well this wasn't that great to me. We have two characters that were terrible in their own ways and I guess what the author considered twists/reveals. In the end the lack of development and interesting plot left me bored when the book finally gets to the end. I would call this out as similar to "The Girl Before" with two women who should know better getting involved with sub-par men. It drives me up the wall that the big thing in this genre now is a woman who either is being lied to by a man and or is lying to a man. The woman is probably blonde and or attractive. And the man in question may as well hold up a sign saying "I am evil" and the woman ignores all warning signs about the man and just goes traipsing along like it's not a big deal. 


"My Husband's Wife" has two main characters, Lily and Carla. The book starts off with newly married Lily working on a potential case of an innocent man who was tried and convicted for the murder of his live in girlfriend.

Carla is Lily's 9 year old neighbor. Carla is dealing with her mother and her being gone a lot now that her mother is dating someone named Larry. Carla wishes that her mother was home more and wants more than anything to be rid of Larry. 

Eventually the two characters stories sync up (it takes a little bit) when Lily comes home one day and finds Carla injured after an incident at her school. Carla's mother then starts to depend on Lily and her husband Ed to watch Carla for her. 

 

Eventually things come to a head and the story skips ahead 16 years later when Carla is in her late 20s and Lily is in her 40s or I think just turned 40. The time jumps got to me after a while and I stopped paying attention. 

 

Lily has issues galore. She is still shaken over the death of her brother from about a decade ago. She loves her new husband, but feels like he is only with her out of charity. The angst you get from Lily concerning that her husband can't love a woman her size (she's a 14) and the anger she has about his ex girlfriend is constant in the early part of the book. Lily also is naive as anything. She starts obsessing about the convicted criminal whose case she is working on who reminds her of her brother. That says it all right there right?


Carla is not a great character as child and it's even worse when she pops back up again as an adult. Carla runs around thinking she is owed something and uses her looks to get back at those she thinks have wronged her.


I have to say that books that come out saying they are a psychological thriller should actually be a psychological thriller. There is no "there" in this book. The author takes us down a long winding road to get to what happened with LIly's brother. And then it doesn't make sense to me when we get the reveal why in the world did Lily's mother react this way to her son's death (pretending he's not dead). I just rolled my eyes. 


The writing wasn't great and the flow was awful. I think having an adult and a child as the main characters for the first half wasn't that great of an idea. It also grossed me out a bit when we get to the second part of the book when you read about Carla and who she eventually gets involved with. 


The setting of London ends up reading as bleak and oppressive. Everyone is a liar and everyone is grossly unhappy.


The ending fizzled out a lot. It was just more justifications for the character of Lily to make about why she's a terrible person, but has reasons for it. 

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