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url 2017-03-21 15:27
Leave Jane Austen Alone, You Nazi Scum, and Other News (from Paris Review)

White Nationalists need to keep their goddamn hands off Jane Austen.

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review 2016-08-25 01:08
Sure, it's fiction but too unrealistic for me
The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah

Vianne Mauriac is a French woman whose husband, Antoinne, has gone off to war to fight the Germans. When the Nazis occupy France, her home is requisitioned by a Nazi captain.  Vianne has no choice but to stay in the house with the Nazi or risk losing her home altogether.  Her teenage sister, Isabelle, makes her displeasure all too well known and places Vianne and her daughter, Sophie, in danger due to her impetuous nature.  Isabelle leaves the family home and joins the Resistance.


I’ve read many, many books, both fiction and non-fiction, about the Nazis and all of the many atrocities committed by them during World War II. I kept feeling that I had read this book before, mainly because the author included each and every atrocity and WWII story in this book.  There were parts that just didn’t seem realistic.  This is supposed to be set in a small quiet town; however, the whole war seems to be centered on this small quiet town.  It must have been quite an important little town for all that happened there.  Certainly the actions of the Nazis were horrendous.  However, the melodramatic tone taken by the author gave a soap opera feeling to this book.  I’ve heard so many readers say that the ending was so moving; however, I must say that I shook my head in disbelief as I read it.  Too much of this book just didn’t ring true to me.  I could give quite a lengthy list of what struck me as unrealistic but I don’t want to give plot away for those who haven’t read the book yet.


That’s not to say that I didn’t like the book at all because I did.  The most moving parts to me were the sections involving Rachel’s son, Ari.  I applaud the courage that these sisters found deep inside themselves and their bravery.   There certainly were suspenseful moments.  However, the inconsistencies and unrealistic parts jarred my mood and brought me out of the story.  The thought “that doesn’t make sense” occurred to me far too often.


Quite possibly I’ve just read too many books of this type. However, I thought “All the Light We Cannot See” was a beautiful book and so very moving.  It’s hard to give a just-okay rating to a book of this nature since we all do need to be reminded of what happened to the Jewish people in WWII and books such as this are so important.  However, I don’t feel that the author did justice to such a terrible time in human history.


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text 2016-07-22 10:39
Book Haul - July 22nd
Hitler's Art Thief: Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis, and the Looting of Europe's Treasures - Susan Ronald
Lowcountry Book Club - Susan M. Boyer
Magic Stars - Ilona Andrews
Take the Monkey and Run - Laura Morrigan
Dear Committee Members - Julie Schumacher
A Dark and Stormy Murder - Julia Buckley
Dead End Street - Sheila Connolly

My postal haul - mostly pre-orders with a couple of books recommended by BL friends mixed in.  I've already finished and loved one, Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher.  There are so many good ones here it's hard not to blow off my TBR and just start reading these (which of course I'll end up doing).


Total new books: 7

Total read books this week: 6

Total physical TBR: 225


Hope everyone has a great weekend and good luck to everyone participating in the readathon!

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review 2016-04-14 06:40
Lilac Girls
Lilac Girls - Martha Hall Kelly

By: Martha Hall Kelly

ISBN: 9781101883075

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 4/5/2016

Format: Hardcover 

My Rating: 5 Stars 


Martha Hall Kelly has created a spellbinding journey, both haunting and compelling. LILAC GIRLS—infused eloquently, a blending of fact and fiction— an emotional, and moving historical debut, "bringing to life" three women whose paths, and destinies converge—Unforgettable!

Inspired by true events, the author was influenced by a spark which turned into a burning obsession (when it is meant to be, nothing stands in the way) —a need, a strong desire to tell a story. With this kind of inspiration, you know “the end result” will be spectacular!

As sweet, and as haunting as the fragrance of the sweet lilac flower--where it all began. Wise careful pruning is necessary with lilacs, as the creation of a good story. A tale of courage and grace, triumph and tragedy; injustice and resilient women—a tale, deserving to be told.

The author uses factual research to write a fictionalized account of events of Ravensbrück, taking readers on a journey, to the places where the women, “rabbits” traveled. With keen insights, she breathes new life into a story which had fallen from public view. Shaped by the 74 Polish women, whose spirit and courage have not been forgotten.

Meet the three women:

Caroline Ferriday: (Character is factual with a few liberties taken with fictional twists). I think she would be proud. As the book opens we meet Caroline, from a wealthy family of prestige and power. A New York socialite, former debutante and Broadway actress. By the time Hitler had risen to power and the Nazis had attacked countless countries across Europe, she had left the theater behind and was working as a volunteer in the French Consulate in New York.

She is currently having a delicious affair at the beginning of the book with Paul a French actor. She later became a “Godmother” to Ravensbrück Survivors. She disliked the term ‘heiress’ thinking it was synonymous with pleasure, and instead became a champion for victims of the Holocaust. A heroine and champion for the victims of WWII.

Kasia Kuzmerick: (Character is fictional, based on true accounts). A Polish teenager who works for the resistance movement as Germany begins its invasion. She winds up in Ravensbrück as a Rabbit—a haunting and torturous experience. She joins the underground group, after Nazis occupy her hometown of Lublin, Poland. Arrested, along with her mother and sister. The most profound character. The stories of Kasia are heartbreaking.

Herta Oberheuser: (Character is factual). A German cruel female doctor in a man’s world, accepts a position at Ravensbrück, which includes carrying out the brutal medical experiments. She loyal to the powerful German and Nazi, carrying out unspeakable acts. The least favorite character wondering how she can be human?


Caroline’s French connection led to her pivotal role in helping the post-War recovery of the Ravensbrück Lapins (Rabbits) and survivors of the Ravensbrück concentration camp and its program of forced Nazi medical experiments.

Concentration camps in Nazi Germany were originally set up in 1933 to terrorize Hitler’s political enemies. An all-female camp at Ravensbrück, set up in 1938, soon afforded the prison doctors a steady supply of women — the ‘rabbits’, as these prisoners became known — for medical experiments.

Their stories cross continents —readers go inside Ravensbrück, which sometimes is quite difficult to read; however, important to be aware of the tragedies and horrors subjected upon these women. If you have read previously of the inmates, the intense brutality – the Nazis could smell their fear. From starvation diets, forced abortions, the murders of newborns, drugs, grisly medical experiments, sterilizations, routine shootings, disease, corruption, humiliation, lethal injections and poisonings, as well as gassing that took the lives of between 5,000-6,000 prisoners.

Treated like lab animals with their experiments, crippling healthy women. From broken legs, ones extracted, to nerves and muscles. They even caused infections by deliberate actions of bacteria, and other unsanitary measures.

By 1941 Ferriday had become one of the early American members of France Forever, the Fighting French Committee in America. A few years later Caroline affiliated herself with the ADIR, or National Association of Deportees and Internees of the Resistance, founded in 1945 by female members of the French resistance who had survived their internment in the German camps.

After WWII, Ferriday Pursued Aid for the Ravensbrück Survivors. In 1958, 13 years after the end of World War II, Ferriday was among the first to awaken the American public to the horrors of Ravensbrück.

Told with passion and sensitivity, Martha Hall Kelly has created a masterpiece! I can always tell when an author has a background in marketing, design, publishing, advertising, or copywriting. It shows in the precise planning, interviews, meticulous research, attractive presentation, packaging, cover, marketing, graphics . . . and the maps, music, website, and writing--she delivers the "complete package!". As a media professional, I appreciate the care, effort, and attention to detail with such an intense project. It shows, "Highly impressive"!

In order to further appreciate this breathtaking story, I urge readers to immediately go to Martha Hall Kelly’s website.Read about the inspiration for the book—the tidbits, letters, places, events, and photos which inspired the story. Loved the maps—hats off to the Calligrapher & Illustrator, Holly Hollon- Grit & Wit.

Thank you Martha Hall Kelly, for creating a memorable experience for readers--your passion is reflected throughout each page of the book and website.


Watch Book Trailer  


A powerful debut, and an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets—hidden away, for decades. An ideal choice for book clubs or further discussions. Fans ofKristin Hannah’s The Nightingale will enjoy the journey.

I also read “Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women,” by Sarah Helm, a British journalist, a biography of the camp and interviews with numerous survivors, transcripts of postwar trials of camp officials and guards, opened after the fall of Communism. Kelly recommends other readings and references, as well.

What made LILAC GIRL an even more engrossing, experience for me; I listened to the audiobook, with one of my favorite narrators, Cassandra Campbell (outstanding- a perfect Caroline),along with Kathleen Gati, Kathrin Kana for the other two voices of Kasia and Herta; and the final chapter, a wonderful commentary narrated by the author Martha Hall Kelly’s own voice--her journey and the creation of the novel. Recommend purchasing the book as well, for reference

First Class Highly Recommend! A heartbreaking beautiful novel, celebrating the resilience of the human spirit, and the courage of some extraordinary women.

On a personal note:
I guess I need to move back to Atlanta, GA where I spent my entire career until a few years ago—to be surrounded by all my favorite authors, to attend all the lectures, book tours, and appearances. (the good stuff). I definitely would be making Kelly's April 28 Margaret Mitchell House Lecture appearance. To all my Atlanta friends, do not miss.


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Lilac-Girls/cmoa/570422580cf2efb3747cd598
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review 2016-03-05 15:24
Review: Germania
Germania: Roman - Harald Gilbers

In der zerbombten Reichshauptstadt macht ein Serienmörder Jagd auf Frauen und legt die verstümmelten Leichen vor Kriegerdenkmälern ab. Alle Opfer hatten eine Verbindung zur NSDAP. Doch laut einem Bekennerschreiben ist der Täter kein Regimegegner, sondern ein linientreuer Nazi. Der jüdische Kommissar Richard Oppenheimer, einst erfolgreichster Ermittler der Kripo Berlin, wird von der Gestapo reaktiviert. Für Oppenheimer geht es nicht nur um das Überleben anderer, sondern nicht zuletzt um sein eigenes. Womöglich erst recht dann, wenn er den Fall lösen sollte. Fieberhaft sucht er einen Ausweg aus diesem gefährlichen Spiel.



NB: Diese Rezension bezieht sich auf das gekürzte Hörbuch


1) Das Buch an sich:


Es gibt eine Stelle an der Oppenheimer von einer Freundin gefragt wird ob er den letzten Montag gut überstanden hat. Zuerst weiß er gar nicht wovon sie spricht, dann fällt ihm ein, dass es an dem Tag ja einen Bombenangriffs in der Nähe seiner Wohnung gegeben hat.
So eine Szene zeigt ja sehr viel. Aus heutiger Sicht ist es schwer vorzustellen, dass man so etwas einfach vergisst und dass Oppenheimer es doch tut zeigt so einiges über die damaligen Zustände/Oppenheimers Zustand.

Eigentlich ist so eine Szene prima. Eigentlich. Leider traut der Autor seinen Lesern wohl nur einen IQ knapp über Zimmertemperatur zu, denn am Ende der Szene sinniert Oppenheimer dann noch schnell darüber, dass es wirklich seltsam ist, dass er so etwas einschneidendes wie einen Bombenangriff nur wenige Tage später wieder vergessen hat und wie das andere, die das nicht selbst erleben, kaum verstehen können.

Das ist nicht die einzige Szene in der der Autor erst beweist, dass er Gefühle u.ä. eigentlich ganz gut zeigen kann aber gleich noch eine Erklärung von dem was er gerade gezeigt hat nachschiebt. Das ist noch frustrierender als ein Autor, der nur erklärt, denn er kanns ja. Eigentlich.


Dazu kommen noch eine unglaubliche Menge an Infodumps. Und zwar die der schlimmsten Sorte, die wirken als wären sie direkt aus einem Geschichtsbuch kopiert. Über die Reichspogromnacht, die Presse im 3. Reich, welche Autoren verboten waren, die genaue Funktionsweiße und Aufgabenbereiche von SS, Gestapo und SD… Zum einen kann man sich fragen ob man nicht zumindest bei einigen dieser Dinge erwarten kann, dass der Leser zumindest die Grundlagen davon schon weiß. Zum anderen, selbst wenn jemand dieses Buch liest für den all das neu ist: über die Hälfte der Dinge sind für die Handlung sowieso  nicht relevant sind. Um dem Plot folgen zu können muss ich nicht wissen, dass Tucholsky und Kästner verboten waren.
Das einzige was nicht mit einer halbseitigen Erklärung versehen ist, ist die ständige Pervitin-Einnahme der Charaktere. Aus dem Kontext konnte man zwar herauslesen, dass es sich um irgendeine Art von Stimmungsaufheller handeln muss aber es blieb so vage, dass ichs am Ende doch selber gegoogelt habe. (Mit anderen Worten: Der Autor meint seinen Lesern sagen zu müssen, dass Bücher von Karl Marx in der NS-Zeit verbrannt wurden, aber erwartet, dass sie etwas über ein Arzneimittel wissen, das seit 1988 nicht mehr vertrieben wird).


2) Der Krimi


War…OK. Am Ende vielleicht ein bisschen zu viele glückliche Zufälle aber für mich hielt sich das noch im erträglichen Rahmen. Und schließlich ist Germania kein typischer Krimi, der in einem (mehr oder weniger) demokratischen Land spielt, mit einem Ermittler der klare Befugnisse hat sondern ein Krimi mit einem jüdischen Ermittler in Berlin 1944. Wenn man da trotzdem noch einen typischen Krimi mit Ermitteln, Hinweisen und einem Täter der klar identifiziert (und bestraft) will, dürfte es schwierig sein das ohne den einen oder sehr glücklichen Zufall zu schaffen.


3) Hm…ja


Und dann ist da natürlich noch die ganze Prämisse. Die mich auch erst sehr skeptisch gemacht hat, weil ich befürchtet habe der Autor würde ‚jüdischer Ermittler in Nazi-Deutschland‘ nur als eine Art Gimmick verwenden. Frei nach dem Motto ‚da können die ganzen Skandinavischen Kommissare noch so traurig schauen, so tragisch wird ihr Leben nie‘ aber die Befürchtung war unbegründet. Trotzdem hätte man es sicher auch besser machen können. Wie die Krimihandlung und das Buch an sich ist es einfach mittelmäßig. Vielleicht ein bisschen besser, da z.B. Begegnungen zwischen Oppenheimer und alten Bekannten, die ihm sagen, dass sie ja nichts gegen ihn persönlich haben aber die Juden an sich… tatsächlich so stehen gelassen werden und ohne anschließend Erklärung was er von solchen Kommentaren hält auskommt.

Aber das geht dann stellenweise wieder zu sehr in die andere Richtung. Nach knapp der Hälfte des Buches fängt Oppenheimer nämlich an ein doppeltes Spiel zu spielen und Informationen an jemanden weiterzugeben, von dem er hofft, dass er ihn aus Deutschland rausschmuggeln kann und…das tut er einfach. Ohne das irgendwie darauf eingegangen wird, was passiert wenn das rauskommt. Zwar erwarte ich nicht, dass er ständig darüber nachdenkt aber dass er es gar nicht tut, ist auch schwer zu glauben.


Alles in allem: durchschnittlicher Durchschnitt aus dem man hätte mehr machen können. Band zwei höre ich vielleicht irgendwann mal, aber eigentlich hab ich genug andere Hörbücher.

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