The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe | @EburyPublishing @Tr4cyF3nt0n | #blogtour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe. My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy.

Author : Antonio Iturbe (translated by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites)
Title : The Librarian of Auschwitz
Pages : 432
Publisher : Ebury Publishing
Publication date : April 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Decades after the second World War has ended, so many stories remain untold and this is one of them. The Librarian of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Dita Kraus. At the age of fourteen, she and her parents find themselves in Auschwitz and Dita will become the secret librarian. Block 31 is where the children gather and one way or another, eight precious books have been accumulated. But books are dangerous because they make people think and if the Nazi’s were to find out about them, it would put everyone in danger. It’s up to Dita to make sure the books are kept safe at all cost.

No matter how many books you read about this incredibly disturbing era, it remains highly unsettling and heartbreaking. Life in the camp is harsh and almost impossible to fathom. Yet in the midst of all this despair, many held their heads up high, fought for survival, held on to hope and even tried to give children some kind of education. Obviously this was not allowed but the children kept this secret to themselves, singing silly songs when German soldiers were near and they even put on a show for the vile and despicable Josef Mengele.

This wasn’t the easiest of books to read. Apart from the topic, it jumps around quite a bit between different characters and time frames so it requires your full attention. The line between fiction and non-fiction is quite blurry but I enjoyed that the author added dates and facts throughout the story. Dita is an amazing young girl. She’s determined, brave and perceptive and sometimes makes you forget she was barely fourteen years old. But the character that stood out for me to most was Fredy Hirsh but you’ll have to read the novel to learn more about him.

I love a novel that makes me think and makes me google. Because despite having read quite a few WWII stories over the years, I had never heard of Block 31. Although it’s not quite clear what the reasoning from the Nazi’s was to have a family camp and this particular Block 31, it did “good things”. Many children were somewhat more protected from the even more severe realities of the rest of the camp and they were given slightly more food which meant not one child died from malnutrition.

Sadly, it’s not surprising to know many of them will not live to see the end of the war. As Dita’s story about life in Auschwitz reaches its conclusion, it becomes increasingly more devastating. Do make sure you also read the author’s afterword and learn more about what became of some of the other characters/people. The Librarian of Auschwitz is a powerful, unforgettable and touching novel and Dita’s story will stay with me forever.

The Librarian of Auschwitz is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Antonio Iturbe lives in Spain, where he is both a novelist and a journalist. In researching The Librarian of Auschwitz, he interviewed Dita Kraus, the real-life librarian of Auschwitz.

Lilit Zekulin Thwaites is an award-winning literary translator. After thirty years as an academic at La Trobe University in Australia, she retired from teaching and now focuses primarily on her ongoing translation and research projects.

The Passengers by John Marrs | @johnmarrs1 @EburyPublishing @Tr4cyF3nt0n | #blogtour #bookreview #ThePassengers

Author : John Marrs
Title : The Passengers
Pages : 400
Publisher : Ebury Publishing
Publication date : April 1, 2019 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Bloody hell, what the frickety-frack was that?! 😱

Welcome to the world of autonomous cars. Get in, tell your car where you want to go and sit back, relax, have breakfast, read a newspaper or have a nap. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Until, someone somewhere takes control of your car and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no steering wheel, no pedals and no manual override and suddenly this relaxing journey turns into a wet-your-knickers one.

This is what happens to eight passengers when their car systems are hacked. The cars are set on a fatal collision course. But hey, there’s good news too! Because the wonderful (ahem) people on social media get to play and decide which one of these passengers should survive this harrowing journey. As a reader, I myself found myself so utterly engrossed that I couldn’t help but think about what I would do, who I would choose. But boy, did that make me feel bad about myself.

This entire premise scared the crap out of me! Not only the idea of autonomous cars, which in my mind is just preposterous. But also the power of social media, the way they’re so quick to judge and the hacker plays into that brilliantly. It’s clear he’s holding back information, manipulating viewers by not giving them the full story. But there’s a reason for that and all shall be revealed.

The Passengers is by far one of the most original thrillers I’ve ever read! It is insanely on-the-edge-of-your-seat tense, brilliantly paced, immensely thought-provoking and massively addictive! It had me glued to the pages from the very beginning and I just couldn’t put it down. This would quite frankly make a fantastic film!

John Marrs is an author whose name I’ve seen pop up quite a lot and yet, this is the first time I’ve picked up one of his books. It definitely won’t be the last time though because I’ve quite obviously been missing out here. If you’re a fan, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. If like me you’re only just getting introduced to his work, this is a fabulous one to start with!

Strap in for the ride of your life! Bring clean underwear. 😉

The Passengers is available to buy in ebook format with the paperback coming soon!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

John Marrs is the author of The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, Her Last Move and Welcome to Wherever You Are. 

A former freelance journalist based in London, England, he spent twenty-five years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines until becoming a full-time author in 2018.

He has written for publications including the Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online, Total Film, Huffington Post, Empire, Q, GT, the Independent, S Magazine and Company.

His books have been translated into twenty different languages and The One is soon to be a major new Netflix series.

This Week in Books (March 27)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Death is no stranger to Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan, but she isn’t the only one from her small, coastal suburb to be intimately acquainted with it.

Years ago, teenager Seán Hennessey shocked the tight-knit community when he was convicted of the brutal murder of his parents and attempted slaying of his sister, though he always maintained his innocence. Now, Seán is finally being released from prison—but when his newfound freedom coincides with the discovery of two bodies, the alleged connection between the cases only serves to pull Frankie further from answers even as it draws her closer to her town’s hidden darkness.

With a television documentary revisiting Seán’s sentence pushing the public’s sympathies into conflict on a weekly basis, a rabid media pressuring the police like never before, and a rising body count, Frankie will need all of her resources if she is not only to catch a killer, but put to rest what really happened all those years ago.

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor… 

I don’t know about you but I’m thinking my week is looking mighty awesome again! Any of these catching your eye? What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading, guys! xx

Some of my most anticipated books of 2019

At the end of last year, I mentioned doing a post focusing on some of my most anticipated releases for the new year. Since then, it seems everyone and their dog has done a post like that so obviously my idea wasn’t as original as I thought it was. Anyway, I decided to share this list regardless and hopefully you’ll find something that will pique your interest.

Listed by publication date for digital and hardcover copies.

| JANUARY |

Steve Cavanagh – Twisted
Matt Wesolowski – Changeling
Will Dean – Red Snow
Steph Broadribb – Deep Dirty Truth
Diane Setterfield – Once Upon A River

| FEBRUARY |

Angela Marsons – Dead Memories
Jo Spain – Dirty Little Secrets
Stacey Halls – The Familiars
Louise Beech – Call Me Star Girl
C.J. Tudor – The Taking of Annie Thorne
Alex Michaelides – The Silent Patient

| APRIL |

Gillian McAllister – The Evidence Against You

| MAY |

Stuart MacBride – All That’s Dead
Alison Weir – Anna of Kleve : Queen of Secrets
Sarah Hilary – Never Be Broken
Melanie Golding – Little Darlings

| JUNE |

Karin Slaughter – The Last Widow
Alex North – The Whisper Man

| JULY |

Riley Sager – Lock Every Door

| UNKNOWN |

Sharon Bolton – The Poisoner

This is a weird one but I’ve included it anyway. I could have sworn the original publication date was May but Amazon now lists it as December 2020, which quite frankly I refuse to believe because I WANT IT NOW!

Honourable mention to Johana Gustawsson and the third book in the Roy & Castells series.

I have a feeling it’s going to be a great bookish year once again! Which book(s) are you looking forward to the most? Do let me know and I hope you’ve found something in this list that caught your eye. Happy reading! xx

Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager #20BooksOfSummer

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Author : Riley Sager
Title : Last Time I Lied
Pages : 368
Publisher : Ebury
Publication date : July 12, 2018

aboutthebook

Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

Emma has. Her first summer away from home, she learned how to play the game. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned . . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all…

mythoughts

This one time … at summer camp … three girls went missing. They were never found and nobody knows what happened to them. Now, fifteen years later, Emma returns to Camp Nightingale and hopes to lay old ghosts to rest. Because the events of that summer still haunt her. After all, she lied.

Right off the bat, you’re left to wonder if Emma is a reliable narrator. What did she lie about fifteen years ago? How many times did she lie? And why? Does she know what happened to the three missing girls? The storyline switches between events in the past to the now. Both threads kept me guessing until the very end. I found both threads to be incredibly gripping and was lucky enough to finish the book in one sitting, desperate to know the outcome before bed.

Creating an unsettling and threatening feeling is something Riley Sager does extremely well. Even when it seems there’s little going on, I half expected someone or something to jump out from behind a tree or whatever else creepy hiding place. The setting of the camp and the nearby lagoon lends itself to this perfectly. There’s a constant dark, creepy and chilling atmosphere that had me utterly captivated.

Just like Emma, I tried to follow the clues, got the wrong end of the stick multiple times and just couldn’t figure things out at all. It seemed like just about everyone had a secret they were trying to hide and few characters came across as likeable. And then Riley Sager hit me with the most brilliant epilogue ever! Did NOT see that coming! Fabulous!

I was slightly in the minority where Riley Sagar’s previous book, The Final Girls, was concerned. While I enjoyed it, I wasn’t entirely sure it was as special as the buzz surrounding it made it out to be. Personally, I feel Last Time I Lied was much better. Tense and intriguing, full of suspense and with a deliciously awesome mystery to solve, this is one of those books that is really hard to put down. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Riley Sager’s next book!

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

Last Time I Lied is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

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Book 6 from my 20 Books of Summer list

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Final Girls by Riley Sager

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Author : Riley Sager
Title : Final Girls
Pages : 352
Publisher : Ebury Press
Publication date : July 13, 2017

aboutthebook

Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead…

They were the victims of separate massacres. Three strangers bound by similar traumas grouped together by the press.

When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet. Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And after the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.

mythoughts

I think it’s safe to say that Final Girls is one of the most talked about books this summer. So as always, the question is : does it live up to the hype? To be quite honest, I’m not entirely sure.

Lisa, Sam and Quincy are connected in the most horrible way. All three are survivors of separate massacres. Dubbed the Final Girls by the media, each one is dealing with the trauma and life in different ways. A final girl is a term from the movies, used to describe the last girl standing at the end of a horror film. Now, if you’re expecting horror here, you’re in the wrong place. Murder and intrigue, yes.

When something happens to Lisa, Sam decides now is a good time to meet Quincy. But her motives are murky at best. Why is she so pushy? What is she hiding? And does Quincy really not remember what happened on that horrible evening in Pine Cottage?

A true mark of how much I’m enjoying a book, or not, is the amount of times I set it aside to go off and do something else and I did that quite a lot during the first half of this story. It didn’t seem to me like a lot was happening and it most definitely wasn’t gripping me as hard as I expected it would. I’m not quite sure why I kept reading on at that point but I’m glad I did as the second half of the book, especially the last chapters, sure picked up the pace and finally gave me that thrill I was looking for. Although one answer to a burning question was fairly obvious, in my most humble opinion, there were still a few other twists that were a surprise.

Looking back on it now, I do see a well executed plot and great writing from Riley Sager and I’ll definitely be checking this author out again. But while an enjoyable read, especially near the end, Final Girls to me was merely a great thriller that just needed that little something more to truly stand out from the crowd and deserve the hype surrounding it.

Final Girls is available now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads