My intention when I finished this book a month ago was to do a video on it. I’ve now changed my mind due to the delay and the fact that I have other things to deal with now. The review was written immediately upon finishing the book.
Lale Sokolov is the tattooist of Auschwitz. He meets Gita Furman one day during the course of his work tattooing the incoming prisoners, and over the following three years builds a loving relationship in hell on earth.
I have several issues with this book. Most notably is that its depiction of life in Auschwitz borders on misinformation. The book makes Auschwitz seem livable and hardly focuses on any of the negative. Sure this is meant to be the story of Lale and Gita, but in telling the story through this lens there is almost no mention of the brutality and horror of life in the camp. It seems extremely disingenuous to write a story set in Auschwitz in this manner. When reading I thought of Elie Wiesel’s Night. The books are polar opposites. One aims to give the reader the true experience of life in the camp. This book does not.
The book lacks any depth or detail. It spans more than three years and is written in the span of roughly 260 pages. Again, this tells me the author made no attempt whatsoever to tell an accurate account of life in the camp. It’s a nice love story found in the absolute worst place on earth, but a love story isn’t reason enough to gloss over every other detail that could provide insight into the camp.
This fails on so many levels and should not be considered historical fiction. 1 star.
This is the story of D-Day, the beginning of the end of WWII, from different accounts throughout that momentous day.
There are a great many books (many still being written today) about WWII and especially D-Day. I’m glad this is the one I picked up. As it says in the title this is a minute by minute account of that fateful day. It is not an historical narrative. Though a unique format, it works very well.
The story follows quite a few participants, organizers, civilians, and even quotes from Anne Frank’s diary. One might think this different format may force the reader to struggle to experience the horror and dreadfulness of the day. But that would be wrong. There are several perspectives shared that have you taking deep breaths to continue reading.
What makes this book so good is the German perspectives throughout. Because at the end of it all their perspectives are also worthy of being known and shared. The chaos, the confusion, the desperation, and even the realization that the war could not be won. The author gives all of that from the Germans.
After reading this I may look into a more traditionally written account of D-Day, but I don’t feel it’s at all necessary if I decide not to.
A unique and gripping account of mankind’s greatest day. 5 stars.
On this day in 2020 – 0 books On this day in 2021 – 3 books
Recently read this WWI classic for the first time. The review here is not exactly what’s in the video, but it’s very similar.
The subtitle of this could easily be, “A soldier’s experience in the Great War.”
As an American, so much history is told from the perspective of the West. Most notably, major wars of the 20th century. This flips it. It provides the German perspective.
Though published nearly 100 years ago, so many thoughts from this book would still be valid today. Often Paul, the main character, questions the point of the war altogether. At one point during a discussion with his friends it’s asked how wars start. The response is one country offends another. And this simple, yet poignant message bears truth today.
When reading or learning about war we’re told of the harsh conditions. Often those perspectives come from the winning side, but this tells the story of those same, inhumane conditions from the country also losing the war. It’s impossible for nearly all people to comprehend. Nothing in civilian life can come close.
This is an indictment against those who wish to start wars. So often they’re pointless and accomplish little to nothing. But those responsible for starting the war rarely pay the same price as those they send out to fight. History says Germany lost WW1 and we all know what the Nazis did a short while later. But those men were fighting for their country just the same as their American, Russian, French, and English counterparts. The war was not good for any of them. That’s the point of this story and it does a remarkable job of making its case. 4 stars.
I mentioned previously that I plan to share every review I write on here going forward. Today I’m talking SELENA.
Chris Perez tells the story of his life with Selena, though their time was so awfully cut short.
It’s impossible to put into words how beloved Selena is within the Mexican-American community. Because for much of her short life, she was like every one of us. Her family wasn’t well off. She didn’t speak Spanish. The balance between the Mexican part of you doesn’t always match with the American part. And on and on.
In this work Chris Perez has done what only he could. Throughout the 2+ decades since her death we are always treated to the story from the Quintanilla perspective. The movie and the series do the same. Chris doesn’t aim to retell what we already know. He reveals a side none of us do. Selena at home. Selena after a long day out on the bus. Selena just before bed. Selena the person, not the budding superstar. It’s fitting for her love story to finally be shared after so many years. We all know she eloped with Chris against her father’s wishes, but this work shows just how much it took for them to reach that point.
The most heartbreaking aspect of their story is obviously her death. The despair he endured after comes right off the pages and envelopes you as you read.
Like so many, I’m too young to have known Selena before her death. Her brilliant life may have been cut short, but she continues to live on today, tomorrow, and always.
An intimate window into her love story. 5 stars.
The book and the new series are very different. If you’re interested in hearing what I have to say about the Netflix show, I got ya.
This year I’m going to actively track my reading progress as the year moves forward.
2020 on January 8 – 0 books 2021 on January 8 – 2 books
I did it! 50 books in a single calendar year for the first time! I know I’ve been mentioning this quite a bit, but it really makes me happy to have finally accomplished an annual goal I’ve been setting for over a decade. I decided I’m going to start posting every review I write on Goodreads on here too. Tomorrow I’ll have a thorough reflection on 2020 and thoughts on what’s to come in 2021, but today I leave you with my review of one of the most talked about books of the year. Hope you reached your goal!
Noemí Taboada receives a strange letter from her cousin, Catalina and sets off to see she’s okay. What she finds is right out of a horror novel.
This was the first time I’ve ever read a book during it’s original publication year. I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge I bought this because of the hype. I am not familiar with the author or any of her previous work. But this book seemed to be everywhere after its release.
What I wanted when starting this book was to read a Mexican story for the first time. Immediately Noemí leaves Mexico City and where does she go? To an English family. It doesn’t come across as any different than a story set in NY.
While reading there were two stories I found myself comparing this to. Dracula and The Strain, but much more heavily toward The Strain. Howard Doyle is a copy of The Master. The major difference is he isn’t building an army to take over the world.
The most enjoyable part of the story is no doubt Noemí. She takes no shit. She stands up for herself and her cousin, and even Francis for some reason.
The author has an enjoyable writing style with vivid descriptions that create stunning images as you read. But the story is incredibly slow to start. If it could have moved along at a quicker pace, it could have been a great book. 2 stars.
Y’all, I’m getting so close to my goal of 50! This is already my second best year overall. I’ve decided that I’m going to include every review I write for the last few books of the year on here. This is the first.
The stock market is rigged against the average investor by every other party taking part in the market. That’s what Michael Lewis explains so thoughtfully in this book.
This was the second book I’ve read by Michael Lewis. This was the second time he’s left me thoroughly impressed.
Fair warning, the subject matter of the book is not just the stock market, the focus is on high frequency trading and dark pools and the fractured nature of exchanges. All of it is highly complex and not easily understood even by the financial professionals who work within the system. This isn’t my takeaway, it’s shown throughout the book. But he manages to make these extremely complex practices understandable. Sure, I won’t be giving a Ted Talk on high frequency trading, but upon completion I understand the story he was trying to tell.
What nonfiction often struggles with is leading up to something, a climax or grand event that acts as the high point of the story. Somehow he writes this exactly like a fiction novel. Toward the end of the book Brad Katsuyama (with plenty of help from his small, but highly talented group) launched IEX, their new stock exchange meant to level the playing field and protect investors from the predatory trading practices found elsewhere. Reading the description of what happened that first month is as good as any writing I’ve ever read. As a reader it gave me goosebumps to read about this band of people joining together to take on the entirety of Wall Street. A small minority that needs just a little help from the silent majority to quite literally change the world.
Slowly working my way through Amazon’s 100 books everyone should read. Most recently was Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone. It takes us into the life of Ishmael as a boy soldier during the Sierra Leonean Civil War.
If you’ve read it, tell me what you thought of it. If you haven’t, maybe watch? 😏
In returning to the blog (posted all five days I planned to last week!) it also means a return to my channel. With my first video back I’m starting a new series. Clearly, it’s called Bestsellers and Me. The idea is to follow up with a video whenever I read a bestseller. I can see the gears of your brain turning, “But what qualifies as a bestseller?”. Glad you asked. For my purposes I’m going to consider a book a bestseller if it has more than 100k ratings on Goodreads. Easy enough.
First in the series is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It would be cool if you watch, but no hard feelings if you don’t. You can also just tell me what you thought of the book.
This is the fourth and final entry (for now) in my series discussing the books I’ve been reading lately. Today we’re taking about Emma Cline’s The Girls.
The book takes us into the lives of the Manson family, one member in particular. It leads up to their most notorious crime. It’s a fictionalized version, of course. On the surface you might be intrigued when hearing that, but don’t be.
When I go to the bookstore (only Half Price Books) I always check online first to see if my store has what I’m looking for. Buying this book was one of those rare occurrences I happened to see it on the shelf and though I knew nothing about the story itself, I remembered when it was first published it had been quite the bestseller. So I bought it.
The book alternates between the 60s and the present when our protagonist (if you can even call her that) is middle aged. I hate repeating myself from an earlier post in this series, but nothing happened. The book doesn’t go into the actual crimes committed. It gives a perspective from within the family before they’re committed and talks about the aftermath. But again, nothing happens and chapters stretch on and on of nothing. It couldn’t be more exhausting.
Upon completion my first thought was that I’d have been better off reading a true crime account of the family and their crimes. Maybe I will at some point. I’m sure you can see where this is going. I’ve rated three books this year as one star. This is one of them.