Quick YA Review: SURVIVING THE ANGEL OF DEATH by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri

This YA read is subtitled The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz. Jewish twins, Eva Mozes and her sister Miriam, along with their parents and sisters, are sent to Auschwitz in 1944 from their home in Romania. While their family is sent to the gas chambers, Eva and Miriam are selected to be part of Mengele’s study group of twins. While their treatment is considered better than the regular prisoners (but don’t kid yourself- this is a concentration camp and no one is treated well!), Eva’s determination to protect Miriam and survive the war gives her an incredible resiliency and strength to carry on.

This was a very short read for me – less than 200 pages – and it follows Eva and Miriam’s story from being taken to the camps, to their experience there, to their survival after the war. Aimed for a middle to high school audience, the book is less graphic than other Holocaust stories, but it is understandably still highly disturbing. The inclusion of pictures from before and after the war are a nice touch. Written as a memoir, we get Eva’s voice throughout. Particularly touching in this book is how Eva found forgiveness in her heart years after her war experience was over.

Thank you, Net Galley and Tanglewood Press, for my review copy.

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

Review: HEIRS AND GRACES by Rhys Bowen

My readers know that I LOVE Rhys Bowen’s historical cozy mysteries series – especially the Molly Murphy series and the Royal Spyness series. The latest Royal Spyness book – HEIRS AND GRACES – has just come out and I received an ARC from Rhys herself to read and review.

First let me say just how very EXCITED I was to get a book from Ms. Bowen herself and even signed by her! Yeah!! (I follow her on Facebook and she had mentioned having a few if any bloggers wanted one.) Lady Georgie is one of my favorite characters in cozies. She’s so likable and yet so ordinary. She’s clumsy and unsophisticated, and always struggling to make ends meet. Yet she’s intelligent and spunky and keeps the most remarkable company (ex-police officer grand-dad, actress mummy, cousin the Queen of England, etc.). You can’t help liking her and wanting her to be successful!

In this story, Georgie is sent to a friend’s estate to help a new family member adjust to life as a noble. It seems that an heir has been found for the Altringham family: a heretofore unknown son of the son who died in the war. This young man, Jack, has been born and raised in Australia and is now found and coming to “train” so he  can eventually claim the title (a bit against his will). The family is in an uproar and the head of house, the very unlikable and unfriendly eldest son and Duke, is giving Jack less than a warm welcome. Then the Duke is found dead with a knife in his back – Jack’s knife. Can Georgie figure out who the killer really is and save the day?

This might be my favorite Georgie title yet! There was no dearth of suspects and even though I figured it all out, the mystery was cleverly plotted. Familiar friends Darcy and Belinda plays their parts as well.

Definitely one to read for those who follow the series – and for those new to the series, too!

THANK YOU, Ms. Bowen, for my copy!

Saturday Snapshot: More Friends in the Backyard!

In keeping with the theme of critters in the backyard, here’s a family of turkeys that like to strut through once or twice a week!

We also have a lovely fox that comes through, but he’s much harder to catch on camera.

photo (8) TURKEYS

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at http://www.westmetromommy.blogspot.com

You can participate by posting a picture and linking it to Melinda’s site. Appropriate pics only, please!

Review: SECRET STORMS by Kathy Hatfield and Julie Mannix von Zerneck

I was recently contacted by Rachel, the publicist for SECRET STORMS, to see if I’d like to read and review this novel. It sounded interesting — a mother and daughter reunited 43 years after the young mother had given her baby up for adoption. It was a true story, too, and I said yes.

Once I started SECRET STORMS I could not put it down! I read 300 pages the first afternoon and finished it the next day. SECRET STORMS (which is subtitled: A Mother and Daughter: Lost then Found) starts in 1963 with teenage, Philadelphia debutante Julie Mannix being admitted into a psychiatric hospital. She is nineteen and pregnant. Her parents feel that hospitalizing her for the extent of her pregnancy is for her own safety and well-being, and they really want her to have an abortion, but she refuses. So Julie experiences her pregnancy while living with some interesting characters who are suffering from various psychiatric illnesses, oddly reminiscent of Girl, Interrupted. Upon having her baby girl, the baby is taken away for adoption and Julie goes home and tries to return to a “normal” life (though her family life is far from normal). Julie continues with acting and has a growing career as a stage and screen actress. She marries the father of her child and they start a life together. However, she never is able to forget her first baby, or truly forgive herself.

Meanwhile, baby “Aimee” grows up as “Kathy”, in a loving family with two brothers. Sadly, her adoptive mother dies from cancer when the three children are all less than ten years old. This is a devastating loss for the family and one from which they never truly recover. Her father tries to keep it together, with first his parents living with them and then by remarrying the beautiful but unpredictable and abusive Gloria. I felt for this family so much. This poor man lost his wife, then had a disastrous marriage, then lost his job and his house and a lot of his income. The kids were amazingly resilient, but it was a sad story.

Eventually, though, Julie and Kathy’s paths cross, and they finally build a life together as mother and daughter.

This was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down. I felt so much for little Kathy growing up and all the hardships she faced. I was also fascinated with the unique childhood that Julie had with her somewhat eccentric parents and their lifestyle. It seemed incredible to me that, with a little luck, Kathy was able to find her mother in about 15 minutes using the Internet. If this wasn’t a true story I would have said that was unbelievable!

I highly recommend this story for those who enjoy this type of family drama and memoir.