Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Death March Escape: The Remarkable Story of a Man Who Twice Escaped the Nazi Holocaust by Jack J. Hersch

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Memoir
Source: I received an advanced copy from Netgalley. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I have never been able to read a book about Holocaust survivors without getting emotional. As an eighth grade English teacher we have a unit that touches on the Holocaust. When I taught ninth grade English we read Night and other stories about the Holocaust. I have over the years met only one survivor. The only part of her story that stuck with me was the death march she was taken on. To me this is more terrifying than the camps. You may wonder why. In this case the author’s father had the realization that they would soon be freed by the allies. How many of them lost all hope when they were removed from the camp and taken on these long death marches?
The author’s father was like many survivors who talked about their imprisonment, treatment and survival while leaving out so much. I have always wondered why they did this. Were they trying to spare their family the pain that they still felt?
After learning from a relative that a picture of his father at a  death camp was up on a website, Jack sets off on a journey to fill in the blanks of his father’s life.  He eventually walked the same path his father took. He wanted to understand his father’s experiences. It is my opinion that you can walk the path your parent’s took and learn so much more than you  originally knew. I also believe that unless you were actually there that there is no way you can completely understand the horrors.  This is a non-fiction story that I highly recommend. We need more voices to tell these stories as the survivors are all beginning to die off. Who will be left to speak for all those who lost their lives during these horrible year?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Watch Hollow by Gregory Funary

Genre: Middle Grades, Fantasy, Adventure
Source: I received an advance reader copy to facilitate my review. The opinion expressed here are my own.

I love reading middle grade books because I teach middle grade students. This is one that will be on my shelves the day it comes out.  Who wouldn’t love a story that had middle school age kids with all of their issues, monsters, a spooky house with talking animals?  On top of that there is a monster in the woods called the Garr.

The book opens with Lucy Tinker sitting in the display window of her dad’s clock repair shop. She is sitting there because she is in trouble. Her brother is trying to help her father. As they begin to close up a gentleman enters and makes a proposal that seems too good to be true. Mr. Quigley wants Mr. Tinker to repair a cuckoo clock in an old house he has recently acquired. He throws down a large amount of gold as an advance.  Up to this point the family has had it financially tough. It doesn’t help that their mother had died from cancer two year before. Lucy seems to be the one who is often impulsive yet seems to be the glue holding them all together. 

Mr. Tinker agrees to move to the house and fix the clock. It seems that Mr. Quigley didn’t tell them everything they should have known. The house is very peculiar. There are talking animals. The woods seem to be alive with something evil within.  Lucy can tell that something is not right. There father is thinking about how far the money would go.  Trouble is not that far away. This book definitely takes you on a journey. The characters are very well done. My students could easily identify with them.   Some of the problems they face are the same problems my own students face each day.  This has easily become one of my favorites of this year.  The adventure, magic, overall story will draw you in and hold you there for some time.  I highly recommend this book.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Shaker Murders by Eleanor Kuhns

Genre: Adult, Mystery
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Fresh from facing allegations of witchcraft and murder, travelling weaver Will Rees, his heavily pregnant wife Lydia and six adopted children take refuge in Zion, a Shaker community in rural Maine. Shortly after their arrival, screams in the night reveal a drowned body ... but is it murder or an unfortunate accident? The Shaker Elders argue it was just an accident, but Rees believes otherwise.

As Will investigates further, more deaths follow and a young girl vanishes from the community. Haunted by nightmares for his family's safety, Rees must rush to uncover the truth before the dreams can become reality and more lives are lost. Yet can the Shaker Elders be trusted, or is an outsider involved?

My Thoughts:
Mysteries are one of my favorite genres, and has been since I was in elementary school. Eleanor Kuhns is a master at writing mysteries that hold your attention from the very first page.  Will and his wife Lydia have gone back to the Shaker community they had once been a part of because his wife Lydia was still wanted, accused of witchcraft.  When people in the village start going missing, then turn up murdered, Rees is sure it is someone in the village. How safe is his family?  The events just kept me turning the pages.  Like all of her books, the action keeps rolling at a great pace. The end was just as suspenseful. I kept trying to guess who the murderer was. Each time I thought I had it figured out something else would happen to lead me in a different direction.  I highly recommend this series.