Book Review, Books!, Diverse December, Inspiration, Reading Challenge, Signal Boost

Review: The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

Hey all, Dani here.

So the book I’m reviewing today is one I read back in December as part of Diverse December, and it was such a powerful read, especially as it is a true story. I was sold on the book based on the title, then the cover, and finally the summary. Because it is so easy to get me to read books if it is about libraries or bookstores, etc.

Anyway, let’s just jump into the review.

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Summary

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
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 volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

As I mentioned before, the title of this book caught my interest, and the summary drew me in even more. I appreciate stories like this, and getting to learn more about some of the experiences of those who lived through the Holocaust is something I consider to be important.

To read about Dita, who risked her life to protect just a few well used and battered books was nothing short of inspirational to me. It is also worthwhile to note that the author of this book actually had the opportunity to sit down with the real Dita and hear her tell her story, and to get details to help expand the story that he was writing. I appreciate that there was so much attention to detail, and I honestly feel like I am getting a story that is more like a biography in a partially fictional format.

Honestly the only reason I marked the rating down a little bit is because I think the book’s writing felt a bit distanced, but that is likely because it is a translated text. It is still a worthwhile read, and I definitely recommend it to those who enjoy historical reads as well as those who appreciate books about books.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

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The Road So Far (2)

Hey all, Dani here.

Why mess with the tradition I started last year? I might as well keep using the awesome “Supernatural” reference for my retrospective over the last year. You can find my overview of 2016 here.

Today also happens to be my 2 year blogaversary. I started this blog in 2016 to help me cope with my paternal grandmother’s death. Well, technically that was the catalyst for starting it; I had been thinking of starting up a blog again for a while because I needed to talk about books with someone.

2017 was such a rollercoaster year for me, and yet, looking back I wouldn’t change any of the lows I went through. Not only because the highs really kept me afloat, but also because the lows allowed me to fully understand how great the highs were.

Anyway, in January I found out that I was approved for the vacation days from work that would allow me to go to Book Expo and BookCon. Though I knew I was going alone, I knew that I would have a fun time surrounded by other book lovers and getting to check out a bunch of upcoming releases.

Also in January, my parents separated after 30 years together, and started the process of getting a divorce. The drama and issues from this event would send shockwaves through roughly 2/3 of the year.

I lost myself in books, both reading them and buying them. I pushed myself to work more on my blog, and to start interacting more with other members of the book community. It was the start to me really feeling like a good book blogger. But in those early months it was also the way I had to cope with what was happening in my life. Well, my books and Dungeons & Dragons.

It was Dungeons & Dragons that introduced me to the man who I would start dating in April. As it turns out this would be the event that helped me get through everything else. Admittedly, I know some people in my real life got annoyed with how much I gushed about my guy and how great things were. I can’t help it that my life started to feel like I was part of a romance story.

After my trip to NYC for Book Expo and BookCon, my blog really started to take off. I reached 100 followers, and later in the year 200. I’m not sure when follower 250 came around, but it might have been just before 2017 ended. So thank you to each and every one of you who has joined me in this process. You are all amazing.

Even with my work and my relationship, I somehow managed to still keep up with all of my reading and blogging, and actually I started having posts go up every single day, something I never would have thought I would be able to do.

I participated in quite a few readathons over the course of the year, from both sessions of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathons, to a few other assorted events. All in all I think those helped me connect with more of you, and to read a bunch more books. The 24 Hour events always seem much more successful to me than the week long events, but I still keep trying with them. Hey, any excuse to read more, right?

I rekindled my fondness for manga in 2017, and I can honestly say that I am devouring so many of them. My list of manga reviews waiting to be written up is getting decently long.

Oh, and my boyfriend and I were able to go to Indianapolis in August with another friend of ours for a one day pass to Gen Con, which is a gaming convention. There we were able to get a lot of books, dice, and games, as well as to meet the cast of Critical Role. It was a really fun day.

For the 12th time I participated in NaNoWriMo, and managed to earn my 12th win, but I realize that the novel that came out is mostly incoherent. With any luck I’ll be able to start from scratch and re-write the book in 2018. I’d actually love to be able to share it with the world. And it would be nice to really get back into writing (and possibly publishing) again.

And I managed to do a TBR purge and go through a list of well of 800 books on Goodreads, taking it down to just over 400 books. I imagine this will be something I’ll have to do again soon, but I still feel pretty good with where I’m at now.

But, the greatest event of 2017 was towards the end of December. On Friday, December 22nd, on a day when we thankfully had a shutdown day at work, my boyfriend and I went shopping at Barnes & Noble where he both bought more books than me and spent more money than me. You guys, that rarely happens. You’ve seen my typical book hauls. I usually get a heck of a lot of books.

After that shopping trip, we made our way to the zoo, where we walked around for a couple hours, looking at all of the animals and then also checking out the massive holiday light display they put up each year. And it was while sitting on a bench overlooking Conservation Lake at the zoo, that my wonderful boyfriend sank down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was honestly just like a scene out of a Hallmark channel holiday movie, and I so look forward to seeing what our future will be like.

I hope you all had some moments of 2017 that were really nice as well, and I hope that we all have a very nice 2018.

Book Review, Books!, Diverse December, Reading Challenge, Signal Boost

Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Hey all, Dani here.

I am finally getting around to posting some of my Diverse December book reviews. I did a lot of reading at the end of November and it made the first couple weeks of December pretty interesting for my post schedule. So look for more Diverse December reviews scattered through the rest of this month and continuing into January.

Anyway, Diverse December was created by Kathy over at Books & Munches, and the goal is to read as many diverse books in the month of December as possible. These can be diverse in terms of race, religion, sexuality, mental health, etc.

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Summary

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

The only reason I marked this one down a .5 star was because the format just threw me off throughout the book. I was fine with just dialogue during the debate portions of the story, but in person or on the phone, it would have been nice to have descriptors and observations of body language and movement.

Otherwise I think this was a pretty powerful read, especially with its short length. I know there were many actions and words spoken that grated on me or made me feel a bit uncomfortable because of how blatantly and racially charged some of them were.

There were characters all across the spectrum, from white kids who recognized their privilege and tried to speak up for minorities, and privileged white kids who thought there was no racial divide, even as they spoke blatantly racially charged statements. You had characters of color who were frustrated and upset for some of the situations they were put in simply because of the color of their skin, and there were characters of color who tried to let racist remarks slide because reacting would not have helped their situation at all.

I appreciate how varied the characterizations were, and how much of an impact this story had with so few pages. I’m also glad for the changes a couple characters went through by the end of the story. It was nice to see that living through these situations did have an impact on them.

Overall I would definitely say this covers an important topic and it is something I recommend for people to pick up and read.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of Dear Martin from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.