Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by: Heather Morris

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Then teach me. I want the girl I marry to like me, to be happy with me.’
Lale’s mother sat down, and he took a seat across from her. ‘You must first learn to listen to her. Even if you are tired, never be too tired to listen to what she has to say. Learn what she likes, and more importantly what she doesn’t like. When you can, give her little treats – flowers, chocolates – women like these things” – The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris

Initial thoughts: It was the start of winter break, and I was so happy to finally have a bit of time to read books for fun instead of textbooks and articles to translate. I found myself, as usual right before Christmas, browsing books at Indigo. Indigo, for those who don’t know, is a Canadian bookstore chain. It is my sanctuary. I also can’t go there without buying anything. Unfortunately, during that time, I was going through a book slump. 2 minutes before leaving, I felt the compulsion to buy just one book (a rarity for me). I wandered towards the indigo staff picks and quickly chose The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Summary

The Tattooist of Auschwitz (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #1)

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.


Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

The Review

                On Christmas Eve last year, there was not much for me to do but wait until the festivities would start in the evening. I pulled out The Tattooist of Auschwitz knowing full well that I would not be reading a light-hearted story. Even so, I figured that since I had bought it recently, I might as well read a little bit since I had some time. What I didn’t know is that I would become so captivated by the book, and by the time the festivities began, I wanted nothing more than to find out how the book ended.

                The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based upon the life experiences of Lale Sokolov, a Jewish man from Slovakia. In 1942, he was transported to Auschwitz concentration camp. By chance, he was given the task of tattooing numbers on each prisoner who would arrive at the camp. In comparison to the other jobs the prisoners were given, being the “Tätowierer” (tattooist in German) saved Lale from experiencing some of the cruelties of life at the concentration camp. His “status” allowed him to provide for his fellow prisoners by sneaking in contraband items.

One day, Lale tattoos the number 32407 on a Continue reading

Book Review: Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by: Guillermo del Toro & Cornelia Funke

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Mortals don’t understand life is not a book you close only after you read the last page. There is no last page in the Book of Life, for the last one is always the first page of another story” – Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by: Guillermo del Toro & Cornelia Funke

Initial Thoughts: I have yet to see the movie Pan’s Labyrinth. Honestly, I don’t know why I have been putting it off. I watched previews and I have heard the entire film score (which is very beautiful), and now I have read the novelization of the movie. One day, I will see the movie!

Summary

Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke have come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with haunting illustrations and enchanting short stories that flesh out the folklore of this fascinating world.

This spellbinding tale takes readers to a sinister, magical, and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous soldiers, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

A brilliant collaboration between masterful storytellers that’s not to be missed.

The Review

            Last summer, I was browsing the young adult shelves of Indigo and I happened upon this book. It drew my eye immediately. A beautiful hardcover novel with the title of a movie I had really wanted to see written by one of my favourite directors and by Cornelia Funke, author of Inkheart and The Thief Lord (two books I liked when I was in middle school). Their collaboration is a match made in heaven to tackle Pan’s Labyrinth which is essentially a fairy tale grounded in modern realism.

            Upon reading the book, I was delighted to see illustrations on every page, and occasionally pictures that would take up an entire page.

            Pan’s Labyrinth is a beautiful and dark fairy tale set in Spain in 1944, during World War II. Years before, young princess Moanna has wandered from her kingdom in the underworld and has found herself in our world. After spending many years and many lifetimes on earth, she has forgotten her parents, the king and queen of the underworld, who desperately try to search for her in vain. As a last resort, Moanna’s parents have tasked a faun to travel up to the world above and retrieve their daughter.

            In 1944, Ofelia, Continue reading

Book Review: Need by: Carrie Jones

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It’s a lot easier to understand things once you name them. It’s the unknown that mostly freaks me out. I don’t know the name of that fear, but I know I’ve got it, the fear of the unknown” -Need, Carrie Jones

Initial thoughts: When I was in middle school over ten years ago, all the young adult novels that had either a love triangle, supernatural creatures or just anything with romance, was advertised as “the next Twilight.” Need by Carrie Jones is no exception. On the back of the book, Justine Magazine likens Need as “If you grabbed Stephen King and Stephenie Meyer and asked them to co-author a book, they would come up with Need.” While this was a major sell point back in 2008, it only makes readers cringe in 2020.

Summary

Need (Need, #1)

Zara White suspects there’s a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She’s also obsessed with phobias. And it’s true, she hasn’t exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane…but Zara’s pretty sure her mom just can’t deal with her right now.

She couldn’t be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara’s overactive imagination. In fact, he’s still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There’s something not right – not human – in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers romance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you’d have to fear

My Review

I have a hard time getting rid of books. Perhaps that is something all bookworms all have trouble with to varying degrees. I still have all the books I enjoyed from the time I was in elementary school and beyond.

I first read Need when I was around thirteen years old after my friend let me borrow her copy. Fast forward eleven years, I found the book on my shelves and I decided to reread the first book “just because.”

Need first starts off with the protagonist, Zara White, leaving her warm city of Charleston for the frigid cold town of Bedford, Maine. As a Canadian, Continue reading

Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun

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When I first saw the news on Goodreads that Stephenie Meyer finally finished Midnight Sun and is planning on having her book published this August, I had to laugh. I was one of those preteens who went onto Stephenie Meyer’s website to read the first 200 pages of Midnight Sun she had began writing but abandoned. I read those first 200 pages at least three times and wished desperately that she would finish writing. And now, fast forward twelve years later, the book I was waiting for will be released, but my Twilight fever has long since subsided.

Midnight Sun is the story of Twilight told uniquely from Continue reading

Book Review: Antigone by: Jean Anouilh

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The spring is wound up tight. It will uncoil of itself. That is what is so convenient in tragedy. The least little turn of the wrist will do the job . . . The rest is automatic. You don’t need to lift a finger. The machine is in perfect order; it has been oiled ever since time began, and it runs without friction . . . Tragedy is clean, it is restful, it is flawless . . . In a tragedy, nothing is in doubt and everyone’s destiny is known. That makes for tranquility . . . Tragedy is restful; and the reason is that hope, that foul, deceitful thing, has no part in it. There isn’t any hope. You’re trapped.” – Antigone, Jean Anouilh

Initial Thoughts: Antigone holds a special place in my heart. It is a play that I have heard being rehearsed many many many many many times. For those who know me in real life, they know exactly why I’ve been to so many Antigone rehearsals to the point where I can still recite many of the lines thirteen years later. But, I hadn’t exactly read the entire play at the time until one day a few months ago, I was perusing the titles at my university’s bookstore. I just so happened to find a copy of Jean Anouilh’s Antigone.

AntigoneAntigone by Jean Anouilh

The Review

            Jean Anouilh’s Antigone is based on Sophocles’ Antigone, the Greek tragedy centered around Oedipus’ daughter. If you have not read or heard of Oedipus Rex (or Oedipus the King), please read it or read about it, you won’t be disappointed. I’d say that Oedipus’ family is probably one of the most tragic and messed up families in literature.

After the tragedy of her father’s death, Antigone’s two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, die while trying to fight each other to win the throne of Thebes. The new ruler of Thebes, Creon, Antigone’s uncle, decides that Eteocles deserves a proper burial, while Polynices is to be seen as a traitor and will be left without burial. The punishment for burying Polynices against Creon’s orders is death.

Antigone decides to disobey her uncle, and she Continue reading