Further Thoughts – the tattooist of auschwitz (Heather Morris)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Yesterday I reviewed the tattooist of auschwitz.  Reading about the Holocaust always causes me grief and sadness and can cause me mood to darken for days.  Still I periodically read books on this topic for the reasons I talked about yesterday.  After I posted me review, I read some articles that highlighted again the importance of remembering and honoring victims of the Nazis.  Because of headlines like this:

“Poland’s Senate passes controversial Holocaust bill” – The BBC article stated that:

It [the bill] says that “whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich … shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years”.

But it adds the caveat that a person “is not committing a crime if he or she commits such an act as part of artistic or scientific activities”.

It passed in a late-night sitting of the upper house of the Polish parliament with 57 votes to 23, with two abstaining.

I mean seriously.  Of course some people in the Polish nation were complicit in the Holocaust.  As were those of many other countries.  A lot of people from those same countries tried to fight the atrocities and help others.  We have documented proof people.  Apparently Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said while Poland was committed to combating lies of the Holocaust:

“The camps where millions of Jews were murdered were not Polish. This truth needs to be protected,” he said.

The camps are called Polish camps because some were located in Poland.  That is a truth.  So this just feels like a ridiculous attempt to rewrite history.  Attempting to reclassify such actions after the fact is a disgrace to all people who have suffered such atrocities.

So here are two other articles where truth is listed and proof is given:

“The Tattooist of Auschwitz – and his secret love” – this in an in-depth article about the release of the novel.  It contains photos of Lale from many periods in his life and many of the concentration camps.  The photos can be unsettling so beware of that.  But one of the interesting photos shows:

Regarding other documents, one was discovered with Lale’s name and number in a list with other prisoners . . .  “The top of the document says Politische Abt – Aufnhmershreiber, Pramienauszahlung vom 26.7.44, which translates to – Political Wing Admittance Writer,” Morris says.

Seeing his name and number on this list is further proof and for some reason especially hard-hitting for me.

The other article:

“Auschwitz inmate’s notes from hell finally revealed” – this article is about a fascinating piece of Auschwitz history.  In 1944, 26 year-old Marcel Nadjari, a Greek Jew, wrote a 13 page manuscript while in Auschwitz.  “He was among about 2,200 members of the Sonderkommando – Jewish slaves of the SS who had to escort fellow Jews to the gas chambers. Then they had to burn the bodies, collect gold fillings and women’s hair, and throw the ashes into a nearby river.”  The manuscript was buried near the crematoriums and found in 1980.  One problem – it was so exposed to elements that in was nearly illegible.  By using recent more modern technology, the writing was able to be deciphered.  The article did not contain the whole manuscript (as it was published recently in German) but the line that hit hard in this article was:

“The crematorium is a big building with a wide chimney and 15 ovens. Under a garden there are two enormous cellars. One is where people undress and the other is the death chamber. People enter it naked and once about 3,000 are inside it is locked and they are gassed. After six or seven minutes of suffering they die,” he wrote . . .

“The gas canisters were always delivered in a German Red Cross vehicle with two SS men. They then dropped the gas through openings – and half an hour later our work began. We dragged the bodies of those innocent women and children to the lift, which took them to the ovens.”

If I learned the detail about the vehicle at some point then I had forgotten.  Such a blatantly horrible use of a symbol that is supposed to mean health and human compassion.

I don’t know when Holocaust denial truly began but with the story of the Polish bill and others like the Holocaust denier being at Trump’s State of the Union speech, the novel is an important addition at an important time.

Not me usual type of blog but have to admit that the news got me dander up and I had to rage on me soapbox.  If only I could make all Holocaust deniers walk the plank and be tasty morsels for the sharks.  Arrrr!

x The Captain

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Off the Charts and On the Horizon – the tattooist of auschwitz (Heather Morris)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. I received this non-fiction eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the tattooist of auschwitz (Heather Morris)

Title: the tattooist of auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Publisher: Bonnier Publishing Australia / Echo

Publication Date: Available Now! (hardback/ebook)

ISBN: 978-1785763649

Source: NetGalley

In 2016, according to this Time magazine article, there were about 100,000 Holocaust survivors still alive.  In 2014, there were 500,000.  So how many are there in 2018?  I couldn’t find the numbers.  But what I do know is that we will soon be in an era where there are no first person witnesses.  That is why books like this continue to be important and why I continue to read them.  To keep the memories alive and honor the victims of the tragedy.  When there are ridiculous people trying to deny the impact of the Holocaust or say it never happened with living proof, I shudder to think what will happen when all the survivors are gone.

Also with many survivor’s reticence to talk about their Holocaust stories, every one is precious.  With each one that is told there are millions that have that have been lost.  Within these true stories ye get to see human ingenuity, human kindness, and above all, love in horrible situations.  Some people do break.  Some survive.  All matter.

This novel details the experiences of Lale Sokolov who was a tattooist at Auschwitz, found love in the camps, and survived to make a life outside afterwards  He only chose to tell this story after the loss of his beloved wife in 2003.  I won’t say much about the plot because me words don’t do it justice.  But this book is important that I am honored and humbled that Lale shared his story.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Bonnier Publishing Australia / Echo!

Side note:much thanks to Inge @ thebelgianreviewer for making me aware of this book’s existence.  Check out her review here!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Heather Morris – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the tattooist of auschwitz – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – the hazel wood (Melissa Albert)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the hazel wood (Melissa Albert)

Title: the hazel wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: TODAY!!! (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 978-1250147905

Source: NetGalley

This book was a slow-burning, dark, and atmospheric read.  It felt like a Grimm’s fairy-tale mixed with some Alice in Wonderland but was mostly set in our modern world.  For all of the book’s slow pacing, I somehow found meself mesmerized by the mystery of it all.

Alice and her mom are always beset by bad luck and have led a fairly nomadic life.  Alice’s life has been heavily influenced by the tantalizing facts about her grandmother, Althea, even though they have never met.  Ye see a young Althea wrote a famous children’s book of fairy-tales and became a sensation.  Yet the book is hard to get a hold of.  It is a rare collector’s item and is out of print.  Alice has never been allowed to read it.  The one time she tried she only got as far as the table of contents before her mom confiscated the volume.  It was never seen again.  Why are Alice and her mom always on the run?  And what is so special about those stories?

If ye read this novel ye can find out.  Alice is a kinda quirky, if tad unlikable, character and her journey certainly is an interesting one.  Most of the story takes place in a seemingly contemporary tale where the fantasy can be glimpsed in the seams and cracks outside of periphery vision.  Those glimpses are enticing.  Of course the fantasy elements increase as the story progresses and that was super fun.

The only small quibble was the ending felt unsettled.  But it fit the Grimm-like mood and so I was satisfied.  Then, of course, I found out it is part of a series!  I do think it can feel like a standalone though.  I do wonder what adventures Alice will get into next.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Flatiron Books!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

To visit the author’s twitter go to:

Melissa Albert – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the hazel wood – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Off the Charts and On the Horizon – the stowaway (Laurie Gwen Shapiro)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. I received this non-fiction eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the stowaway (Sarah Krasnostein)

Title: the stowaway: a young man’s extraordinary adventure to antarctica

Author: Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: Available Now! (hardback/ebook)

ISBN: 978-1476753867

Source: NetGalley

This novel was recommended by stephanie @ adventuresofabibliophile.  The title and cover immediately captured me fancy.  Stowaways and a ship!  Arrr!  It takes place in the 1920s which is a bonus.  Also me adventurous ma is currently on a ship heading for Antarctica and penguins and cold!  So it seemed appropriate to read about previous Antarctic explorers.

While I prefer sunnier climes, I have always had a fascination for exploration stories of all kinds be it mountain climbin’, island hoppin’, or south pole ice scramblin’.  As a younger lass I read about Shackleton, Darwin, and Cook’s true life adventures.  National Geographic magazine was a much loved publication.  Equally beloved were the fictional survival stories like White Fang, Robinson Crusoe, and the Count of Monte Cristo.  I continue to love these types of stories like recent reads castle of water and feel me fall (highly recommended).

So I began to read this book about Billy Gawronski who was so obsessed with being a member of Byrd’s crew that he was a stowaway on Byrd’s ships not once but three times!  His tenaciousness and pure grit to make it to Antarctica was endearing and fun.  He wasn’t the only one trying to secure a place on this expedition.  Byrd was a crafty man and had thousands of candidates trying to obtain a non-paying berth on the voyage attempting to make American history.

Overall I found this to be a more a story about the facts surrounding getting to and from Antarctica rather than what happened on Antarctica.  It is a seemingly well-researched book.  Much like in real life, Byrd really is the center of the story with Billy’s portions as the more humanistic filler.  The beginning of the book up until the establishment of Little America is the best part of the book though the story loses steam after that.  In any case I found many of the tangential facts to be fascinating.  Like how President Coolidge had a pancake breakfast with actresses in an attempt to bolster his election campaign.  This book was a quick read that I enjoyed even if I thought it would be more about Billy’s adventures in Antarctica.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Simon & Schuster!

Side note: the author has a marvelous article in the New Yorker about “the Stowaway Craze.”  It even shows a photo of Billy!  What fun!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Laurie Gwen Shapiro – Author

To buy the novel go to:

stowaway – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – the curse of chalion (Lois McMaster Bujold)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I be readin’ a lot of adult sci-fi and YA so far this year and had a hankerin’ for some fantasy.  I was goin’ to read the paladin of souls but discovered just before I was about to read it that it be a book 2 of a series.  So I picked up this book 1 instead.  This was me first foray into this author’s work, and I be hooked.  I can’t believe I missed enjoying her novels before.  I will certainly be readin’ the second book.

This was a slow-burning, delicious world-building, character-driven story.  The main character, Cazaril, is a broken woe-filled man with absolute horrible luck.  He is only in his 30s but seems ancient and weather-worn.  When met, he is on a desperate journey to throw himself on the mercy of his former employer in an attempt to find a job, any job, wherein he may work and try to obtain some measure of peace.

Of course peace is not what he gets.  Instead he is pulled into a horrible situation he wants no part of.  Politics, gods, curses, magic and impossible odds.  Anything else I can say about it would only be a diminishment of how completely awesome it is.  Seriously, ye have to read it.

Check out these other effusive reviews by me crew:

zeezee @ zeezeewithbooks

brad @ goodreads

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Lois McMaster Bujold – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the curse of the chalion – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – thunderhead (Neal Shusterman)

Ahoy there me mateys!  If ye haven’t read the first book in this series, scythe, then ye might want to skip this post and go read the first book. Worth the read. If ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril .

First let’s take a look at another beautiful cover:

 

I am absolutely glad I read this novel.  I loved it!  This book is set one year after the events of book one.  Citra is a junior scythe and is trying to settle into that new role.  At the same time, her approach to death is unusual and is causing political waves.  Rowan has chosen to become an vengeful angel of death known as “Lucifer” and attempts to fight the corruption of scythes from the outside.  Much to the chagrin of the organization.  The clash between the new wave scythes and the older guard continues to cause havoc.

I thought this book be way better than the first novel in terms of plot and pacing.  The Thunderhead viewpoints were fun and I adored the addition of Greyson.  In fact he became me favourite character in the book.  And I loved the ending all around.  I won’t give any other details because no spoilers.  But I am eagerly awaiting book three and think that all of me crew should give this series a chance.  Arrrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Neal Shusterman – Author

To buy the book go to:

thunderhead – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

scythe – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Sci-Fi)

The Captain’s Log – sourdough (Robin Sloan)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This story is about sourdough bread, robots, and a quirky girl named Lois.  This book made me long for fresh baked bread to eat while I read.  It is a contemporary with a blend of sci-fi and magical realism and fantasy mixed in very subtlety.  It kinda defies adequate explanation.  The simple version is that a woman named Lois who works as a programmer is given a bread “starter” and learns to bake sourdough thus changing her life forever.  That seems like it could be boring but it is not.  The book feels lighthearted and yet has dense ideas underneath.  It was fast paced and a delight.  I read it in one sitting.  I loved Lois.  I loved the starter.  I loved the book.  Try it.  Just  be prepared for it to make yer belly rumble.

Check out me crew member’s effusive review:

Stephanie @ adventuresofabibliophile – who introduced me to this one!  Thanks matey!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread.

Lois becomes the unlikely hero tasked to care for it, bake with it and keep this needy colony of microorganisms alive.  Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where an exclusive close-knit club runs the show.

When Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Robin Sloan – Author

To buy the book go to:

sourdough – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List