Why You Should Not Read Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris Book Cover

Before you read The Tattooist of Auschwitz, it is very, very important to note that this is historical fiction. Though Heather Morris often alludes that this is an accurate account of life in Auschwitz, it has been proven to be highly inaccurate. If you want to learn more about what Auschwitz was actually like, check out the Auschwitz Museum’s website. If you want some recommended and accurate books, check out this list from the Memorial center and also Night by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel.

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.

The Auschwitz Memorial called this book “dangerous and disrespectful to history”. They have fact checked the story (you can see an article about that here) and found innumerable errors. Morris was lazy in her research (for example using modern train maps to describe Lale’s journey, which were not accurate in during WW2) – a trait that is highly dangerous when she’s touting this book as biographical and documentarian in nature. She went as far as to invent a bombing plot in which women stored gunpowder under their nails and used it to blow up a crematorium that simply never happened. Adding these kinds of ‘narrative flair” or “artistic license” are irresponsible and paint a wildly incorrect portrait of life in a concentration camp. To me, this is not the kind of story you add Michael Bay-esque explosions to. Respect history.

While Heather Morris did interview Lale (whose nickname wasn’t actually Lale, it was Lali), she is not a historian and it shows. One very basic offense was the fact that she didn’t even get Gita’s number correct. Another detail was Lale getting a hold of penicillin – it was not widely available at this time. She also made up a scene where soldiers poisoned people in a bus – which never actually happened. Most abhorrently, she alleges (and frames an entire sequel around) Cilka being a sex slave to a high ranking SS officer – the Auschwitz Memorial has emphatically refuted this. It’s pretty vile to allege things like this with no proof.

Honestly, skip reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It’s factually wrong, and the author is unrepentant in her failings to tell an accurate story. To me, this book (and the sequel) are thinly veiled attempts at profiting off of the shock value of one of the most heinous pieces of world history. If Heather Morris cared as much as she claimed to, she would have properly researched the book before releasing it. 1/5

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Mini Book Review: Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

evidence of the affair by taylor jenkins reid book cover

evidence of the affair by taylor jenkins reid book coverDear stranger…

A desperate young woman in Southern California sits down to write a letter to a man she’s never met—a choice that will forever change both their lives.

My heart goes out to you, David. Even though I do not know you…

The correspondence between Carrie Allsop and David Mayer reveals, piece by piece, the painful details of a devastating affair between their spouses. With each commiserating scratch of the pen, they confess their fears and bare their souls. They share the bewilderment over how things went so wrong and come to wonder where to go from here.

Told entirely through the letters of two comforting strangers and those of two illicit lovers, Evidence of the Affair explores the complex nature of the heart. And ultimately, for one woman, how liberating it can be when it’s broken.

 

My review

Told entirely in the form of letters, Evidence of the Affair is an unconventional short story by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Clocking in at only 86 pages, this is an easy binge-in-one-sitting kind of story – not that it’s easy to put this book down anyways with how quickly it gets to the action. Reading the letters between the two scorned spouses felt like almost uncomfortably personal at times, giving the reader the feeling that they’re reading a diary of a loved one. You know you shouldn’t read it, but how can you stop?

Through the letters, it’s easy to get a good idea of who each of the characters are – and also see them change as the story moves forward. Everyone in this book had secrets, and by the end they were a tangled mass of lies and betrayal. It kind of reads like a simplified version of a soap opera, and I loved it. Also, I loved the low-key mention of Daisy Jones – a nice call out for fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other works. While this wasn’t my favorite of Reid’s work, it was still a fun romp – a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. 4/5

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A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe – Blog Tour

A Golden Fury Blog Tour
A Golden Fury Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe! Thank you to the lovely folks over at Wednesday books for including me on this tour and for the review copy of A Golden Fury. Be sure to check them out on Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to order your copy of A Golden Fury here.

My review

I was thrilled when the folks over at Wednesday Books reached out to me about reading A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe – it was immediately clear that this book was unlike anything I had read before. Alchemy is a topic you don’t see often in YA fiction, so needless to say, I was excited to dive right into it. Also, not that you should ever judge a book by its cover, but oh my god this cover is stunning – kudos to whoever the designer was.

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

A GOLDEN FURY and the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone will haunt you long after the final page.

The only issue I had with this book was the pacing – the first half of the book was a bit too slow for me. There was a lot of world building that had to happen in the first half, but it seemed to come at the expense of significant plot events. The second half really picked up speed and kept me more glued to the pages. That being said, Samantha Cohoe certainly built an immersive atmosphere – within the first couple of pages I could practically see Normandy in the spring. Also, she is great at writing tension – there were scenes where my heart was racing at the thought that a glass might shatter – not something I normally get excited about.

Thea was a great character – she was a strong, independent young woman who was self-reliant and incredibly intelligent. From the first pages her ambition is clear – as too is her yearning for her mother’s praise. When everything goes awry, she becomes a fish out of water and quickly proves just how much of a scrappy survivor she is. Even through hardships, she was a bad ass, take-crap-from-no-one type of character – my favorite. Throughout the course of the book her character evolved and developed – she went from seeking the praise of her mother to someone wise and self-sacrificing for the greater good. I thoroughly enjoyed her character arc and hope I get to read about her in a future book.

A Golden Fury is filled with mystery, is atmospheric, and tackles the fascinating topic of alchemy. I loved how well it set the scene, and how immersive it was – there were scenes that had my heart racing even though they weren’t necessarily action scenes. I’ve never read a book about alchemy before, and after A Golden Fury I hope to read more. I can’t wait to read whatever Samantha Cohoe writes next. 4/5

Samantha Cohoe, author of A Golden Fury

About the Author

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Check out her Twitter here and her Instagram here!

Order your copy of A Golden Fury now: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/a-golden-fury/

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Book Review: Simmer Down by Sarah Smith

simmer down by sarah smith cover
simmer down by sarah smith cover

Thank you to the lovely folks at Berkley for the review copy!

With current events, I’ve been turning to rom-com books for escapism and a sense of levity. Thankfully, I’ve been on a real hot streak lately – naturally, I was very excited when I got the chance to read and review Simmer Down by Sarah Smith. Just from the blurb I could tell I was in for a treat – a rom-com between two rival food truck owners? Sign me up.

In this finger-licking good rom-com, two is the perfect number of cooks in the kitchen.

Nikki DiMarco knew life wouldn’t be all sunshine and coconuts when she quit her dream job to help her mom serve up mouthwatering Filipino dishes to hungry beach goers, but she didn’t expect the Maui food truck scene to be so eat-or-be-eaten—or the competition to be so smoking hot.

But Tiva’s Filipina Kusina has faced bigger road bumps than the arrival of Callum James. Nikki doesn’t care how delectable the British food truck owner is—he rudely set up shop next to her coveted beach parking spot. He’s stealing her customers and fanning the flames of a public feud that makes her see sparks.

The solution? Let the upcoming Maui Food Festival decide their fate. Winner keeps the spot. Loser pounds sand. But the longer their rivalry simmers, the more Nikki starts to see a different side of Callum…a sweet, protective side. Is she brave enough to call a truce? Or will trusting Callum with her heart mean jumping from the frying pan into the fire?

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