Sunday, June 14, 2020

Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler

Summary: A tragic mystery blending sleuthing and spirituality

​An exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism, and Inuit culture, Winter of the Wolf follows Bean, an empathic and spiritually evolved fifteen-year-old, who is determined to unravel the mystery of her brother Sam’s death. Though all evidence points to a suicide, her heart and intuition compel her to dig deeper. With help from her friend Julie, they retrace Sam’s steps, delve into his Inuit beliefs, and reconnect with their spiritual beliefs to uncover clues beyond material understanding.

Both tragic and heartwarming, this twisting novel draws you into Bean's world as she struggles with grief, navigates high school dramas, and learns to open her heart in order to see the true nature of the people around her. Winter of the Wolf is about seeking the truth—no matter how painful—in order to see the full picture.

In this novel, environmentalist and award-winning author, Martha Handler, brings together two important pieces of her life—the death of her best friend’s son and her work as president of the Wolf Conservation Center—to tell an empathetic and powerful story with undeniable messages (Via Goodreads.com)

Pages: 238

Expected Release Date: July 7th, 2020 

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Review:

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Winter of the Wolf for review. The novel follows Bean, a 15-year-old girl, as she navigates life following the death of her older brother, Sam. While his death is officially ruled a suicide, she investigates his death because her intuition tells her that his death was not a suicide. Winter of the Wolf addresses grief, spirituality, and mystery in a unique and beautiful story. As someone that is neither spiritual nor religious, I found the underlying spirituality of the story to be extremely interesting and engaging. I truly enjoyed Winter of the Wolf. The characters, plot, and messages of the story were very powerful and made for a great read.

One of my favorite aspects of the story was the relationship that Bean has with her family and best friend, Julia. I think that YA novels can sometimes overshadow relationships between family members and friends for romantic interests, but I felt that Winter of the Wolf captured genuine relationships between all its' characters. I loved that the reader was able to witness the growth of both Bean and her family as well as the rekindling of Bean's friendship with Julia. Although they were all suffering from this tragic loss, they were able to grow as both individuals and as a family to overcome their grief. I enjoyed being able to learn more about each of the characters as they opened up to one another and dealt with their grief.

As I previously mentioned, I really enjoyed the spiritual aspects of Winter of the Wolf. While I have sometimes found the addressing of spirituality in books to be overwhelming or as an afterthought, I thought the incorporation of spirituality in Winter of the Wolf was perfectly balanced and addressed throughout the story. I loved seeing the growth of Bean in terms of her own spiritual beliefs as well as the acceptance and acknowledgement of spirituality by some of her other family members. I thought it was a beautiful component to the story and I enjoyed learning more about the beliefs she, her mother, and Sam had. I thought their beliefs were well incorporated into the story and very crucial in understanding who they were and how they perceived grief and the world.

Winter of the Wolf is a mysterious, spiritual, and powerful book that can easily be read in one sitting. I truly enjoyed it and would highly recommend anyone to pre-order or purchase a copy once it is released on July 7th. While I have mentioned that I am not a spiritual person, I finished the novel after the recent passing of one of my cats and it was nice to see the progression of grief and learn more about beliefs that address death and what comes after it. It has been a rough few days for my family and I, but I found comfort in reading the novel and thinking in a more abstract, spiritual way than I would have otherwise. Winter of the Wolf was the perfect read for me during this time and I am excited to see what Martha Hunt Handler writes next.




Sunday, May 10, 2020

Author Interview: G.S. Eli and Patrick Wiley



G.S Eli




Patrick Wiley



G.S. Eli and Patrick Wiley are co-authors of 

The Last of the Magi: The Devouring



In the mysterious world of Gypsies there are ancient secrets passed down for centuries by fortune-telling mystics. Mila doesn’t know it yet, but it is his destiny to uncover the darkest secret of them all.

Mila’s adventure begins when he crosses paths with two American teenagers on their senior trip to Berlin. He becomes enamored with kind-hearted Casey who’s piercing blue eyes hide an inner pain. Much to his dismay her studious friend Jack seems to be the object of her affection, and Mila doubts she could ever care for a gypsy like him.

Together they stumble upon a secret chamber buried deep beneath the city of Berlin. There they discover a lost artifact once wielded by the Nazi empire, which carries ancient and evil powers. When these powers are awakened a sinister cult takes notice and dispatches a shadow army to hunt for it. Fleeing certain death, the teens seek to learn the secrets of the strange artifact, before it plunges the world into complete darkness.

The Last of the Magi weaves action and fantasy together with true history and Gypsy spiritualism, leaving the reader to wonder what’s real and what’s not (Via Goodreads.com). 






Casey Marie: Have you always had a passion for writing or is it something you discovered while working on The Last of the Magi: The Devouring?

G.S. Eli: The Roma people are a culture of storytelling, so storytelling comes naturally to me. However, the Roma people are not for the most part a literary people. We have a very oral tradition, which is why The Last of the Magi has a very “camp-fire” style to it.

Patrick Wiley: Writing has always been a passion of mine. I was a very imaginative child and I can’t remember a time when I was not coming up with ideas for characters and stories. Once I’d learned to read and write I started putting these ideas down on paper. I even won a YARK award in second grade.



CM: What inspired both of you to work together on The Last of the Magi?

G: My inspiration was to utilize 1000 years of beautiful folktales of the Roma people to create a Roma hero. I chose to work with Patrick because of our previous collaborations together, his ability to tell a story and his passion for history and adventure.

P: George and I’s first project together was a screenplay he’d been developing since before he met me. Through George I learned about his Roma culture and became very sympathetic to their plight. I believe strongly in his vision for better Roma representation in the media. George actually had an interesting way of pitching The Last of the Magi to me. One day he started telling me that there was a series of novels about Roma that was about to get a movie deal. I was disappointed because telling stories about Roma was our niche and it seemed someone had beaten us to the punch. He laid out a rough plotline of what would become The Last of the Magi. I said it sounded like a great story and asked when it would come out. That’s when he revealed that the series didn’t actually exist yet, but that it was actually a story he wanted us to write it together. I was immediately on board.



CS: What is something you hope that readers will take away from The Last of the Magi?

G: A better understanding and respect for the Roma people.

P: I feel the same way. The Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe, yet people know almost nothing about them.



CM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

G: Write something every day, even if it’s crap. Keep moving forward, a paragraph, a page something. Put something to paper every day.

P: Know your subject matter, especially when it comes to a culture different from your own. Do research. If possible, collaborate with a person who has lived experience in that culture.



CM: How did you both create the characters of The Last of the Magi? Did you know you wanted to write them a certain way or did you end up discovering their personalities while you both were working on the story?

G: A lot of the characters in The Last of the Magi are based on real people in my life. For example, Nasta and Sabina are based on my Grandmother Susie and Aunt Rosie. In addition, some characters have ingredients from more than one person I know.

P: The character I had the most influence in creating was Deborah. I came up with her backstory and appearance, as well as her skills, toughness and to-the-point professionalism. George helped further flesh her out her personality, adding her family and personal relationships, vulnerabilities, and wry sense of humor.



CM: What character from The Last of the Magi are you the most similar to and why?

G: Mila was me when I was younger; hopeful and determined, but today it’s Nasta, wise, disciplined and focused.

P: George actually based the character of Jack on me, so we have a lot in common. I was always a history buff, I fenced in high school, and I lived in an old surplus-store army jacket, which I actually still have.



CM: If you had any supernatural power or ability, what would you want to be able to do and why?

G: I’d like the old, Jedi mind-trick, it would make life so much easier.

P: I always overthink questions like this. My first thought was also mind control. I’d want to use it for good, like by ending wars or making terrorists and criminals turn themselves in. Then again who knows what the greater consequences would be…



CM: If you were also on the run like the characters of The Last of the Magi, who are two people you would want to be on the with run with and why?

G: A CIA agent, because they’d know their way around the world and how to blend in and Sarah Silverman because she’ll make me laugh along the way.

P: My cousin and her husband. They’re both Captains in the army. She’s an EOD tech and he’s a Ranger. In addition to their many useful skills they’re both wonderful people and would be fun to spend time with.



CM: How do you think the characters of The Last of the Magi would be handling social distancing/quarantine right not?

G: Casey would be handling it very well because she’d be immune to the virus.
P: Plus, she’s rich.

G: Jack would probably be figuring out a way to get immunization.
P: If I’m any indication, he’d be researching the pandemic on a daily basis and then using that knowledge to counter misinformation online. 

G: Mila would handle it well because Roma are resourceful and use to international crises.
P: There’s another reason he’d handle it well but it’s a spoiler. Read the book and you’ll know what I mean.



CM: What character from the Last of the Magi would you want to be in quarantine with and why?

G: Definitely Sabina, good cook, smart, great stories and she’ll take care of you if you get sick.

P: Jack. I’d have a sparring partner for kickboxing, and he’d be a big help for some of the archaeological papers I want to write.



CM: Aside from The Last of the Magi, do you have any other books/series you are currently working on or planning?

G: I’m working on The Soul Trained, a self-help book about exercising your soul based on Roma spirituality. I’m using some of these principles in a podcast of the same name https://www.buzzsprout.com/909574

P: I actually have a script for a novel called Dwarves of Northri that I’m shopping around. I’m also working on a new series tentatively titled “The Annales of Aeternia”. It’s a gritty take on fantasy in the vein of “A Song of Ice and Fire” and takes inspiration from Roman history.



CM: Can you tease anything about the next book in The Last of the Magi series? 

G: You will learn more about the Biblical disciples. 

P: It’s going to be darker and will greatly expand the mythos we’ve created.












Sunday, April 26, 2020

ARC Review: The Devouring (The Last of the Magi #1) by G.S. Eli and Patrick Wiley

SummaryIn the mysterious world of Gypsies there are ancient secrets passed down for centuries by fortune-telling mystics. Mila doesn’t know it yet, but it is his destiny to uncover the darkest secret of them all.

Mila’s adventure begins when he crosses paths with two American teenagers on their senior trip to Berlin. He becomes enamored with kind-hearted Casey who’s piercing blue eyes hide an inner pain. Much to his dismay her studious friend Jack seems to be the object of her affection, and Mila doubts she could ever care for a gypsy like him.

Together they stumble upon a secret chamber buried deep beneath the city of Berlin. There they discover a lost artifact once wielded by the Nazi empire, which carries ancient and evil powers. When these powers are awakened a sinister cult takes notice and dispatches a shadow army to hunt for it. Fleeing certain death, the teens seek to learn the secrets of the strange artifact, before it plunges the world into complete darkness.

The Last of the Magi weaves action and fantasy together with true history and Gypsy spiritualism, leaving the reader to wonder what’s real and what’s not (Via Goodreads.com).

Pages: 448

Release Date: April 24th, 2020

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Review

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Last of the Magi: The Devouring this month and I absolutely loved it. Due to my college schedule, I am usually unable to read much for pleasure during the semester, but The Devouring was an exception and totally worth it. It follows Mila, a Romani teenager living in Berlin, who ends up meeting two Americans, Casey and Jack, and after the trio find an ancient artifact once used by Nazis, the teens are hunted by modern-day Neo-Nazis that are looking for the artifact. It was an extremely enthralling story that constantly had me on the edge of my seat. The Devouring was a past-paced adventure, fantasy, and magical realism novel that I would highly recommend reading.

I have never read a book before featuring a Romani character so I really enjoyed learning more about their culture, society, and beliefs. It was a really unique perspective to gain and I hope to gain more of an insight into their community by reading more books and stories featuring Roma characters and history in the future. Something that the book made me realize is that, while I have studied the Holocaust in College, I have never learned much about the experience of Roma communities during the Holocaust. My limited education of the Holocaust in high school taught me about some of the different groups that were targeted and persecuted by the Nazi regime, such as Jews, Roma and Sinti, Jehovah's Witnesses, Homosexuals, etc., but my College Holocaust education pertaining to some of those groups was seriously lacking. I have learned about the experience of the Holocaust from the perspective of some Jewish communities, Poles, and Homosexuals, but my education has not been inclusive to all groups persecuted. That is something I had not necessarily thought about previously, but I plan to seek out information to learn more about the experience of other groups persecuted, such as the Roma, during the Holocaust and afterwards. The persecution of these groups did not necessarily end after the Holocaust and I hope to learn more about their current experiences as well.

I really enjoyed the novel's writing. The story was written in a very concise and easy-to-read manner that I appreciated. I feel that sometimes fantasy-based stories can be written in overly complicated and rather embellished language, but The Devouring was written in a very understandable and engaging way. There were backstories, people, and objects incorporated into the story that the reader might not have known about previously, but the writing style allowed them to be easily incorporated and explained in the plot line without taking away from the narrative. The story also features multiple character's perspectives. The perspectives alternated by chapter, but the writing style allowed each character to have their own distinct and unique voice. The inclusion of various perspectives could have hindered the flow of the story, but the different perspectives easily overlapped and flowed with each other. The various perspectives allowed for the creation of mystery and intrigue pertaining to certain characters and it really allowed for more depth to be created within the story.  

While the story had fantasy elements, I loved that it was more of a magical realist story. I can sometimes get bogged down in all of the details of a fantasy world, but The Devouring was set in our world, just with fantastical elements. It made the story so much more engaging and intricate because it allowed the authors to expand upon our world and incorporate Roma stories and beliefs into it. I liked having a prior understanding of the world, but being able to see it in a new and unique way. 

Featured throughout the story were beautiful illustrations that captured some of the main locations and important objects of the story. I had not been expecting illustrations throughout the novel; however, they were absolutely gorgeous and added more detail to the story. While the descriptions within the book were very detailed and painted an image in my head, the illustrations allowed the story to come alive even more vividly for me. I loved admiring the illustrations throughout the story and appreciated getting a better sense of what the main locations and objects looked like.

The Devouring has something for everyone. It is a page-turning adventure story with fantastical elements and a hint of romance. The story and its character's kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page and I am extremely excited for the sequel. Throughout The Devouring, I was able to see so many different layers being built into the story and I am excited to see where the story will go next. I really loved the story, adventure, and fantastical elements that the authors were able to create and develop. If you are interested in an engaging adventure and fantasy story, I would highly recommend checking out The Devouring.



Friday, June 21, 2019

Author Interview: A.J. Vicktoria


I love science and fiction—on their own, and together in novels. When I’m not reading, my day job broadly involves research and teaching in higher education.

In terms of life goals, I didn’t plan on authoring a novel, but I’m so glad I did. My family encouraged me to write fiction, and I finally took the plunge in the spring of 2018. Best. Decision. Ever. I’m now obsessed with world building and writing character driven fantasy novels that lock onto your heart and never let go.

When I’m not writing, reading, and researching things, you can find me outside. For about the past ten years I’ve been an avid birder. During that time, I met a handsome gentleman who likes birding too. We’ve been together ever since. He took the picture on this page when we visited White Sands National Monument, NM. We traveled there to see the southwest AND… greater roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus). If you’re wondering, I saw a roadrunner—it was amazing, and I even did a very quiet happy dance when I had my first sighting.

Other items of possible interest: I live in the Hudson Valley region of NY. I have curly hair, but sometimes wear it straight. Proud long-haired chihuahua mama. Find me on Instagram @aj.vicktoria so I can get to know you!


Goodreads   I   Instagram   I   Website    





Casey Marie: How did you create the characters of the Empyreal Saga? Did you know you wanted to write them a certain way or did you end up discovering their personalities as you continued to write?

A.J. Vicktoria: I had some character outlines when I started writing Excess Gravity. Their personalities and backstories continued to expand as I wrote. I have the major plot points and character development before I write, but how I get to those places is always changing. Sometime my characters surprise me while I’m writing. I love all of my characters, but my love for Jai surprises me the most. I didn’t really develop her backstory until I started writing Excess Gravity.



CM: When you were writing Excess Gravity did you ever experience writers block? If so, how did you move past it? 

AJ: It didn’t really happen. I keep writing if I’m stuck.



CM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

AJ: Make a daily word count goal and stick to it. Have fun. You’ll make mistakes, and this is to be expected. Learn from your mistakes and keep on writing.



CM: Have you always had a passion for science fiction and fantasy? 

AJ: I’ve been a fan of science fiction and fantasy for a while. Science fiction has a special place in my heart. I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in my early twenties. That book will forever hold a special place in my mind and on my bookshelf.



CM: What are some of your favorite books and/or authors?

AJ: I’ll read fiction (fantasy, historical, sci-fi), philosophy, and history. Here’s a short list of favorites:

Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
‎Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South
Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy Series
Elise Kova, Air Awakens Series



CM: Is there an author that you would love to co-write with?

AJ: Alexa Donne. She recently wrote Brightly Burning. The book is a retelling of Jane Eyre set in space. A little over a year ago, I wanted to write a Gothic romance set in space. I searched the web to see if such a book existed. I found Brightly Burning. It’s fantastic book, and I hope to write something similar in the future.



CM: I loved the appearances of cats in Excess Gravity. Can you tease if we will be seeing Earth or more creatures from Earth in future novels?

AJ: Charles and the cats! I’m so glad you enjoyed their page time. Yes, there will be more from Earth- creatures, heartbreak and adventures galore. We’re going to Earth. That’s all I’ll say for now.



CM: I was quite amazed by the descriptions and creativity of the technology in Excess Gravity. Do you have a tech background? 

AJ: No tech background. I’ve had an ongoing interest in the relationship between humans and machines which I explored with Arra Chromos in various ways. Technology as an extension of the body, mind, and society. These relationships can and do have the power to make something greater than ourselves. Sometime we create things we’re not prepared to deal with. All sorts of crazy things can happen. I love how science fiction explores these relationships and associated anxieties. Are androids more human than their creators? Can technology poison/harm users like a biological virus? The list goes on and on!



CM: How do you think the characters of Excess Gravity would react to our technology on Earth?

AJ: I’d say they’re not too impressed. On Earth, we’ve recently started to explore our technological prowess. In contrast, the Empyreans have been around since the dawning of the universe and they’ve had to design technology to bridge their weaknesses.



CM: What inspired the realms in the Empyreal Galaxy?

AJ: The Empyreans and their galaxy grew from one image in my mind, an imprisoned man in the stars. Their origins, chords of life, and politics all grew from this one snapshot. Then the ‘why’ and ‘what if’ questions started rolling in. Why is he in prison? If he’s in the stars, does he have powers? What if he controls gravity? Who are his enemies? It took me about two months to brainstorm the Empyrean galaxy and the first book. Etaine is the man in prison. You can find out why he’s there in the prequel novella, Gravity Rising.



CM: Which realm or planet would you want to visit the most?

AJ: I’d love to visit Rivan’s tropical beaches.



CM: What character from Excess Gravity are you the most similar to?

AJ: I’m a combination of Jai and Arra. In general, I prefer books and animals to people. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, but sometimes being social makes me tired.



CM: Can you tease anything about what you are currently working on?

AJ: I’m working on book two in the Empyreal Saga. Solar’s Reach (title reveal!) hits virtual shelves September 2019. I expect to finish the Empyreal Saga trilogy in December 2019. I have a different young adult series planned for 2020. The series follows a young girl caught between two warring magical families. I’m itching to write these new characters. In 2021 I might return to the Empyreans with a spin-off series. You can follow me on Instagram @aj.vicktoria or subscribe to my newsletter on www.ajvicktoria.com for news about upcoming books.











Friday, May 17, 2019

Excess Gravity (Empyreal Saga #1) by A.J. Vicktoria

SummaryHer radiance. His gravity. Their powers bind them and the fate of their galaxy.

On her eighteenth celestial, Arra expects the day will be like any other. She's single-handedly running the Darkstar galactic hub, fixing transport tech, and making hyperjump calculations. That’s all about to change after a chance meeting with her secret and estranged best friend, Crown Prince Etaine Darkstar. In the middle of Arra and Etaine’s reunion, the dangerous Vithians descend on the Darkstar realm. Arra and Etaine race through the palace to prepare for the Vithian arrival and take a shortcut to their destinies.

In a hidden room inside the palace, Arra’s powers manifest and take the galaxy by surprise. Arra is one of the last Solar Empyreans. Someone hid her identity, and as Arra searches for answers, her relationship with Etaine and role in the galaxy are about to get seriously complicated.


Pages: 306

Release Date: April 2nd 2019

Rating: 4.75/5 Stars

Review:

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Excess Gravity for review and I absolutely loved it. The novel follows Arra on her 18th birthday as she discovers she is one of the two last Solar Empyreans. Her newly discovered identity and powers thrust her into a world of political intrigue, drama, action, and adventure. Excess Gravity melded fantasy and science fiction together perfectly and was an incredibly fast read. It has been a while since I read anything that was not contemporary fiction or non-fiction, but I easily fell back in love with both fantasy and science fiction. Excess Gravity has me craving to read more of those genres soon.

One of my absolute favorite parts of the novel was the world. I has not anticipated a blending of fantasy and science fiction; however, the combination was perfect. The world was beautifully crafted and like no other I had ever read about. The galaxy that Excess Gravity is based in is highly technologically advanced and consists of seven realms. Each realm has its own culture, language, political hierarchy, and geography. I loved to see the diversification among each realm and how they had developed into their current societies. In addition, the technology used in Excess Gravity was fascinating and highly advanced. I had never thought or dreamed of some of the technology used; however, now I cannot stop thinking about some of them and how interesting it would be to have that type of technology in our world.

Excess Gravity had a very engaging plot. I never felt as though there was a dull part or a lag in the story. We were constantly learning more about the world and many unexpected things happened. I never knew what to expect and I loved it. While I do applaud myself when I guess plot points ahead of time, I loved being in the dark in Excess Gravity. The element of surprise made the story more engaging and I loved being on the edge of my seat. The writing was easy to read and process, allowing me to comprehend all the new information very easily. The writing allows the reader to transition to a very unique and distinct world with little confusion.

The characters and their relationships were also a great part of the story. I loved the character development throughout the novel and I cannot wait to see the continuation of their development as the series progresses. My two favorite characters were Max and Jai. Although seemingly polar opposites, they were both incredibly funny and loyal in their own ways. I also enjoyed Arra, but I had some trouble liking Etaine's character. I did not like his anger or personality, at times; however, I did like that he began to work on it and that Arra also saw his flaws. Although they did not always talk about their feelings together, they saw each other's flaws and knew that they had to work on their own problems before they could become a couple. I also liked that their relationship was not forced. They knew they had other priorities and would work on their relationship when those other issues were solved. I loved the focus was more of them becoming friends again and not automatically a couple. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Excess Gravity. It was a quick and engaging read that I would highly recommend for fantasy and science fiction lovers and haters alike. The story is easy to read and easy to become engrossed into. I loved the world that A.J. Vicktoria created and I am excited to see where the story and the characters go next. I will definitely be reading the upcoming additions to the Empyreal SagaGravity Rising, a novella based before Excess Gravity, was published on May 1st and I am excited to start it sometime soon.





Monday, April 15, 2019

Rue Ordener, Rue Labat by Sarah Kofman

Summary: Rue Ordener, Rue Labat is a moving memoir by the distinguished French philosopher Sarah Kofman. It opens with the horrifying moment in July 1942 when the author’s father, the rabbi of a small synagogue, was dragged by police from the family home on Rue Ordener in Paris, then transported to Auschwitz—“the place,” writes Kofman, “where no eternal rest would or could ever be granted.” It ends in the mid-1950s, when Kofman enrolled at the Sorbonne. 

The book is as eloquent as it is forthright. Kofman recalls her father and family in the years before the war, then turns to the terrors and confusions of her own childhood in Paris during the German occupation. Not long after her father’s disappearance, Kofman and her mother took refuge in the apartment of a Christian woman on Rue Labat, where they remained until the Liberation. This bold woman, whom Kofman called Mémé, undoubtedly saved the young girl and her mother from the death camps. But Kofman’s close attachment to Mémé also resulted in a rupture between mother and child that was never to be fully healed.

This slender volume is distinguished by the author’s clear prose, the carefully recounted horrors of her childhood, and the uncommon poise that came to her only with the passage of many years (Via Goodreads.com).


Pages: 85

Release Year: 1993

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Review:

I was amazed by how precise and detailed Rue Ordener, Rue Labat was even though it was less than 100 pages long. It was a quick and engaging read. I found it amazing, yet terrifying at the same time. I do not know how to describe all of my emotions in regards to Rue Ordener, Rue Labat. The book is a memoir of Sarah Kofman's childhood during the Holocaust which includes her father's arrest and deportation. It also discusses the rescue of her and her mother by a woman on the Rue Labat. In addition, it explores how damaged her relationship was with her mother following the war because of the bond she developed with her "adopted" mother, Mémé.

I read Rue Ordener, Rue Labat for my French and Jewish Studies class on France and the Holocaust this semester. In class, we have read and watched films about Jewish children in France who experienced the Holocaust, whether they were hidden and protected, survived and/or escaped the camps, or were murdered. It was fascinating to see how damaging the life of a hidden child could be. I never considered how attached they could grow to their "adoptive" parent(s) and how it might be difficult for them to return to their "normal" life following the war's end. 

Individuals, such as Mémé, who hid Jewish children and families during the Holocaust should be acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts to save Jews; however, their aid to these families might have also been damaging. Not only did the Jewish communities within Europe have to regroup following the Holocaust, but some also had to reintroduce family members and children to their families and the Jewish community. The Holocaust damaged Jewish families and communities in an unknown number of ways. Mémé was also very anti-Semitic and separated Kofman from Judaism. 

I found Rue Ordener, Rue Labat extremely interesting. I easily finished it in one sitting and I highly recommend reading it. I found it fascinating to learn about Sarah Kofman's childhood and some of the lasting impacts the Holocaust had on her and her family. It was a very blunt book, which I enjoyed, but it was also difficult to read parts of it because she was so nonchalant about certain aspects and experiences from her childhood. Rue Ordener, Rue Labat was a fascinating book that I would highly recommend. I am interested to read more memoirs and stories about Jewish individuals from France during the Holocaust. It is a country I knew very little about in regards to the Holocaust and it was engrossing to learn more about the subject. 




Thursday, April 11, 2019

Dora Bruder by Patrick Modiano

Summary: Patrick Modiano opens Dora Bruder by telling how in 1988 he stumbled across an ad in the personal columns of the New Year's Eve 1941 edition of Paris Soir. Placed by the parents of a 15-year-old Jewish girl, Dora Bruder, who had run away from her Catholic boarding school, the ad sets Modiano off on a quest to find out everything he can about Dora and why, at the height of German reprisals, she ran away on a bitterly cold day from the people hiding her. He finds only one other official mention of her name on a list of Jews deported from Paris to Auschwitz in September 1942.

With no knowledge of Dora Bruder aside from these two records, Modiano continues to dig for fragments from Dora's past. What little he discovers in official records and through remaining family members, becomes a meditation on the immense losses of the period—lost people, lost stories, and lost history. Modiano delivers a moving account of the ten-year investigation that took him back to the sights and sounds of Paris under the Nazi Occupation and the paranoia of the Pétain regime as he tries to find connections to Dora. In his efforts to exhume her from the past, Modiano realizes that he must come to terms with the specters of his own troubled adolescence. The result, a montage of creative and historical material, is Modiano's personal rumination on loss, both memoir and memorial (Via Goodreads.com).


Pages:

Release Date: April 2nd, 1997

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Review:

I read Dora Bruder for a French and Jewish Studies class this semester that focused on France and the Holocaust. We spent the semester focusing on the experience of Jews in France as well as the lasting impact the Holocaust had on Jewish children in France. Dora Bruder focused on both of those aspects. Dora Bruder follows a narrator who was born around the time of liberation and explains how his childhood was impacted by his family's experience of the Holocaust. As an adult, he found an article about the disappearance of Dora Bruder, a Jewish teen in France, during the Holocaust and he goes on an exploration to discover what happened to her.

It was empowering to see how dedicated he was to finding out what happened to Dora. In class, some of my peers discussed that his motivations might not have been pure and he seemed almost obsessed with her, but I think that was beneficial. Without someone that cares so much about the lives of Holocaust victims, their stories and identities may never be known. The stories of Holocaust victims and survivors deserve to be known by the world. I did, however, think that he should have separated the narrated sections and Dora's story in alternating chapters. While he did bring Dora's story to life, I do agree that the narrator was using her story to tell his. I am glad that Dora's story inspired the narrator to write about his, but I think their stories should have been separated. I felt as though he took away from some of her story by telling his. The two stories needed to be told, but they should not have been intertwined because they were not in real life. He never knew Dora or knew of anyone in his family that knew her. I think he was trying to make connections to Dora that did not exist.

I liked the fact that he told Dora's story even though he knew he could never discover everything about her. Dora might have been murdered in the Holocaust and was never able to tell her story, but not having her story fully told is not necessarily a bad thing. She was able to take something away that her persecutors and executioners could not. They tried to take away her dignity and humanity, but she was able to take something with her to the grave that they could never take away from her.

I enjoyed Dora Bruder. It was an interesting and thoughtful book that I would highly recommend. I loved learning about her story as well as the narrator's. So many stories exist from the Holocaust, but many may never be fully known or known about. I hope other individuals will take this initiative and explore the stories of individuals that did not live to tell their own story. They deserve to have their story told as much as any one else does.