#HoldYourTongue otherwise someone might hold it for you! @Deborah_Masson @TransworldBooks

Thank you SO much to Transworld Books for answering my pleas by inviting me on this blog tour, and for the ARC! I apologise for the lateness, but here is my review:

A brutal murder.

A young woman’s body is discovered with horrifying injuries, a recent newspaper cutting pinned to her clothing.

A detective with everything to prove.

This is her only chance to redeem herself.

A serial killer with nothing to lose.

He’s waited years, and his reign of terror has only just begun . . .

Introducing DI Eve Hunter, HOLD YOUR TONGUE is your new obsession.

What does TWG think?

Whenever I saw this book mentioned on social media, I became extremely jealous as I wanted to read it SO badly! Thankfully my pleas were answered and I was able to read a copy for the tour. Was it worth the wait?

OMG YES!!!!!!!!

The opening to ‘Hold Your Tongue’ is brutal, graphic, and weirdly made my eyes want to read more. I had a feeling that it was going to be a little TOO graphic for my liking, however it was a chance that I was willing to take.

DI Eve Hunter seems to have more people gunning for her than she does fighting her battles. I was very curious, wondering what on earth she could have done to get so many peoples backs up.

As the story progresses, the truth about Eve comes to light in dribs and drabs. She feels guilty. She feels incompetent. She feels as though she cannot forgive herself. Now, without giving anything away, I thought she was being too hard on herself yet I could understand why she felt like that. What I didn’t realise at the time, however, was that there was more to that particular story than I thought. Tons more.

If you’re squeamish then maybe this isnt the book for you, although the graphic parts are tastefully done and in keeping with the rest of the book. Pardon the pun….or not.

Now the thing about being rendered useless in this cold weather due to my illnesses, is that I can binge read and nobody can say anything. So I did….until I had reached the end of the book! I wasnt putting it down for anybody! Not even to pee!!!!

‘Hold Your Tongue’ completely exceeded my expectations. From start to finish the author reeled her readers in, like a spider taking her prey into a web. I was hooked by the ‘whys?’ of the story, especially when it came to the truth behind the culprits actions. I thought that Eve was such a complex character with more sides to her than a human actually needs, yet I found her weirdly relatable. Her personality worked with the other characters, and I dont think, as weird as this sounds, that the overall story would have worked if someone else was at the heart of the book instead of Eve.

What I loved most about Deborah Masson’s book was how she mixed fraught emotions alongside graphic and dark suspense. I thought the combination was sensational.

I really hope this is the first book of many that include DI Eve Hunter, as I truly believe she has more to tell us. The same as Cooper, Mearns and Ferguson.

‘Hold Your Tongue’ really is a spine tingling, dark, devious, intense read which really made me feel as though the cat had got my tongue! This is such an edge of your seat thriller, a truly sensational, jam packed read, written by an author who is definitely one to watch. I cannot WAIT to find out what Masson does next!

Available to purchase in e-Book format.

Did you get #TheChristmasInvitation? Trisha Ashley did! @trishaashley @annecater @TransworldBooks #blogtour #review

Many thanks to Anne for the blog tour invite, and thank you to Hayley for the ARC – I am excited to be reviewing Trisha Ashley’s new book today!

Meg is definitely not in the Christmas mood. She’s never gone in for tinsel, baubles and mistletoe, and right now she’s still getting over an illness. Yet when she’s invited to spend the run-up to Christmas in the snowy countryside, rather than dreary London, she can’t refuse.

Arriving at a warm and cosy family home in a small hilltop village, Meg soon begins to wonder what a proper Christmas might be like. But just as she’s beginning to settle in, she spots a familiar face. Lex.

Despite the festive cheer, Meg suddenly wants nothing more than to get as far away from him, and their past secrets, as she can. But if she stays, could this be the year she finally discovers the magic of Christmas…?

What does TWG think?

What I love most about Trisha Ashley, is the way she creates such unique characters who always seem to make their way into readers hearts. Meg was certainly one of those characters. She wasn’t perfect. She was a little rough around the edges. Some might say that Meg was ‘perfectly flawed’, and I would agree with that one hundred percent as she took those flaws and embraced them instead of trying to be something she wasn’t.

I really enjoyed the warmth of ‘The Christmas Invitation’ and the message it relayed to readers regarding the importance of community spirit, the importance of embracing situations one may find uncomfortable, as well as the importance of being true to who you are and what you believe in.

I will hold my hands up and say that i felt that the book was incredibly slow to get going, often going off on a tangent at times it didn’t feel overly necessary to the story. In all honesty, I did struggle with those parts because I just wanted to get back to the main part of the book, instead being sidelined by things that didn’t really fit in.

That said, I really warmed to Cara, and i found her hilarious personality an absolute joy to get to know. I loved how she made the story come alive with her ‘no bull’ attitude and genuine love for those she held dear.

Despite my earlier irks, I really enjoyed the festivities of the overall storyline, especially as I ended up finishing it with a massive smile on my face. Romance may be the spice of life for some, yet Trisha Ashley makes warmth, family, Christmas, and the sense of belonging, the spices of life in general and, to be perfectly honest, what more could you ask for?

A genuine, humble and heartwarming novel, ideal for those warm cosy nights of winter.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheManWhoSawEverything by Deborah Levy @VikingBooksUK @bookswithbolino

(Many thanks to Viking Books for the ARC and blog tour invite.)

In 1988 Saul Adler (a narcissistic, young historian) is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. He is apparently fine; he gets up and goes to see his art student girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. They have sex then break up, but not before she has photographed Saul crossing the same Abbey Road.

Saul leaves to study in communist East Berlin, two months before the Wall comes down. There he will encounter – significantly – both his assigned translator and his translator’s sister, who swears she has seen a jaguar prowling the city. He will fall in love and brood upon his difficult, authoritarian father. And he will befriend a hippy, Rainer, who may or may not be a Stasi agent, but will certainly return to haunt him in middle age.

What does TWG think?

Having not read any of Deborah Levy’s previous novels, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. I was aware that this particular author had had several of her books nominated for the ‘Man Booker Prize’, so I had already guessed what particular league the story would be in.

‘The Man Who Saw Everything’ is like nothing I have ever read before and, whilst i attempted to remain openminded about the unique story, the uncertainty and unpredictability was slightly unnerving at times. It didn’t have the same sort of storyline stepping stones as a crime novel or a contemporary fiction, where you know where the story was heading based on where you were in the book. It seemed to have it’s own rules.

With one half of the book set in 1988 and the other half set in the ‘present’, ‘The Man Who Saw Everything’ tells the story of Saul, a historian who seems to spend most of his time battling with himself or embarking on some sort of romantic past time, if you catch my drift.

I don’t think that Saul didn’t care about who he hurt, I think that perhaps he cared a little too much at times….probably about the wrong things though, I must add.

I thought it was clever how the author used dissociation as the main ‘thing’ in her book, especially as Saul’s mind refused to let him see life in all its mismatch glory, instead he saw it as something only he could understand.

I appreciated the authors intricate attention to detail and the way she crafted such a uniquely blended storyline – I was quite moved by Saul’s reaction when he realised that reality was going to sink in and he had no other choice but to oblige.

Personally, I don’t think that ‘The Man Who Saw Everything’ was really my thing overall, however I thoroughly enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone and reading a book which puts your mind to work, thinking about just how easily we take things for granted.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – Stop At Nothing by Tammy Cohen (@MsTamarCohen) @TransworldBooks @AnneCater

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TWG is delighted to be hosting day three of the ‘Stop At Nothing’ by Tammy Cohen, blog tour. Huge thanks to Anne Cater and TransworldBooks for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

Stop At Nothing cover

A mother’s job is to keep her children safe.

Tess has always tried to be a good mother. Of course, there are things she wishes she’d done differently, but doesn’t everyone feel that way?

Then Emma, her youngest, is attacked on her way home from a party, plunging them into a living nightmare which only gets worse when the man responsible is set free. But what if she fails?

So when Tess sees the attacker in the street near their home, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. But blinded by her need to protect her daughter at any cost, might she end up putting her family in even greater danger?

There’s nothing she wouldn’t do to make it right . . .

What does TWG think?

Ooooooooooo, this one is juicy!!!

Tess gets the fright of a lifetime when she finds out that her sixteen year old daughter, Emma, was attacked. She can’t help feeling guilty and laying the blame on herself, and many others are quick to point the finger at Tess for not picking up her daughter, instead letting her find her own way back after a party. But Tess didn’t attack her own daughter, so why is SHE in the firing line for it?

I reallyyyyyy didn’t like Tess at first. I actually found her quite annoying and, as harsh as this may sound; incredibly selfish. As a parent its only natural that we feel guilty whenever our children are hurt, wondering what we could have done to stop it from happening, however Tess seemed to take that to a whole new level. It was Emma who was attacked, not her. I couldn’t quite understand why Tess was making it all about her, when her main focus should have been on her daughter.

I was quite surprised to find that my opinion of Tess did change throughout the course of the book and, even though I didn’t end up absolutely adoring her character, I was able to understand her personality a little bit better. Tess’ heart was in the right place and her actions were laced with love for her daughters, she just went about it all in completely the wrong way. That said, who I am to judge on how someone else deals with particular situations.

I much preferred the second half of Tammy Cohen’s book as I felt that the intensity behind the repercussion of the attack had amplified. There seemed to be a lot more grit to sink my teeth in at that stage, especially as I was trying to work out why a certain character (naming no names due to potential spoilers) popped up here, there and everywhere at such ‘convenient’ times.

I really did enjoy reading ‘Stop At Nothing’, the psychological elements of the storyline made for such twisted and toe curling reading – I loved them. Top marks to Cohen for the way she crafted those parts! My head couldn’t keep up! Bloomin’ brilliant!

The whole Emma, nameless character, and Tess situation certainly opened my eyes to how differently we deal with things, and how much our paranoia intensifies when faced with a potentially dangerous situation. Do I think that Tess went overboard? A little bit. Would I have done the same thing? I honestly cannot say what I would have done in the same situation, all I know is that I wouldn’t have been sat around doing nothing.

‘Stop At Nothing’ is a captivating, addictive novel which had me speeding through the pages faster than Lewis Hamilton in a race! Such a clever and thought-provoking novel, Tammy Cohen has done her characters justice.

‘Stop At Nothing’ by Tammy Cohen, will be published on the 18th July by TransworldBooks Books. You can pre-order your copy here.

#BlogTour! #Review – The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox (@josephknox_) @TransworldBooks @AnneCater

Day two of ‘The Sleepwalker’ blog tour is here, and I am UBER excited to share my review today. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite, and thank you to Transworld Books for the ARC.

‘He said he didn’t remember killing them…’

As a series of rolling blackouts plunge the city into darkness, Detective Aidan Waits sits on an abandoned hospital ward, watching a mass murderer slowly die. Transferred from his usual night shift duties and onto protective custody, he has just one job…

To extract the location of Martin Wick’s final victim before the notorious mass murderer passes away.

Wick has spent over a decade in prison, in near-total silence, having confessed to an unspeakable crime that shocked the nation and earned him the nickname of TheSleepwalker.

But when a daring premeditated attack leaves one police officer dead and another one fighting for his life, Wick’s whispered last words will send Waits on a journey into the heart of darkness…

Manipulated by a reticent psychopath from his past, and under investigation from his new partner, Detective Constable Naomi Black, Waits realises too late that a remorseless contract killer is at work.

Can Aidan Waits solve his last case before fleeing justice? Or will his name be next on the hit list?

What does TWG think?

Ahhhhhhh why did I not know about these books until now! Yes, that’s right, I’m holding my hands up and saying that I popped my Joseph Knox cherry with ‘The Sleepwalker’. However, I didn’t quite realise how important it would be to read the previous books beforehand. I mean, some people might be okay reading this as a standalone, but I struggled not knowing much about Aidan Waits and his journey up until now.

The fact that I didn’t know to read the previous books isn’t anyones fault, I just wanted to mention it in case anyone else was popping their Joseph Knox cherry.

Ignoring the above, holy cheeseballs Joseph Knox knows how to write!!!!! What a sublimely intense, chilling and fast paced read that left me breathless more often than not.

I loved the fact that the storyline was jam packed with adventure that meant my head was spinning with the knowledge of Wicks, a murderer dubbed as ‘The Sleepwalker’, and trying to work out whether anyone wanted Aidan dead, and why? Was he a threat? Did he know to much? Was someone jealous?

‘The Sleepwalker’ is a fantastically written, thrill inducing novel. I finished the book watching my own back, never mind Aidan’s! The concept of the story was very, very clever – I had no idea something like that was possible! I am looking forward to binge reading the other books in the series now!

‘The Sleepwalker’ will be published by Transworld on the 11th July but can be pre-ordered now from Amazon

#BlogTour! #Review – The To-Do List by Amy Jones (@jimsyjampots) @EburyPublishing @AnneCater

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Ebury for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘The To-Do List’ by Amy Jones. Also, thank you to the publisher for my ARC – I am delighted to share my review today.

How not to be good? Let me list the ways…

Are you a woman? Do you make to-do lists to stop you losing your mind? Have you ever cried in the toilets at work, had a meltdown in the supermarket, or gone off the rails at a hen party?

And have you ever been saved from any of the above by your truly brilliant friends?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then this is the book for you. A moving, funny and brutally honest memoir of one woman’s millennial misadventures, The To-Do List and Other Disastersfollows Amy Jones on her journeys through friendship, marriage and mental health disasters in a story that’s as relatable as it is riotous.

What does TWG think?

Have you ever walked through the street, comparing yourself to every person you went past? Have you ever assumed that someone else’s life is perfect simply because they’re not you?

‘The To-Do List’ is Amy Jones’ own personal journey with mental health. Not only does the author share her honesty regarding how she feels about her body, she also admits her sensitivities when other people look at her. Are they mad because of something she has done? Are they annoyed with her? How can she fix it? Even if Amy didn’t have a clue as to whether the person had an actual issue with her, her insecurities niggled at her to make her feel like the world and its wife was against her.

You may read this book and struggle to understand why the author is ‘creating’ problems that aren’t even there, but the thing is, that’s what mental health is all about. People with depression, anxiety, stress disorders etc, struggle to rationalise things like someone without mental health issues. We battle day in, day out, with every little thing. It doesn’t matter if we don’t want the battle because the sneaky little bastard that is mental health, takes over everything.

I do think that Amy Jones was incredibly brave to put her struggles out there, especially seeing as we are in a world where ignorance is bliss and people are too quick to assume. I found her humour enlightening and I loved how she wasn’t afraid to make light of situations even when she didn’t have the energy to do much else.

A book like ‘The To-Do List’ is a difficult book to review because the hook of the book, so to speak, is actually the authors life and it’s not like anyone can sit there and say ‘nah your life was boring’ because that’s not fair. Yeah, this book had a prominent theme, but it didn’t have the bog standard ‘grit’. Not that it should have to be honest, after all, the topic of mental health has it’s own amount of intensity to it.

I was able to relate to a lot of what Amy discussed, and I truly believe that anyone with mental health struggles, body image issues, or anything in between, would totally benefit from the authors optimism and poignant honesty.

Buy now.

#Review – #UnnaturalCauses by Dr. Richard Shepherd (@MichaelJBooks) @PenguinUKBooks #Pathologist #Medicine

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(Thank you to Michael Joseph for the ARC)

Meet the forensic pathologist, Dr Richard Shepherd. A detective in his own right, he must solve the mystery of sudden and unexplained deaths.

He has performed over 23,000 autopsies, including some of the most high-profile cases of recent times; the Hungerford Massacre, the Princess Diana inquiry, and 9/11.

He has faced serial killers, natural disaster, ‘perfect murders’ and freak accidents.

His evidence has put killers behind bars, freed the innocent, and turned open-and-shut cases on their heads.

Yet all this has come at a huge personal cost.

Unnatural Causes tells the story of not only the cases and bodies that have haunted him the most, but also how to live a life steeped in death.

What does TWG think?

If you had said to me a few years back that I would be reading a book about pathology, I would have quite literally laughed in your face. As soon as someone spoke about death, I would walk out of the room because of the fear I had associated with it. Fast forward many, many years, and not only am I now reading books which are fictionally gorey, I am also reading non-fiction books about death, autopsies, and forensics. Funny how things can change, isn’t it?

There was just something highly intriguing by the title of this book and and the tagline on the cover; I just knew I had to read it.

Not only is ‘Unnatural Causes’ about some of the bodies which Dr. Shepherd has been faced with, it is also an honest account from the doctor himself, about how those autopsies affected both him and the people around him. The life that Dr. Shepherd chose was one which intrigued him from the moment he clapped eyes on a certain medical book as a young boy. His hunger for medicine and dead bodies put fire in his belly – it wasn’t just a case of accumulating dead bodies in the mortuary where he worked, it was also the mystery behind those deaths which spurred him on. However, his personal life suffered greatly because of his profession. I have no idea how he managed to switch from forensic pathologist, to husband and father, at the touch of a button, but I can only assume how difficult that must have been for both him and his family.

The detail in this book is second to none. Whilst there is a lot of medical language used, Dr. Shepherd gives explanations for the medical terms, and the terms used whenever he had to give evidence in court. I had never read a book about pathology, and to be honest, I was worried that I wasn’t ‘clever’ enough for a book of this calibre, however due to the simplistic explanations and incredible detail, I was able to understand and enjoy everything about this book.

It feels a bit weird saying that I enjoyed reading a book about death! It’s not that I enjoyed the fact that many people died, or the devastation each of the victims families had to faced, it was the science behind the post mortem’s and trying to reach a conclusion as to how that particular person died. Were drugs involved? Was it a murder? If so, was the victim killed in the place that they were found, or were they merely dumped there? The fact that Dr. Shepherd went as far as reenacting (as best as able) a murder in his own living room, trying to establish whether the culprit was left or right handed, really did open my eyes to what a pathologist actually did. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t just that which opened my eyes, I mean, the whole discussion regarding how a body is cut open during a post mortem, certainly stopped me in my tracks.

It is very clever how to realise just how our bodies work from the inside out, when at times we take that for granted because all we can see is the outside of our bodies. We don’t really think about what goes on inside unless we are getting checked for certain things. We know our hearts beat, but would you know how much your heart is meant to weigh? Would you know what type of body would rise to the surface first, should a body be found dead there? Would you be aware of internal body temperature? I know those answers now, but only because I have read this book.

Honestly, my brain was like a sponge soaking up all of the science throughout this book! It was extremely interesting, whilst also intense, how the book went on to discuss how the post mortem’s were carried out for the 9/11 attacks, as well as other unfortunate disasters. Plus, it’s not every day that you read about Princess Diana’s death from the pathology side instead of reading the conspiracies in the Daily Mail. I was blown away by the steps that had to be taken, the organisation, how courts were involved. Everything.

‘Unnatural Causes’ is an absolutely fascinating, honest and brutal account of life versus death and visa versa – I have learnt so, so much thanks to Dr. Shepherd. I highly recommend!

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – #EllieandtheHarpMaker by Hazel Prior (@HaveAHarp) @TransworldBooks @AnneCater

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It gives me great pleasure to kick off the blog tour for ‘Ellie and the Harp Maker’ by Hazel Prior. Hugest of thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite, and of course thank you to the publisher for the ARC. Here is my review:

Ellie and the Harp Maker Cover
Meet Ellie. She’s perfectly happy with her home and her husband and her quiet life. Happy enough, anyway. Which is why she’s so surprised to find herself drawn to an extraordinary stranger who gives her a gift – and a fresh perspective.

Meet Dan. He thinks all he needs to be happy is the time and space to carry on making harps. Sometimes people buy them, too. But the last thing he expects is for Ellie to walk into his life, a whirlwind with cherry-coloured socks, bringing a string of surprises into his ordered existence.

As Ellie and Dan get to know one another, they begin to see the world – and themselves – in an entirely new way…

What does TWG think?

If I was required to sum up this book in one word, the word that springs to mind would be ‘majestic’. ‘Ellie and the Harp Maker’ isn’t the type of storyline that can be rushed. It needs to have, in my opinion, quality time spent reading it, as well as quality time spent reading between the lines to appreciate the beauty of this particular storyline.

At times I felt as though this book was too far down the literary novel route for my liking, only because I thought that it all seemed a bit heavy and intricate for my little mind to understand. My issue, I’m common after all. However, the beauty of Ellie’s and Dan’s friendship blew me away, and blew those thoughts out of my mind before they got too comfortable.

I have seen a harp, but never in a million years did I know the intricacy which went into making the delicate instrument. I do now though, and wow, I was certainly impressed. I’ve always thought of the harp to be an understated instrument. I can’t play it, in fact, I can’t play many instruments except the triangle, but I really did enjoy being able to lose myself in Ellie’s character as she made the choice to put her fingers to the strings in order to learn how to play. Envious? A little. I won’t lie!

Dan is a man who likes things a certain way. He has a heart of gold and a life which requires organisation and concentration so, when Ellie appears in his life, her colourful burst of personality was a bit of a shock to the system for him. One that would both be a blessing as well as a curse.

Both of the main characters, I thought, had such addictive personalities and were written in a very delicate and well crafted manner. Even though they both wore their hearts on their sleeves throughout the book, I really don’t think that readers get to see all of who they truly are. A clever move from the author as readers get to use their imagination to forge where, in their minds, the characters end up after the book has finished.

Overall, ‘Ellie and the Harp Maker’ was a very in-depth, majestic, poignant novel which was written soulfully, and tenderly. I enjoyed it, I really did.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister (@GillianMAuthor) @MichaelJBooks

Hugest of thanks to the team at Michael Joseph for the blog tour invite and ARC of Gillian McAllister’s new novel, The Evidence Against You. For my stop on the tour today, I am delighted to be sharing a review:

It’s the day Izzy’s father will be released from jail.

She has every reason to feel conflicted – he’s the man who gave her a childhood filled with happy memories.

But he has also just served seventeen years for the murder of her mother.

Now, Izzy’s father sends her a letter. He wants to talk, to defend himself against each piece of evidence from his trial.

But should she give him the benefit of the doubt?

Or is her father guilty as charged, and luring her into a trap?

What does TWG think?

This is one, psychologically twisted read!

I have to hold my hands up and say that I wasn’t a fan of ‘The Evidence Against You’ at first. I found Izzy’s character to be quite immature and, due to the fact that this particular storyline builds its rapport the more of it you read, I struggled to find the all important hook and keep hold of it.

However, from about the half way mark, my opinion of the book completely changed! The suspense had cranked up several notches, and the constant thought of ‘did he do it, or didn’t he do it?’ just didn’t leave my thoughts.

Basically, Izzy’s dad has been released from prison for murdering her mother, Alex. Gabe says he didn’t do it, yet the evidence and the police say that he clearly did do it. But what does Izzy believe? Shes been left in the dark about the case because she was young when it happened, so the not knowing the ins and outs became her new norm.

With Gabe back in Izzy’s life after nearly 20 years, does she go with the evidence behind his conviction? Or does she give her dad the benefit of the doubt?

What would you do? Tough one really, isn’t it? The evidence was there. The police convicted him. How could he be innocent?

I was really impressed by how the author delivered both sides of the ‘arguement’ so to speak. One minute I was all for the guilty verdict, and then the next I didn’t know what to think. I mean, it was pretty clear that Gabe was digging himself a huge hole.

I thought that the psychological element to the book was outstanding and certainly kept me guessing. Like I said before, the latter half of the book, for me, is where the magic truly happens, and the place where I refused to put the book down until I had finished.

An intriguing, intense read which will have the words, ‘what if?’ balancing on the tip of your tongue until the very end.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheLibrarianOfAuschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (tr: Lilit Zekulin Thwaites) @Tonilturbe @EburyPublishing @PenguinUKBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

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Third tour of the day is for a book which I am humbled to be hosting on TWG today; ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’ by Antonio Iturbe, translated by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites. Thank you to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invite, and thank you to Ebury, Penguin Books for the ARC. Here is my review:

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‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’

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 books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

What does TWG think?

I really have no idea how to review this book to be honest. It’s not that I didn’t like it because, as weird as this sounds given the topic of the book, I did really enjoy it. I mean, this book is about the prisoners of Auschwitz and the Nazis. I don’t feel qualified enough to comment on the devastations of that time, does that make sense? Obviously I am going to, but I apologise in advance if I just ramble!

‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’ is based on the true story of one of the prisoners in the camp, Dita Kraus, written in the book as ‘Dita Adler’. There are some parts of the storyline which have been fictionalised – good luck to those trying to work out which bits are which! Of course, if you googled every single thing in the book, I’m sure the fictional pieces will jump out at you! I did end up googling some things whilst I was reading the book, not because I wanted to double-check that it was factually correct, but more so because I wanted to see the faces of the imbeciles who led people towards their deaths. Not just a small handful of people, not that that would make it any easier to swallow, but an estimated 1 million people. ONE MILLION!

At times I struggled to believe what I was reading. The fact that the SS soldiers and the Kapo were so blasé about what they were doing, sent chills up my spine. What possessed them to get caught up in Hitlers dirty work? How could they live with themselves knowing that they had sent innocent people, including young children, to their deaths? At one point in the book, the story described just how one young child was sticking their tongue out at a solider as they were being put into the chamber. Heartbreaking.

I was in awe at Dita’s strength as, for such a young girl, she clearly had to grow up very quickly to be able to get through the things that she did. She saw people die right before her very eyes. She protected her mother from a situation which could have turned out a lot worse if she hadn’t. She made friends with children one day, only to hear that they have been removed from the camp and sent to a chamber. No way of saying goodbye. No way of protecting people who came to be like an extended family. Dita’s hands were tied, and at times that was quite literal.

Just like the title suggests, there was a library in Block 31. Hang on, let me correct that. There was a SECRET library because, if prisoners were found with books on them, it warranted a death sentence. Death. Because they read a book. I’m literally shaking my head here. And, seeing as Dita ended up being the librarian for Block 31, and responsible for the collection of the five books in the block, she had literally put herself in the firing line knowing full well what the outcome would be should she be caught. Yet her love for books, according to her, was worth playing with death for.

Alongside Dita’s journey, we also follow the lives of several other figures such as Fredy Hirsch, leader of Block 31, and Dr Mengele, a man who liked conducting inhumane experiments on the prisoners….just because he could. There are a lot of other historical names noted throughout this book, a lot of which don’t deserve their names in print, but unfortunately it’s an important part of our history.

Before reading ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’, I had obviously heard about the gas chambers and such, but I had never read a book with Auschwitz at the forefront of its storyline. I am glad that I finally decided to read about the devastation of those years, and finding out little details which helped the prisoners during that time, such as coming together and singing songs on the way to the chamber. Unity at such a dark time.

I don’t think I will ever understand the why’s and wherefores about this particular subject, but, thanks to Antonia Iturbe’s outstanding writing, I am determined to broaden my knowledge. It’s a shame that me doing that won’t change the situation for the thousands and thousands of people who lost their life, but it’s a small way of honouring the memory of the survivors.

‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’ moved me, devastated me, and left me utterly broken. Nothing at all compared to what people endured at the hands of the Nazis I know. It goes without saying that Antonio Iturbe has written a heart wrenching novel, simple because you would need to be made of stone to not be moved by even a little detail in this book. I am blown away by the amount of research it must have taken in order to complete this book. I, like I said at the start, am blown away by Dita Kraus, especially as she retraced her steps many years later.

One of my top books of all time, ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’ is an emotional, harrowing novel which details some of the heartbreaking events from Auschwitz. A book which I will never, ever forget.

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